The Alsatian Question


ALSACE-LORRAINE has now been reunited with France for something over eleven years, and the fact is generally well known that neither France nor the redeemed provinces are entirely satisfied with the work of reconciliation. Foreign newspaper correspondents in France have sent home accounts of the various difficulties encountered, and all the pro-German or anti-French propagandists have sought to prove that the two provinces are now anti-French (which is not true), in the same way that they claimed during the war that the provinces were pro-German (which was as false).

Now, eleven years after the Armistice, it is possible to appraise the work done by France in Alsace-Lorraine, to explain the problems which have arisen and the methods employed for their solution, and to set forth the present situation in the provinces as seen by the rank and file of citizens. It is with these questions so far as they relate to Alsace, where the problem of assimilation has been most difficult and where feeling has run much higher than in Lorraine, that the present paper is to deal. It may be said at once that the work accomplished by France has not been the magnificent success, has not brought about the frictionless and perfect assimilation, that everyone, with exaggerated optimism, expected in 1918. On the other hand, it is far from having been a failure.

In 1918, the Alsatians, after fortyeight years of German domination, greeted with enthusiasm their return to French rule and welcomed the French troops as conquering heroes on their entrance into the towns and villages. In fact, anti-German feeling had run so high during the war that 20,000 Alsatians had crossed no man’s land at the peril of their lives to fight in the French ranks (several thousand had fallen between the lines as they were trying to pass through). Furthermore, in 1918, the people of Alsace would certainly have considered the plebiscite that President Wilson wished to impose upon them as an affront to their honor and their loyalty to France.

However, the most ardent enthusiasm and the warmest affection can hardly suffice in themselves to join two peoples who have been separated for so long. In reality, the French Government was faced by a very difficult problem: how to bring back into the great French family a country speaking a German patois and living under German laws, a country which, in the course of forty-eight years, had lost all contact with French life. Victorious France in 1918 was no longer Imperial France of 1870, and the Alsace of 1918 was no longer the Alsace of the Second Empire. Each one had developed along lines which were most often diametrically opposite.

Until 1870, Alsace had developed in entire economic, political, and religious harmony with the rest of France. The Concordat of 1802, retained after 1815 by the monarchies and the Second Empire, assured the union of the churches and the State. Napoleon III, in fact, although pursuing a policy very favorable to the Catholic Church, was also just and tolerant to other sects. And Alsace, where the democratic spirit was very much alive, had welcomed the reforms which transformed the Absolute Empire of 1852 into the Empire libéral of 1867-70.

At the close of the Great War, the situation was very different. Political France, whose real sentiments, masked for some years by the patriotic and religious crisis of the war, were to reappear in 1924, had changed greatly since 1870. A secular spirit which easily became anticlerical had brought about the separation of Church and State. This spirit, this political tendency, exemplified by the Radicals and the Radical Socialists, was entirely foreign to the Alsatians, who had preserved the Concordat.

From the political point of view, the Third Republic kept the traditional principle of 1798, further strengthened by Napoleon I, of a very strongly centralized state. Alsace, on the other hand, had followed under the German domination an exactly contrary evolution. Having been annexed to Germany by force, it wished to be as little German as possible; hence its efforts, especially at the beginning of this century, to gain a rather broad autonomy. In 1870, the Imperial German Government made of Alsace-Lorraine a Reichsland — that is to say, a province which belonged to the Empire as a whole rather than to any particular state, such as Prussia or Bavaria. The Kaiser was represented at Strasbourg by a governor who, having executive power, appointed the officials and commanded the police. The Alsatians sent representatives to the Reichstag. They, being a tiny minority, could only make formal protests against the Imperial administration. At Strasbourg, finally, — and this is the institution whose autonomous character is the most evident, — the Germans created a Landesausschuss, a small local parliament which voted the provincial budget and the laws of the local administration. Gradually its powers were increased, in the endeavor to satisfy the Alsatians and to reconcile them to being German. Furthermore, throughout the Empire, in the first years of the reign of Wilhelm II, new social laws creating workmen’s insurance against sickness, accident, and old age were put in force, bettering the situation of the working classes in a nation whose industrial and commercial importance was constantly increasing. At the same time a severe, rather harsh administration, but minute, exact, and rapid, collaborated in a highly efficient manner with the life and progress of the country.

