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Contemporary History Christian Blasberg LUISS Guido Carli University.

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Presentation on theme: "Contemporary History Christian Blasberg LUISS Guido Carli University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Contemporary History Christian Blasberg LUISS Guido Carli University

2 Interwar Period International Relations 1919-1939 – Crisis 1919-1923 – Détente 1923-1929 – Crisis 1929-1933 – Tension 1933-1939 The Fascist Regime in Italy The Rise of Nazism in Germany

3 International Relations 1919-39 The League of Nations Rapallo: Alliance of the Outcasts The Ruhr Crisis US Financial Interventions: Dawes and Young Locarno The Failure of Disarmament German Revisionism - Allied Appeasement


5 The League of Nations Symbol of International Organization that failed. Why? – US Senate refuses membership (return to traditional isolation) – Loser countries of WWI not admitted; doubtful re-start – No own military intervention forces – Great Powers reluctant to send their forces without direct national interest – European powers France, Great Britain, Italy tied to old style diplomatic relations – Small conflict solutions (Aland islands 1926), but failure in greater conflicts (War in Abyssinia 1935/36) – Disarmament: definition of national security limit can be interpreted – L. Einaudi: intergovernmental structure not sufficient to create peace; League needs right to interfere in other states internal affairs – Withdrawal of Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan in 1930’s creates opposite “camp”, makes LoN party in global conflict

6 Reintegration of international outcasts The 1922 “Easter Surprise”: the German-Soviet Rapallo Treaty – Int. Genoa Conference to settle economic relations; Eastern Europe – 1 st participation of Germany and Soviet Russia – Separate agreement: G and SR normalize relations; mutual economic (military) aid – Unforeseen by Allies; creates counter-pole to Versailles signatories Ruhr Crisis 1923 – French enforcement attempt for German reparations payments – Britain reluctant; wants lowering of reparations burden – General Strike – passive resistance (130 dead) – hyper-inflation (calculated self-wreckage of German economy?) – International sympathy for Germany grows Dawes Plan 1924 (Young Plan 1929)


8 Locarno Treaties 1925 Reorder international system after Ruhr Crisis failure The “Real Peace Conference”? – Conference not LoN initiative, but “traditional” nations diplomacy French-German agreement (GB, Italy as guarantors) – Confirms western borders – No mention of German eastern borders (Poland, Czechoslovakia)  free hand for future revision? – Germany in LoN (permanent Council member) Nobel Peace Price 1926 for A.Briand and G.Stresemann Disarmament issue still conflicted


10 The “Little Entente” French security concern: protection between both, Germany and Soviet Russia Cordon Sanitaire 1921: French sponsored alliance of Yugoslavia, Romania, Czechoslovakia (against revisionism of Hungary) Poland involved, too In 1930’s unable to act when Hungary expands with German support; French passivity

11 The Failure of Disarmament Kellogg-Briand Pact 1928 (France, USA, Germany etc.): – no war to solve conflicts – No LoN initiative Geneva Disarmament Conference by 1931 (-1937) Problems: – Definition of “offensive” and “defensive” weapons – 1929 Economic Crisis – German claims for equal treatment (  RE-armament to catch up) – France: Maginot-Line – Hitler: total refusal of Versailles order

12 German Revisionism Stresemann: peaceful revision of Versailles order – Growing international comprehension for German revisionist position (  Locarno) – Stresemann guarantor for German good faith and peaceful intentions – dies in 1929 – Economic Crisis – Crisis of peaceful revisionism (1930-33) Hitler: revisionism by force – German exit from LoN – Stop of all reparations payments – Rearmament (exit from Geneva conference) – 1936: occupation of demilitarized Rhineland – 1938: annexation of Austria and Sudetenland (from Czechosl.) – 1939: dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, invasion of Poland  WWII

13 Allied Appeasement P.Kennedy: “settling international quarrels by satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and compromise, avoiding the resort to an armed conflict, which would be expensive, bloody and dangerous” LoN’s inaction: – Japan’s invasion of Manchuria 1931: no help for LoN member China – Italian attack on LoN member Abyssinia 1935: no measures to stop military conquest British-German Naval Agreement 1935 German occupation of Rhineland 1936: no reaction – Britain: German claims justified, not risking war for German own land (LoN: inner-German affair) – France: economic consequences of full mobilization; German force over- estimated (psychological state) Munich agreement 1938: – Sudetenland ethnically German  annexation in line with principle of national self-determination – Saving international peace by sacrificing Czechoslovakia




17 Rapallo 1922: Alliance of the Outcasts 1922: German-Soviet agreement at Rapallo to counterbalance winner countries – Kind of “separate peace” in substitution of Treaty of Brest-Litovsk – First international treaty with Soviet Russia after Civil War – Economic cooperation – Oriented against Poland – Other powers need to consider both in international affairs – Confirmed by Treaty of Berlin 1926 (prelude to Hitler-Stalin Pact 1939) 1925 Locarno Conference (after Ruhr Crisis and Dawes Plan): – Reintegration of Germany into international affairs (1926 adhesion to LoN) – French-German understanding on Western borders, leaving out the question of German-Polish borders – Poland isolated, abandoned by French ally – Revision of Versailles? 1924-29 perceived as international détente; Economic Crisis of 1929 made national interests and security concerns resurface

