- After the bitter Brest-Litovsk Treaty deliberations of early 1918, a gulf separated Germany and Soviet Russia (the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was not constituted until 1922). The countries were further estranged by Freikorps* activity in the Baltic provinces* and Soviet complicity in Ger-many s November Revolution* (blatantly pursued by Karl Radek). Nevertheless, sharing the status of international pariahs, distrusting the West, and rejecting the postwar settlements, Germany and Russia soon conceded that they had much in common. Dismissing ideological differences and suspicions, Lenin used Radek (imprisoned in Berlin*) to initiate contact in 1919 with German indus-trialists and military officers. In 1920 Enver Pasha, leader of the Young Turkish revolution and a friend of Germany, went to Moscow in hopes of establishing a Russo-German-Turkish alliance against the West. The visit prompted estab-lishment of commissions in Moscow and Berlin for prisoner repatriation. As a corollary, Ago von Maltzan* drafted a Russo-German trade treaty that was signed on 6 May 1921. While the treaty promoted economic activity between the former enemies, the repatriation commissions increasingly functioned as in-formal diplomatic and consular missions.When the July 1920 Spa Conference* failed to alter the military terms of the Versailles Treaty,* Hans von Seeckt* persuaded Finance Minister Joseph Wirth* to employ the new Russian connection as a means for promoting German re-armament. With public funds funneled through private industry, Wirth (by then Chancellor) sustained the building of Soviet-based factories for artillery, tanks, planes, and ammunition, all in violation of Versailles. Radek and Foreign Com-missar Georgii Chicherin then drafted a proposal that, when skillfully employed by Maltzan at the Genoa Conference,* resulted in the Rapallo Treaty* of 16 April 1922. Although it was innocuous by comparison to the military activities that followed the 1921 trade treaty, Rapallo signalled to the Western powers an end to Soviet isolation and Germany s intent to act independently. It excited Allied concern over the potential for expanded political and military consensus between Germany and Russia.Because Rapallo formalized Russo-German relations, Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau* became the Republic's first Ambassador to Moscow. A relentless sponsor of Russo-German cooperation, Rantzau used his opposition to the 1925 Locarno Treaties* as a bridge to the April 1926 Soviet-German Treaty ofBerlin. The agreement reaffirmed Rapallo: its signatories promised never to engage in an economic boycott and pledged neutrality should one be the victim of unpro-voked attack. Yet while covert military cooperation continued, several factors served to cool relations: German membership in the League of Nations, growing detente between London and Berlin, an easing of restrictions on German re-armament, Philipp Scheidemann s* disclosure of the army s clandestine dealings with Moscow, and the loosening of Poland s* dependence on France. By the time of his death in 1928, Rantzau was the only important Foreign Office spon-sor of an explicitly pro-Soviet policy.Meanwhile, the nature of Soviet policy was a source of periodic friction. Although Chicherin, Foreign Commissar until 1930, brought some Realpolitik to Soviet diplomacy, the raison d'être of the Moscow-controlled Comintern was fomentation of revolution, especially in Germany. In the 1920s the Soviets were preoccupied with controlling the KPD, frustrating the ability of the SPD to represent German workers, and subverting the Republic. They helped plan the KPD uprisings in Saxony* and Thuringia* and then coordinated disruptive ac-tions during the depression.* Because of such activities, hope for real detente remained illusory in the Weimar era. During the years (1929-1933) in which Herbert von Dirksen* was Ambassador to Moscow, relations between the two countries cooled noticeably.REFERENCES:Dyck, Weimar Germany and Soviet Russia; Freund, Unholy Alliance;Gatzke, "Russo-German Military Collaboration ; Holborn, "Diplomats and Diplo-macy"; Kochan, Russia and the Weimar Republic; Post, Civil-Military Fabric.
A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. C. Paul Vincent.
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