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1945 - 1959

Das Saarland - Teil II

Eine europäische Geschichte
Landesarchiv des Saarlandes / Staatskanzlei des Saarlandes, Öffentlichkeitsarbeit

Saarland – A European History

 

The Saarland is a modern, cosmopolitan German federal state in the heart of Europe. An immediate neighbour of France and Luxembourg, it has developed into a region in which international cooperation in politics and commerce has become as much a matter of course as cross-border practices in cultural and everyday life. A European consciousness and lifestyle inspired by the French joie de vivre connect the citizens of this youngest of the old West German states.

Saarland’s special character is the product of a long and varied, yet often conflict-ridden history. This exhibition follows the course of such a European history up to the birth of the Saarland as a German federal state almost one hundred years ago. The aim is to show that Saarland’s self-awareness and the special relationship it enjoys with its European neighbours did not begin to develop after it became a German federal state but had, in fact, already taken root when the Saarland was under the administration of the League of Nations in the 1920s. Nevertheless, it was only after the painful ordeals of two world wars and the experiences of the conflicts resulting in two referendums that the particular learning process was set in motion, which would firmly establish the spirit of friendship and reconciliation and make the Saarland the most Frenchified and most European of all the German federal states.

Saarland - Eine europäische Geschichte - Ministerpräsidentin Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer
La Saare - une histoire européene - Ministerpräsidentin Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer
The Saar State 
Saarland Geschichte 1920 bis 1955

Saarland under the French

Between 1935 and 1945 the Saarlanders, as part of the Third Reich, lived through totalitarian dictatorship, war and collapse. In May 1945 the Americans liberated the region. In July the French took over the military control of Saarland and separated it from the German occupied zones. Under French patronage an independent Saar state was set up, economically joined to France and with strictly limited sovereignty, but for the first time the government was freely elected. The Minister-President was Johannes Hoffmann, chairman of the Christian People's Party, like many other leading politicians a returning emigrant, who worked constructively with the French military authorities under Gilbert Grandval. Reconstruction was swift. The new state had a generous social policy and a liberal cultural policy,

but it restricted internal freedoms and suppressed the pro-German opposition that had been gaining strength since 1951-1952.

Even residential areas in the industrial towns in the Saarland were extensively destroyed in 1945. 
Saarland 1945 - Impressionen
Contrasts in Saarbrücken after the introduction of the franc in 1947: well-stocked market stalls in the midst of the ruins. 
Women after shopping in the Saarbrücken streets cleared from the rubble  
Tank at the parade across Saarlouis market in 1954 
Ambassador Grandval making a presentation to the widow of a French officer killed in the war. 
Troops on parade in Saarbrücken in 1949 
After the currency was changed to the franc in November 1947, the shops filled up and people began to look more cheerful. 
After the currency was changed to the franc in November 1947, the shops filled up and people began to look more cheerful. 
After the currency was changed to the franc in November 1947, the shops filled up and people began to look more cheerful. 
At the first French song festival in Saarland, the world famous star Edith Piaf made a guest appearance in Mainzer Straße in Saarbrücken just a year after the end of the war. 
Die Parteien im Saarland und Wahlen 1947
Saarland border guard building on the border between Germany and Saarland at Nohfelden 
French customs officers carried out the notorious goods checks on the German-Saarland border, while their Saarland colleagues checked passports. 
Saarland border policeman with the Saarland coat of arms on his uniform, holding a Saarland beer 
In 1950 French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman (centre) met the Saar state government under Minister-President Johannes Hoffmann (right) at Saarbrücken central station. 
Inaugural sitting of the court of justice for the France-Saarland economic union in 1954 
A wide range of French newspapers and magazines was available at this kiosk in Saarbrücken in 1949. 
A ‘French’ café in a prominent position in Saarbrücken city centre. 
After an appeal from the French mines administration for blood donations for miners in 1949, miners turned up at the miners’ society clinic in Fischbach in large numbers. 
Typical street scene, with children playing in a newly built district on the outskirts of the regional capital 
At an industrial fair in Paris in 1955, the Saar promoted itself as a worthwhile economic location for France. 
Völklinger Hütte, the biggest ironworks on the Saar, was also one of the region’s biggest employers. 
Theo Siegle’s sculpture class in the studio at the Centre de Mètiers d’Art 
Saarbrücken art school was opened by the French on 14 July 1946 and soon became internationally famous. 
Two students of the painting masterclass working in the studio of fine arts.  
Sketches from the fashion class at the art school, whose fashion shows in the early 1950s attracted wide interest. 
Sketches from the fashion class at the art school, whose fashion shows in the early 1950s attracted wide interest. 
Peter Scholl-Latour, press spokesman for the Saarland government, dancing at one of Gilbert Grandval’s receptions at the Halberg. 
Jazz concert at a gala evening at Schloss Halberg, the residence of Gilbert Grandval, the French High Commissioner and later Governor in the Saar state 
A production of Mozart at the municipal theatre in Saarbrücken, seen as a (cultural) bridge for understanding with France 
Children’s art on the rebuilt Schlossplatz in Saarbrücken 
The Saarland Olympic team marching into the Olympic stadium in Helsinki in front of their big brother from Germany in 1952. 
The Saarland ladies’ sprint relay team with their trainer Ralph Hoke at the Olympic village in Helsinki 
Member of the Saarland national gymnastics team at the international championships against Holland in Saarbrücken. 

