History of The International Relations between Two Wars!
On 7 September 1920, a Military Convention was signed between Belgium and France. On 19 February 1921, the Franco-Polish Treaty of Alliance was signed.
It was provided that in the event of an attack from Germany, France could count upon help from Poland in the East and Belgium in the West In 1924 a Treaty of Alliance was made between France and Czechoslovakia.
In 1920, a Treaty of Friendship was signed between France and Rumania by which both the countries promised to consult each other in all matters which might threaten their external security. A similar Treaty was entered into between France and Yugoslavia in 1927.
- Locarno Pact:
- Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928)
- The Little Entente
- Four Power Pacts
- German-Polish Declaration of 1934
- The Balkan Pact of 1934
- Rome Protocols of 1934
- The Baltic Pact
- The Stresa Declaration of 1935
- Laval-Mussolini Pact
- Franco-Russian Alliance (1955)
- Naval Agreement between Germany and Britain
- Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis
- The Steel Pact of 1939
- Non-Aggression Pact of 1939 between Russia and Germany
- Pact between United Kingdom and Poland
1. Locarno Pact:
The Locarno Pact of 1925 was an expression of the common weariness of the French; British and German people on account of the struggles which had continued without interruption from the time of the Peace Settlement to the occupation of the Ruhr Valley During that period Great Britain had tried to restore a balance of power. French policy had tried to hold Germany within the limits of the Treaty of Versailles until such time as Great Britain was prepared to guarantee her security.
During the same period, German statesmen had tried to exploit, the Anglo- French differences in order to escape from the chains of the Treaty of Versailles. In this triangular struggle, France came, out successful and British policy proved to be a failure. The occupation of the Ruhr Valley brought about the economic ruin of Germany.
However, German resistance proved that although France had the upper hand she had gained nothing substantially by 1924, the French found themselves dangerously isolated. The value of franc began to fall. It was found that the occupation of the Ruhr Valley had brought nothing but a harvest of hatred. Germany was also completely exhausted. Great Britain felt that unless she was prepared to make war against France, she had to meet the legitimate demand of France for security. Thus there was a move for a compromise for the first time since 1919.
The Labour Government in Britain was also inclined towards a settlement between France and Germany. The coming to power of Briand in France also facilitated the task. He was favourably inclined towards Germany. Stresemann was the greatest supporter of Franco-German collaboration. Great Britain offered to safeguard the Franco-German frontier against aggression by Germany or by France.
When negotiations started in the summer of 1925, it was agreed to put the frontier between Germany and Belgium on the same footing as between Germany and France. The guarantee was to apply to the Rhineland as well. Italy offered to guarantee the frontier along with Great Britain. As a part of the settlement. Germany was to join the League of Nations and get a permanent seat on the Council of the League.
It was in this atmosphere that delegates from Germany, France, Great Britain Italy, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Belgium met at Locarno from 5 October to 16 October 1925 and seven treaties were signed there. There was a Treaty of Mutual Guarantee of Franco-German and Belgo- German frontiers between Germany, Belgium, France, Great Britain and Italy.
There were arbitration conventions between Germany and Belgium and Germany and France. There were arbitration Treaties between Germany and Poland, and Germany and Czechoslovakia. There were also Franco-Polish and Franco-Czechoslovakian Treaties for mutual assistance in case of aggression by Germany.
The major treaty referred to the western frontier of Germany with France and Belgium and secured the same. It was provided that the powers “collectively and severally”, guaranteed both “the maintenance of territorial status quo resulting from the frontiers between Germany and Belgium and Germany and France” as fixed by the Treaty of Versailles.
The de-militarisation of the German territory west of a line drawn 50 kilometers east of the Rhine, as stipulated in the Treaty of Versailles, was also guaranteed. Germany, Belgium and France agreed that they would, in no case, attack or invade each other or resort to war against each other, except in legitimate defence in case of flagrant breach of the demilitarisation formula, in fulfillment of the sanctions of Article 16 of the Covenant of the League of Nations or as a result of the action of the League against a state which was the first to attack a member of that body.
They also undertook to settle by peaceful means, “all questions of every kind which may arise between them and which it may not be possible to settle by the normal methods of diplomacy.” All the signatories to the Treaty pledged themselves to help that state which was the victim of aggression. If the question of the violation of the Treaty was a doubtful one, the matter was to be referred to the Council of the League for final disposal. The Treaty was to come into force only after the entry of Germany into the League of Nations and was to remain in force till such time as the Council of the League by a two-thirds majority might decide that the League “ensures sufficient protection to the High Contracting Parties.”
The four arbitration treaties and conventions provided that all disputes between Germany and other signatories “which it may not be possible to settle amicably by the normal methods of diplomacy, shall be submitted for decision either to an arbitration tribunal, or to the Permanent Court of International Justice”.
However, this provision was not to apply “to disputes arising out of the events prior to the present convention and belonging to the past”, and it was not binding in the case of the problems which arose out of the Peace Settlement. The Franco-Polish and France-Czechoslovak Treaties provided that if the signatories to the main treaties were made to suffer from a failure to observe the undertakings of Locarno, they would “lend each other immediate aid and assistance if such a failure is carried by an unprovoked recourse to arms.”
