This post card view of the Avricourt station, taken around 1900, is silently eloquent in its testimony to the brash personality of the old German Empire.
Today, Avricourt hardly appears on a map, a small, sleepy village in Lorraine that one might pass through countless times and never notice. It hadnt even been mentioned in the Guide Michelin as recently as 2004. The station pictured on the post card was taken down without a trace remaining almost the moment, it seems, that the First World War ended. The grandiose architecture, executed in the Wilhelmine style, was typical of the culturally aggressive, somewhat bombastic constructions favored by Kaiser Wilhelm the Second. But what, you might ask, was such a building doing out in the middle of nowhere? Ah, but Avricourt wasnt in the middle of nowhere between 1871 and 1918; it was an important railway frontier crossing into the German Empire and the station was intended to impress everyone who saw it with the power of the nation they entered there. Notice the name on the end of the building, near the roof: Deutsch-Avricourt. While the German authorities acknowledged that the place was Avricourt, they wanted all comers to understand that they now stood in Germany. It was an insult to the French that was never forgiven, fanning the passion of their fanatical determination to take back that part of Lorraine along with the province of Alsace as soon as they could. In November 1918, after forty-seven years under the German flag, Deutsch-Avricourt became, simply, Avricourt again.