Territoire du Bassin de la Sarre
|Form of government||Mandate area of the League of Nations|
|Head of government||President of the government commission of the Saar region|
|founding||January 10, 1920|
|resolution||March 1, 1935|
Saar area ( French Territoire du Bassin de la Sarre , literally translated as "Saar basin area") refers to the industrial area on the central Saar, which was separated from the German Empire from 1920 to 1935 . With an area of 1912 km² and 770,030 inhabitants (1927) it comprised the southern part of the Trier administrative district of the Prussian Rhine Province and the western part of the Bavarian Palatinate . It was a quarter smaller in area than today's Saarland . In Articles 45 to 50 of the Versailles Treaty , the Saar Basin was assigned to the League of Nations as a mandate area for 15 years and subject to foreign administration. Then a referendum was to be held about his state affiliation. Until then, it remained part of the German Empire under international law . As a contribution to the economic reparation for its war damage, France received ownership of the coal mines and the right to their sole exploitation .
In 1935 the planned referendum ( Saar vote ) took place in which more than ninety percent of the Saar population declared their support for Germany. As a result, the Saar area came back completely to the German Reich , where it was not re- annexed to Prussia and Bavaria , but as Saarland was subordinated to a Reich Commissioner .
The terms Bassin de la Sarre and Territoire du Bassin de la Sarre of the French text of the treaty were reproduced in the German diplomatic translation in the Reichsgesetzblatt as “Saar basin” and “Saar basin area”. The French term bassin with the meaning "basin, river area, coal area" has a different scope than the German word. The government commission used different names next to each other in the official gazette of 1920, in addition to “Saar basin” also “Saar area” (as the heavy industrial area on the Saar was mostly called since the 1890s) and “Saarland”. The short forms used in French were la Sarre and in German “die Saar”, as adjectives sarrois or “Saarland”, as there was no adjective for “Saar” or “Saargebiet”. Finding a name remained politically controversial for a long time.
The boundaries of the Saar were determined by Article 48 of the Versailles Treaty. The demarcation included the places of residence of the miners who worked in the coal mines of the Saar district . The area comprised the district-free city of Saarbrücken , the districts Saarbrücken , Ottweiler and Saarlouis as well as parts of the districts Merzig and St. Wendel in Prussian areas , the district office St. Ingbert and parts of the district offices Homburg and Zweibrücken in Bavarian areas . While the border of the Saar area against France and Prussia was determined by administrative borders, the demarcation against Oldenburg and Bavaria was based on topographical conditions, so that a definition of the border line in the area was necessary. This work was entrusted to a committee of five members (one appointed by France, one by Germany and three by the Council of the League of Nations). The committee laid down its results on December 20, 1920 in Paris, binding for all concerned. The boundary line was published in 1921 in the form of two atlases with maps on a scale of 1: 2,500.
The new Saar area border separated grown family, administrative and economic relationships, cut off the cities of St. Wendel , Homburg and Zweibrücken from parts of their surrounding area and was unpopular with the population. After the establishment of the customs border, the customs controls and customs formalities contributed to this . The desire to abolish the unpopular Saar area border was one of the motives that influenced the voting behavior of the Saarlanders in 1935.
With the entry into force of the Versailles Treaty on January 10, 1920, the Saar area was subordinated to the government of the League of Nations for 15 years. On February 27, 1920, the government commission of the Saar region appointed by the League of Nations ( Commission de gouvernement du Bassin de la Sarre ) replaced the previous French military administration. The five-person government commission consisted of a French, a non-French from the Saar region and three members of other nations who were not allowed to be either German or French. The League of Nations government relied only on the French military; the population was not behind her. By ordinance of the government commission of March 24, 1922, a regional council was set up to represent the interests of the population and to have an advisory function.
|Victor Rault||February 26, 1920||March 18, 1926||France|
|George Washington Stephens||March 18, 1926||June 8, 1927||Canada|
|Ernest Wilton||June 8, 1927||April 1, 1932||United Kingdom|
|Geoffrey Knox||April 1, 1932||March 1, 1935||United Kingdom|
For the organization of courts in the Saar area see there.
In what is now Saarland, the monarchy ended with the proclamation of the republican form of government on November 7, 1918 for the Bavarian part of the country, on November 9, 1918 for the Prussian part of the country, and on November 11, 1918 with the abdication of the throne of Grand Duke Friedrich August for the Oldenburg region Part of the country after soldiers, citizens, the local government and members of the state parliament in Oldenburg had seized state power on November 7, 1918 . In the larger towns on the Saar, workers 'and soldiers' councils took power and organized vigilante groups . With the Anifer Declaration of November 13, 1918, the Bavarian King Ludwig III gave birth . also all officials and soldiers of the Bavarian part of today's Saarland of their oath of loyalty . The release of the Prussian officials and soldiers on the Saar from their oath of allegiance to the Prussian King and German Emperor Wilhelm II did not take place until November 28, 1918 in Amerongen . On November 22nd, the French occupation troops marched into the Saar area and ended the revolution.