The Locarno Pact made a distinction between the German frontier on the west and the German frontier on the east. While the western frontier of Germany was guaranteed to be sacred and both Great Britain and Italy came forward to guarantee the same, that was not true of the eastern frontier of Germany with Poland and Czechoslovakia. It was implicitly conceded that the eastern frontier of Germany was not based on justice and Germany would be justified in asking for its revision.
However, she was not to resort to war to get the same changed and was to follow the method of arbitration to achieve her objective. Obviously, that led to the grading of the frontiers of Germany. The Locarno Treaties were a violation of the Treaty of Versailles and were a recognition of the fact that the Peace Settlement of 1919-1920 was not based on justice. However, it cannot be denied that the Locarno Treaties lessened the tension between France and Germany for some time to come. The Locarno Pact was violated in 1936 when Hitler ordered the German troops to occupy the Rhineland.
The Locarno Pact gave satisfaction to France as the frontier between France and Germany was accepted by Germany. France would have liked to have similar guarantees regarding the eastern frontier of Germany as that involved the security of the states who were the members of the Little Entente. Great Britain and Italy were not prepared to give such a guarantee with regard to Eastern Europe and that left scope for German aggression on her eastern borders.
Germany was prepared to put up with the loss of Alsace, Lorraine, Eupen and Malmedy, but the loss of Danzig, the Polish Corridor and Upper Silesia remained what Schuman called a “festering wound in the hearts of all patriots and none could abandon the hope of recovering these territories in future. Their recovery however demanded a new dismemberment of resurrected Poland and behind Poland stood France and the Little Entente, firmly resolved to maintain frontiers as they were.” What Germany agreed at Locarno was that she would not resort to force for the revision of her eastern frontier and nothing more.
The states in Eastern Europe highly disapproved of the differentiation between the Rhine and the Vistula frontiers made by the Great Powers. The Soviet Union looked upon the Locarno agreements with suspicion and distrust.
The unwillingness of Great Britain and the refusal of Germany to guarantee the eastern frontiers was an eye-opener to the Soviet diplomats. Four days before the signing of the Locarno Pact a new trade agreement was signed between Germany and the Soviet Union. This was described as the anti-Locarno Pact by the western democracies. In April 1926 a non-aggression pact was signed between Germany and the Soviet Union.
Briand referred to the importance of the Locarno Pact in these words: “Peace for Germany and for France;” that means that we have done with the long series of terrible and sanguinary conflicts which have stained the pages of history. We have done with black veils of mourning for suffering that can never be appeased, done with war, done with brutal and sanguinary methods of settling our disputes. True, differences between us still exist but henceforth, it will be for the judge to declare the law. Away with rifles, machine-guns, cannons, clear the way for conciliation, arbitration and peace!
Gathorne Hardy says that the immediate effect on international relations in Europe was most unfavourable. The sense of improved security which the British guarantee implanted in the minds of Frenchmen and Germans had great importance. “Locarno Pact was a most effective and formidable- looking scare-crow,” which went far to justify the opinion of its creator, Mr. Austen Chamberlain, that “its erection marked the real dividing line between the years of war and the years of peace.
The view of E H Carr is that in the long run, the Locarno Treaty was destructive both of the Versailles Treaty and of the Covenant of the League. It encouraged both the view that the Versailles Treaty, unless confirmed by other engagement of a voluntary character, lacked binding force and the view that Governments could not be expected to take military action in defence of frontiers in which they themselves were not directly interested. Ten years later, nearly all Governments appeared to be acting on these assumptions. L.A. Mander says that the Locarno agreements were of limited value because the general diplomatic situation might so develop as to reduce the Rhineland problem to a secondary factor.
The view of Simonds and Emeny is that the importance of the Locarno episode lies in the tact that it clearly demonstrated the value of the League machinery for a worth which actually desires to employ it and is ready to endure the existing territorial conditions. According to Langsam, the Locarno achievements were widely hailed as precursors of a new era in world history, but neither the Pacts nor the spirit of Locarno were actual guarantees of peace.
The problem of the eastern frontiers of Germany remained unsolved and there was no guarantee that the same would be solved peaceably. The spirit of friendliness was evident only sporadically in international affairs after 1925. It seemed to have been entirely forgotten in the very next year when Germany’s application for membership of the League was under consideration.
David Thomson says that in the favourable atmosphere of 1925, the Locarno treaties undoubtedly contributed to the general pacification of Europe. They were the first successful attempt to recognise impartially the needs of both France and Germany. Germany was brought back into the circle of Great Powers. Yet the implications of Locarno were sinister as well as reassuring.
The implicit grading of frontiers implied that the Settlement of 1919 was followed in so far as it had later been voluntarily endorsed by Germany. The distinction made by Britain between frontiers that she would guarantee and those which she would not guarantee, undermined the general obligations of the Covenant of the League.
If the Versailles Settlement lacked binding force unless it was voluntarily reinforced in this way it was precarious as a whole. France had over-burdened herself by special obligations in Eastern Europe without partnership in Britain.
If the members of the League were to distinguish between those parts of the Settlement in which they were intimately interested and were prepared to guarantee and the other parts in which they were less interested and were not prepared to uphold by military action, general security suffered from Locarno.
There were technical absurdities in the notion of planning in any military cooperation between the General Staffs of Britain and France against possible German attacks, if the British Staff were at the same moment supposed to be concerting similar action with the Germans against a possible French attack. These realistic problems were not considered at that time and were smothered by the prevailing mood of optimism and goodwill.
