It may be thought by some that Mr. Jentsch, whose opinion of present developments in the Rhineland is printed in this issue, is somewhat prejudiced in Germany's favor. Thoughtful people will probably agree with him, however, when he says that the Separatist movement in the Rhineland is not so serious as it appears. It is a not unreasonable conjecture that France has aided and abetted the present movement. Certainly she has made living conditions in the occupied regions extraordinarily difficult; and since her reparations bill must appear to the world so high as to be beyond hope of collection in full or even to any great extent, while her desire for security is well-known, one may infer that she would prize a buffer state.
Yet even granting that France has had such a purpose, it cannot be held that she has, entirely by her own efforts, created and fostered the movement. Although the Rhineland may be fundamentally German, as Mr. Jentsch says, she has always been far from thoroughly Prussian. In fact until within little more than a half century all of the German states formed merely a loose confederacy of semi-feudal governments. Feuds and jealousies were rife between them and only a powerful and autocratic central government was able finally to bind them into a nation. Hence a separate state in the Rhineland or, in fact, anywhere in Germany would simply be a relapse into a former condition. Certainly the Rhineland does not find itself naked and alone in its dissatisfied outburst against the "powers that be".
Temporarily at least Chancellor Stresemann and his government appear to have greater worries than that of a Rhineland Republic. The very fact that its population has been scattered and rendered leaderless by France, thus making the putsch easy for the handful who consummated it, points to the instability of the new state. The crisis in Bavaria where Reactionary forces are concentrated and organized, and the rumbling of Communists antagonistic to Bavaria have a far more ominous appearance.
If France is responsible for the present unstable condition in Germany, she is cutting off her own nose. A break-up of that nation would be a calamity not only to France but to the world. However hard it may be to collect reparations from Germany as a whole, collection from a piece-meal Germany would probably be impossible. Nor would her hopes for peace and security be realized. Just as a buffer state might work more harm than good, a conglomeration of microcosms allying with various powers, sought after by various powers, and always standing with chips on their shoulders would be a pestilent breeding ground of war. Although opinions may differ as to the party responsible for the chaos, it can scarcely be doubted that a German nation is a postulate of any plan or hope for lasting peace.