Treaty of Rapallo (1922)

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Chancellor of Germany Joseph Wirth (2.from left) with Krassin, Georgi Chicherin and Joffe from the Russian delegation.

The Treaty of Rapallo was an agreement signed on 16 April, 1922 between Germany and Russia under which each renounced all territorial and financial claims against the other following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and World War I.

The two governments also agreed to normalise their diplomatic relations and to "co-operate in a spirit of mutual goodwill in meeting the economic needs of both countries".

It was a spinoff of the Genoa Conference, which included Germany and the Soviet Union. It had broken down when France demanded that the Soviets assume the prewar debt incurred by the tsarist regime and on immediate reparations by the Germans to the USSR. The German and Russian delegates quietly slipped away and met at Rapallo. The Treaty was negotiated by Georgi Chicherin, foreign minister of the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic, and his German counterpart Walther Rathenau. Ratifications were exchanged in Berlin on January 31, 1923. It was signed at the Hotel Imperiale in the Italian town of Santa Margherita Ligure, and registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on September 19, 1923.[1] The treaty did not include secret military provisions; however secret military cooperation soon followed.[2]

A supplementary agreement signed in Berlin on November 5 extended the treaty to cover Germany's relations with Soviet republics of Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Far Eastern Republic. Ratifications were exchanged in Berlin on October 26, 1923, and the supplementary protocol was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on July 18, 1924.[3]

The agreement was reaffirmed by the Treaty of Berlin, 1926.

Background[edit]

Both Germany and the Soviet Union were left vulnerable in the period following the end of World War I. Germany had lost the war, leaving it diplomatically isolated, and the Treaty of Versailles after the war led to the loss of German territories, German disarmament, and the cession of German territories. The Soviet Union had left the war before its end in 1917, due to the Bolshevik revolution and ceded many of its Western territories to Germany in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk; after Germany′s defeat, this territory was transformed into a number of new, independent states, including Poland. Like the Germans, the Soviets were left diplomatically isolated as their transition to communist rule had led to the loss of western allies.

Germany initially hoped to pursue peaceful changes to the Versailles Treaty, and its main territorial goal was to reclaim certain portions of western Poland. An initially conciliatory posture failed in 1919, leading Germany to institute an economic blockade of Poland in January 1920.[4] This effort to force changes also failed, and led to severe losses for German businessmen.[5] These failures led Germany to look for other alternatives, which reached their most extreme form in the proposal of Hans von Seeckt, commander of the Reichswehr (German military), who suggested that Germany and the Soviet Union should conclude an alliance to jointly invade Poland, followed by a war on France. His proposals did not have much impact on official policy, but the general idea of seeking closer cooperation with Russia began to gain currency among a number of groups, including German businessmen who saw market opportunities in Russia.[6]

Like Germany, Russia hoped to make territorial gains at Poland′s expense, but it was left without an effective means of doing so. Early in 1919, the Polish-Soviet War had broken out over border disputes between the two countries. After initial Soviet victories, the Poles counterattacked successfully, and a compromise peace was reached in March 1921, leaving Soviet desires for border revision largely unfulfilled. The war also left the Soviets even further isolated from Britain and France.[7] This common isolation and interest in revision in Poland led to a natural sympathy between Russia and Germany. At the Tenth Party Conference in 1921, the Soviets settled on a policy of pursuing opportunities for trade with the Western powers, which could supply badly needed industrial materials.

The joint German-Soviet concerns first led to signing, in May 1921, of a treaty between the two nations under which Germany recognized the Soviet regime as the only legitimate government of Russia, and agreed to suspend relations with all other groups which still claimed power. This agreement paved the way for future cooperation between the two.[8]

Text of agreement[edit]

The German Government, represented by Dr Walther Rathenau, Minister of State, and the Government of the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic, represented by M. Tchitcherin, People's Commissary, have agreed upon the following provisions:
Article 1
The two Governments are agreed that the arrangements arrived at between the German Reich and the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic, with regard to questions dating from the period of war between Germany and Russia, shall be definitely settled upon the following basis:

[a] The German Reich and the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic mutually agree to waive their claims for compensation for expenditure incurred on account of the war, and also for war damages, that is to say, any damages which may have been suffered by them and by their nationals in war zones on account of military measures, including all requisitions in enemy country. Both Parties likewise agree to forgo compensation for any civilian damages, which may have been suffered by the nationals of the one Party on account of so-called exceptional war measures or on account of emergency measures carried out by the other Party.

