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Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points, 8th January 1918
Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points, 8th January 1918
· Woodrow Wilson (US President) outlined his idealistic aims for the Treaty of Versailles in a speech to the US government – his ideas for worldwide peace, to “make the world safe for democracy”
· Wilson wanted a “just and secure peace” and not merely “a new balance of power”
· Formed the basis of the peace that came out of the Treaty of Versailles
· Included disarmament, freedom of navigation of the seas (which Britain didn’t like), no secret treaties, autonomy for Austria Hungary, Alsace Lorraine returned to France, no economic barriers, self determination, adjustment of colonial claims – basically, by eliminating all of the causes of WW1, he hoped to prevent another war.
· Flaws: it would be impossible to enforce some of the terms, such as splitting up the Habsburg Empire. Economic hardships following the war meant that countries would not be willing to abandon tariffs. Clemenceau found the terms too unrealistic (although he was getting A-L back). Foreign leaders were skeptical as to whether they could be applied to the ‘real world’.
· Wilson referred to his vision of the post war settlement as “peace without victory” – his terms, such as disarmament, became the basis of the covenant of the League of Nations.
· Lenin – “landmark of enlightenment in international relations”
· Fourteen Points still stand as the most powerful expression of the idealist strain in American diplomacy.
· Robert Wohl – “Wilson made too many promises, and had to negotiate a peace settlement with leaders who were intent on preventing German hegemony, and not world peace”
· Ruth Henig: “the 14 points appeared to promise some protection against punitive French and British demands”
Article 231 (of the T.O.V) – June 1919
· More commonly known as the War Guilt Clause, or Kriegsschuldfrage here in Germany
· Stated that “Germany accepts the responsibility of her and her allies for causing all of the loss and damage” to the victorious powers, to whom “war was imposed on… by the aggression of Germany and her allies” – Forced Germany to take the blame for the outbreak of WW1, and was used to justify the extortionate £6.6 billion reparations sum. Ironic because Lloyd George had stated previously that WW1 was nobody’s fault, and that it was “stumbled into”
· Created hostilities in Germany – very controversial, Germans wanted revenge. Was used to placate the British and French public, with cries of ‘hang the Kaiser’ and Eric Geddes (first lord of admiralty) – “squeeze the German lemon until the pips squeak!”
· Perceived in Germany as inaccurate, led to the TOV being branded as a ‘diktat’
· If Germany didn’t agree to it, war would reconvene – they had no other choice.
· War cannot be blamed on one person, can it?
· “Germany’s death sentence” – historians such as Martin Gilbert argue that this led to the rise of Nazism in Germany, a claim that Margaret Macmillan brands “erroneous”.
· Led to anger within the Germans – newspaper headings such as “we will never stop until we get back what we deserve.. treaty is only a scrap of paper – we will seek revenge, it is full of injustices, brutalities and exploitations”
· Count Brockdorff Rantzau – “Those who sign this treaty will sign the death sentence of a million Germans… may the hand that sign this treaty wither”
· Dylan Thomas – “The hand that signed the paper felled a city, and locusts came”
Treaty of Versailles, 28th June 1919
· Peace Treaty between the victorious powers – Britain, France, Italy and USA dictated to Germany
· 440 clauses – very extensive, too much so?
· Signed in Hall of Mirrors in Palace of Versailles where the proclamation of the German Union was signed in 1871 after the Franco-Prussian War, to rub it in France’s face – now it was Germany’s turn to be humiliated – it was also the anniversary of the assassination of the Archduke of Franz Ferdinand in 1914, which was the catalyst of WW1. Rushed into? Wilson and Lloyd George openly stated that they hadn’t read all the clauses, for that would take a “lifetime”
· TRAWL – Territories (Germany lost 13% of territories, AL went back to France), Reparations (£6.6 billion – weren’t actually specified until the London Conference in 1930 – Germany felt like she was signing a ‘blank cheque’ – again ironic, it is what they offered AH after the assassination), Army (disarmed to 100,000 men and 6 battleships – Germans sunk most of their fleet because they didn’t want the British to benefit from it), War Guilt clause (Article 231, see above), League of Nations (set up from Wilson’s 14 points, again see above)
· Humiliated Germany – seen as a Diktat. Also lost 12% of population.
