Saarland ( ; ) is one of the
16 states of Germany.
capital is Saarbrücken.
It has an area of 2570 km² and
1,045,000 inhabitants. In both area and population, it is the
smallest of the German Flächenländer ("area states"),
i.e., those that are not city-states
(Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg).
location between French and German powers has given Saarland a
unique history. It was the only state to join the Federal Republic
of Germany between 1949 and the German reunification
has the highest concentration of Roman
Catholic of any German state (65.1 percent of the population),
and is one of two states (the other being Bavaria) in which
Catholics form a majority.
(département of Moselle, which forms
part of the région of Lorraine) to the
south and west, Luxembourg to the west and Rheinland-Pfalz to the north and the east.
named after the Saar
River, a tributary of the
River (itself a tributary of the Rhine), which runs
through the state from the south to the northwest.
of the land area of the Saarland is covered by forest, one of the
highest percentages in Germany. The state is generally hilly; the
highest mountain is the Dollberg with a height of 695.4 m (about
Most inhabitants live in a city agglomeration on the French border,
surrounding the capital of Saarbrücken.
See also List of places in
Saarland is divided into 6 districts ("Landkreise" in
- Sankt Wendel
Before World War I
At no time before World War I was there a single independent
territory in the region of the Saarland.The region of the Saarland
was settled by the Celtic
tribes of Treveri
. The most impressive relic of
their time is the remains of a fortress of refuge at Otzenhausen
in the north of the Saarland. In the
first century BC, the Roman Empire
the region part of its province of Belgica
The Celtic population mixed with the Roman immigrants. The region
gained wealth, which can still be seen in the remains of Roman
villas and villages.
Roman rule ended in the 5th century, when the Franconians
conquered the territory. The region of
the Saarland was divided into several small territories, some of
which were ruled by sovereigns of adjoining regions. Over the years these
territories gained a wide range of independence, threatened only by
the French kings, who sought to incorporate all the territories on
the western side of the river Rhine.
It was not the king of France
armies of the French Revolution
who terminated the independence of the states in the region of the
Saarland. In 1792 they conquered the region and made
it part of the French
of the villages became part of the Département de la Sarre, with
some villages in the east becoming part of the Département of
Donnersberg. After the defeat of Napoleon
in 1815, the region was divided into three parts. Most of it became
part of the Prussian Rhine Province. Another part, corresponding
approximately to the Saarpfalz district, was allocated to the
Kingdom of Bavaria
. The smallest
part, the village of Nohfelden, was ruled by the Duke of Oldenburg
31, 1870, the French Emperor Napoleon
III ordered an invasion across the Saar River to seize Saarbrücken. The first shots of
the Franco-Prussian War 1870/71
were fired on the heights of Spichern, south of Saarbrücken. After the war, the German Empire was founded and the Saar region became part of
the Saargebiet was occupied
by Britain and France under the
provisions of the Treaty of
Versailles. The occupied area also included portions of
the Prussian Rhine Province and the Bavarian Rhenish
In practice the region was administered by
France. In 1920 this was formalized by a 15-year League of Nations
In 1933, a considerable number of political opponents of the
fled to the Saar, as it was the
only part of Germany that remained under foreign occupation
following the First World War. As a result, anti-Nazi groups
agitated for the Saarland to remain under French administration.
However, with most of the population being ethnically German and
with strong local anti-French sentiments deeply entrenched, such
views were considered suspect or even treasonable, and therefore
found little support.
original 15 year term was over, a plebiscite was held in the territory on 13
January 1935: 90.3% of those voting favored rejoining Germany.
Germany stamp on the plebiscite
Following the referendum Josef
(a Nazi) was appointed on 1 March 1935 as the German Reich
's commissioner for reintegration
(Reichskommissar für die
Rückgliederung des Saarlandes
). When the reincorporation was
considered accomplished, his title was changed (after 17 June 1936)
to Reichskommissar für das Saarland
. A further change was
made after 8 April 1940 to Reichskommissar für die
; finally, after 11 March 1941, he was made
Reichsstatthalter in der
(the region's new name, meaning "Western March
or Border"), until 28 September 1944, when he
was succeeded by Willi Stöhr
a Nazi), until 21 March 1945.
