- an agreement between Germany and Soviet Russia, signed on 16 April 1922 by Walther Rathenau* and Georgii Chicherin (Foreign Minister of Germany and Foreign Commissar of Russia, respectively). Some-times dubbed the "Treaty of Outcasts," it was largely the brainchild of Chich-erin and Karl Radek, Russia's central European expert; their efforts were promoted by Ago von Maltzan,* head of the German Foreign Office's Eastern Division. Radek, in collusion with Rathenau and German Chancellor Joseph Wirth,* came to Berlin* late in 1921 with the purpose of preparing a pact that might formalize Russo-German relations. The accord thus drafted in February 1922 corresponded to the first five of Rapallo's six articles.Unwilling to finalize an agreement before the Genoa Conference,* Rathenau went to Italy convinced that Germany's relationship with the West must take priority over a Russian rapprochement. But the Soviets were invited to Genoa by Britain and France in hopes of reopening Russia for trade. Maltzan knew beforehand that this ambition was distasteful to the Soviets, a bit of wisdom that he kept to himself. After his arrival, Rathenau grew anxious that Britain and/or France might come to a separate arrangement with Russia. When Lloyd George unwittingly sharpened his fear by arranging a separate meeting with the Soviets, Maltzan induced him to meet secretly with the Russians at the latter's official residence (about twenty miles south of Genoa). Anticipating renewed encirclement, Wirth pressed his Foreign Minister to sign with the Soviets.Rapallo was innocuous by comparison with the secret dealings that had fol-lowed the Russo-German trade accord of May 1921. Its six articles provided for diplomatic and consular offices in Berlin and Moscow, Russian renunciation of claims under the Versailles Treaty,* and a German waiver of claims for the nationalization of property in Russia. In a secret exchange the Soviets granted Germany equality with the Allies in any subsequent agreement on nationalized property. Although rumors flourished of an appended military accord, no such document was signed at Rapallo.Since Germany and Russia were pariahs, economically poor and militarily weak, one might think that the treaty was of minor importance. Yet it was treated by the Western press as a diplomatic bombshell that signalled Germany's intent to pursue an independent course, even to the point of splitting the capitalist powers, and Russia's resolution to end its isolation. The Genoa meeting, while shaken by Rapallo, continued five more weeks. But in Germany President Ebert* was outraged at Rathenau's precipitate action. Believing it dangerous to offend the Western powers, he also viewed Russia as capricious and untrustworthy. Yet his concern that the treaty would receive little support proved unfounded. Because of Hans von Seeckt's* military dealings with Russia, Wirth and Maltzan used the general to sway right-wing opinion. Although the DNVP re-mained skeptical, the DVP embraced Rapallo, and the treaty gained easy Reichs-tag passage. Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau* soon became Weimar's first Ambassador to Moscow.But Rathenau concluded that he had blundered at Rapallo. In fact, the treaty underscored the overall lack of clarity in German foreign policy.* Maltzan ad-mitted that Rathenau had been induced to treat with the Russians against his better judgment. A Russo-German alliance angered the Western Allies and hor-rified Poland.* By generating the vision of a powerful Russo-German combi-nation in world affairs, it disrupted efforts at European cooperation and was a setback to Germany's foreign policy, especially in relation to reparation* talks.REFERENCES:Freund, Unholy Alliance; Kochan, Russia and the Weimar Republic; Krüger, "Rainy Day"; Pogge von Strandmann, "Rapallo."
A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. C. Paul Vincent.
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