- A region of present-day northeastern France and a principal territorial gain of the Second German Reich in the Treaty of Frankfurt in 1871 after the Prussian victory in the Franco-Prussian War. Its acquisition was in many respects a central goal of the wars of German unification, in part because the south German states cited it as justification for their armies’ treatment as equals in the German national mission despite their military status as very junior partners with Prussia, but also because it symbolized to German nationalists the correction of what they considered a great injustice. Alsace was taken by France in 1648 as a prize of victory in the Thirty Years War. Lorraine had been part of the Holy Roman Empire since the ninth century but had been appropriated by France on a piecemeal basis in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Bismarck justified the annexation of the region on the basis of the Germanic dialect and culture of the local population, but the region also included predominantly French-speaking areas for the military expedience of defensible borders. Under the Second Reich the region was governed directly from Berlin as the Reichsland of Elsaß-Lothringen. After 1871, the recovery of Alsace-Lorraine immediately became the focus both of French nationalists and war planners. Its retention by Germany, not surprisingly, figured prominently in the Schlieffen Plan.See also <
>; < >.FURTHER READING:Blumenthal, Daniel. Alsace-Lorraine. New York: G. P. Putnam’s, 1917;Hazen, Charles Downer. Alsace-Lorraine under German Rule. Freeport: Books for Libraries Press, 1971;Wawro, Geoffrey. The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.CARL CAVANAGH HODGE
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.