‘Little Europe’

The European movement that emerged in the late 1940s was enthusiastically received in Saarland. Plans to make Saarland the first Europeanised state, the forerunner to a united Europe and home of centralised European institutions, swiftly came to fruition in the Saar government. In 1951 Saarbrücken applied to become the seat of the European Coal and Steel Community. A year earlier, the regional university founded in 1948 was designated the European university by its new rector, Jean-François Angelloz. There was strong support for the Saar ‘Nouvelles Équipes Internationales’ and ‘Europa- Union’. Europe became a symbol of hope, which was even used in advertising (‘Europe engine oil’). A European solution to the Saar question was first put forward in detail in Marinus van der Goes van Naters’ Council of Europe plan in 1952. Two years later, French Prime Minister Pierre Mendès-France and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer agreed, in the Paris Treaties of October 1954, to Europeanise Saarland and bring it under the newly created Western European Union.

In the 1952 state parliament elections, the ruling Christian People’s Party (CVP) tried to drum up enthusiasm amongst their voters for Europe as the Saar’s ‘future home’ after it had been separated from Germany. 
A 1953 poster in the campaign to have the Euopean coal and steel authorities based in Saarbrücken shows the Saar in the centre of the ECSC States. 
The Saarland Social Democrats declare their support for Saarbrücken as Europe’s coal and steel capital in a letter from ‘their’ mayor Zimmer to Robert Schuman. 
The two Saarland representatives, Heinz Braun and Richard Kirn, are on the left behind Winston Churchill in front of the Council of Europe building in Strasbourg. 
The flags flying outside the Palais de l’Europe included the flag of the Saarland, as an associate member of the Council of Europe.  
European diplomatic service cars 
The University of Saarland was founded under French patronage in 1948 as ‘one of the first European institutions’. Its sports programme is also European: these are the winners of the Angelloz challenge cup football championship, named after the university’s French rector. 
Gilbert Grandval presents a single-engine aircraft named ‘Europa’ to the university flying club in December 1951. 
Members of the Saarland delegation to the Council of Europe at the bar in the Palais de l’Europe in Strasbourg 
In the run-up to the 1955 referendum, the Europa-Union canvasses for a ‘Europeanised Saar’ at a newspaper kiosk at Saarbrücken central station. 
Large picture: Six months before the start of the elections, the Saar Europa-Union was already campaigning for Europe to take precedence over national states. 
French Prime Minister Pierre Mendès-France and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer after the signature of the Paris Accords 
Policeman and children outside the WEU’s Saar Commission, which had been meeting in Saarbrücken as the ‘European Commission’ on the Saar Referendum since July 1955 
A European State or a Land? 

The struggle for Europe

The Saar statute in the Paris Accords was ratified by both the French and German Parliaments. It only needed the final consent of the local population, which was initially asked on 23 October 1955 to decide on membership of Europe in a referendum.

