1940 - Germanization and Nazification of Alsace-Moselle

Germanisation and nazification
Of Alsace-Moselle

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  • 1940 – Germanization and Nazification of Alsace-Moselle

In 1940

The situation of Alsace and Moselle was never mentioned in the clauses of the armistice of 1940. Despite this, the Fermans occupied right away the three French departments of Haut-Rhin, Bas-Rhin and Moselle, and as early as July 1940, the borders from the Frankfurt treaty were re-established. Alsace was attached to the Bade Area and Moselle to the Gau in the Sarre-Palatinate. Two Gauleiters, Wagner (for Alsace) and Bürckel (for Moselle), were named at the head of the two region, and they were given full powers. They 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.

Nazis started to germanize the two regions and this applied to every area of the daily life : Speaking French was forbidden and the French press, money and stamps disappeared. Store signs and street signs were germanized, as well as names of towns and villages, family names and first names; French statues were torn down, war memorial were also germanized, associations were 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 economic integration of the Reich provinces. They goeal was to make Alsace and Moselle become Nazi territories. So the party settled in and organizations structured the social and political space. Repressive and police measures were set ip in the annexed territories.

The entire population was trapped into the Nazi system. 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.