Rhenish Prussia


In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Rhenish Prussia is Number 38 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The book covers physical and political geography, political history, and economic conditions. Rhenish Prussia was the province of Prussia (the kingdom that formed the core of the German Empire that existed between 1871 and 1918) located in the western part of Germany along the lower Rhine, bordering the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France. It consisted of all or parts of the old duchies of Cleves, Jülich, and Berg; a fragment of the ancient Duchy of Gelderland; the ecclesiastical states of Cologne and Trier; and the towns of Aachen and Trier. These territories all passed to Prussia in 1814–15 at the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars. The province was physically separated from the rest of Prussia and its population predominantly Roman Catholic, in contrast to the mainly Protestant character of the rest of Prussia. Rhenish Prussia is described as the most industrialized part of Germany, apart from Saxony. Its economic advantages included an excellent transport network based on many navigable rivers (the Rhine, Moselle, Ruhr, Wupper, and others), a well-developed railroad network, and deposits of coal and iron and other metals. Major industries included iron and steel, textiles, chemicals, and miscellaneous manufacturing.

Last updated: March 24, 2015