French Reaction To The Defeat
National elections produced an overwhelmingly conservative government, which, under President Adolphe Thiers, established itself in Versailles, fearing that the political climate of Paris was too dangerous to set up the capital in the city. The new government, formed mainly of conservative, middle-class rural politicians, passed a variety of laws which greatly angered the population of Paris, such as the controversial Law of Maturities, which decreed that all rents in Paris, which had been postponed since September 1870, and all public debts across France, which had been given a moratorium in November 1870, were to be paid in full, with interest, within 48 hours. Paris shouldered a disproportionately large amount of the indemnity payments made to the Prussians, and the population of the city quickly grew resentful of the Versailles government. With Paris under the protection of the revolutionary National Guard and few regular soldiers in the city, left-wing leaders established themselves in the Hôtel de Ville and established the Paris Commune, which was repressed by Versailles with the loss of 20,000 lives after portions of the city burned down.
In the 1890s, the Dreyfus affair developed out of the aftermath of the war when confidential French military information was discovered in a wastebasket at the German Embassy in Paris by an agent of French military counter-intelligence. An Alsatian-born French captain Alfred Dreyfus, who was also Jewish, was framed for this action and sentenced to life imprisonment for treason. He was finally exonerated and freed by 1900.
The Treaty of Frankfurt, in addition to giving Germany the city of Strasbourg and the fortification at Metz, made Germany the possessor of Alsace and the northern portion of Lorraine (Moselle), both of which (especially Alsace) were home to a majority of ethnic Germans and contained 80% of French iron ore and machine shops. The loss of this territory was a source of resentment in France for years to come, and contributed to public support for World War I, in which France vowed to take back control of Alsace-Lorraine. This revanchism created a permanent state of crisis between Germany and France (French–German enmity), which would be one of the contributing factors leading to World War I.
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