To ensure that all points of view were represented, the ban on pro-German parties, the liberal Democratic Party of the Saar (DPS), the Social Democratic DSP and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), was lifted three months before the referendum. Their negative attitude to the European statute supported by the government triggered a dramatic electoral struggle that divided society and strongly politicised public life. Even those opposed to the statute were essentially in favour of a united Europe. But they wanted to be ‘Germans’ first and only secondly ‘Europeans’. Two thirds of voters shared that view and voted against the statute. From 1955 onwards, alternatives to a ‘Europe of nations’ were given very little serious consideration in the European integration process.

Das Abstimmungsjahr 1955 im Saarland
British election observers meeting in Saarland a few days before the referendum on 23 October 1955
A propagandist for the opposition to the Saar statute in the street in front of a European movements meeting in Neunkirchen 
A crowd united by a single ‘no’ in Hüttenberg in Neunkirchen. 
Saar police armed with truncheons were present in large numbers at most of the meetings held by statute supporter. 
Other ‘separated’ German regions back the opposition in its campaign against the statute and for reintegration with Germany.
Ladies from Heinrich Schneider’s campaign team with the ‘no’ leaflets circulated throughout the region  
A young demonstrator needs no words to say what he thinks of the Saar statute. 
Two injured demonstrators after a ‘yes’ meeting in St Ingbert
Heinz Braun, former Justice Minister in the Saarland and Europa-Union leader, appearing as a campaigner for the ‘yeses’ in front of a stage set with a European theme. 
Heinrich Schneider, chairman of the (national-)liberal Democratic Party of the Saar and leader of the ‘noes’ in the referendum. 
Hubert Ney, first president of the Saar CDU after the ban was lifted in July 1955 and later Saarland’s first Minister-President after it became a federal Land.
Saarland Minister-President Johannes Hoffmann at a press interview after the referendum on 23 October 1955. 
 In front of a campaign meeting with Johannes Hoffmann, opponents to the statute have written the most popular slogan of the ‘noes’ on asphalt: ‘Fat man out’.
Water cannons are used on the edges of a Christian People’s Party demonstration in St Ingbert after disturbances.
‘Hunting scenes’ outside the Wartburg in Saarbrücken, where leading ‘yes’ voters from the CVP and the SPS held their first joint meeting on 13 August 1955.
Demonstrators showing press photographers the effects of rubber truncheons and tear gas after clashes between police and the opposition.
The press have unconventional ways of protecting themselves when trouble breaks out at campaign meetings.
Not a full house for an SPS meeting in Sulzbach.
 Crowds in front of the venue for the first mass ‘yes’ rally in Saarbrücken 
Militant demonstrators overturning a police car on the fringes of a mass rally in Neunkirchen.
The first mass meeting of the ‘noes’ after the ban on the opposition was lifted, held in Völklingen at the end of July 1955, met with a huge response.
The CVP, the SPS and ‘European movements’ say yes to the statute, because they are in favour of Europe and because the statute will finally bring peace between Germany and France, it is a cipher for Europe, and a vote for the statute will be a general vote for Europe.
The CVP, the SPS and ‘European movements’ say yes to the statute, because they are in favour of Europe and because the statute will finally bring peace between Germany and France, it is a cipher for Europe, and a vote for the statute will be a general vote for Europe.
The CVP, the SPS and ‘European movements’ say yes to the statute, because they are in favour of Europe and because the statute will finally bring peace between Germany and France, it is a cipher for Europe, and a vote for the statute will be a general vote for Europe.
The CVP, the SPS and ‘European movements’ say yes to the statute, because they are in favour of Europe and because the statute will finally bring peace between Germany and France, it is a cipher for Europe, and a vote for the statute will be a general vote for Europe.
Advertising hoarding moved to the background on a street corner in Friedrichsthal 
All the parties’ posters were vandalised.
The DSP, the DPS and the Communists say no to the statute, because they are in favour of Europe and because the statute will allegedly create new borders, it will make Saarland a ‘colony’, it is a threat to Europe’s collective security and it involves serious risks for the Saarland.
The DSP, the DPS and the Communists say no to the statute, because they are in favour of Europe and because the statute will allegedly create new borders, it will make Saarland a ‘colony’, it is a threat to Europe’s collective security and it involves serious risks for the Saarland.
The DSP, the DPS and the Communists say no to the statute, because they are in favour of Europe and because the statute will allegedly create new borders, it will make Saarland a ‘colony’, it is a threat to Europe’s collective security and it involves serious risks for the Saarland.
The DSP, the DPS and the Communists say no to the statute, because they are in favour of Europe and because the statute will allegedly create new borders, it will make Saarland a ‘colony’, it is a threat to Europe’s collective security and it involves serious risks for the Saarland.
Different views and methods in the poster war in the Saarland: Interested study of a ‘regulation’ poster wall in Saarbrücken
Different views and methods in the poster war in the Saarland: Old men giving politicians the cold shoulder

