Locarno Treaties

   On 5 October 1925, in Switzerland's Locarno, Chancellor Hans Luther* and Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann* opened a meeting with the foreign ministers of France and Britain, Aristide Briand and Austen Chamberlain. The historic gathering, which recast interwar European relationships, consummated nine months of delicate negotiations. Also in atten-dance were Belgium and Italy. Although the foreign ministers of Poland* and Czechoslovakia were in Locarno, they were not invited to the talks. The overall impact of the resulting treaties, signed 16 October, was detente. With reason, historian A.J.P. Taylor argued that Locarno "ended the first World war; its repudiation eleven years later marked the prelude to the second.
   The Locarno Treaties comprised five separate documents, four of which were arbitration conventions between Germany and its neighbors: France, Belgium, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. The fifth, a Treaty of Mutual Guarantee (the "Rhineland Pact"), was a multilateral accord consisting of two basic parts: first, through a reciprocal treaty of nonaggression, the powers situated on the Rhine— Germany, France, and Belgium—agreed not to attack, invade, or resort to war against one another; second, via a treaty of mutual assistance, the Western Eu-ropean countries—Great Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, and Italy—prom-ised to observe the demilitarization of the Rhineland,* to defend the existing borders between Germany and France as well as between Germany and Belgium, and to render military assistance to any signatory power falling victim to the treaty s violation.
   Jon Jacobson dubbed Locarno "the hinge on which the relations between Germany and the West turned between the wars." As evidenced by the Septem-ber 1926 Thoiry Conference, it briefly spawned the concept of one-on-one di-plomacy. During the Republic's remaining years, it fostered some key settlements: German membership in the League of Nations, equality in disarmament,* a reparations* agreement (the Young Plan*), and the end of Rhineland occupation. By giving its western neighbors assurance that its aims were pacific, Germany recovered the maneuverability needed to challenge its eastern boundaries. But if Stresemann negotiated Locarno with Poland in mind, he did not seek detente solely for this reason; the eastern borders were but one issue among several. Yet in every instance the achievements issuing from Lo-carno never quite met German desires and never quite assuaged French fears. By generating an illusion of goodwill, the so-called "spirit of Locarno" helped engender the next decade's blind appeasement. Ultimately, the objectives driving the conference's principal participants—Germany, France, and Britain—proved too dissimilar for genuine rapprochement.
   REFERENCES:Jacobson, Locarno Diplomacy; Kimmich, Germany and the League of Nations; Post, Civil-Military Fabric; Stambrook, 'Kind' "; A.J.P. Taylor, Origins of the Second World War; Thimme, "Stresemann and Locarno."

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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