Great Britain, France, and the German Problem, 1918-1939: A Study of Anglo-French Relations in the Making and Maintenance of the Versailles Settlement

By W. M. Jordan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
CONCILIATION BY CONFERENCE

AS French policy in the first years of peace found expression in the elaboration of guarantees and sanctions, so British policy is represented by the series of conferences which mark the years 1920-1922. They were the means whereby the British Government sought not only to keep the victorious Powers in friendly contact but to promote closer relations between them and the principal enemy state. The Council of the League of Nations, the intended instrument of such a policy, was powerless to serve this purpose owing to the exclusion of Germany from membership of the League. The association of Germany with the Allied Powers could in consequence be effected only by grafting German representation on to the Supreme Council. The first step in this direction was taken when, at San Remo, in April 1920, Lloyd George persuaded his colleagues to invite the German Ministers to meet the Allies in conference at Spa. The immediate object of the policy thus initiated was to obtain 'German co-operation in the execution of the Treaty . . . so far as possible through direct communication between the German Government and the Allies.'1 This chapter is concerned with the development of this policy of conciliation by conference.

Reference has been made in the preceding chapter to one concession--prior agreement on measures of coercion--exacted by Millerand as the price of French assent to this policy. Millerand also secured Lloyd George's acceptance of the principle that, before meeting the Germans in conference, the Allied Governments should reach precise agreement between themselves on all subjects of discussion. This principle was adhered to for the next five years. Every conference with the Germans till 1925 was preceded by Inter-Allied or Anglo-French negotiations to ensure the presentation of a common front to the German delegation. The first conference with the Germans at Spa ( 5th-16th July 1920) was preceded by Anglo-French conferences at Hythe ( 15th-I7th May 1920) and Boulogne ( 21st-22nd June 1920), and by the Inter-Allied Conference of Brussels ( 3rd July 1920). The second conference with the Germans, held in London ( 1st-14th March 1921), was preceded by the Inter-Allied Conference in Paris ( 24th-30th January 1921.). The Cannes Conference ( 6th-I3th January 1922), the later meetings of which were attended by Rathenau, was preceded by Anglo- French conversations ( 18th-22nd December 1920) to fix the condi-

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1
U.S.A. Foreign Relations, 1920, ii, p. 435.

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