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Legion or not legion


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It appears that as a foreigner, he could only be volunteered (EV) for the Foreign Legion.
But as he applied for French nationality, they did not even wait for him to be naturalized before assigning him to a regiment of Zouaves. He was therefore never incorporated into the Foreign Legion.

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Well it is actually a technicality : your man was actually born in "Haut-Rhin", so he was born German - as in 1895, Alsace was "Reichsland".


A French law from 4th August 1914 organized the admission into the Army of men from Alsace and Moselle in the same situation, as well as their "reintegration" into the French nationality :

"Les Alsaciens-Lorrains qui contractent pendant le cours de la guerre un engagement volontaire au titre de l’un des régiments étrangers recouvrent, sur leur demande et après la signature de leur acte d’engagement, la nationalité française."


Express granting of the French Nationality was subject to prior enlisting for the War.

Of course, not being French, he could only enlist as a foreigner, before French Nationality was granted.


One can understand that not all young men from Alsace-Lorraine deciding to side with France could be channeled to the same few Regiments, hence the immediate re-routing.


More details here (in French) :



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I think in the Porch History of the Legion he details the people who joined the army at the beginning of the war and were then horrified to be posted to the legion. One book likened the Legion to a cult which had no understanding or liking for the war time volunteers and the war time Volunteers felt it demeaning to be posted to the legion where many of the old hands thought of fighting as a "job" and were not big on Patriotic fervor.

I can not point to the references as it is all "read somewhere some when"... but I think after they were processed a good % of war time volunteers with French roots were posted to French units.

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Here is more details fro the text :

" Art. 1er. - Les Alsaciens-Lorrains qui contractent pendant le cours de la guerre un engagement volontaire au titre d'un des régiments étrangers, recouvrent, sur leur demande et après la signature de leur acte d'engagement, la nationalité française.

" Ils peuvent, en conséquence, être incorporés, après l'accomplissement de cette formalité, dans un corps quelconque de l'armée, s'ils remplissent les conditions d'aptitude exigées pour l'arme dont ce corps fait partie. "

" Art. 2. - Le bénéfice des dispositions de l'article précédent est également applicable aux Alsaciens-Lorrains, servant dans les régiments étrangers au moment de la déclaration de guerre, qui en feront la demande."

" Art. 3. - Le Gouvernement est autorisé à naturaliser sans conditions de résidence les étrangers qui contracteront un engagement pour la durée de la guerre. ".


The second part of Article 1 states :

"They may, consequently, be incorporated, after the completion of this formality, into any corps of the army, provided they fulfil the conditions of aptitude required."


So enlisting in the Foreign Legion was a formality to get to the (automatic) next step - acquiring the French Nationality.

It seems that most Alsatians were posted to some African/Colonial Corps - primarily so they would not have to fight against Germany (who would consider them traitors).


For those who can read French, here is a page retracing similar fates :



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