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Inter-war treaties and pacts

German dissatisfaction

Germany was deeply unsatisfied with the conclusions of the Treaty of Versailles. German territory and population in the east had been lost and allied forces occupied the Rhineland. Enforced disarmament and payment of reparations began to drain the German economy. German attempts to revise the Versailles Treaty were a major theme in international relations, fuelling the French quest for security.

The Dawes Plan

Germany began economic recovery under the Dawes Plan, and France grew ever more concerned by the German threat. The first phase of Rhineland evacuation was delayed because of German failure to comply with disarmament regulations.

The Geneva Protocol

In 1924 Ramsay MacDonald, the British Prime Minister, and Edouard Herriott, the French Prime Minister, proposed the Geneva Protocol. The protocol was in favour of linking disarmament with compulsory mediation - participants being obliged to act against any nation failing to comply with mediation by the League of Nations in a dispute. The British Government, under Stanley Baldwin's leadership, dropped the protocol in 1925.

The Locarno Treaties of 1925

The German Foreign Minister, Gustav Stresemann, approached Britain and France to form a Western European security pact. The outcome was the Locarno Treaties of 1925. A Rhineland guarantee confirmed the borders between France, Belgium and Germany. Britain and Italy guaranteed the borders and Germany signed non-aggression pacts with France and Belgium. The borders between Germany and Poland, and Germany and Czechoslovakia, were subject to mediation conventions by French treaties.

The British foreign secretary, Austen Chamberlain, realised British security depended on a treaty but also wanted to limit British commitments in Europe, and refused to engage in an Eastern European treaty.

The Kellogg-Briand Pact

In spite of the treaties, French security concerns continued to grow and in 1927 France constructed the Maginot Line of fortifications along the Rhine. The French government approached the US in 1928 resulting in the Kellogg-Briand Pact. America was unwilling to sign a pact with France and turned it into a multilateral pact with 65 participants renouncing war, therefore rendering it insignificant. Baldwin signed unwillingly, seeing it as an electioneering tactic by the American Republican Party.

Italy and the collapse of the Locarno system

The 1920s suffered a damaging economic collapse, making international cooperation difficult. In 1930 Italy and France refused to sign an agreement with Britain and Japan to limit the size of their navies at the London Naval Conference. Germany's war debts and reparation payments were dropped and rapid Nazi growth in Germany resulted in Adolf Hitler becoming Chancellor in 1933.