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Thread: Alsace-Lorraine — an Enclave of Ethnic Germans in France

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    Alsace-Lorraine — an Enclave of Ethnic Germans in France

    Any time you see an ethnic German's birthplace in the censuses flipping back and forth between France and Germany, there's a strong probability the individual was born in Alsace-Lorraine, an ethnic German enclave that is, today, in France, but has at times been ruled by Germany. The history of the region is complex, so for the purposes of genealogy, it might be best to simply consider it a "country" in and of itself, without placing it in either Germany or France. If a formal country must be used, then its current location dictates that it be placed in France, not Germany.


    Timeline of Alsace-Lorraine — greatly simplified!


    Year(s) Event region of Alsace-Lorraine
    1618-1648 Thirty Years' War end of rule by Holy Roman Empire
    1648-1871 ruled by France
    1871 Treaty of Frankfurt ceded to Germany
    1871-1918 ruled by German Empire
    1919 Treaty of Versailles restored to France
    1919-1940 ruled by France
    1940-1944 ruled by Third Reich
    1945-present ruled by France

    Histories as given by
    Webster's New Geographical Dictionary (1977, Merriam Co., Springfield, MA) — a must-have book for any genealogist!

    ALSACE [or Ger. ELSASS or ancient ALSATIA]: Old German and later French province, NE France, bet. Rhine river and Vosges Mts., in modern depts. of Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin [France]. History: Ruled by Rome (see STRASBOURG); gradually penetrated by Germanic peoples; created a Frankish duchy; part of Middle Kingdom (see LORRAINE) assigned to Lothair I by Treaty of Verdun 843 A.D.; belonged to Holy Roman Empire 870-1648; united to duchy of Swabia 925; broken up into feudal principalities controlled chiefly by Bishop of Strasbourg and Hapsburg family in 14th century; Upper Alsace given to Burgundy 1469, but soon broke free; a center of the Peasants' Revolt of 1526; occupied by French in Thirty Years' War [1618-1648]; linked with France by means of Louis XIV's "Chambers of Reunion" 1680; consolidated into provinces of Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin [France] after 1789 and under Napoleon; ceded to Germany by Treaty of Frankfurt 1871. For recent history, see ALSACE-LORRAINE.

    LORRAINE [or Ger. LOTHRINGEN or ancient LOTHARINGIA]: 1 Medieval kingdom, originally part of Austrasia (q.v.); by Treaty of Verdun 843 became part of realm (sometimes known as Middle Kingdom) of Emperor Lothair I; inherited by his son Lothair II 855-869, from whom it received name Lotharingia (Lat. Lotharii regnum); controlled by Germany, esp. King Louis the Child, until 911. 2 Duchy, formed by division of kingdom of Lorraine 959 into 2 duchies: Lower Lorraine, bet. Rhine and Schelde (later developing into separate duchies of Brabant, Limburg, etc.) and Upper Lorraine, commonly called Lorraine, region of upper Meuse and Moselle; French claim to it relinquished by Hugh Capet 987; ruled from 11th cent. continuously by a ducal family until its union with Hapsburgs; gradually reduced in size as French kingdom expanded; bishoprics (Les Trois-Évêchés) of Metz, Toul, and Verdun seized 1552 by Henry II of France; at time entirely held by French sovereigns; ruled 1737-66 by Stanislas I Leszczynski, dethroned king of Poland and father-in-law of Louis XV; permanently French from 1766; its chief cities Metz and Nancy; a province in revolutionary France, divided later into departments of Meuse, Moselle, Meurthe-et-Moselle, and Vosges; after Franco-Prussian War 1871 ceded to Germany as part of Alsace-Lorraine (q.v.).

    ALSACE-LORRAINE [or Ger. ELSASS-LOTHRINGEN]: Frontier region bet. France, West Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland; except for Rhine on E has had indefinite boundaries. History: Formed from French province of Alsace, French department of Moselle, and some subdivisions (arrondissements) of the former dept of Meurthe which were ceded to Germany by Treaty of Frankfurt 1871; administered in three divisions, Upper Alsace (Ger. Ober-elsass), Lower Alsace (Unter-elsass), and Lorraine (Lothringen), under the German Empire 1871-1918; subject to unsuccessful attempts to Germanize 1880-1910; restored to France by Treaty of Versailles 1919. In World War II held by Germany 1940-44; retaken by French and American armies and again restored to France.

