France and the Saar, 1680-1948

France and the Saar, 1680-1948

France and the Saar, 1680-1948

France and the Saar, 1680-1948

Excerpt

The conflicting claims of France and Germany to the tiny but nevertheless vitally important area of the Saar Basin have given rise to an enormous amount of literature on both sides, each seeking to provide a sound historical basis for its respective claim. French and German scholars have delved assiduously into the oldest available records, some of which go back as far as the tenth century and each has found these same records to be a substantiation of his own national claim. Over the heads of the people of the Saar the controversy has raged for centuries and, as must all peoples of a long disputed border, they have philosophically accepted the domination of whichever power could make its will prevail. Only rarely have the Saarlanders been asked to whom they would belong, were free choice given and even from the rare opportunity for self expression, little can be learned of the true feeling of the people for only too often the vote has been calculated to please that power which at the time promised the best prospect of peace and security.

The present study is not an attempt to substantiate either the French or the German historic claim but rather to sort out from the mass of conflicting propaganda, which has been produced on both sides, the facts of the case. If the historic claim is weighed objectively, the evidence would undoubtedly force the outsider to the conclusion that the German case far outweighs that of France. However, even the most neutral observers must at the same time recognize that, in the light of past events, the French claim to influence in the Saar has some validity. Nor can the fact of a legitimate French interest in the Saar for economic and security reasons be denied. Like most questions of international politics, the Saar problem has no answer in black and white; the solution must inevitably be found somewhere between the two absolutes. Europe hoped that a workable compromise had been found in the arrangement . . .

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