The judgment of the world has already recognized the transaction of the Saar as an act of spoliation and insincerity. So far as compensation for the destruction of French coal-mines is concerned, this is provided for, as we shall see in a moment, elsewhere in the Treaty. “There is no industrial region in Germany,” the German representatives have said without contradiction, “the population of which is so permanent, so homogeneous, and so little complex as that of the Saar district. Among more than 650,000 inhabitants, there were in 1918 less than 100 French. The Saar district has been German for more than 1,000 years. Temporary occupation as a result of warlike operations on the part of the French always terminated in a short time in the restoration of the country upon the conclusion of peace. During a period of 1048 years France has possessed the country for not quite 68 years in all. When, on the occasion of the first Treaty of Paris in 1814, a small portion of the territory now coveted was retained for France, the population raised the most energetic opposition and demanded ’reunion with their German fatherland,’ to which they were ’related by language, customs, and religion.’ After an occupation of one year and a quarter, this desire was taken into account in the second Treaty of Paris in 1815. Since then the country has remained uninterruptedly attached to Germany, and owes its economic development to that connection.”
The French wanted the coal for the purpose of working the ironfields of Lorraine, and in the spirit of Bismarck they have taken it. Not precedent, but the verbal professions of the Allies, have rendered it indefensible.
(ii.) Upper Silesia, a district without large towns, in which, however, lies one of the major coalfields of Germany with a production of about 23 per cent of the total German output of hard coal, is, subject to a plebiscite, to be ceded to Poland. Upper Silesia was never part of historic Poland; but its population is mixed Polish, German, and Czecho-Slovakian, the precise proportions of which are disputed. Economically it is intensely German; the industries of Eastern Germany depend upon it for their coal; and its loss would be a destructive blow at the economic structure of the German State.
With the loss of the fields of Upper Silesia and the Saar, the coal supplies of Germany are diminished by not far short of one-third.
(iii.) Out of the coal that remains to her, Germany is obliged to make good year by year the estimated loss which France has incurred by the destruction and damage of war in the coalfields of her northern Provinces. In para. 2 of Annex V. to the Reparation Chapter, “Germany undertakes to deliver to France annually, for a period not exceeding ten years, an amount of coal equal to the difference between the annual production before the war of the coal-mines of the Nord and Pas de Calais, destroyed as a result of the war, and the production of the mines of the same area during the year in question: such delivery not to exceed 20,000,000 tons in any one year of the first five years, and 8,000,000 tons in any one year of the succeeding five years.”