1871 siege of Paris.

Jan 2019
50
My mom's basement
#1
Im starting to be more more interested in 19-th century conflicts,and one of most interesting to me was Franco-Prussian war(1870-1871).And i have a question that i couldnt find answer to,why after German(Prussian)occupation of Paris(afterlong siege)Germans just took Alsace Lorraine,why not all territory they captured incluing Paris?



(Sry for some grammar mistakes and if its not worded well,im not a native english speaker.Thank you for understanding 😊)
 
May 2017
914
France
#2
After the defeat of the imperial army of Napoleon III at Sedan (september 1870) a second army was formed by Gambetta and the republicans and fought until february 1871.The annexion of Alsace Lorraine and the little indemnity of 3 milliards of francs (nothing for France) was considered as a classic end of a war.The new Second Reich was proclamated in Versalles,but was at the beginning of the assimilation.Bismark was prudent and didn t want to provok the English Empire,who would have never accepted a big dictatorship in Europe.The English government was in the continuation of the politic of Wellington who refused in 1815 the dismentling of France.The british navy would have certainly refused the occupation of the harbours of Normandy by the german navy (Cherbourg,Dieppe,Rouen,Le Havre,Calais,Dunkerque).Even in 1939-1945........
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,386
#4
Im starting to be more more interested in 19-th century conflicts,and one of most interesting to me was Franco-Prussian war(1870-1871).And i have a question that i couldnt find answer to,why after German(Prussian)occupation of Paris(afterlong siege)Germans just took Alsace Lorraine,why not all territory they captured incluing Paris?
Beceause, as Moltke observed, there were more French troops in arms against the Prussians when they left in 1871 than when the entered France in 1870. Staying and trying to make larger gains would have involved a much longer, costlier war, with uncertain trade-offs and a considerable risk to the Prussians that they might actually come away with less than they did historically, while having spent magnitudes more time, resources and blood on the project. It's the law of diminishing returns.

The war of 1870-71 is likely one of history's greatest examples of a victor making maximum gains while showing restraint and NOT overextending himself. They already had the big prizes. Risking more for less made little sense.

I.e. Moltke and Bismarck both judged that if the Prussians would stick around in the hope of larger gains, then the risk of over-extension were acute.

It's just that overextension like that is more the norm in history, so the Prussians having the judgement not to fall in that trap might look like lack of ambition. Prussia had some fairly clear goals in that war. Once these were achieved, why stick around on some vague ideas about maybe making some uncertain further gains? It tends to be woolly thinking like that that makes nations snatch failure from victory. And Bismarck wasn't big on wooly thinking.
 
Jul 2009
9,836
#5
@Ante

The posters above have given very good responses. As your OP is in re the siege of Paris, I would add that France was still, in 1871, considered the place of origin of "The Revolution." That was demonstrated to the German princes in the Paris Commune of spring, 1871.

Germany had an enormous project ahead of her with the ordering and integration of the German Empire. Acquiring a large population of potentially revolutionary Frenchmen in Paris was hardly in their interests. AFAIK, the German armies were present outside Paris, which was still officially under siege. When it became necessary to suppress the Commune, the Germans permitted sufficient French troops of the Republic (capital IIRC in southern France) to enter the affected areas of the city and to destroy the revolutionary Commune. It worked very well. In fact it can be argued that the "Revolution" in western Europe died in the spring of 1871. [EDIT: The war itself had ended early in 1871, but numbers of German troops remained in northern France.]

This was a crucial statement, politically and socially, not only for the new German Empire, but also for the other states of west Europe, friend or foe of that new empire. There was essentially no revolutionary activity in Europe before 1917 - far to the east. Paris gave life to western Europe's terror of "The Revolution" in 1789, and it died there in 1871.
 
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Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,386
#6
It's also a matter of not needlessly pissing off the German Liberal opposition. German national unification was originally THEIR project. They went and made a rather serious revolution over it in 1848. The various German lands had been on the road towards greater coordination, then unification, for decades through things like their customs union, monetary union etc.

All of that had already created a kind of conceptual space for German unification. Bismarck was about to gather massive brownie points by having the authoritarian, military monarchy of Prussia hand the progressives and liberals their much-coveted dream on a platter. And they couldn't very well disown it just because they had had no part in its creation, and received it as an unexpected gift. One that massively strengthened the legitimacy of Prussian leadership, averting at least one massive potential reason for a new cycle of revolution attempts by the revolutionary liberals.

What there was NO real room for was some kind of massively ambitious expansion of the idea of a unified Germany to also include bleedin' FRENCHMEN. Completely different sort of people. Elsass-Lothringen was as different matter. There there was a German preparedness for conceptually accepting them as German. (But even then with their history and divided identity between the French and the German it wasn't without its complications.)

IF Prussia had somehow tried to carve off parts of France without reasonable prior credentials of Germanness, then att least it would have proven to German unification nationalists that Prussia wasn't actually serious about German unification. What could it even want with a bunch if Frenchmen, except possible to use as some kind of leverage against the proper Germans? It could well have been an entry point for a world of political trouble for Prussia. Never mind the extent to which these forcibly Germanified Frenchmen would have resisted such a move.
 