· Ruth Henig – “TOV wasn’t excessively harsh on Germany”
· Lenin – “This is no peace, but terms dictated to a defenceless victim by armed robbers”
· Lloyd George knew that “Germany could not pay anything like the indemnity which the British and French demanded”
· Harold Nicolson – “We left the conference conscious that the treaty imposed upon out enemy was neither just nor wise”
· German MP – “shameless blow in the face of common sense”
· Lloyd George – “I didn’t do too bad considering I was sat between Jesus (Wilson) and Napoleon (Clemenceau)”
· Clemenceau – “there are 20 million Germans too many”
· Germany didn’t pay off the reparations until 2010
· Lloyd George – “we want to protect the future against a repetition of the horrors of war”
· Terms weren’t really stuck to by Hitler – he found it a godsend for propaganda. Some argue that appeasement found its roots in 1919 through the guilty consciences created at Versailles.
Treaty of Trianon, 4th June 1920
· Between B&F and Hungary (who were undergoing a communist takeover). Hungary had been a peaceful multi ethnic state for over 1000 years until the treaty. Branded “The greatest tragedy to have befallen Hungary”
· Obliged to pay reparations but went bankrupt before the reparations were agreed
· Lost ¾ of its territory, and more than 60% of its population – population reduced from 21 million to 7.5 million, many Magyar speakers now part of neighbouring countries
· Two of the three newly created countries carved out of Hungarian territory no longer exist. (Slovakia became part of Czech Republic and Yugoslavia suffered from civil war and ethnic cleansing) –may never have happened if the treaty hadn’t taken place.
· Throughout the 1920s and 30s, the Hungarian F.P was dominated by a desire to revise the Treaty and reunite Magyar speaking lands – in pursuit of this, she signed a treaty with Mussolini’s Italy in 1927
· Wilson: “The proposal to dismember Hungary is absurd” Winston Churchill: “Ancient poets and theologians could not imagine the suffering that Trianon brought to the innocent”
· Effects of treaty are still strongly felt today
· Treaty restricted Hungary economically and militarily, causing aggression
· Caused the formation of the Little Entente (Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Romania) who feared that Hungary might go to war in order to reclaim the territories that Trianon took away and gave to the members of the little entente.
· The new Hungary was a landlocked state with no access to the Mediterranean Sea, which weakened economy, and could have been the reason for her later association with Nazi Germany
· Army reduced to 35,000 men with no more conscription, air force was banned, and, as a land locked nation, she was not allowed a navy.
Treaty of Sevres, 10th August 1920
· Signed between B&F and the Ottoman Empire (Turkey)
· Carved up as the ‘sick man of Europe’ – took 15 months to draft.
· Abolished the Ottoman Empire, which left lots of small party states becoming mandates. Britain took control of Iraq and Palestine whilst France took control of Syria and Lebanon – a lot of the problems going on with the Syrian conflict today can be traced back to this treaty
· Countries such as Armenia were recognized as independent states.
· Dardanelles straits were opened up and made an international waterway with Turkey having no control over it
· Army limited to 50,000 men. Navy limited to 13 boats and an air force was forbidden.
· Financial control handed over to the allies – control of banks, imports and exports, loans and the tax system
· Lost all rights to Sudan and Libya and had to recognize French Morocco, British Egypt and Cyprus
· Eastern Thrace, Aegan Islands and Dodecanese Islands went to Italy.
· Terms were overthrown as the result of the revival of a Turkish nationalist movement – new treaty of Lausanne was drawn up in 1923 in which Greece returned Eastern Thrace and 2 Aegan Islands to Turkey, in which they also gained the right to close the straits to enemy warships in the time of war. The supervision of finances was also ended.
Treaty of St Germain, 10th September 1919
· Between B&F and Austria
· Dissolved the Austro-Hungarian Empire – Austria was to be treated as a new state, and Hungary had their separate treaty (Trianon)
· Army limited to 30,000 men
· Reparations were declared to start in 1921 and last for 30 years but they were never enforced so never paid. Payments in animals to Italia, Romania and Serbia were, however, set out (milk cows, bulls, sheep, horses)
· Empire reduced from 30 million to 6 million, now land locked
· Lost industrial areas
· Forced to accept some War Guilt just like Germany did
· Unification (Anschluss) with Germany was forbidden
· Lost land to Czechoslovakia, Poland, Italy, Romania and Yugoslavia
· Austro-Hungarian navy was split up and distributed between the allies
· The Austria created by the treaty was financially and militarily weak and therefore a chronic force of instability in Europe between the two World Wars.
