The Geo- Political and Economic Impact of the Treaties

I. The Impact of the First World War

**by… George Alexopoulos, Marshall Davey, Michael Chen, Jen Kim, Kerry Ayres-Smith and Tina Scruggs. Pages 32-42

• The war caused millions of deaths, mostly in Europe and the Middle East
• Dead = civilians and soldiers
• Causes – illness, war, starvation, and ethnic conflict,etc
• After four years of war, the battle lines had not shifted
• This war was far from the romanticized idea of war in Europe – optimism replaced by pessimism
• The introduction of new and terrible weapons showed people the capability of even more destructive wars
-Poisonous gas, shells, machine guns
• The prospect of another war that was as horrible as this war (or maybe even worse) terrified people
(Kerry Ayres-Smith)

• The fear of war was not only based on physical destruction, but also emotional.
• The confidence and optimism of Europeans about their high levels of education and progress had been shattered
• The period of economic prosperity and intellectual promise came to an end after the war
• After Austro-Hungarian, Russian, German and Ottoman empires collapsed, enormous political
• changes occurred: new countries and republic states emerged

  • monarchy replaced by republicanism, marked a switch of European government system, a more modern Europe

• Europe had lost the leadership of the world to the U.S.—politically and economically

  • Wilson was the hope for a better world

• Revolutionary political ideology—the Bolshevik revolution in Russia—created a new set of conflicts: collective security and the Cold War between the U.S. and the USSR
• Bolshevism challenged democracy, Europe’s political ideology, threatening to spread

  • Britain threatened by Bolshevism, wanted to keep Germany strong(ish) to act as a buffer state

(Jen Kim)

• Social structure of Western society changed—women could vote!
• Due to <b>role</b> in war, it was ensured that their social and economic roles would continue to revolutionize (moving them closer to equality)

• First war in which massive propaganda was utilized—in order to commit people emotionally towards the war effort.
• Due to the frenzy created from the propaganda, the American people both wanted and expected Germany to get murked.
• Therefore, they could not show the same consideration they did in Vienna in 1815 where the European powers met at the end of the Napoleonic wars. It can be seen as the European equivalent to the League of Nations.
• The war convinced the European nations that another war could end civilization and they wanted to avoid this at all costs.
• People felt they needed new ideas and methods of problem solving in order to avoid similar conflicts.
• Therefore, there was a sense of interdependence and mutual support among the nations.
• People were very confident in the 1920’s and hesitant to confront dictators in the 1930s because anything was better than war.

  • In conclusion— World War I impacted Europe by wiping out a large percentage of the population, making people fear more war, and developing new technologies that could potentially destroy their civilization.

(Tina Scruggs)

II. Geopolitical impacts on Treaties in Europe

(pg. 34-40)

• Collapse of Romanov (Russian), Hohenzollern (Prussian), and Hapsburg (Austro-Hungarian) left huge power void in Central Europe.
- Paris Peace Conference charged with defining frontiers of new states (in accordance with principle of self-determination)
• This was complicated because these new countries needed to be economically and politically viable.
- needed access to natural resources, trade routes, rivers, and oceans
- Giving one country a much-needed trade route for example, might violate the principle of self-determination because it might separate a group of people from their country.
Solutions to these problems
- impractical to move groups
- Allies asked new nations to pledge to protect rights of any minorities that remained within their borders.
- Minorities could appeal to the League of Nations (to the Minorities Commission)->Adjudication provided by the International Court of Justice.
New countries were politically and economically unstable
-Lead to internal tensions and disputes with neighboring states.
-Design of new states based on: ethnic, linguistic, cultural, strategic, and historical factors; aims and expectations of the allies.

(George Alexopoulos)

• Self determination
-Common language and ethnic background should determine nature of the state
-violated in South Tyrol, Polish Corridor, and Sudetenland
-Some ethnicities were too intermingled to separate completely
-Polish Corridor divided Germany into two parts fueling hatred of the treaty and Poland
-30 Million ended up as minorities in other countries
• Allies debate about self-determination:
-Cultural boundaries or economic/strategic viability more important in designing new states?
-Hoped that stable, democratic governments would develop in these countries->economic prosperity=key (example: this is why Polish Corridor was created->access to the Baltic)

Trouble in Paradise(The new states) (*Second Paragraph on p.36):

• Economic troubles
• No longer had a strong economic center like under the Austro-Hungarian Empire
• Trade barriers interrupted the flow of resources
• Trade barriers erected in order to protect fragile economies
• Serious disputes broke out over the splitting of industries and resources
• Poland and Czechoslovakia fought over coal reserves
• Lack of diplomatic and economic co-operation
• Rendered themselves weak to the eventual invasion by Germany and Russia
(Marshall Davey)

