Here is a compilation of term papers on the ‘Roots of the European Crisis’ for class 9, 10, 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short term papers on the ‘Roots of the European Crisis’ especially written for school and college students.
Term Paper on the European Crisis
Term Paper Contents:
- Term Paper on the Pattern of the Settlement of 1919
- Term Paper on the Versailles Treaty — a Harsh Peace
- Term Paper on the Political Stability of Europe after 1919
- Term Paper on the New Democratic Order in Post-1919 Europe
- Term Paper on the Break-Up of the Multinational Empire in Eastern Europe
- Term Paper on Germany — A Permanent Threat to the European System
- Term Paper on the Gustav Stresemann’s Foreign Policy
- Term Paper on the European State System, as Reconstituted in 1919, Lacked Stable Balance of Power
Term Paper # 1. The Pattern of the Settlement of 1919:
The Gradual Break-Up of the Versailles Treaty:
The First World War (1,914-18) was concluded after 1565 days by an armistice in 1918. In 1919 the Allied and Associated Powers concluded the Treaty of Versailles with Germany (June 28th), the Treaty of St. Germain with Austria (September 10th) and the Treaty of Neuilly with Bulgaria (November 27th) and in 1920 the Treaty of Trianon with Hungary (June 4th).
It was not until July 23rd, 1923, that the final Treaty of Peace with Turkey was signed at Lausanne; and with the coming into force of this treaty on August 6, 1924, peace was at last formally reestablished throughout the world. “The time, place, composition, organisation, and procedure of the conference all had some bearing upon what it was able to achieve.”
“Almost every important political event of an international character in the period between the First and Second World Wars was the direct or indirect product of this settlement”; and it is, therefore, essential to begin our study with a brief survey of its most outstanding features. At the outset this did not seem much to matter.
The significant thing then was that Germany had been defeated without Russia’s assistance and the victory was achieved on the Western front and not in the Eastern front. Victory in this area determined the fate of all Europe, if not of all the world. “This unexpected outcome gave Europe a different character from what it had before 1914.” Before 1914 the Great Powers were Europe- oriented. After war among the European Powers, the United States occupied former British position “on the circumference”. Russia had ceased to count as a Great Power.
The Treaty of Versailles had definitely certain special characteristics which determined much of its subsequent history. At the same time it is to be seen how the servitudes imposed on Germany in the Treaty of Versailles had been eventually abrogated — either by agreement or by lapse of time.
The armistice, as is known to us, was accepted by the German military machine on the basis of President Wilson’s Fourteen Points. The treaty was based “on a substructure of genuine idealism”. The territorial rearrangement was made on the basis of this idealism. Nationality and self-determination were given top priority. It was on this principle that the Austrian empire, composed of several nationalities, each having distinct culture of its own was dismembered and new states like Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia came into existence.
The revival of Poland and the territorial enlargement of Italy were definitely triumphs of the principle of nationality. Was this principle consistently implemented? The answer is negative, for, it was an impossible task to avoid leaving Germans under Slavs as in Bohemia, and of Slavs under Italians as in Dalmatia. This was because of the fact that there were nationalities so intermingled with one another that it was practically impossible to draw satisfactory lines of demarcation.
Once self-determination was granted as the guiding principle of the territorial settlement, the union between Germany and Austria would be treated as a faux pas. This the German people could not digest.
Secondly, the German delegates at the Peace Conference were neither allowed to sit nor granted opportunity to negotiate the terms of the Treaty, but forced to sign the treaty. Hence the Germans called the treaty as “a Dictat or a slave-treaty.” The Government of Germany had to accept the terms of the Treaty under pressure of circumstance.
Thirdly, two ideas are, found in the Peace Conference struggling for mastery. The idealistic principles of President Wilson’s Fourteen Points wanted to make a just and lasting peace founded upon an impartial respect for the wishes of the people and a “universal dominion of right.”
But as soon as Germany collapsed the Allied Powers had thrown away the Wilsonian idealism and wanted to be gainer at the cost of the vanquished. This and subsequent events might have urged E. H. Carr to remark “The servitudes imposed on Germany in the Treaty of Versailles were eventually, with few exceptions, abrogated either by agreement, or by lapse of time, or by repudiation on the part of Germany.”
Term Paper # 2. The Versailles Treaty — a Harsh Peace:
Now it is to be seen what was the nature of this servitude and how it was repudiated. The most agonizing point is that in 1919 none of the Allied Powers cared for German problem and some “denied its existence”.
The empire of Germany in Europe was shriveled; her colonies were all taken away and she was impoverished and disarmed. Although the principle of nationality was taken into account as the basis of the Peace Settlement, the principle was carried out at the expense of the defeated nation in favour of the victorious ones. This principle was not applied by Britain in her colonies. Germany was not only deprived of her colonies but also of all interests and trading privileges outside her boundary.
Secondly, “The Polish question was solved in a fashion that left behind a residue of ill-will to trouble Polish-German relations.” The splitting of Germany into two was done by the creation of the Polish Corridor and the cession to Poland. Although Lloyd George advocated for Danzig to become a Free City under a High Commissioner appointed by the League of Nations, the French and the Americans vehemently protested against it and proposed that Danzig should be incorporated in Poland.