Treaty of Neuilly, 27th November 1919
· Between the allies and Bulgaria
· Reparations of £90 million to be paid, which they actually did pay because 75% of the reparations were later remitted
· Western Thrace handed over to ‘Big Three’ and eventually to Greece – this lost Bulgaria’s Aegan coastline and access to the seas, so weakened her
· Army limited to 20,000 men
· When World War Two broke out, Bulgaria sided with Nazi Germany and reclaimed all the land taken from her by the Treaty of Neuilly.
· Land also given to Romania and Yugoslavia
The Little Entente, 1921
· Protective military and political alliance between Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania (+France and Poland), who had profited from the dissection of Hungary in the Treaty of Trianon (June 1920) but realized their vulnerability and feared that Hungary might try and seek revenge to regain their territories. Also result of UK and US betrayal – isolationist? Secured France and the Eastern Powers against an attack from Germany
· France backed the little entente with its alliance with Czechoslovakia – this would, in turn, protect them from Germany and reinforce encirclement.
· Left Britain confused – France had gone against the covenant of the League of Nations by forming a secret alliance. Distrust against collective security.
· The alliance was destroyed when the 1938 Munich Pact delivered the Sudetenland (Czechoslovakia) to Germany, and land in Slovakia and Ruthenia to Hungary, who were very much part of the Nazi Camp.
The Treaty of Rapallo, 16th April 1922
· Between USSR and Germany – both had been excluded from the League of Nations, formed the basis of Russo-German friendship. Signed in Rapallo, Italy during the Genoa Conference . Negotiated by Germany’s Walther Rathenau and USSR’s G Chicherin. Dealt with outstanding questions and tension after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk which removed USSR from the war in 1918, in which Germany were very harsh towards Russia.
· Agreed to cancel territorial claims against each other and to co-operate economically. Treaty strengthened military and economic ties with each other. Agreed to "co-operate in a spirit of mutual goodwill in meeting the economic needs of both countries".
· Allowed German factories producing military goods (which was banned by TOV) to be produced in Russia – because it wasn’t in Germany it evaded the TOV terms. Allowed Germany to make weaponry and train soldiers (rearming – breaking TOV), whilst allowing Russia to see and use Western Technology and engineering techniques (which Germany are still infamous for), which they had been deprived of since the 1917 Revolution – these terms were, however secret.
· First agreement concluded by Germany as an independent agent after WW1, and angered the allies.
· Intended to form as an anti-Versailles axis against the West, since both groups lost a considerable amount of territory and political power under the treaty. In the West, it was viewed with alarm as strengthening the international position of both governments. Many conservative and far-right elements with the Weimar Republic were also alarmed by the government's decision to negotiate and maintain good relations with a communist state.
· Reaffirmed in the 1926 Treaty of Berlin and the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact. Also agreed to co-operate against Poland because both Germany and the USSR had lost land to Poland – wanted to gain it back, which was the basis of the Nazi Soviet Pact.
Washington Conference, 12th November 1921 – 6th February 1922
· Convened by Charles Hughes, the Secretary of State of the USA to consider naval armaments – it was an agreement outside of the League of Nations and it actually worked, whilst the agreements in the League of Nations were mostly unsuccessful because of the absence of the USA.
· US government were also seeking to reduce naval expenditure, and wanted to avoid a new naval race in the Pacific.
· Proposed naval disarmament and the end of Britain’s naval domination – another step to prevent the possibility of future war.
· Resulted in two treaties: the 4 power and 9 power treaties.
· Four Power Treaty (Dec 13th 1921) – USA, Britain, France and Japan agreed to recognize each others possessions in the Pacific and in an event where there rights were threatened, they would consult each other rather than fight. Replaced the Anglo Japanese Treaty of 1902. Japan seen as a rising military threat by USA, so naval ratio dampened their worries. Would consult each other if there was any “Pacific Question”.
