Treaty of Rapallo

[Copies of the Rapallo Treaty and the supplementary agreement are set out below this introduction]

In the 1920's the German army was more than a bit hacked off at having lost WW1, and not exactly chuffed at the restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. Looking around it saw opportunities such as the Treaty of Rapallo to circumvent the restrictions that were capping the size, ability and components of the German armed forces.

I agree with those that say the 1922 Treaty of Rapallo was largely the outcome of the new Soviet Russia being locked out of the international community and finding a bed-fellow in the defeated Germany, then the pariah in the diplomatic community.

It would be fair to say that one of the main reasons for the two parties to sign a treaty was simply to cock a snook at the establishment of the day, which was refusing, more in pique than rational argument, to include the Soviets in the diplomatic circuit or to include the Germans in any meaningful way.

An international conference on economic questions and reparations could hardly have been considered as practical and prudent if two of the major players of the day were excluded. Little wonder that they went off to play together elsewhere.

Certainly military history shows that co-operation took place between the parties, clandestinely and probably of limited value to both parties. It was simply the best on offer to them at the time.

I do not think that either side could ever muster enough trust in the other to overcome their individual paranoia to the extent of full co-operation. Okay, so the common "enemy" at the time was Poland, but they were both very aware that they had been at each others throats before, very recently in fact, and could well be again at short notice.

Basically the Soviets were, as was in my view their pattern for the whole of their existence, short of the resources and initiatives to create the technologies necessary to efficiently slaughter those one felt due such attentions. "Comrade USpatentoffice" and industrialists such as Ford were not the only sources of the "glories of Soviet Power".

The first tangible Soviet-German co-operation was, as far as I know, an agreement on 15 March 1922, which foreshadowed the open political statement of the Treaty of Rapallo. This agreement, to build an aeroplane factory in the Soviet Union, was between Junkers and the Soviet government. Junkers put up the expertise and the Soviet put up the money.

In 1922 German troops were sent to train in the Soviet Union, the quid pro quo being the Soviets got the advantage of observing and participating in German military training methods.

The parties also co-operated in the manufacture of poison gas and munitions in the Soviet Union, for the Germans to train with and equip their army. I believe that a lot more promises than actual gas or munitions would have been forthcoming if the Soviets followed their usual practices in such circumstances.

About 1929 a tank training ground was operational in the Soviet Union in Kazan for German personnel and limited co-operation was established between the army staffs for participating in Soviet war games.

With the growth of air power the ability for Germans to train as pilots at Lipetsk in the Soviet Union was also welcomed, a forerunner of the training grounds that the Spanish civil war would provide the same parties, albeit in a somewhat more realistic setting.

Apparently factories were also established at Samara which may have produced aircraft, submarines, guns and various munitions.

Germans such as General Hans von Seeckt dreamed of an alliance with the Soviets that would at least last long enough to finish off the state of Poland, as a precursor to the rise of a new Germany.

Nice simplistic military thinking, devoid of any practical realism; it did however, in my view, all help Hitler to rise to power on the dreams of those who thought they could supplant him in power when he had done the spade work.

I think that, given a bit less paranoia in the "West" at the time, the Treaty of Rapallo should have been seen for what it was, simply an arrangement between two outcasts to bolster their own self images and confidence, at a time when their great dreams, illusions and theories were failing around them with no sign of redemption. However, given the blinkered outlook of the Churchill types of the world it caused much more panic than it was worth.

Most treaties would be far more useful if printed on soft absorbent paper, Rapallo is no different. Given the advantages each perceived it is likely that the levels of co-operation that did occur would not have been lost for want of the piece of paper.

In the event the Treaty of Rapallo was initially conclude for an indefinite period, expanded on November 5, 1922 in Berlin, supplemented by the Treaty and exchange of notes April 24, 1926, prolonged on June 24, 1931 and May 5, 1933, only to be consigned to history by the events of June 22, 1941.

The treaty is, in my view, an interesting display of the way in which political pragmatism overcomes the ostensible political differences that seem to important and irreconcilable to so many in the common herd.