Thirdly, Germany was to surrender, according to the stipulations in the Fourteen Points, Alsace and Lorraine to France and agreed to give her the right to exploit the coal-fields of the Saar Valley for a period of fifteen years as compensation for the destruction of her coal-fields in the north. To Belgium came the German areas of Eupen and Malmedy after a show of plebiscite conducted by the Belgian authorities.
In the north Germany lost northern Schleswig which Denmark regained by a plebiscite. On her western frontier Germany lost a portion of West Prussia to form a Polish corridor to the Baltic. The city of Memel went to Lithuania and Prussian Poland was annexed to the newly created state of Poland. Poland also got the best portion of Silesia, containing regions very rich in mineral wealth.
Fourthly, the Treaty sought to destroy German militarism. Her army was reduced to 1,00,000, recruited by voluntary enlistment for a twelve year period of service, and her General Staff was dissolved. She was forbidden to make tanks or military aircraft or heavy artillery. An Allied Commission of Control was set up to supervise the carrying out of these military clauses. The German fleet was to be surrendered to Great Britain.
The fortifications of Heligoland were to be dismantled and the Kiel Canal was to be thrown open to all nations. A belt of territory, thirty miles (48 km.) wide and to the east of the Rhine, was to be demilitarized. Allied forces of occupation would remain in the Rhineland for fifteen years to ensure fulfillment of these obligations. Germany was permitted to maintain a small navy which was not to exceed six battleships of 10,000 tons, six light cruisers, twelve destroyers and twelve torpedo boats. It was not to have submarines.
Fifthly, the African colonies of Germany were distributed under mandate to Britain, France and Belgium. Japan held under mandates the northern Pacific islands and holdings and privileges in China.
Finally, Germany had to acknowledge “responsibility for causing” the Great War and to accept “war guilt”. A huge war-indemnity was imposed on Germany. The payment of reparations was to be determined subsequently by the Reparations Commission which in 1921 eventually fixed it at 1,32,000 million gold marks ($ 33,000 million or £ 6,600 million).
The terms of the Treaty of Versailles had not been able to make Europe safe for democracy and therefore the settlements have been subjected to severe criticism by a host of scholars.
Taylor points out “The peace of Versailles- lacked moral validity from the start; it had to be enforced; it did not, as it were, enforce itself.” This was obviously true in regard to the Germans. No German accepted the Treaty as a fair settlement between equals “without victors or vanquished”.
All Germans wanted to throw overboard some of the terms of the treaty as soon as time was convenient to them. Wilson’s Fourteen Points had not fared well. Only five were implemented in the interest of the Allied Powers and some others were forgotten.
According to J. L. Carvin “Europe was Balkanised, i.e., broken into many fragments jarred by violent antipathies” of the irreclaimable difficulties like Alsace- Lorraine. Again, continental territories acquired by force were tenable by force. The Fourteen Points of Wilson subsequently became the “Fourteen Dis-appointments”. Nevertheless, without active support of America, the Versailles Settlements could not be successfully implemented. But she withdrew. The American Senate did not approve her participation in the Settlement.
Keynes describes the peace as the “Carthagian peace”. Langsam says that the treaty reduced the size of Germany by one-eighth and its- population by 6,50,000. There were other hurdles before the Allies to cross in regard to enforcing the terms of the Settlement. The Allies could threat but that was useless in 1919. Threat to continue the war in 1918 was more forceful than in 1919.
“The economic clauses of the settlement, bearing little relation to economic facts, brought on situations such as a prolonged depression in British ship-building, because the British ‘appropriated most of the German merchant fleet as reparation and thus for a long time needed no new ships.”
The history of events after the Peace of Paris made it clear that the victorious Powers needed later to cooperate in upholding whatever Peace Settlement they had agreed upon at the Peace Conference itself. The validity of this point was soon to be proved when Britain drifted away from France because of her national interest. She sought to revive German markets for her industrial goods, whereas France cherished only one dream — of keeping Germany permanently crippled. And so, after 1920, a succession of German treaty modifications was winked at by one or another of the Allies, as each sought to serve its own purposes.
In concluding the discussion, we can refer to the spirit of revenge that played vital role in the Peace Settlement.
Lloyd George himself introduced the war cry to win the election:
“We shall hang Kaiser and make Germany pay to the last penny.” Both Britain and France were equally guilty by having encouraged Russia in her aggressive action. Both the Governments had given Russia an understanding that they would come to help against Germany and Austria-Hungary.
Term Paper # 3. Political Stability of Europe after 1919:
To begin with, the Great War wiped out at least four imperial governments in Russia, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Germany. Thus pre-war leadership of these countries along with France and Great Britain had gone with the wind. In that place, America in the new world and Japan in Asia rose into prominence. The republicanism was also gone with the resurgence of Germany as a dictatorial power.
The Allies did their best in the Peace Settlement to make an arrangement for distribution of power in Europe so that Germany’s resurgence as an aggressive military power would be out of question. Strangely, this attempt was severely criticized in the later years by Hitler saying other countries would oppose the restoration of Germany as an independent Great Power.
In fact, this arrangement to make Germany perpetually cripple brought about its failure. By 1928, in Poland, Lithuania, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Austria and Yugoslavia the democratic system of Parliamentary Government had been wrecked and replaced by more authoritarian Governments. The economic blizzard of 1929 was enough to destroy the optimism of 1919. The Facist system was introduced in Italy by Mussolini. Gradually it became apparent that the reconstituted Europe would soon be dismantled because of the resurgence of Germany.
