Learn about the beta

Section I.—Western Europe (Art. 428 to 432)

Article 428.

As a guarantee for the execution of the present Treaty by Germany, the German territory situated to the west of the Rhine, together with the bridgeheads, will be occupied by Allied and Associated troops for a period of fifteen years from the coming into force of the present Treaty.

Note to XIV, 428

The German delegation complained that even in the provisions for its execution, the Conditions of Peace did not exclude the principle of force (Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vi, 879). As a guaranty for the fulfilment of the terrible terms imposed on the German people, an occupation of German territory, to extend over many years, was demanded as security against German aggression or refusal to carry out the peace terms. No one could suppose that the weakened German nation would allow itself to be led into an aggressive war which must lead to its complete destruction. Occupation did not guarantee that Germany would fulfil its obligations, for large sums would have to be paid for the upkeep of the armies of occupation and the discharge of reparation obligations [Page 721]would thereby become difficult. Occupation would also upset the normal economic life of Germany and allow the continuance of requisitions. A special customs tariff could be instituted for the occupied territory which would separate the Rhineland from the rest of Germany and bring it under the influence of Belgium and France.

Germany therefore expected that the territories occupied under the Armistice would be evacuated within six months after the signing of the peace treaty and that during this period the occupation should have a purely military character, i.e. the German civil administration should function and connections with unoccupied Germany should be restored. If the Allies needed guaranties for the fulfilment of its obligations by Germany, “other and more effective means were available to them than compulsion and force”.

The rest of the world failed to realize the “great transformation” which had taken place in Germany. “By the will of its people Germany has become a democracy and a republic; a return to constitutional circumstances in which the will of the German people could be disregarded, is out of the question.” The new Germany deserved the confidence of its neighbors and demanded admission to the League of Nations, which would constitute the strongest guaranty of German good faith. Although Germany was not in a position to exercise pressure in bringing about the only kind of peace which could be permanent, the German delegation had to warn against a peace of force. The fate of Russia taught “a clear lesson”. The completely exhausted German people was seeking to avoid dissolution and would fight to the end, but it would get accustomed to hard terms more easily if it could see some hope for the future. Germany desired peace and justice, but “a durable peace cannot be founded on the oppression and enslavement of a great nation”. The new peace must be a peace of right and “therefore one of free consent”, based on the notes exchanged between October 3 and November 5, 1918. “With the object of founding a new common life based on liberty and labor, the German people turn to those who were their adversaries and demand, in the interest of all nations and men, a peace to which it can consent in accordance with the intimate convictions of its conscience”.

The Allies, noting a remark of the German delegation that “only a return to the immutable principles of morality and civilization, to sanctity of treaties would render it possible for mankind to continue to exist”, replied that after four and a half years of war caused by the repudiation of those principles, they could only repeat the words [Page 722]of President Wilson: “The reason why peace must be guaranteed is that there will be parties to the peace whose promises have proved untrustworthy” (ibid., p. 996).

The period of 15 years stipulated in this clause was anticipated as a result of the rapprochement which began with the Locarno settlement (see p. 841) and, in this connection, culminated in the New (Young) Plan concerning reparation. The negotiations to bring that plan of June 7, 1929 into effect began at The Hague in the following August, though they were not concluded until the following January. An exchange of notes was effected there on August 30, 1929 between the Belgian, British, and French and the German Governments. The joint proposing note stated (104 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 473):

“In the course of the proceedings of the Political Commission of the Conference at The Hague the three Occupying Powers have agreed to begin the evacuation of the Rhineland during the month of September on the conditions laid down in the attached notes. The withdrawal of the Belgian and British forces will be completed within three months of the date on which the operation of evacuation begins. The French forces will evacuate the Second Zone within the same period. The evacuation of the Third Zone by the French troops will begin immediately after the Young Plan is ratified by the German and French Parliaments and put into operation. It will proceed without interruption as rapidly as physical conditions permit, and in any case will be completed at the latest in a period of eight months terminating not later than the end of June 1930.”

The cost of the armies of occupation and of the commission were to be met as from September 1, 1929 by a reserve fund of 60,000,000 Reichsmarks into which Germany paid a non-recoverable lump sum of 30,000,000 Reichsmarks. The remaining moiety was contributed as follows: France, 35 percent; United Kingdom, 12 percent; Belgium, 3 percent. The occupying governments reciprocally waived all claims with respect to article 6 of the Rhineland Agreement (see p. 765) which had not been paid in cash on September 1929 and Germany waived all existing or future claims of whatever date in respect of requisitions and damages under articles 8 to 12 of the Rhineland Agreement.

The German delegation in acknowledging the note confirmed its agreement to the Belgian, British, and French enclosures dealing with certain questions connected with the evacuation. Those notes [Page 723]provided for an amnesty, “covering the facts connected with the occupation”, the temporary establishment of the Inter-Allied Rhineland High Commission in the third zone, details respecting the evacuation of personnel and arrangements for the transfer of property. Under the Experts’ (Dawes) Plan the expenses of the occupation had been met until November 30, 1928 by a special account of the Agent General for Separation Payments.

Article 429.

