Treaty of Frankfurt (1871)


Treaty of Frankfurt (1871)

The Treaty of Frankfurt ( _fr. Le traité de Francfort; _de. Friede von Frankfurt) was a peace treaty signed in Frankfurt on May 10, 1871, at the end of the Franco-Prussian War. The terms of the treaty, regarded as harsh among the French, created a general animosity among them towards Germany, known as revanchism. The French resentment of the terms of the treaty indirectly led to the entangled alliances preceding World War I, and to the Great War itself.

Summary

The treaty:
* Confirmed the frontier between the French Third Republic and the German Empire - involving the annexation of most of Alsace and the Lorraine departement of Moselle
* Gave residents of the annexed Alsace-Lorraine region until October 1, 1872 to decide between keeping their French nationality and emigrating, or to remain in the region and become German citizens.
* Set a framework for the withdrawal of German troops from certain areas.
* Regulated the payment of France's war indemnity of five billion francs (due within three years).
* Recognized the acceptance of William I of Prussia to be German Emperor.
* Required military occupation in parts of France until the staggering indemnity was paid (to the surprise of Germany, the French paid the indemnity quickly).

The treaty also clarified the following points:

* The use of navigable waterways in connection to Alsace-Lorraine
* Trade between the two countries
* The return of prisoners of war

Factors that influenced the boundary:

Nationality

Prior to 1871, the Alsace-Lorraine region of France had belonged off and on to both France and Germany. At the time in question these regions were a part of France, but their people were largely German in language and culture. France did not keep language information as part of its census-taking, so the only count to determine the language-divide was provided by German students of the time. [Hawthorne, 215]

Strategy

The German military voiced control of the Alsace region, up to the Vosages (mountain range) and the area between Thionville and Metz as a requirement for the protection of Germany. Most importantly, the German military regarded control of the route between Thonville and Metz as the most important area of control if there were ever to be a future war with France. [Hawthorne, 217]

Politics

Without a westward shift in the boundary the new empire's frontier with France would have been largely divided between the states of Baden and Bavaria, whose governments were less than enthusiastic with the prospect of having a vengeful France on their doorstep. It also would have necessitated the stationing of substantial Imperial forces within these states' borders, possibly compromising their ability to exercise the considerable autonomy the southern states were able maintain in the unification treaty. A shift in the frontier aleviated these issues.

Economy

Natural resources in Alsace-Lorraine (iron-ore, and coal) did not appear to play a role in Germany's fight for the areas annexed. [Hawthorne, 248] Military annexation was the main voiced goal along with unification of the German people.

After World War 1

The Alsace-Lorraine regions were yielded back to France according to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles

Notes

References

*Hawthorne, Richard (Jan, 1950). "The Franco-German Boundary of 1871", World Politics, pp. 209-250.
*Eckhardt, C.C. (May, 1918). "The Alsace-Lorraine Question", The Scientific Monthly, Vol. 6, No. 5, pp. 431-443.


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