[b] Legal relations in public and private matters arising out of the state of war, including the question of the treatment of trading vessels which have fallen into the hands of either Party, shall be settled on a basis of reciprocity.

[c] Germany and Russia mutually agree to waive their claims for compensation for expenditure incurred by either party on behalf of prisoners of war. Furthermore the German Government agrees to forgo compensation within regard to the expenditure incurred by it on behalf of members of the Red Army interned in Germany. The Russian Government agrees to forgo the restitution of the proceeds of the sale carried out in Germany of the army stores brought into Germany by the interned members of the Red Army mentioned above.

Article 2
Germany waives all claims against Russia which may have arisen through the application, up to the present, of the laws and measures of the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic to German nationals or their private rights and the rights of the German Reich and states, and also claims which may have arisen owing to any other measures taken by the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic or by their agents against German nationals or the private rights, on condition that the government of the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic does not satisfy claims for compensation of a similar nature made by a third Party.

Article 3
Diplomatic and consular relations between the German Reich and the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic shall be resumed immediately. The conditions for the admission of the Consuls of both Parties shall be determined by means of a special agreement.

Article 4
Both Governments have furthermore agreed that the establishment of the legal status of those nationals of the one Party, which live within the territory of the other Party, and the general regulation of mutual, commercial and economic relations, shall be effected on the principle of the most favoured nation. This principle shall, however, not apply to the privileges and facilities which the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic may grant to a Soviet Republic or to any State which in the past formed part of the former Russian Empire.

Article 5
The two Governments shall co-operate in a spirit of mutual goodwill in meeting the economic needs of both countries. In the event of a fundamental settlement of the above question on an international basis, an exchange of opinions shall previously take place between the two Governments. The German Government, having lately been informed of the proposed agreements of private firms, declares its readiness to give all possible support to these arrangements and to facilitate their being carried into effect.

Article 6
Articles 1[b] and 4 of this Agreement shall come into force on the day of ratification, and the remaining provisions shall come into force immediately.
Original text done in duplicate at Rapallo on April 16, 1922

Signed: Rathenau

Signed: Tchitcherin

Text of Supplementary Agreement November 5, 1922[edit]

The plenipotentiary of the German Government, namely Freiherr von Maltzan, Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs; the plenipotentiary of the Socialist Soviet Republic of the Ukraine, namely, Herr Waldemar Aussem, Member of the Central Executive Committee for all Ukraine, and also the plenipotentiary of the Government of the Socialist Soviet Republic of White Russia, the Socialist Soviet Republic of Georgia, the Socialist Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, the Socialist Soviet Republic of Armenia, and the Republic of the Far East, namely Herr Nikolaus Krestinski, plenipotentiary and Ambassador of the Russian Socialist Soviet Republic in Berlin; having communicated their full powers, which were found in good and due form, agreed to the following provisions:

Article 1

The Treaty signed at Rapallo, on April 16, 1922, between the German Reich and the Russian Socialist Soviet Republic shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to the relations between the German Reich, on the one hand, and; [1] the Socialist Soviet Republic of the Ukraine; [2] the Socialist Soviet Republic of White Russia; [3] the Socialist Soviet Republic of Georgia; [4] the Socialist Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan; [5] the Socialist Soviet Republic of Armenia, and; [6] the Republic of the Far East,---- hereinafter referred to as States allied the R S F S R --- on the other hand. As regards Article 2 of the Treaty of Rapallo, this shall be valid for the application down to April 16, 1922, of the laws and measures specified therein.

Article 2

The German Government and the Government of the Socialist Soviet Republic of the Ukraine are agreed that the determination and the settlement of such claims as may have arisen in favour either of the German Government or of the Government of the Ukraine since the conclusion of the state of war between Germany and the Ukraine during the period in which German troops were present in the Ukraine shall be reserved.

Article 3

All nationals of one of the Contracting Parties who are resident on the territory of the other Party shall enjoy complete legal protection of their persons in conformity with international law and the general laws of the country of residence.

