The problems of integrating annexed Lorraine into France, 1918-1925
In 1918, the signing of the armistice at the end of the First World War, brought about the return of the region known as Elsaß-Lothringen, Alsace-Lorraine, to France after 47 years of German rule. This thesis examines the problems which the integration process created for the heterogeneous population of the Moselle (annexed Lorraine), a population which included those who were indigenous to the region, Germans from all over the German Reich, and immigrants from elsewhere in Europe. In this integration process, the French authorities attempted to undo the effects of Germanisation on all levels: linguistic, cultural, political, economic, administrative, and demographic. However, the manner in which they attempted to achieve francisation, soon alienated large sections of the indigenous population. This sense of unease and dissatisfaction manifested itself within weeks of the entry of French troops to the region and became known as the malaise lorrain. Sacrifices forced upon the region by integration included a disappointingly sluggish economic recovery. Equally, whilst a process of epuration, or ethnic cleansing, deported three quarters of the Moselle's German community, many among the indigenous population were obliged to prove their loyalty to France at specially created tribunals to allow them to remain in the region. This thesis brings to light the region's experience which the historiography has hitherto treated as less controversial and less problematic than that of its neighbour, Alsace. Mosellan particularisme, which sought a middle ground between separatist regionalism and complete assimilation into France, was not as radical, reactionary, or well publicized as Alsatian autonomism. However, it was, in the long-term, far more successful.