The view of Grant and Temperley is that the agreement of Locarno was not useless though it was short-sighted. It did not fulfill the prediction of Austen Chamberlain that it marked the real dividing point between the years of war and the years of peace. It did produce an atmosphere of goodwill and a period of appeasement which was actually of importance and might have been decisive.
Austen Chamberlain and Briand worked hard for cooperation with Germany and the same was true of Stresemann. However, the future depended on the League being able to negotiate a general disarmament all round. The limitation of armaments had been promised at Versailles and that promise was now repeated and its observance would have made Locarno a real treaty but the same was not done.
2. Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928):
The object of the Kellogg-Briand pact was to outlaw war as an instrument of national policy and the settlement or international disputes. After the establishment of the League of Nations, many efforts had been made to avoid the necessity of war. Cecil-Requin Draft Treaty of Mutual Assistance of 1923 had declared that aggressive war was an international crime.
The Preamble of the Geneva Protocol of 1924 declared that “a war of aggression constitutes a violation of the solidarity of the members of the international community and an international crime.” The signatories were to agree in no case to resort to war” except in resistance to aggression or with the consent of the Council or the Assembly of the League. They were also to agree to “abstain from any act which might constitute a threat of aggression against a foreign state”. However, nothing came out of the Geneva Protocol on account of opposition from Great Britain.
The negotiations which ultimately resulted in the Kellog-Briand Pact in 1928 were initiated in June 1927 when Briand made a proposal to Mr. Kellogg, Secretary of State of the United States, for a bilateral pact between France and the United States by which war was to be given up as an instrument of national policy. The proposal was not of much importance in its original form as there were not many points of dispute between the United States and France.
However, Mr. Kellogg suggested to Briand to make the pact multilateral instead of bilateral. After a lot of hesitation, Briand accepted the suggestion and the draft of the multilateral treaty was prepared. On 24 September 1927, the Assembly of the League of Nations unanimously adopted a Polish Resolution by which all wars of aggression were prohibited and it was declared that pacific means must be employed in all cases to settle international disputes. A similar resolution was moved and passed by the Sixth Pan-American Conference held in February 1928.
As regards the negotiations concerning the Kellogg-Briand Pact, Great Britain agreed to become a party to the Pact on the condition that she was allowed to reserve to herself the liberty of action in certain regions of the world, the welfare and integrity of which constitute a “special and vital interest for our peace and safety”.
The Monroe Doctrine of the United States was accepted. The Pact was signed at Qaid’ Orsay on 27 August 1928 by the representatives of 15 States. By the end of 1930, it had been accepted by 61 States.
The Soviet Union was the first to ratify the Pact although its provisions were criticised on grounds of indefiniteness and irrelevance. The Soviet Minister in Poland proposed on 29 December 1928 that Poland and Russia, along with Lithuania, should sign a Protocol known as the Litvinov Protocol by which the Kellog-Briand Pact was to be made effective between them at once without waiting for the general exchange of ratifications.
Certain objections were raised by Poland, but those were met by Russia, Russia, also, persuaded Latvia and Estonia to ratify the Pact. The result was that on 9 February 1929, the Litvinov Protocol was signed at Moscow by the representatives of Russia, Poland, Rumania, Latvia and Estonia. Lithuania and Turkey joined it on 1 April 1929, Danzig on 30 April 1929 and Persia on 4 July 1929. On 24 July 1929, President However declared that the Kellogg-Briand pact was in force.
In the United States, it was understood that the Kellogg-Briand Pact did not interfere with the right to enforce the Monroe Doctrine in the name of self-defence. It was agreed by all the parties that the Pact forbade only wars of aggression and did not apply to a defensive war or a war against a state which violated its obligations under the agreement, or a war required by the Covenant of the League, the Locamo Pact or other agreements of neutrality or alliance.
The Preamble to the Pact contained the following declaration, “Deeply sensible of their solemn duty to promote the welfare of mankind, persuaded that the time has come when a frank renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy should be made to the end that the peaceful and friendly relations now existing between their people should be perpetuated and all changes in their relations with one another should be sought only by pacific means—thus uniting civilised nations of the world in a common renunciation of war as an instrument of their national policy….” As regards the provisions of the Pact, the signatories solemnly declared “in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another”.
They also agreed that “the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.” The pact was to be ratified by the high contracting parties in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements and was to take effect as between them since the instruments of ratification were deposited at Washington.
The Kellogg-Briand Pact differed from the Covenant of the Nations. The League Covenant was a political treaty but the Kellogg-Briand Pact was a moral obligation based on the general sense of sinfulness of war. While the League Covenant allowed some wars and prohibited others and provided for the punishment of those wars which were prohibited, the Kellogg-Briand Pact condemned all wars but punished none.
Regarding the legal effect of the pact, the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal observed that the solemn renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy necessarily involved the proposition that such a war was illegal in international law and those who planned and waged such a war were committing a crime in doing so.
Stimson, Secretary of State of the United States, observed in 1932 that war between nations was renounced by the signatories of the Kellogg-Briand pact and it became throughout practically the entire world an illegal thing. Hereafter, when nations engaged in armed conflict, either one or both of them must be termed violators of the treaty.
The view of Gathome Hardy is that as a historical event, the almost universal repudiation of war as an instrument of policy seemed to have a unique importance. As a gesture indicative of a new ethical attitude to war, it was undeniably impressive. It was particularly important in that it created a basis upon which the great nations outside the League could take a direct interest in the collective organisation of peace.
