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Treaty of Versailles, 1919

Political Disorder: The Weimar Republic and Revolt 1918-23

International Agreements

Stresemann Era, 1923-29

The Rise of the Nazi Party, 1933

Hitler's Foreign Policy and Appeasment

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After the Treaty of Versailles, there were several agreements which were feeble attempts to make peace with Germany. However, some of them were successful in improving relations between Germany and other major powers.

Washington Naval Conference, 1921:

As Germany, had disarmed significantly, it was now the turn of other major powers. At this conference it was agreed that the US, Britiain, Japan, France and Italy would have navies in the ratio 5:5:3:1.75:1.75 respectively. In this case, the ratios seem unfair. Why should the USA and Britain have larger navies than Japan, France and Italy; or have any navies at all considering that Germany has no navy. It was conferences like these that triggered German rearmament in the 1930s that violated the Treaty of Versailles. After all, why should the Germans follow the Treaty of Versailles if the Western powers set a separate standard for themselves? In this case, ratios are unfair. The logic behind this ratio is that the USA and Britain had much more areas to protect (USA had 2 coasts and Britain controlled a quarter of the world). But, at the same time when they had disarmed they main opponent and reduced its economic strength by a large amount, what did they have to fear? Didn’t they have fate in international peace which they proclaimed they had achieved in the treaty of Versailles? However, there are instances where different standards for different countries have been useful. The now defunct Kyoto Protocol initially seemed fair as it imposed greater emission reduction targets on industrialized countries that have traditionally emitted much more greenhouse gases for over a century. However, the point of these higher targets can be questioned seeing as they were not met. Nevertheless the fact remains that these industrialized countries should still be bound to meet these targets. After all Germany still had to make its last reparations payment this year, 81 years after Versailles.  

Dawes Plan, 1924:

This agreement was between the USA and Germany. As of 1922, the reparations amount was set at $2 billion; this was significantly reduced by the Dawes Plan to $50million. In addition to this Germany received a loan of $200 million. This sounds very much like what the IMF is doing today. Although, this may seem altruistic there are always strings attached. In both cases the US can gain valuable trading partners. The lack of altruism is shown by the fact that in both cases people were unhappy. The Germans felt that the loan was unnecessary as they believe that they should not have to pay reparations. Some even despised the Dawes Plan for continuing the implementation of the Treaty of Versailles. Similarly, people in poorer nations which receive loans from the IMF resent the structural adjustments that are imposed. Poorer countries have to open up their economies to multinational companies that exploit the people, making it difficult for people to earn a living and for the economy to progress.

Locarno Pact (Switzerland), 1925:

France, Belgium and Germany were the key participants. France and Germany promised not to go to war with each other through Germany’s Western border. However, this promise was superficial. Both sides didn’t trust each other. For instance, France built the Maginot line. Here the theme of lack of faith in international peace, seen at Washington, is continually present reflecting on the atmosphere of Europe and the USA.  This seems to be like the nuclear defense situation of the world today.

locarno

Above Aristide Briand, Austin Chamberlain and Gustav Stresemann are shaking hands. Briand's hidden boxing glove represents the hostility between Germany and France that remained despite Locarno, suggesting that it was simply a paper.

Kellogg-Briand Pact/ Pact of Paris, 1928:

This was a pact led by the French Premier Briand and American secretary of state Kellogg.  It was decided that war could not be used as an instrument of national policy. This agreement was the height of ridiculousness. Moreover, there was not mechanism in place to deal with the possibility of someone actually breaking this agreement. What would the international community do if a state went to war? Would they also go to war? Wouldn’t this be a violation of the agreement?

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