In 1933 the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, who patterned some of his policies after those of Mussolini, seemed to foreshadow an Italo-German entente. The prospect for a time worried Italy, and France disliked the idea of reuniting Austria with Germany, but which was persistently argued by Hitler. For strategic and economic reasons Mussolini desired to see Austria independent.
The new German nationalism — as voiced by the Nazis — also affected the mutual relations of the Little Entente, France and the Soviet Union. The impacts of Germany’s resurgence were very many. Both Italy and France were unnerved. They concluded a series of pacts that threatened the entire structure of post-war period. In 1933 Italy and the Soviet Union signed a pact of non-aggression. Then came the turn of France, from the outset a serious handicap to the League of Nations was the refusal of the United States to join it.
It thus lost the moral support and active co-operation of a Great Power. Again, Germany and Russia were as yet not members of the League. Hence, France — who was bent upon securing a guarantee of security against any future attack of Germany on her — could not rely upon the League. Although President Wilson and Lloyd George agreed in principle to give such guarantee to France, the American Senate refused to ratify the President’s pledge and so the projected tripartite treaty came to nothing. France now felt, both cheated and vulnerable and looked eastward in quest of her security.
The first shock to the post-war arrangement was, however, given by Japan. In 1931 she violated the League covenant and the Kellog Pact by occupying the Chinese territory of Manchuria and setting up a puppet state there. China appealed to the League which condemned this act of naked aggression and appointed a Commission under Lord Lytton to report. But the fulmination of the ‘League had no effect on Japan; on the contrary, she withdrew from the League in 1933.
No doubt the defection of Japan was a serious blow to the League. But worse was to come. Germany had begun secretly to arm as soon as Hitler came into power. But after the failure of the Disarmament Conference Hitler left the League of Nations and denounced the clauses of the Treaty of Versailles which charged her with war guilt.
Meanwhile Italy under Mussolini pursued an imperial policy and in 1935 made an unprovoked attack upon Abyssinia, a member of the League. The Emperor of Abyssinia, Haile Selassie, appealed to the League against the act of wanton aggression on the part of Italy. The League declared Italy to be the aggressor and recommended the application of economic sanctions. But the sanctions were applied half-heartedly and so failed in their purpose.
It should be noted that Hitler was encouraged in flouting the League of Nations and in embarking on a policy of wanton aggression by the divergent policies pursued by France and Great Britain with regard to Germany. The two countries drifted apart diplomatically at a time when from the standpoint of practical politics they ought to have co-operated in enforcing the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. This individualistic pursuit of policy was no doubt due to differing conditions.
The French rightly feared more than anything else a revived and vengeful Germany. Hence they were in favour of exerting continuous pressure on Germany in regards to the reparation which they declined to reduce. They needed, therefore, the treaty which to them was the only guarantee of their security. By this means France did her best to hinder the economic recovery of Germany. Again, Germany was equally determined to develop her economy and in this she found Britain as an ideal partner.
Feeling secure in her isolated position and naval strength, Britain was mainly interested in the revival of her trade. Germany had been one of her best customers and so she welcomed any step which might assist Germany’s economic recovery and purchasing power. Hence she opposed taking any step which might prove financially harmful to Germany. It was this divergent policy which enabled Hitler to violate the Treaty of Versailles with impunity arid, subsequently, to make a bid for the hegemony of Europe.
When political freedom was destroyed and rule of law wiped out by Hitler in Germany, the rest of Europe began to throb. Hence the reconstituted Europe lacked the stable balance of power.
Term Paper # 4. The New Democratic Order in Post-1919 Europe:
After the First World War there was an apparent triumph of liberal democracy all over Europe. With the fall of the three old royal dynasties in Europe — the Hohenzollern, the Hapsburg and the Romanoff — democratic constitutions were adopted by almost all the countries of Europe. It was only in Russia that the democratic movement became entangled with Bolshevism.
But within a decade of this triumph of democratic movement, Europe was confronted with the most complete denials of democratic ideals and institutions.
Two types of dictatorship sprang up — the Communists as in Russia and the Fascists as in Italy. Before long, Germany was also gripped by the Nazi dictatorship under Hitler. All these types of dictatorships — although holding different views on some of the vital problems of the day — were at one in their denunciation of the fundamental ideas of democracy such as individual freedom, freedom of speech and the press and the rights of the people to participate in the government.
They stood for a totalitarian State and single-party government. The rapid spread of these new ideas and concepts constituted a serious challenge to the democratic ways of Western Europe.
In fact, by 1928, democratic systems of parliamentary government had broken down or had been replaced by more authoritarian governments in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Austria, Yugoslavia, Poland and Lithuania. Most of these new states came into existence after the First World War culminating the triumph of the nationalistic principle.
Over the greater part of Europe, nationalism was the mainspring and the spirit of nationalism, according to Ketelbey, “helped to breed Fascism in Italy and National Socialism in Germany. It captured Russian Bolshevism; it was the dominant factor in Japan, the power that awakened China, the anchor of the new Turkey.”
But David Thomson puts it in a different way. According to him “the shallow roots of the new democratic constitutions” were the by-product of “the ineptitudes of parliamentary politicians.” The unsettled economic and social conditions after war could not be settled by these politicians. Again, the strong Parliamentary government of the countries where it was deep-rooted was threatened by the “economic blizzard of 1929”.
