Day 283: My Alsace

Cover for My AlsaceDuring a visit to Alsace several years ago, I was fascinated by this book, especially by the pictures, but I could only find it in French. Then, awhile back, I found it on Amazon in English.

My Alsace was written by Hansi (Jean-Jacques Waltz), a beloved Alsatian poster and children’s book artist who grew up in the late 19th century under German occupation. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the region of Alsace, which identifies itself as French, changed hands between Germany and France four times. In the German school at Colmar as a boy, Hansi only learned about the great Prussian victories and the defeat of Alsace in his history classes. He deemed this period the worst in his life and wanted Alsatian children to know that Alsace has a prouder history.

My Alsace is a selection from the history he wrote in 1912 and some writings from after World War I. The latter section of the book goes on to tell about the trouble he got into with the German authorities during World War I because of his jokes about Germans in the earlier book. He was originally fined and later he was given a year’s prison sentence for insulting a German officer. He published the latter part of the book in 1919 to celebrate the region’s liberation from the Germans.

Hansi’s drawings are wonderful. He was well known for his pictures of Alsatian villages, people in traditional costumes, and celebrations of Alsatian life from an earlier time. The text is amusing, although it is full of anti-German satire. Written for children about eight years old, it is also entertaining for adults.

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