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Les cartes de correspondance de la Croix-Rouge en Alsace en 1870

"The Red Cross correspondence cards in Alsace in 1870"
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In the evening of August 6, 1870, after the battle of Froeschwiller, part of the Prussian and Baden regiments moved towards Haguenau and then Strasbourg where a long siege of six weeks was to take place. Near Metz, the French armies endured a series of defeats until NAPOLEON Ill surrendered on September 2 in Sedan. In Alsace, several strongholds put up some resistance to Prussia, but by the end of 1870, all of Alsace was under Prussian control. Only Belfort resisted and will stay in FRANCE after the treaty of Versailles of May 1871.

As in any conflict, many soldiers were wounded or became prisoners of war. The Red Cross, a young relief organization, helped the wounded and assisted the families to get news of the prisoners. Six local committees of the Red Cross (also called the International) were set up in Alsace: HAGUENAU, STRASBOURG and BISCHWILLER in the Bas-Rhin, MULHOUSE, SAINT LOUIS and COLMAR in the Haut-Rhin.

Only the first four mentioned issued cards that were made available to the public. Cards from other committees in France (Lyon, Nancy, Marseille, Chambéry, etc...) can also be found. These were local initiatives set up in July 1870, since nothing was ready at the national level and the Société de Secours aux Blessés Militaires Française (French Society for the Relief of Military Wounded) did not move from Paris to Nancy until August 4. In the Bas-Rhin departement, a prefectoral decree of August 1 created a "departmental commission for aid to the wounded" and it was at this time that the Strasbourg Society for Aid to the Wounded began its activities.

This very complete study by Philippe Boutserin describes the history of these cards and the rare situations in which they were sent out of Strasbourg. All the cards known at the date of publication are listed and reproduced.

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