· Five Power Treaty – USA, Britain, Japan, France and Italy (5:5:3:1.75:1.75 naval ratio set up, No battleships or cruisers to be built for 10 years – ‘building holiday’, Ships are to be destroyed until ratio is reached)
· Nine Power Treaty – USA, Britain, France, Japan, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal and China. Led to the ‘Open Door Policy’ being reinforced – Agreed to respect Chinese territorial integrity and independence. Agreed to discuss problems of common interest. Gave all nations to do business with China on equal terms. Guaranteed Financial assistance to China, and the Shantung Penninsula was returned by Japan. China had been unstable in the early 1920s after death of President Yuan Shi-kai in 1916 and rival generals in China were competing for power.
· Results: Constituted a positive step towards preventing a naval arms race, signaled end of Britain’s naval domination as they accepted parity with the USA. Progress in terms of arms limitations and regional co-operation.
· Problems: Did not lay down any mechanism for enforcement in the event of a country breaching their terms, failed to prevent Japanese aggression from 1931 onwards. USSR not invited, even though they were potentially a major force in the Pacific.
· Hughes: “we have gone further in the direction of securing an enduring peace than by anything that has yet been done”
Corfu Incident, 1923
· On 27th August 1923, four Italian ambassadors (Including General Tellino) were assassinated on Greek soil after being sent there by the League of Nations to survey a border dispute between Greece and Albania.
· Mussolini demanded an apology and 50 million lire in compensation from the Greek government. Greece refused and appealed to the League of Nations (Mussolini was a member of the council). The League of Nations condemned Mussolini (it was all they could do) and refused to make Greece pay compensation.
· In response, as soon as the Greeks had rejected Italy’s demands, Mussolini invaded Corfu (31st August).
· The League of Nations then tried to push Greece into apologizing and, if a commission of enquiry found evidence to support Italy’s claims that the assassins were Greek, pay the compensation. Under pressure from Britain, Mussolini agreed on the 27th September to withdraw his forces, and in exchange received the 50 million lire compensation from Greece.
· Results: the credibility of the League of Nations went down because the aggressor won – they had no force to stop Mussolini. Mussolini had dipped his feet into the water – he knew what he could get away with, so went on to invade Abyssinia in 1935, during which again the League did nothing. Appeasement, AJP Taylor “Hitler Watched” – one of the early failures of the League of Nations.
· Also boosted Mussolini’s image – the Italian press presented it as a ‘triumphant’ return of Italy to the international scene as a nation that got its way
Ruhr Crisis, 1923 - 1925
· Germany, Belgium and France. France didn’t believe that the Rapallo treaty contained no secret agreements, and took a harder line on Germany.
· In Germany in the 1920s, economic activity decreased, unemployment increased and productivity fell. Germany missed an installment of her reparations payments in 1922 (which were decided at £6.6 billion, Germany to pay 2 billion gold marks per year after the decision at the Reparations Committee of 1921), so France and Belgium invaded the coal rich region and took raw materials as a form of compensation. Their aim was to force Germany into paying the installments, but in the mean time, coal and timber were seized.
· In retaliation, the Germans put up passive resistance and refused to comply with orders. They also destroyed the goods that the French had intended to ship over to France. This further postponed the payments, led to violent conflict, and, eventually inflation – the German government printed more money to support the workers, and this resulted in hyperinflation, which devalued German currency (1 loaf of bread – 2 million marks)
· Passive resistance eventually called off by Stresemann, who obliged to terms of the TOV and solved the financial problem with the Dawes Plan, which stabilized the currency and enabled Germany to start reparations payments again.
Dawes Plan, April 1924
· Charles Dawes’ USA’s attempt to solve the reparations problem – implemented to ensure recovery and solve the hyperinflation in Germany – Dawes won a Nobel Prize in 1925 and his innovation has been branded a “milestone” in history.
· New currency – the Reichsmark.
· German banks were whittled down, the Reichsbank was reorganized.
· Loan of 800 million marks to Germany intended to re-stabilise currency.
· In the terms, it stipulated the evacuation of the Ruhr, and that reparations payments should start at 1 billion marks per year (£50 million), increasing to 2.5 billion after 5 years (£125 million)
· Brought respite from reparations and brought Germany back to her feet, allowing for recovery during the ‘Golden Years’ – again, it was outside of the League of Nations, showing just how influential the USA were, and how detrimental their absence from the League of Nations was. It did, however, make Germany over-reliant on foreign financial aid, and, as the US developed economic problems, Germany suffered as an onset. Despite US isolationist policy, they could not turn their back on European economic affairs. Allowed Germany to repay B&F, who could then repay their war loans back to the US – everyone benefited. 22.9 billion marks were paid in reparations during this period.