However, actually the Kellogg-Briand Pact did not carry the outlawry of war any further than the Polish Resolution of September 1927. It served at the moment as a magnificent advertisement of the pacific disposition of the world and might have been thought to constitute a great step forward on the road to international security. However, it depended merely on the good faith of the signatory nations and imposed no sanctions upon those who disregarded its pledges. The view of Ball and Kellogg is that the value of the Kellogg-Briand Pact was psychological and its effect was short-lived.
While it lasted, it gave rise to a host of bilateral and multilateral agreements for non-aggression and mutual assistance. E.H. Carr says that although the Pact of Paris or the Kellogg- Briand Pact was imperfect, it was a considerable landmark. It was the first political agreement in history of almost universal scope. Barring a few exceptions, every other state hastened to accede to it.
However, the pact of Paris was a moral declaration based on a general sense of the sinfulness of war. The pact condemned all wars but punished none. The Covenant of the League allowed some wars and prohibited others, but the prohibited wars it punished. The view of Schuman is that the pact lacked any effective means of enforcement. It was understood that if one signatory violated the pact, others were released from it.
The pact was not stronger than its weakest link. Langsam says that the efficacy of this pact was considerably lessened by the qualifications and interpretations placed upon the text by a number of signatories. In effect war was outlawed except when resorted to in self-defence, in the execution of obligations assumed under previous treaties or in fulfillment of the responsibilities incurred through the signing of the League Covenant or the Locarno agreements.
The pact was founded on the hope that public opinion might be strong and influential enough, even in time of emergency, to restrain any particular nation from violating what were simply moral obligations. Nevertheless, the general acceptance of the pact appeared as a step in advance towards world cooperation as an ideal and a goal.
The pact of Paris was a “tiger without teeth”. Although it had laid down certain principles, it provided no machinery to implement them. It was “a high sounding nothing”. No doubt, it has been called an “instrument of international confusion”.
3. The Little Entente:
In August 1920, Czechoslovakia entered into a bilateral convention with Yugoslavia. Its object was the maintenance of the Treaty of Trianon and mutual defence against Hungarian aggression. On 23 April 1921, an agreement was also made between Czechoslovakia and Rumania. On 7 June 1921 an agreement was signed between Rumania and Yugoslavia. This treaty was aimed not only against Hungarian aggression, but also against Bulgarian aggression.
Thus, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Rumania became members of the Little Entente. The main purpose of the Little Entente was protection against Hungary which was the only country mentioned by name in the treaties. It was only in the case of Yugoslavia that the name of Bulgaria was also mentioned. The interests of Yugoslavia differed from the other partners. She was jealous of the position of Italy in the Adriatic. Italy had got far more Slav territories than she was entitled to and that was the cause of the tension between Yugoslavia and Italy.
The Little Entente was closely bound to France by financial and treaty obligations. Both France and Little Entente Powers worked in close collaboration from the very outset. Between 1924 and 1927 France also entered into treaties with all the Little Entente Powers. She also supplied them with war materials.
She guaranteed them protection against Hungary. She also undertook to help Yugoslavia against Italy. The Little Entente Powers became the satellites of France. They food for status quo as provided by the peace treaties and they were opposed to the revision of the treaties. They prevented the union of Austria with Germany.
In October 1921, the three Powers along with France asked the Government of Hungary to pass a law by which the Hapsburg dynasty was to be ended and the desired law was passed by Hungary Encouraged by this, the Little Entente Powers began to hold periodic conferences with a view to keep an eye on the settlement in Eastern Europe. The Little Entente was fairly successful till the rise of Hitler in Germany.
The Statute of the Little Entente was signed on 16 February 1933 by the Kings of Yugoslavia and Rumama and President of Czechoslovakia. It was stated in the Preamble that the three countries were desirous of maintaining and organising peace and were firmly determined to strengthen economic relations with all countries without distinction and in particular with the states of Central Europe.
They were also anxious to see peace safeguarded in all circumstances, to assure the progress of Central Europe towards a condition of definite stability and to secure a proper regard for the common interests of the three countries. They had resolved to give to the relations of friendship and alliance already existing between them an organic and stable basis.
They were convinced of the necessity of bringing about stability on the one hand by the complete unification of their general policy and by creating a body which was to direct that policy common to them. The Statute of the Little Entente created a Permanent Council of the three states consisting of their Foreign Ministers and delegates specially appointed for that purpose. The decisions of the Permanent Council were required to be unanimous.
In addition to regular intercourse through diplomatic channels, the Permanent Council was put under an obligation to meet at least three times a year. One of the obligatory meetings each year was required to take place in each of the three states in turn. Others were to be held at Geneva.
The President of the Permanent Council was to be the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the state where the annual obligatory meeting was to be held. It was the duty of that President to fix the date and place of the meeting and also prepare the agenda. He was to remain President for one year only. In all questions discussed and in all decisions taken, the principle of absolute equality between three states had to be rigorously respected.
Every political treaty of each state of the Little Entente, every unilateral act changing the actual political situation of one of the states of the Little Entente in regard to an outside state and ever economic agreement involving important political consequences, was to require in advance unanimous consent of the Permanent Council of the Little Entente. The existing political treaties of each state of the Little Entente with outside states were required to be made progressively and as far as possible uniform.