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Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,386
#8
@Ante
When it became necessary to suppress the Commune, the Germans permitted sufficient French troops of the Republic (capital IIRC in southern France) to enter the affected areas of the city and to destroy the revolutionary Commune. It worked very well. In fact it can be argued that the "Revolution" in western Europe died in the spring of 1871. [EDIT: The war itself had ended early in 1871, but numbers of German troops remained in northern France.]
The capital was temporarily relocated from Paris to Tours, about 200 km away. And quite a long way from the south.

Paris surrendered to the Prussians 28 Jan 1871. Which is also the date on which the Franco-Prussian war ended. The Prussians held a victory parade 17 Feb 1871 in Paris. The bulk of the Prussians troops were then relocated to their new provinces of Elsass and Lothringen, to the east.

The Germans disarmed the conventional French army forces. The Gardes mobiles/National Guard forces however were not so disarmed. And they formed the military core of the Communards.

The Commune was declared on 18 March 1871. After a build up to conflict between the regular French army and the Gardes mobiles inside Paris.
 
Jul 2009
9,836
#9
It's also a matter of not needlessly pissing off the German Liberal opposition. German national unification was originally THEIR project. They went and made a rather serious revolution over it in 1848. The various German lands had been on the road towards greater coordination, then unification, for decades through things like their customs union, monetary union etc.

All of that had already created a kind of conceptual space for German unification. Bismarck was about to gather massive brownie points by having the authoritarian, military monarchy of Prussia hand the progressives and liberals their much-coveted dream on a platter. And they couldn't very well disown it just because they had had no part in its creation, and received it as an unexpected gift. One that massively strengthened the legitimacy of Prussian leadership, averting at least one massive potential reason for a new cycle of revolution attempts by the revolutionary liberals.

What there was NO real room for was some kind of massively ambitious expansion of the idea of a unified Germany to also include bleedin' FRENCHMEN. Completely different sort of people. Elsass-Lothringen was as different matter. There there was a German preparedness for conceptually accepting them as German. (But even then with their history and divided identity between the French and the German it wasn't without its complications.)

IF Prussia had somehow tried to carve off parts of France without reasonable prior credentials of Germanness, then att least it would have proven to German unification nationalists that Prussia wasn't actually serious about German unification. What could it even want with a bunch if Frenchmen, except possible to use as some kind of leverage against the proper Germans? It could well have been an entry point for a world of political trouble for Prussia. Never mind the extent to which these forcibly Germanified Frenchmen would have resisted such a move.
In addition to those excellent points, by the mid-19th century there had begun to be a greater sense of national identity than before the "egalite and fraternite" of the French Revolution. More people - mostly middle class people - were coming to consider themselves "Germans" rather than Bavarians; "Italians" rather than Piedmontese and so on. Social attitudes and their affect on institutions were turning many of these folks into nationalists who looked with disfavor on populations different than themselves. The middle class(es) were composed of industrialists, lawyers and intellectuals who perhaps should have known better, but were full of themselves and enjoyed their increasing influence.

The middle classes, even in the German Empire, would become more and more influential in business, culture, and even in some ways in politics, than they had been before say 1848. The German Empire was imposed top-down by the princes, and was a sort of reverse-revolution of its own. In some ways, it was an exercise in self preservation by the princely rulers of the Reich. They both froze out the "liberals" and also co-opted the middle classes into a sense of "nation." Those from East Prussia, and those from Hamburg, and those from Bavaria were hardly alike in many ways, but they bought into the princely propaganda and became good Germans. So, no they were not interested in Frenchmen - especially the restive and turbulent population of Paris.
 
Jul 2009
9,836
#10
The capital was temporarily relocated from Paris to Tours, about 200 km away. And quite a long way from the south.

Paris surrendered to the Prussians 28 Jan 1871. Which is also the date on which the Franco-Prussian war ended. The Prussians held a victory parade 17 Feb 1871 in Paris. The bulk of the Prussians troops were then relocated to their new provinces of Elsass and Lothringen, to the east.

The Germans disarmed the conventional French army forces. The Gardes mobiles/National Guard forces however were not so disarmed. And they formed the military core of the Communards.

The Commune was declared on 18 March 1871. After a build up to conflict between the regular French army and the Gardes mobiles inside Paris.
Thanks. I had remembered something about the Republic operating from around Bordeaux - oh well.

The troops of the Republic in the destruction of the Commune were around 160,000. Some were naval troops, some were other regular army, and some probably were Garde Mobile. Not to pick nits, but these troops having been disarmed, they had to be rearmed, in agreement of the German occupiers, before the French generals could act against the Communards. I had thought there were still German troops close to Paris during the Commune.

Paris was still technically in a state of siege which justified the use of military trials and summary execution in the last week of May, 1871.
 

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