In short, Alsace between 1870 and 1918, in spite of its anti-German sentiment and a bit because of it, had developed — or had been developed — in the direction of a political autonomy more apparent than real; and it had become, by reason of the social laws introduced by Germany and its own economic development, a country comparable to the most modern — even, we must say, in many points more advanced than France. Alone the religious laws, which had been repealed in France, remained unchanged beyond the Vosges. The German Empire recognized, in fact, the union of the churches and the State — not only the Roman Catholic Church, but also the Protestant Reformed, the Augsburg Confession, and the Hebrew.

From this one may realize the tragic side of the situation of Alsace in 1918 with regard to France. In spite of the efforts to remain in contact with each other after 1870, forty-eight years without political or religious relations had caused a profound spiritual separation between the two countries. After 1870, Alsace, hating Germany and feeling France becoming more distant each year, had gradually withdrawn into itself.

That, then, was the problem, at once long and difficult to solve. Let us examine how, since the Armistice, each side has worked toward a solution.


In the first years which followed the cessation of hostilities, all seemed to be going well. The villages which had been totally or in part destroyed were reconstructed. The Alsatians also began ardently to learn French, a duty whose importance could not be exaggerated. Many Germans were banished. The people accompanied them as far as Kehl or Chalampé on the Rhine for the joy of seeing them at last depart! However, the Treaty of Versailles gave French nationality, if requested, to every German man or woman who had married an Alsatian; and those Germans remained, although not in great numbers, for mixed marriages were rare. There remained also those whom it was not possible to banish because their places could not immediately be filled — railway employees, government clerks, business men; in all, perhaps 50,000.

France temporarily replaced the German governor by a High Commissioner, a sort of Under-Secretary for Alsace-Lorraine, detached from Paris and living in Alsace, who decided on his own responsibility numerous questions interesting the three departments into which the two provinces had been divided. The system had its good points and, under a man like Millerand, functioned well.

For the time being, the German laws were retained; French laws were to be introduced gradually. In fact, certain German statutes, such as those concerning insurance, the cadastre, the registres du commerce, bankruptcy, and the publicity of matrimonial registers, were more advanced and more perfect than the French; and to have suppressed them would have been taking a step backward. For that reason the Alsatian deputies in Parliament proposed to extend them over France as a whole. Bet ween 1918 and 1924, French schools and lycées were organized, and, gradually and prudently, some French laws were introduced.

Those measures were prudent and wise in themselves. Nevertheless, already in 1921 or 1922 the first signs of discontent began to appear, caused by the complicated machinery of French administrative procedure. The problems to be solved, particularly those relating to the compensation for war damages, were undoubtedly complex and difficult; but, for that very reason, the government would have done well to simplify its administrative methods in the province, to retain the High Commissioner longer than the first few years, and to consider first of all the rapid satisfaction of justifiable demands, instead of maintaining so rigidly its respect for vexatious formalities. However, it merely extended to Alsace the methods used in the remainder of the country, and the Alsatian, accustomed to the methodical, organized ways of the decentralized German régime, began to complain of the slow and excessively centralized French administration. The situation in 1930 remains unchanged.

There is, for example, the matter of municipal loans. A town requires money to prolong an important tramway line. Under the German régime, communities could freely borrow the money they needed for their projects. Now, under the French since the recall of the High Commissioner, they have to apply to the Sous-Secrétariat for Alsace-Lorraine in Paris for the permission to issue a loan; and that results in official investigations, red tape, and lost time. It is so with everything. It seems always necessary to go through Paris in order to get anything accomplished, even though the things are of minor importance. The Alsatian, who has a developed practical sense, refuses to understand; he calls the obstacles ridiculous vexations. He demands a broad municipal freedom, regional freedom even; and then he is called an autonomist. He is, however, rarely so in the real sense of the word. He asks only administrative reform, for he is persuaded that the old centralized system of Napoleon I has had its day.

The curious point is that most French people are in agreement with him on this point, but have resigned themselves to what they consider irremediable. In fact, as long as centralization of the power in Paris is for the party in power an instrument which permits it to superintend the political life of the country in its most minute details, there is little chance of seeing serious reforms made in the sense of administrative decentralization.

In addition to the physical delays, the Alsatian is shocked by the spirit of French officialdom, a spirit of laisseraller and complete lack of interest which gives the impression, when a citizen enters a government office, not that the clerks are there to serve him, but that he is disturbing them and that they resent it. There is also the presumption on the part of the personnel that every citizen is to be suspected of trying to defraud the State, a point of view particularly evident in the tax departments; and this shocks many honest people who have never thought of defrauding even the German State. The spirit which reigned in the administrative offices came partly at first from the way in which the personnel had been recruited.

