Treaty of Rapallo

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The Treaty of Rapallo was signed by Germany and the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic on April 16, 1922.

As part of a plan to encourage economic recovery after World War I, the Allies invited Germany and Soviet Russia to a European conference in Genoa, Italy, in April 1922. Lenin accepted the invitation and designated Foreign Minister Georgy Chicherin to lead the Soviet delegation. Accompanied by Maxim Litvinov, Leonid Krasin, and others, Chicherin stopped in Berlin on his way to Italy and worked out a draft treaty. The German government, still hopeful for a favorable settlement at Genoa, refused to formalize the treaty immediately. In Genoa, the Allied delegations insisted that the Soviet government recognize the debts of the prerevolutionary governments. The Soviets countered with an offer to repay the debts and compensate property owners if the Allies paid for the destruction caused by Allied intervention. While these negotiations remained deadlocked, the German delegation worried that an Allied-Soviet treaty would leave Germany further isolated. When the Soviet delegation proposed a private meeting, the Germans accepted, and the Russian-German treaty was signed by Chicherin and German foreign minister Walter Rathenau.

The two sides agreed to drop all wartime claims against each other, to cooperate economically, and to establish diplomatic relations. The Treaty of Rapallo surprised the Western powers. Germany ended its isolation with an apparent shift to an Eastern policy, while Soviet Russia found a trading partner and won normalization of relations without resolving the debt issue. This special relationship between Soviet Russia and Germany, including some military cooperation, lasted for ten years.

See also: germany, relations with; world war i


League of Nations Treaty Series, Vol. 19. (1923). London: Harrison and Sons.

Harold J. Goldberg

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Treaty of Rapallo, 1922, agreement signed by Germany and the USSR at Rapallo, Italy. It was reached by Walter Rathenau and G. V. Chicherin independently of the Conference of Genoa (see Genoa, Conference of), which was then in session. Germany accorded the USSR de jure recognition (the first such recognition extended to the Soviet government), and the two signatories mutually canceled all prewar debts and renounced war claims. Particularly advantageous to Germany was the inclusion of a most-favored-nation clause and of extensive trade agreements. The treaty enabled the German army, through secret agreements, to produce and perfect in the USSR weapons forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles.

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