The road to Germany

The rejection of the European statute did not necessarily spell the end of the partly autonomous Saar state. But 23 October 1955 marked such a dramatic turning point in political opinion that from then on everything led to the integration of Saarland into the Federal Republic as rapidly as possible. On the Saar, the Hoffmann government resigned actually on the night of the election. The December 1955 election finalised the shift of domestic political power started by the referendum. The last foreign policy obstacles to reunification were removed in the 1956 Luxembourg Treaty between Germany and France. By New Year’s Day 1957, Konrad Adenauer was welcoming the newest federal German Land in Saarbrücken. Two and a half years later, on 6 July 1959, the customs frontiers were removed, the German mark replaced the franc as currency and the Saar ceased to go its own way. The mutually agreed solution to the Saar question paved the way for Franco-German friendship.

Journalists in the telephone booths at the Land parliament press centre
Minister-President Johannes Hoffmann (centre) goes to the polls with his son (next to him on the right) and his wife (on the son’s right).
The political leaders of the Homeland League talking about their victory and Johannes Hoffmann’s resignation on the evening of the referendum at a press conference.
Chancellor Adenauer arriving at the reintegration ceremony on New Years’ Day 1957.
Das neue Bundesland Saarland 1957-1959
Customs officers fraternising on the German-French border on the night of 6 July 1959, when the customs borders between Germany and the Saarland are removed
Economic (miracle) minister Ludwig Erhard makes a personal visit to Saarland to make sure that food prices are being set correctly and in line with the market.
People queuing at a Saarbrücken bank to change their francs into marks.
Work on the motorway between the Saarland and the federal German road network begins in the summer of 1956, even before reintegration into Germany.
Federal President Theodor Heuß and Minister-President Franz-Josef Röder attending the annual meeting of the German Max Planck Society in Saarbrücken in the summer of 1959
The (traffic) link to Germany is also reflected in the street scene: change of number plates in Saarbrücken in 1957.
The other side of the currency change: by July 1959 people are protesting in the streets at the actual or ‘perceived’ price increases.
On the 10th anniversary of the Saarland’s reintegration in January 1967, Federal Chancellor Kiesinger (with Minister-President Röder) visits the newest German Land.
The Saarbrücken congress centre ‘presented’ to the Saarland by the German Government for the reintegration is officially opened at the anniversary celebrations in 1967.
On the railways the Saar can increasingly fulfil its longstanding role as a bridge between Germany and France. The linking of the two countries, which started symbolically in 1952 and made comfortable progress in 1970 with the Goethe Trans-European Express, became a reality with the opening of the highspeed ICE/TGV rail link between Frankfurt and Paris in June 2007.
Modellregion SaarLorLux 

Development of the region

In many respects, the Luxembourg Treaty governing the integration of Saarland into the Federal Republic also set the course for the European future of the region. A number of plans and projects were developed on the basis of a new partnership between France, Luxembourg and Germany, making ‘SaarLorLux’ an economic and cultural and ultimately also a political reality. The development of the Moselle into a major waterway was an example of how the spirit of European unity could grow out of the solution to a past national problem. The increase in trade and cultural activities such a French Week, the Franco-German garden exhibition and a network of town twinnings brought people together across borders and broadened outlooks in the region. A new awareness of common problems in the old coal and steel triangle developed in the 1960s. Not only was that the origin of the name for what later became the SaarLorLux Euro-Region, but in that context visionary ideas such as the Franco-German free trade centre, CECOFA, and the SaarLor integrated economy were promoted and made a reality.