Often the government placed in Alsace Southerners — Gascons, who knew no German, did not understand the patois, and felt themselves completely lost in a strange country. Naturally, the Alsatian who had business with them, often without being able to make himself understood, became impatient and grumbled at this invasion by heteroclite bureaucrats. The Southerners sometimes called the Alsatians ‘Bodies’; above all, they thought of them as such, on account of their dialect and different mentality. In the offices and in the schools there were disagreements and friction between the Alsatian personnel and the French, which passed for being favored. There was a professor in the lycée of Mulhouse who said that in Alsace one had the impression of being in a colony; and he protested against an administrative policy which made it so appear.

The Alsatians, for these reasons, find frequent opportunities to use their recognized talents for faultfinding. As an example, we may cite this incident which occurred. A train was delayed for some time, for an unknown reason, in a little local station, and the passengers became more and more impatient.

‘Yes,’ they said, ‘under the Germans the railroads were run well. The trains were never late! It is terrible now all these Frenchmen are in charge!’

At this moment the conductor entered. Someone asked him why the train was waiting. ‘What is the station agent doing?'

‘Oh,’ replied the conductor, ‘the station agent is a Boche that the French have kept in his position.’ And immediately everybody in the car shouted: ‘What! A Boche here as station agent! Kick him out! Kick him out!’

This story, which well reveals the Alsatian character, shows also the difficulty of the administrative problem. It has not been possible to remove all the Germans because they could not be replaced. On the other hand, those that were removed — the high officials, civil engineers, and so on — have had to be replaced for the most part by Frenchmen, for trained Alsatians did not exist in sufficient numbers. Hence, jealousy and irritation have arisen.

What is the solution of this problem? Poincaré, by the decrees of November 1927, engaged France on the road of decentralization, enlarging the powers of the municipalities, of the subprefects and the prefects; but it is still definitely insufficient. And a very strong public opinion will be necessary before any government dares to present to the Chamber a law which will decentralize administrative, even economic, life.

On the other hand, the question of the personnel is partially solved to-day. The Alsatians occupy more and more — and already to a greater extent than in the German period — the important posts in the railroads (which are statecontrolled) and in the administration, properly speaking. At the same time, on account of the fact that they were first sent to positions in the interior of France, they have been able to learn the French language more thoroughly and to return to Alsace with a better understanding of their fellow countrymen beyond the Vosges.


The first cause of Alsatian discontent was, therefore, dissatisfaction with the administration. From 1919 until 1924 there was scarcely any other.

Suddenly, however, in the year 1924, the government’s policy underwent a change. Herriot and the Radicals came into power, and a short time afterward, under the pretext of unifying the law in France, Herriot announced his intention of establishing in Alsace the separation of the Church and State and of suppressing the denominational schools. The French anticlericals had, in fact, a particular grudge against Alsace because it had retained the union of the churches and the State.

The Alsatians were surprised at this resurrection of the French anticlerical spirit, which they did not understand and had every reason to fear; and immediately there was war. The people of Alsace reminded Herriot of the promise made by Joffre in 1915 that the French Government would respect their religious laws; and, in the little villages where the priest or the minister is king, a resolute campaign was begun against the anticlerical government, against irreligious France. An example often cited will show the enormous influence of the priest in electoral matters.

On the Sunday before the vote, a priest said at Mass: ‘We recommend that you vote for the candidate who will defend your faith, your children, and your schools.’ The result on election day was: voters registered, 193; ballots cast, 193. Monsieur Pfleger, candidate of the Union populaire républicaine (the Catholic party) received 193 votes, other candidates, 0. Thus, for those who knew the simple Alsatian peasants and the enormous influence of the village priests, it was easy to foresee the result of an anticlerical campaign. Religious Alsace was solidly against Herriot.

Then suddenly, a short time later, people began to talk of an autonomist movement just started by a society called the Heimatbund and its German language newspaper, the Zukunft. The names of the leaders — Ricklin, Rossé, and others — were not then known. The Zukunft, written in an excellent German which sufficed to distinguish it from the other newspapers in the language, found immediately numerous readers among the intellectuals and the priests who had been educated in German universities and seminaries, and who felt themselves almost in a strange land since French had become again the official language. The Zukunft proclaimed : ‘Irreligious France is threatening our faith, our customs, and our language. It is our duty to defend those holy things. For that reason, we must have a broad liberty and a real autonomy; we must have a parliament at Strasbourg, where we may send men to make our laws. Long live Alsace, free and autonomous!’

