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The Rhineland Movement Author(s): Hans A. Dorten Reviewed work(s): Source: Foreign Affairs, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Apr.

, 1925), pp. 399-410 Published by: Council on Foreign Relations Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20028384 . Accessed: 13/09/2012 12:41
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THE RHINELAND MOVEMENT


By Dr. Hans A. Dorten
"Si nolis bellum para pacem/"

THE

November
various

revolution
At

of 1918 relieved Germany


that time nothing seemed

of her
more

monarchies.

than that the artificial states which had been obvious considerations should be created in accordance with dynastic out in favor of others which should really correspond to wiped the several branches of the German race; and, indeed, the first a re drafts of the new constitution actually did provide for into states of this character. division of Germany Such a new alignment would naturally have included a Rhine state (stock of the Rhenish Franks), consisting of the Rhine prov (the Ruhr), Hesse-Nassau, ince, the western part of Westphalia a Swabian state (Swabian stock), consisting and the Rheinpfalz; a Bavarian state (stock of the of Baden and Wurttemburg; a Lower Saxon Bajuvaren), consisting of Bavaria and Coburg; state (stock of the Lower Saxons), eastern part consisting of the of Westphalia, and Hanover, Oldenburg, Schleswig-Holstein, an Saxon state (stock of the and, finally, Braunschweig; Upper and of Saxony of the Province Saxons), Upper consisting the former kingdom of Saxony. Thus the minimum Thuringia, number of individual states would be set up, in order that the necessities of economic life might be more equitably adjusted, yet all the old German racial divisions would have been respected. East of the Elbe, in the German colonial territories, formerly a new inhabited by Slavs and still showing Slavic characteristics, division would have led to the erection of states about as follows:
Mecklenburg and Pomerania,

on the part of the Prussian Junkers to any such Resistance scheme manifested itself forthwith, but in view of their complete demoralization it had no particular significance. Rather more unexpectedly, though really quite logically, the Social Democrats later emerged as bitter opponents of tha proposed new division. Their leaders recognized that, being a minority, they could retain their leadership only by virtue of the most extreme centrali zation. therefore adopted the Prussian system of the They with its centralized and its stock of Hohenzollerns, uniformity

Brandenburg,

Silesia,

and

Prussia.

400 disciplined
much the

FOREIGN AFFAIRS
officials, which
same considerations.

in its time had grown up as a result of

This resistance on the part of the Social Democrats has hither to prevented a re-division of and it has also exercised Germany, a decisive influence upon the Rhineland Movement. The Rhenish Socialists had placed themselves under the leadership of the native Rhinelander, and by the end of Jean Meerfeld, the cry of "Los von Berlin!" found a hearty echo from the 1918 as a whole. after the outbreak of the people Immediately a German from drawn committee Revolution, preliminary industrial circles had been formed with a Rhenish-Westphalian view to forming a "West German FreeTstate within the German Reich." Industry felt itself threatened chiefly because of the Muscovite orientation in Berlin. adopted by the revolutionists It assumed that Berlin was going to sink into Bolshevism and was to be naturally unwilling dragged along into the whirlpool. to form a frankly industrial This industrial committee wished to which the entire Ruhr should was to state, belong, but which on the south was to be bounded and by the line Trier-Coblenz include only the northern part of the Rhineland. The economic union was speedily concluded under the leadership of Freiherr von Schorlemer-Lieser, and former Minister and Oberpr?sident, won the adherence of the Centre, the largest political presently party o? the Rhineland, which by itself controlled the majority
of the electorate.

