Allied World War I Occupation of Germany (1918-30)

Figure 1.--The American Expeditionary Force (AEF) was part of the Allied occupation force that entered the Rhineland after the Armistice (November 11). The German Army proceeded to evacuaste Belgium, France, and Luxembourg as well as the Rhineland. The Americans crossed the German border into their zone of the Rhineland (December 1). There were small units of American troops posted in towns throughout the Rhineland. Here we see a group in Herschbach. This was a sKeystone stereo card. The text on the back is somewhat idealied, but two points are important. First, there were no charges of attrocities such as the Germans committed in Belgium. Second, the towns and cities of Germany were undamaged by war, in shasrp contrast to the towns and cities of Belgium and France that the Germamns left in their wake. Some 240,000 Americans were involved in the occupation, but rapidly drawn down even before the Versailles Peace Treaty was signed. The last Americans left Germany (1923). Click on the image to read the Keystone text on the back.

The Allied World War I occupation of Germany, in sharp contrast to the subsequent World War II occupation was limited. The Armistice (November 11, 1918) provided for the rapid withdrawl of German forces from Belgium, Luxembourg, and northern France as well as the German Rhineland. There were also restrictions on the right (eastern) side of the Rhine. The Allied occupation was basically limited to the Rhineland with a few exceptions. The occupation was conducted by American, Belgian, British, and French forces. As the Germans military crossed the Rhine, the Allied troops moved into the Rhineland. The initial Armistice was for a month. There were three subsequent prolongations (December 13, 1918 January 16, 1919), (January 16 - February 16, 1919), and (February 16, 1919 January 1920). The Inter-Allied Rhineland High Commission provided for by the Versailles Treaty (paragraphs 428-431) was set up in 1920. Although not occupation, a related Allied Control Commision was established in Berlin to ensure that the Germans observed the terms of the Treaty in the much larger unoccupied areas. It proved ineffective. And there was widespread disarmament evasion even before the NAZIs seized power. When the Germans failed to pay the reparations required under the Versailles Treaty, France and Belgium occupied the industrial Ruhr. The Ruhr flows into Rhine and thus much of industrialized Ruhr was just across the Rhine. To punish the Allies, Weimar authorities unleased the devestating inflation on the German people. The French and Belgians withdrew from the Ruhr (1925). There were a range of incidents between the occupation troops and German protestors. The Germans were particularly incensed about the French use of African colonial troops in the occupation. There were incidents, but they were blown up out of all proprtions by the German press. The term 'Rhineland Bastards' began to be used. What was missing in the was any willingness to recognize how limited the incidents were in comparison to the brutality of the German occupation of Belgium, Luxenbourg, and northern France. Under the terms of the Locarno Treaties (1925-26), the Allied occupation ended. The Versailles Treaty stipulated that the Allied military forces would withdraw from the Rhineland in 1935. Actually they withdrew earlier. The Americans withdrew at an early point (1923). The British convinced the skeptical French to do so. The last British troops left (1929). The French troops completed their withdrawl (1930). The Saarland in the southern Rhineland was an exception and a separate provision of the Versailles Treaty. The French had hoped that they could convince the Saarlanders to become part of France. The Saarlanders which quickly became NAZIfied, howver, voted in a plebecite to return to Germany (1935). Even after the Allied withdrawl, the Versailles Treaty required that the Rhinelnd remain demilitarized. Hitler unilaterally remilitarized the Rhineland (1936). While a violation of the Versallies Treaty, the Allies only submitted a weak protest.


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Created: 12:12 PM 9/27/2016
Last updated: 12:12 PM 9/27/2016