Statement for the Press Handed by the German Ambassador (Wiedfeldt) to the Under Secretary of State (Phillips), January 11, 1923
The French Ambassador and immediately afterwards the Belgian Chargé d’Affaires in Berlin have this afternoon informed the German Minister for Foreign Affairs in writing and orally that France and Belgium because of the defaults declared by the Reparations Commission as committed by Germany in execution of the deliveries of wood and coal, have decided immediately to send into the Ruhr control missions, composed of engineers and accompanied by the troops necessary, to control the management of the Coal Syndicate, to guarantee the strict execution of the program of the Reparations Commission and to enforce the payment of reparations. The Control Missions will be placed under General Degoutte, who will have full dictatorial powers. Any local disturbances will be punished with the most severe coercive measures and penalties.
The German Minister for Foreign Affairs has lodged a protest with the two foreign representatives against the action contemplated because this action represents a breach of the Treaties and of international law.
Owing to the declarations made by France and Belgium there is no longer any doubt that tomorrow at the latest a Franco-Belgian army will occupy Essen and parts of the Ruhr territory. This happens four years after the signing of the Peace Treaty and is directed against a defenseless and peaceful nation.
The reason given for the procedure is that Germany is in default in her deliveries of wood and coal in 1922. The default in the case of coal represents a deficit amounting to less than 4% of the deliveries of coal to the Entente Powers since the signing of the Armistice. Of the deliveries of wood to France for 1922 only 20,000 cubic metres sawnwood and 135,000 telegraph-poles are missing. France and Belgium justify their action by asserting that Germany is in voluntary default and that this voluntary default justifies onesided coercive measures directed against Germany on the part of these two powers.
The existence of such a default on the part of Germany is not only denied by Germany alone. But entirely apart from that the Franco-Belgian action represents a breach of the Treaty of Versailles in a threefold manner:
- Germany’s defaults in her deliveries of wood and coal would, according to the note of the Reparations Commission of March 21, 1922, always only justify demands for subsequent payments.
- The Treaty of Versailles does not admit any territorial sanctions.
- The measures allowed by the Treaty of Versailles against Germany can only be applied by the Allied Powers as a whole and not by single powers of their own accord.
The German Government herewith enters a protest against the oppression applied towards Germany in contradiction with the Treaty and International Law. The German Government does not intend to meet violence with violence nor to reply to the breach of the Treaty with a withdrawal from the Treaty. However, as long as the state of affairs contrary to the Treaty exists, Germany is not in a position to make actual reparations to those powers who have brought about this state of affairs.