In order to confront the Allies with a fait accompli prior to to take place about the their advance, which was expected middle of December, 1918, it was decided to make the proclama tion at once; and with this object in view a great assembly was at Cologne. The proc summoned to meet in the Guerzenichsaal of handkerchiefs, with a frantic waving lamation?demanded, more than 4,000 have been made at this by participants?would moment prevented. meeting, had not petty jealousies at the last to whom was The far-seeing and energetic Oberpfarrer Kastert, success of the plan to call such an assembly, found due the great himself obliged to yield to the wishes of his comrades, who were should be made prior to the that a proclamation unwilling arrival of Karl Trimborn, party chairman, and a state secretary era. of the Wilhelmian his arrival was delayed, Unhappily Chief thereby affording another individual, Konrad Adenauer, an to place himself at of Cologne, B?rgermeister opportunity

THE RHINELAND MOVEMENT

401

This too-foresighted politician imme the head of the movement. to veer about between left and right, not venturing diately began to associate himself openly with the industrial committee which to the right. When, however, he leaned strongly recognized the enthusiastic unanimity of the people, he felt himself impelled to of the Rhenish declare to the committee that a proclamation a resolution state could be made to by all political agreed only by and that he himself was the only individual capable of parties, an agreement. It was a Utopian idea that bringing about such did not presume to deny Adenauer's request. He was entrusted with the leadership and the task of preparing both the procla mation and the outline to be assumed by the new government. At first Adenauer All seemed to be meeting with success. to him, with the party leaders adhered exception of dyed-in-the wool Prussians; and the press with almost one voice called for a sole exception being the chief organ speedy proclamation?the as of Prussianism, the K?lnische Zeitung, of which Bismarck,
every one knows, once remarked that it was worth more than an proved fatal to the movement, but unfortunately the committee

army corps to Prussian interests on the Rhine. Adenauer proposed a formal launching of the new state in the on of the Cologne Rathaus Hansasaal 1, 1919, and February summoned for this purpose all the representatives who had been chosen for the Parliaments which were to establish constitutions for Prussia and the Reich. of either Prussia As no constitution or the Reich was at that time in existence, this proceeding would have been legal. undoubtedly too left the southern part of the Rhineland But Adenauer this point I am compelled to refer to my own activities. from the field toward the beginning of December, I Returning At
formed, upon quite out of consideration.

committee inWiesbaden and Mainz for the purpose of establish a state, to which all culturally ing large and inclusive Rhenish and economically were in unified portions of the Rhineland tended to belong. I had several interviews with Adenauer for the purpose of having the adhesion of the South to the procla
mation of

receipt

of

the news

from

Cologne,

a Nassau-Hesse

to submit the full powers me authorized granted by various cities and associations of the South and was to declare the ad hesion of the South after the proclamation. In immediately

February

1,

1919,

taken

under

consideration.

I was

402

FOREIGN AFFAIRS
of the time available
full powers.

spite of the shortness


secure a number

I had contrived

to

of such

the end of January the situation in Cologne suddenly The English of the army of occupation authorities changed. had sounded) had made no objection to the (whom Adenauer of a northern state, but their attitude altered when proclamation the question of the South's adhesion was raised. At the time of our first conversation I had warned Adenauer that it might not be sufficient for him to sound the English alone, as quite possibly there might not be unanimity among the Allies in their attitude toward the question of the Rhineland. He was quite of my con and commissioned me, as the person opinion principally to sound out the French in my own district. cerned, led to no My first interview with the French in Wiesbaden It was obvious that they were definite result. very strongly under the influence of local Prussian circles and did not take our Toward
movement seriously. But the news of our

among the French led the English, whom Adenauer had again to the conclusion to that it would be necessary approached, Berlin first?on the ground that as the Government consult of the Reich was the sole contracting party when the armistice with the Allies was signed, an understanding with itwas indispensable! state which was to remain In spite of the fact that a Rhenish no to establish itself from within the Reich needed permission
the Government in Berlin?which advised

putting

out

feelers

with the result that at the end of January, 1919, proclamation, that Government forbade it, giving the following peremptorily reasons: "England will energetically oppose any French designs The English authorities have let for annexation or a protectorate. of Prussia. it be known that they do not desire a dismemberment to see to it that in the peace negotiations but one They intend Berlin." debtor shall be left responsible for reparations: Adenauer did not venture his Under these circumstances, on in spite of the fact that 1, 1919, February proclamation
more than

