The Rhineland Problem

February 5, 1929

Report Outline
Versailles Treaty Provisions on Evacuation
German British and French Positions on Evacuation
Moderation of Rhineland Regime Under Dawes Plan

Efforts of the German Government to bring about a speedy and unqualified evacuation of the 9200 square miles of German territory in the Rhineland still occupied by French, British and Belgian military forces began toward the end of 1928 to take on the characteristics of a determined campaign.

(1) It was made clear, both at the Lugano meeting of the Council of the League of Nations in December and in various official communications to the German press, that the Reich admits no connection between a definite settlement of the reparations problem and the Rhineland issue. (2) During recent months all suggestions of permanent non-German supervision in the occupied areas—to be exercised through the League of Nations or any other agency—have been categorically rejected by Berlin. (3) Germany's emphasis upon the moral and political desirability of evacuation has been fortified by the reiterated claim that the occupation now is illegal under Article 431 of the Versailles Treaty, which carries the correlative assertion that France, Great Britain and Belgium are now themselves violating that treaty. In addition the German Government is putting under way an official campaign to bring about reëstablishment of German sovereignty over the Saar Valley without reference to the plebiscite which is scheduled under the Versailles Treaty to be held in that territory in 1935.

Demand for Evacuation “As of Right”

Although the burden and distastefulness of alien military occupation, now in its eleventh year, provide sufficient explanation for the intensity of German feeling on the subject of evacuation, other and less obvious factors may play a considerable role in the German campaign. One of these is the widespread discontent with French rule, which is increasing, rather than diminishing, among large sections of the population of Alsace. By the Locarno treaties, Germany voluntarily abandoned any ambitions she may have entertained concerning the reacquisition of this territory. Premier Poincaré charged, however, in a speech in the Chamber of Deputies, February 1, that the autonomist movement in Alsace had its inception “east of the Rhine.” He gave notice that the government would request authority to “arm itself” against “these odious campaigns.” The inability of France to date to eliminate discontent which verges on hostility in her liberated provinces is of obvious assistance in the campaign of the Reich against French domination in occupied Germany.

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Feb. 05, 1929  The Rhineland Problem
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Apr. 30, 1924  The German National Elections
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