Again, the “Fascist system set up by Mussolini and his Black shirts in Italy” has been successful in improving, at least in the initial stage, internal law and order and promoting Italian national interests. But Fascism was at odds with communism and was determined to arrest its progress. The result was that something like a triangular contest began to rage between the ideological forces of Communism, Fascism and Democracy.
Thomson reminds us that “Respect for authoritarianism, even’ in Britain and France was strengthened in these years by their own experience of the need to abandon normal parliamentary procedures in an effort to meet the Great Depression.” There is no denying the fact that the democratic system is slow and corrupted. On the other hand, the authoritarian system, at least for a period of short time, is very efficient in putting the unkempt economy of a country from the wrong track to the right one.
Misdemeanors on the part of the government officials are treated with stem step which cannot be possible in democratic system. As in the case of Germany the emergence of Nazism and its fine application by dictatorial authority transformed war-battered Germany as a highly developed country within a very short time. 1929 showed the real weakness of the German Republic. Stresemann died leaving his work of political rehabilitation unfinished, and the great world slump of 1929 gripped an already enfeebled Germany, making all classes desperate.
Stresemann’s death left the Republic without efficient leadership at a time when it was urgently needed. The people felt crushed and disillusioned. Thus a situation was produced which gave Hitler and his Nazis a unique opportunity to come to power. The extraordinary emergency was to be tackled with “some form of constitutional dictatorship and the path was shown by President Roosevelt by making “considerable extension of presidential authority” in his New Deal and also by President Hindenburg by using his special powers under Article 48.
But Britain and France had acted differently. In Britain the Crown had emergency authority. But the Parliament there is more forceful. During the economic crisis caused by world slump, the National Government of Ramsay MacDonald “was given emergency powers by five separate enabling acts.” In France, though “emergency delegation of law making power by parliament to the Cabinet” was the main device, the government was given a limited period and “for specific purposes, to issue decree laws which became immediately operative but could later be annulled by parliament.”
The power was given to several prime ministers right from 1926 to 1940 and during this period hundreds of decree-laws were passed. But till, then the “control of parliament over government was retained.” Pierre Laval first misused the authority. He issued 500 decree-laws which “exposed the dangers of the device”. Surrender of all law-making power to the Executive authority took place during the Prime Ministership of Edouard Daladier.
(i) The Bolshevik Challenge:
Bolshevism is both a political and economic movement. Its political creed is the dictatorship of the Proletariat, that is, of the manual workers. It does not recognise any class other than the workers, and so its policy is to root out all other classes who may dispute the authority of the proletariat. Rule of the working class, and not political democracy, is what Bolshevism stands for.
Its economic creed is based upon Marxian socialism. It seeks to overthrow the social order based upon capitalism. This implies the abolition of all private capital and the nationalisation of land and other instruments of production and here lies the Bolshevik challenge to capitalist countries of the West.
The programme of Soviet Communist Party, according to Langsam, smacks of treason against the capitalist countries of the West. It consisted of overthrowing the existing world order; establishment of dictatorship of Proletariat; the creation of a world federation of Soviet Republics and finally the achievement of a universal communist society.
To fulfill this mission, Communists from every country of the globe were invited in March 1919 in Moscow. In this way Third (First Communist) International or Comintern came into existence. This organisation, Ketelbey identifies as “menace of Bolshevism” to Asia as well as Europe. “The Communist International regarded itself as the general staff of the world revolution. It caused panic among the foreign governments. Specially in the Baltic States and in Germany and Hungary the Comintern began extending all kinds of assistance to secret Communist organisations to foment violence”.
From 1918 to 1921 the Soviet Government’s policy was to take necessary steps so that world revolution could take place. But so long the Communists of Russia were struggling in their country to achieve success of Russian experiment they — and in particular Stalin — disliked the idea of toppling foreign governments by revolution. Russia’s official name became the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1923.
After the rise of Nazism in Germany and also for the improvement of their internal economic situation the Soviets came to terms with the bourgeois world. But at the same time the Comintern did not stop altogether endeavours for overthrowing capitalist governments of other countries.
(ii) The Rise of Facism:
Parliamentary government after the World War in Italy had only a limited success. The country as a whole was not ready for it. Besides, it retained much of its local and individualistic attitude and so required a strong unifying force for the development of a national outlook. It was this urgent need that formed the background of the rise of Fascism. But, the more definite and immediate cause of this new movement is to be found in the state of Italy after the Great War.
Although Italy was a member of the Triple Alliance, she did not join Germany in the World War I. By the Secret Treaty of London signed in May 1915 Italy entered into war on the side of the Allies in return for the offer of certain territories. After the War she was given the Tyrol, Trieste, part of the Dalmatian coast, and certain islands of Aegean and Adriatic seas.
This failed to satisfy the appetite of Italy. Being weaker in natural resources and industrial development, Italy felt the burden of war more acutely than Britain or France. About 6,00,000 Italian soldiers lost their lives during the war. The Italian exchequer was drained and a large debt accumulated.
Hence, there was a general sense of disappointment at the treatment accorded to Italy by the Peace Conference of Paris. There were many ardent patriots who felt that Italy had been insufficiently compensated for her efforts and sacrifices in the war. They wanted the Government to take up a strong line and to be less conciliatory in its attitude towards foreign affairs.
In 1919, when strikes and industrial revolt took place in North and brigandage broke out in the South, the government under Nitti and then under Giolitti proved incapable of dealing with the situation and its prestige was badly shaken. Bold leadership was the need of the hour and this was eventually supplied by the Fascists.
