British foreign policy and the Ruhr Occupation crisis 1922-1924
This thesis provides a comprehensive examination of British policy during the Ruhr occupation crisis of 1922-1924. It addresses central questions raised in the historiography of the 1920s, shedding light both on Britain's policy and that of other powers, particularly France. Based on a thorough examination of the British archives, analysis also focuses on the process of policy-formation, revealing the significance for this of administrative and personal relationships and of domestic political constraints. The thesis begins with an analysis of Britain's role at the onset of the crisis. It evaluates the influence on Britain's policy both of the international situation and of internal factors after the collapse of the Lloyd George coalition. Britain's ambiguous position of benevolent neutrality from January to April 1923 is then analysed and its inadequacy demonstrated by revealing the contradictions involved when implementing it on the spot in the Rhineland and Ruhr. The thesis explores the search for alternatives during the summer of 1923, when policy-makers tentatively tried to encourage negotiations, but in fact simply compounded Britain's difficulties. Discussion then moves to events in the autumn of 1923. Once German passive resistance ceased the European situation became more fluid. Britain was at last able to pursue an effective policy. She distanced herself from events on the spot and played an important role both in establishing international enquiries to investigate reparations, and in ensuring that the experts' reports (particularly those of the Dawes Committee) were adopted at the London Conference in 1924. This thesis explores Britain's attitude to reparations and to broader questions of post-war European reconstruction and stability, revealing the dilemmas caused by Britain's underlying strategic and economic weakness after the war. It highlights the difficulties Britain encountered when dealing with her European neighbours and provides a valuable insight into the complexity of British foreign policy during this brief but crucial period.