How Prussia Ended The French Empire: Franco-Prussian War | Animated History

How Prussia Ended The French Empire: Franco-Prussian War | Animated History

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1: Wawro, G. (2010). The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Pr.
2: Badsey, S. (2014). The Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871. Oxford: Osprey Publishing.
3: Kovacs, Arpad F. “French Military Institutions before the Franco-Prussian War.” The American Historical Review 51, no. 2 (1946): 217-35.
4: Howard, M. (1961). The Franco-Prussian War; the German invasion of France, 1870-1871. New York, NY: Macmillan.

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  1. Get Surfshark VPN at Enter promo code HISTORIAN for 83% off and 3 extra months for FREE!

    Small correction to the narration at 26:26. When referring to the Paris Commune, we refer to them as communist revolutionaries. But as a few of you helpfully pointed out, this is an oversimplification. The commune was actually made up of a number of different radical groups who were collectively called the Communards, as well as some National Guardsmen who refused to stand down and joined the commune. The communards consisted of radical republicans, socialists, and anarchists. The main figures of the movement had no links to traditional Marxism.

    Another small correction is that Belgium's territory should not include Eupen-Malmedy as shown in our continental map of Europe.

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  2. 6:59 To say, that French was boasting that they could swiftly take victory, would be an understatement: the newspaper hysteria began at the same days, when the war was about to start. Here is what a French newspaper wrote: “At last we will learn the sensuality of killing! Let the blood of the Prussians flow in streams, waterfalls, with the divine fury of a flood! Let the scoundrel who dares only say the word 'peace' be immediately shot like a dog and thrown into the gutter. " Another magazine boasted in advance: "Our soldiers are so confident of victory that they are seized by a kind of modest fear of their own inevitable triumph." The third insisted that France was going to fight with Prussia in order to … return their freedom to the Germans! From whom? From themselves? Any sane person, having read this nonsense, would begin to think, that Bismarck was right, when he called Paris a madhouse inhabited by monkeys! The said Turgenev again spoken the best about these newspapers: “All this time I diligently read both French and German newspapers and, in all honesty, I must say that there is no comparison between them. Such fanfare, such slander, such ignorance of the enemy, such ignorance, finally, as in French newspapers, I could not even imagine. Even in such efficient newspapers as, for example, "Temps", one comes across news like the fact that Prussian non-commissioned officers follow the ranks of soldiers with iron bars in their hands to urge them into battle, etc. And this is said in that the time when all of Germany from end to end rose to the age-old enemy." And French politicians, meanwhile, refused to subsidize the Geneva Red Cross: after all, it will take care not only of the French, but also of the German wounded, and this is wrong. Simultaneously with this special decree, all civilians of German origin began to be expelled from France, mocking, humiliating and robbing to the bone. The same Turgenev, who saw this, wrote with bitterness: "Ruin threatens thousands of honest and hardworking families who settled in France in the belief that they were taken into its bowels by a civilized state." That's what was going on in France prior the war.

  3. 9:27 A yes, he sertainly was! Legend said, that at noon of the war Moltke was sleeping in his house, when the officer has arrived with the news, that tomorrow the war would brake up. So Moltke told him to take the case from his closet, which contains all plans, orders and other necessary stuff for the war. After that, Moltke went to sleep again, satisfied, that he's done his job. And if speaking about the german army, here's how they were marched to the war: F. M. Dostoevsky, who at that time lived in Dresden and saw everything with his own eyes, wrote this: “I saw these troops then and involuntarily admired them: what cheerfulness in their faces, how bright, cheerful and, at the same time, an important expression of the gaze! All these were young people, and looking at another company passing by, one could not help but admire the amazing military bearing, harmonious step, precise, strict alignment, but at the same time, some extraordinary freedom, even unseen by me in a soldier, conscious determination , expressed in every gesture, in every step of these fellows. It was evident that they were not being driven, but that they were walking on their own. Nothing wooden, nothing stick-corporal, and this is from the Germans, from the very Germans from whom we borrowed, starting our army from Peter, and the corporal and the stick. No, these Germans walked without a stick, as one man, with perfect determination and complete confidence in victory. The war was a people's war: a citizen shone in the soldier, and, I confess, at the same time I felt terrible for the French, although I was still firmly convinced that they would beat the Germans. " But there is nothing surprising here: Dostoevsky saw soldiers going to defend their homeland from the aggressor.

  4. 17:41 But it wasn't just the German patrols spotted the French movements, French newspaper also helped the germans: in addition, the national customs of the French were the most stupid, for example, they described all the movements of their troops in the most detailed way in the newspapers. Historical fact: the 3rd Prussian army missed the French troops of Marshal MacMahon and lost the enemy. But then the Germans got their hands on a fresh French newspaper, which described in detail how MacMahon was stationing troops in Reims. The Germans, delighted, turned to Reims, in fact they found MacMahon there and poured it into him sensitively.

