==The Occupation of the Ruhr ==
§ The new German government made its first reparations payment in 1922, but in December announced that it would not be able to make further payments. In January 1923 the Germans stopped coal shipments. The Allied Reparations Commission declared Germany in default and on January 11th.
§ The French and Belgian governments retaliated by sending troops into the Ruhr. They intended to force the Germans to hand over coal and iron ore in place of the payments.
§ The German workers in the Ruhr went on strike and the Weimar government called for passive resistance to the French and Belgians and paid strike pay to workers by printing paper currency. This led to hyperinflation in Germany.
§ The French attempted to set up a separatist movement in then Rhineland, but then cut off the Ruhr from the rest of Germany and brought in their own workers to work in the coalmines.
§ The French forces brought in their own workers and then cut the Ruhr off from the rest of Germany. Violence broke out and a number of French soldiers were killed.
What were the results of the occupation of the Ruhr?
§ From January 1923 inflation in Germany reached ridiculous proportions as the government printed money to pay the strikers. Eventually 62 factories were working around the clock to keep up with demand.
§ By August prices were rising by up to 400% every day. People who had saved money lost everything. The middle classes were worst hit. War pensioners and anybody on a fixed income were hit very hard. Wages were paid every hour and then people rushed to spend their money as quickly as possible, buying anything that they could. Shopkeepers tried to keep their shops closed, but the government forced them to open.
§ A loaf of bread which cost 29 pfennigs in 1913, cost 1200 marks by summer 1923 and 428,000,000,000 marks by November 1923.
§ But some people benefited. Anybody who had borrowed money could repay the loan very easily, speculators and gamblers did very well and multi-millionaires appeared overnight. Foreigners flocked into Germany to buy up works of art as Germans desperately tried to make ends meet.
§ In fact, despite the chaos, the Weimar government became more popular for the first time. Its support for the strikers began to swing popular opinion behind it. Hyperinflation was seen as something forced upon Germany from outside.
==The Beer Hall Putsch ==
Hitler saw the chaos that Hyperinflation caused as an opportunity to try to seize power. He had already tried to stage a coup in May, but this had been easily broken up by the authorities. This time, therefore, he delayed until members of his own party demanded action. When he heard of a meeting at the Burgerbraukeller in Munich on 8 November, at which three Bavarian ministers were due to be present, he decided to act.
§ At exactly 8.30 p.m., Hitler broke up the meeting, he fired a gun at the ceiling and announced that he was going to try to take over the government the following morning. Local leaders present agreed to support him, but in the confusion they escaped and the authorities were warned of the plot.
§ The night was spent drinking and the owner of the beer hall later claimed that the Nazis had drunk nearly 2,400 pints of beer and caused considerable damage.
What happened on 9 November?
§ The following day Ernst Roehm, the leader of the Sturm Abteilung, the Storm Troopers, seized the Post Office in Munich at about 8.30 a.m. and waited for Hitler to march to his support.
§ In the meantime, Hitler had got up late, probably because the Nazis had been drinking heavily all night and had a late breakfast. He did not begin the march until about 11.00 a.m.
§ Hitler and the war-hero Ludendorff led the march into Munich the next morning. They had about 2,000 supporters. They hoped the police would not fire at them and that the people would rise in support. In fact no one joined them, the police opened fire and 16 Nazis were killed, including Hitler’s bodyguard who dived on top of Hitler to protect him.
What happened to Hitler?
§ In a Nazi biography, Hitler claimed that his shoulder was dislocated when the man next to him was shot. Other versions of the story suggest that he fell to the ground to avoid being shot.
§ Hitler fled and was arrested two days later. Hitler was tried for high treason. He was found guilty and sentenced to just five years in prison by a pro-Nazi judge.
§ While Hitler was in prison after the Beer Hall Putsch, he wrote ‘Mein Kampf’(My Struggle), which was a cross between his autobiography and a list of his political ideas. Hitler also decided that he would have to change his tactics and the way that his party was organised.
§ After only eleven months in prison Hitler was let out.