Occupation: workers' protests against Occupation of the Ruhr from France and Belgium troops, 1923 (00:00:06)
Original video: Ist Olympic Winter, Chamonix, 1924 (00:07:16)

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Occupation: workers' protests against Occupation of the Ruhr from France and Belgium troops, 1923

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Location and time:

France, 1923


The Occupation of the Ruhr between 1923 and 1925, by troops from France and Belgium, was a response to the failure of the German Weimar Republic under Chancellor Cuno to pay reparations in the aftermath of World War I.


By late 1922, the German defaults on payments had grown so serious and regular that a crisis engulfed the Reparations Commission as the French and Belgian delegates urging the seizure of the Ruhr as a way of encouraging the Germans to make more effort to pay, and the British delegate urging a lowering of the payments.[1] As a consequence of an enormous German default on timber deliveries in December 1922, the Reparations Commission declared Germany in default, which led to the Franco-Belgian occupation of the Ruhr in January 1923.[2] Particularly galling to the French was that the timber quota which the Germans had defaulted was based on a German assessment of their capacity to deliver and then had subsequently been lowered from below the German assessment.[3] There was little doubt among the Allies that the government of Chancellor Wilhelm Cuno had defaulted on the timber deliveries deliberately as a way of testing the will of the Allies to enforce the treaty.[3] Providing more fuel for the fire was a German default on coal deliveries in early January 1923, which was the thirty-fourth coal default in the last thirty-six months.[4] The French Premier Raymond Poincaré was deeply reluctant to order the Ruhr occupation and took this step only after the British had rejected his proposals for more moderate sanctions against Germany.[5] Frustrated at Germany's unwillingness to pay reparations, Poincaré hoped for joint Anglo-French economic sanctions against Germany in 1922 and opposed military action. However by December 1922 he was faced with Anglo-American-German opposition and saw coal for French steel production and money for reconstructing the devastated industrial areas draining away. Poincaré was exasperated with British failure to act, and wrote to the French ambassador in London:
French Chasseurs Alpins in Buer

"Judging others by themselves, the English, who are blinded by their loyalty, have always thought that the Germans did not abide by their pledges inscribed in the Versailles Treaty because they had not frankly agreed to them. ... We, on the contrary, believe that if Germany, far from making the slightest effort to carry out the treaty of peace, has always tried to escape her obligations, it is because until now she has not been convinced of her defeat. ... We are also certain that Germany, as a nation, resigns herself to keep her pledged word only under the impact of necessity".[6]

Poincaré decided to occupy the Ruhr in 11 January 1923 to extract the reparations himself. The real issue during the Ruhrkampf (Ruhr struggle) in 1923 as the Germans labelled the battle against the French occupation was not the German defaults on coal and timber deliveries but the sanctity of the Versailles treaty.[7] Poincaré often argued to the British that if the Germans could get away with defying Versailles in regards to the reparations, then a precedent would be created, and inevitably the Germans would later proceed to dismantle the rest of the Versailles treaty.[8] Finally, Poincaré argued that once the chains that had bound Germany in Versailles had been destroyed, then it was inevitable that Germany would once more plunge the world back into another world war.[8]

Initiated by French Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré, the invasion took place on January 11, 1923, with the aim of occupying the centre of German coal, iron and steel production in the Ruhr area valley, in order to gain the money that Germany owed. France had the iron ore and Germany had the coal. Each state wished to obtain free access to the resource it was short of, as together both resources had far more value than each resource valued separately. (Eventually this problem was resolved in the European Coal and Steel community.)