In the beginning people made fun of this discontented and ambitious group; but, nevertheless, its influence grew in the country districts. The priests rallied to the secret orders of the Abbé Haegy, who had become the clandestine leader of the movement, and openly disobeyed the admirable Bishop of Strasbourg, Monsignor Ruch, a greathearted patriot, who predicted better times and urged his clergy to be patient . From the pulpit certain priests and ministers started a systematic propaganda of hatred and disparagement of everything French, to such an extent that the good peasant who left his village for the first time exclaimed with astonishment on seeing a French village: ‘What! A church! It is incredible. I thought the French were all pagans or Freemasons!’

But why had the clergy, so patriotic in 1919, come over so suddenly to autonomism? The fact is that the questions of faith and pocketbook are closely linked for the clergy of Alsace. Priests and ministers in the province are government employees, well paid by the State. In the smallest villages the clergyman receives about fifteen thousand francs a year, considerably more than the schoolmaster. For that reason, it must be confessed that the moral level of the clergy in Alsace is not so high as in France, where disestablishment obtains. Many young men, the most intelligent among the peasants’ and workingmen’s sons, choose the clerical profession, not because they feel a real spiritual vocation, but simply because they realize all the material and social advantages which it carries with it. Now, if the churches were disestablished, the clergymen would be obliged to live on the contributions of their faithful. Therefore, one cannot expect disinterestedness from the good priests for whom faith is of secondary importance. The majority, at least, are ferociously interested, first in their salary, and secondly in their little rural kingdom, the spiritual fief over which they reign.

The question of language also has its place. The peasants speak a German patois and their newspapers are in German; the village priests preach either in German or in the patois. What will happen if the peasant’s children, if not he himself, begin to speak French? They will tend to escape from the exclusive power of the priest and rise socially and culturally. In fact, the Alsatians know the Muttersprache — good German — very poorly, and cultural relations between Germany and Alsace have almost ceased. Therefore, by leaving the peasants in their patois, the priests maintain them in a limited ignorance by means of which they hope to keep their power for a long time. For this reason, the priests naturally include in their autonomist programme the defense of the Muttersprache.

For the clergy, then, autonomism means the defense of their material, social, and, least of all, their spiritual position. ‘The League of the Priests and Ministers of Alsace for the Protection of Their Pocketbooks’ — thus an Alsatian humorous journal qualified the Heimatbund.

Wc shall not insult the intelligence of the priests who supported the Heimatbund by pretending that they really believed France would be stupid enough to accord real autonomy to Alsace. It meant already yielding considerable ground to leave the Alsatians all their laws in 1918. To grant the province real autonomy, however, would be to destine Alsace to be immediately swallowed up by Germany; and the first to complain and to accuse France of abandoning them would be the Alsatians themselves. So the autonomist campaign has been, instead of a real movement working at any cost for its goal, rather a campaign to intimidate the government by mass manifestations, by a real movement of public opinion, and, somewhat according to the formula of Lyautey, ’to make a show of force in order not to have to use it.’ The autonomists said: ‘You will promise us, for example, not to touch our religious laws for fifty years, or else we shall raise religious Alsace solidly against France.’ In the beginning, they seemed to have calculated well; they succeeded in alarming Herriot, and he abandoned his plans. Eventually, however, they went too far.

The clandestine leader was, as we have said, the Abbé Haegy. He was a cunning, ambitious, embittered man, who, before 1914, had played a rôle of some importance as a representative of the Catholic Centre Party in the Landesausschuss. During the war, he had compromised himself more or less with the Germans, a mistake people did not pardon in Alsace. So, after 1918, he lost all political power; the Alsatians would not send a doubtful patriot to represent them in Paris.

But Haegy could not resign himself to a minor role in the Union populaire républicaine, as the Catholic party was called after 1918; and his ambition was reawakened when he saw the advantage he might gain from the new autonomist movement. He thought that his hour had struck and that he might once more be a power in the province as leader of the Heimatbund. He did not, however, dare to declare himself openly in favor of the autonomists. Belonging to the U. P. R., his policy tended to unite it with the autonomists by a campaign of systematic disparagement of France, threatening finally to turn definitely to autonomism if Alsace did not receive solemn guarantees that its faith, institutions, and language would be respected. Autonomism developed, thanks to him, if not because of him; and finally it seemed to melt into a single movement with Haegy as its leader. He naturally denied it. All he was asking for Alsace was a certain autonomy — ‘within the framework of France,’ he added hypocritically when he was pressed for definite details.

