“Such was the land that Bismarck and the Prussian Junkers, backed by the revival of chauvinistic romanticism which seems inseparable from all German problems, undertook to make German again. The wish to make Strasbourg, the homeland of the Marseillaise, German, was just as absurd as to make Nice, the homeland of Garibaldi, French. But in Nice, Louis Napoleon at least observed decency and put the question of annexation to the vote – and the manoeuvre succeeded. Quite apart from the fact that for very good reasons the Prussians detest such revolutionary measures – never and nowhere has there been an instance when the mass of the people wanted to be annexed to Prussia – it was known only too well that precisely here the entire population was more closely attached to France than were the native French themselves. And thus this arbitrary act was performed by brute force. It was an act of revenge against the French Revolution; one of the parts which had been fused with France precisely as a result of the revolution was turn away. It is true that militarily there was a purpose behind this annexation. Metz and Strasbourg gave Germany an enormously strong line of defence. So long as Belgium and Switzerland remain neutral a massive French offensive can be begun only on the narrow strip of land between Metz and the Vosges; and besides, Koblenz, Metz, Strasbourg and Mainz form the strongest and biggest quadrangle of fortresses in the world. However, half of this quadrangle of fortresses, as is the case also with the Austrian fortresses in Lombardy, lies in enemy territory and forms citadels there to keep the population down. Moreover, to complete the quadrangle, it was necessary to seize areas beyond the German-language border and to annex a quarter of a million of native Frenchmen as well. The great strategic advantage is thus the only reason that can justify the annexation. However, can this gain in any way be compared with the harm it wrought? The Prussian Junker refused to reckon with the great moral disadvantage at which the young German Empire had placed itself by openly and frankly declaring brutal force its guiding principle. Quite the reverse, refractory subjects forcibly kept in check are a necessity for him; they  are proof of increased Prussian might; and essentially he has never any others. But he was obliged to reckon with the political consequences of the annexation. And these were clearly apparent. Even before the annexation came into force, Marx loudly drew the world’s attention to it in a circular of the International: ‘The annexation of Alsace and Lorraine makes Russia the arbiter of Europe’. And this has been repeated often enough by the Social-Democrats from the rostrum of the Reichstag until the truth of this statement was finally acknowledged by Bismarck himself in his Reichstag speech in February 6, 1888, by his whimpering before the almighty Tsar, the lord of war and peace” [Friedrich Engels, ‘The Role  of Force in History’, Chapter Four: ‘Why Alsace-Lorraine Prefer to be French’] [(in) Friedrich Engels – Arrigo Cervetto, ‘Anti-Dühring & The Role of Force in History’ – ‘The Discovery of Politics’, Editions Science Marxiste, Montreuil-sous-Bois, France, 2013]