Locarno Treaties

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Locarno Treaties
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R03618, Locarno, Gustav Stresemann, Chamberlain, Briand.jpg
From left to right, Gustav Stresemann, Austen Chamberlain and Aristide Briand during the Locarno negotiations
Typemultilateral treaties
Signed1 December 1925 (1925-12-01)
Location London, England, UK

The Locarno Treaties were seven agreements negotiated at Locarno, Switzerland, on 5–16 October 1925 and formally signed in London on 1 December, in which the First World War Western European Allied powers and the new states of Central and Eastern Europe sought to secure the post-war territorial settlement, and return normalizing relations with defeated Germany (the Weimar Republic). It also stated that Germany would never go to war with the other countries. Locarno divided borders in Europe into two categories: western, which were guaranteed by Locarno treaties, and eastern borders of Germany with Poland, which were open for revision.

Locarno Place in Ticino, Switzerland

Locarno is a southern Swiss town and municipality in the district Locarno, located on the northern shore of Lake Maggiore at its northeastern tip in the canton of Ticino at the southern foot of the Swiss Alps. It has a population of about 16,000 (proper), and about 56,000 for the agglomeration of the same name including Ascona besides other municipalities.

Switzerland federal republic in Central Europe

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a country situated in western, central, and southern Europe. It consists of 26 cantons, and the city of Bern is the seat of the federal authorities. The sovereign state is a federal republic bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is a landlocked country geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning a total area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8.5 million people is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities are to be found: among them are the two global cities and economic centres Zürich and Geneva.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Contents

Planning the treaties

German foreign minister Gustav Stresemann made his highest priority the restoration of German prestige and privileges as a leading European nation. French withdrawal from the Occupation of the Ruhr was scheduled for January 1925, but Stresemann sensed that France was very nervous about its security and might cancel the withdrawal. Stresemann realized that France deeply desired a British guarantee of its postwar borders, but that London was reluctant. Stresemann came up with a plan whereby all sides would get what they wanted through a series of guarantees set out in a series of treaties. British Foreign Minister Austen Chamberlain enthusiastically agreed. France realized that its occupation of the Ruhr had caused more financial and diplomatic damage than it was worth. The conference of foreign ministers they convened in the Swiss resort of Locarno on October 1925 agreed on a plan. The first treaty was the most critical one: a mutual guarantee of the frontiers of Belgium, France, and Germany, which was guaranteed by Britain and Italy. The second and third treaties called for arbitration between Germany and Belgium, and Germany and France, regarding future disputes. The fourth and fifth were similar arbitration treaties between Germany and Poland, and Germany and Czechoslovakia. Poland especially, and Czechoslovakia as well, felt threatened by the Locarno agreements and these treaties were an attempt to reassure them. Thanks to the Dawes Plan, Germany was now making regular reparations payments. The success of the Locarno agreements led to the admission of Germany to the League of Nations in September 1926, with a seat on its council as a permanent member. [1]

Gustav Stresemann German politician, statesman, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate

Gustav Ernst Stresemann was a German statesman who served as Chancellor in 1923 and Foreign Minister 1923–1929, during the Weimar Republic. He was co-laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1926.

Occupation of the Ruhr Occupation of a German region by France and Belgium in 1923 to 1925

The Occupation of the Ruhr was a period of military occupation of the German Ruhr valley by France and Belgium between 11 January 1923 and 25 August 1925. The occupation was a response to the German Weimar Republic widely and regularly defaulting on reparation payments in the early 1920s. The total reparation sum of £6.6 billion had been dictated by the victorious powers in the Treaty of Versailles, and the reparation payments were due to last several decades.

Austen Chamberlain British politician

Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain, KG was a British statesman, son of Joseph Chamberlain and older half-brother of Neville Chamberlain. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer (twice) and was briefly Conservative Party leader before serving as Foreign Secretary.

Goals

For Britain, the main goals were promoting Franco-German reconciliation, and the expectation that reconciliation would lead to France abandoning its Cordon sanitaire , as the French alliance system in Eastern Europe was known between the wars. [2] If France were to abandon its allies in Eastern Europe, the Poles and Czechoslovaks, having no Great Power to protect them from Germany, would be forced to adjust to German demands; in the British viewpoint, they would be expected to peacefully hand over the territories claimed by Germany such as the Sudetenland, the Polish Corridor, and the Free City of Danzig (modern Gdańsk, Poland). [3] In this way, promoting territorial revisionism in Eastern Europe in Germany’s favor was one of the principal British objects of Locarno.

<i>Cordon sanitaire</i>

Cordon sanitaire is a French phrase that, literally translated, means "sanitary cordon". It originally denoted a barrier implemented to stop the spread of infectious diseases. It may be used interchangeably with the term "quarantine", and although the terms are related, cordon sanitaire refers to the restriction of movement of people into or out of a defined geographic area, such as a community. The term is also often used metaphorically, in English, to refer to attempts to prevent the spread of an ideology deemed unwanted or dangerous, such as the containment policy adopted by George F. Kennan against the Soviet Union.