Following France's decision to invade the Ruhr[9], the Inter-Allied Mission for Control of Factories and Mines [M.I.C.U.M.][10] was set up as a means of ensuring coal repayments from Germany.[11]
[edit] Passive resistance
Protests by gymnasts from Ruhr at the Munich 1923 Gymnastic fest

The occupation was initially greeted by a campaign of passive resistance, and a few incidents of sabotage, (which the Nazis later exaggerated for a myth of widespread armed resistance). Approximately 130 German civilians were killed by the French occupation army during the events (including Albert Leo Schlageter). In order to pay for the "passive resistance" in the Ruhr, the German government began the hyper-inflation that destroyed the German economy in 1923.[7] In the face of economic collapse, with huge unemployment and hyperinflation (see 1920s German inflation), the strikes were eventually called off in September 1923 by the new Gustav Stresemann coalition government, which was followed by a state of emergency. Despite this, civil unrest grew into riots and coup attempts targeted at the government of the Weimar Republic, including the Beer Hall Putsch. The Rhenish Republic was proclaimed at Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) in October 1923.

Though the French did succeed in making their occupation of the Ruhr pay, the Germans through their "passive resistance" in the Ruhr and the hyperinflation that wrecked their economy, won the world's sympathy, and under heavy Anglo-American financial pressure (the simultaneous decline in the value of the franc made the French very open to pressure from Wall Street and the City), the French were forced to agree to the Dawes Plan of April 1924, which substantially lowered German reparations payments.[12] Under the Dawes Plan, Germany paid only 1 billion marks in 1924, and then increasing large sums for the next three years, until the total was to rise to 2 and quarter billion by 1927.[13]

Internationally the occupation did much to boost sympathy for Germany, although no action was taken in the League of Nations since it was legal under the Treaty of Versailles.[14] The French, with their own economic problems, eventually accepted the Dawes Plan and withdrew from the occupied areas in July and August 1925. The last French troops evacuated Düsseldorf, Duisburg along with the city's important harbour in Duisburg-Ruhrort, ending French occupation of the Ruhr region on August 25, 1925. The occupation of the Ruhr "was profitable and caused neither the German hyperinflation, which began in 1922 and ballooned because of German responses to the Ruhr occupation, nor the franc's 1924 collapse, which arose from French financial practices and the evaporation of reparations".[15] The profits, after Ruhr-Rhineland occupation costs, were nearly 900 million gold marks.

Other languages: show / hide

Arabic :

احتجاجات العمال، راينلاند-روهر، ألمانيا، فرنسا، وبلجيكا، والاحتلال، روهر، الجنود، جنود الجيش، 1923،، دبابات، جمهورية فايمار الألمانية، والمستشار كونو، عقب الحرب العالمية الأولى، تعويضات، عامل، المصنع، والإضراب، والمقاومة،,

Bulgarian :

работниците протести, Рур-Рейнланд, Германия, Франция, Белгия, професия, Рур, войски, 1923, военни, войници, резервоар, немски Ваймарската република, канцлер Cuno, последица от първата световна война репарации, работник, фабрика, стачка, съпротива, ,

Chinese Simplified :

工人 protests, Ruhr-Rhineland, Germany, France, Belgium, Occupation, Ruhr, troops, 1923, military, soldiers, tank, German 魏玛共和国, 议长库诺, 第一次世界大战后, 赔偿, 工人, 工厂, 罢工, 抵抗, ,

Czech :

protestům pracujících, Porúří, Porýní, Německo, Francie, Belgie, okupace, Porúří, vojska, roku 1923, vojenské, vojáci, tank, německá Výmarská republika, kancléř Cuno, po skončení světové války, reparace, dělník, továrna, stávka, odpor, ,

French :

protestations de travailleurs, Rhénanie-Ruhr, Allemagne, France, Belgique, Occupation, Ruhr, troupes, 1923, militaires, soldats, réservoir, la République de Weimar allemand, chancelier Cuno, lendemain de la première guerre mondiale, réparations, travailleur, usine, grève, résistance, ,

Japanese :

労働者の抗議、Ruhr ラインランド、ドイツ、フランス、ベルギー、職業、Ruhr、1923 年、軍、兵士の軍隊、タンク、ドイツ ワイマール共和国、一等書記官 Cuno、賠償金、労働者、工場、ストライク、抵抗、第一次世界大戦の余波,




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Original video: Ist Olympic Winter, Chamonix, 1924
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27-12-2010 23:36:00

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