The Saarland Guards take down the Customs sign between two neighboring countries
Chancellor Adenauer in the Saarland
It has been nearly twenty years since the Berlin Wall fell and two Germanies were reunited. In our recounting of this post-war German history, we often forget at least one other important event: The 1957 Kleine Wiedervereinigung (or small reunification) between Germany and the Saarland.
To that point, the Saarland had been one of the world’s most hotly disputed areas. Occupied by the French during the Napoleonic Wars, the Saarland was where the first shots of the Franco-Prussian War were fired. After this, the Saar became German until WWI, after which Britain and France established a nominally independent occupation government, sanctioned by a 15 year League of Nations mandate.
When this expired in 1935, a plebiscite returned the Saarland to Germany, and twenty years later, in a similar referendum, two thirds of the Saarland voted against autonomy and for the reunification with Germany. Thus on 1st January 1957, it was returned to German control for the second time in 22 years.
The Saarland joins as the tenth state in the Federal Republic. Visiting the state, which rolled out the red carpet for him, West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer said he hoped Germany’s “lost” territories in the East might some day follow the example of the Saar. They did.
(Between 1945-1957, the Saarland had its own separate sports teams, and represented autonomously in the Olympics and other competitions. It was ruled by a Minister-President, who at the moment of its reunification was Adenauer’s close friend, Hubert Ney, above, directly behind Adenauer).
the Minister-President oversaw the last lowering of the independent Saarland’s flag