The British Army of the Rhine After the First World War...

... from Fonthill Media

Title: The British Army of the Rhine After the First World War
Author: Michael Foley

Publisher: Fonthill Media
ISBN: 978-1-78155-564-4

 

This is a topic I have to admit I knew little to nothing about beforehand.  Having grown up during the period of the Cold War, while there was the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) still in place after WW2 it rather overshadows the period after WW1 when there was an earlier incarnation of the BAOR.  Our remembrance services remind us every year to consider the armistice of 1918 and the loss of so many soldiers of all sides over the preceding 5 years.  I'm not sure we often consider quite what happened after that armistice came into effect.

A significant difference was that the German Army just went home, and still able to take their weapons with them, while the Allied occupation forces followed shortly after them, though to specific areas.  The allies feared there was the chance of the war starting up again before the final peace treaty was signed, hence the need for occupying forces.  The French, Belgians, British and Americans were all involved, in their own specific areas.  With the war over, British troops expected to be able to go home so there was some unrest as some watched others leave before them.  Add to the mix the new influence of Bolshevism working in from Russia, armed groups who supported unrest in some German cities and an ongoing problem of starvation in some parts of Germany, unless you had the money to pay Black Market prices.

The book is organised into 13 chapters, starting with Germany After the War, The Arrival of the Occupation Forces and then goes through the story year by year from 1920 through to 1930, and closes with a Conclusion.  I found it an interesting read about a period I really didn't know much about.  We all know it led to the rise of the Nazi party in the 1930's but it is good to find out more about the events of the 1920's and the mix of feeling among the countries of Western Europe and America after the end of WW1.  Germany was suffering from food shortages and political divisions but a country little touched by the physical ravages of the war.  Belgium and France meanwhile had both had large land areas devastated by the war.  They also wanted to ensure Germany could not threaten them again, a desire which unfortunately was not to be accomplished.  America had done what they wanted, and helped the Allies win, then wanted to bring their troops home and not have the costs of keeping them in Europe.  Britain wanted peace but also needed Germany to return to be an established part of the European Economy.

Each country had their own agenda and added to the political changes impacting every country in Europe it made for a complex 'Melting Pot' and I felt the author has done a neat job of describing the history of the events surrounding the story of the BAOR after WW1 and putting it into the context of all the other influences around it.

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Robin