France Occupies the Ruhr - History

France Occupies the Ruhr - History



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French Troops in Ruhr
The French announced, on January 9th, that the German were in default on their coal deliveries. On January 11th, the French occupied the Ruhr district of Germany in order to forcibly obtain coal. The German people and Government pursued a policy of passive resistance.

Under the Versaille Peace Agreement, the Germans were forced to pay reparations for their damage during the war. It was quickly apparent that the Germans could not pay. In December 1919, the economist John Keynes had published a book, The Economic Consequences of Peace. He attacked the reparations aspect of the peace agreement and said it was unworkable.

In 1922 the Allied powers that were owed reparations agreed to defer the payments. However, French Prime Minister Raymond Poincare had not supported the decision. In 1923 when the Germans requested a delay, Poincare responded that France would seize German factories and take the output until the yearly payment was offset. On January 10, 1923, French troops and troops from Belgian entered the Ruhr, Germany's most industrial area, and seeded the factories. The British refused to go along.

The German responded with passive resistance, refusing to produce goods in the factories seized. Germany also refused to make any additional reparation payments as long as the French occupied the Ruhr. In March, when the French army tried to seize trucks at a Krupp factory in Essen, violence ensued in which French troops killed 134 German.

The economic impact of the seizure and subsequent passive resistance on Germany was devastating; the result was rapid inflation and civil unrest.


France Occupies the Ruhr - History

The Ruhr ( / ˈ r ʊər / ROOR German: Ruhrgebiet [ˈʁuːɐ̯ɡəˌbiːt] ( listen ) ), also referred to as Ruhr area, Ruhr district, Ruhr region, or Ruhr valley, is a polycentric urban area in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. [a] With a population density of 2,800/km 2 and a population of over 5 million (2017), [3] it is the largest urban area in Germany. It consists of several large cities bordered by the rivers Ruhr to the south, Rhine to the west, and Lippe to the north. In the southwest it borders the Bergisches Land. It is considered part of the larger Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region of more than 10 million people, which is among the largest in Europe.

  • Dortmund
  • Essen
  • Duisburg
  • Bochum

The Ruhr cities are, from west to east: Duisburg, Oberhausen, Bottrop, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Essen, Gelsenkirchen, Bochum, Herne, Hagen, Dortmund, Lünen, Bergkamen, Hamm and the districts of Wesel, Recklinghausen, Unna and Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis. The most populous cities [4] are Dortmund (with a population of approximately 588,000), Essen (about 583,000) and Duisburg (about 497,000).

In the Middle Ages, the Hellweg was an important trade route from the region of the Lower Rhine to the mountains of the Teutoburg Forest. The most important towns of the region from Duisburg to the imperial city of Dortmund were concentrated along the Hellweg from the Rhineland to Westphalia. Since the 19th century, these cities have grown together into a large complex with a vast industrial landscape, inhabited by some 7.3 million people (including Düsseldorf and Wuppertal, large cities that are nearby but officially not part of the Ruhr area).

The Ruhr area has no administrative centre each city in the area has its own administration, although there exists the supracommunal "Regionalverband Ruhr" institution in Essen. For 2010, the Ruhr region was one of the European Capitals of Culture. [5] [6]


Passive resistance [ edit | edit source ]

Protests by gymnasts from the Ruhr at the 1923 Munich Gymnastics Festival

The occupation was initially greeted by a campaign of passive resistance. Approximately 130 German civilians were killed by the French occupation army during the events. Some theories assert that to pay for "passive resistance" in the Ruhr, the German government began the hyper-inflation that destroyed the German economy in 1923. Η] Others state that the road to hyperinflation was well established before with the reparation payments that started on November 1921. ⎚] (see 1920s German inflation) In the face of economic collapse, with huge unemployment and hyperinflation, 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. ⎛] Under the Dawes Plan, Germany paid only 1 billion marks in 1924, and then increasing amounts for the next three years, until the total rose to 2.25 billion marks by 1927. ⎜]

Sympathy for Germany [ edit | edit source ]

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. ⎝] 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 25 August 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". ⎞] The profits, after Ruhr-Rhineland occupation costs, were nearly 900 million gold marks. ⎟]

Poincaré [ edit | edit source ]

Hall argues that Poincaré was not a vindictive nationalist. Despite his disagreements with Britain, he desired to preserve the Anglo-French entente. When he ordered the French occupation of the Ruhr valley in 1923, his aims were moderate. He did not try to revive Rhenish separatism. His major goal was the winning of German compliance with the Versailles treaty. Though Poincaré's aims were moderate, his inflexible methods and authoritarian personality led to the failure of his diplomacy. ⎠]


Contents

During the Carboniferous Period, in the Paleozoic era, which began 360 million years ago and ended 300 million years ago, layers of slate, coal and sandstone were formed. 400 to 300 million years ago, new mountains were uplifted during the Variscan mountain-building period.

