HistorySQ > European History > Treaty Of Rapallo – A German-Russian Secret agreement

Treaty Of Rapallo – A German-Russian Secret agreement

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By the end of 1918, Europe suffered from a four-year-long war, the deaths of tens of millions of people and enormous economic destruction. Also, everyone blamed Germany and its allies for this terrifying outcome. Germany was the main offender, next to Austria-Hungary for starting the war within European borders.
Furthermore, the treaty of Versailles stripped Germany of its colonies, brought independence to a Polish state and impose enormous financial reparations.

The Weimar Republic

Once World War I was over, Germany was punished for initiating the war and supporting Austro-Hungary. Moreover, Germany was stripped of its privileges that included colonies and financial stability.

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Furthermore, Germany lost a huge part of the land, that is nowadays called Poland. Also, it was allowed to have only 100,000 men to a standing army and had to demilitarize its western border, called Rhineland. This new Germany was named the Weimar Republic.

Weimar Germany was weak, scared and had to deal with numerous problems within the state. Communists rise in Berlin, former Army soldiers fought left-wing paramilitary groups, and the whole administration was isolated internationally. Economically, Weimar Germany was destroyed. Moreover, the new states, Poland and Czechoslovakia cut all the trade barriers in former German territory, cutting off German business entirely. In addition, newly reduces Austria was forbidden to unite with Germany. However, there was a new Russian communist state on the east.

Post-Tsarist Russia

The only country that suffered just as much as Germany did after WWI, was post-tsarist Russia. The end of the WWI wasn’t the end of the war for people in large Russia. The Russians continued fighting within the state.

They split into reds (supporters of the communists) and the whites (supporters of nationalists groups and Tsarists groups). This split lead to the Russian civil war, leading the communist state in isolation.

The Russian civil war lasted for eight years and it brought global isolation, hunger, and economic disruption. At the time, Russia was desperate for international partners. They saw the perfect partner in the German state. Their mutual isolation helped sand both economic and military ties.

Beginning Of The Treaty

Both Russia and Germany found themselves in a unique position. Both countries were abandoned by their previous allies, isolated and blocked from the rest of the world. They found a mutual sympathy in each other. Moreover, both powers had designs on Poland.

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At the time, Poland blocked further economic and military cooperation between Russia and Germany. The first step forward to creating a formal deal was the signing of a treaty in May 1921.

This treaty confirmed the following:

Germany was to support communist Russia as the successor state to the Tsarist Empire and will break diplomatic relations will all other self-proclaimed successor states. By doing so Germany promised massive propaganda and moral advantages. Furthermore, the stage was set for a more formal treaty of collaboration.

The Treaty of Rapallo

The Treaty of Rapallo was the main event in Germany-Russia relation. Back in 1922, in Italy, representatives of the Soviet Union and Germany met during the Genoa Conference. On 16 April that same year, the two nations agreed in the Italian town of Rapallo, the event which later formalized as the Treaty of Rapallo. The agreement was clear: the two nations would renounce all monetary and territorial claims against each other.

This agreement wasn’t something that made Baltic states, United Kingdom, Poland, France, and Finland happy. On the 29th of July, a secret clause was added to this agreement:

  • the Soviet Union was to provide heavy weapons and facilities for German military training
  • Germany was to conduct training for the Soviet military and to provide the Soviet Union with an annual payment

The Treaty of Rapallo was formally signed in Berlin, Germany on 5 Nov 1922.

The Treaty of Rapallo was formally registered with the League of Nations on September 19, 1923. The secret military cooperation was not included. Also, the Treaty was re-affirmed in the 1926 Treaty of Berlin and formed the basis of post World War One relations between Weimar Germany and the Soviet Union.

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