Lorraine and Saar Minefields


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. Lorraine and Saar Minefields is Number 31 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. The study focuses on coal and iron-ore production in the 2,500-square mile (6,475-square kilometer) region in present-day France, Germany, Luxembourg, and Belgium containing the Minette iron-ore deposit and the Saar coal field. The industrial might and economic prosperity of Western Europe were heavily dependent on these fields, and the peace conference was expected to consider border adjustments aimed at addressing French shortages of coal and France’s dependence on Germany for coal and metallurgical coke. The study notes that in 1913 France produced 41 million tons (37.19 million metric tons) of coal, Germany 278 million tons (252.2 metric tons). In the same year, France produced 21.7 million tons (19.69 million metric tons) of iron ore, while Germany produced 28.7 million tons (26.04 million metric tons) and had access to another 7.3 million tons (6.62 million metric tons) produced in Luxembourg, which was part of the German customs union. The study provides information about the quality and quantity of coal and iron-ore reserves, communications and transport networks, and mine ownership and organization.

Last updated: November 14, 2017