A French Soldier Guards a Freight Yard in the Occupied Ruhr Region (January 1923)
Convinced that Germany was dodging its reparations obligations, France and Belgium sent troops to occupy the Ruhr region, Germany’s industrial heartland. There, they seized key assets, including coal mines, steel mills, and manufacturing enterprises. On January 11, 1923, with his troops on the march, General Jean Degoutte, the commander of the French Army of the Rhine, issued a decree establishing the Inter-Allied Mission for the Control of Factories and Mines [Mission Interalliée des Mines et des Usines or Micum] to ensure that Germany would continue sending coal and coke deliveries from the Ruhr as part of its war reparations. But rather than facilitate the deliveries, the occupation actually prompted the German government to adopt a policy of obstruction and passive resistance.