It was initially a part of Germany, but was split off after WWII upon French initiative because of its strategic importance (it had rich coal reserves and a strong steel industry, and shortly after WWII the French did not want Germany to have strong industries of that sort for fear of German rearmament). It was economically attached to France (French currency, French customs area etc), but was ethnically and culturally German; the government was partially autonomous, run by an elected parliament, but with French oversight. The country participated with its own teams in international competitions (famously the 1954 football World Cup) and was regarded as having a special status - neither Germany nor France, but not an independent country either. Some time in the 1950s, I think it was 1957, a referendum was held about what to do with it, and a vast majority favoured accession to Germany. Which the Saar did, it became one of the states of Germany and still is.
The history is quite reminiscent of the Saar's post-WWI history, btw, where, esentially, the same happened: Placed under French administration with a special status, accession to Germany in 1935.
Last edited by Schnitte; 02-18-2011 at 01:53 PM.