Tax Resistance During the Ruhrkampf

After World War Ⅰ, Germany was forced to make reparations payments to the victorious powers. Germany failed to keep up with the demanded payments, and so in , troops from France and Belgium occupied the Ruhr district of Germany.

Germans responded with a campaign of mass nonviolent resistance. Tax resistance was among the tactics.

A news report from :

Resistance of Mine Owners

The owners of the German coal mines and foundries in the Ruhr are determined not to pay the 10 per cent. export tax imposed on coal by the French as from . The owners will refuse to export an ounce of coal or coke. They will dump the supplies in the yards, and are prepared for a long seige. The proposal is to eventually make a mercantile sortie which will shatter the export trade of other nations.

The resistance was still going on at least as late as :

On the Ruhr.

Situation Improved.

German Resistance Lessening.

Owners Pay Coal-Tax.

The French Minister for Public Works (M. Le Trocquer) reported to the French Cabinet optimistically upon the situation in the Ruhr. He declared that German resistance was lessening and that railroad position was constantly improving.

The “Daily Telegraph’s” correspondent at Dusseldorf reports that there is some evidence of a weakening of the German passive resistance. The coal owners, at one or two points, are paying the coal-tax, enabling coal to enter unoccupied Germany.

Another article added some details:

The Ruhr Crisis

Passive Resistance Weakening.

The Dusseldorf correspondent of The Daily Telegraph states:— There is some evidence that the passive resistance in the Ruhr is weakening. As an instance, he says that the coalowners at one or two points are paying the coal tax, which is enabling them to send coal to ports of Germany which are not occupied by the French and Belgians. The greatest difficulty in the Ruhr is the paucity of bank notes. Numerous firms and municipalities there, he affirms, are demanding authority from Berlin to print their own notes in order to pay their workmen’s wages.

The organized passive resistance campaign in the Ruhr had many components, and broad participation. It is a real-life example of nonviolent resistance as a national defense strategy — the leaders of the nonviolent resistance campaign were the leaders of the German government. (Not a particularly good example, necessarily, as they didn’t have any experience in this style of defense, any plans or practiced procedures, or any trained leaders — they were more or less making it up as they went along.)

One of the ways the German government supported the campaign was by funding the strikers itself, to the tune of 715 million marks. Alas, it did this by printing off more currency, which helped fuel the hyperinflation of 1923.