In the midst of this, in the early summer of 1926, a journalist, Édouard Helsey, published a scries of sensational articles in the Paris Journal, accusing Haegy of playing Germany’s game, even going so far as to call him a traitor bought with German gold. This was, in fact, the fear of a few and the opinion of the many. It was quite evident that the autonomist activity delighted the Germans, and people had every reason to fear that the German Government would encourage it, not in words alone, but with money as well, from its secret funds.

Before all the articles had appeared, Haegy filed a libel suit against Helsey. When it came to trial in Colmar shortly after, Henri-Robert was retained by Helsey, and the defense immediately assumed the aspect of a prosecution; from first to last the plaintiff and his lawyers were on the defensive. Public opinion, in France as well as in Alsace, followed the sessions with passionate interest. The presiding judge, admirably tactful throughout, wished the trial to assume a symbolic value, for it to mark a sort of reconciliation between France and Alsace. After two weeks of passionate sessions in which his lawyer was defeated at every turn, Haegy, moved or (who knows?) once more hypocritical, accepted a tricolored bouquet, cried, ‘Vive la France!’ and abandoned his suit.

People had to be very optimistic to believe that a bouquet and a little patriotic emotion would end the Alsatian crisis. Haegy was soon attacking Franee as violently as before. However, in the interval, Poincaré had returned to power, and from that time the autonomists faced a more formidable antagonist. Poincaré assured the Alsatians that he would respect their religious laws; but, on the other hand, he warned the autonomists that he would fight relentlessly the enemies of France and oppose every movement which sought to detach Alsace from France.

Haegy became more prudent. The Heimatbund, on the other hand, in the course of 1927, increased its activity, multiplied its newspapers (Zukunft, Elsass, and others), and even dared to found a militia, the Schutzbund. The Heimatbund seemed to possess a really considerable fund for propaganda. Then the police learned that several autonomists were making frequent trips to Germany and apparently not returning empty-handed. The government decided to act. The Zukunft was suspended. Dr. Ricklin and Rossé, the leaders, were arrested, and others sought refuge in Germany. A second trial was begun, with Ricklin, Rossé, and their subordinates accused of criminal propaganda and high treason.

The trial was awkwardly conducted. Several times the impression was given that the government had proofs, but that it did not wish to use them for reasons of international policy (relations with Germany were good and, thanks to Briand, becoming better). Finally, Ricklin and Rossé were condemned to light sentences.

The autonomists, naturally, regarded them as martyrs and immediately set about preparing for them a brilliant revenge. It succeeded. In the next legislative elections, both Rossé and Ricklin were elected deputies to Parliament by rather large pluralities. Of course, being in prison, both were ineligible. At the same time, almost everywhere in Alsace — as, for instance, in Strasbourg, Saverne, and Hagenau — the autonomists won successes. In 1929, in the municipal elections, the mayoralties of Colmar and Strasbourg were carried by a coalition of autonomists and communists. In fact, it was due to that alliance that the autonomists, in 1928 as well as in 1929, gained success. It was somewhat paradoxical, to say the least, that the champions of religion should join forces with the members of the Third Internationale of Moscow; nevertheless, they did — one more of Haegy’s tours de force. The alliance was the clearest confession of the autonomists’ inability to win politically by themselves; and it did not fail to scandalize many thinking Catholics and many other good people who now, for the first time, saw things more clearly.

Ricklin and Rossé left prison somewhat less arrogant than before their trial, and, now that their party is in control of some great cities, it is becoming more moderate, like every radical party that comes into power. Moreover, the tone of Haegy’s newspapers has changed notably; they are now less sensational and much more conciliatory. One would say that he is seeking pardon for his alliance with the communists. Furthermore, he has recently been defeated for senator by the national candidate. He should remember!


Dissatisfaction with administrative methods and the religious policy of the government has often been qualified by the term ‘Alsatian discontent.’ This discontent, of purely cultural and political origin, as we have seen, has been efficiently combated by the economic situation, which, rapidly improving since the war, has never been so prosperous as during these last years. That is a domain in which France has made a brilliant success, which all Alsatians, even the most fiercely autonomist, are obliged to recognize.

