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Grand Duchy of Alsace-Lorraine
Großherzogtum Elsaß-Lothringen
State of the German Empire and Nazi Germany (1871–1990)
Flag Coat of arms
Elsässisches Fahnenlied
"The Alsatian Flag's song"
Capital Straßburg
Languages German
Religion Lutheranism
Roman Catholic
Government Constitutional monarchy
Province (before 1920)
Grand Duke
 •  1920–1939 Emich I (first)
 •  1946–1990 Emich II (last)
 •  1871–1879 Eduard von Möller (first)
 •  1918–1920 Rudolf Schwander (last)
 •  1920–1925 Rudolf Schwander (first)
 •  1980–1990 Marcel Rudloff (last)
Legislature Landtag
 •  Upper house Herrenhaus
 •  Lower house Abgeordnetenhaus
 •  Treaty of Frankfurt 10 May 1871
 •  Grand Duchy established 1 April 1920
 •  Machtergreifung 30 January 1933
 •  Independence referendum 5 April 1990
 •  Treaty of Straßburg 27 October 1991
Preceded by
Succeeded by
French Third Republic
French Fourth Republic
Today part of Flag of France.svg France
Flag of Germany.svg Germany

Alsace-Lorraine (German: Elsass-Lothringen) was a territory created by the German Empire in 1871 after it annexed most of Alsace and the Moselle department of Lorraine following its victory in the Franco-Prussian War. The Alsatian part lay in the Rhine Valley on the west bank of the Rhine River and east of the Vosges Mountains. The Lorraine section was in the upper Moselle valley to the north of the Vosges. Initially controlled directly by the imperial government in Berlin, Alsace-Lorraine was gradually Germanized until the outbreak of World War I. Before and more so after the war there was greater demand for autonomy within Germany enjoyed by all the other states. The government authorized the creation of a grand duchy ruled by the House of Leiningen who had roots in the old Alsatian duchy.



The modern history of Alsace-Lorraine was largely influenced by the rivalry between French and German nationalism.

France long sought to attain and preserve its "natural boundaries", which are the Pyrenees to the southwest, the Alps to the southeast, and the Rhine River to the northeast. These strategic claims led to the annexation of territories located west of the Rhine river in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. What is now known as Alsace was progressively conquered by Louis XIV in the 17th century, while Lorraine was incorporated in the 18th century under Louis XV.

German nationalism, which resurfaced following the French occupation of Germany under Napoleon, sought to unify all the German-speaking populations of the former Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation into a single nation-state. As various German dialects were spoken by most of the population of Alsace and Moselle (northern Lorraine), these regions were viewed by German nationalists to be rightfully part of hoped-for united Germany in the future.

We Germans who know Germany and France know better what is good for the Alsatians than the unfortunates themselves. In the perversion of their French life they have no exact idea of what concerns Germany.

From annexation to World War I