VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > C. Europe, 1919–1945 > 4. European Diplomacy and the Depression, 1919–1939
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See July 7)
4. European Diplomacy and the Depression, 1919–1939
European diplomacy between the two world wars involved the following major problems: (1) the attempt to establish collective security by means of new international bodies, the League of Nations, and the World Court, without creating any form of superstate; (2) the unwillingness of the non-European powers, the U.S., Japan, and the British Dominions in particular, to assume responsibility for anything outside their respective spheres of interests; (3) the competition between French efforts to maintain the position of leadership on the continent of Europe established by the peace settlements, and German endeavors to evade or revise the terms imposed in 1919; (4) the attempts to attain security and prosperity by neomercantilist ideas imposed as emergency measures.  1
The era between the wars can be divided chronologically into three phases: (1) the period of settlement (from the peace treaties to the Dawes Plan, 1924); (2) the period of fulfillment (1924 to the evacuation of the Rhineland, 1930); (3) the period of repudiation and revision (1930–39).  2
1919, June 28
Conclusion of defensive treaties among France, Britain, and the U.S. Britain and the U.S. were to come to France's assistance in case of aggression by Germany. The U.S. Senate refused to ratify this agreement and also rejected the Versailles treaty (Nov. 19), thus knocking out one of the keystones in the international peace structure established at Paris.  3
The Vilna dispute, between Poland and Lithuania. Polish forces took the town from the Bolsheviks (April 4, 1919). The Curzon line (Dec. 8) established a boundary depriving Poland of the city, which was retaken by the Bolsheviks (June 15, 1920). The Lithuanians took it when the Russians evacuated (Aug. 24), but were driven out by Polish freebooters under Gen. Lucien Zeligowski (Oct. 9). By decision of the League a plebiscite was to be held to decide the fate of the city, but this was later abandoned (March 3, 1921). A plebiscite (Jan. 8, 1922) held by Zeligowski decided for Poland, and the Vilna Diet voted for union. On April 18 it was incorporated with Poland, though Lithuania refused to recognize this disposition of the question.  4
The Teschen conflict between Poland and Czechoslovakia. The Czechs had occupied the disputed area (Jan. 1919) and serious clashes took place (May). The supreme council decided for a plebiscite (Sept. 27), but disorders continued (March, May 1920) until the conference of ambassadors divided the territory (July 28). (In these and other Eastern European disputes, France, eager for stable powers on Germany's eastern borders, took the lead in organizing ambassadorial negotiations.)  5
The Polish-Russian War, resulting from the effort made by the Poles to push their frontier east to the frontier of 1772. The Poles, in agreement with the Ukrainian leader Gen. Simon Petliura, attempted to wrest Ukraine from the Bolsheviks. They quickly overran the country, taking Kiev (May 7), but the Bolsheviks launched an energetic counterattack and drove the Poles out of Kiev (June 11) and Vilna (July 15). By Aug. 14 the Russians were on the outskirts of Warsaw. But the Poles, vigorously aided by the French (Gen. Maxime Weygand) made a stand and were soon able to turn the tables. The Bolsheviks were forced to fall back and abandon their Polish conquests. The preliminary treaty of Riga (Oct. 12) was followed by the definitive Treaty of Riga (March 18, 1921), which defined the frontier between the two countries.  6
The Burgenland dispute between Austria and Hungary. The strip of territory had been assigned to Austria by the peace treaties, it being only 15 miles from Vienna. The population, too, was predominantly German. But Hungarian irregulars were in occupation and refused to evacuate (Aug. 1921). Through Italian mediation a plebiscite was arranged for. This was held (Dec. 1921) and gave Austria most of the area, though Ödenburg went to Hungary.  7
The Greek invasion of Anatolia (See 1919–22).  8
The Fiume question. President Wilson had rejected the Italian claim to the town and the coast south of it (April 14, 1919), whereupon the Italians had withdrawn from the peace conference. A compromise, suggested by André Tardieu, which would have created a buffer state of Fiume (May 30), was rejected by Yugoslavia. Gabriele d'Annunzio led a filibustering expedition that occupied the town and set up a visionary government (Sept. 12). The matter was finally left to Italy and Yugoslavia to settle (March 6, 1920). The Treaty of Rapallo (Nov. 12) made Fiume an independent city and gave Italy Zara and a number of Dalmatian islands. But a Fascist coup (March 3, 1922) overthrew the local government, and government troops took control (March 17). By a treaty of Jan. 27, 1924, Yugoslavia abandoned claims to Fiume but received Porto Barros in return.  9
The Upper Silesian question. The peace treaties had provided for a plebiscite in this valuable area. It was held on March 20, 1921 (See March 20), and returned 717,122 votes for Germany, as against 483,154 for Poland. But an armed rising under the Polish commissioner Adalbert Korfanty (May 4, 1922) was acquiesced in by the French commander acting for the League. In Aug. 1922, the council of ambassadors referred the matter to the League, and the League council accepted a scheme of partition by which a majority of the population and more than half of the territory were awarded to Germany, while Poland was given the principal mining and industrial districts.  10
1919, July 29
Italy signed a treaty with Greece supporting Greek claims in Thrace and Eprius, Greece to support an Italian protectorate over Albania and Italian claims in Anatolia. Italy was to keep Rhodes for 15 years, and the Dodecanese Islands were to be ceded to Greece. Italy denounced these treaties on Oct. 8, 1922.  11
1920, Jan. 23
The Dutch government refused to surrender the former emperor William, though it later agreed to intern him.  12
The plebiscites in North Schleswig gave the northernmost zone to Denmark and the remainder to Germany.  13
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.