Ehrenbreitsteinstein, Coblence, 1919
Ehrenbreitsteinstein, Coblence, 1919

Major General Allen, Ambassador Houghton. Final chapter.

[Rhineland, 1922] We have ended our story when Chiara and John leave home for the United States with the majority of the AFG soldiers. Most Americans, including President Harding, would have preferred to recall all American troops from the Rhine. They did not want the United States to get involved in an international conflict just because the League of Nations said so, and they wanted to avoid seeing AFG soldiers being dragged into a conflict between French troops and German civilians.

General Allen

Neither did General Allen in Coblenz. He had been in command of the American Forces in Germany from July 8, 1919. Since May 21, 1920, he was also the American representative on the Interallied Rhineland High Commission. For all his sympathy and compassion for France, its “military attitude” to hold Germany down for years greatly worried him as it would rather bring about new conflicts and suffering than peace and restoring in Europe. The AFG was playing a crucial stabilizing role. Firmly believing in the AFG’s mission, the General stood for continuing the U.S. deployment on the Rhine.

In April 1922, the new ambassador to Germany, Alanson B. Houghton, arrived at Coblenz and consulted the General. He saw the positive influence exercised by Allen and the AFG, and understood that recalling all American troops ran counter to the Republican objective of restoring world order. A compromise was found, and President Harding agreed: the AFG were reduced, but some 1,000 AFG soldiers remained in Coblenz. Most likely, such a small contingent would not be engaged in fighting, yet the mere gesture of America’s ongoing involvement would exert a calming influence.

Eventually, in January 1923, Congress decided to reduce all American troops. A couple of days later, French and Belgian troops occupied the Ruhr area. On January 24, 1923, the American flag was lowered from the historic Fortress Ehrenbreitstein and the last American forces departed from Germany. General Allen gave his final speech, probably with worries: “With deep affection in our hearts for our Allies and sympathy for our former foes, our highest ambition has been to act with such justice towards all as would insure a lasting peace in Europe.”

The departing American soldiers took the blessings of many Germans with them. As an American officer wrote: “One could but reflect that the departing soldiers would probably meet with no such cordiality upon their arrival in their own country.” He was to be proven right. The return of the last of the doughboys drew no acclaim in the United States.

Ambassador Houghton

Ambassador Houghton served in Germany from 1922 to 1925, so he witnessed the young republic’s year of crisis 1923 with the Ruhr occupation, passive resistance, hyperinflation and several coups. The Ambassador was personally committed to restore friendly relations between the USA and Germany, and he believed that world peace, European stability, and American prosperity depended upon a reconstruction of Europe’s economy and political systems. The latter would not be possible without finding a way that the Allies could pay their debt to the United States, and Germany could pay its reparations Allies. In 1924, he became a leading promoter of the Dawes Plan that greatly helped Germany’s economy to recover.

What became of our family?

In the years 1924-1924, the Weimar Republic was granted a short time of economic recovery and political stability. The Twenties began to roar in Germany too. Kathi and Max had a daughter, Charlotte, and they remained in close touch with Chiara and her family in the United States. The coats made from Chiara’s army cloth seemed to last forever.

But German democracy was shaky. Already in the middle of the twenties, the parties of the center and center-left lost many votes whereas the hardliners, even extremists on both sides grew stronger. In 1925, Reichspräsident Ebert died, and former general Paul von Hindenburg was elected as his successor. Chancellors like Wilhelm Marx struggled to keep democratic governments going, foreign Minister Stresemann sought understanding with the former enemies.

On October 25, 1929, the stock exchange crash in New York widened into a world economic crisis and global depression that caused high unemployment in industrial countries, bank failure and collapse of credit. In Germany, the depression led to economic collapse, mass unemployment and pauperization. The acting grand coalition under Chancellor Hermann Müller (SPD) broke apart in March 1930, it was the last parliamentarian democratic administration of the Weimar Republic. The Reichstag elections of September 1930 resulted in the Nazi Party’s landslide breakthrough. Reichspräsident Hindenburg became more and more authoritarian, and the greater the need became, the more votes the extremists gained. In 1932, the Nazi Party and the Communist party were the strongest factions in the Reichstag. The Republic was about to crumble.

In 1932, a very worried Joscha Csabany travelled again to Germany, leaving his family tickets to the United States, he feared for their safety. Early in 1933, Max and Kathi, outspoken democrats, left Germany with their children.

Kathi, the winemaker, helped rebuild the Mountain Men Vineyard after prohibition, Max worked with an American railroad company. Their children grew up in the United States and became US citizens. They always kept in touch with Germany, and the outbreak of World War II broke their hearts. After the war, they went back to Germany to help rebuild their native country.

And Lottie had saved a bottle of the “vintage of the century” 1921.

The photo is from the German Wikipedia, public domain section. The passages on Ambassador Houghton are from the Wikipedia too. As to General Allen, my source is Henry T. Allen, “My Rhineland Journal”.

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