Locarno Conference 1925
The Terms of the Locarno Treaties
• Under the main Locarno treaty Germany, France and Belgium agreed to accept their existing borders with each other as set up by the Versailles Treaty.
• Britain and Italy agreed to 'guarantee' the main agreement; this meant that Britain and Italy promised to take action if any of the three countries attacked each other.
• The main agreement and the guarantee did not apply to the eastern borders of Germany as laid down by the Versailles Treaty.
• Germany agreed to join the League of Nations.
• In separate treaties signed at Locarno, France promised to defend Belgium, Poland and Czechoslovakia if any of these countries was attacked by Germany.
In September 1926 the German delegates took their place at the Leagues Assembly Hall in Geneva. People saw this as a very historic and hopeful moment. They felt that the scars of the First World War were beginning to heal.
The French leader, Briand, gave the Germans an enthusiastic welcome in his speech to the Assembly, saying, Away with rifles, machine guns and cannon! Make way for arbitration, conciliation and peace!' Locarno was seen as a symbol of a new period of peace and stability. Some talked enthusiastically about the 'spirit of Locarno'.
A minority of people were much more suspicious of the Locarno settlement. Behind his back, civil servants at the British Foreign Office made up a rhyme that expressed their view of the British Foreign Secretary: 'Good Sir Austen at Locarno, Fell into a heap of guano.'
Locarno: The Impact on Germany
• The main Locarno agreement said nothing about German frontiers in the east, and this encouraged German hopes to overturn this part of the 1919 settlement. Poland and Czechoslovakia were not allowed to take part in the main discussions and their representatives were invited to join only at the end in order to be told what the larger powers had decided.
• Each state saw the treaty differently. For Germany, Locarno was the beginning of change to the Versailles Treaty.
• The Locarno settlement was a great triumph for the German Foreign Minister, Stresemann. After Locarno large amounts of American money were invested in Germany and this helped the Germans to improve their factories. Stresemann was not content with Locarno. He continued to ask for further concessions.
Locarno: The Impact on France
• The power of France to intervene in Germany was weakened by Locarno. The section forbidding invasion stopped France from repeating the 1923 occupation of the Ruhr.
• The French leaders continued to feel threatened and insecure after Locarno. They knew that sooner or later Allied troops would have to leave the Rhineland and that this would strengthen the German threat. This feeling of insecurity was expressed in the decision in 1927 to build the Maginot Line. Between 1929 and 1939 the French government spent a vast amount of money on the building of a huge line of fortifications along the border with Germany. This was the brainchild of a politician called Andre Maginot, and it was named after him.