The Ruhr crisis 1923-1924

Fischer, Conan (2003) The Ruhr crisis 1923-1924. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN 0-19-820800-6

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This study of the 1923 Ruhr crisis makes plain the devastating human and political cost of France's abortive attempt to extract reparations from Germany by force. Economic ruin combined with moral and political crisis left the Weimar Republic hopelessly compromised. This is one of the great untold tragedies of European history which paradoxically contained the seeds of the contemporary European Union. It is a ground-breaking contribution to the history of inter-war Germany. In assessing the Ruhr Crisis, Fischer does not view the occupation itself as a symbol of Weimar's endemic weakness. Instead, he stresses that the willingness of the Ruhr population to engage in a passive resistance campaign (January-September 1923) against the occupation highlights the widespread legitimacy that the Weimar Republic actually enjoyed in the eyes of its populace. Popular identification with republican values awakened by the crisis, in fact, held the potential of solidifying the gains of the 1918 Revolution and allowing an 'other Germany,' based on liberal democratic values, to take root permanently. Additionally, Fischer suggests that the conflict offered the opportunity, given the political will to compromise, of creating a new western European economic order along the lines of the post-World War II European Coal and Steel Community, in which trade and industrial links between Germany and France would be strengthened.