During the Silesian period, layers were deposited which became seams of coal over a period lasting millions of years. During this period there was a constant shifting between marshy conditions and overflowing seas such that the depositing of plant material and sediment from the sea resulted in the current situation of coal layers separated by stone layers.

The main representatives of flora in the coal marshes were of the genus Lepidodendron and genus Sigillaria, tree-like plants, which belong to the plant classification Lycopodiophyta. Members of both genus reached heights of up to 40 meters with a trunk diameter of over a meter.

In the Cretaceous, 135 million to about 66 million years ago, the region was submerged under a tropical ocean. In its waters lived ammonites. On the floor of the sea, a thick layer of marl formed. The sediments covered the layers of carbon and contained also the shells of giant ammonites.

The Ice Age brought changes between warm and cold weather. During the Drenthe Stadium of the Wolstonian Stage, an ice sheet over Northern Germany covered the Ruhr and reached as far as the northern hills of the Central Uplands. The shape of the middle and lower Ruhr valley is due to meltwaters and the powerful force of the ice. Meltwater from the glaciers flowed westwards through the Ruhr valley. Where Essen lies today, this flow was temporarily hindered by a barrier of ice and rocky debris, forming an enormous lake which filled the valley at Schwerte.

  • 80,000 B.C. – The region of the present-day Ruhr was already settled during the Neanderthal period, around 80,000 years ago. During the building of the Rhine-Herne Canal in 1911, stone tools and traces of encampment with bones from woolly rhinoceros, bison and mammoth were found in Herne. Humanoids also settled elsewhere in the Emscher valley. Similar finds in the 1960s were made in Bottrop.
  • 8700 BC. – In November 1978 stone-age flint instruments were found on the Kaiserberg in Duisburg which belong to the later phases of the last Ice Age and can be dated to about 9000 to 8000 BC. The oldest remains of modern humans in the area of the current Ruhr stem from the early Middle Stone Age. They were discovered in Spring 2004 in the Blätterhöhle in Hagen-Hohenlimburg.
  • 6000–4500 BC – several settlements are known in the regions of Bochum, Hagen and Dortmund from the Linear Pottery culture and the Rössen culture. In Spring 2004, the skeletons of several humans from the Michelsberg culture were discovered in the Blätterhöhle in Hagen-Hohenlimburg. Among them was the skeleton of a 17–22-year woman. These finds are the single source of information for burials from this period in the current Rhine-Ruhr district.
  • 100 BC – Threat to the Celtic inhabitants by the Germanic Sicambri
  • 12 BC – Construction of the Roman campAsciburgium on the present-day boundary between Moers and Duisburg, the Kastell Werthhausen in present-day Duisburg-Rheinhausen and the legionary camp Vetera at Birten left of the Rhine and therefore on the boundary of the district and the later province of Germania Inferior.
  • 11 BC – In order to control the Sicambri settled on the right-bank of the Rhine, Drusus erects a military camp at Oberaden.
  • 8 BC – Re-settlement of the Sicambri to the left bank of the Lower Rhine, under the control of Vetera. The military encampment in Oberaden was abandoned.
  • 1 BC – Around this time Roman military bases were erected along the Lippe. The most important of these bases was situated at Haltern. After the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in the autumn of 9 AD the Romans pull back to the left bank of the Rhine.
  • 69 AD – Revolt of the Batavi, resulting in Asciburgium and Vetera being destroyed. At Vetera, a decisive battle is waged in the year 70, which the Romans win. The legion's camp is re-built.
  • 85 – Transfer of the garrison from Asciburgium to present-day Duisburg-Werthausen so as to secure the Rhine crossing and the mouth of the Ruhr.
  • 110 – The Colonia Ulpia Traiana, near to present-day Xanten, receives Roman town rights.
  • 275 – The Colonia Ulpia Traiana is extensively damaged by a Frankish attack. In its place arises the mighty fortress of Tricensimae.
  • 407 – Under Caesar Honorius the Rhine boundary of the Western Roman Empire is given up.
  • 420 – The first traces of a Frankish settlement in Duisburg have been shown to stem from the 5th century, in the area of the old market. It lay immediately on the bank of the Rhine, as it then flowed.
  • 428 – Around this time, Chlodio assumed the leadership of the Salian Franks he is the first historically-verifiable king. According to the accounts of Gregory of Tours he lived in a district called "Dispargium" (possibly Duisburg or a castle on the Flanders Maas).
  • 556 – Beginning of the struggle between Franks and Saxons
  • 695 – At the end of the 7th century, Christian missionaries from France are active in the neighbouring districts of the Frankish Bructeri. A wave of Saxon settlers certainly halted the religious conversion. The story of the failed mission is reflected in the Golden Legend, in which the work of Black Ewald and Fair Ewald, who were engaged in missionary work in Aplerbeck, came to a violent end in 695.
  • 740 – Assumed establishment of the Königshof in Duisburg.
  • 775 – The army of the Franks under Charlemagne conquers the Sigiburg, as well as the Eresburg near Niedermarsberg a year later. They were laid out as Reichshofs.
  • 796 – Liudger founds Werden Abbey.
  • 863 – Normans over-winter on Bislich Island at Xanten and destroy the local church.
  • 870 – At Essen Abbey, founded by the Saxon noble Altfrid, the abbey church is inaugurated.
