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Gandrange (Municipality, Moselle, France)

Last modified: 2021-01-15 by ivan sache
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Flag of Gandrange - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 6 January 2021

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Presentation of Gandrange

The municipality of Gandrange (2,542 inhabitants in 1999; 408 ha; municipal website) is located between Metz and Thionville.

Gandrange was originally an estate founded by a Frankish warlord called Godehar or Goter (in German, Gunther) on a shelf dominating the valley of Orne and protected by the hill of Justemont (lit., the Just's Mount). Most of the village and its hamlets was owned until the French Revolution by the Norbertine abbey Notre-Dame of Justemont, founded in 1124. Around 1100, monks from the St. Hubert abbey (today in the Province of Luxembourg, Belgium) founded a chapel in the village, where they placed a relic of the saint to attract pilgrims. Since the pilgrimage was less succesful than expected, the monks transferred the chapel to their colleagues of Justemont, who were able to boost the pilgrimage into a juicy business. In the 15th century, the Bishop of Metz allowed the monks of Justemont to build a church, which was fortified in the 16th century, completely revamped in 1636 after the Thirty Years' War, and erected a parish church in 1808.

The rolls listing taxes due to the church and civil lords were written in German until 1659, when the Country of Thionville was incorporated to France as prescribed by the Treaty of Pyrenees. All the local archives, in spite of having been hidden in the presbytery of the neighbouring village of Amnéville, were burned down on 11 November 1793.
In 1790, the municipality of Gandrange and Amnéville was formed, to which the former municipality of Boussange was incorporated by Imperial Decree on 22 April 1812. Amnéville separated as the independent municipality of Stahlheim (Steel City) on 15 June 1902, this part of Lorraine being at the time part of the German Empire.

On 10 September 1969, the Gandrange "Cathedral", one of the biggest steelworks in Europe, was inaugaurated by the French company Usinor. In 1999, the steelworks was transferred for "one symbolic franc" (that is, for nothing) to the Indian steel tycon Lakhsmi Mittal, whose group absorbed in 2006 the group Arcelor (itself formed in 2002 as the merger of Aceralia [Spain], Arbed [Luxembourg] and Usinor) to form the ArcelorMittal group. "Acknowledging" the industrial potential of Gandrange, Mittal promised he would keep the steelworks active. "Accordingly", ArcelorMittal announced in January 2008 the shutdown of the steelworks.
On 4 February 2008, Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic, visited Gandrange and announced that "the State was prepared to invest as required" to maintain activity on the site and that he would "come back to announce the solution".
On 31 March 2009, the Gandrange steelworks was officially shut down; on 2 April 2009, at 14:00, the steelworks released the last of the 60 millions tons of steel produced over four decades. Nicolas Sarkozy came back to Gandrange, by surprise [to prevent demonstrations], on 15 October 2009, to meet the board of the company and the workers' unions at the Town Hall of Gandrange.

Ivan Sache, 12 December 2009

Municipal flag of Gandrange

The flag of Gandrange (photo, photo) is white with the municipal coat of arms, "Per pale, 1. Azure a stag's attires bearing a cross all or, 2. Azure semy with fleurs-de-lis or a crozier argent all over".
The left part of the coat of arms recalls the monks from the St. Hubert abbey. The crozier on the right part of the shield must recall the abbey of Justemont, while the fleurs-de-lis might recall the late incorporation of the region ot the Kingdom of France.

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 6 January 2021