Were the Locarno treaties a triumph? Essay

Submitted By Jade-Green
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“The Locarno Treaties of 1925 were a Triumph for British Foreign Policy” Agree or disagree? (24 marks)

Many historians would disagree with the idea that the Treaty of Locarno could be called a British triumph, but rather an accomplishment which benefited many European allies whilst leaving some major issues unresolved.

In September 1925, German foreign minister, Gustav Stresemann organised a meeting, in Locarno, Switzerland, between representatives from France (Aristide Briand), Italy, Great Britain (Austin Chamberlain), Czechoslovakia, Poland and Belgium, initially to discuss their frontiers in Western Europe, though all were anxious to improve the rising tensions between France and Germany after the French had occupied the Ruhr, the industrial heart of Germany over a dispute regarding Germany’s reparation payment of telegraph poles was once again delayed. Eventually, all representatives signed what became the Treaty of Locarno, which had ensured the allowance of Germany into the League of Nations in 1926, Germany’s promise not to attack France again and the Rhineland wouldn’t be remilitarised or fortified.

One of the ways in which Locarno was a triumph for British foreign policy would be because of the joy and happiness that spread over Europe as a result of the newly-found hope and chance for peace after the negotiations made in the treaty; this being the reasoning behind the term ‘Locarno honeymoon’, which can be used to describe the state of public mood after 1925, until the Wall Street Crash in 1929. Chamberlain claimed the treaty to be the “dividing line between the years of war and the years of peace”, which further encouraged the belief that there would be no need for war in the near future, allowing people to stop worrying because tensions between the allies and Germany had been dissolved.

On the other hand, it can be argued that actually, the triumph was not entirely Britain’s, but rather majorly Germany and France’s success. This is evident in the fact that France’s borders with Belgium were to be protected from attack, which was supported by Italy and France. This in turn then allowed their political relations to improve through Briand and Stresemann’s growing friendship and frequent work relationship. This reconciliation between nations was one of the fundamental aspects on which their winning of the Nobel Peace Prize was based as it promoted peace within all. France could also consider the treaty a personal triumph as it allowed them to later expand on their newly- found peace by creating the Kellogg- Briand Pact, which decided that war was not to be used as a weapons for settling disputes, giving France a better reputation as it was signed by 15 countries across Europe.
Germany also benefited more than the G.B in the results of Locarno in the fact that France had agreed to dismiss the army from the Rhineland, allowing them to continue production of coal and steel which is responsible for 80% of Germany’s total production of these resources, meaning there economy is able to return its previous state by trading them with other countries, making money to use as reparation payments. Their improved relationship with France is also emphasised in the way in which the French show their support in their reparation payments as they agreed to leave the Ruhr 5 years earlier than they had initially agreed, as a part of the Young Plan in 1929, to extend the amount of time given to pay for the £6.6 billion in reparations, as a result of the treaty of Versailles.

However, though not entirely a triumph for British foreign policy, it can certainly be considered a success in comparison to the discussions that had taken place previously, such as the Geneva Disarmament Conference of Genoa Conference of 1923, in which no acceptable negotiations had been made, Poincare refused to attend and Lloyd George had been brutally criticised for not having prevented the secret alliance that formed in the Rapallo treaty between Russia…