Great Britain, France, and the German Problem, 1918-1939: A Study of Anglo-French Relations in the Making and Maintenance of the Versailles Settlement

By W. M. Jordan | Go to book overview

the complete separation of the Rhineland from Germany, as a preliminary to its annexation by France. Dorten envisaged the inclusion of the Rhineland state within a federal German republic. An understanding between Mangin and Dorten's group was reached, after prolonged consultation, on 17th May 1919, as a result of which it was decided to proclaim the Rhineland Republic at Coblenz. The subsequent course of events is well known. Mangin, hoping to aid the separatists, communicated with General Liggett, Commander of the American troops at Coblenz; Liggett informed Pershing, and Pershing informed President Wilson; the President complained to Clemenceau, who thereupon ordered Mangin to observe an attitude of strict neutrality. On 1st June the Rhineland Republic was proclaimed at Wiesbaden; but, lacking Mangin's active support, it proved a fiasco.1


CHAPTER XV SECURITY: THE MILITARY FRONTIER OF FRANCE

BETWEEN England and France stretches the English Channel, a mere nineteen miles wide at its narrow eastern end, yet wide enough for its waters to form an 'unplumb'd, salt, estranging sea.' To the sense of security which in the past it has induced in the British people may be ascribed in large measure the clash of British and French views on European questions. For centuries the navy, mounting guard in the North Sea and the Channel, has kept England free from invasion. Confidence in the navy's ability to keep the enemy in time of war confined to his own shores has made possible the restriction of British land forces in time of peace to a level derisory by continental standards. The navy has been counted on, should war come, to shelter the island throughout the initial period of military weakness, during which the country may proceed to rearm; and eventually it becomes the task of the navy to cover the transport of men and munitions to any part where attack seems possible and desirable.

Such immunity from invasion is denied to a Continental country; yet the ambition of France in 1919 was to procure for herself a

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1
Dorten, H. A.: "'The Rhineland Movement,'" Foreign Affairs, April 1925; Dorten, H. A. : "'Le General Mangin en Rhénanie,'" Revue des Deux Mondes, July 1, 1937; Traver G. de say : "'La première Tentative de République rhénane,'" Revue de Paris, November 15 and December 1, 1928; Mangin, Gen.: "'Lettres de Rhénanie,'" Revue de Paris, April 1, 1936. See also Rathenau's comment in Allen, H. T.: My Rhineland Journal, p. 374, and Noyes' comment in U.S.A. Foreign Relations, 1920, ii, p. 296. Both Rathenau and Noyes agree that there existed at the outset a very substantial feeling in favour of the creation of a Rhenish state.

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