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Saarbeckengebiet (de)
Le Territoire du Bassin de la Sarre (fr)
The Territory of the Saar Basin

1920–1935
Flag Coat of arms
Map of the region. The territory is shown in purple.
Capital Saarbrücken
Political structure Special territory
Commission Chairman
 - 1920-1926 Victor Rault
 - 1926-1927 George W. Stephens
 - 1927-1932 Sir Ernest Collins Wilton
 - 1932-1935 Sir Geoffrey Knox
Historical era Interwar period
 - Treaty of Versailles January 10, 1920 1920
 - Plebiscite January 13, 1935
 - Disestablished March 1, 1935 1935
Population
 - 1933 est. 812,000 
Currency Saar franc

The Territory of the Saar Basin (in French: Le Territoire du Bassin de la Sarre, in German: Saarbeckengebiet), also referred as the Saar or Saargebiet, was a region of Germany that was occupied and governed by Britain and France from 1920 to 1935 under a League of Nations mandate, with the occupation originally being under the auspices of the Treaty of Versailles[1] . Its population in 1933 was 812,000, and its capital was Saarbrücken.[2] It corresponds to the modern German state of Saarland, but is slightly smaller in area[3]. After a plebiscite was held in 1935, it was restored to Germany.

Contents

Commission of Government

Under the Treaty of Versailles the highly industrialized Saarland was to be occupied and governed by Britain and France under a League of Nations mandate for a period of 15 years, and its coalfields ceded to France. During this time the Saarland was governed by a 5 person Commission made up of representatives of the occupation forces. Under the terms of the mandate the Commission had to include at least one French person and one German resident of the Saar.[4] At the end of that time a plebiscite was to determine the Saar's future status. It comprised portions of the Prussian Rhine Province and the Bavarian Palatinate of the Rhine. It had a currency, the Saar franc, and a postage stamp during this period.

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Chairmen of the Commission

The Saar region was governed by the following Chairmen of the Commission of Government:

  • Victor Rault, France (26 February 1920 - 31 March 1926)
  • George Washington Stephens, Canada (1 April 1926 - 9 June 1927)
  • Sir Ernest Colville Collins Wilton, United Kingdom (9 June 1927 - 31 March 1932)
  • Sir Geoffrey George Knox, United Kingdom (1 April 1932 - 28 February 1935)

Plebiscite

German stamp on the plebiscite

In 1933, a considerable number of political opponents of National Socialism moved to the Saar, as it was the only part of Germany that remained under foreign occupation following the First World War. As a result, anti-Nazi groups agitated for the Saarland to remain under British and French occupation under a League of Nations mandate. However, with most of the population being German, the mandate, a plebiscite was held in the territory on 13 January 1935.

With Adolf Hitler anxious for the propaganda advantages of the return of the Saar to Germany, Joseph Goebbels designed a concerted campaign to sway voters. The support of the local Catholic authorities for a return also helped, as did concerns about Bolshevism, against which Hitler was seen as a bulwark.[5] With a voter participation of 98%, the result of the plebisciste was that the overwhelming majority, 90.73%, voted to re-join the German Reich, with only 8.86% wanting to retain the status quo. A third option of joining France received 0.41% of the vote.

Following the vote, Hitler announced that Germany "had no further territorial demands to make of France."[5]

National Socialist rule

Germany in 1941. The reichsgau of Westmark, in its greatest extent, is shown in yellow.

On 17 January 1935, the territory's re-union with Germany was approved by the League Council. On March 1, Germany re-integrated the region into the German Reich, appointing Josef Bürckel as Reichskommissar für die Rückgliederung des Saarlandes, "Imperial Commissioner for the re-union of Saarland".

Many opponents of National Socialism who had taken refuge in the territory and former politicians and office holders of the Saar who had collaborated with the occupation were imprisoned.

When re-incorporation was considered complete, the governor's title was changed again to Reichskommissar für das Saarland, "Imperial Commissioner of Saarland" on 17 June 1936. As the new Gau was extended to the Rhine, including the historic Palatinate, the region's name was changed again on 8 April 1940 to Saarpfalz, "Saar-Palatinate".

After the Battle of France, the re-annexed French département of Moselle was incorporated in the Reichsgau. The region's name was finalized on 11 March 1941 as Westmark, meaning "Western March" or "Western Boundary", with its governor styled as Reichsstatthalter in der Westmark, "Imperial Lieutenant of Western March". On 28 September 1944 Josef Bürckel committed suicide, and he was succeeded by Willi Stöhr until 21 March 1945, when the region was again occupied by France.

