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The France/ German war 1870


Len Trim
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Hi,

anyone recommend a good book, in English, about the Franco-German war. This is on topic as surely the French desire to get Alsace and Lorraine back played it's part in causing the war?

Len

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Usually known as the Franco-Prussian war. Germany was formed at the end of it.

The classic work is the book of the same title by Michael Howard (no, not that one), published in 1961. A good read, and yes, interesting for setting the scene for World War I.

cheers Martin B

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If I may, while on the subject, is there any special significance to the location of the French 1870-71 roadside memorial on the approach to Bapaume?

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Hi,

anyone recommend a good book, in English, about the Franco-German war. This is on topic as surely the French desire to get Alsace and Lorraine back played it's part in causing the war?

Len

Hi LenT,

In the case of this war, you definitely need to read The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871 by Geoffrey Wawro.

It is a classic. I enjoyed this book tremendously.

You may also like his book The Austro-Prussian War: Austria's War with Prussia and Italy in 1866.

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For the later stages of the war and the Paris commune, I can also recommend Alistair Horne's 'The Siege of Paris'.

cheers Martin B

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Correction: it's 'The Fall of Paris'

cheers Martin B

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Hi all,

thanks guys. Always so much to read! Still, last week was on the battlefields and all this week I have been rereading Peter Barton's 'Somme'. Unfortunately the 'tattie' holidays are over and it's back to work on Monday <_<

Len

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Max Poilu said:
If I may, while on the subject, is there any special significance to the location of the French 1870-71 roadside memorial on the approach to Bapaume?

Yes. It commemorates the Battle of Bapaume, some actions of which took place in the fields behind it in January 1871. A rare "near victory" for Faidherbe's Armee du Nord (it was, in reality, more of a draw) it was one of several actions to take place on the later Somme battlefields. . The memorial also possibly marks the site of a mass grave of the casualties along with one marked (German) grave.

Other sites of this war to be found on the 1914-18 battlefields include Peronne, St.Quentin, Amiens, Arras, Reims and Verdun (plus many others).

Dave

Edited by CROONAERT
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Hi,

anyone recommend a good book, in English, about the Franco-German war. This is on topic as surely the French desire to get Alsace and Lorraine back played it's part in causing the war?

Len

"A Day of Battle" (basically just the battle of Mars la Tour, but one of the best English language books that there is on the subject IMO)

Try also the one by Leonce Patry (I can't remember it's translated English title!) which is an excellent account of his experiences in the Armee du Nord.

Dave

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One of the main effects of the Franco Prussian War was as a result of how well the levee en masse or conscripted army did, against the Prussian regulars. Much better than the French regulars had. This turned the Prussian High Command's minds toward a conscripted army and set the ball rolling. Britain being the only nation not to implement conscription in the following years.

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For a masterful account of the rise and fall of Prussia, which includes an incisive look at the events which twice brought Prussia/Germany to war with France between 1871 - 1914, you can't do better than Christopher Clark's Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947, (Allen Lane, 2006). Although it's of the highest scholarship, it's also a gripping read.

ciao,

GAC

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you definitely need to read The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871 by Geoffrey Wawro.

It is a classic. I enjoyed this book tremendously.

Len,

I agree. I would start with Wawro. An excellent read.

Michael Howard's The Franco- Prussian War is also good and was the benchmark for many tears. There is a new two volume history of the war that is available from Amazan here. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw/102-8....y=14&Go=Go

Chris

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One of the main effects of the Franco Prussian War was as a result of how well the levee en masse or conscripted army did, against the Prussian regulars. Much better than the French regulars had. This turned the Prussian High Command's minds toward a conscripted army and set the ball rolling. Britain being the only nation not to implement conscription in the following years.

Prussia actually had a conscript army before the Franco-Prussian War. Conscription was implemented in 1862 by War Minister von Roon, under a series of army reforms. By this, I mean a system based on universal obligation to service, and in proportion to the overall population.

Prussia had earlier conscription laws as well, but not of the character of modern systems.

Paul

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Prussia, seen as the motive force behind the Franco-Prussian war and by many as one of those which drove the events of August 1914, has an absolutely fascinating - and much misunderstood - history, not the least strangest part of which is her demise due to being officially abolished. The 25 of February of this year marked the 60th anniversary of the official extinction of Prussia, abruptly ending what had been one of the most influential States in modern European history - an anniversary which went largely unremarked by the world's media. Because it had such an influence upon our own era of specialisation, 1914-1918, the fate of Prussia following the second round of the wars of 1914-1945 is of interest in the same way as the events of the Franco-Prussian War which preceded the period we study are.

On 25 February 1947, representatives of the Allied occupation authorities in Berlin signed a law abolishing the state of Prussia. From this moment onward, Prussia belonged to history. Law No. 46 stated:

The Prussian State, which from early days has been a bearer of militarism and reaction in Germany, has de facto ceased to exist. Guided by the interests of preservation of peace and security of peoples, and with the desire to assure further reconstruction of the political life of Germany on a democratic basis, the Control Council enacts as follows:

ARTICLE I

The Prussian State together with its central government and all its agencies is abolished.

Historian Christopher Clark, in his excellent Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600 - 1947, cited in my earlier post, comments:

Law No. 46 of the Allied Control Council was more than an administrative act. In expunging Prussia from the map of Europe, the Allied authorities also passed judgement on it. Prussia was not just one German territory among others, on a par with Baden, Wurtemburg, Bavaria or Saxony; it was the very source of the German maliaise that had afflicted Europe. It was the reason why Germany had turned from the path of peace and political modernity. "The core of Germany is Prussia," Churchill told the British Parliament on 21 September 1943. "There is the source of the recurring pestilence." The excision of Prussia from the political map of Europe was thus a symbolic necessity. Its history had become a nightmare that weighed upon the minds of the living.

Clark's terrific book, however, then goes on to reveal Churchill's statement to have been a gross oversimplification. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Prussian state was celebrated as a vehicle of rational administration and progress and the liberator of Protestant Germany from the toils of Habsburg Austria and Bonapartist France. The Prussian-dominated nation state founded in 1871 was seen as the natural, inevitable and best outcome of Germany's historical evolution since the Reformation. Clark shows how this positive view of the Prussian tradition faded after 1945, when the criminality of the Nazi regime cast its long shadows over the German past - unmaking the achievements that had gone before. Clark demonstrates that in fact Prussia's legacy has been profoundly ambiguous. For much of its history it was, for example, Britain's crucial European ally (most famously at Waterloo). At other times, Prussia was so far from being the impregnable fortress of legend that it came close to being eradicated altogether. And also the fact that, while the military ethos in which Prussia was steeped clearly did play its role in two world wars, it is striking how quickly the old Prussian elite who had engineered a united Germany lost control of the monster they had created. Clark's history shows that only through an appreciation of both processes - how Prussia was made and unmade - can we understand how a state which once loomed so large in the awareness of so many could so abruptly and comprehensively disappear, unmourned, from the political stage 60 years ago.

Ciao,

GAC

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