18 Great Britain Consolidated parliamentary Monarchy Transition of parties: – Split of Liberals during War: Asquith vs. Lloyd-George (1916 PM of National Liberals in War Cabinet) – Rise of Labour before War, but split over British participation; after 1918 profit from Liberal split 1922 first time 2 nd party (after Conservatives) 1924 first Labour gov’t (MacDonald) with Liberal’s (Asquith) support Resignation due to Liberal’s withdrawal (end of ‘24); Zinoviev Letter Conservative prevalence in 20’s and 30’s (Baldwin), but: – 1929 Labour 1 st party - second MacDonald gov’t: moderate line – 1931 National Government: Split of ‘National Labour’ with MacDonald from main Labour – electoral confirmation of National Government (Nat. Labour + Conservatives + most Liberals) – until 1935 Since 1935 Conservative governments (Baldwin, Camberlain); appeasement

19 France Nationalist wave after WWI – 1919 election victory of center-right “Bloc National”, including Action Francaise – AF monarchist movement (C. Maurras); integral nationalism; anti-semitism; leading intellectual influence since Dreyfus-Affaire 1924 (after failure of Ruhr-occupation) left “Cartel des Gauches” (E.Herriot) Radical Party: liberal center; incarnation of Republic; legacy of French Revolution/jacobinism – Switch of coalition between right ad left; government party – Represents most of political class Limited alternance; in 1930 polarization after appearance of right-wing leagues; participation of Communist party in Popular Front Government (1936) – Few shape of political parties; re-arrangement of political groups after elections 3 rd Republic subject of many financial scandals (from late 20’s on) – few consideration of political class  (explanation for Vichy?) Problem of negative demography; security against Germany

20 Fascism in Democracies Great Britain: – British Union of Fascists (O.Mosley) since 1932 – remains marginal France: – Republican, democratic tradition: thesis of “immunity” against fascism, BUT: – Strong anti-semitism (Dreyfus Affair 1894-98) – Action Francaise (C.Maurras): integral nationalism – G.Sorel inspirer of Mussolini, G.Valois – 1920’s: extreme right-wing leagues: Jeunesses Patriotes, Faisceau (Valois) vs. Left-wing government – 1930’s: Croix de Feu (La Rocque) become mass organization – Parti Social Francais (1,5 mio members by 1937); Parti Populaire Francais (J.Doriot) supports German Nazis – 6 February 1934: extreme right wing riots in Paris against Republican political leadership (Coup d’Etat attempt?) – 1936: Front Populaire government (Blum) – polarization – 1938 Daladier government adopts authoritarian measures (to preempt PSF threat?)

21 Germany (Weimar Republic) Weimar Coalition (SPD, Liberals, Catholic) loses majority in 1920 After 1923 consolidation Dawes (1924) and Young (1929) Plan for reparations – economic growth linked to US economy Cultural progressism Stresemann represents moderate nationalism accepting democratic system – illusion of stability Growing nationalist agitation – Monarchists and Nazi Party Fragmentation of political parties, rise of extremes (left and right) 1928 new Grand coalition (Müller), but fails after Economic Crisis 1929 German economy collapses after US stock market crash Since 1930 semi-authoritarian regime (art. 48 of Constitution)

22 Czechoslovakia: a model democracy? Independent 1918 with democratic constitution – Multiethnic state: Czechs, Slovaks, Ukrainians, Germans, Hungarians, Poles – French, British, US protection; part of “cordon sanitaire” between revanchist (Germany, Hungary) and bolshevist (Soviet Union) countries Tomas Masaryk and Edvard Benes guarantors of democracy, but: – Ethnic conflicts not absorbed in democratic process – Minorities don’t find place in a federalist system – centralized state – No leading party emerges Under Benes (1935) orientation towards Soviet Union in fear of German aggression

23 Failed Democracies Poland: attempt for democratic regime until 1926 – Pilsudski authoritarian dictator – Minority problem claims need for strong central power Romania: Greater national union in 1918; democratic Constitution in 1923 granting equal rights to ethnic and religious minorities, but radicalization in impoverished country – Strong role of Monarchy; nomination of Prime Minister before elections – Iron Guard Greece: political trouble after population exchange with Turkey; democratic attempt in 1924, but authoritarian putsch by 1935 Reasons for failure of Democracy: – Impact of Italian Fascist Regime; – traditional authoritarianism; – lack of democratic education – Minority struggles

24 A New International Order The League of Nations Rappallo 1922: An ‘Anti-Versailles’ alliance The Locarno Treaties 1925 The ‘Little Entente’

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