Using these four passages and your own knowledge, assess the view that international diplomacy failed to achieve stability in Europe from 1919 to 1930. Initially, interpretation A presents the view that mutual pacts between Germany, Belgium and France helped peace in the region. These agreements would have allowed the possibility of future dealings as well as reducing post-war tensions; however, as interpretation D agrees, I believe this détente was an “illusion”. I believe the idea the agreements helped achieve stability to be unjustified, as the 1920’s show, arbitration through international organisations failed to work – especially where Eastern Europe was concerned. In 1920 Poland launched two aggressive wars against Lithuania and Russia, the 1920 Polish-Soviet war and the 1919 Polish-Lithuanian war respectively, and despite Lithuania’s appeals towards the League of Nations, no action was taken against Poland. Russia’s situation also highlights a problem with countries that were not invited to join the League, namely Russia and Germany, as they could not appeal to the League - this is supported by France’s military invasion of the Ruhr in 1923. This supports the idea that arbitration did not achieve stability in 1920; countries could make agreements without fear of retribution from the League if they broke them, and this would have furthered paranoia amongst newer and smaller states in Eastern Europe who were unable to properly defend themselves. Fear from attacks would have led to a build up in arms, armaments, and alliances as is shown with the formation of the ‘Little Entente’ between Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia in 1919 and 1920. While one could argue this would have led to stability through stability, the Genoa Conference of 1922 highlighted tensions between the countries, especially where the Soviet Union was concerned – because of its failures, I believe it served only to increase tensions in the East with the Soviet Union and Germany. This shows the failing of international diplomacy and also can be used to show the unjustified view Mowat presents in regards to the Rhineland. Mowat refers to the Rhineland, the industrial heart of Germany, as Europe’s “most vulnerable area” and the Locarno treaties would have led to stability through dealing with it, however I believe that this is a very short-sighted opinion that completely ignores the issues that plagued Eastern Europe at the time. The East was a hotbed of activity; Bolshevik revolutions in Russia saw a communist group perform a coup against the previous regime, followed by the Bavarian Soviet Republic and the Hungarian Revolution; this would have created a lot of tension in the East due to the rising fear of communism – the inadequate response to these issues shows the failings of international diplomacy with the focus being on the West. Likewise, Mowat also seems to believe in the promises made by Britain and Italy, guaranteeing support to any nation who is the victim of an attack. In theory, having two of the more powerful nations on the continent making promises to protect neighbours is a solid strategy for ensuring peace, their stronger militaries and untouched lands would have seemed to have given them the means to support their declarations. However, the belief that they could support a continent is very one-sided and lacks proper evidence to support it; Mowat does not explain factors which may have hindered their ability to make good on their promises. For example, Britain was fractured post-war due to Irish independence granted in 1921 and coupled with their massively reduced military spending from £700 million to £200 million, their movement from war to peace and the great losses incurred in World War 1 would have significantly reduced the likelihood that Britain would have intentionally gotten themselves into another conflict – the public opinion of war was very negative and it would have been difficult for any government to justify another conflict. Likewise, Italy was relatively undamaged after the war which left them in a stronger position relative to their neighbours. However, with the appointment of Benito Mussolini in 1922 which put in a Germany-sympathetic government in power and Italy’s frustration over Fuime put them in agitated state towards other members of the triple entente which would have reduced the chances that Italy would declare any sort of military action against a renewed Germany and these differing views between members of the League would create an uneasy environment within Europe, showing the failing of international diplomacy in achieving stability.
Similarly to interpretation A, Sally Marks presents the view that diplomatic negotiations in Europe were advancing and that Germany was beginning to accept the conditions of Versailles. She claims “Stressemann was gracious” at the events but fails to mention his private persona which heavily contrasted the façade he displayed in public – because of this I think it is unsubstantiated to claim that international diplomacy was in any way achieving stability through Stressemann. This is supported by the treaty of Rapallo in 1923 which included dealings which allowed Germany to construct weapons on Russian soil in exchange for research cooperation, this shows that Stressemann was not complying with the terms at all and the rearming of Germany would have increased tensions across the continent, especially for France and smaller states in the East. Considering that Russia was not a part of the League shows that Stressemann was looking to cooperate with powers outside of central Europe, politically and geographically and that Briand’s attempt to “enmesh Germany in a new web of European integration” was not entirely successful. This is supported by interpretation C and the evidence that “Stressemann knew…in spite of Locarno” shows that leaders were not fully committed to Locarno despite German cooperation being the most important. This conflict of interests between the respective leaders in Europe highlights the growing schism between those in the West and those in the East, causing political instability and isolation. This supports the idea that international diplomacy failed to achieve stability due to the amount of double-dealings going on, especially from Germany – their inward attitude would show signs of a possible unwillingness to fully cooperate, even if they publically were open to the idea.
In contrast to the view provided by interpretation C, Anthony Adamthwaite looks at the limitations of the diplomatic negotiations. He presents the idea that the economic recovery in the mid-1920s helped provide an illusion of prosperity rather than diplomatic relations. The 1920s saw soldiers re-enter the work forces of numerous nations, providing a great increase in urabnisation and infrastructure; wartime wages and new items on the market also helped bolster economies in the West. This would have helped maintain the “illusion” as people would have been distracted with more domestic affairs such as universal suffrage or culture explosions such as the Harlem Renaissance over international ones and any possible problems would have been overshadowed by the progress that was being made in other areas. However, I believe it’s one-sided to claim that Locarno was merely and illusion bolstered by the economic growth. Speeches made by Briand and the German delegates in Geneva in 1926 claimed to be very hopeful and this shows that despite the tensions that existed, some people may have genuinely felt a sense of reconciliation at Locarno which would have been helpful in securing stability in Europe as it promoted cooperation. However, similarly to interpretation C, I believe that Locarno “bore no fruit” in the end and the positive feelings ultimately resulted in nothing and agreements such as France’s vow to protect Czechoslovakia is an example of this; no action was taken against Adolf Hitler during his invasion in 1939 despite their initial satisfaction with the defensive treaties. This shows that the agreements made at Locarno were nothing more than lines in the sand that would easily be washed away by conflict – Germany knew that their words were hollow which is why they were so easily able to take land in Europe without retribution. Rather than creating stability, we see a situation where international diplomacy created a situation where in Germany could quickly rise in power due to the ineffectiveness of the Locarno treaties. Interpretation D presents the view that Germany was “free of the checks imposed on it by Versailles"