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Interpreting the Evidence

Sheep Herder with Flock, Upper Alsace, France

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Comprehension

  • Grade Level:

    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Global History and Geography
    World War I

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:


  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Sheep herder with Flock, River Ill, Upper Alsace, France, 1929 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Sheepherder with a flock of sheep, River Ill, village beyond. Upper Alsace, France, in 1929. This region had been captured by Germany during World War I, but reverted back to French control once the war ended.

Historical Context
Lost by the French to the Germans after the Franco-Prussian War (1871), the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine became major focal points resulting in the start of World War I. Reeling from the humiliating defeat at the hands of Bismark’s forces, the French rallied around reclaiming their lost territories. Each became symbolic of French national pride and revenge aimed at Germany.
Fiercely independent by nature, the population of Alsace found themselves governed by various outside nationalities dating back to the Thirty Years War. Their loyalties remained local rather than national and therefore the people of Alsace found themselves at the mercy of dictated policies depending on which foreign power controlled the region. Historically, German-speaking and Protestant Alsatians nonetheless regarded themselves more French or Swiss than German. Still, hundreds of thousands fought for Germany during The Great War and representatives served in the Reichstag.
After World War I, Alsace and Lorraine were ceded back to France as part of the reparations against Germany in the Treaty of Versailles. The territories again fell under German control during World War II, but finally were handed back to France in 1945 where they have remained ever since.

Essential Question
How does geography impact a country's history?

Check for Understanding
Describe the geography of Upper Alsace using evidence from the photograph.

Historical Challenges
Find sources of Alsatian cultural identity and determine their traditional heritage.

Interdisciplinary Connections
Geography: Research how the geography or Alsace impacted its history.

Foreign Language: Write about how language influences the culture of a place.