Exploiting the situation, the Communists occupied the factories in Northern Italy and tried to run them. They appointed managers, made arrangements for the exchange of raw materials and began to produce. But within a few days, production came to nought.
Poor before she was poorer now because of war expenditures. A social revolution seemed to threaten the country and it looked for some years as if Italy might go Communist. The nationalists and patriots believed in the existing social order wanted to save the country from the menace of Communism even by force, if necessary. They were disgusted with the Government for its inability to suppress disorder, and were determined to undertake the task which the authorities had failed to perform.
In the elections of 1919 the Communists had won 156 parliamentary Seats and they disallowed to carry on normal functions of the parliament. At this stage a body of enthusiasts arose who came to be known as Fascists. Their leader was Benito Mussolini, a journalist and an ex-socialist. The Fascists were so-called because they organised themselves into a group or fascio (bundle) like the faces or bundle of rods once carried by the Roman lictor as emblematic of the authority of the State. They adopted the black as a sort of uniform and drilled themselves in quasi-military companies.
“Italian Fascism was in origin partly an answer to Communism, and wrested victory from it. It was a primary impulse towards integration and order and strong government, spontaneously arising from chaos.” Soon Italy became the battleground between the Socialists and the Fascists, while the Government looked helplessly on, unable to suppress either of these two forms of lawlessness.
But the efforts of the Fascists to save Italy from Communism and to lift her out of anarchy appealed to the solid conservative elements in the country with the result that Fascism grew in number and power. They set up Fascist clubs all over Italy and attacked the communists everywhere, meeting violence with violence. Feeling that the wind was favourable Mussolini effected a Fascist coup d’ etat.
In 1922 when Geolitti’s ministry resigned, Mussolini was emboldened to stage a “March on Rome”. He sent to Rome an army of 30,000 of his black-shirted followers. “He himself travelled by train, wearing a bowler hat.” The show of force was enough to win him the backing of non-Fascists deputies (400) and to avert a ruinous civil war King Victor Emanuel III wisely accepted the revolution and offered the premiership to Mussolini who at once formed a cabinet. Fascism had conquered the Government and Mussolini became its de facto head.
Term Paper # 5. The Break-Up of the Multinational Empire in Eastern Europe:
The simultaneous defeats of Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary in the First World War resulted in a complete redrawing of the map of the eastern marchlands, from the White Sea to the Black Sea. The Baltic states of Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania gained complete independence from Russia. Poland was reconstituted; the Hapsburg Empire disintegrated into a number of separate Danubian States.
The defeat of Turkey brought about a catastrophic change of the power-relationships of states — within Europe. The pre-war hegemony of the Central European powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary was for a time utterly destroyed, but it had been destroyed only by bringing to bear upon European relations the mobilised strength not only of Russia and Western Europe but also of the overseas empires of these powers of the United States and in minor ways of Japan and South America.
The peace settlement fragmented Europe. Before 1914, Europe comprised of 19 States and, after 1919, there were 26 States. Many of these States were so small that from an economic point of view they could not sustain themselves and economics played an even more important role after 1919 than it had before the opening of the War. When those small States were seized by a tariff psychosis, their policies seriously interfered with the flow of goods from one part of Europe to another.
The fragments of dismembered Poland had been reassembled from Russia, Germany and Austria into a new whole state of twenty-seven million people. To the south lay the new composite republic of Czechoslovakia, formed out of Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia, Silesia and Ruthenia (most of them formerly Austrian provinces) and containing a mixed population of fourteen million Czechs, Slovaks, Germans, Magyars, Ruthernians, Poles and Jews. An independent but smaller state was Hungary, and Austria, with six million inhabitants, appeared to be a purely German province of Vienna and its neighbourhood.
A large belt made of small and weak buffer States stretched from the Baltic to the Balkans, dividing Germany from Russia. The Balkans was also broken into several small states, three of whom, namely Yugoslavia, Rumania and Greece, had made considerable gains from the War. Yugoslavia, composed of several nationalities like the Croats, Serbs and Slovenes formed a United Kingdom.
Part of Hungary, Russia and Bulgaria formed Rumania. Greece was another State which had kept the Aegean Coast and Turkey still retained her foothold in Europe, though she transferred her capital in 1923 to Ankara, in Asia Minor.
Nationalism and self-determination were the guiding principles in devising these new States. Austria was made to cede to Italy Trieste, Istria and the Tyrol up to the strategic frontier of the Brenner Pass. Czechoslovakia secured from Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and parts of Lower Austria. Rumania received Bukovina. Bosnia, Harzegovina and Dalmatia were given to Yugoslavia.
Dismembering Hungary, Slovakia was given to Czechoslovakia, Croatia to Yugoslavia and Transylvania to Rumania. This made Hungary dissatisfied, particularly for her frontiers. Although Carr has identified this as “minor injustices” but during the inter-war period Hungary made this injustice as the main object of her propaganda.
The entire settlement in Eastern Europe made further complicated the frontiers among the new born states. Some of the States had no economic outlets to sea. As for instance, Bulgaria and Poland demanded territorial corridor. The Allies offered a free zone for Bulgaria in one of the Greek ports. The Bulgarians preferred “no bread to half a loaf” and eventually nothing was done in this respect.
