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This article is the written script of an episode from our podcast series: Kandelaa – Conversations.

( Bu yazı,  podcast serimiz Kandelaa – Conversations’tan alınan bir bölümün yazılı metnidir. )



If you remember the history classes- I don’t know if you like them or not – this name will potentially recur something in your memory related to World War 1.

Any ideas came to your mind? Perhaps it was mostly mentioned with the names of France and Germany? Or who knows, you might have already recalled what I mean.

The answer is Alsace – Lorraine, a critical region that entered into the domination of these two countries during the war. In other words, states conflicted upon the district to retain the strategic advantages it offers. But why was it this consequent at bottom, and what was the result of this rivalry between the countries?

First and foremost, for a land to be strategically favorable, it’s paid regard to considerations such as geopolitical location, fertile soils, neighbors, and a cultural structure (if you have a commonplace, that may serve your purpose, The Ottoman Empire had accorded with Russia about the Crimean people’s dependence on the Ottoman Khalifa for religious affairs albeit the land was ceded to Russians after Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca.) Alsace-Lorraine was quite sufficient in this respect. The industrial developments were conceivable for the city to blossom even more.

Germany (Prussia, then) and France conflicted over it not once, and after the Franco-Prussian War France was defeated by Prussians, being compelled to retreat from Alsace-Lorraine, which was quite a rueful event for them. Why did Prussia want it? The explanation above summarizes the business. However, I’ll elaborate on the topic further:

Otto von Bismark, the former minister-president of Prussia, states in his memoirs the reasons for the Prussian invasion of the region:

It is a mistake to count upon ‘gratitude’, especially the ‘gratitude of a nation’… Over the past 200 years, France has declared war on Prussia thirty times, and… you will do so again; for that, we must be prepared… a territorial glacis between you and us.”

This offers the perspective of Prussia’s side. So briefly,

  • Prussia considers the area as a tampon between it and France.
  • Geographically, it was located between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine River.
  • Alsace-Lorraine played a role in wartime French propaganda. By, 1871, German was the most spoken language due to location yet the locals’ living styles used to differ from other Prussians. The subsequences being that over a hundred thousand Prussians settled in, imposed German politics, and change of nationality soon gave birth to the objection of classes such as notables. Although they hoped France to regain power, this later died down and the locals acquiesced to their fate.


And some other items can be added to the list.

In a nutshell, Prussia and France had their own profits that would come from controlling Alsace-Lorraine.  It was not the primary reason for WW1 to burst out, but instead was one of the underpinnings. It became a symbol for the French and the other wartime propaganda, for example.

The first world war was over by Allies prevailing the baneful battles. Surely, Alsace-Lorraine had returned to France after a long time which was celebrated by the locals cheerfully. Don’t forget, staying years under Prussian sovereignty, the city’s cultural association with the other parts of France required more time.

The problems involving Alsace-Lorraine are due centuries; even during the Ottoman history taught at schools we see France’s concerns of Alsace – Lorraine, long before World War began.

Nowadays, it’s a lovely province in north-eastern France with lots of experiences it has undergone. I would like to visit once I find a chance to see the historical/cultural texture as well because even the depictions are enough to delight one’s imagination: Sunny climate, though also dry, and productive soils full of plenitude. Grapes, for example, are mentioned often; since it is said that the wines made up of them are just worth trying. 😉