Locarno Treaties, 6th – 15th October 1925
· Drawn up at Locarno, Switzerland and signed in London.
· Marked a breakthrough in German relations with Britain and France. Germany accepted her borders with Belgium and France, and agreed to arbitration in any future border quarrels with Poland and Czechoslovakia.
· Germany, France and Belgium signed mutual guarantees – this time, everyone had to make the promise – action would be taken if either side broke the term – Germany no longer treated differently.
· This was a step towards Franco-German reconciliation and it meant that Germany could start to grow economically again without being a threat to Western Europe. It also meant that France and Britain could reconcile over the differences that drove these two apart (how to deal with Germany)
· Germany’s eastern borders were less secure – left room for expansion in the east.
· Germany were treated as equals again after accepting border terms of the TOV and were allowed to join the League of Nations
· Talks and conference took place outside of the League of Nations – shows that the terms of the TOV weren’t binding unless supported by another treaty outside of the league.
· Seen as the ‘climax of fulfillment’ and a step towards world peace – resulted in excitement and optimism. Supervision of German disarmament was stopped – there was a level of trust, and by 1930 Germany was an independent state again.
· Was ripped up by Adolf Hitler
Kellogg-Briand Pact, 27th August 1928
· Signed on August 27th 1928 between Germany, France, the USA and 12 other nations (Britain, Belgium, Poland, Australia) and 47 other nations later followed suit, joining together to renounce the use of aggression as a means of solving disputes. Prohibited the use of war as an “instrument of national policy”. Was approved overwhelmingly in the senate with an 85-1 vote.
· Signed in Paris, so sometimes called the Pact of Paris
· Aimed to stop militarism from rising and causing another world war.
· Again, this was outside of the League of Nations – showed just how powerless they were.
· Named after authors – US Secretary of State Frank B Kellogg and French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand
· Problems: there were no provisions for any kind of sanctions if the terms of the treaty were broken. Also, there was no definition of the “aggressive war” that the Pact was renouncing – countries could interpret it as they liked. Some just see it as “a statement of good intentions” as when Germany, Japan and Italy broke the terms in the 1930s, nothing could be done to stop them – the pact simply stated that parties failing to abide by this promise "should be denied the benefits furnished by this treaty"
· An example of collective security – the best way to prevent conflict was if all nations acted collectively to renounce individual use of force.
· A similar pact, the Litvinov Pact, was signed in Eastern Europe in 1929. Again, it renounced war but had flaws.
· Served as the legal basis for the creation of the notion of ‘crime against peace’ (war in violation of international treaties) which was used to punish the people guilty for starting WW2 in the Nuremburg Tribunal.
The Young Plan, 1929
· Commissioned by Owen D Young, a contribution to the continuing peace, helped Weimar Germany significantly.
· Reduced the pressure on Germany to pay a large amount of reparations payments, because Germany could still not fulfill her financial requirements even after the Dawes Plan – they were too demanding.
· Reduced German reparations to 121 billion marks, payable over 59 years (660 million marks paid per year, the remainder of the payment could be postponed for up to 2 years, which would enable Germany to overcome any temporary economic problems/times of economic hardship)
· As a result of German acceptance, the Allies agreed to evacuate the Rhineland by June 1930.
· Germany were paying back less than they had been under the Dawes Plan, which relieved the strain on her economy and allowed for further financial recovery.
· Unfortunately, between the presentation of the plan and its formal adoption, the Wall Street Crash occurred in October 1929, which forced the USA to recall their loans, plunging Germany into financial turmoil (because they had been too reliant on the USA financially), leading to extremism in Germany and the appointment of Hitler as chancellor.
· Nevertheless, the Dawes and Young Plans were important U.S. efforts that had lasting consequences. Coming so soon after the American rejection of the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations, the Dawes and Young Plans were significant instances of U.S. re-engagement with European affairs. The Young Plan also had a more lasting effect: the Bank for International Settlements, or BIS, continues to operate to this day as a forum for central bank consultation and cooperation.