French Protectorate

After the Second World War the region became a French protectorate and as a consequence was forced into economic and political ties with France. After the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic in 1949, Saarland had its own passports, Olympic team (1952) and national football team. Nevertheless, the coal mines (the dominant industry in the region at the time) remained under direct control by the French state ("Regie des mines de la Sarre"), and France also insisted upon continued monetary union (Saar francs). However, the Saarland was not considered by France or the local population to be French territory, contrary to persistent rumors among the local German population which was very hostile to the occupation and French territorial ambitions. A referendum was held on 23 October 1955 which ended (direct or indirect) French rule and shortly thereafter the Saarland once again re-joined Germany.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Article 45-50 with Annex, Treaty of Versailles
  2. ^ Archontology.org: Saarland: Heads of Administration: 1920-1935
  3. ^ The extent of the territory is specified in Article 48, Treaty of Versailles
  4. ^ Paragraph 16-17, Chapter II, Annex to Article 45-50, Treaty of Versailles
  5. ^ a b Kershaw, Ian, Hitler: 1889-1936: Hubris (1998) pp.546-547

External links


Simple English

Saarbeckengebiet (de)
Le Territoire du Bassin de la Sarre (fr)

The Territory of the Saar Basin

Special territory

File:Flag of the German
1920 – 1935

File:Flag of Saar

Flag

Capital Saarbrücken
Political structure Special territory
Commission Chairman
 - 1920-1926 Victor Rault
 - 1926-1927 George W. Stephens
 - 1927-1932 Sir Ernest Collins Wilton
 - 1932-1935 Sir Geoffrey Knox
Historical era Interwar period
 - Treaty of Versailles January 101920
 - Plebiscite January 13, 1935
 - Disestablished March 11935
Population
 - 1933 est. 812,000 
Currency Saar franc

The Territory of the Saar Basin was usually called the Saar or the German: Saargebiet. It was a territory governed by the League of Nations under the Treaty of Versailles[1] for 15 years from 1920.

Its population in 1933 was 812,000, and its capital was Saarbrücken.[2]

It was made up of parts of the Prussian Rhine Province and the Bavarian Palatinate of the Rhine. It was slightly smaller than the modern German state of Saarland.[3]

Contents

Commission of Government

According to Treaty of Versailles the highly industrialized Saarland was to be governed by the League of Nations for a period of 15 years, and its coalfields given to France. The Commission of Government, which represented the League of Nations, had five members. At least one member had to be French and one a native of the Saar.[4].

At the end of the 15 year period, in 1935, the people of the Saar voted on how they wanted their country. They voted to become a part of Nazi Germany.

It had a currency, the Saar franc, and its own postage stamps during this period.

Chairmen of the Commission

The League of Nations' control to the region was represented by the following Chairmen of the Commission of Government:[2]

Plebiscite

In 1933, a lot of anti-Nazi Germans fled to the Saar, as it was the only part of Germany left outside the Third Reich's control. As a result, anti-Nazi groups wanted the Saarland to remain under control of League of Nations as long as Adolf Hitler ruled Germany. However, France had a lot of power in the Saar. France had control of the coalmines and even had the Saar's currency called the franc. Not many Saarlanders liked France, and in the plebiscite on 13 January, 1935, 90% of those voting that wished to join Germany, 8.86% wanted to stay with the League of Nations. Only 0.40% (that is, four voters in every thousand) wanted to join France.

Nazi rule

in 1941. The Saar and part of Occupied France was called Westmark. It is shown in a dark yellow tone.]]

On 17 January 1935, the territory's re-union with Germany was approved by the League Council. On March 1, the Nazi Germany took over the region, and appointed Josef Bürckel as Reichskommissar für die Rückgliederung des Saarlandes, "Reich Commissioner for the re-union of Saarland".

Many former politicians and office holders of the Saargebiet were changed or arrested by the Nazis.

When re-incorporation was completed, the governor became Reichskommissar für das Saarland, "Reich Commissioner of Saarland" on 17 June 1936.

Notes

  1. Article 45-50 with Annex, Treaty of Versailles
  2. 2.0 2.1 Saarland in the page about Germany on WorldStatesmen.org
  3. The extent of the territory is specified in Article 48, Treaty of Versailles
  4. Paragraph 16-17, Chapter II, Annex to Article 45-50, Treaty of Versailles

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