  5. 25:45 In the end, France surrendered: she had enough troops left, but her spirit was broken, they went to plunder and seize, and therefore, faced with a serious rebuff, broke down, like a hundred years ago their ancestors, who fled from Frederick the Great. And immediately after that, a "revolution" broke out in France, dethroning Napoleon the Shorty. It is possible that the same selfish considerations played a role here: the emperor stabbed them in the very heart, promised to seize new lands and a lot of trophies, and instead lifted his paws in front of the “wild Huns”. The thin, vulnerable soul of the Frenchman, who had already rolled his lips on Prussian sausages and Bavarian vineyards, could not bear it in any way. So they demoted Napoleon from the emperors, as not justifying the hopes for trophies. And then, following the overthrow of Napoleon, another riot broke out in Paris, which went down in history written by the communists as the "Paris Commune". It was customary to speak of it in the most lofty terms – but in reality it was simply a rebellion of a marginal element of many thousands, in other words, the rabble. Paranoics from many countries immediately flocked to Paris, people of the breed that cannot live in peace: Italian Carbonari, Russian nihilists, Polish separatists and others obsessed with revolution, no matter where, what and whose – a rabble. This whole gang lasted, thank God, only seventy-two days. But during this time they managed to shoot hundreds of hostages from the "bourgeoisie and counter-revolutionaries", including the Archbishop of Paris, set fire to many historical buildings and architectural monuments. They even attempted to blow up Notre Dame Cathedral, but they lacked the skill and strength. And then again the Prussians had to save the situation. They freed sixty thousand people from the POW camps, returned their weapons, and this corps, to its credit, quickly put an end to the Parisian rebels.
    There is almost nothing to praise the French for, but exceptions do happen. For example, this is how they dealt with their "great painter" Postavy Courbet. This subject greeted the Paris Commune with enthusiasm, became its prominent figure, a kind of "Minister of Culture" and initiated the demolition of the monument to Bonaparte, the Vendôme Column. So, after the defeat of the Communards, they did not imprison him, so as not to create a new martyr in the eyes of the liberals. No, he was simply presented with an official bill for the destruction of an architectural monument, which, of course, was the Vendome Column, which happened on his prompting. The amount, of course, turned out to be astronomical. Courbet was forced to sell a house in Paris and a country estate (he actually was not a proletarian and did not slurp soup), give up everything movable and immovable and eventually died somewhere under the fence, which a sane person should not regret.
    By the way, the sympathies of all of Europe were just on the side of Prussia – with the exception of Austria and Denmark, which had recently been sensitively beaten by the Prussians. Naturally, in Russia, too, the people were only glad of the defeats of the French – the memory of the Crimean War was still fresh, many of its participants were still alive and full of strength (by the way, during the Austro-Prussian War in Russia, they sympathized with Prussia). In addition, the Prussian emperor Wilhelm I was a knight of the Russian Cross of St. George (received for battles against Bonaparte). Events in Russia were assessed unequivocally: “ours beat the“ filthy French”. Emperor Alexander II awarded several Prussian officers who distinguished themselves in battles with Georgii (as well as after the Austro-Prussian war). So, de facto, the Prussians has fought for Russia! Destroying the frog-eaters, they also repaid for the defeat of Russia in the Crimean War. Wilhelm quite sincerely wrote to Alexander: "Memories of your position in relation to my country will determine my policy in relation to Russia, no matter what happens." So that's why i do not hold any regrets about France defeat.

  6. 5:06 Spanish here: It's a bit more complicated. In 1868 Spain had a revolution that outed the monarch, Isabella II, but the revolutionaries were liberal monarchists and they wanted another king, so they started sorting out candidates. The top three were Amadeo di Savoia, son of the king of Italy; Leopold von Hozenhollen-Sigmaringen, son of the Prussian king; and the Spanish general Baldomero Espartero, an important general and politician who refused the position. This crisis, henceforth, was because the French feared that Leopold would be crowned as king of Spain, leaving France surrounded between two Hozenhollen monarchies. However, the one who would be elected was Amadeo di Savoia, who ruled for a few years as Amadeo I until he abdicated due to Spanish internal problems. The government proclaimed a republic that lasted for a few months until Isabella's son Alphonse came back to Spain and seized power, being proclaimed king by the military under general Martínez Campos in 1874. Alphonse ruled as Alphonse XII, and he had a good but short reign in which Spain attempted to modernise (specially the military, which was reorganised following German patterns). Alphonse XII died in 1885 from illness consequence of him visiting hospitals (that he had ordered to be set up) during an epidemic. You should look it up, Spanish XIX century history is very interesting, and full of conflicts between liberals, conservatives and the reactionary carlists (which sparkled 3 civil wars).

  7. "Some even travelling all the way to … Corsica and Algeria before realizing their mistake."

    Imagine getting so lost you get on a boat and cross an ocean, to fight an enemy you share a land border with.

  8. Here's a tidbit of info: The French high command refused to buy Krupp guns despite being observed to be superior, EVEN with the support of Napoleon III. Imagine the French having as good an artillery as the Prussians? They would've at least given a good fight.

    This sucks for Napoleon III. He was a great leader in peacetime but an awful military commander. It didn't hep that his Empress and ministers tend to complicate matters for him.

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