Term Paper # 6. Germany — A Permanent Threat to the European System:
The most tantalizing question after the First Great War was how to restrain Germany from destroying future peace of Europe. In the Versailles Treaty several hard provisions were imposed on Germany, but these eventually became boomerang. Germany had never digested this insult. The drastic and severe terms imposed by the Peace Treaties upon the defeated parties clearly show what was uppermost in the minds of the victors, viz., horror of the recent past, fear of the near future, and vindictiveness.
But the measures taken against Germany is best expressed in the adage, “To the victors belong the spoils.” Although the principle of nationality was invoked as the basis of the peace settlement, it is noteworthy that the principle was carried out at the expense of the defeated nations in favour of the victorious ones. By the application of this principle the Central Powers were mulcted in territory so that they might not again prove dangerous in the near future. The colonies of Germany went to swell the possessions of the big Allied powers.
It is idle to expect that a great nation like Germany would submit for an indefinite period to discrimination in the matter of armaments and other matters. Belgium, a tiny state, should be superior to Germany in armaments and soldiers seem absurd. Moreover, by the creation of the Polish Corridor, Germany was splitted into two and the cession to Poland of large slice of the industrial area of Silesia were arrangements most offensive to German pride.
That the Germans should be deprived through compulsion of the conquests of Frederick the Great was of all the conditions of the treaty the one most calculated to urge them to look forward to another war. Again, when huge indemnity was threatened to impose on Germany, her natural resources were materially reduced. This was really a serious hurdle to national recovery, making it impossible to realise the indemnity.
The post-war situation which the new German Republic had to face was one of extreme difficulty. The Republic had begun its career by accepting the Treaty of Versailles with all its humiliation and so the new regime was regarded with disfavour by many. Under Stresemann’s guidance Germany from 1923 to 1929 shared in the general recovery of Europe.
With the advent of Stresemann to power in 1923 the German Republic seemed to gain in strength and stability but with his departure in 1929 due to death Germany was left leaderless. In 1929 another deadly blow had hit Germany and that was the great World Slump. This gripped an already enfeebled Germany, making all classes desperate.
Rise of Nazism:
The situation developed in Germany paved the way for the rise of Nazism under Hitler. The Nazi Revolution or the National Socialist Revolution in Germany “was at first regarded as an imitation of Italian Facism.” This shaped the future of Germany for another few years which paved the way for a greater catastrophe.
Germany’s defeat and surrender in 1918, her loss of prestige, over and above, the humiliation of the treaty of the war-guilt clause deeply hurt German national sentiment. Finding the Government a scapegoat for their suffering they threw away the government. The war-strained, underfed people felt crushed and disillusioned. They set up in 1919 a Parliamentary Republican Government at Weimar and struggled to deal with immense internal and external drudgery which lay before them.
But the Parliamentary system and complications of a party system were unknown to the Germans. They had no previous experience of this type of government. Hence they longed “for a leadership which would restore their self-respect and their pride, and provide them with a direction which would give them escape from their confusion and satisfaction for their emotions, good and evil.”
In addition to this, the foreign powers who inflicted defeat on Germany demanded — with varying degrees and kinds of pressure — fulfillment of the treaty provisions. During the first four years (1919-23) Germany tried her best to evade or refuse fulfillment of treaty terms. But France and Belgium, being antagonised, occupied Ruhr and this increased Germany’s “misery and humiliation”.
However, Stresemann tried his best to elevate Germany from her misery by seeking the favour of foreign powers, especially of the United States of America. Germany accepted foreign supervision of her finances, signed the Locarno Treaty guaranteeing France’s western frontier. She received, in return, foreign capital and Versailles terms began to be modified. In 1926 the first of the three occupied Rhineland zones was evacuated. Germany was admitted into the League of Nations with a permanent seat on the Council. But the world economic depression of 1929-31 threw Germany overboard.
In 1930 Bruning took the charge of German Government but fell in May 1932. He was replaced by Franz von Papen who was subsequently arrested on June 30, 1934 and removed from office and then in December 1932 took control of the Government by von Schleicher. “On January 30th, 1933, Hitler became German Chancellor and the Reichstag was dissolved for a fresh general election.”
By birth an Austrian citizen, Hitler had enlisted in the German army and in it he served throughout the First Great War. Although he was in power, his position was not yet assured. To ensure success something spectacular had to be staged. The timely burning of the Reichstag provided an opportunity. It was falsely attributed to the Communists and Hitler utilised this event to justify strong measures against them. He then induced the Reichstag to delegate all its power to him as Chancellor and to his cabinet. Thus did the Reichstag delegate all its power to him as Chancellor and to his cabinet.
Term Paper # 7. Gustav Stresemann’s Foreign Policy:
The occupation of Ruhr by France cannot be regarded as without effect on Germany. This was definitely a turning point in the post-war history of Europe. By September 1923 German resistance was broken. A new ministry has just taken office in Berlin, under Gustav Stresemann, a politician hitherto unknown abroad, being Chancellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs. To Stresemann fell the task of bringing passive resistance to an end. The occupation of Ruhr taught the French the folly of coercion, it also taught the Germans the folly of resistance. The occupation was ended with surrender by Germany, not by France.
Stresemann came to power with the avowed policy of fulfilling the treaty. Prof. Gordon Craig in this connection had remarked that “For the German Republic, the six years that began in 1924 were marked by success in foreign policy and failure in domestic policy. These were the years in which Stresemann’s diplomacy effected the removal of nearly all of the restrictions imposed by the peace treaty upon German sovereignty….”.
