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In Focus - Beginning of the occupation of the Ruhr

By Archivportal-D

In the "In Focus" section, we present special highlights from archives that are represented in the Archivportal-D. These selected archival materials provide an insight into the holdings and offer research suggestions for a possible search in the Archivportal-D or in the online collection "Weimar Republic". The online colletion is still new, and so we are first presenting archival materials on the history of the Weimar Republic here. We are delighted about your interest and many new users in the Archivportal-D.

After the defeat of the Deutsches Reich  in World War I, the Compiègne Armistice Agreement of November 11, 1918, stipulated that the Reich territories on the left bank of the Rhine were to be vacated by German military forces and occupied by troops of the Allied victorious powers. The Rhineland Agreement of 1920 defined the periods and various zones of occupation. The end of the occupation was also linked to compliance with reparations payments to the victorious powers, to which the Deutsches Reich was obligated in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles.

In December 1922, the Reparations Commission determined that Germany was in arrears in paying reparations to France. This led to the entry of more French and Belgian troops into the Ruhr on January 11, 1923, and the imposition of a state of emergency by the French occupation forces.

Fotografie zur Besetzung des Ruhrgebiets 1923 (Quelle: Bundesarchiv)

Ruhr occupation - Gelsenkirchen-Buer - French mountain troops with Renault FT-17 tank, January 1923. BArch, image 102-14186 / Photographer(s): Pahl, Georg

The aim of the invasion was not to annex the area, but to secure reparation payments. The Ruhr region was to serve as a "pledge" until the German side would fulfill its payment obligation again.

Dokument zur Besetzung des Ruhrgebiets 1923 (Quelle: Bundesarchiv)

Note from the French government concerning the Franco-Belgian invasion of the Ruhr, January 10, 1923, signed by French Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré, in: Documents on the occupation and evacuation of the Ruhr and the arrêtés of the Franco-Belgian military commanders, 2nd series, edited by Dr. Werner Vogels, Regierungsrat in the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Territories, 1925. BArch R 2/50404

The action caused great indignation in Germany. The government of the Deutsches Reich called on the population of the Ruhr to resist passively - a call that the majority of people heeded. Reparations payments were stopped, general strikes paralyzed the economy, and officials disobeyed the orders of the occupiers.

Active resistance also occurred through acts of sabotage and attacks against the occupiers, perpetrated by Communists as well as Freikorps members and Nazis.

The cost of passive resistance was very high from an economic, social and political point of view. In view of the growing problems, the government under Reich Chancellor Stresemann ultimately called for an end to passive resistance in September 1923.

The text is taken from the timeline of the Federal Archives' online portal on the Weimar Republic. We sincerely thank the Federal Archives for making it available.


Link to the source in the online collection

Collection of documents about the Franco-Belgian invasion: contains Note from the French government concerning the Franco-Belgian invasion of the Ruhr, January 10, 1923


Research options

If you are interested in more sources on the occupation of the Ruhr, use the A-Z Index to select "Ruhrbesetzung" and combine this thematic keyword with the geographic keyword "Westfalen."

In the object gallery on the start page of the online collection you will find further sources on the keywords "Ruhrbesetzung", "Generalstreik" and "Reparationen".