After the defeat of the German Empire in World War I , the victorious powers negotiated the future of the industrial area on the Saar. While Great Britain agreed to an annexation by France, the USA finally prevailed on the night of April 9-10, 1919 with the suggestion of a 15-year separation of the industrial area to repair the French war damage and a later referendum. The agreement reached between the victorious powers was recorded in Articles 45 to 50 of the Versailles Treaty and signed by the German Reich.
In the election for the German National Assembly on January 19, 1919 , the population took part in an all-German election for the last time , and was no longer entitled to the next election on June 6, 1920.
Economic connection to France
The Saar region was economically and politically dependent on France. France extended ownership of the coal mines and the railways west of the Saar by trying to enforce French stakes of 60% in the Saar smelters by controlling the ore, pig iron and coal supplies and thus to control the most important branches of the economy.
Economically, the Saar area was included in the French customs and currency area. From June 1, 1923, the French franc was the sole currency. After a five-year transition period, the Saar area was integrated into the French customs area on January 10, 1925. Because the German Reich not only lost the Saar coal, but also had to cede parts of the Upper Silesian coal basin to Poland after the referendum in Upper Silesia in 1921 , it lost almost half of its coal reserves. France, on the other hand, increased its resources in what was then the most important source of energy. Through the expropriation of the heavy industrial property in Lorraine and because Luxembourg no longer belonged to the German Customs Union, France was able to replace the German Empire in its role as the largest iron producer in Europe.
In the Saar area, the French mine administration also used the “mine money” to issue 50 centimes, one franc and two francs as emergency money , as non-ferrous metals were in short supply (not to be confused with the Saar franc introduced after the Second World War ).
Tried cultural connection
In addition to economic ties, France was also concerned with cultural dominance. In a strategy based on the Saar referendum in 1935, France attempted from 1920 onwards by setting up predominantly French-speaking domain schools to influence future voters in its interests. For this purpose, French-speaking domain schools (Écoles Domaniales) were built near the pits in accordance with the Annex to Article 46 of the Versailles Treaty .
Over these 20 schools, which were founded in 1920 and were popularly known as French schools, a long school battle broke out, which played an important role in the dispute over the return to the German Reich.
Desire to return
On June 19, 1925, on the occasion of the Rhineland's millennium , 40,000 people demonstrated in Saarbrücken for belonging to the German Empire. The occupation by French soldiers , including colonial troops with North Africans , which was sometimes perceived as a particular humiliation (“ black disgrace ”), the exploitation of the Saarland coal and steel mining area, and national German propaganda reinforced the desire of many Saarlanders to return to the German Reich. All Saarland parties supported this during the Weimar Republic .
With the seizure of power of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) in the German Reich, the political conditions in the Saar disordered in the upcoming January 1935 referendum on its future status. In June 1933, on the initiative of its chairman Hermann Röchling, the bourgeois German-Saarland People's Party merged with the unity party German Front (DF) in the Saar region, under the impression that the bourgeois parties agreed to the Enabling Act and their subsequent self-dissolution as well as the conformity in the Reich the return to Germany was. The same was done by the German National People's Party (DNVP), the German Center Party , the Reich Party of German Middle Classes (Economic Party , WP) and, with the personal consent of Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler, the NSDAP.
As the only significant party, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) changed course after the takeover of power by no longer advocating the return of the Saar area to Germany, but advocating the continuation of the mandate administration in order to keep it out of the sphere of influence of the Hitler dictatorship.
The Communist Party of Germany (KPD), which rejected all of Germany's territorial cessions laid down in the Versailles Treaty without a referendum, remained an opponent of the mandate administration. They now fought the Social Democrats no longer only as social fascists , but also as "enemies of the fatherland who betrayed the German people to France".
It was not until six months before the vote, in July 1934, that the KPD, prompted by the Executive Committee of the Communist International , decided to form a united front with the Social Democrats in order to continue the League of Nations mandate. In order to implement the radical change of course against the resistance of local officials, the KPD leadership sent Herbert Wehner to the Saar area.
The agitation against an affiliation hampered restrictions of the French-dominated mandate administration such as the lack of a radio station for the Saar area and the ban on appearances for speakers or politicians from the German Reich who had briefly stayed in the Saar area as refugees during this time and of their own accord about the Nazi terror Experience reports.