  • 880 – Normans sack Birten.
  • 883 – Regino von Prüm reports that Normans are over-wintering in the oppidum diusburh (Duisburg) having conquered it. The Burg Broich in Mülheim an der Ruhr is erected, probably as a reaction to these repeated Viking raids. It also guards the ford across the Ruhr by the Hellweg.
  • 928 – King Henry I spends Easter in Dortmund.
  • 929 – Reich synod in Duisburg. Between 922 and 1016, 18 residences in Duisburg by the King are mentioned in documents.
  • 938 – King Otto I holds an imperial council (Hoftag) in Steele.
  • 941 – Otto I (the Great) stays for the first time in Dortmund. A few years later. he also celebrates Easter in the Rhineland Palatinate. The common usage as pfalz underlines their importance. The Hellweg is an important connecting road of the Ottonischen kingdom. Along this trade route lie Dortmund and other old towns of the Ruhr, such as Duisburg and Essen. The Königshof in Duisburg is extended to a Königspfalz.
  • 971 – Mathilde, granddaughter of Otto I becomes abbess of Essen Abbey.
  • 978 – At a Reichsversammlung (Reich assembly) in Dortmund, in the presence of Ottos II, the decision was made to campaign against the Franks.
  • 992 – On 7 May, the young Otto III receives ambassadors of the West Frankish king in Duisburg. [1]
  • 993 – Reich Assembly of Otto III in Dortmund. Among other matters, the dispute between Bishop Dodo von Münster and Mettelen Abbey is decided in favour of the monastery. [2]
  • 1000 – Initial stages of the construction of churches in the romanesque style, like for example the Stiepeler Dorfkirche or the St.-Vinzentius-Kirche.
  • 1002 – Henry II receives homage in Duisburg from bishops of Lorraine and the archbishop of Liege.
  • 1005 – Synod of King Henry II in Dortmund.
  • 1012 – Sophia, daughter of Otto II becomes abbottess of the Essen Stift.
  • 1033 – The Benedictine Abbey in Werden is awarded rights over shipping on the Ruhr by King Conrad II - for the stretch from Werden to its mouth,
  • 1041 – Essen receives rights to a market.
  • 1073 – Under Essen abbess, Svanhild of Essen [de] , the parish chapel is erected on the Stoppenberg. In the 12th century it becomes the abbey church of a convent of Premonstratensians.
  • 1122 – Count Gottfried of Cappenberg founds the first Premonstratensian foundation in the German-speaking lands, the Cappenberg Abbey in Selm. Furthermore, he gives over his castle and his fortune to the young order. Gottfried thereby becomes the last of the mighty counts of Cappenberg. His younger brother Otto of Cappenberg was godfather of Frederick I of Staufen. In 1155, Otto received as a gift from the recently crowned king the famous Cappenberg bust reliquary, a reliquary in the form of a bust of Frederick.
  • 1123 – Kamp Abbey becomes the first Cistercian monastery in the German-speaking area.
  • 1145 – The Knights Hospitallers opens its first foundation on German soil, by the walls of Duisburg, and builds the Marienkirche (church) there.
  • 1152–1154 – A few months after his election to King, Frederick I of Staufen (Barbarossa) convenes a council (Hoftag) in Dortmund. But two years later, he and his retinue convene in the Palatinate. On both occasions, the mighty Duke of Saxony, Henry the Lion, is also present.
  • 1160 – The County of Mark comes into being as a result of the division of the inheritance of the Count von Berg.
  • 1173 – Emperor Frederick Barbarossa grants Duisburg the right to hold two fortnightly cloth fairs annually.
  • 1199 – Completion of the Isenburg at Hattingen as the new power centre of the County of Isenberg an der Ruhr.
  • 1200 – In Dortmund, large town walls are erected around the town. Its course is still retained in the inner city in the form of an embankment ("Wälle").
  • 1225 – Murder of the archbishop of Cologne, Engelbert I of Cologne, by Frederick of Isenberg. Frederick is executed, the larger part of the Grafschaft Isenberg an der Ruhr falls to his relative, the Count von der Mark. The Isenburg and the castle and town of Nienbrügge are razed. The Isenbergers had to accommodate themselves to the County of Limburg.
  • 1225–1226 Settlers from Nienbrügge were settled in Ham between the Ahse and Lippe rivers by Count Adolphus of the Mark and received town rights from him in 1226. The old designation of Ham, a tongue of land between two rivers, becomes the name of the town, Hamm.
  • 1228 – The Archbishop of Cologne takes over the Vest Recklinghausen.
  • 1240 – The Dortmund Council obtained a house on the Markt vom Grafen von Dortmund. For centuries it was the Rathaus of the Reichsstadt.
  • 1243 – The Wasserburg Strünkede in Herne is first mentioned in connection with a feud between Cologne and Cleves. Since the 12th century, the resident knight there, as an official of the Count of Cleves, is the guarantor of Cleve influence on the middle Emscher. The sphere of rule of Strünkede extends temporarily from Buer in the West via Herne and Castrop to Mengede in the East.
  • 1253 – On a bridge over the Lippe in Werne, Dortmund, Soest, Münster und Lippstadt founded the Werne Federation (Werner Bund). This union of towns became a forerunner of the Hanseatic League. Dortmund soon took on a leading role for all Westphalian towns in the League.
  • 1254 – Battle on the Wülferichskamp east of Dortmund
  • 1283–1289 – War of the Limburg Succession. The weakened position of the ducal power, i.e. the Archbishop of Cologne, after the Battle of Worringen in 1288, hardens the powerful position enjoyed by the counts. In the Ruhr, this applies especially to the participants in the conflict – the counts of Berg and Mark, but also indirectly to the neutral Count of Cleves.
