French-German war

Napoleon III. as Prussian prisoners the war of 1870, French-German in the discussion with Bismarck

after the battle of Sedan - 1871, colloquially also „seventies war “, ended with the defeat of France against Prussia and with it alliedSouth German states. It was trip for the establishment of the second German empire.

The Emser telegram went to the war of 13. July 1870 ahead, in which it went around the controversy between Prussia and France concerning the Spanish throne candidacy. The warin France and in the English linguistic area - according to the habit, the aggressor first to call the attacking as second - „French-Prussian war is also called “(„Guerre Franco Prussienne “).

Table of contents


the French emperor Napoleon III. in the apron of the German war had already tried to drive a wedge between Austria and Prussia by it alsoboth sides about a possible intervention or a French neutrality negotiated. Due to the fast victory of Prussia France could not reach concessions. Emperor Napoleon regarded this indirectly as a French defeat; the call after „revenge for Sadowa (Königgrätz) “came into Franceup. Instead of weakening the power structure in Germany, Prussia came out strengthened from the conflict. As consequence of the German war the north Germans federation was created, which was seen in France as the further provocation. Napoleon III. , the alliance was assuredbeyond the Main to extend, however with the South German states secret „protection and Trutzbündnisse “(mutual defense in case of a war of aggression) were not entered. In the further process of the 1860er the French-Prussian tensions were continued to intensify, in particular throughAlliance negotiations of France with Austria and Italy.

1867 came it to the crisis around Luxembourg. Before the war 1866 Napoleon had negotiated with Prussia about area acquisitions as compensation for his neutrality. Also Luxembourg had been mentioned. Bismarck did not have objectionsrevealed, but suggested that France must become active. Besides Luxembourg was before times member of the German federation, had from this time still another Prussian garrison and was by the king of the Netherlands, who was also the Grand Duke of Luxembourg,connected with the Netherlands in personnel union. 1867 wanted to acquire France Luxembourg of the Netherlands. When this became ruchbar, it came into Germany to violent protests (among other things to one of Bismarck ordered inquiry in the Bundestag). Napoleon had to let plans fall itsand Luxembourg was explained in the second Londoner contract of 1867 for neutral. For Napoleon this was a defeat, which continued to reduce its anyway political reputation already scratched.

a cause and cause

1867 had Spanish of military the queen Isabella II. set off. Since then the Spaniards in the European prince houses looked for a candidate, whom the parliament should select to the king. A much promising candidate was a prince Leopold von Hohenzollern Sigmaringen, Spross of a South German Nebenlinie of the Hohenzollern. It was moderated catholic, a little ambitiously and besides to Napoleon related. The prince had few ambitions on the Spanish throne, let itself however 1870 from Bismarck be persuaded to accept the candidacy. Also king William gave, although against-striving, his agreement.

Both Bismarckand played Napoleon with the candidacy, in order to provoke and to her a diplomatic defeat to teach those in each case different side. Napoleon needed this for its prestige and Bismarck hoped to produce thereby national enthusiasm. Both sides knew naturally also thatthey with the Kriegsgefahr played. When the candidacy admits officially became, one reacted in France surprised. The minister of foreign affairs, duke of Gramont, gave a passionate speech in the parliament, in which he threatened with war.

The Prussian king and prince Leopold ofHohenzollern Sigmaringen pulled thereupon the candidacy back. Instead of being content with this diplomatic victory, required Gramont of king William of Prussia an apology and the promise, never again more hohenzoller' schen throne candidacy in Spain to agree. This rejected the king.

Ottoby Bismarck, Prussian Prime Minister and Federal Chancellor north Germans of the federation, had the telegraphic answer of its coworker Heinrich Abeken over the conversation king of William I. with the French Ambassador count Benedetti in bath Ems on the cure promenade so shortened publishes,that after understanding at that time France this as provocation and reason for war to feel had (Emser telegram of 13. July). To 19. July 1870 bent itself Napoleon III. and Prussia explained the war to the pressure of the public and national circles - andserved thereby the purpose, which Bismarck with the Emser telegram actually intended, i.e. not Prussia to represent but France as an aggressor of the world public. Thus the Emser telegram had become the diplomatically aimed at cause for the war, the actual causes lay howeverin the power-politics contrasts between France and Prussia.

