Alsace and Lorraine
The two regions France lost to Germany after the defeat of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, had adquired mythical proportions for the French. Ever since 1870 they were referred to as ‘the two imprisoned sisters’ and their memory was kept nostalgically alive in novels, stories and drawings. Germany did not consider the regions of Alsace and Lorraine as real German States, but as territories belonging to the kingdom (Reichsland Elsass-Lothringen). Alsace and Lorraine remained aloof of the discussions separation of state and religion which became so tense in France. Most people in these territories remained practicing Catholics. (source cartoon: 14-18 de eerste wereloorlog, Amterdam Boek, 1975)
Italy and Austria
Wars are fought on borders between countries. Italy, one of the new nations formed in 1870, fought on the side of the allies against the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Part of their war occurred in the Dolomite The Italians wanted to gain the strategic mountain tops which allowed control over the passes. The Austrians wanted to maintain their posts. After the war the Dolomite region was given to Italy who colonized it with Italian people from the South.
Belgium and the Netherlands
The Netherlands was one of the few European countries to remain neutral. ‘Armed neutrality’ was the term to indicate the nation would defend its neutrality with the armed forces. But the border between neutral Netherlands and occupied Belgium was not so clear. The South Limburg province had only become Dutch since 1866 and still felt part Belgian and part German. Another interesting part of border between both countries, are the villages of Baarle-Hertog (Belgian) and Baarle-Nassau (Dutch). The Belgian village Baarle-Hertog spills into Dutch territory and there are many Belgian enclaves surrounded by the Netherlands.