revolutionary?Adenauer

was, Berlin

of of

course, the

still

wholly

contemplated

the invitation and were bound on meister, who had accepted of their words of honor to their voters to favor the establishment a Rhineland After prolonged state, desired the proclamation. a was decided on. The necessity of found compromise haggling, a A committee state was unanimously recognized. ing Rhenish

three-quarters

of

all

the

representatives

and

B?rger

THE RHINELAND MOVEMENT

403

was to be formed to draw up the proclamation, which was already decided on in principle; and this committee would meet under
Adenauer's

to to call his committee as Adenauer did not venture and as nothing came of a final appeal by the previous gether, to do his duty, the committee of the committee asking him South met for a conference with that of the North on March 7, It was 1919, in the assembly hall of the K?lnische Volkszeitung. But
decided to take the energetic measures. I was at once

presidency

"without

delay."

consult
issue

the occupation
proclamation.

authorities
A definite

with

regard to permission
was sent

empowered

to

to
to

announcement

the commanders of the American, English, and French forces, Albert Ahn Kommerzienrat (Democratic signed by Party), Consul Heinrich von Stein (Conservative Party), and the pub besides many other (Centre Party), lisher, Franz X. Bachern of the Rhineland. In this message it was leading personages no decision should reach requested that the Peace Conference relative to the Rhineland's fate without its people, consulting who were willing to meet their share of the reparations and to guarantee the security of Europe by creating a peaceful state on On the Rhine, while the German Reich. remaining within March took place in 10, 1919, a great meeting of the committees Cologne, which specifically endorsed this program and urged its immediate and definite execution. While Dr. Froberger, the editor, was approaching the English authorities I again got in touch with the French and occupation but in spite of sought also to communicate with the Americans;
every effort I was unable to . see . the American commander. In

his

book,

"My
some

Rhineland
mistake

Journal,"
. Dr.

General
Dorten

Allen
was

writes:
to

"Through

to come

see me
that

tomorrow.
at any

Naturally,
time,

I informed the chief of staff


seeing him."

I never,

was the middle of As for the French, it unfortunately April before I was able to break through the cordon of subordinates drawn about General Mangin. But when I did reach him I a man of an active mind, who found large views and possessing of the question of achieved a full and objective understanding the Rhineland and who during his short stay won the sym 17, 1919, I had a conversation pathies of every class. On May in which Representatives with General Mangin Kastert and took part. The program outlined above Kuckoff, among others,

contemplated

4o4

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

was a draft. searchingly examined and drawn up in the form of was to the In this document that the expression given hope of guar assumption by the people of the Rhineland voluntary antees for the rest of Germany would make possible a consider in the terms of peace. able mitigation Both these deputies had informed Herr Scheidemann, who was then Minister previously of this conversation. Now pr?sident, they also sent him the draft which had been drawn up. But instead of using this step as a means of in Paris, Scheide clearing the way for negotiations mann broke his of discretion and, through his associate promise Sollmann in Cologne, in which the issued a falsified version, sentence was to remain that the Rhine Republic providing within the German Reich was omitted. When the two deputies in Berlin they were treated in exposed this infamous falsification such a shameful way that they gave up their mandates and with drew from further dealings. I was now assigned by the committee the task of bringing off to the close of the Peace Conference, in the proclamation prior order to give the most emphatic expression to the fixed deter mination of the Rhenish people to decide their own future. But in an effort to secure permission to hold the ceremony at when, Aachen, I opened negotiations with the Belgian authorities there, I met with the most vigorous opposition. i was now What I had suspected in Cologne on February only too clear. had quite different France, and England Belgium, interests along the Rhine and had no intention of entrusting these interests to an act of the Rhenish people's will. Instead, the division of the Rhineland into a northern and a southern part was of decisive and for Germany. interest both for England to support a Rhine Their disinclination Republic which should embrace the entire Rhineland was to be explained by their fear of an undue extension of French influence in the Rhenish in the northern part. The coal industrial territory Westphalian and iron question, which today is so acute, due to the fact that a fusion of Rhenish coal with French ore would lead to a coalition of heavy industry on both sides able to dominate the European a decisive r?le. Whoever has market, was even then playing in the Ruhr will under followed the Anglo-French antagonism stand the situation. Belgium had interests in the north which corresponded with England's. After the failure of negotiations with the Belgian authorities