Bismarck had probably calculated this French answer to his publication of the changed telegram, because only so it could call in the existing military assistance alliances and individual South German states and thus its political goal,„a smallGerman realm “under of Prussia guidance, complete.


by skillful diplomacy had succeeded it to Bismarck to isolate and put as Agressor France. Also 1866 struck Austria pulled it among other things because of preparation lacking and oppressive debts forwards,to remain neutral. France and the German allied ones faced each other alone.

France, at that time the strongest great power on the European continent with the war-experiencedst and bestausgerüsteten army, held itself in the following war for superior. Military Kraft of the One had underestimated north Germans of federation and the allied South German states. By well planned mobilization, those, as reaction to a turbulent meeting in the French senate to 15. July, in Bavaria and in Prussia already to 16. July had started, became alsoAssistance of the railways German troops fast equipped and in the employment areas pulled together, while the organization in France ran more sluggishly. Already at the end of of July 1870 amounted to the strength of the German army 500,000 men, from which already 300,000 referred their starting positions on the Rhinehad. In addition 400,000 men came at rear reserves and militias.

„The Berennung of Lichtenberg “(Elsass), August 1870

the advance of the German troops took place in a very high speed and met the French army partially unprepared. The Frenchmen became throughthe more mobile German leadership outmaneuvers, which became French armies by in terms of figures superior opponent enclosure, enclosed and to the surrender in a forced manner. After the battles with Spichern, white castle, Wörth, Vionville and Gravelotte, lost in short consequence, the bulk sufferedthe French troops at the 1. /2. September 1870 in the battle of Sedan the crucial defeat, after the other half of the army was included and besieged in the fortress Metz - the emperor had tried to blow up the FE storage ring,and thereby had been encircled. The surrender took place one day later. With Sedan also Napoleon III. turned out. into Prussian war shank.

The population in Paris revolted thereupon, emperors Napoleon III. was set off and the republic was proclaimed. It formed one„Government of the national defense “, which was ready for a peace without annexations, not however to the transfer of Elsass Lorraine. It published to 4. September 1870 a proclamation (Proclamation outer peuple francais), the one request of the French people, in the French GermanWar the country to defend, contained.

The Germans however believed to have to protect itself against French Agressionsgelüsten by acquisition of Elsass Lorraine and insisted on cessions of territory, why the war continued. The republican government organized a national resistance, which starting from 19. September to FE storage of the French capital and - some time later - to their bombardment by Prussian and of them allied armed forces led. This and the guerrilla war (Franctireurs) led to a substantial Verbitterung on both sides. It succeeded to the German throughthe fast surrender besieged Metz and thus the release of the majority of the German troops, the again set up French armies in Flanders, to the Loire to hold in the Lyonnais and in normandy in chess and at a relief of theParis to prevent, to 28 besieged. January 1871 was finally forced to the surrender.

establishment of realm and end of war

establishment of realm in the mirror hall of lock Versailles

to 18. January 1871 left itself to William I. on operation of Bismarck in the mirror hall of theFrench lock to Versailles to the emperor proclaim. The proclamation of William to the German emperor was felt in France as humiliating. It was a demonstration of the absolute superiority and thus a not insignificant political decision, which heated the French-German enmity up. To 10. May 1871 was closed in Frankfurt/Main, after lengthy negotiations in Brussels and Frankfurt/Main, a peace treaty with France.

The day of the battle with Sedan was made as „Sedanstag " the realm holiday. Soon the battle becameSymbol of the superiority over „the ore enemy " high-stylizes. Military and civilians drew incorrect way the conclusion to be able to repeat this victory at any time.

the rebellion that Paris municipality

to 18. March 1871 tried the French prime minister Adolphe Thiers to let the defense-ready national guard of Paris disarm. This led to a rebellion. To 26. March 1871 transferred power, the Commune de Paris to of Paris a revolutionary government. The republican interim government was explained as set off. Thosearmed militias that Paris municipality were only defeated in May 1871 by the again arranged counter-revolutionary French army in the road fight in Paris. In the bloody week of 21. to 28. May gave it 25,000 dead ones. 38,000 arrests followed and7500 Deportationen.

war sequences

Prussian troops pull after the war in Berlin

the defeated France had in peacetime from Frankfurt since the medieval „Strassburger oaths “to the holy Roman realm belonging and the predominantly German-language areas Elsass and a part of Lorraine transfer, it beginning with the Westfäli peace in the middle 17. to toward end 18. Jhd. had annektiert. The language borders did not only play a role, also predominantly französischsprachige parts of north Lorraine became because ofthe there iron ore mines of Germany requires. In addition had France Kontributionszahlungen at a value of 5 billion francs to the German Reich to carry out. This „realm war treasure “was stored to a small part in the Juliusturm of the citadel Spandau. This part fell afterEnd of the First World War back at France.