Eastern Europe eastern part of the European continent

Eastern Europe is the eastern part of the European continent. There is no consensus on the precise area it covers, partly because the term has a wide range of geopolitical, geographical, cultural, and socioeconomic connotations. There are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region". A related United Nations paper adds that "every assessment of spatial identities is essentially a social and cultural construct". One definition describes Eastern Europe as a cultural entity: the region lying in Europe with the main characteristics consisting of Greek, Byzantine, Eastern Orthodox, Russian, and some Ottoman culture influences. Another definition was created during the Cold War and used more or less synonymously with the term Eastern Bloc. A similar definition names the formerly communist European states outside the Soviet Union as Eastern Europe. The majority of historians and social scientists view such definitions as outdated or relegated, but they are still sometimes used for statistical purposes.

Sudetenland

The Sudetenland is the historical German name for the northern, southern, and western areas of former Czechoslovakia which were inhabited primarily by Sudeten Germans. These German speakers had predominated in the border districts of Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia from the time of the Austrian Empire.

Parties and agreement

The principal treaty concluded at Locarno was the Rhineland Pact between Germany, France, Belgium, Great Britain, and Italy. Germany formally recognised its new western borders acted by the Treaty of Versailles. Furthermore, the first three signatories undertook not to attack each other, with the latter two acting as guarantors. In the event of aggression by any of the first three states against another, all other parties were to assist the country under attack. [4]

Germany also agreed to sign arbitration conventions with France and Belgium and arbitration treaties with Poland and Czechoslovakia, undertaking to refer future disputes to an arbitration tribunal or to the Permanent Court of International Justice.

Permanent Court of International Justice

The Permanent Court of International Justice, often called the World Court, existed from 1922 to 1946. It was an international court attached to the League of Nations. Created in 1920, the Court was initially well-received from states and academics alike, with many cases submitted to it for its first decade of operation. With the heightened international tension of the 1930s, the Court became less used. By a resolution from the League of Nations on 18 April 1946, the Court and the League both ceased to exist and were replaced by the International Court of Justice and the United Nations.

France signed further treaties with Poland and Czechoslovakia, pledging mutual assistance in the event of conflict with Germany. These essentially reaffirmed existing treaties of alliance concluded by France with Poland on 19 February 1921 and with Czechoslovakia on 25 January 1924. These treaties also showed that relations between France and Germany had not improved to a large extent.

Effect

The Locarno Treaties marked a dramatic improvement in the political climate of western Europe in 1924–1930. They promoted expectations for continued peaceful settlements, often called the "spirit of Locarno". This spirit was made concrete when Germany joined the League in 1926, and the withdrawal of Allied troops occupying Germany's Rhineland. [5] The Nobel Peace Prize was given to the lead negotiators of the treaty, going to Sir Austen Chamberlain in 1925 and jointly to Aristide Briand and Gustav Stresemann in 1926.

Rhineland historic region of Germany

The Rhineland is the name used for a loosely defined area of Western Germany along the Rhine, chiefly its middle section.

Nobel Peace Prize One of five Nobel Prizes established by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with the prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature. Since March 1901, it has been awarded annually to those who have "done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses".

Aristide Briand politician, statesman, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate from France

Aristide Briand was a French statesman who served eleven terms as Prime Minister of France during the French Third Republic. He is mainly remembered for his focus on international issues and reconciliation politics during the interwar period (1918–1939).

Historian Sally Marks says:

Henceforth the spirit of Locarno would reign, substituting conciliation for enforcement as the basis for peace. Yet for some peace remained a desperate hope rather than an actuality. A few men knew that the spirit of Locarno was a fragile foundation on which to build a lasting peace. [6]

Hitler repudiated Locarno by sending troops into the demilitarized Rhineland on 7 March 1936.

Anger in Poland

In Poland, the public humiliation received by Polish diplomats was one of the contributing factors to the fall of the Grabski cabinet. Locarno contributed to the worsening of the atmosphere between Poland and France, weakening the French-Polish alliance. Józef Beck ridiculed the treaties saying, "Germany was officially asked to attack the east, in return for peace in the west." [7] Józef Piłsudski would say that "every honest Pole spits when he hears this word [Locarno]". [8] Proposals in 1934 for an "eastern Locarno" pact securing Germany's eastern frontiers foundered on German opposition and on Poland's insistence that its eastern borders should be covered by a western guarantee of her borders. The Locarno treaty was heavily undermined by the Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance on 2 May 1935, which the German government claimed was a violation of its "spirit".

See also

Notes

  1. Norman Rich, Great Power Diplomacy since 1914 (2003) pp 148–49.
  2. Stephen Schuker, “The End of Versailles” pages 38–56 in Gordon Martel, ed. The Origins of the Second World War Reconsidered (1999) pp 48–49.
  3. Schuker, “The End of Versailles” in The Origins of the Second World War Reconsidered pp 48–49.
  4. Jon Jacobson, Locarno diplomacy: Germany and the west, 1925–1929 (2015)
  5. Bo Stråth (2016). Europe's Utopias of Peace: 1815, 1919, 1951. Bloomsbury. p. 398. ISBN   9781474237741.
  6. Sally Marks (2003). The Illusion of Peace: International Relations in Europe 1918–1933. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 89. ISBN   9781137127327.
  7. Michael Brecher (2016). The World of Protracted Conflicts. Lexington Books. p. 204.
  8. Piotr Wandycz, France and Her Eastern Allies 1919–1925: French-Czechoslovak-Polish Relations from the Paris Peace Conference to Locarno (1962).

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Primary sources

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