I remember it as a one liner in history class, probably early in high school. France and Germany fought a war, 1870-71.
I don’t remember who won (Germany I presume – that was the Bismarck era) or what the cause was. I think at the end Alsace became German, or returned to being German. As I said, my memory is hazy. It was long ago and far away, and I didn’t really care much about the topic.
Here though that conflict wasn’t that far away, as I realized when walking through downtown Freiburg on Saturday. I saw a war memorial in the distance, and assumed it was one from the First World War. When I got closer though, I discovered it was a Franco-Prussian war memorial, first one I have ever seen.
Alsace is just a few minutes drive from here – I guess this war and its aftermath are far more of a reality to the people of this area then they were to me on the other side of the world 40 years ago, People here had family who fought and died, and others whose nationality changed as a result of the conflict. I guess that explains the size of the memorial, which I gather is dedicated only to a few (presumably local) regiments.
So I snapped a few pictures to share with you today.
This Sunday we will be remembering the First World War, which came to an end a century ago on November 11, 1918. There is no-one left who fought in that conflict, and I wonder if, as time progresses, memories are beginning to fade and that war will become as relevant as the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian conflict; forgotten by almost everyone. Wars are in many ways pointless, unless we learn lessons from them to allow us to prevent the next war.
I wonder how many of those walking by this monument every day actually take time to reflect on the war it memorializes. My guess is not very many.