Saar (League of Nations)

Saar (League of Nations)

Infobox Former Country
native_name = "Saarbeckengebiet" (de)
"Le Territoire du Bassin de la Sarre" (fr)
conventional_long_name = The Territory of the Saar Basin
common_name = Saar
continent = Europe
region = Germany
country = Germany
status = Special territory
era = Interwar period
year_start = 1920
year_end = 1935
event_start=Treaty of Versailles
date_start=January 10, 1920
date_event1=January 13, 1935
date_end =March 1, 1935
p1 = German Empire
flag_p1 = Flag of the German Empire.svg
s1 = Nazi Germany
flag_s1 = Flag_of_Germany_1933.svg

image_map_caption=Map of the region. The territory is shown in purple.
capital = Saarbrücken
title_leader=Commission Chairman
leader1=Victor Rault
leader2=George W. Stephens
leader3=Sir Ernest Collins Wilton
leader4=Sir Geoffrey Knox
currency = Saar franc

The Territory of the Saar Basin (in French: "Le Territoire du Bassin de la Sarre", in German: "Saarbeckengebiet"), also referred as the Saar or Saargebiet, was a region of Germany that was occupied and governed by Britain and France from 1920 to 1935 under a League of Nations mandate, with the occupation originally being under the auspices of the Treaty of Versailles [Article 45-50 with Annex, Treaty of Versailles] . Its population in 1933 was 812,000, and its capital was Saarbrücken. [ Saarland: Heads of Administration: 1920-1935] ] It corresponds to the modern German state of Saarland, but is slightly smaller in area [The extent of the territory is specified in Article 48, Treaty of Versailles] . After a plebiscite was held in 1935, it was restored to Germany.

Commission of Government

Under the Treaty of Versailles the highly industrialized Saarland was to be occupied and governed by Britain and France under a League of Nations mandate for a period of 15 years, and its coalfields ceded to France. During this time the Saarland was governed by a 5 person Commission made up of representatives of the occupation forces. Under the terms of the mandate the Commission had to include at least one French person and one German resident of the Saar. [Paragraph 16-17, Chapter II, Annex to Article 45-50, Treaty of Versailles] At the end of that time a plebiscite was to determine the Saar's future status. It comprised portions of the Prussian Rhine Province and the Bavarian Palatinate of the Rhine. It had a currency, the Saar franc, and its own postage stamps during this period.

Chairmen of the Commission

The Saar region was governed by the following Chairmen of the Commission of Government:

*Victor Rault, France (26 February, 1920 - 31 March, 1926)
*George Washington Stephens, Canada (1 April, 1926 - 9 June, 1927)
*Sir Ernest Colville Collins Wilton, United Kingdom (9 June, 1927 - 31 March, 1932)
*Sir Geoffrey George Knox, United Kingdom (1 April, 1932 - 28 February, 1935)


In 1933, a considerable number of political opponents of National Socialism moved to the Saar, as it was the only part of Germany that remained under foreign occupation following the first world war. As a result, anti-Nazi groups agitated for the Saarland to remain under British and French occupation under a League of Nations mandate. However, with most of the population being ethnically German and with strong local anti-French sentiments deeply entrenched, such views were considered suspect or even treasonous. With the expiry of the 15-year term of the mandate, a plebiscite was held in the territory on 13 January, 1935, with a voter participation of 98%. The result was a great majority of 90.73% voting to re-join the German Reich, with only 8.86% wanting to retain the status quo. A third option of joining France received 0.41% of the vote.

National Socialist rule

On 17 January 1935, the territory's re-union with Germany was approved by the League Council. On March 1, Germany re-integrated the region into the German Reich, appointing Josef Bürckel as "Reichskommissar für die Rückgliederung des Saarlandes", "Imperial Commissioner for the re-union of Saarland".

Many opponents of National Socialism who had taken refuge in the territory and former politicians and office holders of the Saar who had collaborated with the occupation were imprisoned.

When re-incorporation was considered complete, the governor's title was changed again to "Reichskommissar für das Saarland", "Imperial Commissioner of Saarland" on 17 June 1936. As the new Gau was extended to the Rhine, including the historic Palatinate, the region's name was changed again on 8 April 1940 to "Saarpfalz", "Saar-Palatinate".

After the Battle of France, the re-annexed French département of Moselle was incorporated in the Reichsgau. The region's name was finalized on 11 March 1941 as "Westmark", "Western March"/"Western Boundary", with its governor styled as "Reichsstatthalter in der Westmark", "Imperial Lieutenant of Western March". On 28 September 1944 Josef Bürckel committed suicide, and he was succeeded by Willi Stöhr until 21 March 1945, when the region was again occupied by France.

French Protectorate

After the Second World War the region became a French protectorate and as a consequence was forced into economic and political ties with France. After the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic in 1949, Saarland became an autonomous region of France (similar in nature to Scotland or Wales within the United Kingdom), with its own passports, Olympic team (1952) and national football team. Nevertheless, the coal mines (the dominant industry in the region at the time) remained under direct state control ( "Regie des mines de la Sarre"), and France also insisted upon continued monetary union (Saar francs). However, the Saarland was not considered by France or the local population to be French territory, contrary to persistence rumors among the local German population which was very hostile to the occupation and French territorial ambitions. A referrendum was held on 23 October 1955 which ended French rule (direct or indirect) and shortly thereafter the Saarland once again re-joined Germany.


ee also

*Saar, a protectorate under French control (1947-1956)
*Sarre, a département of France (1798-1814)
*Saar River
*Nazi Germany
*Free City of Danzig

External links

* [ Saarland: Heads of Administration: 1920-1935]
* [ Saarland in the page about Germany on]
* [ Part III - Political Clauses for Europe, Treaty of Versailles]

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