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100 years ago: French conduct in the Ruhr

09 June 2023

June 8th, 1923.

WE HAVE always contended that France, entitled to reparations as full as can be gained, and to security for her frontier, has no moral right to acquire them by methods which the Germans used in Belgium and Northern France, and against which France protested, with the sympathy of the world. In that contention there is a more general acquiescence than there was a few months ago, and even the papers which lustily demanded that we should take our hats off to France are becoming more than a little tepid in their devotion to her active policy. Nor is her most faithful ally Belgium so ardent in the policy to which she was committed. The Belgian Government shows itself disinclined to wait indefinitely for the refreshing fruits of the occupation of the Ruhr; and the Belgian people does not contemplate without alarm the prospect of an inconclusive and prolonged session of the French forces there. The Times on Wednesday summed up in a strong leading article what the occupation of the Ruhr actually means. It is a reign of terror. Any German officials who hesitate to comply with the slightest behest of General Degoutte are imprisoned or expelled. The number deported amounts to thousands weekly; they are uprooted and flung out of their homes precisely as Belgian and French families were, with the consequence that riots and shootings grow in frequency and seriousness. France gains nothing substantial, and the recovery of Europe is indefinitely checked. That is the inevitable result of M. Poincaré’s policy of violence, a policy as inimical to the interests of France as to the interests of Germany.

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