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Topical Budget 151-2: Strassburg Monument (1914)


Main image of Topical Budget 151-2: Strassburg Monument (1914)
35mm, black and white, silent, 56 feet
Production CompanyTopical Film Company

Thousands of students lay wreaths and flags in remembrance of the old French city, now under German occupation.

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Given the year of production, it would be tempting to assume that this Topical Budget item was in some way related to World War I, and the reference in the title to the city of Strassburg (better known as Strasbourg) "now belonging to Germany" concerned a recent seizure. In fact, although the Archduke Franz Ferdinand had been assassinated some three weeks previously, France and Germany were still some weeks from war, and the annexation of Strasbourg (and the surrounding region of Alsace) had actually happened in 1871, as a by-product of the Franco-Prussian War.

The titles also don't make it clear that the item was actually filmed in Paris, the monument being one of eight representing major French cities, located at each point of the octagon forming the Place de la Concorde. Because of the annexation of Strasbourg, it had become an important site for ceremonial wreath-laying and similar displays - for instance, it would be draped with a black mourning crepe on state occasions. The date of this particular ceremony isn't given, but since the newsreel was released on 18 July, it is probably safe to assume that it was filmed on Bastille Day, July 14, when symbolic events involving the monument were particularly common.

The Strasbourg monument would continue to be a site for similar displays and protests, until the city was returned to France at the end of World War I.

Michael Brooke

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