  • 1290 – Duisburg is 'mortgaged' to the Count of Cleves – it ends up finally under the possession of Cleves (presumably because the Emperor did not have enough finance at his disposal to buy it back).
  • 1321 – Count Engelbert II of the Mark awards Bochum town rights (he is celebrated today in the Engelbert Fountain).
  • 1350 – The Black Death reaches the Ruhr.
  • 1371 – The erection of a toll-booth on the Homberger Werth marks the founding of Ruhrort.
  • 1388–1389 – Great Dortmund Feud, the imperial city of Dortmund tries to assert its independence, but becomes deeply indebted in doing so.
  • 1389 – In a document by Count Engelbert III of the Mark is the first mention of the Sälzer zu Brockhausen. It is the first evidence for full-scale salt extraction in Unna.
  • 1396 – The oldest written evidence of wild horses in the Emscher valley. The use of stock in the Emscherbruch between Waltrop and Bottrop was a privilege reserved for the nobility. Whereas towns were concentrated on the Hellweg and River Lippe, the region in between was sparsely populated [3]
  • 1398 – The County of Cleves is inherited by the Count of Mark [4]
  • 1397 – The Battle of Kleverhamm consolidates the position of the Count of the Mark.
  • 1508 – When the "French Sickness", syphilis, first appears in Dortmund the entire population (including children) is seriously affected.
  • 1518–1519 – In Dortmund, a conflict breaks out between the citizens and the clergy over the privileges of the clergy, such as exemption from taxes. These events can viewed in connection with the Reformation.
  • 1521 – Cleves-Mark acquires Jülich and Berg (which themselves had amalgamated) through inheritance (forming Jülich-Cleves-Mark). [5]
  • 1529 – Sweating sickness is rampant. Death follows a few hours after symptoms first occur. In Dortmund, within the first four days of the epidemic 497 people die from 500 affected by the disease.
  • 1538 – In the imperial city of Dortmund, Baptists start to become active. Their activities are prevented by the council. When one of the preachers, Peter von Rulsem, decides not to cease his activities, he is executed.
  • 1541 – In Wesel, printing is introduced. Two years later, it was being practised in Dortmund, which becomes one of the important centres of printing in the 16th century.
  • 1543 – As a complement to the church's Latin Schools, the Council and citizens of Dortmund found a humanist grammar school. The teaching is influenced by the established grammar school in Emmerich and the Paulinum in Münster. One of the pupils at the Dortmund school is Hermann Hamelmann.
  • 1552 – The map-maker, Gerhard Mercator, settles in Duisburg. Previously pursued by the Catholic Church, he is able to bring his important work to fruition in the liberal climate of the Duchy of Cleves.
  • 1553 – The "Reformer of Westphalia", Hermann Hamelmann, professed for the first time in public his belief in the reformed faith, during the Festival of Trinity in Kamen, as a result of which he is forced to leave the town.
  • 1559 – The Schola Duisburgensis becomes the Gymnasium Duisburg. One of the teachers is Gerhard Mercator, who gives instruction in mathematics.
  • 1566 – One of Mercator's pupils, Johannes Corputius, captured a view of Duisburg on an accurate map, for the first time.
  • 1568 – Uprisings in neighbouring Netherlands and the beginning of the Eighty Years' War.
  • 1580 – Witch trials in Vest Recklinghausen reached a high point between 1580 and 1581. Executions were carried out on the Segensberg in Hochlar and on the Stimberg in the Haard, near Oer. Altogether 44 persons, predominantly women, were burned to death. In Märkish Witten at the same time, six females and one man fell were sentenced as witches.
  • 1580 – Working coal mines were mentioned in the 'Städtebuch' of Bruyn and Hugenberg in Steele.
  • 1583 – The Spanish general Mendoza with 21,000 foot soldiers and 2,500 knights stands before Orsoy. In Walsum, a camp is set up protected by ramparts.
  • 1583–1589 – The Cologne War is waged across large regions of the Vest Recklinghausen, which thereby suffered badly from the war. The background to the war are the demands of the Archbishop and Elector of Cologne, Gebhard I of Waldburg, over the equality of the confession, connected with the intention to transform the Electorate of Cologne into a secular principality.
  • 1587 – Dutch-occupied Ruhrort was besieged and conquered by Spanish troops during the Eighty Years' War.
  • 1598 – The Spanish send troops into Vest Recklinghausen and the County of Mark. Among other towns, Recklinghausen was taken by General Francisco de Mendoza and his 24,000 soldiers. In 1599, his troops are before the town of Dortmund and the surrounding area is plundered. During the Eighty Years' War involving the Netherlands, the bordering areas of the Lower Rhine and Westphalia are crossed repeatedly by both Spanish and Dutch troops. Castrop, for example, suffers greatly from plundering.
  • 1598 – In Holzwickede the development of mining is mentioned in documents, when Drost Bernhard von Romberg is mortgaged with the Kallberg sampt dem Erftstollen ("Kallberg including the Erft adits").
  • 1599 – The plague breaks out in Dortmund thanks to Spanish troop movements.
  • 1601 – Dutch mercenaries cause damage in Walsum.
  • 1609 – The War of the Jülich succession begins. On 10 June, Brandenburg and Pfalz-Neuburg take on jointly the administration of the Duchy of Cleves in line with the Treaty of Dortmund.
  • 1614 With the death of the last Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Mark, his land is divided. Berg goes to the Wittelsbach family, while Prussia acquires Cleves and Mark. [5]

