International relations, 1919-1933

International relations, 1919-1933

The Treaty of Versailles (1919)

  • Treaty of Versailles - The peace treaty ending World War I, which held Germany responsible for the conflict, imposing severe reparations and territorial losses.
  • Delegates, led by leaders of the ‘big four’ (USA, UK, France, Italy), failed to come to agreement on many issues, resulting in a compromise treaty that left almost nobody satisfied.
  • Germany was forced to sign and accept the war-guilt clause (Article 231), which held them solely responsible for starting the war.
  • Germany was also required to make hefty reparation payments, reducing their financial stability and causing resentment among the population.

The League of Nations

  • The League of Nations was an international organisation founded in 1920 with the goal of maintaining peace and fostering international cooperation.
  • Encouraged diplomacy over warfare, imposing economic and diplomatic sanctions on aggressive nations.
  • Abundance of weaknesses such as no standing army, unanimous decision making, and lack of influential power with key world powers (USA, USSR) not members.

The Paris Peace Conference and Other Treaties

  • Paris Peace Conference (1919) - Besides the Treaty of Versailles, other treaties were drafted to formally end the war with the Central Powers also participating.
  • Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1919) - Ended warfare between the Allies and Austria.
  • Treaty of Trianon (1920) - Ended warfare between the Allies and Hungary.
  • Treaty of Sèvres (1920) - Partitioned the Ottoman Empire amongst the Allies.

The Washington Conference (1921-1922)

  • Washington Naval Conference - International conference called by the United States to limit naval armament among Great Powers.
  • Led to the signing of several treaties aimed at preventing a naval arms race, specifically between the USA, the British Empire and Japan.

The Locarno Era (1924-1929)

  • The Dawes Plan (1924) was proposed to recover and stabilise the German economy, reducing reparation requirements and securing loans for Germany.
  • The Locarno Treaties (1925) sought to normalize relations between Germany and the rest of Europe, with Germany’s admission to the League of Nations.
  • The Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928) was an international agreement that sought to outlaw war as a means of policy.

The Beginning of the End

  • During this time, the Great Depression (1929) dealt a blow to the international economy, resulting in widespread political and economic instability.
  • Severe economic crisis contributed to the rise of extremist politics, including the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party in Germany.

Unresolved Issues and Tensions

  • The Japanese invasion of Manchuria (1931) marked the League’s inability to handle aggression.
  • The World Disarmament Conference (1932-1934), aimed at reducing military armaments, was undermined by lack of commitment by major powers.

Throughout this period, global international relations were fraught with economic instability, revision of territorial boundaries and the unsuccessful attempt to maintain collective security through the League of Nations.