Spa Conference

   the first postwar meeting to which Germany was invited. Held during 5-16 July 1920, the Spa (Belgium) Conference was inspired by a British proposal of April 1920 that the Germans respond in person to reparations* and disarmament* concerns. The recommendation may have been a subterfuge; it appears that in view of America's refusal to ratify the Versailles Treaty,* Lloyd George was stirred as much by anxiety over renewed French designs on the Rhineland* as by German failure to fulfill the treaty. In any case, once the Allies agreed that resolution of a total reparations bill would not appear on the Spa agenda (the French wanted this left to the Reparation Commission), an invitation was dispatched to Germany.
   Aside from its disarmament protocols, Spa's significance rests on its success at achieving a six-month agreement on coal deliveries. By 1920 France was especially vexed over the delinquency of German coal deliveries. During the course of deliberations the belligerence of Hugo Stinnes* provoked the Allies to threaten Ruhr occupation.* It required great effort for Stinnes s colleagues (Walter Simons,* Moritz Julius Bonn,* Carl Bergmann,* Konstantin Fehren-bach,* Joseph Wirth,* and Walther Rathenau*) to avert the threat. The delegates then resolved that Germany would deliver a total of two million tons of coal per month for six months; for each ton, Germany would receive five gold marks for food purchases. Since efforts to obtain such food credits had been blocked in 1919 by France, the Spa accord was deemed a German victory. Although Stinnes condemned the accord—he claimed that German coal could get more on the open market—the German cabinet approved the agreement. Indeed, this was the first occasion at which Rathenau advised fulfilling Allied demands as a step to treaty revision, thus spawning the fulfillment policy* (he was equally resolved to avert a Ruhr occupation). Nonetheless, the German Right christened Spa the "two-million-ton Diktat."
   Disarmament issues compelled Fehrenbach to summon Defense Minister Otto Gessler* and Hans von Seeckt* (Chief of the Heeresleitung) to Spa. Both men, arriving on 6 July, used the occasion to implore that military strength be doubled to 200,000 men. Seeckt argued that Germany s domestic emergency, coupled with the Polish threat to its eastern frontier, made the 100,000 figure absurd. But the Allies rejected both this demand and Seeckt s subsequent plea to extend to October 1921 the deadline by which the army should be cut. (Seeckt came away convinced that he would be better served by treating with the Soviets.) Although in the first of two protocols the deadline for cutting the army was indeed extended to 1 January 1921 (the Versailles deadline was 31 March 1920), the Allies included a threat of sanction: noncompliance would bring the occupation of further German territory. A second protocol required the disarming of Einwohnerwehren and other paramilitary groups. Claiming that the threat of occupation exceeded the terms of Versailles, the Germans initialed the second protocol but rejected the first.
   REFERENCES:Craig, Politics of the Prussian Army; Eyck, History of the Weimar Re-public, vol. 1; Feldman, Great Disorder; Joll, Three Intellectuals in Politics; Kent, Spoils ofWar.

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

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