Paris Peace Treaties and the League of Nations, to 1933

Paris Peace Treaties and the League of Nations, to 1933

Paris Peace Treaties

  • The peace treaties stemmed from the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 that followed World War I, involving representatives from 32 nations.
  • The main treaty was the Treaty of Versailles with Germany, generally seen as harsh and vindictive.
  • Germany was disarmed, its territory was reduced, and they had to accept blame for the war (the War Guilt Clause).

League of Nations

  • The League of Nations was a key provision of the Treaty of Versailles; it was an international organisation created for the maintenance of world peace.
  • The organization was based on collective security, meaning the peace was to be maintained collectively by the member states who would stand against any aggressor.
  • Main organs of the League were the Assembly, the Council, and the Permanent Secretariat.
  • It failed due to several factors, such as the fact it did not have a standing army, its reliance on unanimous decisions, and the initial non-participation of some major powers.

Germany and the League of Nations

  • Germany as a defeated power was not initially invited to join the League; it only joined in 1926 after proving itself a peaceful nation.
  • The future chancellors who signed the Treaty of Versailles (also known as the “November Criminals” in Germany) faced a significant amount of backlash from German citizens.

Locarno Treaties

  • The Locarno Treaties, signed in 1925, were intended to normalize relations with Germany and guarantee its new borders.
  • The Locarno Pact was seen as a symbol of reconciliation between Germany and France, and optimism about lasting peace.

Diplomatic Developments to 1933

  • The Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928) aimed to outlaw war but lacked measures of enforcement.
  • The Great Depression (1929–1933) shifted focus to economic issues and, due to political changes, distorted international relations.
  • The Manchurian Crisis (1931–1933) saw the world powers’ inability to resist Japanese aggression in China, undermining the League of Nations.
  • Hitler’s rise to power in Germany (1933) and his foreign policy based on territorial expansion signified a serious threat to international peace.