    STRASBOURG [or Ger. STRASSBURG or ancient ARGENTORATUM] Industrial and commercial city, [capital] of Bas-Rhin dept., NE France, on the Ill river ab. 2 m. W of its confluence with the Rhine... History: Important from ancient times because of strategic location; a Celtic settlement; passed to Romans; destroyed by Attila; in late 5th cent. restored by Franks; in 842 scene of Oath of Strasbourg; linked to Germany through homage of Duke of Lorraine to Henry I 923; attained status of free imperial city 1262; some work done here by Gutenberg on movable type c. 1436; occupied by French 1681 and formally ceded 1697; under German rule 1871-1918; in World War II occupied by Germans June 1940 - Nov. 1944 and suffered considerable damage.

    AUSTRASIA [or OSTRASIA]: The eastern dominions of the Merovingian Franks, extending from the Meuse river to the Bohemian Forest. History: Emerged as eastern part of kingdom of Franks after division of lands which followed death of Clovis (511 A.D.); ruled by Merovingian kings, alternately as separate kingdom and as kingdom in conjunction with rule of Neustria (q.v.), 6th cent.; original seat of authority of mayors of palace of house of Pepin who founded Carolingian line of Frankish kings in 8th cent.; although recognized as territorial division in partitions of land which were customary at ruler's death, ceased to exist in Frankish empire as it was consolidated by Charlemagne (768-814).

    NEUSTRIA The western part of the dominions of the Franks after the conquest by Clovis in 511, comprising then the NW part of modern France bet. the Meuse, the Loire, and the Atlantic Ocean. See AUSTRASIA. After 912 the name was applied to Normandy.
    The source:
    http://dgmweb.net/genealogy/Ancillar...Lorraine.shtml

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    I wonder what they consider themselves to be? Obviously most would proclaim to be French, in order to avoid alienation and hostility from their fellow countrymen. But if Germany reclaimed the region, how many would stay and change their identity to German? That's the real question

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    I think I'd be able to tell if I was a Norman French or a German French(as opposed to French French or Romance French) and identify myself as such if I was a young man of Alsace-Lorraine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arjuana_of_Persia View Post
    I think I'd be able to tell if I was a Norman French or a German French(as opposed to French French or Romance French) and identify myself as such if I was a young man of Alsace-Lorraine.
    It can actually be quite difficult to tell the difference between the folk of Alsace-Lorraine that are of Norman and Frankish (what you're calling German) extraction. In both cases, the morphotypes are more on the Nordish rather than the Medish end of the spectrum. Surnames are, somewhat counterintuatively, strikingly similar and difficult to tell apart. Although many French names have Germanic origins, it's quite difficult to discern which are Norman and which are Frankish. DNA is also a tricky one, since we're entirely unsure about Frankish DNA haplotypes. Genealogy is the only way to know for sure, but since it's rare to be able to trace that back before the Hundred Years War, that's not always a sure bet either.
    "Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time."
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    While the whole of Alsace is Germanic land and historically always spoke a German dialect, this is only the case in the north-eastern part of the Moselle departement, which itself is the north-easternest part of Lorraine (where I come from).

    This is Lorraine:




    This is Moselle (North of the dotted line is the truly Germanic part, although the whole of Moselle was annexed to the Reich in 1870, 1914 and 1940. The south was easily germanizable, but it's in the north that the names of the people and of the places are systematically german, while the south has been romanized since the Middle Ages) :







    So, the whole of Alsace-Lorraine looks like this :



    Alsace and German-Lorraine were grouped as a single entity from 1870 to 1914, but they actually belong to two different spheres of German culture and langage. That's why in 1940 German-Lorraine was more logically merged with Saarland into Gau Westmark and Alsace merged with Baden into Gau Oberrhein.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheGreatest View Post
    I wonder what they consider themselves to be? Obviously most would proclaim to be French, in order to avoid alienation and hostility from their fellow countrymen. But if Germany reclaimed the region, how many would stay and change their identity to German? That's the real question
    Alsatians feel strongly attached to their culture, but 99% of the population thinks of itself only as French, with a specific Alsatian identity.