History after World War II
After World War II
, the Saarland came
under French occupation and administration again, as the Saar Protectorate
Under the Monnet Plan
to gain economic control of the German industrial areas with large
coal and mineral deposits that were not in Soviet hands - the
and the Saar area
. Attempts to gain control of or
permanently internationalize the Ruhr area (see International Authority for
) were abandoned in 1951 with the German agreement to
pool its coal and steel resources (see European Coal and Steel
) in return for full political control of the Ruhr.
The French attempt to gain economic control over the Saar was more
successful at the time, with the final vestiges of French economic
influence ending in 1981. Unlike the Soviet-controlled Poland in
, France did not annex
the Saar and did not forcibly expel the local German
In his speech Restatement of Policy on
, made in Stuttgart on September 6, 1946, United States Secretary of
State James F. Byrnes
stated the U.S. motive in detaching
the Saar from Germany: "The United States does not feel that it can
deny to France, which has been invaded three times by Germany in 70
years, its claim to the Saar territory". (See also Morgenthau plan for U.S. and UK designs for
the Saar area.)
In the years from 1945 to 1951 a policy of industrial disarmament
was pursued in Germany by the Allies (see the industrial plans for Germany
As part of this policy, limits were placed on production levels,
and industries in the Saar were dismantled just as in the Ruhr,
although mostly in the period prior to its detachment (see also
the 1949 letter
from the UK Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin
to the French Foreign Minister
, urging a
reconsideration of the dismantling policy).
The Saar Protectorate
headed by a military governor from 30 August 1945: Gilbert Yves
Édmond Grandval (b. 1904 - d. 1981), who remained on 1 January 1948
as High Commissioner
, and January
1952 - June 1955 as the first of two French ambassadors, his
successor being Eric de Carbonnel (b. 1910 - d. 1965) until
1956.Saarland, however, was allowed a regional administration very
soon, consecutively headed by:
France and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) developed a detailed plan called the
Saarstatut to establish an independent Saarland.
- a President of the Government:
- 31 July 1945 - 8 June 1946: Hans Neureuther, Non-party
- a Chairman of the (until 15 December 1947, Provisional)
- 8 June 1946 - 20 December 1947: Erwin Müller (b. 1906 - d.
- Minister-presidents (as in any Bundesland):
- 20 December 1947 - 29 October 1955 Johannes Hoffmann (b. 1890 -
d. 1967), CVP
- 29 October 1955 - 10 January 1956 Heinrich Welsch (b. 1888 - d.
- 10 January 1956 - 4 June 1957 Hubert Ney (b. 1892 - d. 1984),
was signed as an agreement between the two countries on October 23,
1954 as one of the Paris Pacts
plebiscite held on October 23, 1955 rejected it by 67.7%. On 27
October 1956 the Saar Treaty
that Saarland should be allowed to join the Federal Republic of
Germany, which it did on 1 January 1957. This was the last
significant international border change in Europe until the
fall of Communism
Saarland's reunification with the Federal Republic of Germany was
sometimes referred to as the kleine Wiedervereinigung
("small reunification", in contrast with the post-Cold War
reabsorption of the GDR).
Even after reunification, the Saar franc
remained as the territory's currency until West Germany's Deutsche Mark
replaced it on 7 July 1959. The
Saar Treaty established that French
as in the rest of West
Germany, should remain the first foreign language taught in
Saarland schools; this provision is still largely followed today,
although it is no longer binding.
1971, Saarland has been a member of SaarLorLux, a euroregion created from Saarland, Lorraine, Luxembourg, Rhineland Palatinate and Wallonia.
the qualifying section of the 1954 football World Cup
, but failed
after coming second to West Germany
but ahead of
. It also
competed in the 1952 Summer
at the 1952 Summer Olympics
From 1920 to 1935, and then from 1947 to 1959, the inhabitants used
issued specially for
the territory; see postage stamps and
postal history of the Saar
In 1954, the Paris mint coined 10, 20, and 50 "franken" pieces. The
following year a 100 franken was also minted. After reunification,
Saarland switched to the West German mark.
Between 1950 and 1956, Saarland was a member of the Council of Europe
Lufthansa's Boeing 747-400s
(registered D-ABVS) is named Saarland.
Saarland has been governed by the rightist Christian Democratic
since 1999. In the most recent elections in 2009, the CDU
lost its absolute majority and is not able to even form government
with the right of centre Liberals
. The left of
, the left-wing, post-communist Left Party
, and the Greens
won a majority of seats,
however, on the 11 of October 2009, the Greens announced their
intention to form a coalition with the CDU and the FDP. Such a
coalition is known in Germany as the Jamaica coalition
and is highly
experimental. It could potentially shape future coalition
governments on both a regional and national scale.