If the conditions of the present Treaty are faithfully carried out by Germany, the occupation referred to in Article 428 will be successively restricted as follows:

(1) At the expiration of five years there will be evacuated: the bridgehead of Cologne and the territories north of a line running along the Ruhr, then along the railway Jülich, Duren, Euskirchen, Rheinbach, thence along the road Rheinbach to Sinzig, and reaching the Rhine at the confluence with the Ahr; the roads, railways and places mentioned above being excluded from the area evacuated.

Note to XIV, 429 (1)

The Cologne Zone, which might have been evacuated on January 10, 1925, was evacuated as of January 31, 1926, the evacuation being one of the matters related to the political orientation which culminated in the admission of Germany to the League of Nations. The series of arrangements of August 1924, which brought the Experts’ (Dawes) Plan into force on September 1, was followed by a German application for membership in the League of Nations on September 23, 1924. The “Geneva protocol” for the pacific settlement of international disputes was adopted by the Assembly of the League on October 2, and its failure of acceptance led to the negotiations which resulted in the initialing of the Locarno Treaty of guaranty on October 16, 1925. That treaty was to go into force upon the admission of Germany into the League, which was originally intended to occur in March but was postponed until September 8, 1926. In the course of these developments the conditions contemplated for the evacuation of the first zone were deemed by the Conference of Ambassadors to be satisfied on November 14, 1925. On December 11, 1925 the Council of the League of Nations had ruled that its right of investigation under article 213 of the treaty of peace was to “be applicable to the demilitarized Zone as to other parts of Germany”.

[Page 724]

Article 7 of the agreement of August 9, 1924 between the Allied Governments and Germany for putting the Experts’ (Dawes) Plan into force (30 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 75) extended the general amnesty with respect to the incidents arising out of the Ruhr occupation from January 11, 1923 to August 30, 1924.

For the agreement defining the northern boundaries of the territories occupied by the Belgian and French Armies, as in effect from May 1, 1927, signed at Coblenz, April 9, 1927, see Inter-Allied Rhineland High Commission, Official Gazette, January–April 1927, p. 36; May–September 1927, p. 17.

For the agreement defining the northern boundary of the third zone of occupation after evacuation of the second zone, signed at Coblenz, September 30, 1929, see ibid., 1929, parts 8–10, p. 6. Evacuation by French troops of the zone as thus defined took place on June 30, 1930; see p. 791.

(2) At the expiration of ten years there will be evacuated: the bridgehead of Coblenz and the territories north of a line to be drawn from the intersection between the frontiers of Belgium, Germany and Holland, running about 4 kilometres south of Aix-la-Chapelle, then to and following the crest of Forst Gemünd, then east of the railway of the Urft Valley, then along Blankenheim, Valdorf, Dreis, Ulmen to and following the Moselle from Bremm to Nehren, then passing by Kappel and Simmern, then following the ridge of the heights between Simmern and the Rhine and reaching this river at Bacharach; all the places, valleys, roads and railways mentioned above being excluded from the area evacuated.

Note to XIV, 429 (2)

In accordance with the exchange of notes of August 30, 1929, occupation of the Coblenz Zone ended on November 30, and it was evacuated on December 14, 1929. The Inter-Allied Rhineland High Commission removed its headquarters from Coblenz to Mainz for the remaining period of occupation.

On the occasion of the evacuation of the Coblenz Zone, a further amnesty agreement was concluded by the exchange of notes between the German Government and the Inter-Allied Rhineland High Commission at Coblenz, September 10, 1926 (62 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 141). This had the effect of stopping all prosecutions for offenses with the exception of those at common law or of espionage, and it resulted in the repealing of ordinances which provided for [Page 725]the unilateral intervention of the High Commission in the exercise of German judicial and administrative sovereignty.

For the agreement defining the northern boundary of this zone signed at Coblenz, April 9, 1927, see Inter-Allied Rhineland High Commission, Official Gazette, January-April 1927, p. 36; May–September, 1927, p. 17.

(3) At the expiration of fifteen years there will be evacuated: the bridgehead of Mainz, the bridgehead of Kehl and the remainder of the German territory under occupation.

If at that date the guarantees against unprovoked aggression by Germany are not considered sufficient by the Allied and Associated Governments, the evacuation of the occupying troops may be delayed to the extent regarded as necessary for the purpose of obtaining the required guarantees.

Article 430.

In case either during the occupation or after the expiration of the fifteen years referred to above the Reparation Commission finds that Germany refuses to observe the whole or part of her obligations under the present Treaty with regard to reparation, the whole or part of the areas specified in Article 429 will be re-occupied immediately by the Allied and Associated forces.

Article 431.

If before the expiration of the period of fifteen years Germany complies with all the undertakings resulting from the present Treaty, the occupying forces will be withdrawn immediately.

Article 432.

All matters relating to the occupation and not provided for by the present Treaty shall be regulated by subsequent agreements, which Germany hereby undertakes to observe.

Note to XIV, 432

For the agreement establishing the Inter-Allied Rhineland High Commission and providing for the régime of occupation, signed at Versailles, June 28, 1919, see p. 762.