An Economic Council of the states of the Little Entente for the progressive coordination of the economic interests of the three states was to be set up. The Permanent Council was empowered to appoint other stable bodies, commissions or committees for the purpose of studying problems. Provision was made for the Secretariat of the Permanent Council.
Its seat was to be at the same place where the Capital of the President of the Permanent Council was. One section of the Secretariat was to be permanently located at Geneva. It was specifically provided that the treaties of alliance between Rumania and Czechoslovakia and Rumania and Yugoslavia were renewed for an indefinite period.
4. Four Power Pacts:
The final text of the proposed Four Power Treaty was signed at Rome on 16 July 1933 by Germany, France, Great Britain and Italy. It was stated in the Preamble that Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy were conscious of the special responsibilities placed on them as possessing permanent representation on the Council of the League. They were also conscious of their responsibilities resulting from their signatures of the Locamo Agreements.
They were convinced that a state of disquiet which obtained throughout the world could only be dissipated by reinforcing their solidarity in such a way as to strengthen confidence in peace in Europe. They also declared their faithfulness to their obligations under the Covenant of the League of Nations. The proposed Treaty provided that the four Governments mentioned in it were to consult jointly as regards all questions relating to them.
They undertook to make every effort to pursue within the framework of the League of Nations a policy of effective cooperation among all the powers with a view to the maintenance of peace. They decided to examine among themselves and without prejudice the decisions which could only be taken by the regular organs of the League of Nations, all proposals relating to the methods of procedure calculated to give effect to Articles 10, 16 and 19 of the Covenant of the League.
They undertook to make every effort to ensure the success of the Disarmament Conference. In case of its failure, they were to re-examine those questions among themselves with a view to ensure their solution through appropriate channels. They affirmed their desire to consult each other as regards all economic questions which had a common interest for Europe and particularly for its economic restoration.
The agreement was to be concluded for a period of ten years and a notice of two years was required for terminating the same. The agreement was to come into force as soon as all the ratifications were deposited in Rome, but that never happened as France and Germany did not ratify it.
Looked at from one point of view, the Four Power Pact was practically useless. It was never acted upon. However, it had far-reaching effects. It created estrangement between France and her allies who felt that France had not bothered about them and was more worried about her relations with Germany, Italy and England.
It was contended by them that while their vital interests were attacked by Italy, France did not support them enthusiastically. Poland bitterly resented the success of Italy. She felt very much her exclusion while Italy was included in the discussions. The Pact had the unfortunate effect of loosening the bonds between France and her allies.
5. German-Polish Declaration of 1934:
On 26 January 1934, a joint declaration was made by the Governments of Germany and Poland It was stated therein that time had come to begin a new era in the relations between the two countries through direct contacts between them.
They agreed through the present declaration to establish the basis for the future development of their relations. Both Governments asserted that the peaceful development of their mutual relations was not to impair any international obligation which they had already undertaken in respect of other states prior to the making of this declaration.
They also affirmed that this declaration did not repudiate those obligations but left them undisturbed. Both the Government announced their intention to communicate directly with each other on all questions which might arise pertaining to their mutual interests.
In case disputes arose and the settlement was not attained by direct negotiations, the two Governments agreed to seek solution through some other peaceful means and by common understanding so that the possibility of such settlement might not be disturbed.
In case of necessity, they agreed to employ those measures which had already been fixed by them to arrive at future accord. They agreed under no circumstances to use force to settle those disputes. The guarantee of peace was to facilitate the task of the two countries in finding solutions of their political, economic and cultural problems.
It was declared that both the Governments were convinced that the relations between them would develop fruitfully and lead to the establishment of a good-neighbourly intercourse. The agreement was to remain in force for ten years from the date of its ratification. However, it could be terminated by any party by giving a notice of six months.
6. The Balkan Pact of 1934:
Rumania, Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia entered into the Balkan Pact or Balkan Entente on 9 February 1934. The Pact provided that Rumania, Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia guaranteed mutually the security of their Balkan frontiers. They undertook to consult one another regarding the measures to be taken in the face of eventualities capable of affecting their interests as defined in the agreement.
They undertook not to embark on any political action against any other Balkan country which had not signed the present agreement without mutual discussion. They were not to assume any political obligation towards any other Balkan state without the consent of the other contracting parties. This agreement was to come into force immediately after the signatures of all the contracting powers.
It was to be ratified as soon as possible. The Balkan Pact was welcomed by France but criticised by Italy. Without Bulgaria and Albania, the Pact failed to stabilise the affairs of the Balkans. It was a very weak structure. The interests of the States joining the Pact were not identical. While Yugoslavia wanted to have help against Italy, Greece was not prepared to give such help.
That led to the straining of relations between them. The relations between Bulgaria and Yugoslavia improved and consequently Yugoslavia came nearer to Bulgaria than to Greece. In 1938 an agreement was made by which Bulgaria was also brought into the Pact. She was released from the military restrictions of the Treaty of Neuilly.
7. Rome Protocols of 1934:
On 7 March 1934 were signed the Rome Protocols by Italy, Austria and Hungary. It was stated that the three Governments understood to concert together on all problems which particularly interested them and also on those of a general character with the aim of developing a concordant policy which was to be directed towards effective collaboration between the European States and particularly between Italy, Austria and Hungary.
