THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1923
When, in January 1923, Germany defaulted on its reparation payments French and Belgian troops occupied the heavily industrialised Ruhr district. The humiliating peace terms of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 provoked bitter indignation throughout Germany, and seriously weakened the democratic regime. The Treaty stripped Germany of all its overseas colonies and the return of Alsace and Lorraine to France. Germany was not allowed to have a real Army, Navy or Air Force. On the 11th January 1923 France and Belgium occupied industrial sectors in West Germany and stationed troops in the Rhineland. Reparations were demanded, especially by France, involving shipments of raw materials, as well as annual payments. The German government encouraged the population of the Ruhr to passive resistance which included shops not selling goods to foreign soldiers, or coal mines not supplying the foreign troops. Trams would be left abandoned in the middle of the street if members of the occupation army sat in them. The German government printed vast quantities of paper money, causing hyper-inflation, which also damaged the French economy. The passive resistance proved effective, insofar as the occupation became a loss-making deal for the French government. By June 1923 the hyper-inflation in Germany caused many prudent savers to lose all the money they had saved. The German government also had to contend with disagreement and dissent from anti-democratic Nazis, nationalists and communists.
Signed in Switzerland on the 24th July 1923 the Treaty of Lausanne settled the boundaries of modern Turkey. The treaty was signed by Turkey and Entente powers. It marked the end of the Turkish War of Independence and replaces the earlier Treaty of Sévres.
The Corfu incident was a 1923 diplomatic and military crisis between Greece and Italy. It was triggered when an Italian general was murdered on Greek territory. The general was heading a commission to resolve a border dispute between Albania and Greece. On the 31st August 1923, Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini issued an ultimatum to Greece to pay reparations for the murder. When the ultimatum was not totally accepted Mussolini dispatched forces to bombard and occupy Corfu. On the 27th September 1923, the Corfu incident ended when Italian troops withdrew following the Conference of Ambassadors. The conference ruled in favour of Italian demands of reparations from Greece.
Turkey officially became a Republic on the 29th October 1923 following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The republic was created after the overthrow of Sultan Mehmet VI and the new Republican Parliament delivered the coup de gràce to the Ottoman state. Following the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was practically wiped out from the world stage.
In Munich during November 1923 the Beer Hall Putsch took place in which Adolf Hitler unsuccessfully led the Nazi Party (NSADP) in an attempt to overthrow the German government. By emulating Benito Mussolini’s ”March on Rome” of 1922, Hitler wanted to stage his own coup on Bavaria, followed by a challenge to the government in Berlin. Seeking the support of Munich’s effective ruler, Gustav Ritter von Kahr they found they were faced with a rival party who wished to install a nationalist dictatorship without Hitler. In 1923 Hitler enlisted the help of the Great War General Erich Ludendorff for an attempted coup to form a new government. On the 8th November 1923 Hitler’s party stormed a public meeting of 3,000 people organised by Kahr in a beer hall in Munich. Interrupting Kahr’s speech, Hitler announced that the national revolution had begun and declared a new government with Ludendorff. With drawn handgun Hitler demanded and received the support of Kahr’s rival party. Hitler and his fellow Nazi members initially succeeded in occupying the local army and police headquarters, but Kahr and his cohorts quickly withdrew their support. Neither the army nor the state police joined forces with Hitler. The following day, Hitler and his followers marched from the beer hall to the Bavarian War Ministry to overthrow the Bavarian government, but the police dispersed them. Sixteen Nazi members and four police officers were killed in the failed coup. Hitler fled but was arrested on the 11th November 1923 and charged with high treason.