The Watch on the Rhine, (The Last Phase) by
|Date||1 December 1918 - 30 June 1930|
|Duration||11 years, 6 months, 4 weeks and 1 day|
The Occupation of the Rhineland from 1 December 1918 until 30 June 1930 was a consequence of the collapse of the Imperial German Army in 1918. Despite Germany proving victorious on the eastern front following the Russian Revolution, the military high command had failed to prevent the continuing erosion of morale, both domestically and in the army. Despite transferring veteran troops from the eastern front to fight on the western front, the spring offensive was a failure and following the outbreak of the German Revolution the Germany's provisional government was obliged to agree to the terms of the 1918 armistice. This included accepting that the troops of the victorious powers occupied the left bank of the Rhine and four right bank "bridgeheads" with 30 kilometers radius around Cologne, Koblenz, Mainz and 10 kilometres (6 mi) radius around Kehl. Furthermore, the left bank of the Rhine and a 50 kilometres (31 mi) wide strip east of the Rhine was declared a demilitarized zone. The Treaty of Versailles repeated these provisions, but limited the presence of the foreign troops to fifteen years until 1934. The purpose of the occupation was on the one hand to give France security against a renewed German attack, and on the other to serve as a guarantee for reparations obligations. After this was apparently achieved with the Young Plan, the occupation of the Rhineland was prematurely ended on 30 June 1930. The administration of occupied Rhineland was under the jurisdiction of the Inter-Allied Rhineland High Commission with its seat at the Upper Presidium of the Rhine Province in Koblenz.
The French Eighth and Tenth armies originally constituted the French forces involved in the occupation. The Eighth Army was commanded by General Augustin Gérard and occupied the Palatinate. The Tenth Army was commanded by General Charles Mangin and was responsible for the rest of the French zone from its headquarters in Mainz.
On 21 October 1919, they were combined to form the French Army of the Rhine.
In 1919 France stationed between 25,000 and 40,000 French colonial soldiers in the Rhineland. Some German women married African soldiers from the occupying forces, while others had children by them out of wedlock (hence the disparaging label "Rhineland Bastards") and were considered by right-wing Germans to constitute a public disgrace. General Henry Tureman Allen reported to the US Secretary of State that from the start of the occupation until June 1920 there were 66 cases of formal accusations against colored colonial troops, out of which there were 28 convictions, and admits there were many more unreported cases. Despite these occasional cases, "the wholesale atrocities by French negro Colonial troops alleged in the German press, such as the alleged abductions, followed by rape, mutilation, murder and concealment of the bodies of the victims are false and intended as political propaganda".
French occupation of Frankfurt occurred from 6 April to 17 May 1920. On the second day nine civilians were shot by Moroccan troops in an incident outside the Hauptwache. This incident was used to launch a racist campaign against the French use of colonial troops, linking the incident with allegations of wide spread assaults by Black soldiers in the French occupation army on local women including accusations of systemic rape and other atrocities targeting the German civilian population and attributed mainly to Senegalese Tirailleurs. The events resulted in a widespread campaign by the German right-wing press, which dubbed them as "The Black Shame" (Die schwarze Schande or Die schwarze Schmach) and depicted them as a form of French humiliation of the German nation.
In 1923, in response to German failure to pay reparations under the Treaty of Versailles, France and Belgium occupied the industrial Ruhr area of Germany, most of which lies across the river on the east bank of the Rhine, until 1925. Many Germans were killed during civil disobedience protests. e.g. against dismissal of German officials.
The United States originally provided around 240,000 men in nine veteran divisions, nearly a third of the total occupying force. General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force (A. E. F.) on the Western Front, established Third Army for the purpose, under the command of Major General Joseph T. Dickman. Third Army was assigned to occupy the northern sector of the Coblenz bridgehead. By July 1919, Third Army was disbanded, having been reduced to about 8,400 men, and was renamed American Forces in Germany (AF in G). AF in G withdrew on 24 January 1923, vacating Ehrenbreitstein, which was promptly occupied by the French.
Undoubtedly many cases have occurred where many girls or women have been assaulted by of the French colored Colonial troops...cases which were not included in official figures...natural desire to keep out...
Twenty Germans were said to have been killed and several French soldiers wounded when a mob at Rapoch attempted to prevent the expulsion of one hundred officials. Picture shows French guard being doubled outside the station at Bochum following a collision between German mob and the French
Three Germans killed in Ruhr by French sentries