Political violence in the Ruhr area in the Weimar Republic

The Ruhr Area plays a special role within Weimar Germany’s history of violence. Especially in the early years of the Weimar Republic, hardly any other region has witnessed so many politically motivated riots and thus such a continuity of violence – from massive strike movements in early 1919 and the uprising of the Red Ruhr Army in 1920 to the Franco-Belgian occupation of the Ruhr in 1923. These experiences, as can be assumed, have deeply influenced the self-conception of its population and have turned violence into a central component of collective identity. Indeed, particularly from the outside perspective, it was not until these violent excesses of the early 1920s that the Ruhr was perceived as a socio-political entity and an independent political actor.

The dissertation investigates the memory of the 1920 “Ruhrkampf” and the Red Ruhr Army from the Weimar Republic to the present day. Against the background of the changing social and political conditions of the investigation period, transitions and continuities in the perception of this highly controversally discussed historical event shall be taken into account. In terms of a “second-degree history”, the dissertation can be located within the research field of cultural memory studies.

In the center of the study stands the question of which socio-political and regional identities have been promoted through the commemorisation of the Ruhrkampf, and to what extent and in which ways these concepts of identity were linked to each other.

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Joana Seiffert