The French Occupation Of The Ruhr
The German government couldn’t keep up with its reparations payments. By 1923, they were missing payments regularly, claiming that the burden was too much for them to handle. But the French were sure that this was a deliberate offense meant to test how far the Germans could provoke them. They struck back.
French and Belgian troops marched on Germany and took a part of the country called the Ruhr. This was Germany’s main center of coal, iron, and steel production. Without it, the German economy was completely crippled.
The people of the Ruhr tried to resist the occupation through passive resistance. They marched on strike, refusing to work for the French occupiers. It didn’t do any good. The French arrested the protesters and brought in their own workers to operate the mines. Peaceful resistance, the Germans were learning, was not working.
When the Germans caught up on their payments in 1925, the French left the Ruhr. By then, though, it was clear that land could be annexed and taken from the Germans at any moment. Slowly, the idea of tearing up the Treaty of Versailles was starting to seem more reasonable.