Discovering and photographing the unknown beauty of Europe
Whenever Lars and I see a war monument, we are quick to think that it probably refers to World War I. Or World War II. Or even both. Not so far from Gravelotte however we saw something else:
In a couple of fields, we saw 3 monuments referring to the same war: the Franco – Prussian of 1870 – 1871. What was this war about? According to Wikipedia,
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the War of 1870 (19 July 1870 – 10 May 1871), was a significant conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia, aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and Bavaria. The war and its resulting German victory is notable for its impact and legacy on Europe. The unification of Germany was finally brought about after years of deliberation and conflict, leading to the new powerful and industrious nation shifting the European balance of power. In France, internal discontent intensified, leading to events such as the downfall of Napoleon III and the end of the Second French Empire, to then be replaced by the French Third Republic which continued resistance in the war with newly formed armies and the aftermath of the war in the Paris Commune uprising of 1871. (…)
Over a five-month campaign, the German armies defeated the newly recruited French armies in a series of battles fought across northern France. Following a prolonged siege, noted for the first use of anti-air artillery, Paris fell on 28 January 1871. Ten days before the fall of the city, the German states proclaimed their union as the German Empire under the Prussian king, Wilhelm I, uniting Germany as a nation-state. During the time of the Paris Commune uprising, the final Treaty of Frankfurt was signed 10 May 1871. The settlement gave Prussia the French territories of Alsace and part of Lorraine to become part of the new Germany. The lands remained so until the end of World War I when they were returned to France in the Treaty of Versailles.
The largest battle took place in Gravelotte and when the French lost, they went to Metz, which was besieged soon after. At the end of the war, the city was no longer French, but German.
The monuments that we found in the region of Gravelotte are silent witnesses of this war. Not a lot of decoration was used; I bet if you drive too fast that you could easily miss them.