Large areas of the Ruhr come under Prussian control. Ironworks are started up and coal-mining accelerates. Industry in general receives some direct and indirect encouragement from the Prussian state.

  • 1655 – Brandenburg assumes temporary control of the Duchy of Cleves and Frederick William I, Elector of Brandenburg, arranges for the foundation of a University in Duisburg.
  • 1666 – As a result of an agreement over inheritance, the Duchy of Cleves and the County of Mark pass permanently to Brandenburg.
  • 1672 – During the Franco-Dutch War, French soldiers under Marshall Turenne invade the region. Amongst their actions, they burn down the Haus Steinhausen.
  • 1674 – A permanent freight and passenger service by river is set up between Duisburg and Nijmegen (beurtvaart).
  • 1706 – In Vest Recklinghausen (which is under the control of Cologne) the last of a total of 130 witch trials since 1514 takes place.
  • 1716 – The Ruhrort Magistrat decide on the building of a harbour. This was the germ of the present-day Duisburg-Ruhrort Harbour.
  • 1734 – The Königsborn Saltworks in Unna was founded by the Prussian state.
  • 1736 – In Holzwickede, the Caroline Adit mined coal which supplied the Königsborn Saltworks.
  • 1736 – Essen's first newspaper appeared. Published by the printer of books Johann Heinrich Wißmann under the title Neueste Essendische Nachrichten von Staats- und Gelehrten Sachen (Newest Essen News of State and Learned Matters). In 1775 Zacharias Gerhard Diederich Baedeker took over both the press and publishing sections.
  • 1738 – The Mark Mining Office (mining office) was founded in Bochum. Among the largest deep mines of the County of Mark was the "Glückauf" mine in Gennebreck with 17 employees.
  • 1755 – Frederick II commissioned Ludwig Philipp Freiherr vom Hagen and Johann Friedrich Heintzmann with the drawing-up of new mine and Knappschaft regulations.
  • 1756–1763 – Seven Years' War. This was a major international conflict in which Prussian was aligned with Britain (and Hanover) among others, against France, Austria and Russia. Prussia was very nearly brought to its knees but appears to have been saved by the death of the Russian Empress Elizabeth and the more conciliatory attitudes of the new czar, Peter III. In 1758, the Battle of Rheinberg preceded the more crucial Battle of Krefeld during which Hanoverian/Prussian troops pushed the French army across the Rhine.
  • 1758 – On 18 October, a new nine-meter high blast furnace of the St Antony Smeltery in Osterfeld (in present-day Oberhausen) was used for the first time. The first ore-based production in the district.
  • 1766 – On 29 April, Frederick II issues the Revised Mining Ordinances for the Duchy of Cleves, the Principality of Meurs and the County of Mark
  • 1769 – The Dortmundischen vermischten Zeitungen appeared for the first time, published by a member of the Essen publishing family Baedeker. This is the town's first newspaper.
  • 1780 – The construction of the last of 16 Ruhr locks commissioned by Prussia was completed. These locks were necessary to circumvent obstacles such as weirs and were constructed in tandem with other measures such as widening and dredging needed to make the Ruhr navigable. It became extremely well used, primarily for coal, although traffic fell off with the later construction of railways [6] and the advance of the coalfield northwards. At this time, coal was being extracted from shallow drift mines in the vicinity of the river. Of particular importance, a toll road, the Aktienstrasse, carried coal to the river at Mülheim an der Ruhr.
  • 1781 – Founding of the Gute Hoffnung Smeltery in Sterkrade (in present-day Oberhausen). This soon came under the control of a member of the Krupp family. [7]
  • 1784 – Henry Frederick Karl Freiherr vom und zum Stein becomes director of the mining office in Wetter an der Ruhr. He encourages the development of mines and ironworks in the western areas of Prussia.
  • 1787 – The Rauendahler Schiebeweg is opened in Sundern for the transporting of coal from mines to the Ruhr shipping lane. It is the first of several horse tramways in the Ruhr valley to copy the British model. Involved in the planning are Bergrat Eversmann and Oberbergrat Freiherr vom Stein.
  • 1788 – The old Hellweg starts to be upgraded to more modern standards. This was encouraged by the Freiherr vom Stein. The Stift Essen also became involved and upgraded roads in their vicinity, connecting to the east to Kleve.
  • 1794 – The French occupy the left bank of the Rhine.
  • 1798 – The Liberal Arnold Mallinckrodt founded the Westfälischen Anzeiger in Dortmund, the leading newspaper in the region at the time. Carl Arnold Kortum was one of its employees.
  • 1799 – In Unna-Afferde a steam engine was used for the first time in the Königsborn Saltworks. [8] The new method of brine production produced such an increase in production that by the following year The saltworks was already occupying third place among all salt-producing companies in Prussia for its productivity.