Nationals of the German Reich who enter the territory of the States allied to the RSFSR in conformity with the passport regulations, or who are at present resident there, shall be granted inviolability in respect of all property taken with them and of all property acquired on the territory of the States allied with the RSFSR provided that the acquisition and employment of that property is in accordance with the laws of the State of residence or with specific agreements made with the competent authorities of that State. The exportation of property acquired in the State allied to the RSFSR shall, unless otherwise provided for in special agreements, be governed by the laws and regulations of the State allied to the RSFSR.

Article 4

The Governments of the States allied with the RSFSR shall be entitled to establish, at places in Germany where they have diplomatic representatives or one of their consular agents, national trade offices which shall have the same legal status as the Russian trade delegation in Germany. In this case they shall recognise as binding upon themselves all legal acts performed either by the director of their trade office or by officials invested by him with full powers, provided that such officials act in accordance with the full powers granted to them.

Article 5

In order to facilitate economic relations between the German Reich on the one hand, and the States allied with the RSFSR on the other hand, the following principles have been laid down:

[1] All agreements concluded between nationals of the German Reich, German legal persons, or German firms on the one hand, and the Governments of the States allied with the RSFSR, or their national trade offices mentioned in Article 4, or individuals, legal persons, or firms belonging to those states, on the other hand, and also the economic effects of such agreements, shall be dealt with according to the laws of the State in which they were concluded and shall be subject to the jurisdiction of that State. This provision shall not apply to agreements which were concluded before the coming into force of the present Treaty.

[2] The agreements mentioned under [1] may contain an arbitration clause. Provision may also be made in such agreements for bringing them under the jurisdiction of one of the contracting States.

Article 6

The States allied with the RSFSR shall allow persons who possessed German nationality but have since lost it, and also their wives and children, to leave the country, provided that proof is forthcoming that they are transferring their residence to Germany.

Article 7

The delegations of both Parties and all persons employed in connection therewith shall refrain from any agitation or propaganda against the Government and national institutions of the country in which they reside.

Article 8

This Treaty may, as regards the above Articles 3 to 6, and also as regards the corresponding application of Article 4 of the Treaty of Rapallo, be denounced on three months notice being given.

Such denunciation may be notified by Germany to any one of the States allied with the RSFSR to take effect only for her relations with that State and, conversely, by any one of these States to Germany, to take effect only for relations between that single State and Germany.

If the Treaty thus denounced is not replaced by a commercial treaty, the Governments concerned shall be entitled, on the expiration of the period of notice, to appoint a commission of five members for the purpose of liquidating such business transactions as have already been commenced. The members of the commission shall be regarded as representatives of a nondiplomatic character and shall liquidate all transactions at the latest within six months after the expiry of this Treaty.

Article 9

This Treaty shall be ratified. Special instruments of ratification shall be exchanged between Germany on the one hand, and each one of the States allied with the RSFSR on the other hand. Immediately the exchange is made, the Treaty shall enter into force as between the States taking part in the exchange.

Done on November 5, 1922

Signed: Maltzan

Signed: W Aussem

Signed: N Krestinski

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. 19, pp. 248-252.
  2. ^ Gordon H. Mueller, "Rapallo Reexamined: A New Look at Germany's Secret Military Collaboration with Russia in 1922," Military Affairs (1976) 40#3 pp 109-117 in JSTOR
  3. ^ League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. 26, pp. 388-394.
  4. ^ Lee and Michalka 50
  5. ^ Lee and Michalka 51
  6. ^ Lee and Michalka 58-59
  7. ^ Kochan 115-116
  8. ^ Kochan 117


References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Dyck, Harvey Leonard. Weimar Germany & Soviet Russia 1926-1933 (1966)
  • Fink, Carol, Axel Frohn, and Jurgen Heideking, eds. Genoa, Rapallo, and European Reconstruction in 1922 Cambridge University Press. 1991.
  • Fink, Carol. The Genoa Conference: European Diplomacy, 1921–1922 U of North Carlina press, 1984
  • Himmer, Robert. "Rathenau, Russia, and Rapallo." Central European History (1976) 9#2 pp 146-183.
  • Kochan, Lionel. "The Russian Road to Rapallo". Soviet Studies, Vol. 2, No. 2 (October 1950), pp. 109–122.
  • Lee, Marshall and Wolfgang Michalka. German Foreign Policy 1917-1933: Continuity or Break?. (Berg, St.Martin's Press 1987)
  • Salzmann, Stephanie. Great Britain, Germany, and the Soviet Union: Rapallo and After, 1922-1934 Vol. 29. Boydell & Brewer, 2003.