The Ruhr Crisis (1923); Locarno and the "Locarno Spring" (1925)

Page 60-63
The Ruhr Crisis Part 3
Nathan Shanor, Morgan Grain and Alexander Hoare
The Ruhr Crisis:

France, Britain and the United States were divided (not too severely) on how to treat Germany.

France’s opinion: France felt that Germany should be punished to the fullest extent when it came to their fault of starting the war. 1) Their country was left in ruins from German invasion during the war 2) They wanted to keep Germany crippled economically so there would be little potential for them to recover and be a dominant force in Europe again 3) They wanted to secure their country’s borders from Germany, and any future chance of attack by taking territories from Germany and creating new territories to border them from Germany. They felt that the high reparations were the right decision because they could use the money to repay their debts to U.S and would weaken Germany from recovering economically.

Britain’s opinion: Britain felt that the decision made during the Paris Peace Conference was too harsh on Germany, and a hindrance to Germany’s overall economic recovery would also be a hindrance to the overall economic recovery of Europe. They also needed reparations to repay their debts to the U.S, however they felt that if these harsh conditions to Germany continued, they (Germany) would be more likely to become closer to Russia.

The Ruhr incident:
When Germany signed the Rapallo Treaty, France saw this as a way for Germany to avoid her obligations to France and Britain, and believed the only way to make them pay up was by force. When Germany missed a delivery of timber as part of her payments, France declared Germany in default and sent French and Belgian troops to invade Ruhr on Jan. 11th, 1923—against the pleads and objections from Britain. France’s main goal was to collect reparations by seizing the output of the mines and factories of the Ruhr and shipping them directly to France. German workers refused to co-operate and went on strike. They also engaged in acts of sabotage so that the French could not collect the materials. These strikes were very destructive and violent, and resulted in deaths of protestors and burning of factories and ships. France received a bad image from this incident, and were portrayed as bullies and lost considerable international support. Germany suffered greatly, because in order to support the workers in Ruhr, they printed out more paper money, which added to their already serious inflation problem. Paper money became worthless. Prices of goods rose to hundreds and billions of marks.

The Collapse of the Weimer Government (p. 61-62):
• The main victim of the inflation in Germany was the middle class who had saved their money.
• Their savings were wiped out and they were left demoralized and cynical about their future.
• The economic crisis and their negative sentiments made them vulnerable to extremists who promised to restore Germany, its pride, and the people’s hope.
• Hitler made his first attempt to seize power at this time.
• All of Germany’s issues and the growth of extremists showed the Allies that Germany was close to collapsing completely and that a state of anarchy could develop, possibly leading to a revolution and the embrace of communism.
• The collapse of the German economy also meant that Germany was not paying its reparations.
• The Allies were not receiving reparation payments and the European economic recovery was failing.
• Gustav Stresemann was appointed chancellor of Germany and he would help resolve the crisis by adopting the Policy of Fulfillment.
• The Policy of Fulfillment was a policy in support of German co-operation with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles in order to gain concessions in the future from the Allied powers.
• Stresemann called off the passive resistance in the Ruhr and announced that Germany would comply with the Treaty of Versailles.
• The French came to an agreement due to the economic failure of the occupation of the Ruhr.
• The occupation of the Ruhr also hurt the relations France and its former allies (the UK and the US).
• The US was the key player in solving the Ruhr Crisis and the reparation issue
• The US was the wealthiest power in the world and power to whom the British. French etc. owed huge war debts.
• The US demanded payment from Britain and France, but Britain and France couldn’t pay if Germany didn’t pay them.
• The issue was resolved by Charles Dawes.
• Dawes’ plan: the Dawes Plan allowed Germany to reschedule its reparation payments, reducing the total amount and extending the deadlines.
• A lot of private American capital flowed into German businesses and German government bonds.
• The resolution of the economic crisis and Germany's willingness to co-operate with the Allies was aided by the adopting of the Policy of Fulfillment.
• Instead of fighting the treaty, Germany decided to comply with the treaty and hoped to create an environment that would convince the allies that Germany was worthy of some revision of its terms based on her good citizenship and co-operation.
• The Policy of Fulfillment was adopted by Stresemann and his successors until the rise of Hitler.
• It proved successful in gaining a number of concessions for Germany and rehabilitating her international reputation.

The Locarno Treaty
-Happened after the resolution of the Ruhr Crisis
-This treaty’s purpose was to solidify Germany’s borders with Belgium and France
-France and England both wholeheartedly supported this international treaty
-The Locarno Treaty stated that Germany accepted its borders with France and Belgium as permanent. These borders were to be guaranteed by the UK and Italy.
-treaty stated that Germany was to join the League of Nations
-This treaty was seen as the high point of French and German relations before World War II
-This treaty was the compromise that would allow Germany to rebuild without being a significant threat to the French.
-The Locarno Treaty was viewed by some as an opportunity for the French and the British to fix their long lasting diplomatic issues with Germany.
-Germany also agreed to seek eastern border changes with Poland and Czechoslovakia through discussion, agreement, and arbitration, instead of violence.
-England refused ton guarantee Germany’s eastern borders. This caused Germany to later assume that they could act aggressively in this region with little opposition.
- Overall Germany accepted its western losses but not its eastern ones. The Locarno Treaty inspired optimism throughout Europe

The Years After The Locarno Treaty
-After The Locarno Treaty it seemed that peace with Germany might last because of the political progress made between Germany and other European nations.
-After joining the League of Nations, Germany soon gained a permanent seat on the League Council
-The Allies removed troops from the Rhine
-The Allied Commission to supervise German disarmament dispersed in 1927
-By 1930 Germany was operating as a completely individual and free state.
-In 1928 65 countries signed the Kellogg-Briand pact which denounced war as an instrument of national policy. The success of the Locarno Treaty helped inspire this by showing diplomatic success between two countries who had been long time enemies (Germany, and France)
-People were confident that prosperity and peace were in the future after Locarno because of the Economic success during the 1920’s, the failure of Communism to spread, and Germany’s acceptance of the Versailles Treaty.
-The Locarno Treaty, however, did not deal with Germany’s eastern border grievances which caused a significant amount of German resentment and anger.
-It must also be noted that Germany constantly undermined the disarmament aspects of the Versailles treaty.
-Germany also was working with the USSR economically and even politically in some respects.
-The Locarno spririt and optimism were also directly tied with the economic prosperity of Europe during the 1920’s. It must be noted that when the economic downturn known as the Great Depression began to affect Europe, the optimism started to waver.

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