THE RHINELAND MOVEMENT

405

on it was decided to attempt the proclamation May 27, 1919. The place chosen was the city of Coblenz, situated in the center of the Rhineland and provisionally regarded as the future capital.
As a

to advise him of our in possible, I requested General Mangin tentions and to request permission to call the Rhenish delegates on this date. in Coblenz Not did together only, however, so far as to General Allen refuse this permission, but he went declare that anyone coming to Coblenz for this purpose would be arrested. He had been led to believe that the Rhine Republic was to be in Coblenz by French agents. Later I had proclaimed an to set this error right, and in opportunity repeated interviews with the two officers detailed for "civil affairs," Colonel Hunt and Major Bagby, I was at great pains to make perfectly clear the true character of the Rhenish movement. 18 of the new Weimar under Article Constitution Although the advocacy of a plebiscite on the question of founding such a state was met with continual perfectly proper, the movement difficulties in the American zone, which were to be traced to de liberately false information supplied to the Americans by the As an example of this, let me remark that Prussian authorities.
on one occasion American officers

personal

appeal

to the American

commander

seemed

im

the Prussian administration insisted that I was on my way with an automobile full of explosives to prepare the way for revolution! It was unhappily that the impossible to persuade the Americans Rhenish movement was not wholly "Made in France." at length that the American, Convinced Belgian, and English made active progress impossible, I saw that there was opposition nothing else to do, if I wished to fulfil my duty, except to attempt a formal in the French zone. On June 1, 1919, proclamation the Rhine Republic was proclaimed as a neutral state {Friedens In the proclamation the estab staat) within the German Reich. lishment of the new state was explicitly referred to a plebiscite. I notified the leaders of the Paris Peace Confer Simultaneously ence of what we had done, and also the Government of the Reich, at the same time that a representative of the occupied requesting area should be allowed to come to the Peace Conference, in order that the wishes of the Rhenish people might be heard with regard
to the arrangements for their future.

sought

to

arrest

me

because

Lloyd George, however, was able not only to block every to take up this effort of the Peace Conference question, but also

4o6

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

to procure General Mangin's It must remain for later recall. a clarification of the Rhenish to demonstrate events that question to the Allies?might, even thus unknown ?then practically an enduring peace. early, have given the world At that time no one in Germany presumed to return a negative answer to the question whether the majority of the people of the In any the Rhenish movement. Rhineland really supported case the question itself is an idle one, for the advocates of the movement that only the de had themselves always declared If the Prussians cision of a plebiscite could be authoritative. a were so sure of their success, need only have permitted they in accord with Article 18 of the Reich's constitution. plebiscite But even today they do not dare follow such a course. At any
rate, after the

In the American tions of adherence from all sides. zone, for their conviction of example, the Centre Party officially declared the necessity of a Rhine Republic. I possess several hundred in which the chosen representatives attested documents, officially of more than a million and a half voters so express themselves. In view of the disagreement among the Allies, we confined to a ourselves from 1919 to 1923 mainly systematic propaganda of the Rhenish idea. Besides and to work for the preservation movements we in this, kept in touch with the other federalistic a common program. It is not difficult Germany and developed to understand why I cannot at present go into specific details. are so brutal that any indis of opposition Prussian measures
cretions on my part might have disastrous consequences.

proclamation

of June

i,

1919,

I received

declara

In view of the fact that the left wing of the Centre Party, to slieer off, the was with its socialistic beginning leanings, felt that it could no longer devote itself K?lnische Volkszeitung to the Rhenish Its editorial direc question. whole-heartedly we found a daily newspaper of our own. that tion suggested Later The Rheinischer Herold was therefore started in Cologne. the press was moved to Coblenz, where, upon orders from Berlin, it was destroyed by secret Prussian sympathizers. The attempt upon the life of the Separatist leader, Joseph was con like the murders of Erzberger and Rathenau, Smeets, Prussian agents. This former secretary of the Socialist trived by a party which sought the complete Party had founded in Cologne from this party from Germany; separation of the Rhineland and Matthes. the parties of Deckers subsequently emerged

