762.72/12506: Telegram

The Ambassador in France ( Sharp ) to the Acting Secretary of State

6213. On the invitation of the French Government, I spent Sunday and Monday at Metz and Strassburg respectively. I traveled with the Presidential party, which was followed in another train by large numbers of deputies and Senators. All my colleagues of the diplomatic corps also made the trip. The size of the crowd at both places, particularly at Strassburg, as well as the enthusiasm of the people, furnished a spectacle which none of the party was prepared to see. President Poincaré’s declaration in his speech at Metz in which, referring to the scene which he had witnessed in the streets of that city, that the plebiscite was an accomplished fact, was abundantly borne out by every feature of the demonstration in both cities. This enthusiasm was so genuine, being shown not only by everybody coming to the city, from the neighboring country, but by residences and commercial houses which were one mass of flags, that no doubt could exist as to the sentiments which there prevail for France. I could like[n] the scene[s] to nothing better perhaps than to say that they resembled family reunions of members long separated. At Strasbourg, the crowds in numbers were beyond anything I have ever seen, every street [garbled group] place being literally packed with people from the smallest children to the most aged ones, the latter of whom must have contrasted such scenes with those of the German occupation of nearly 50 years ago. Before the reviewing stand a procession aggregating several miles in length composed of civic organizations, thousands of gaily bedecked Alsatian girls, some in the ancient costume of the land, passed by to the music of many bands. [Page 379] Thousands of soldiers of General Gourand’s army also passed in review. Some of these bore the tattered flags of their regiments, while others commanded the cumbersome tanks ending up the procession. A number of special ceremonies characterized the visit in both cities, in a number of which President Poincaré made eloquent speeches attesting the significance of the great victory and the mutual affection which has so long bonded together the people of Alsace Lorraine and the mother country of France. In all the speeches made by the local officials, of [both?] America and President Wilson came in for a most generous recognition for the part taken in the liberation from German domination of these cities. All in all it was a convincing demonstration to all those present of the feeling of loyalty which must overwhelmingly exist in those lost provinces towards France.