The three Governments undertook to extend the scope of the accord already in force by increasing the facilities for reciprocal export and thus exploiting the complementary nature of the respective national economies. They resolved to take the necessary measures to overcome the difficulties felt by Hungary from the fall in the prices of grain.
They agreed to facilitate and develop the transits traffic through the Adriatic ports and conclude agreements for that purpose. They agreed to set up a permanent committee of three experts to follow the course of economic relations and to frame proposals for their development. It was agreed between Italy and Austria that they would institute negotiations for the conclusion of a new agreement to widen the scope of the existing economic agreement between the two countries. The new agreement was to set up a preferential system for as large a number of products as possible.
8. The Baltic Pact:
The Baltic Pact of 1934 brought Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia together. It was agreed by the three countries that their Foreign Ministers would consult one another at more or less regular intervals to develop a common foreign policy. On 12 June 1938, these countries decided to follow a common neutrality policy. In spite of that, the Soviet Union demanded from them naval and military bases and also occupied them.
9. The Stresa Declaration of 1935:
When Hitler declared on 16 March 1935 that Germany “no longer considered herself bound by the military clauses of the Versailles Treaty, that the peace strength of his army would in future be fixed at 36 Divisions and that it would be raised by conscription”, Mussolmi invited the Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers of Great Britain and France to meet him at Stresa in Switzerland.
In April 1935 Great Britain, France and Italy issued a declaration condemning the German action in the most solenin and outspoken terms. The Stresa Declaration was followed immediately by signing of an alliance between the Soviet Union and France. Like Locarno, Stresa is a landmark in the history of the 20 years between the two Wars. Locarno was an attempt to bring Germany back to her proper place as a colleague and a collaborator in the peaceful development of Europe. Locarno failed and Hitler came to power.
Stresa was an attempt to convince Germany that the non-German Powers were not prepared to tolerate the Nazi lawlessness. If necessary, they were prepared to take collective action to crush her However, the Stresa front failed because within six months of the declaration, Italy started the Abyssinian War. She was criticised whole-heartedly by Great Britain and half-heartedly by France and the result was that Italy got inclined towards Germany and thus the Stresa Front broke down.
10. Laval-Mussolini Pact:
The Laval-Mussolini Pact of 1935 was signed at Rome. Some French territory and railway rights in Africa were given to Italy. Certain privileges enjoyed by Italian citizens in French-owned Tunisia were to be continued till 1945. It was also agreed that if the independence of Austria was threatened in any way, both France and Italy were to consult each other.
11. Franco-Russian Alliance (1955):
In 1935 Russia and France entered into a joint pact of non-aggression and mutual assistance. The two countries agreed to consult each other if there was a danger of aggression. They were also to help each other in case of unprovoked aggression. The pact was to last for five years. It was declared that all the countries of North-Eastern Europe were to be invited to join the Pact. There is no comparison between the Franco-Russian Alliance of 1935 and the Franco-Russian Alliance of 1894. While the former was practically not acted upon and not much weight was given to it by either party, the latter was responsible for France and Russia fighting together in the World War I.
In June 1935 Hitler entered into a naval agreement with Great Britain by which Germany agreed to limit the size of her Navy to 35 per cent of the naval strength of Great Britain. This agreement was considered to be a master-stroke of Hitler’s diplomacy as it was opposed to the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles.
13. Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis:
Japan was not satisfied with the Washington Settlement of 1921 which fixed her naval strength at 60 per cent of that of Great Britain and the United States. She considered that as a symbol of the “moral superiority of the United States and Great Britain and her own humiliation”. In 1934, the representatives of the United States, Great Britain and Japan met and discussed the question of naval limitations. Japan demanded parity with her neighbours but that was refused.
The result was that Japan gave in December 1934 the required two years’ notice of the termination of the naval agreement. The notice was to expire in 1936. Hitler was outspoken in the denunciation of communism and Russia. Japan also was opposed lo Russia. In November 1936, Hitler entered into an Anti- Comintern Pact with Japan by which the contracting parties agreed “to keep each other informed concerning the activities of the Third International, to consult upon the necessary defence measures and to execute these measures in close cooperation with each other.”
The two governments agreed to invite jointly the third parties whose domestic peace was endangered by the disruptive activities of the Communist International to embark upon measures forwarding them of in accordance with the spirit of this agreement. The Pact was to remain in force for five years. After the expiry of that period, the two governments agreed to arrive at an understanding with each other concerning the form that cooperation was to take.
In a supplementary Protocol it was provided that the competent authorities of both the Governments would cooperate most closely in connection with the exchange of information concerning the activities of the Communist International, as well as in connection with publicity and defence measures against the Communist International. Those authorities were to take strong measures against those who at home or abroad, directly or indirectly, were active in the service of Communist International or gave helping hand to its disruptive work.
With a view to facilitate the cooperation of the competent authorities of both the Governments, a permanent commission was to be created and in that commission, further defensive measures necessary for combating the disruptive work of the Communist International were to be considered and deliberated upon.
When the anti-Comintern Pact was signed, there was not much support for it in Japan. In his speech delivered on 23 December, 1936, Matsuoka attacked the lukewarm and apologetic attitude shown towards the Pact by the government and the press in these words: “The historical significance of the Pact can be understood only if it is regarded as an alliance by which Japan, for the first time since 1922, entered upon an active foreign policy. And this alliance cannot be close enough; it must mean going together through thick and thin and it must be based on complete loyalty and mutual self-sacrifice as these find expression in Japanese Shinju”.
