A report on the French Ruhr occupation (1923)


On January 12th 1923, The Times (London) reported on the French Ruhr occupation, specifically the entry of French troops into Essen:


“In accordance with plan the French yesterday occupied Essen and other places in the Ruhr, a Belgian detachment cooperating. There were no disorders. A proclamation has been issued by the French and Belgian authorities exhorting the inhabitants of the newly occupied regions to remain calm and continue at work.

It is announced in Berlin that reparations deliveries will be suspended to those countries which have broken the Peace Treaty, and that the transport of coal to France was discontinued yesterday.”

(Essen, January 11th)

“Essen was occupied this afternoon by two divisions of French troops … headed by cavalry and armoured cars. Despite the machine-guns, the swords, and slung rifles of the horizon-blue cavalry, who came cantering down the street behind the armoured cars, there were angry murmurs from the crowd—many took no trouble to hide the hatred in their hearts.

Near the station I saw a man of some 30 years suddenly turn aside with a sob and muttering ‘The swine. My God, the pack of swine. May God pay them for this cruel outrage.’

At the head of one cavalry squadron rode a French officer, a fine figure, with snow-white moustache, perfect seat in his saddle, and erect as a lance. The French looked straight before them, sparing no glance for the serried ranks of angry men.

The French troops behaved with absolute correctness. As on a ceremonial parade these men in pale blue passed silently through the equally silent lanes of human beings. But the French rode as conquerors; some of the officers, especially could not but show their pride in military pomp and perfection in every movement.”