French soldiers in the Ruhr, 1923

In January 1923, France and Belgium invaded the Ruhr, an industrial area in Germany bordering their own countries. The annexation of the Ruhr was in response to the failure of the Weimar Republic to continue with its reparation payments in the aftermath of World War I.

The region, full of factories and coal mines, contained resources that the French and Belgians used for unpaid repairs.

German workers refused to cooperate with the French and Belgian armies and went on strike. The German government supported him. The French sent their own activists and arrested the German strikers and the leaders of the German police.

This led to a fight on both sides. Although the French were able to hold on to the Ruhr pay, the Germans, through their passive resistance in the Ruhr and the hyperinflation that ruined their economy, won the sympathy of the world, and under heavy Anglo-American financial pressure (a 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 significantly reduced German reparation payments.

Under the Dawes Plan, Germany paid only 1 billion marks in 1924, and then increased the amount for the next three years, until the total was 2.25 billion marks by 1927.

The Ruhr occupation of 1923–1925 marked a shift in the balance of power in Europe in favor of Germany. First, it demonstrated that the Anglo-French Entente had ended as a retaliation for German power.

Second, France faced a Germany-UK-US joint front against its invasion and was depicted as a chaotic, ceaseless, greedy power. For example, politicians and the press in Britain perceived the French view that Germany was preparing to start another war as absurd and "crazy".

Although the capture of the Ruhr was profitable, the commotion it created shattered the French will. As the historian Sir Denis Brogan wrote: "Germany was still open to French invasion, but the will to invade was dead".

So until the 1930s, when Germany not only managed to end reparations, but was openly violating the provisions of the Versailles Treaty of Disarmament, France continued to act even if it had military superiority (by the late 1930s). didn't feel capable. France was divided between the right and the left (who were hostile to the military); A divided country is not in an ideal position to attack another.

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