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Remembered Today:

Call up into the French army


healdav
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I am going through all the death certificates for the French army (on-line) and one thing is beginning to intrigue me.

Alsace-Lorraine was German from 1871 onwards and so logically one would expect any men who joined the French army to be in the Foreign Legion and for men in the Alsace-Lorraine to have been called up into the German army in 1914 under the same conditions as in Germany itself.

However, whilst there are many men in the Foreign legion there, equally, many men in the ordinary French regiments. Logically they cannot all have joined prior to August 1914, so the question is:

Does anyone know the conditions on which men in Alsace-Lorraine were called up into either the German or French army and were they permitted (it would seem rather strange, but I have seen a protest that this was not allowed elsewhere) for men to go to France proper in order to join the French army to fight the Germans?

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I was under the impression that during the 1st War Alsace-Lorraine was German held territory and as such those eligble for service joined the German Army. I rem,ember being shown by my God Mother her Grandfathers medals which included a Croix de Guerre and an Iron Cross for service during the Franco Prussian war and then the 1st War.

As to your question the border with France would be easy to cross over so it would follow that those not wanting to serve with their occupiers would have gone and enlisted in France.

Cheers,

Rob

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That would have been my beliefe as well. I was prompted by the sheer number of men listed as being from Alsace-Lorraine who were in the French army.

They can't all have been in it pre-war.

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Some of our fellows were in this situation also. Take the situation of Etienne Schmitt, who joined up in Edmonton in 1916 (as you can see here ). It would seem that he had been born in Lorraine under German occupation, and also his sister, as next of kin, would seem to be still there (although my French geography might be a bit shaky). Technically, he might have been an enemy alien. I suspect that the recruiting officer's geography might also have been shaky, but by 1916 "France" might have been good enough.

Going off topic a bit, we might speculate that, at five-foot-nothing, Etienne may have had to wait until 1916 as it was only then that a "Bantam" battalion (the 143rd) came to town on a recruiting tour.

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Even though France lost Alsace-Lorraine to the Germans in the 1870 debacle it always considered the province to be part of France, "in waiting" so to speak.

Therefore when Alsatians applied to join the French army, at any time after 1871 they were accepted as Frenchmen, without demur.

Legally, from 1871 Alsatians should have served with the German army, but, as Rob has stated the border was easy to cross, so it depended on each individual's political sympathies as to which army they served with.

Best wishes

David

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What also must be remembered is that not all of the area known as Lorraine came under German control after the Franco-Prussian. It was in fact partitioned & some of it remained French

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Even when men from Alsace and Lorraine enlisted with the German Army, it would seem that relatively large numbers were prone to desert. There are frequent references to this in accounts on both sides. Most recently, I have been reading Home's account of his experience as a cavalry staff officer. An Alsatian gave due warning of a significant German attack in the aftermath of First Ypres. I gather some units to posted to the Eastern Front to prevent this happening.

Robert

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I live within ten minutes of the Lorraine border - both modern and post-1870, so I know about it.

The places mentioned are mostly deep in the German area, so it surprised me - the people in 1914 being German citizens (and doing pretty well, to the extent that they still have the social security system the Germans introduced and not the French system), so it surprised me that they were not automatically called up into the German army.

A lot of men were in the Foreign Legion, so I guess they joined pre-war as foreigners, but many are in ordinary regiments, which would indicated that the French thought of them as French and not foreigners.

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I live within ten minutes of the Lorraine border - both modern and post-1870, so I know about it.

The places mentioned are mostly deep in the German area, so it surprised me - the people in 1914 being German citizens (and doing pretty well, to the extent that they still have the social security system the Germans introduced and not the French system), so it surprised me that they were not automatically called up into the German army.

A lot of men were in the Foreign Legion, so I guess they joined pre-war as foreigners, but many are in ordinary regiments, which would indicated that the French thought of them as French and not foreigners.

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I live within ten minutes of the Lorraine border - both modern and post-1870, so I know about it.

The places mentioned are mostly deep in the German area, so it surprised me - the people in 1914 being German citizens (and doing pretty well, to the extent that they still have the social security system the Germans introduced and not the French system), so it surprised me that they were not automatically called up into the German army.

A lot of men were in the Foreign Legion, so I guess they joined pre-war as foreigners, but many are in ordinary regiments, which would indicated that the French thought of them as French and not foreigners.

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I live within ten minutes of the Lorraine border - both modern and post-1870, so I know about it.

The places mentioned are mostly deep in the German area, so it surprised me - the people in 1914 being German citizens (and doing pretty well, to the extent that they still have the social security system the Germans introduced and not the French system), so it surprised me that they were not automatically called up into the German army.

A lot of men were in the Foreign Legion, so I guess they joined pre-war as foreigners, but many are in ordinary regiments, which would indicated that the French thought of them as French and not foreigners.

A lot of you, is there? :P

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