Journalists and politicians on the narrow-gauge railway taking their first look at the landscaped Franco-German garden on what were once German-French battlefields.
Advertisements in the Saarland for the sale of duty-free goods from France during the ‘French Week’ held annually since 1960.
In 1966 the former Chancellor Adenauer laid the foundation stone for the monument to great Europeans on the German-French border in Berus; four years later he himself was immortalised, together with Robert Schuman and Alcide de Gasperi.
Railway workers from France, Luxembourg and Germany meeting at the Franco-German school at one of the first SaarLorLux festivals in the summer of 1965.
Joint ceremony at which three e-locomotives are named after the region’s partners in Luxemburg, Metz and Saarbrücken in October 1976; here the wife of the Prefect of Lorraine is naming the ‘Lorraine’
Opening of the Franco- German ‘Gartenschau’ garden exhibition in April 1960
The foundation stone of a ‘European village’ for refugees from eastern and southeastern Europe being laid in Spiesen in 1958 in the presence of Robert Schuman, President of the European Parliament.
Evening of German-French song at the Halberg, where SR is recording a concert by Gilbert Becaud and Udo Jürgens.
The first Saarland Radio programme has been broadcast since 1964 on ‘Europawelle’, which has made a major contribution to programming and broadcasting.
Leaders from the neighbouring countries of France, Luxembourg and Germany at the opening of the Moselle canal agreed in the Treaty of Luxembourg.
The opening of the major shipping canal, financed mainly by Germany, has also become a popular festival, celebrating the new European spirit in the region. 
French President General de Gaulle being received at the Petersberg in Bonn in 1962; Saarland Minister-President Röder is on the right of the picture
Even after the reintegration of the Saarland, the Saar trade fair, started in the Saarland as a European exhibition in 1950, is a symbol of Franco-German friendship in the heart of Europe.
The gala buffet during the French Week 1970 gives Saarlanders a taste of French gourmet food.
Students and members of the Europe movement demonstrating in favour of a Europe without borders at the official opening of the Goldene Bremm customs station in 1969. In the centre, Minister-President Röder; on the right Holger Börner, later Minister-President of Hesse; on the left above Röder Reinhard Klimmt, later Minister-President of Saarland, in his student days.
A politically explosive dispute between Germany and France about coalmining in the region that by 1957 had lasted for decades ended with the completition of the Warndt mine completed in 1965.
The refinery in Saarland’s Klarenthal was part of the SaarLor integrated economy provided for in the Treaty of Luxembourg between Germany and France, which came into operation in 1965.
The 1968 plan is a graphic representation of SaarLorLux’s origins in the former coal and steel triangle and the region’s central position in Europe.
The 1968 plan for the SaarLorLux region was the first step towards turning the economic disadvantages of its border position into advantages through cross-border planning and cooperation.
The construction of a large Franco-German free trade centre for Euro- pean goods distribution was a visionary and ambitious project in 1967, but nothing was completed apart from a few infrastructure measures and the Peugeot Germany headquarters on the site between Saarbrücken and Saargemünd.
German and French political and economic leaders came to Saarbrücken for the second Franco-German economic dialogue in 1976.
The construction of a large Franco-German free trade centre for Euro- pean goods distribution was a visionary and ambitious project in 1967, but nothing was completed apart from a few infrastructure measures and the Peugeot Germany headquarters on the site between Saarbrücken and Saargemünd.
In practice, SaarLorLux companies have already been in existence for a long time. The Burbacher Hütte iron and steel works joined Luxembourg’s Esch-sur-Alzette in the ARBED group of companies back in 1906, Saarbrücken public utilities work with Energie SaarLorLux in a joint sales organisation with ‘Electrabel’, the leading energy supplier in Benelux (Römerbrücke power station).
Credits: Exhibit

Landesarchiv des Saarlandes
Staatskanzlei des Saarlandes, Öffentlichkeitsarbeit

Credits: All media
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