In the true spirit of capitalism I think most of what happened was simply guided by the desire of various parties in both countries to build their personal power and fortunes.

I am however interested in establishing just how much co-operation actually took place between the Soviets and pre-Hitler's Germany, when, how, and to what purpose and with what result. I would welcome any information you were able to send me, an email tag is at the bottom of this page.

Thank you for your visit.

Hans von Seeckt, was a product of the Prussian military tradition who embodied the stereotypical Prussian. His intelligence did not stop him from dabbling in the complex politics of his time. Seeckt was pragmatic enough to deal with the Soviets. In about 1921 he was said to have held "secret" talks with Soviet military envoys at his home, and settled deals whereby material outlawed under the Versailles Treaty would be clandestinely supplied to the Germans by the Soviets. German money spent in Soviet Russia, and other European countries, was to re-equip and re-supply the German armed forces. The front for all this was apparently to be the "Company for the Promotion of Industrial Undertakings". Shades of Tube Alloys. He also is credited with the idea of a sort of territorial army of short contracted men who would train in other countries and could be called on at short notice to expand the 100,000 man army permitted by the Versailles Treaty. These ideas, while in sympathy with some of the motivations which lead to the Treaty of Rapallo did not apparently come to much, at least until later when Hitler came to power.

Walther Rathenau was a Liberal republican, with a Jewish heritage which rather cramped his style in the Germany of his day. He was blamed for lots of things, some of which he may well have had a hand in, but apparently the last straw for the right wing which opposed him was one of the many currency inflations of the period which they felt was his fault. On 24 June 1922 Rathenau left home for work in his car. A successful assassination plan involving another car, a hand grenade and a submachine gun made sure he never got there.

[Hans von Seeckt is reproduced from "Assize of arms", J H Morgan, Methuen & Co Ltd, London, 1945. Rathenau was loose in the same book, not from the same volume, so where his image should be credited I do not know, please contact me if you think you do.]

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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 forego 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 forego 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 forego 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

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 1992, 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 non-diplomatic 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

The German Government and the Government of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, being desirous of doing all in their power to promote the maintenance of general peace,
And being convinced that the interests of the German people and the peoples of the Government of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics demand constant and trustful co- operation,
Having agreed to strengthen the friendly relations existing between them by means of a special Treaty have agreed upon the following provisions:

Article 1

The relations between Germany and the Government of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics shall continue to be based on the Treaty of Rapallo.

The German Government and the Government of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics will maintain friendly contact in order to promote an understanding with regard to all political and economic questions jointly affecting their two countries.

Article 2

Should one of the Contracting Parties, despite its peaceful attitude, be attacked by one or more third Powers, the other Contracting Party shall observe neutrality for the whole of the duration of the conflict.

Article 3

If on the occasion of a conflict of the nature mentioned in Article 2, or at a time when neither of the Contracting Parties is engaged in warlike operations, a coalition is formed between third Powers with a view to the economic or financial boycott of either of the Contracting Parties, the other Contracting Party undertakes not to adhere to such coalition.

Article 4

The present Treaty shall be ratified and the instruments of ratification shall be exchanged at Berlin.

It shall enter into force on the date of the exchange of the instruments of ratification and shall remain in force for five years. The two Contracting Parties shall confer in good time before the expiration of this period with regard to the future development of their political relations.

In faith whereof the plenipotentiaries have signed the present Treaty.

Signed: Herr Stresemann

Signed: M Krestinski

There was also an exchange of notes on the 24 April 1926 between the parties, mainly concerned with the German relations with the League of Nations, of which she was not a member at the time.

Artykuły o zbrodnia Katynska w tej witrynie (po polsku i angielsku).
Articles on this site about the Katyn Forest Massacre [in English and Polish].
"Doing justice to the dead."
"Sprawiedliwość dla zmarłych."
"Lost Souls."
"Zagubione dusze."
"Separate memories, separate sorrows."
"Odrębne wspomnienia. Odrębne smutki."
"The Soviet memory hole."
"Podróż w Sowiecką Dziurę w Pamięci."

Michał Synoradzki, Jacek Grodecki, Victoria Plewak. [po polsku]"

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