    There is a small Alsatian independentist movement (especially on economic grounds; this hard-working, productive and obedient region is of course exploited and looked down upon by the French state), but pan-germanist views would automatically be shunned as "Nazi". During WWII, most Alsatians and Lorrainians resisted the German occupation and the germanization process.

    It would just make sense to me (and to any rational mind) that a Germanic people with Germanic names, habits, mentality and speaking German dialects would appreciate being integrated in a greater entity of the same kind, for increased power, prosperity and well-being; especially when the other alternative is belonging to that crappy, disorganized, multi-ethnic French state that eats the resources of those productive regions to feed its lazy south. But you cannot convince the masses of rational things so it would have to be forced upon them.

    That's the problem with Germanics: they're so disciplined that they just live accordingly to what they are told (on the opposite of Basques or Corsicans who will strongly defend their identity). Alsatians and Lorrainians are told for a century that they are French, so they think they are, a bit like most Germans believe they should feel guilty forever over WWII and most Americans will never question the belief that they live in the "Land of the Free" and must fight muslim "terrorists"...

    German-Lorraine has a much harder time in keeping its identity because of its smaller size and absence of a major Germanic metropolitan area like Strasbourg (Metz is not in the Germanic part). Most of ethnic Mosellan population is from a rural background, which means it has no power by itself and always had to accept what was decided for them.

    Racially speaking, you could see no differences between ethnic Lorrainians and Saarlanders from the other side of the border (of course not everybody looks typically Germanic, just like in Germany too). It would be easy to sort out ethnic Germanics, by their family names, looks, genealogy and if needed DNA print.

    - There is the problem of ethnic dissolution of this ethnic Lorrainian population - who are already much less aware, let alone proud of they heritage - with the offspring of the Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish immigrants (the lowest kind of those countries migrated massively to Moselle all long of the XXth century to work in the coal and iron mines and steel factories, then settled here), plus the "inside" French who happened to move here too.

    - The French system being very centralized, even if you're ethnically Germanic, you will grow up with the same Paris(-rael)-issued education, be submitted to the same media and end up thinking the same way as the other French. Local culture has no media outlets whatsoever. So if you're mixed with Italians, Poles, Spanish etc in your daily life, plus submitted to the cultural terrorism of the French melting-pot, it's not surprising that all ethnic consciousness has almost disappeard from people's minds, at least here in Lorraine.

    - The French educational system is so bad that the average French barely understands a few words of English by the time he exits University (I'm not joking, I eventually learned English while reading on Stormfront ), let alone speaking German. So, while many Germans will speak French 200 km inside Germany, almost nobody can speak German even in the first villages past the border into France.

    - There has been a systematic campaign of eradication of the German dialect of Lorraine (which is also the official langage of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg) since 1945, orchestrated by the successive French governments, so that the younger generations seldom understand it, and only in the most remote and rural parts of the area.

    - The whole idea of belonging to a people by blood and race over geographical and national boundaries is utterly uncomprehensible to the French-Latin mind. So if you are born and educated in the French system, it will be very hard for you to feel closer to your actual biological roots, unless you really had strong ties with your grand-parents for example or lived in an area that was pretty much ethnically preserved (or independently developped an insane interest for Third Reich history ) - or the three at the same time .

    - As everywhere else, anything German is stupidly considered somewhat "un-cool", so the ethnic people of here show no pride of their ethnic identity (while the Italians will always think it's cool to be Italian and be proud of themselves, as low-IQ as they may be).


    All this is a shame because I could see how ethnic Lorrainians deep down still show unconscious Germanic habits, ethics and even still speak French but with German speaking-forms. Instead of preserving this, they are watered deeper down into the Welsch cesspool at each generation.

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    Would it be reasonable to describe the Germans of Lothringen as Moselle Franconian in contrast to those of Elsaß that are Alemannic? Does this manifest noticeably?

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    Yes it's like that. Moselle belongs to the Franconian language family, while Alsace is Alemanic.

    Luxembourgish and Moselle Franconian are basically the same thing. While the language is dying in Moselle, it is widely practiced by Luxemburgers as their mother tongue and official national language (with French and German). It is also in use in Belgium up to Arlon and in Germany up to Trier.

