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The Locarno Treaties were seven agreements negotiated at Locarnomarker, Switzerlandmarker on 5 October – 16 October 1925 and formally signed in Londonmarker on December 1, in which the First World War Western European Allied powers and the new states of central and Eastern Europe sought to secure the post-war territorial settlement, in return normalizing relations with defeated Germanymarker (which was, by this time, the Weimar Republicmarker). Locarno divided borders in Europe into two categories: western, which were guaranteed by Locarno treaties, and eastern borders (of Germany), which were open for revision.


The Locarno discussion arose from exchanges of notes between the United Kingdommarker, Francemarker and Germany over the summer of 1925 following German foreign minister Gustav Stresemann's February 9 proposal for a reciprocal of his country's western frontiers as established under the unfavourable 1919 Treaty of Versailles, as a means of facilitating Germany's diplomatic rehabilitation among the western powers.

At least one of the main reasons Britain promoted the Locarno Pact of 1925, besides to promote Franco-German reconciliation, was because of the understanding that if Franco-Germanrelations improved, France would gradually abandon the Cordon sanitaire, as the French alliance system in Eastern Europe was known between the wars. Once France had abandoned its allies in Eastern Europe, thereby creating an situation where the Poles and Czechoslovaks having no Great Power to protect them from Germany, would be forced to adjust to German demands, and hence in the British viewpoint would peacefully hand over the territories claimed by Germany such as the Sudetenland, the Polish Corridor and the Free City of Danzigmarker (modern Gdańskmarker, Poland). In this way, promoting territorial revisionism in Eastern Europe in Germany’s favor was one of the principle British objects of Locarno, making Locarno an early instance of Appeasement.

Parties and agreement

The principal treaty concluded at Locarno was the "Rhineland Pact" between Germanymarker, Francemarker, Belgiummarker, the United Kingdommarker, and Italymarker. The first three signatories undertook not to attack each other, with the latter two acting as guarantors. In the event of aggression by any of the first three states against another, all other parties were to assist the country under attack.

Germany also agreed to sign arbitration conventions with France and Belgium and arbitration treaties with Polandmarker and Czechoslovakiamarker, undertaking to refer disputes to an arbitration tribunal or to the Permanent Court of International Justice.

France signed further treaties with Poland and Czechoslovakia, pledging mutual assistance in the event of conflict with Germany. These essentially reaffirmed existing treaties of alliance concluded by France with Poland on 19 February 1921 and with Czechoslovakia on 25 January 1924.


The Locarno Treaties were regarded as the keystone of the improved western European diplomatic climate of 1924-1930, introducing a hope for international peace, typically called the "spirit of Locarno". This spirit was seen in Germany's admission to the League of Nations, the international organization established under the Versailles treaty to promote world peace and co-operation, and in the subsequent withdrawal (completed in June 1930) of Allied troops from Germany's western Rhineland.

In contrast, in Poland, the public humiliation received by Polish diplomats was one of contributing factors to the fall of the Grabski cabinet. Locarno contributed to the worsening of atmosphere between Poland and France (despite the French-Polish alliance), and introduced distrust between Poland and Western countries. Locarno divided borders in Europe in two categories: those guaranteed by Locarno, and others, which were free for revision. In words of Józef Beck: "Germany was officially asked to attack the east, in return for peace in the west." The failure at Locarno may be also one of the contributory factors in the decision of Józef Piłsudski to overthrow parliamentary democracy in Poland. With regards to Locarno, Piłsudski would say "every honest Pole spits when he hear this word [Locarno]". Later, when a French ambassador assured him France would always back Poland and stand up to Germany, Piłsudski, foreseeing the appeasement, would say: "No, no, believe me, you will back down, really, you will."

One notable exception from the Locarno arrangements was, however, the Soviet Unionmarker, which foresaw western détente as potentially deepening its own political isolation in Europe, in particular by detaching Germany from her own understanding with Moscowmarker under the April 1922 Treaty of Rapallo. Political tensions also continued throughout the period in eastern Europe. Therefore this treaty made Germany pay $50 million to the Soviet Union.

The Locarno spirit did not survive the revival of German nationalism from 1930. Proposals in 1934 for an "eastern Locarno" pact securing Germany's eastern frontiers foundered on German opposition and on Poland's insistence that her eastern borders should be covered by any western guarantee of her borders. Germanymarker formally repudiated her Locarno undertakings in sending troops into the demilitarized Rhineland on 7 March 1936.

In both 1925 and 1926 the Nobel Peace Prize was given to the lead negotiators of the treaty, going to Sir Austen Chamberlain in 1925 and jointly to Aristide Briand and Gustav Stresemann in 1926.

See also


  1. "For me, Locarno means opening the possibility of taking back from Poland of German provinces in the east" Gustav Stresemann
  2. Schuker, Stephen “The End of Versailles” pages 38-56 from The Origins of the Second World War Reconsidered edited by Gordon Martel Routledge: London, United Kingdom, 1999pages 48-49.
  3. Schuker, Stephen “The End of Versailles” pages 38-56 from The Origins of the Second World War Reconsidered edited by Gordon Martel Routledge: London, United Kingdom, 1999pages 48-49.
  4. Stanisław Sierpowski, "Polityka zagraniczna Polski międzywojennej", Warszawa 1994
  5. Józef Beck, "Dernier rapport. Politique polonaise 1926 - 1939", 1951
  6. Marian Eckert, "Historia polityczna Polski, lata 1918-1939". Warszawa 1989


  • Schuker, Stephen “The End of Versailles” pages 38-56 from The Origins of the Second World War Reconsidered A.J.P. Taylor And The Historians edited by Gordon Martel, Routledge: London, United Kingdom, 1999, ISBN 0415163250

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