Briefing Book Paper
- Recommendation:—It is recommended that this Government oppose the separation of the Ruhr from Germany either through internationalization or through the creation of a separate state or through annexation by one or more neighboring states. (The considerations on which this recommendation is based are presented in a separate paper.1)
- Basic Data:—The Ruhr industrial area embraces a portion of the Rhenish and Westphalian provinces of Prussia centering in the basin of the Ruhr river and extending somewhat west of the Rhine. The greater Ruhr zone has an area of about 3,000 square miles with a population of 6,800,000; the main industrial zone has an area of about 1,000 square miles and a population of 5,300,000. It is the most highly urbanized area of Europe with twelve cities of over 100,000 inhabitants and three of over 400,000. Ninety-five percent of the population density is 5,795 per square mile in the smaller area [sic]. It possesses a vast and closely integrated network of railroads, waterways and highways. Its railways carry 35 percent of all German rail tonnage; its waterways 56 percent of water-borne traffic.
The industrial importance of the Ruhr rests upon its coal reserves which are near the surface and of high grade, excellent for coking. Its production of coal and of iron and crude steel is about 70 percent of that of all Germany. Other major industries are finished steel goods, machinery, electro-chemical products, chemicals, petroleum products, gas electric power, synthetic rubber and textiles. Its output is vital to all Europe. It furnishes a major market for industrial raw materials from many countries. Its steel production in 1937 exceeded that of any country except the United States and the Soviet Union. It accounts normally for about one-third of Germany’s industrial exports. Ownership of Ruhr enterprises is tied in with the great German combines, trusts and cartels. Ruhr industry also forms part of a great industrial complex including Lorraine, the Saar, northeastern France, Luxembourg and Belgium.
Ruhr industries were extensively converted to war purposes and new ones (synthetic oil and rubber) built. The war has considerably reduced Ruhr industrial capacity. Its rehabilitation will involve a careful [Page 591] weighing of the danger of restoring German war potential against the contribution which the Ruhr may make to European reconstruction. This contribution can be of the greatest significance because of the unique advantages of the area—its strategic location, transportation facilities, coal reserves, plant capacity, and skilled labor force.