German Empowerment (p.36-37)

• unjust and nonnegotiable treaty terms
• Germany lost 12% of population and 13% of territory
• prohibited from participating in self-determination
• injustice of the treaty provoked Germany to seek a revision of the treaty at the earliest opportunity
• countries at the eastern border were weak and would be a temptation because of the power vacuum
• Germany was in a stronger position after the war in comparison to prior the war because all of the new countries to the east of Germany were much weaker than Germany. (this is the opposite of J.M. Keynes' view)
(Michael Chen)

Soviet Revisionism

•Major development during this time was the emergence of the Bolshevik regime in Russia.
•New states of Eastern Europe were not too concerned with this belief spreading because they realized Russia was strongly weakened by its political revolution and civil war.
•But like Germany, Russia would like to see a revision of the verdict of the war, and to accomplish this would require targeting the new states of Eastern Europe.
•1922 Treaty of Rapallo between Germany and Russia- undermined the restrictions that the Treaty of Versailles had placed on them.
•This would eventually restore the two nation’s strength. The two nations were determined to revise the territorial arrangements by the Treaty of Versailles.
•Both of these countries were excluded from the League of Nations.
(Shandra Washington)

The Little Entente

• An alliance between Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania in 1921 to protect their new independence from other European state.
• It was a model of co-operation, mainly military and economic, among the new states.
• This alliance was supported by France because they were looking for protection to the possibility of a German resurgence.
• Due to their loss of Russia as an ally, they needed a way to balance German power and stop their aggression by creating the prospect of a two-front war.
• With this plan France also made an alliance with Poland, who was also a new state but was actually the most powerful out of them all.
(Alex Livingston)

Economic Impacts

A.Failure to address economic issues in Treaty of Versailles
1. Did not deal with issue of Allied war debts
a. Nations struggled to pay off loans
• Created bad relations among debtor nations and United States (main money loaner)
• Caused worldwide economic instability
b. Debt issues led to conflicts between nations
• Ruhr Crisis in Germany:
France and Belgium occupied the Ruhr (center of German industry) to force Germany to pay reparations
• Caused the disintegration of Anglo-French relations

2. Attempts to alleviate tension/promote economic recovery
a. Number of international conferences to help solve these problems
• All failed, did not come up with solution
b. Actions of the United States
• Refused to nullify Allied debts, forced them to continue demanding reparations from Germany
• Offered aid to German through the Dawes plan after the Ruhr crisis
• Crisis might have been avoided if the U.S. had addressed debt problems earlier

3. Criticism of the economic aspects of Treaty of Versailles
a. John Maynard Keynes:
• Argued that demanding reparations from Germany and stripping Germany of territories and resources was a bad decision
• Argued that this would prevent Germany, an economic/industrial powerhouse, from recovering, and would therefore would hurt the economies of all European nations
b. Effects of Keynes criticism
• Led to sympathy in the U.S. and Britain for Germany
• Led to calls for revision of the treaty, specifically to remove the demand for German reparation payments
• Caused rift between Britain and France, they didn’t agree on how to treat Germany

4. Failure to promote international trade
a. Didn’t develop organization to promote/ensure international trade
• Particularly among newly created European states which needed the trade to stabilize their economies
• Added to disastrous impact of the Great Depression
(Emily Dowling)

The Establishment and Impact of the Mandate System

1. Establishment

* Colonial disputes were one of the major causes of the First World War. Not wanting this to be repeated, Wilson didn’t want to allow the winners to annex the German and Ottoman colonies as the spoils of war.
* Instead, a system was created to administer them, supervised by the League of Nations .
* Even though European powers would essentially be in control of the colonies, the intention was to prepare them to become independent democratic states in the future.
* There were three classes of mandate:

1. “A Mandates” were countries that would supposedly be ready for independence in the very near future.
2. “B Mandates” were less advanced and would not be ready for independence any time soon.
3. “C Mandates” were economically underdeveloped. They were handed over directly to the nations that had conquered them, essentially being annexed.

· In spite of the mandate system, previous arrangements had been made on how to divide German and Ottoman territory in the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 between Britain and France

2. Impact

* The mandate system was essentially territorial annexation in disguise (and a bad disguise at that).
* Even though racial equality and progress towards independence had been discussed, little progress was ever made towards these goals.
* Fir the first time, colonial powers were accountable for their colonies and responsibilities to their subjects were expected of them.
* Most of the territories went to the UK and France , angering the Italians, allowing for the rise of the nationalist movements led by Mussolini.
* The French and British control of the Middle East angered the Arabs there who wanted independence. There were several uprisings.
* Balfour Declaration of 1917, causing controversy.

The Great And Beautiful Kristen

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