Germanisation and nazification
Nowhere in the clauses of the armistice agreement was the fate of Alsace and Moselle detailed. Even so, the Germans occupied without delay the three départements of Haut-Rhin, Bas-Rhin and Moselle, and as early as July 1940, the Frankfurt border was re-established. Alsace was attached to the Bade Area and Moselle to the Gau in the Sarre-Palatinate. Gauleiters Wagner (in Alsace) and Bürckel (in Moselle) wielded absolute power in their leadership of these regions. hey rapidly organized the return of the evacuated populations. Not everyone returned. Some preferred to stay in France, others who were judged as undesirable were turned away at the border. It is estimated that approximately 200,000 people originally from Alsace and Moselle did not return in 1940. At the same time, the Germans liberated the prisoners of war coming from those regions.
“De-francization” invaded every area of daily life: the ban on speaking French and the disappearance of the French press, money and stamps, for example. Store signs and street signs were Germanized, as well as names of towns and villages, family and first names; French statues were torn down, the monuments to the fallen were Germanized, associations suppressed as well as the dioceses of Strasbourg and Metz, and French literary works were removed from libraries…All traces of French had to disappear.
This “Germanization” also led to the deportation of any “undesirable” people and anyone judged to be impossible to Germanize: Jews, North Africans, Asians, naturalized French citizens, then Francophiles and French speakers in general. Moselle lost more than 100,000 inhabitants and Alsace 35,000. But the Gauleiters wished for more than just administrative and economical integration of the Reich provinces. Their goal was to make Nazi territories out of Alsace and Moselle. So the party settled in and organizations chequered the social and political space. The repressive law-enforcing machine set up in the annexed territories.
The entire population found itself surrounded by Nazi chains. Mass organizations indoctrinated the population by age, gender and profession. Teaching, culture, church and leisure were in the hands of the Nazi authorities. The population was subjected to restrictions of all types. Rationing, metal and fabric gathering, collections for winter help and for the Front. The restrictions and obligations were numerous.