Revision of the Treaty of Versailles

August 15, 1931

Report Outline
French Foreign Policy and the Treaty of Versailles
The Reparation Controversy, 1919–1924
The Dawes Plan and the Young Plan
Occupation and Disarmament Clauses of Treaty
Expiring and Inactive Clauses of the Treaty
Outlook for Further Revision of the Treaty

French Foreign Policy and the Treaty of Versailles

When President Hoover proposed, June 20, 1931, a complete moratorium for one year on all intergovernmental debt and reparation payments, the only nation that failed to accept the suggestion with alacrity was France. The government at Paris consented to the scheme only after it had been agreed that Germany should abide by the letter of the Young Plan by paying to the Bank for International Settlements the unconditional portion of the reparation annuity due, the money to be immediately returned to her in the form of a loan.

In taking this position France was following the policy to which she has consistently adhered since the close of the war. Maintenance of the Treaty of Versailles and the subsequent agreements and arrangements issuing from that settlement has been and continues to be a cardinal point in French foreign policy. Departures from the strict terms of the treaty have usually been taken only after French protest and only when practical economic conditions have finally made obvious the necessity of modification. The chief explanation of this attitude is the belief, generally held in France, that the Treaty of Versailles affords strong security against Germany and that every relaxation of its provisions tends to deprive France of the benefits she obtained through Allied victory in 1918.

France's devotion to the treaty may be traced in her objections to the proposed Austro-German customs union and, more recently, in her reported unwillingness to extend financial aid to Germany except on condition that the latter abandon all idea of the customs union, give up plans for construction of additional “vest-pocket” battleships, and submit to some form of customs control or financial supervision as a guarantee of repayment of new loans. The French position on the problem of limitation of armaments, which at present seems to darken the outlook for success of the forthcoming disarmament conference, is, on the other hand, conspicuously out of harmony with the implied pledge of the Versailles treaty that disarmament of Germany would be followed by world disarmament.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Aug. 15, 1931  Revision of the Treaty of Versailles
Nov. 17, 1930  Reparation and War Debt Payments
Nov. 15, 1928  War Debts and Reparations
Sep. 10, 1925  The Disposal of Alien Property
Apr. 08, 1924  Reparations Calendar
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