German Language and Alsace

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The people of Alsace-Lorraine were caught in a tug of war game between Germany and France from 1871 to 1919. When the Treaty of Frankfurt officially established the German Empire’s control of Alsace-Lorraine in 1871 the people were suddenly imposed with Germanization. The German government proclamation concerning the conditions of the Treaty of Frankfurt in 1871 explained that Alsace had been restored to its rightful place, the newly founded German Empire. The Germans opinion was that France had tried to suppress the German language and German culture in Alsace, therefore it was Germany’s “national duty” to wean the people from the French. However, King Lois XIV reign of Alsace-Lorraine from 1641 to 1715 established strong citizen loyalty and identity to France. As Germany began attempts to suppress the Alsace’s cultural identity with France, the citizens retaliated with small steps of defiance. Jean-Jacques Waltz’s “The History of Alsace As Told to Small Children by Uncle Hansi” child’s book illustrates a German police officer taking note of barbershops sign illegally printed in French rather then German. Published in 1916 during World War I, this is the climax of Germany’s suppression of Alsace’s national identity; this Barber’s sign in French represents the citizen’s defiance to Germany’s attempted assimilation. German’s efforts to create an identity in Alsace-Lorraine was doomed, Prussian Prime minister in 1870 before Alsace fell into German hands stated that Metz was French and will be a hotbed of disaffection for a long time to come. He explains that Alsace-Lorraine formally governed by France will be difficult to impose new identities on. From 1870 to 1919 German suppression and French defiance fueled the fight for cultural and national identity in Alsace-Lorraine, through methods of terrorizing, censorship, and spoken language alliance.

After the Treaty of Frankfurt the German Empire’s rule commenced, they began attempts to change...
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