Agriculture has regained its former prosperity. The grape growers feared at one time, because of the high price of Alsatian wines, a disastrous competition from the South of France; and they deplored the loss of the German market, which formerly absorbed so large a quantity of the Alsatian vintages because of their resemblance to the most celebrated Rhine wines. However, the grape growers quickly found the true solution: to win the French market for their best vintages by supplanting entirely the Rhine wines. Now, by concentrating their attention on their best vintages and constantly bettering their quality, they have created a distinctive product which has no equivalent on the French market.

The potash mines have become extremely prosperous since the war. Under the German régime, the development had been sacrificed for the benefit of the mines in Saxony; so 1918 marks an important date in the Alsatian industry. Production, constantly increasing, is at present three times that of 1918. No new mine has been sunk; the Alsatians have merely exploited intensively those in existence. Since Alsatian labor was not sufficient in numbers, thousands of Poles were brought in. Whole villages of pretty houses were built for them in what had been forest and deserted country. The result is that to-day the Alsatian miners are among the happiest workmen in France. Each one possesses a house, usually charming, with a character of its own distinguishing it from its neighbors, a garden, and flowers; and sometimes the bourgeois of moderate means casts an envious eye upon it, thinking of the gray house which awaits him in the town.

The rapidly increasing production of the Alsatian basin has had its effect on the German potash producers. France consumes only about 10 per cent of the Alsatian production, and the remainder must be exported. The Germans have found themselves in the same situation and, since the war, have continually encountered Alsatian competition in foreign markets, particularly the Swiss, Dutch, and American. They proposed to the French a cartel which would determine for each producer the percentage of his production and his sales and thus prevent disastrous competition. This is the same cartel that was prosecuted as illegal two or three years ago in the United States. Since the world potash consumption is continually increasing, there is every reason to believe, unless something unforeseen happens, that the prosperity of the mines will continue.

Manufacturing has made great strides. The textile industry — especially cotton — has had no trouble in resuming its hold on the French market, and it will shortly find an important. outlet in the colonies. Old firms of reputation have had an extraordinary renewal of activity. A certain house, for example, half ruined by the war, issued in 1919 shares with a par value of 500 francs ($100). This same stock today, taking into consideration the fact that it has been split two for one, is worth approximately 24,000 francs ($940).

The metallurgical industry follows the movement. The Société Alsacienne de Constructions Mécaniques, which saw its factories divided between France and Germany in 1870, was able in 1918 to combine its two branches once more and begin anew with a burst of activity. In 1928, it fused a portion of its interests with the ThomsonHouston Company and a new era of efficient production seems to have opened. Automobile manufacture, too, with Mathis and Bugatti, has developed remarkably.

Communications have been further and efficiently improved. In particular, the grandiose work should be mentioned which has been accomplished at Strasbourg, making that city the greatest river port in France after Paris and, by means of coal and coke from the Ruhr, oil, wheat, wood, and the like, an importing city of the first rank. This work is being continued. Parallel to the Rhine a canal has been dug which will permit barges to go up the river without difficulty as far as Basel. In addition, at each dam a hydroelectric plant has been constructed which will develop nearly 1,000,000 horsepower (estimated).

In sum, Alsace has again taken without difficulty its natural place in French economic life. Its industrial production finds a more important outlet in the agricultural country that France still is to-day than it did before the war in an already greatly industrialized Germany. Finally, France, in the commercial treaties which she has negotiated since the Armistice, has constantly sought to favor the external commerce of Alsace.


Post-war Alsace offers the spectacle of a country which is struggling to find its destiny; and an impartial observer will easily gain from a study of the situation the idea that that destiny is not, and cannot be, anything else than that of France itself. The fact that an autonomous Alsace would be an economic impossibility is beginning to penetrate the masses; and it is penetrating, not because of propaganda, but because of the definite, tangible, and visible results which have been mentioned.

If France respects the religious laws in Alsace, removing the chief grievance of the people and the chief raison d’être of the autonomist party; if she renders her administrative methods more flexible; if, in fine, she continues the work of conciliation in the really lofty and liberal spirit which alone is worthy of her great traditions, it will then be only a question of time before the Alsatians as a whole realize that their political security and commercial prosperity depend upon their permanent union with France. The embittered autonomist minority will be submerged in a patriotic majority seeking to coöperate in every way with the French Government and the French nation.

In another ten years, when the generation born in 1919 shall have attained its majority, a new Alsace will be seen. Knowledge of the French language, which alone can bring perfect and sympathetic understanding, will be widespread and general; the spiritual bonds broken after 1870 will be renewed. A real coöperation, rendered by that time more easy, will permit the solution of political problems which are primarily only a question of time and patience.