Since Saarland joined the Federal Republic of Germany, the CDU has
governed the state for 37 out of 51 years. The center-left Social Democratic Party of
ruled for 14 years (1985-1998), with Oskar Lafontaine
List of Minister-presidents of Saarland
|| Johannes Hoffmann
|| Heinrich Welsch
|| Hubert Ney
|| Egon Reinert
|| Franz-Josef Röder
|| Werner Klumpp (acting)
|| Werner Zeyer
|| Oskar Lafontaine
|| Reinhard Klimmt
|| Peter Müller
Minister-presidents of Saarland
||Begin of Tenure
||End of Tenure
Important income sources are automobile industry, steel industry,
coal mining, ceramic industry and computer science and information
In 2005 had Saarland the highest economic growth in GDP
among German states.
the Saarland speak Rhine Franconian
(in the southeast, very similar to that dialect spoken in the
western part of the Palatinate) and Moselle Franconian (in the northwest,
very similar to that dialect spoken along the Moselle River and the cities of Trier or even in
Luxembourg), dialects of German. Outside of the
Saarland, specifically the Rhine-Franconian variant spoken in the
Landeshauptstadt Saarbrücken is generally considered to be the Saarland
The two dialect regions are mainly separated by the
"das/ dat" isogloss. In the northwestern portion of the state,
including cities such as Saarlouis, standard German "das" is
pronounced with a final "t" instead of an "s".
In general, both dialects are an integral part of the “Saarlandish”
identity and thus a strong source of local patriotism.
Both dialects, even more so in their respective Saarland flavour,
share many characteristic features, some of which will be explained
Women and girls are often referred to using the neuter grammatical gender
, with the
pronunciation being something like Ähs
Ähs hat mir's gesaat
(it told me so,
instead of she told me so
; vs. High
German: Sie hat es mir gesagt). This stems from the word
(girl) being neuter in German (es
correct in German when referring to words like Mädchen
would not be used by itself in reference to a woman).
Franconian is normally composed with the words dääd
German “tät” = “would do”) or gäng
(“would go”) as
auxiliary verbs: Isch dääd saan, dass...
(“I would say
that...”) instead of the High German Ich würde sagen,
is rather different:
- The genitive case does not exist at all
and is entirely replaced by constructs with the dative case.
- In most instances, a word is not altered when cast into the
dative case. Exceptions are mostly pronouns.
- The same holds for the accusative
case. Even more so, it is accepted practice to use the nominative case instead of the accusative.
are almost non-existent. The
Saarlandish variant of a High-German word that contains a diphthong
usually will have a long vowel
in its place.
Moreover, the vowels ö
do not exist in the
dialect. They are generally replaced by e
Both the Rhein-Franconian and Mosel-Franconian dialects (and
Luxemburgish) have merged the palatal fricative "ich" sound with
the post-alveolar fricative (the sound in "schule") causing minimal
pairs such as "Kirche" and "Kirsche" to be pronounced in the same
French has had a considerable influence on the vocabulary, although
the pronunciation of imported French words usually is quite
different from their original. Popular examples comprise
), and the imperative or greeting aalleh!
The English phrase My house is green
is pronounced almost
the same (in the Rhine Franconian variant): Mei Haus is
. The main difference lies in the pronunciation of the
Regional beer brewer Karlsberg has taken advantage of the
Saarlandish dialect to create clever advertising for its staple
product, UrPils. Examples include a trio of men enjoying a beer,
flanked by baby carriages, the slogan reading "Mutter
(meaning "Mom's at work" in Saarlandish, but plays on
the High German word "Mutterschaft", or "motherhood"); another
depicts a trio of men at a bar, with one realizing his beer has
been drunk by one of the others, the slogan reading "Kenner
(meaning "It was no one" [Keiner war es
Saarlandish, but playing on the High German word "Kenner"
or "connoisseur", translating to "It was a connoisseur"); a third
shows an empty beer crate in the middle of outer space, the text
(meaning "empty" in Saarlandish, but playing
on the same High German word meaning "outer space").
The French language
has a long
tradition and special standing in Saarland. This is not least due
to the fact that France sought to incorporate the region into the
French state shortly after World War
. Today, a large part of the population is able to speak
French, and it is compulsory at many schools. Saarbrücken is also
home to the bilingual "Deutsch-Französisches Gymnasium"
(German-French high school).
Sources and external links