French occupation zone in Germany

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The French occupation zone (in German: Französische Besatzungszone) was one of the Allied areas established in Germany after World War II.

French occupation zone of Germany
Französische Besatzungszone Deutschlands
Military occupation zone of the French part of Allied-occupied Germany
Flag of French occupation zone
Deutschland Besatzungszonen 8 Jun 1947 - 22 Apr 1949 franzoesisch.svg
The French occupation zone in blue
 • TypeMilitary Occupation
Military governors 
• 1945
Jean de Lattre de Tassigny
• 1945–1949
Marie-Pierre Kœnig
Historical eraPost-World War II
Cold War
May 8, 1945
• Federal Republic of Germany established
May 23, 1949
May 5, 1955
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Nazi Germany
West Germany
Saar Protectorate
West Berlin
Today part of Germany

Following the Armistice of 11 November 1918, Allied forces had occupied this part of Germany until the 1920s, when France administered the Territory of the Saar Basin until 1935. The number of soldiers varied throughout the occupation, between 100,000 and 250,000 in May 1921, including 210,000 French soldiers during the first occupation of Ruhrort, Düsseldorf, and Duisburg.[1]


At the end of the Second World War, before the Yalta conference (4–11 February 1945), no occupation zones in Germany were allocated to France. At the insistence of Charles de Gaulle and the Provisional Government of the French Republic, Winston Churchill , from Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin, obtained an occupation zone, which was to be allocated to France, provided that it consisted of zones previously occupied by the Americans and the British.[2]

Extract from the final press release, Article 4

IV. Occupation zone for France and control council in Germany

It was decided that an area of Germany would be allocated to France and occupied by French forces. This zone would be taken from the British and American zones, and its borders would be fixed by the British and the Americans, in agreement with the French Provisional Government.

It was also decided that the French Provisional Government would be invited to be part of the Allied Control Commission in Germany.

To create the occupation zone, the British ceded the Saarland, the Palatinate, and territories on the left bank of the Rhine up to Remagen (including Trier, Koblenz, and Montabaur). The Americans ceded land south of Baden-Baden (which became Land of Baden), land south of Free People's State of Württemberg (which became Land of Württemberg-Hohenzollern), Lindau circle on Lake Constance, and four circles[clarification needed] of Hesse east of the Rhine.[2]

French forces in Germany officially took possession of the area on July 26, 1945.[2]

In April and May of 1945, the French 1st Army had captured Karlsruhe and Stuttgart and conquered a territory extending to Hitler's Eagle's Nest and the Westernmost part of Austria. In July the French relinquished Stuttgart to the Americans, and in exchange were given control over cities west of the Rhine such as Mainz and Koblenz.[3] This resulted in two barely contiguous areas of Germany along the French border, which met at just a single point along the River Rhine. Three German states (Land) were established: Rheinland Pfalz in the northwest, Württemberg-Hohenzollern in the southeast, and South Baden in the southwest. Württemberg-Hohenzollern and South Baden later formed Baden-Württemberg when they joined with Württemberg-Baden of the American Zone.

The French Zone of Occupation included the Saar Protectorate, which was separated on February 16, 1946. By December 18, 1946, custom controls were established between the Saar area and Allied-occupied Germany. The French zone ceded further areas adjacent to the Saar in mid-1946, early 1947, and early 1949.[citation needed]

Included in the French zone was the town of Büsingen am Hochrhein, a German exclave separated from the rest of the country by a narrow strip of neutral Swiss territory. The Swiss government agreed to allow a limited number of French troops to pass through its territory to maintain law and order in Büsingen.[citation needed]

It was not until August 12, 1945, that the two Berlin districts (Reinickendorf and Wedding District) were assigned to the French.[4]

By the end of October 1946, the French Zone had a population of approximately five million people (population breakdown below):

  • Rheinland Pfalz: 2.7 million
  • Baden (South Baden): 1.2 million
  • Württemberg-Hohenzollern: 1.05 million

(The Saar Protectorate had a further 0.8 million.)[5]

A French Education Directorate in Germany was created immediately to allow schooling for children of military and civilian families.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ (in French) Occupy Germany after 1918, Historical review of the armies, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c H. Pennein-Engels (1994). "The military presence in Germany from 1945 to 1993" (Pdf). University of Metz - Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  3. ^ de Gaulle, Charles (1959). Mémoires de Guerre: Le Salut 1944-1946. Plon. pp. 170, 207.
  4. ^ "French Military Government of Berlin" (Pdf). Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  5. ^ "I. Gebiet und Bevölkerung". Statistisches Bundesamt. Wiesbaden.

Further readingEdit

  • Corine Defrance, La Politique culturelle de la France sur la rive gauche du Rhin, 1945–1955, Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, 1994.
  • Compte rendu du deuxième Congrès de l'Organisation des fonctionnaires résistants en Allemagne, Höllhof, 1949
  • Hillel, Marc, L'occupation française en Allemagne 1945-1949, Balland, 1983.