It took a lot of time before a formal alliance between Germany and Japan could be concluded. When Japan started her invasion of China in 1937, Germany resisted attempts to represent her as supporting the Japanese action. However, in January 1938, Ribbentrop recommended to Hitler that an alliance with Japan be sought. In October 1938, Ribbentrop disclosed the plan to Mussolini who gave his consent in January 1939.
There was a lot of opposition in Japan and the Japanese Cabinet remained in a state of virtual paralysis over that issue until Germany announced in August 1939 the signing of a non-aggression pact with Soviet Russia. The outbreak of the War in Europe in September 1939 confronted the Japanese government with new opportunities and difficult choice.
The Nazi conquest of France enabled Japan to impose a Protectorate over Indo-China. Prince Konoye became Prime Minister in July 1940 with Matsuoka as Foreign Minister. Washington was giving aid to China and preparing to give aid to Britain. It was under these circumstances that Japan yielded to Nazi pleas for a full alliance.
On 27 September 1940, Japan signed with Germany and Italy a 10-year treaty of cooperation by which the three Axis Powers reciprocally recognised and respected one another’s leadership in establishing “new order in Europe and a new order in Greater East Asia”.
They also agreed to assist one another with all political, economic and military means when one of the three contracting parties was attacked by a power at present not involved in the European war or in the Chinese-Japanese conflict. Japan was given an assurance that whether or not a contracting party was to be considered to have been attacked within the meaning of the Pact, was to be considered upon consultation among the three contracting parties.
In the minds of Hitler and Ribbentrop the Pact was prompted largely by the immediate concern to restrain the United States and the Soviet Union from intervening to defraud them of their anticipated early victory over Britain. It was a manoeuvre of Nazi diplomacy and its value was to be considered primarily in terms of its immediate propaganda impact. However, so far as Japan was concerned, her immediate concern was to accommodate herself as quickly as possible to the prospects of a British defeat.
She was to get an assurance that the vacuum which was to be created as a result of the collapse of the British Empire in the Far East was to be filled by Japan and not by any other power including Germany If the object of the Pact was to check the American intervention in the Far East, that object was not going to be realised.
As a matter of fact, the pact accelerated the process of American involvement and widened the area of contest. In the American minds, the problem of peace or war with Japan became inseparable from the problem of peace or war with Germany.
It still remains to be seen how Italy joined Germany and Japan in the formation of the Axis. It is true that although Italy was not satisfied with the Peace Settlement of 1919-20, she continued to cooperate with the Western Democracies. As a matter of fact, she was one of the guarantors of the Western frontiers of Germany with Belgium and France under the Locarno pact. She opposed the annexation of Austria by Germany.
When Hitler tried to establish his control over Austria in 1934, Mussolini was the foremost in the denunciation of Germany He induced France and Great Britain to subscribe to a declaration that the three Powers took “a common view regarding the necessity of maintaining Austria’s independence in accordance with the relevant treaties”.
However, all this was changed by the Abyssinian war. Mussolini did not like the attitude of the Democratic States towards Italy on the question of Abyssinia. He resented very much the enforcement of the economic sanctions against Italy.
He also resented the action of the League of Nations against his country. Moreover, the Abyssinia war weakened Italian military strength available for service in Europe. Real Politik demanded an alliance with Germany as the only way out of the difficulty. Italy had become so very weak that Mussolini had to accept Hider’s terms for friendship.
In July 1936, a treaty was made between Germany and Austria by which the Nazis were given the green light in Austria. This treaty was made with the knowledge and approval of Mussolini. In October 1936, Hitler and Mussolini agreed to work together to preserve Western civilisation, to cooperate in the Danubian area, to reconstruct Spam with the recognition of General Franco and to support a new Locarno Pact for Western Europe. Italy made some economic concessions to Germany in Abyssinia.
The agreement provided for a common defence against communism. It was in November 1937 that Italy joined the Anti-Commtern Pact which had already been signed in November 1936 between Germany and Japan. The agreement of 1937 between Hitler and Mussolini created what was described by Mussolim as Rome-Berlin Axis.
Mussolini referred to it as “An Axis around which all European states animated by the desire for peace might collaborate”. He also declared that “the struggle between the two worlds (Axis and non-Axis can permit no compromise. Either we or they”. Hitler described the Axis as a “great world political triangle” which “consists not of three powerless images but of three states which are prepared and determined to protect decisively their rights and vital interests”. The Axis continued throughout the World War II and was smashed in 1945 after the overthrow of Italy, Germany and Japan.
14. The Steel Pact of 1939:
On 22 May 1939 was signed in Berlin what is known as the German-Italian Pact of Steel, that Pact had a Preamble, seven Articles and a secret Protocol. The Preamble provided that the time had come when the close relationship of friendship and affinity which existed between Germany and Italy should be strengthened through a solemn Pact.
Since a safe bridge for mutual help and support had been created by the common frontier between Germany and Italy which had been fixed for all times, the two Governments acknowledged once again a policy which in its basis and objects had already been agreed upon by them and which had proved itself successful.
Closely bound together through internal relationships of ideologies and solidarity of interests, the German and Italian peoples had decided in the future to stand up for the securing of their sphere of living and maintenance of peace.
