Saarland under the French
Between 1935 and 1945 the Saarlanders, as part of the Third Reich, lived through totalitarian dictatorship, war and collapse. In May 1945 the Americans liberated the region. In July the French took over the military control of Saarland and separated it from the German occupied zones. Under French patronage an independent Saar state was set up, economically joined to France and with strictly limited sovereignty, but for the first time the government was freely elected. The Minister-President was Johannes Hoffmann, chairman of the Christian People's Party, like many other leading politicians a returning emigrant, who worked constructively with the French military authorities under Gilbert Grandval. Reconstruction was swift. The new state had a generous social policy and a liberal cultural policy,
but it restricted internal freedoms and suppressed the pro-German opposition that had been gaining strength since 1951-1952.