The above remark reveals that a fundamental transformation of German foreign policy took place in 1924. Stresemann was a symbol of status quo and balance of power. Though he was conservative and passionate follower of Welt Politik, during the First World War he supported the German policy of expansion. But the failure of the rightist insurrection changed his political attitude. He became a radical.
This did not mean that he accepted the French interpretation of the treaty or that he would acquiesce in the French demands. It meant only that he would defend German interest by negotiations, not by resistance. Stresemann was as determined as the most extreme nationalist to get rid of the whole treaty lock, stock and barrel — reparations, German disarmament, the occupation of the Rhineland and the frontier with Poland.
Stresemann intended to do this by the persistent pressure of events, not by threats, still less by war. To support this view we can refer to the remarks of Prof. A. J. P. Taylor. According to him, where other Germans insisted that revision of the treaty was necessary for the revival of German power, Stresemann believed that the revival of German power would inevitably lead to revision of the treaty.
Therefore, we can say that he wanted to satisfy his goal by not taking the path of friction which he thought was anti-German in interest. Taylor has, therefore, compared him with Bismarck. Stresemann believed that peace was in Germany’s interest and this belief entitles him to rank with Bismarck as a great German and even as a great European statesman.
There was a great outcry in Allied countries against Stresemann after his death when the publication of his papers revealed clearly his intention to destroy the existing treaty settlement. The outcry was grotesquely unjustified. It was inconceivable that any German could accept the Treaty of Versailles as a permanent settlement. The only question was whether the settlement would be revised and Germany becomes again the greatest power in Europe, peacefully or by war. Stresemann wanted to do it peacefully. He thought this — the safer, the more certain and the more lasting way to German predominance.
Stresemann’s task was more difficult because he had to work at a new foreign policy and it is the point of his success that while he was alive Europe moved towards peace and treaty revisions at the same time. Though, the achievement was not due to Stresemann alone. Allied Statesmen also contributed their part. Stresemann suggested a pact of peace between France and Germany guaranteed by Great Britain and Italy.
This was wonderfully attractive to the British. A guarantee against an unarmed aggressor offered exactly even-handed justice. The proposal was equally attractive to the Italians who had been treated as cipher ever since the war and now found themselves elevated to the British level as arbiters between France and Germany.
In 1925, when Briand assumed the charge of French Foreign Minister, he deflated Stresemann’s moral lead by proposing that Germany should promise to respect all her frontiers, east as well as west.
This was, in fact, an impossible condition for the German Government. It might be tolerated but could not be confirmed. Stresemann stretched conciliation a long way in German eyes when he agreed to conclude treaties of arbitration with Poland and Czechoslovakia. Even so, he added that Germany intended to revise her frontiers with these two countries in future.
Here was a gaping hole in the system of security — an open repudiation by Stresemann of Germany’s eastern frontier.
To solve the reparation problem a committee was formed under the leadership of the American Charles Dawes. In order to make German economy stable, Dawes Committee preoccupied itself with the reestablishment of German currency without which foreign payments by Germany were clearly out of the question. The committee recommended the creation of a new currency and huge amount of American loan which definitely stabilised economic condition of Germany. This was made possible because of Stresemann’s diplomacy.
Next, Stresemann paid his attention to settle the dispute with France. Stresemann proposed a Franco-German treaty and German-Belgium treaty guaranteeing the frontier of the two countries. Britain and Italy verbally accepted the agreement. In 1926 Germany was inducted in the League of Nations as a full-fledged permanent member. By this time Locarno Treaty was concluded in 1925 and by this treaty Germany was treated as equal, not as the defeated enemy.
The organizers of the Locarno kept the door open for the revision of the Eastern frontier. Prof. Taylor describes Locarno “as the greatest triumph of appeasement to Germany.” Exploiting the situation Stresemann compelled the Allied powers to reduce their army in Germany to 60,000 and in 1927 the I.M.C. Commission was taken back.
In 1928 Stresemann concluded Kellog-Briand Pact which was essentially an anti-war treaty. Besides it was made possible by the strenuous labour of Stresemann to abolish anti-German provisions of Versailles Treaty. And the Allied army was taken back from Rhineland.
From the above discussion it comes to our notice that the foreign policy of Stresemann succeeded though it failed to satisfy both the Leftist and Rightist parties of Germany.
So to say that, his success in foreign policy did not ensure the internal balance as well as status quo. Perhaps this failure has lured Prof. Taylor to remark that Stresemann, with the best of intentions, gave the Germans a taste for blood which the enemies of the Republic could easily satisfy. It is true that Stresemann did not introduce any programme of social revolution and, therefore, his measures ended in a fiasco.
Term Paper # 8. European State System, as Reconstituted in 1919, Lacked Stable Balance of Power:
The international situation that confronted the peace-makers in Paris was, in the brutal realities of history, a result of a temporary redistribution of balance of power in the world. The simultaneous military and political collapse of the Old Russian, Turkish, Austro-Hungarian and German empires and the armed victory of the alliance of Western Powers brought about a catastrophic change of the power-relationship of states within Europe. The pre-war hegemony of central European powers of Germany and Austro-Hungary was for a time utterly destroyed.