The larger part of the high war remunerations was one of the causes of the period of promoterism boom. Among other things with them infrastructure measures were financed generally speaking German one Reich (post office stations in East Prussia, churches and schools in the Pfalzand in the Elsass are today still visible indications). In response the French economy was obstructed by applying the war remunerations in its development. Germany became in the consequence the largest within national economy of the earth. The resource of Germany made possible for the realmthe financing of an ultramodern and powerful deep-sea fleet, just like the German requirement beside Great Britain and France as the further world great power to be accepted the distrust up to this time of the only sea power Great Britain global acting excited.

Bismarck cemented with thatof it operated emperor proclamation the division of the former territory „of the holy Roman realm (German nation) “in a north German „German Reich “and - meanwhile by reconciliation of 1867 created - the double monarchy Austria Hungary, due to its far over thatold realm area going out territories as „many people state " continued. The realm idea was nevertheless idealistic basis of the later assistance pact between the German Reich and Austria Hungary (common with Italy as „three-federation " contractually sanctions). This assistance pact was it, that the German Reich 1914 without own,direct threat arranged to occur at the page of Austria Hungary the First World War.

The transfer of Elsass Lorraine - and concomitantly the revision of the French policy of expansion since the dreissigjährigen war on the Rhine - manifested the political contrast between France and the again-createdGerman Reich. While Bismarck pursued with regard to foreign policy the goal of steering of France attention to the extension of the colonial overseas possession William strengthened II. the contrast, by positioning Germany bespielsweise in Morocco (Panthersprung of Agadir) openly against the goals of France. Relating to domestic affairs succeededit the German Reich not, those again in addition and/or. to integrate recovered territory west the Rhine as equal parts into the German Reich. Although it can be stated that as consequence of the 1870/71-Krieges one of the longest peace phases (until 1914) in Western Europe, and should a political reconciliation between Germany and France followed could not not be achieved. The outbreak of the war 1914 emotionalisierte therefore Germans and Frenchmen equally: The Germans in expectation to drive out the “Wel” lastingly all ambitions on east expansion the Frenchmenin the goal of making the Germans far behind the Rhine back urge and the disgrace of 1870/71. After the war of 1914/18 successfully ended for the Frenchmen and their allied ones, appropriate revanchistische Versailler contract put those to the spirit of the timeBases for the profound state crisis of the recent German democracy and it facilitated for now revanchistischen circles on German side successfully to prevent a reconciliation between the neighboring countries.

Web left


  • Theodor Fontane: Volume 1 - The war against France 1870-1871, white castle - Wörth - Spicheren - Colombey - Vionville - Gravelotte - Sedan - William height - Strasbourg - Toul - Metz, publishing house skirt chair, bath Langensalza,Reprint 1873/2004, ISBN 3-937135-25-1
  • Theodor Fontane: Volume 2 - The war against France 1870-1871, before and in Paris of 20. September to 24. December 1870 - The large loss engagements - before Paris in December 1870 - Orleans, publishing house skirt chair,Bath Langensalza, Reprint 1876/2004, ISBN 3-937135-26-X
  • Theodor Fontane: Volume 3 - The war against France 1870-1871, Amiens - Dijon - Le Mans - Belfort - (forwards) Paris 25. December 1870 to 2. March 1871 - Bapaume = pc. Quentin -Pontarlier, publishing house skirt chair, bath Langensalza, Reprint 1876/2004, ISBN 3-937135-27-8
  • max of Riemschneider: A Erfurter in the German of French war 1870/71, publishing house skirt chair, bath Langensalza, 2005, ISBN 3-937135-01-4
  • Sigismund of Dobschütz: „We came to down-burn whole villages “- letters outthe French-German war 1870/71 and the Okkupationszeit 1872/73 of Paul von Collas to its parents., East German family customer (OFK), number 1/2006, side 321f., publishing house Degener & cost, new city (Aisch) 2006, ISSN 0472-190X. - Paul von Collas was at that time a general staff officerand aide under Karl Friedrich of stone-cutter and later under general Edwin of Manteuffel, whose memoirs it wrote.

See also: Category: French-German war, category: French-German war (battle), category: French-German war (person)


  > German to English > (Machine translated into English)