The Industrial Revolution advances in the Ruhr. At the start of the 19th century, the steam engine is used there for the first time, and Napoleonic measures abolish feudal influences. When the entire area comes under Prussian hegemony in 1815, further advances are made in transportation and encouragement of industry. By the 1830s, the important deep-lying coking-coal seams of the Emscher Basin are reached for the first time, railways make their appearance and in 1849 smelting iron ore with coke is successfully carried out for the first time in the Ruhr.


German Passive Resistance ↑

The German government under Wilhelm Cuno (1876-1933) struggled to resolve the Ruhr crisis. Passive resistance against the Franco-Belgian occupation was overwhelmingly non-violent. It originated within the Ruhr’s organised, republican labour movement, before extending to public officials and the business community, although a few right-wing paramilitary adventurers waged a more violent campaign that provoked ferocious French and Belgian reprisals.

Even peaceful defiance exacted a very heavy price as the Allies imposed a blockade that decimated the Ruhr’s economy and disrupted food supplies. 300,000 starving children were evacuated to family farms in unoccupied Germany, while in the Ruhr itself resisters and occupiers engaged in a grinding battle of attrition. Women paid a heavy price as orderly life disintegrated and they encountered random harassment by the occupying military.

Plunging tax receipts and the cost of underwriting inoperative factories and mines destroyed Germany’s public finances and currency. Political and social unrest bubbled up across the country, with food riots sweeping the Ruhr, alongside intimations of collaboration with the occupiers. Gustav Stresemann (1878-1929) became Chancellor in August 1923 and called off passive resistance on 26 September.


The occupation of the Ruhr (Germany, 1923-1925)

In the aftermath of the First World War, French and Belgian troops took control of part of Germany. The ICRC sent missions to the area, in the first such action in occupied territories.

In January 1923 French and Belgian troops occupied the Ruhr coalfields in order to enforce German payment of reparations stemming from the First World War. The Germans, unable to resist militarily, responded with acts of civil disobedience, strikes and riots in turn, these actions were met with measures of repression by the occupying forces.

At the request of the German Red Cross, the ICRC sent a fact-finding mission to the area in August 1923, to see how the situation affected the population, and to look into the question of people detained or expelled from the occupied territory. It was the first time the ICRC had worked in enemy-occupied territory to take up issues concerning the civilian population.

With the agreement of the occupying forces the ICRC delegates visited 13 places where prisoners – including those taken hostage – were held. Similar missions were carried out in November 1923 and in May 1924, before the occupation ended in the summer of 1925.

While these missions did not result in any direct relief action by the ICRC, they did enable the ICRC and the newly-founded League of Red Cross Societies to launch an appeal for assistance to the German Red Cross which was helping people affected by the disastrous economic situation in the country.  


Rhineland

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Rhineland, German Rheinland, French Rhénanie, historically controversial area of western Europe lying in western Germany along both banks of the middle Rhine River. It lies east of Germany’s border with France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Apart from the strip from Karlsruhe southward to the Swiss frontier (west of which the Franco-German frontier is formed by the Rhine), the Rhineland extends from the northern borders of the French départements of Moselle and Bas-Rhin over the German Länder (states) of the Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate and into northwestern Baden-Württemberg, western Hesse, and southwestern North Rhine–Westphalia.

