The Franco-German War of 1870-71


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In their sober guardianship, conquest itself changes from a condition of future war into a pledge of perpetual peace. Of course, it is not Germans that invaded France in for the sublime purpose of bayonetting the revolution of the 18th century. It is not Germans that befouled their hands by the subjugation of Italy, the oppression of Hungary and the dismemberment of Poland. In Germany, as everywhere else, the sycophants of the powers that be, poison the popular mind by the incense of mendacious self-praise.

The same applies to France, Italy, Russia, and the others engaged in hacking their way to peace and freedom. If Marx were alive to-day he would be just as candid about Germany as we are about Britain; and with greater credit than any other man. If the fortune of her arms, the arrogance of success, and dynastic intrigue lead Germany to a spoliation of French territory, there will then only remain two courses open to her.

Marx tells us that the German working class resolutely supported the war for German independence and the freeing of France from the Second Empire under Louis Bonaparte. We know now that Bismark induced the war, so that it was not fought for German independence. We also know that it was not the Germans who dethroned Louis Bonaparte, but a French people enraged at his unpreparedness to meet the Germans. The bold use of artillery by the Prussians, to silence French guns at long range and then to directly support infantry attacks at close range, proved to be superior to the defensive doctrine employed by French gunners.

The Prussian tactics were adopted by European armies by , exemplified in the French 75 , an artillery piece optimised to provide direct fire support to advancing infantry. Most European armies ignored the evidence of the Russo-Japanese War of — which suggested that infantry armed with new smokeless-powder rifles could engage gun crews effectively. This forced gunners to fire at longer range using indirect fire , usually from a position of cover. The attack was a costly success and came to be known as "von Bredow's Death Ride", which was held to prove that cavalry charges could still prevail on the battlefield.

Use of traditional cavalry on the battlefields of proved to be disastrous, due to accurate, long-range rifle fire, machine-guns and artillery. The Germans deployed a total of 33, officers and 1,, men into France, of which they lost 1, officers and 16, enlisted men killed in action. Another officers and 10, men died of their wounds, for total battle deaths of 28, Disease killed officers and 11, men, with typhoid accounting for 6, Among the missing and captured were officers and 10, men.


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The wounded amounted to 3, officers and 86, men. French battle deaths were 77,, of which 41, were killed in action and 36, died of wounds. More than 45, died of sickness. Total deaths were ,, with , being suffered by the army and 2, by the navy. The wounded totaled ,; , for the army and 6, for the navy.

Biographical Note

French prisoners of war numbered , In addition, 90, French soldiers were interned in Switzerland and 6, in Belgium. The Prussian Army, under the terms of the armistice, held a brief victory parade in Paris on 17 February; the city was silent and draped with black and the Germans quickly withdrew. Bismarck honoured the armistice, by allowing train loads of food into Paris and withdrawing Prussian forces to the east of the city, prior to a full withdrawal once France agreed to pay a five billion franc war indemnity. An exodus occurred from Paris as some , people, predominantly middle-class, went to the countryside.

During the war, the Paris National Guard , particularly in the working-class neighbourhoods of Paris, had become highly politicised and units elected officers; many refused to wear uniforms or obey commands from the national government. National guard units tried to seize power in Paris on 31 October and 22 January On 18 March , when the regular army tried to remove cannons from an artillery park on Montmartre, National Guard units resisted and killed two army generals.

The national government and regular army forces retreated to Versailles and a revolutionary government was proclaimed in Paris. A commune was elected, which was dominated by socialists, anarchists and revolutionaries. The red flag replaced the French tricolour and a civil war began between the Commune and the regular army, which attacked and recaptured Paris from 21—28 May in the Semaine Sanglante bloody week. During the fighting, the Communards killed c. Forced labour for life was imposed on people, 1, people were transported to "a fortified place" and 3, people were transported.

About 20, Communards were held in prison hulks until released in and a great many Communards fled abroad to Britain, Switzerland, Belgium or the United States. The survivors were amnestied by a bill introduced by Gambetta in and allowed to return. The creation of a unified German Empire aside from Austria greatly disturbed the balance of power that had been created with the Congress of Vienna after the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

Germany had established itself as a major power in continental Europe, boasting the most powerful and professional army in the world.

What did Prussia’s victory in the Franco-Prussian War mean for Europe?

The defeat in the Franco-Prussian War led to the birth of Revanchism literally, "revenge-ism" in France, characterised by a deep sense of bitterness, hatred and demand for revenge against Germany. This was particularly manifested in the desire for another war with Germany in order to reclaim Alsace and Lorraine. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. France and Prussia. Franco-Prussian War. Main article: Causes of the Franco-Prussian War. For the organization of the two armies at the beginning of the war, see Franco-Prussian War order of battle.

Main article: Battle of Wissembourg Main article: Battle of Spicheren. Main article: Battle of Mars-La-Tour. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. July Learn how and when to remove this template message. Main article: Battle of Gravelotte. Main article: Siege of Metz Main article: Battle of Sedan. Main article: Siege of Paris — Main article: Armistice of Versailles. See also: Paris Commune. Further information: Unification of Germany. A further , officers and men were mobilized and stayed in Germany..

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What did Prussia’s victory in the Franco-Prussian War mean for Europe?

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Minneapolis: MBI Pub. Ramm, Agetha London: Methuen. Ridley, Jasper []. New York: Viking Press. Rougerie, Jacques Paris: Gallimard. La Commune de Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Translated by Needham, John Layland. Edinburgh: Blackwood. Shann, Stephen; Delperier, Louis French Army Franco-Prussian War. Illustrated by Richard and Christa Hook. Sondhaus, Lawrence Naval Warfare, — London: Routledge.

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    By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Part of the wars of German unification. French Empire a French Republic b Foreign volunteers. Total deployment : 1,, [1] Initial strength : , , regulars and reservists [2] , Landwehr [2] Peak field army strength : , [2]. Total deployment : 2,, [2] Initial strength : , , active, including , reservists [3] [2] , Garde Mobile [3] Peak field army strength : , [2].

    The Franco-German War of 1870-71 The Franco-German War of 1870-71
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