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Sandwiched between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine River — each a potential natural boundary — the Alsace region has bounced back and forth between France and other powers for centuries. The Holy Roman Empire owned the contested region for a time, and the tug of war continued when the empire consolidated into Germany. Between 1871 and 1945, Alsace switched hands no fewer than four times, finally becoming the French possession that it remains today.