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The Rhineland Republic: Part II

Julian Piggott, former British Commissioner in Cologne, tells the story, as he witnessed it, of the French attempt in 1923 to create a buffer state on their eastern frontier. The first part of this articles can be found here.

During the night of January 11-12th French cavalry and tanks reached the outskirts of Essen. By midday columns of infantry were pouring into the Rathaus square, silently watched by sullen crowds. All shops and houses were barred and shuttered. Oberbürgermeister Luther and his Aldermen received General Rampon with dignity and protested formally against the “illegal application of military force to a disarmed and defenceless population.” The General replied that the troops were there solely to guarantee the safety of the technicians whose job it was to ensure the resumption of reparations deliveries, deliberately withheld by the magnates of the Ruhr.

The Special Correspondent of the Times, Mr. Gedye, has described graphically and in detail the course of the struggle, which was to last through the spring and summer of 1923, in his book, Revolver Republic, published in 1930, and it is not the purpose of this article to catalogue once again the endless incidents which followed one another in melancholy sequence. But the “War in Peace” which now ensued must be studied in-broad outline for a proper understanding of the Poincaré plan and of the reasons for its ultimate failure, despite the German surrender in September. And as the story unfolds, it will describe the problems that arose to test the patience and diplomacy of the British Authorities of Occupation, and how Cologne was kept inviolate, so that in truth it earned its sobriquet of “Insel der Seligen.”

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