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Study notes

French Occupation of the Ruhr (1923)

  • Levels: GCSE
  • Exam boards: AQA, Edexcel, OCR

The French occupation of the Ruhr region of Germany took place when Germany failed to make reparations payments.

The Ruhr was an important industrial region of Germany close to the border with France and also home to many coalfields which were vital to Germany’s industrial production and, therefore, its ability to pay reparations. Germany would sometimes pay reparations “in kind”, in the form of coal and goods.

However, at times, Germany could not pay the reparations. In December 1922, Germany stopped paying. In retaliation, the French army invaded the Ruhr and seized goods and factories to make up for the lack of payment.

Germany could not respond with force as its military was too weak, so the German government ordered workers to resist the occupation using passive resistance. Workers in the Ruhr went on strike and refused to assist the French occupiers. The French did not take kindly to the strikes and proceeded to arrest anyone who was unhelpful to the occupation. Ultimately the French brought in workers from France to assist.

Overall the occupation of the Ruhr caused huge problems for Germany. Much of the country’s raw materials were located there and now this was in the control of the French.

A key consequence of the occupation was a rise in prices (inflation) due to shortages of goods and raw materials.

Another consequence was that the government collected less tax as unemployment rose and fewer people paid tax. To tackle this shortage of tax incomes, the government decided to print money, which further fuelled rising prices.


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