In the last 100 years – Strasbourg then and now
Project by Manon Arziman and Camélia Guerraoui
In 2018 the youth of France and Europe gathers in Strasbourg to debate the European project – its aims and achievements, successes and failings, and, above all, its future. Let’s take a moment and contemplate how this was made possible and what had to occur for the project to be born.
The European Union is set up with the aim of ending the frequent and bloody wars between neighbours, which culminated in the Second World War. As of 1950, the European Coal and Steel Community begins to unite European countries economically and politically in order to secure lasting peace. The six founding countries are Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
June 1940, the Nazi flag was floating over the cathedral of Strasbourg. A few weeks later, on 14th July 1940, the region and the city of Strasbourg became part of Nazi Germany, as they had been in 1914.
Then came a dark period for Strasbourg.
During the occupation signs of French culture were deliberately destroyed. That implied measures such as destruction of monuments and documents or a ban on using French language in public. Professors and students, who fought to evacuate books from libraries in order to preserve their heritage, were risking being sent to concentration camps. French professors were being replaced by scholars of German decent and sometimes forced to work in concentration camps obeying inhumane orders. French men had to fight on the side of German troops, some even forced to stand among SS soldiers, and their families could be deported if they evaded or deserted. Those troops fought the French in atrocious massacres of Tulle and Oradour sur Glane.
On November 23rd 1944 after relentless efforts under General Leclerc, and after setting Paris free, the troops of the second Armoured Division set Strasbourg free from occupation and got rid of the Nazi flag on top of the Cathedral to replace it with the French national flag.
« Jurez de ne déposer les armes que lorsque nos couleurs, nos belles couleurs, flotteront sur la cathédrale de Strasbourg. »