THE RHINELAND MOVEMENT


The

407

adherents of the federalistic movement, however, under the for the of Oberpfarrer Kastert, held out resolutely leadership of "Rhenish popular union," as laid down by the proclamation an of June 1, 1919. They represented overwhelming majority At the Separatist the same time, however, sympathizers. over the unsatisfactory parties enhanced popular discontent state of affairs in the Rhineland. the population of the Rhineland have never been in Although favor of division from the Reich, one must nevertheless take into account what might be called the side "opportunist-fatalistic" of their character, their mellowness, their lack of stamina?all a consequence of their historic development and especially of the significance of the Rhine basin as a military highway from to Napoleon. As the the time of Caesar, through Charlemagne Centre, the strongest party in the Rhineland, openly recognizes the principle that it shall be ready to break off former relation demand realistic considerations it, there is no ships where turn the Rhenish question may eventually take, if telling what it is not solved definitely, once for all. Prussia has in the past how to exploit the weaker side of the population, understood and unscrupulously. adroitly the Rhenish movement When began to show signs of life and an official once more, the Heimatdienst, vigor organization which in favor of the war had been entrusted with propaganda during out to the bitter end, was set up in the Rhineland. It holding incredible sums on behalf of Prussianism. The squandered amount spent on various kinds of jobbery from 1920 to 1923 course at the expense of the Reich as a whole) must be esti (of at a billion gold marks at least. In return for their mated "fidelity" to Prussia, officials and party leaders received heavy
"contributions"; merchants got industrialists, lavish "loans"; farmers, vineyard while musical and owners, athletic and asso

ciations found that "patriotic aid" was available. It is not too to assert that in 1923 half the population were much getting remittances from Prussia in some form or another. We monthly were to compelled permit acceptance of such contributions by
our own adherents, who would otherwise have come under the

which implied relentless eco suspicion of being "Separatists," nomic boycott and threats of persecution by the official and the Prussian billions we had semi-official authorities. Against a penny, and we were defenseless. scarcely against their threats

4o8

FOREIGNAFFAIRS
support"
the French

Let no one speak of "French


movement. In most cases

for the genuine Rhenish


occupation authorities

than toward us showed more leniency towards the Prussians existed Rhinelanders. Sympathy for France, which undoubtedly in the beginning, and which General Mangin in the Rhineland knew how to strengthen, faded more and more during the course of the year, as a result of Prussian activities, but also because of a lack of by the French themselves. understanding The assertion that the Rhenish movement was artificially pro lie. Our chronic want is a downright duced with French money of money testifies to quite the opposite of our being "financed."
No such offer was ever made me. On the contrary, when the

means we were from Rhenish movement began provided with industrial circles; and later we had to get along with very little. No one has regretted so much as I that the United States has
hitherto received no news?or still worse,

our movement. for this are found in the Reasons regarding lack of a uniform program among the Allies as to the treatment of the Rhine problem, and in the busy and endless Prussian press was able to deceive the world about completely campaign, which movement and to influence the true character of the Rhenish favor. in Prussia's countries in Allied and neutral opinion Whoso was identified with Germany. Prussianism opposed To be federalist was Prussia was an offender against Germany.
to be an

only

false

news?

result, then, the Rhenish movement


ing anti-German instrument

falsely

represented

as

separatist

or

has been twisted

pro-French.

As

into appear

for France.

to in the year 1923 the policy of "passive resistance" Early from Berlin, brought a new the occupation of the Ruhr, ordered
turn to affairs. The "activists" of the movement more and more

won

the upper hand, and the people, weary of finding themselves between hammer and anvil, longed for some change perpetually in their unendurable condition. The Rheinische Volksvereinigung, to urge upon the Interallied Rhenish therefore, determined of a Rhenish Advisory the summoning Commission Council, in a general way further the Rhenish which should program. of the paper mark, the results of which The utter depreciation and which threatened the were especially felt in the Rhineland with hunger, led us to desire the immediate creation of a people
Rhenish currency, and this program was urged at the great

popular

assembly

in the summer

of 1923.