Along the middle Rhine River, a hilly region between Mainz and the area of Bonn, is the wine-growing country that has for centuries supported small towns and villages, as well as lords of castles and many monasteries. North of Bonn, the character of the landscape changes and broadens into the great northern European plain that leads to the North Sea. The lower Rhine region is heavily industrial.

Known in ancient Roman times as a buffer zone between Gaul and the Germanic peoples to the east, the Rhineland was later included in the Frankish kingdom of Austrasia. Later the Rhineland was divided among the duchies of Lorraine (or Upper Lorraine and Lower Lorraine), Saxony, Franconia, and Swabia but, during the late European Middle Ages and early modern period, the Rhineland became the seat of numerous territorial principalities. These included: in the north, the electoral archbishopric of Cologne, with the secular territories of Kleve (Cleves), Berg, and Jülich in the central area, the electoral archbishoprics of Trier and of Mainz and the bishoprics of Worms and of Speyer, with the electoral Palatinate and the countship of Nassau and, in the south, the bishopric of Strasbourg (Strassburg), with the cities and various lordships of Alsace and the margravate of Baden, with Breisgau.

Exploiting the troubles of the Protestant Reformation in Germany, France encroached on Lorraine in the 16th century Brandenburg acquired Kleve and Mark in 1614, forming the nucleus of the future power of Prussia in the Rhineland and the Thirty Years’ War gave France a foothold in Alsace. Louis XIV’s wars consolidated the French position on the Alsatian Rhine, but ducal Lorraine was not definitively incorporated in France until 1766. Napoleon moved France’s frontier eastward to the Rhine River and, on the right (east) bank, created the Confederation of the Rhine.

After Napoleon’s downfall, the Congress of Vienna (1814–15) limited France’s frontier on the Rhine to the Alsatian zone again. North of Alsace a new Palatinate was constituted for Bavaria. Northwest of the Palatinate were some little exclaves of other German states but north of these the whole left (west) bank as far as Kleve, together with Jülich and Aachen in the west and Trier and Saarlouis in the south, became Prussian. This Prussian territory was united with Prussia’s adjacent possessions on the Rhine’s right bank to form the Rhine Province in 1824. Prussia annexed Nassau and Meisenheim after the Seven Weeks’ War of 1866 and Alsace-Lorraine after the Franco-German War of 1870–71. The Rhineland became the most prosperous area of Germany, the Prussian north in particular being highly industrialized.

After World War I the Treaty of Versailles not only restored Alsace-Lorraine to France but also allowed Allied troops to occupy portions of the right and left banks of the German Rhineland for about 5 to 15 years. Moreover, the German left bank and a right-bank strip 30 miles (50 km) deep were to be permanently demilitarized. The Rhineland was the scene of recurrent crises and controversies during the 1920s. A “Rhineland Republic” was proclaimed by rebellious separatists in October 1923 but lasted less than two weeks. The Germanophobic French resisted U.S. and British efforts toward conciliating Germany, and the last Allied occupying troops did not leave the Rhineland until June 30, 1930.

The Franco-Soviet five-year treaty of mutual guarantee (May 2, 1935) was declared by Nazi Germany to be a violation of earlier international agreements. While the French Senate was still debating ratification of the treaty, Adolf Hitler on March 7, 1936, repudiated the Rhineland clauses of the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Pact and announced that German troops had entered the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland. Unaware that Hitler had instructed his troops to retreat if the French invaded, the French general staff refused to act unless partial mobilization was ordered, which the French Cabinet refused. Protracted international negotiations failed to undo the German remilitarization of the Rhineland, and the passive attitude of the Western powers foreshadowed their acquiescence to Hitler’s annexation of Austria and to his demands on Czechoslovakia in 1938.


Great Depression and Social Upheaval

The worldwide financial crisis affected France a bit later than other countries, hitting around 1931. While the GDP in the 1920s grew at the very strong rate of 4.43% per year, the 1930s rate fell to only 0.63%. The depression was relatively mild: unemployment peaked under 5% and the fall in production was at most 20% below the 1929 output there was no banking crisis.

In contrast to the mild economic upheaval, though, the political upheaval was enormous. After 1931, rising unemployment and political unrest led to the February 6, 1934, riots. Socialist Leon Blum, leading the Popular Front, brought together Socialists and Radicals to become Prime Minister from 1936 to 1937 he was the first Jew and the first Socialist to lead France. The Communists in the Chamber of Deputies (parliament) voted to keep the government in power and generally supported its economic policies, but rejected its foreign policies. The Popular Front passed numerous labor reforms, which increased wages, cut working hours to 40 hours with overtime illegal, and provided many lesser benefits to the working class, such as mandatory two-week paid vacations. However, renewed inflation canceled the gains in wage rates, unemployment did not fall, and economic recovery was very slow. Historians agree that the Popular Front was a failure in terms of economics, foreign policy, and long-term stability. At first the Popular Front created enormous excitement and expectations on the left—including large-scale sitdown strikes—but in the end it failed to live up to its promise. In the long run, however, later Socialists took inspiration from the attempts of the Popular Front to set up a welfare state.