Germany and Italy desired to devote themselves to the task of securing the foundations of European culture. It was provided in the Pact that the parties would remain permanently in contact with each other in order to agree on all questions affecting their interests or the European situation as a whole. If their common interests were endangered through international events of any sort, they would immediately enter into consultation with each other in order to take measures to protect those interests.
If the security or other vital interests of one party were threatened from outside, the other party would afford the threatened party its full political and diplomatic support in order to remove that threat. If one of the parties gets involved in war-like complications with another power or powers, the other party would come to its aid as an ally and will support it with all its military forces of land sea and air.
The Governments of the two countries would further intensify their cooperation in the military sphere and would keep each other permanently informed about the measures necessary for the practical execution of the provisions of the Pact.
They were to set up a Permanent Commission which was to be subject to the direction of the Foreign Ministers of the two countries. In the case of a jointly waged war, the parties were to conclude an armistice and peace only in full concord with each other. The Pact was to come into force immediately upon being signed. It was to last in the first instance for ten years, but the same could be extended by the parties.
The Secret Protocol attached to the Treaty provided that the Foreign Ministers of the two countries were to come to an agreement as quickly as possible regarding the organisation, seat and methods of work of the Commissions on military questions and questions of war economy. They were to arrange the necessary measures conforming to the spirit and aims of the Pact in matters of the press, the news services and propaganda.
Each of the two Foreign Ministers was to assign to the Embassy of his country in the respective capital one or several specially well-experienced specialists for constant discussion in direct close co-operation with the respective Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the suitable steps to be taken in the matter of the press, the news services and the propaganda for the promotion of the policy of Axis and as a counter-measure against the policy of the enemy powers.
15. Non-Aggression Pact of 1939 between Russia and Germany:
On 23 August 1939 was signed in Moscow the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact which provided that both the parties obligated themselves to desist from any act of violence, any aggressive action and any attack on each other either individually or jointly with other powers. If one of the parties became the object of belligerent action by a third power, the other party was not to lend its support to the third power in any manner.
The Governments of Germany and Russia were to maintain constant contact with each other for the purpose of consultation in order to exchange information on problems affecting their common interests. Neither of the two parties was to participate in any grouping of powers whatsoever, which was directly or indirectly aimed at the other party.
If any dispute arose between the parties, they were to settle the same exclusively through friendly exchange of opinion or, if necessary, through the establishment of arbitration commissions. The Treaty was to last for ten years, and if the same was not determined within that period, it was to be extended automatically for another period of five years.
A secret additional protocol was added to the Treaty by which both Germany and the Soviet Union laid down the boundaries of their respective spheres of influence in Eastern Europe. It was laid down that in the event of a territorial and political rearrangement in the areas belonging to the Baltic States of Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the northern boundary of Lithuania was to represent the boundary of spheres of influence of Germany and the Soviet Union.
In that connection, the Interests of Lithuania in the Vilna area was recognised by each party. In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement of the areas belonging to the Polish state, the spheres of influence of Germany and the Soviet Union were to be bounded approximately by the line of the rivers Narew, Vistula and San.
The question whether the interests of both parties made desirable the maintenance of an independent Polish state and how such a state should be bounded could only be definitely determined in the light of further political developments.
In any event, both the Governments were to resolve that question by means of a friendly agreement. With regard to south-eastern Europe, attention was called by the Soviet Union to her interests in Bessarabia and Germany declared its complete disinterestedness in those areas. The Protocol was to be treated by both the parties as strictly secret.
The Non-Aggression Pact was a bargain between two enemies and both of them gained from it. Germany gained through the assurances that she would not have to fight on two fronts and she paid the price for it to the Soviet Union.
Germany was confident that she could choose the time of her attack on Russia as the latter was too weak to start an offensive war. Russia felt that she was making the best of a bad bargain as she was not sure of the attitude of Great Britain and France towards Germany.
Germany was to be strengthened by the extension of her control over western Poland. There was also the possibility that Great Britain and France would fight against Germany over Poland and thereby exhaust Germany and in that case, the Soviet Union would have the upper hand. The Pact was a gamble and the Soviet leaders were forced to play the same. It gave the Soviet Union practically two years of respite. In spite of this Pact, Germany attacked the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941.
16. Pact between United Kingdom and Poland:
A reciprocal Treaty of mutual assistance between the United Kingdom and Poland was signed and came into force on 25 August 1939. It was provided in that treaty that if one of the parties became or get engaged in hostilities with an European power in consequence of aggression by the latter against that party, the other party was to give at once all the support; and assistance in its power.
These provisions were also to apply in the event of a war by an European power which clearly threatened directly or indirectly the independence of one of the parties and was of such a nature that the party in question considered it vital to resist it with its armed forces. If one of the parties got engaged in hostilities with an European power in consequence of action by that power which threatened the independence or neutrality of another European state in such a way as to constitute a clear menace to the security of that party, the provisions of Article I will apply.
If an European power attempts to undermine the independence of one of the parties by processes of economic penetration or in any other way the contracting parties will support each other in resistance to such attempts.
If the European power concerned embarks on hostilities against one of the parties. Article I will apply. The parties were to communicate to each other the terms of any undertakings of assistance against aggression which they had already given or may give in future to other states.
If the parties were engaged in hostilities as a result of the application of this agreement, they were not to conclude an armistice or treaty of peace except by mutual agreement. Within a week of the coming into force of this Treaty, Poland was attacked by Germany and thus the World War II started.