river of saar

February 12, 1917 - Allied Meeting Negotiates on Postwar Territory: France will be Restored Alsace-Lorraine and will Occupy the Rhineland, Russia will be given Constantinople and an Advanced Western Border

Pictured - “That blue sky is ours! That field is our land! Alsace and Lorraine belong to us!” French propaganda routinely played on revanchist desire for the lost provinces, annexed by Germany in 1871.

Meeting in Petrograd to discuss the war, Allied representatives sought to clear up their understandings of the postwar division of territory. Two years ago, Britain and France had secretly promised to fulfill Russia’s greatest geopolitical desire - control of Constantinople and the Straights once Turkey was defeated. On February 12, in an audience with the Tsar, the Russians asked for further assistance with regard to their western border. The French agreed, but asked in return for a promise for “the restoration of Alsace-Lorraine and a special position in the valley of the river Saar, as well as to attain the political separation of Germany of her trans-Rhenish districts, and their organization on a separate basis in order that in future the river Rhine might form a permanent strategical frontier against a Germanic invasion.”

The Tsar “was pleased to agree to this in principle,” starting negotiations for an agreement that “while allowing France and England complete freedom in delimiting the western frontiers of Germany, we expect that the Allies on their part will give us an equal liberty in delimiting our frontiers with Germany and Austria-Hungary.” Even as Russia’s armies plunged towards defeat, its leaders eagerly divided up spoils of war.