The

success

of this

THE RHINELAND MOVEMENT


On in orders from Berlin, the largest of these assemblies?that which brought 20,000 people together in an open D?sseldorf, broken up with bloodshed by Prussian square?was "police" authorities. under the very eyes of the French occupation in the defenseless crowd, the soldiery opened fire with Hemming two hundred. automatic pistols, killing six and wounding in carrying through We should nevertheless have succeeded our program had not undesirable elements?obviously peacefully
at the assembly was so great that Prussia decided on brutal measures.

measures. But I am unable at present to deal more explicitly with these and subsequent events without endangering the gen eral political situation. On October 21, 1923, the Separatist Deckers, unhindered by of the Belgian seized the public the authorities occupation, The adherents of Smeets and Matthes of Aachen. buildings followed him next day, and within a short time such important as Krefeld, centers all and Duisburg, M?nchen-Gladbach, But when within the Belgian zone, were in Separatist hands.
the movement

instigation

of

agents

provocateurs?begun

to

take

violent

to strike in and take over the leadership in order to keep pelled out the undesirables, the old game began anew. The Belgian altered their position and compelled the authorities suddenly to withdraw from the Belgian zone. The English Separatists in the arrest and prosecution supported the Prussian authorities in the English zone, in spite of the fact that of the Separatists there had been no activity there. to Coblenz and Matthes from Deckers thereupon withdrew what they did was to so little purpose that I made Aachen, and up my mind to take a hand personally. Summoning my col I established there a "Temporary Ad laborators to Bad-Ems, whose activities were primarily directed to pre ministration"
venting the evil consequences of this mismanagement. In

began

to extend

to

the

South,

and we

were

com

short time we had succeeded in restoring order and in raising to such a degree that the standing of the movement Oberb?rger meister Adenauer the time had again come for him to thought assert himself. of Adenauer's somewhat doubtful Although were good faith, I declared that I and my friends ready to hand over the to him. His collaborator, the banker Louis leadership a Rhenish state bank and a Rhenish was ready to set Hagen, up as a necessary basis for the new state, when Berlin currency

4io

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

declared her desire to satisfy the demands of the Allies and to for herself. An understanding "save" the Rhineland among the for the complete led to arrangements authorities occupation liquidation of such measures as had been taken by the Rhenish was over. movement. inclination to share in My My activity I withdrew. affairs was ended. political to set up a state of in the Palatinate Efforts by Separatists
their own came to nothing, after the assassination of their leader,

of their inefficient organization. the because After Heinz, work of Prussian bands from out blood-bath at Pirmasens?the side the occupied territory?an English authority was entrusted on the movement's with the final verdict fate, although it was in the French occupied area. The episode thus came to an end. The fact that my Fatherland has been an object of contention between Berlin, London and Paris, and that they can find no
better solution than an embarrassed kind of international com

I shall never cease to hope promise, is not to my mind decisive. that the final word as to their fate will be left to the Rhine
landers themselves, whose voice has never yet been heard. One

a a level of can hardly expect people who have reached such as theirs, a people who cultural and economic development as their own, and whose name a Goethe and a Beethoven proudly to allow their future industry ranks among the first in the world, states to be decided by a group of European and extra-European
or to wax enthusiastic over model! an international It is certainly Macedonian-Persian police a force poor on the of way

guaranteeing European stability. The birth of world peace can take place only on the Rhine and The disturber of peace only as guaranteed by the Rhinelanders. the Rhine is Prussia. War is her national industry, and it upon
is she who forces the German

loving, ever anew to "appeal to the sword." We Rhinelanders are Germans, Take Prussia off the but we are not Prussians. freed from Prussian will see that a Germany Rhine and you a of coming to lasting understanding leadership is quite capable with France. In domestic politics the creation of a true league of German states, and in foreign politics the creation of an agreement with a United States of France?two ways to the ultimate goal of is the program of the real Rhenish movement. Europe?this

people,

who

are

naturally

peace