    Luxembourgish is the national language of Luxembourg, but it is only one of three administrative languages (along with French and German).[2]

    Luxembourgish is also spoken in small parts of the surrounding countries of Belgium (in the Province of Luxembourg near Arlon), France (in small parts of the Lorraine) and Germany (around Bitburg and Trier). In Germany and Lorraine it is simply considered the local German dialect. Since the Second World War, however, the language has not been taught in these countries, with the result that use of Luxembourgish is largely restricted to the older generations.

    Furthermore, the language is spoken by a few descendants of Luxembourg immigrants in the United States, and a closely related variety is spoken by ethnic Germans long settled in Transylvania, Romania (Siebenbürgen).

    [edit] Varieties

    There are several distinct dialect forms of Luxembourgish including Areler (from Arlon), Eechternoacher (Echternach), Kliärrwer (Clervaux), Miseler (Moselle), Stater (Luxembourg), Veiner (Vianden), Minetter (Southern Luxembourg) and Weelzer (Wiltz). Further small vocabulary differences may be seen even between small villages. Increasing mobility of the population and the dissemination of the language through mass media such as radio and television are leading to a gradual standardisation towards a "Standard Luxembourgish" through the process of koineization.

    There is no distinct geographic boundary between the use of Luxembourgish and the use of other closely related High German dialects (for example Lorraine Franconian); it instead forms a dialect continuum of gradual change.


    Source:
    Wikipedia


    West Central German dialects

    The West Central German dialects (also known as "Middle Franconian dialects") are spoken in the German states of South-Western North Rhine-Westphalia, most of Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, northern Baden-Württemberg, southern Hesse, northern Bavaria, in the bordering French département Moselle, in Luxembourg, by the Transylvanian Saxons in Romania, and by the Pennsylvania Germans in North America. It is estimated that these dialects have about 17,000,000 native speakers [6]Moselle Franconian, Luxembourgish, Transylvanian Saxon, Ripuarian Franconian are also known as "Central Franconian dialects" - Palatinate German, Pennsylvania German, Central Hessian, East Hessian, Lower Hessian and the Rhinehessian dialect (in Rhenish Hesse around Mainz, Bingen, Bad Kreuznach and in Hessen in the Rheingau area and in Wiesbaden) are also known as "Rhine Franconian dialects".
    The most reliable data come from the Enquête famille carried out by INSEE as part of the 1999 census, but they give a somewhat indirect picture of the current situation (see Languages in France for a discussion of this survey). Approximately 78,000 people were reported to speak Lorraine Franconian, but fewer than 50,000 passed basic knowledge of the language on to their children. Another statistic illustrating the same point: Of all adult men who used Franconian regularly at age 5, less than 30% use (or used) the language regularly with their own children.


    Source:
    Wikipedia



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    At first we should abandon the francophone words for this region: It´s not "Elsace-Lorraine" but "Elsaß-Lothringen"! By using "Elsaß-Lothringrn" we show that we don´t think it should be a part of France.

    I don´t use the polnish words for German cities in fromer East Prussia too, for example.

    "Judge of your natural character by what you do in your dreams" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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    Thank you for bringing some informations about Elsass-Lothringen in this forum.
    I personnaly come from Elsass and feel realy near to the germanic culture, estheticity, spirit.

    The French state has made a lot of things to destruct the identity of our region (expecially with school) but also it's economy and ethnical integrity.

    Nowadays, there are some actions to make Elsass traditions and folklore more popular, but it's quite allways very superficial, considering our culture just as a funny folklore, heritage from a long long time ago, and not a full part of our spiritual and genetic identity! Most of the population don't care about Elsass:
    - because they are not elsässer : they are immigrants, they are french people
    - they don't know our history and still nowadays think that everything related to our germanic heritage is bad, and nazi


    It's hard for me to write in english, i prefer deutsch, but i'll try to bring some more informations about my country. For exemple about it's flag (which is red and white) or about it's linguage (elsässisch).

    This germanic spirit is the reason why i've come to this forum. Maybe later could there be an Elsässisches Division in the forum where people from here could meet and share points of view.

    Grüsse !

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    Germanic people in France are certainly a minority but can be found elsewhere than Elsass - in Normandy, or northern France around the region of Lille (Rijsel in Flemish).
    Atlas

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