I recently visited Strasbourg and I was impressed by the fact that many place names were German. I knew that Strasbourg was under German occupation. But, the years it was in German rule , in my opinion, do not justify this fact.

For instance. Asia Minor is under Turkish control. But, all the cities are called by us the Greeks with their Greek names (Κωνσταντινούπολη- Istanbul, Τραπεζούντα- Trabzon, Νίκαια - Iznik), because Turkey has turkify the names. The same happens in Greek cities. Turks called them in a different way. This phenomenon happens in other neighbooring countries. Many times, the names are completely different. There are cases that the name of the city is the same thing like the town of Αγχίαλος (Поморие) meaning next to the sea.

My question is about the place names in the city like Schiltigheim, Koenigshofenn and many others. Before 1681, the city was so German? (the people, not where it belonged) I saw a city to German while almost most of the last 350 years old belongs to France.

  • Yes, obviously. But, my question is about the place names in the city like schiltigheim, Koenigshofenn and many others. Before 1681, the city was so German? (the people, not where it belonged) I saw a city to German while almost most of the last 350 years old belongs to France. @RodrigodeAzevedo Dec 29, 2023 at 15:44
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    What is your question? Dec 29, 2023 at 15:46
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    The history section of that Wikipedia article is your answer unless you can edit to explain why it doesn't.
    – Brian Z
    Dec 29, 2023 at 15:47
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    Not sure the confusion here. Strasbourg has been culturally Germanic since it was taken from the Roman Empire by the Alemanni in the early 5th century. As political entities at the time were about holdings and not ethnic groups then it didn't matter if a particular holding contained German, French etc speakers so long as they paid their taxes and honoured any other obligations. What's more unusual is that the Germans renamed the city from Argentoratum, a Celtic name meaning silver fort, to Stratisburgum meaning city/fort of roads. It was more usual for the old names to be kept. Dec 29, 2023 at 20:07
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    Nation-states with their distinct languages, cultural and ethnic identities are a relatively recent development - most arose in the XIX-th century. In the past transition between languages and cultures was rather smooth when going from east to west. Belgium, Alsace-Lorraine, and Switzerland had been places where cultures mix and were disputed territories for centuries. Thus, the Alsatian language, which is still spoken in Strasbourg, is actually resembling Swiss and south-german dialects, rather than those that gave rise to the common German language.
    – Roger V.
    Dec 31, 2023 at 10:03

1 Answer 1


Your question is perhaps based on a false expectation of analogy between the cultural and political relations between France and Germany on the one hand, and Greece and Turkey on the other.

Alsace, the principal city of which is Strasbourg, has traditionally been a German speaking region as long as the German language has existed. In 1681 it came under French rule as a German speaking province. Between 1871 and 1945 it was sometimes under French rule and sometimes under German rule. In the last century use of Alsatian German and standard German has decreased, to the point that Wikipedia describes as

A 1999 INSEE survey, included in the 1999 Census, the majority of the population in Alsace speak French as their first language, 39.0% (or 500,000 people) of the population speak Alsatian, 16.2% (or 208,000 people) speak German, 75,200 people speak English (or 5.9%) and 27,600 people speak Italian.[44]

The survey counted 548,000 adult speakers of Alsatian in France, making it the second most-spoken regional language in the country (after Occitan). Like all regional languages in France, however, the transmission of Alsatian is on the decline. While 39% of the adult population of Alsace speak Alsatian, only one in four children speak it, and only one in ten children uses it regularly.

The same wikipedia article states

Although Alsace has been part of France multiple times in the past, the region had no direct connection with the French state for several centuries. From the end of the Roman Empire (5th century) to the French annexation (17th century), Alsace was politically part of the German world.

During the Lutheran Reform, the towns of Alsace were the first to adopt the German language as their official language instead of Latin. It was in Strasbourg that German was first used for the liturgy. It was also in Strasbourg that the first German Bible was published in 1466.

So in a city which was German-speaking until recently, it is no surprise that place names in Strasbourg are often German names.

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    Yes, my perception was wrong. Seeing from your answer ( and the rest comments), it seems that the transition from ruler to ruler was smooth and the people were not feared due to their religion/ethnicity. When my ancestors came to Greece after the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) they went to villages that were abandoned by Turkish people and I think until 1928 the place names were Hellenized. Just for reference, this phenomenon is existent for me as a Greek with other bordering countries apart from Turkey. Except this example,naming the place name is the logical in my region, Strasville for example. Dec 29, 2023 at 22:17

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