French Invasion of the Ruhr and Hyperinflation 1923

When the reparations total was announced in the Treaty of Versailles at £6,600 million and to be paid back at £100 million per year, the German government (the Weimar Republic) claimed they could not afford to pay it. They were not lying, they had nothing left to be able to pay and with the loss of industrial areas also due to the Treaty, they didn’t have much hope of generating enough wealth to meet the repayments in the near future.

French Occupation of the Ruhr

  • In 1919 Germany’s war debt was 144,000 million marks
  • Reparations made matters worse, and by December 1922 the national debt had reached 469,000 million marks
  • The government asked the Allies for permission to suspend reparation payments, but the Allies refused.
  • It made no difference, as Germany simply did not have the money to pay. The Allies, particularly France and Belgium, demanded goods and supplies in place of the money
  • The French were angry because they owed the US money that had been loaned to them during the war
  • By the end of 1922, the Reparations Commission declared that Germany had failed to deliver the promised coal and timber to the Allies
  • In response, French engineers were sent in to the Ruhr on 11 January 1923 to secure coal production and to get ‘payment in kind’ (goods and products to make up for not getting money)
  • 60,000 French and Belgian soldiers backed them
  • The German government couldn’t resist –because the Treaty of Versailles had stripped them of their military
  • Wilhelm Cuno, who led the centre-right government from November 1922, encouraged the workers of the Ruhr to offer ‘passive resistance
  • Cuno also ordered the immediate suspension of reparations payments
  • German workers used passive resistance to begin with, they went on strike and refused to work, so no goods were made for the French to take away
  • Eventually some workers did more than passively resist and carried out acts of industrial sabotage such as setting fire to factories and flooding mines
  • In response, the French and Belgium soldiers arrested mine owners and took over the mines and railways.
  • Some strikers were shot and killed by French troops
  • The funerals of these workers prompted demonstrations against the French

Effects of French Occupation

  • United German people in their hatred for France and Belgium
  • The strikers became national heroes to the German people
  • The Weimar government became more popular because it had supported the strikers
  • The German government had to pay millions of marks in compensation to miners who had lost their income
  • The German government had printed off more money to pay strikers which increased inflation, plus the strike meant fewer goods produced so inflation got worse

Hyperinflation and its Impact

  • By August 1923 there were 663 billion marks in circulation, which led to hyperinflation.
  • There were not enough gold reserves to back up the amount of marks in circulation. Printed money’s value is supported by gold reserves, £1mill notes = £1mill worth of gold, if £2mill of notes printed they’re only worth half the value
  • Hyperinflation = RAPID price rises
  • Price of bread: February 1923 = 3,465 marks, November 1923 = 201,000,000,000 marks
  • By Nov 1923 the German mark was worthless

Negative Results

  • People’s savings were worth nothing
  • People’s pensions were worth nothing
  • People starved
  • People lost their trust in the Weimar government again

Strength and weaknesses of the Weimar Republic

When created, the Weimar Republic was hailed as one of the most democratic governments in Europe. Despite this, it lasted just fifteen years.

The strengths and weaknesses of the republic are discussed below.

The republic had many democratic strengths. It allowed individual freedoms for everyone. This granted the right to free speech, the right to equality and the right to religion to every German citizen.

This system was used to elect the president and the Reichstag .

From 1924 onwards the republic also had a new currency, and following the implementation Dawes Plan, experienced a period of relative economic stability.

Despite the above, the republic had four weaknesses.

Proportional Representation was a very democratic electoral system, but it allowed lots of parties to be elected to the Reichstag. No one party was ever elected with a majority. This meant that parties had to form coalitions to rule. Coalitions often disagreed on laws and policies due to their differing views, which made it extremely difficult to govern decisively.

In addition to the above, Article 48 of the constitution gave the president authority to rule by decree in the state of an emergency, bypassing the elected Reichstag. It did not, however, give a definition as to what constituted a ‘state of emergency’. This article was repeatedly misused by Hindenburg and eventually allowed Hitler to ‘legally’ take total control of Germany.

The reliance on foreign loans following the Dawes Plan led to a severe economic depression following the Wall Street Crash. This ultimately led to further political instability, and eventually, contributed to the end of democratic government.

Finally, many of the old conservative elite who had held key positions of power under the monarchy had continued in similar roles in the Weimar Republic. Whilst this was an attempt to maintain stability in government as the new republic settled, it in fact meant that these civil servants and military leaders still had enormous influence and power. The power and influence of the conservative elite would later be crucial in appointing Hitler as chancellor.


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