London Naval Conference, 1930
· Aimed towards taking further steps in naval disarmament, including submarines and smaller warships that were not covered in the 1921 Washington Conference. Basically extended reviewed the treaties of the Washington Conference
· Between USA, Britain, Japan, Italy and France
· Continued the moratorium on building capital ships (‘building holiday’) for five more years
· April 22nd – USA, Britain and Japan signed treaty moving the naval ratio from 5:5:3 to 10:10:7 (10:10:6 for heavy cruisers) – France and Italy excluded themselves from the ratio – France didn’t want to accept parity with Italy – she felt like her defence requirements in the North Sea, Atlantic and Mediterranean meant that she needed sufficiently more naval forces than Italy, who was only a Mediterranean power.
· Because of the depression it wasn’t problematic to enforce – countries didn’t have the money to keep on building ships, but wanted to secure peace and no naval race.
· Made progress with regards to peace and disarmament.
· Met again in 1935 – Japan walked out because they were denied the parity with the USA and Britain that they insisted upon. USA, Britain and France did agree to a 6-year moratorium on building light large cruisers.
The Manchurian Crisis, 1931-1933
· September 1905 – the Treaty of Portsmouth granted Japan control of the South Manchurian Railway in China
· September 17th 1931 – Mukden Incident: Japan occupied Manchurian towns, claiming that China had sabotaged their part of the South Manchurian Railway (historians suspect that the Japanese Kwantung Army did it themselves)
· By February 1932, the Japanese had set up a puppet state of Manchukuo – they had complete control over Manchuria and the Manchurian people. The Chinese government did not put up much resistance, because their main priority was defeating Mao’s communists – preoccupation of this crisis meant that the League of Nations was their only help. They did, however, appeal to the League of Nations (of which Japan was a member of the council), who ordered the Lytton Commission to investigate the incident – it took them a year to report back that Japan were the aggressor (they did not respond quickly or effectively enough – the situation in the area was already quite complex – Japan had a significant presence in Manchuria after the 1905 Russo Japanese War, and China’s control in Manchuria was limited since a revolution against the Emperor in 1911)
· By February 1932, the Lytton Commission reported back that Japan had been the aggressor, and that they should leave the area, and that the state of Manchukuo should not be recognized by other nations. Japan used their VETO powers to block the league’s resolution, withdrew from the League of Nations and went on to continue invading Manchuria and went on to bomb Shanghai. Further Japanese atrocities showed complete disregard for China (e.g. the Rape of Nanking)
· The League of Nations had failed – Britain and the USA were more concerned with their own economies after the depression, and Japan was a vital trading partner so they didn’t want to be too harsh on them – they also had no military force so could only condemn Japan, which didn’t work. The League of Nations were completely powerless, and Eurocentric. They were also scared of Japanese aggression.
· Tony Howarth: “the League of Nations was powerless in the face of a determined aggressor”
· Start of appeasement, although this type of crisis was exactly what the League of Nations was there for – to prevent. Decision was too late, by the time a decision had been made the troops were already mobilized and stable. Collective security in the Far East was dead. Some historians (Samuel Bernis) argue that the crisis was a direct cause of WW2.
Disarmament Conference (Geneva Conference), 1932-1933
· After the effects of the Manchurian crisis had put countries more on the defensive than ever
· 60 nations were represented, including he USA, USSR and Germany. Germany (under rule of Hitler) demanded equality of armaments, and the French refused to consider reducing their armaments until security was assured.
· Set up by the League of Nations, wanted to create a military balance between France and Germany – wanted to disarm to the lowest level – German Government (pre-Hitler) wanted France (600,000) to disarm to Germany’s 100,000, or Germany should be able to rearm. Neither scenario was acceptable to France, because French politicians were aware of Germany’s larger population and industrial capacity. Ramsay MacDonald proposed that all armies should be reduced to 500,000 men, and that France and Germany should have parity.
· Second meeting in Feb 1933 – USA persuaded the four leading European powers to sign an agreement promising “not in any circumstances to attempt to resolve any present or future differences between them by retort to force”.
· Another meeting in June – Britain, France, Italy and USA agreed to sign a four year moratorium on armaments, at the end of which Germany would be allowed equality of armaments – this was not good enough for Germany who demanded parity immediately, so they walked out of the conference
· Problems: The depression reduced the optimistic atmosphere that had been present in the other conferences, Nations were fearful for their own security after the Manchurian Crisis so were not willing to disarm, there was no enforcement or power to observe compliance, all nations would only reduce their weapons if they felt safe enough to do so – when others reduced theirs, there was a lack of co-operation due to other things going on. Disarmament Conference was killed by the German walk out, which was followed by Germany leaving the League of Nations – France was determined to maintain its forces higher than Germany’s. Hitler felt free to rearm openly, which he proceeded to do – conscription was reintroduced in 1935, and he announced that he would build up a peacetime army of 550,000 men.