The peacemakers, in reality, were confronted by two supreme tasks. They had to make a settlement with Germany which, so far as they could contrive, would perpetuate a distribution of power in Europe which was unfavourable to German resurgence as an aggressive military state. They also had to redraw the map of central and Eastern Europe in a way which replaced the old dynastic frontiers — by new frontiers based on realities of national grouping, of economic viability, and of military security.
These two tasks were in many ways distinct; but in certain important respects they were interconnected.
Thus they could attempt to weaken Germany permanently by depriving her of important territories in the East in the name of granting the right of self- determination to Poles, and of possible allies in the East by a system of alliances between the Western Powers and the new so-called ‘successor states’ of Eastern’ Europe. But, in general, the peace-makers were inclined to deal with Eastern and Western issues as relatively distinct problems to be solved by different methods.
The newly created European state system, as reconstituted in 1919 whether lacked a stable balance of power or not could be understood only if we review the treatment of Germany vis-a-vis the Western Powers and the reshaping of Eastern Europe according to principles of national self-determination and security.
The stipulations of, Versailles Treaty compelled Germany to cede in the South Europe a small strip of territory to the new state of Czechoslovakia and was debarred from uniting with Austria. In the East, Germany ceded to the principal allied and Associated Powers for eventual transfer to Lithuania the port of Memel and its hinterland. To Poland she ceded the most part of the province of Posen and a corridor (named Polish Corridor) of some 40 miles (64 kms) giving access to the sea in fulfillment of the thirteenth of the “Fourteen Points”. It included part of West Prussia from the rest of Germany.
Danzig, a German town and a natural port was given to Poland but became a ‘Free City’. Poland also got the best portion of Silesia, containing regions very rich in mineral wealth. German army was reduced to 1,00,000 men and her General Staff was dissolved.
She was forbidden to make tanks or military aircraft or heavy artillery. She ceded the coal mines of Saar to France and she had to pay a huge amount of war indemnity to the Allied Powers. Her economic resources were further strangled by taking away all her rights and titles over her colonies.
From the above it comes to our knowledge that Germany was crippled and her strength was reduced to a great extent so that she could not take any place to constitute a balance of power in Eastern Europe. On the other hand, by the treaty of Saint Germain, the Austria-Hungary Empire was dismembered. Her union with Germany was forbidden and she was made to cede to Czechoslovakia, Bohemia, Moravia, Austrian Silesia and parts of lower Austria; to Romania Bukovina, to Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Harzegovina and Dalmatia.
The new Austria, as a result, was but a fragment of the old. Hungary had to cede to Romania, the other half of the Habsburg Empire. Romania alone got more territory than the total that she had and 3 million Magyars were placed under foreign rule. The new Hungary was a constricted land-locked relic of the past. Bulgaria was cut back to roughly her frontiers of 1914.
The chief beneficiaries of the settlement in South-Eastern Europe were thus Serbia which transformed to the new southern Slav kingdom of Yugoslavia, which now rivaled Italy in the Adriatic. Czechoslovakia, comprising Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia and Ruthenia etc. doubled in size by accretions of territories from all her neighbours including Russia.
The settlement with Turkey was more complex and it involved new problems for the great powers. During the period, Balfour, the then British Foreign Secretary, came to a secret understanding with the Jewish Zionist Federation to give them Palestine taking from Turkey.
Even apart from the novel and unpredictable consequences for the balance of power in Europe, of the new Turkey and the new forces of Arab and Jewish nationalism, the resettlement of Eastern Europe created nearly as many difficulties as it removed. It greatly increased the number of middle-sized powers such as Poland, Yugoslavia and Romania. As a result, it created a host of new national minorities.
So great was the ethnic and national intermixture in Eastern Europe no tidy national boundaries could be drawn. In an attempt to alienate this unavoidable grievance, the powers induced all the ‘successor’ states to enter into treaty obligations to respect the rights of national minorities shared any willingness to undertake corresponding obligations. Germany and Poland in a special convention signed a Treaty at Geneva in 1922. Many other states entered into similar undertaking, usually under pressure. Former enemy states — such as Austria and Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey — concluded peace treaty.
There thus grew up the new international phenomenon of a whole network of special agreements in which sovereign states promised to respect a variety of minority rights — religious; judicial, linguistic, cultural, political and economic.
At this stage Prof. David Thomson raises a pertinent question that how these rights were to be granted and how the obligations were to be enforced? Despite forming a Minority’s Commission of the League of Nations, the intricate complications could not be settled. So what we find from the Treaty of Versailles, followed by other treaties, that the Eastern Europe, in particular, became a land composed of small independent states having so many difficulties hard to solve.
Initially attempt was taken to form national states but the mixture of different nationals were so acute that it was next to impossible to find out any state having a single national entity. Obviously these small states again lacked national security, as it can best be elaborated, that security problem remained as before.
So a question may be asked whether the dismemberment of Austria-Hungary Empire was justifiable? Obviously there were severe movements in Austria- Hungary Empire by different nationalities for making independent states of their own, but they were unaware about their economic and security position if they got independence. Germany did not dare to launch any attack on Poland if Poland would have been within the orbit of the old Turkish Empire.
But the triumph of democracy and nationalism in the First World War was desisted the maintenance of imperialism, particularly for the defeated powers. However, for the victorious powers like Britain and France, imperialism was their mainstay.
So it is found that in place of reconstituting European State system it would have been better if they would have remained within their old empire and in that case possibility of the Second World War would have been remote. These small states of Eastern Europe, without facility of security, lured Hitler to annex these countries within Germany.