Hitler on the French Occupation of the Ruhr


In the early months of 1923 he was afraid lest the French occupation of the Ruhr might unite Germany behind the Government. Hitler had no use for national unity if he was not in a position to exploit it: the real enemy was not in the Ruhr, but in Berlin. In the Volkischer Beobachter he wrote: ‘So long as a nation does not do away with the assassins within its borders, no external successes can be possible. While written and spoken protests are directed against France, the real deadly enemy of the German people lurks within the walls of the nation. . . . Down with the November criminals, with all their nonsense about a United Front.’…

…In his speech at this first Party Day Hitler made no secret of his hope that the Berlin Government would fail to unite the nation in resistance to the French:

‘Whoever wants this fire [of enthusiasm for the glory of the Fatherland] to consume every single German must realize that first of all the arch- enemies of German freedom, namely, the betrayers of the German Fatherland, must be done away with. . . . Down with the perpetrators of the November crime. And here the great mission of our movement begins. In all this prattle about a’united front’ and the like, we must not forget that between us and those betrayers of the people [i.e. the Republican Government in Berlin] . . . there are two million dead. . . . We must always remember that in any new conflict in the field of foreign affairs the German Siegfried will again be stabbed in the back.’

Hitler was interested in the French occupation of the Ruhr only in so far as this might produce a state of affairs in Germany which could be used for the seizure of power. His purpose was revolutionary, and nationalism a means to this end. He had no use for talk of a national uprising and a new war of liberation which could only strengthen the position of the Government and divert attention to the enemy without. The time to deal with the French would come when the Republic had been overthrown. Here Hitler’s essentially political outlook differed sharply from that of the Army and ex-Freikorps officers like Rohm, who thought of a war of revenge against France.


  1. Bullock, Alan. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny. New York: Harper & Row, 1964. Print. 91-93.



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