· Instead of continuing disarmament, it marked the end of disarmament – however, this time Germany were not appeased.
The Abyssinian Crisis, 1935-36
· The League of Nations acted more quickly when Mussolini’s Italian army invaded Abyssinia (Ethiopia) after a humiliating defeat in the Battle of Adowa in which they lost 6000 men to a backward, technologically inferior army. Mussolini saw himself as a modern day Julius Caesar, and wanted to re-boost Italy’s image like he had done during the 1923 Corfu Incident.
· August 16th 1928 – two countries signed the Italo-Ethiopian friendship agreement. Already on 1906 B&F had agreed that Ethiopia should be under a minor sphere of Italian influence.
· In 1934, there was a Somalian/Abyssinian border clash at the Wal-Wal Oasis, which was 150km inside Abyssinia. 30 Italian soldiers died, Mussolini demanded the Oasis as compensation– the Abyssinian Emperor Haile Selassie appealed to the League of Nations and Mussolini went on to invade Abyssinia. The League of Nations sent out a commission and declared that Italy had broken Article 12 of the League of Nations Covenant by “retorting to war within three months of a dispute being referred for arbitration”. Italy was declared the aggressor and the assembly voted to impose sanctions on Italy –the League of Nations banned weapons sales and put sanctions on rubber and metal, as well as prohibiting the import of Italian goods and financial support to Italy.
· The League of Nations didn’t, however, ban steel and oil selling because they were scared of what Mussolini would do.
· This was, however, the harshest action that the League of Nations had taken out upon an aggressor – they had learnt something from the Manchurian incident.
· Mussolini did not like the sanctions and was becoming closer to Hitler, who “watched”. Mussolini left the League of Nations in 1937.
· The Suez Canal, vital for trading, was kept open – Britain and France could have closed it but didn’t want to, because they feared losing him as an ally to Hitler. Sanctions also placed on Abyssinia, who were innocent – this meant that they couldn’t obtain weapons to fight the Italian army.
· European powers were more concerned with Hitler’s troops in the Rhineland than the incident in Abyssinia – Eurocentric, selfish.
· Marked Chamberlain’s abandonment of collective security and the beginning of appeasement.
· AJP Taylor – “The League of Nations died in 1935… it was a useless fraud…Hitler watched”
· JR Western – “The crisis was fatal to the League of Nations, nobody took it seriously again”
· AP Adamthwaite – “Abyssinian Crisis delivered the death blow to the League of Nations… while Britain and France were distracted Hitler was sending 22,000 men into the Rhineland”
The Hoare-Laval Pact, 8th December 1935
· Secret agreement between Samuel Hoare (British Foreign Sec) and French Premier Pierre Laval, in an attempt to solve the Abyssinian Crisis
· Proposed to offer Mussolini 60% of Abyssinia – gave two large areas to Italy and left a ‘camel corridor’ in the middle for Abyssinia. This was done without the consultation of Haile Selassie, the Abyssinian Emperor. In return, Italy would have to stop the war. Some parts would be under Italian control, and some under Italian economic influence.
· The details were leaked, causing public furore.
· Mussolini went on to completely invade Abyssinia, which shattered the hopes and confidence in the League of Nations acting against aggression. The fact that two major League of Nations members were prepared to negotiate with the aggressor was also shocking – B&F didn’t want to get on Mussolini’s bad side.
· Gave Mussolini the impression that Britain and France would not try to stop him if they were offering him Land – AJP Taylor blames this for the reason that the League of Nations was a “sham” and a “failure” – the start of appeasement
· Counter Argument: The pact offered to keep 40% of Abyssinia – without it, Mussolini would have taken 100%, which was what he did. Proposed to give Selassie a part of British Somaliland which would have given Abyssinia access to the sea – trade, imports.
· Italy approached Germany and signed the Rome-Berlin Axis in 1936 – this was what the allies didn’t want, and why the Hoare-Laval Pact was made: as a desperate measure to keep Mussolini apart from Hitler. It failed.