Germanisation and nazification
The Armistice Agreement does not specify in any of its clauses the fate to be reserved for Alsace and the Moselle. However, the Germans soon occupied the three departments of the Haut-Rhin, the Bas-Rhin and the Moselle, and in July 1940, the Frankfurt border was re-established. Alsace is attached to Baden-Baden and the Moselle in the Gau de Saar-Palatinate. Both regions are headed by the Gauleiter Wagner (Alsace) and Bürckel (Moselle), who have full powers.
Very quickly, they organized the return of the evacuated populations. Not all returned. Some preferred to stay in France, while others, considered undesirable, were turned back at the border. More than 100,000 Alsatians and Moselle residents did not return to Alsace and Moselle in 1940. Some joined the maquis and the Resistance, while others continued their lives in the southwest. At the same time, the Germans freed the prisoners of war from these regions.
“De-Francisation” intervened in all areas of daily life: the ban on speaking French, the disappearance of the French press, currency and stamps. The shop signs and street signs are Germanized, but also the names of towns and villages, first names and surnames. The French statues were unbolted, the monuments to the dead were Germanized, the associations were dissolved, the bishopric of Strasbourg and Metz was under control, the libraries were purged of all books in French. . . Any trace of attachment to France must disappear.
This Germanization also involved the outright expulsion of all undesirables and all elements deemed “non-Germanizable”: Jews, North Africans, Asians, naturalized French citizens, and then, more broadly, Francophiles and Francophones. Moselle lost more than 100,000 inhabitants and Alsace 35,000.
But the Gauleiter wanted more than the administrative and economic integration of the provinces into the Reich. Their goal was to turn Alsace and Moselle into Nazi territories. Thus, the party was established and organizations were set up to control the social and political space. The repressive police was set up in the annexed territories.
The entire population was caught up in the Nazi net. The mass organizations were organizing the population by age, sex and profession. Education, culture, church and leisure activities were in the hands of the Nazi authorities.
The population was subjected to restrictions of all kinds. Rationing, collecting scrap metal and fabrics, collecting for winter relief and for the front. There were many prohibitions and obligations.