While politicians are groping for the weak possibilities for a solution to the European conflict, the economic struggle on the Ruhr and Rhine has intensified. The struggle for coal and coke shows the development: Germany refused to deliver to France and Belgium – the French prevented the transport to unoccupied Germany. The German mines were content with sales in the occupied territory and threw the rest of the production onto the dumps – the occupiers tried to make it more difficult to transport coal in the occupied area as well and began to forcibly seize and transport away the stockpiles. And again, the logical answer to this was the further restriction of coal production and the cessation of coke production at the German plants.
This is the line of struggle. The same applies to other areas. The French paralyzed sales of the occupied territory. In order to maintain at least a limited production there, we worked with heavy sacrifices in stock. Now the French are increasingly resorting to the violent seizure of such stockpiles. They seek to acquire iron and chemical products. And a further restriction of this stockpiling work will also be the result.
The French and Belgians see their immediate combat costs continue to rise. Mr. Poincaré has to ask for hundreds of millions of francs in war credits again. And what he really forcibly transports to France in terms of coal, coke and other industrial products is only a fraction of what Germany supplied him voluntarily and free of charge before the Ruhr incursion. It will become much less when the camps come to an end and are not supplemented. And the French economy bears the burden, especially the Lorraine iron industry, which, at four times the price of coke, is only insufficiently able to meet its needs.
The German economy, however, bears the heavy burden of this struggle all the more. Directly in the occupied territory and indirectly in the unoccupied territory. Every war – which was an ample opportunity to learn – is economic disruption and economic destruction. It means the deliberate elimination of economic considerations for the higher general necessities of the state. This is particularly evident in the case of economic warfare, which is inherent in the fact that it is waged by anti-economic means.
We must be clear that Germany is now facing a new enormous endurance test. For ten weeks, from mid-February to early April, the Reichsbank had been able to keep the foreign value of the mark at a relatively stable level. This, too, was already a fateful low: the dollar, which had fluctuated between 6,000 and 7,000 marks in the weeks before the Ruhr collapse, was fixed on a basis of about 20,000 marks. The mark had only a third of the value it had before the Ruhr collapse, only compared to the complete collapse in the first days of the Franco-Belgian occupation it was an improvement.
That's over now. As far as can be seen from its identity cards, the sacrifices made by the Reichsbank have not been too serious so far, especially when one considers that in the meantime several instalments of the Belgian reparations bills have also become due and paid. Invisible foreign exchange reserves will have been surrendered. The open gold holdings of the Reichsbank, however, had hardly changed until mid-April, at the level of more than a thousand million marks, which it took at the beginning of January; only the last few weeks have shown reductions, to 914 million marks in the first week of May and further to 842 million marks in the second week of May, because in the meantime the considerable parts of the gold holdings placed abroad as a precautionary measure have actually been attacked by the use of foreign exchange loans.