In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Alsace-Lorraine is Number 30 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. At the conclusion of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, the newly-formed German Empire annexed from France nearly all of Alsace and the northeastern portion of Lorraine. French resentment of the German seizure of territories ruled by France since the 16th century was one of the contributing causes of World War I. The book includes sections on physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. Considerable attention is paid to the language question. The study notes that in 1870 French was the dominant language in Lorraine, while 77 percent of the population of Alsace spoke variants of German. The policy of the German Empire was to impose the use of German. The people of Alsace-Lorraine, the study notes, “resented being torn from France; they resented being annexed to Germany; but, above all, they resented being treated like chattels, as if their opinions counted for nothing.” The book includes numerous statistical tables. The appendix provides the text of the articles in the February 26, 1871, treaty by which the territorial transfer was effected and a declaration by the representatives of Alsace and Lorraine in the French National Assembly strongly protesting the transfer. In the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, Germany was forced to return Alsace-Lorraine to France.

Last updated: August 14, 2015