Although many internationally known personalities supported the policy of maintaining the status quo , the status quo policy of the united front was derived from the SPD under Max Braun , KPD under Friedrich Pfordt , a minority of the previous Center Party around Johannes Hoffmann and left-wing socialist and autonomist splinter groups due to the prevailing nationalism doomed to failure.
The Versailles Treaty provided three options for the voting decision:
- Maintaining the current legal system (status quo)
- Association with France
- Association with Germany
No one had made any concrete plans for the first option, the League of Nations itself expressed itself diplomatically non-binding, the Saar area would have continued to be economically exploited and remained a bone of contention between France and Germany. The second would have meant democracy, but the loss of the German language and culture. The third option was to vote for Hitler at the same time as Germany.
The voting battle (also the Saar battle ) was carried out with political, artistic and media means, whereby the media presence of the German Front far exceeded that of the United Front. Months before the referendum, the German Reich made special efforts to reach the Saar region by radio propaganda. People's receivers were distributed and numerous programs emphasized that the Saar area belonged to Germany. In the course of this Nazi propaganda campaign led by Joseph Goebbels , 1,500 assemblies and rallies and over 80,000 posters were used. The alternative to returning to Germany is continued mass unemployment , economic exploitation by France and a lack of political participation.
The opponents of Hitler saw the upcoming vote as an opportunity to put a thought sheet against Hitler. The Saarlandlied Deutsch ist die Saar by Hanns Maria Lux was sung countless times during the events . Bertolt Brecht presented the song Hold the Saar, Comrades! which was set to music by Hanns Eisler . Gustav Regulator wrote the oppositional novel Im Kreuzfeuer .
The result of the vote on January 13, 1935 was:
|Association with France||2.124||0.40|
|Association with Germany||477.089||90.73|
|invalid / empty||2.161||-|
|Registered voters / turnout||539,542||97.99|
Three days later, in an interview on Obersalzberg, Hitler said to the American journalist Pierre Huss that "one of the Versailles injustices had been finally eliminated".
Return to Germany
On February 18, 1935, the Saar area was included in the German customs area and the Reichsmark was introduced as a currency alongside the French franc.
In accordance with the will of the people, the League Council ordered the reorganization with effect from March 1, 1935. In return for a payment of 900 million gold francs , the German Reich repurchased ownership of the Saar mines, and the Reichsmark became the sole means of payment. On the same day, Hitler gave a speech in Saarbrücken. He called the day a "lucky day for the whole nation" and said he hoped that the relationship with France would finally improve once the Saar problem was settled.
After the clear majority result, four to eight thousand Hitlerites fled to France or other countries. For the National Socialist regime , the return of the Saar area brought considerable gain in prestige.
In the German Empire, the area was not reassigned back to Prussia and Bavaria, but was subordinated to a Reich Commissioner under the name Saarland ( Reichsland Saarland ). On February 11, 1935, Josef Bürckel was appointed Reich Commissioner for the resettlement of the Saar area ; from June 17, 1936, the title of Head of Authority was Reich Commissioner for the Saarland . Bürckel held the post of Reich Commissioner until March 31, 1941.
The Parteigau Saar , which had existed since 1926, was absorbed into the Germany-wide, party-internal organization of the NSDAP after a short time in the Gau Pfalz-Saar (1935 to 1936), later Gau Saarpfalz (1936 to 1940) and Gau Westmark (1940 to 1945). Gauleiter was also Josef Bürckel.
On July 7, 1945, after the Second World War , the American military authorities handed over the Saar region to France for administration. It became part of the French occupation zone . France now undertook a political and administrative reorganization of its zone, which had been pieced together from parts of the American and British occupation zones . In April 1946 the state of Rhineland-Palatinate was formed, with several communities coming to the Saar area. The Saarland became one of the five (later four) districts of the French zone. France released it economically from its zone of occupation in order to integrate its coal industry into its own economy. On July 11, 1946, Great Britain and the USA agreed to the separation of the Saar from the German economic system at the Paris Foreign Ministers' Conference , which focused on the question of Germany's economic unity . In December 1947, the Saarland Landtag passed a new constitution for Saarland, in which it was described as an “autonomous, democratic and socially ordered country, economically attached to France”. As part of the French military government for Germany, it was placed under its own authority. The Saarland's relations with France were regulated by a treaty in which it was recognized as a state "which has a kind of economic protectorate relationship with France". This special status of the now (partially) autonomous Saarland lasted until December 31, 1956.
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