Geneva Conference (By Jake Larson)Edit

· Treaty of Versailles started the Disarmament of Germany (11th Nov 1918 – 28th June 1919)

o Included plans for general reduction of national armaments
o The creation of a permanent advisory commission on armaments is to be appointed
§ To check the indiscriminate sale of arms by private manufacturers
§ First Meeting May 18th 1926

· The Washington Conference (1921-1922) (pg 38 in Route 2 Book)

o Took steps to prevent a naval arms race

· London Naval Conference (1930) (pg 40 in Route 2 Book)

o Wished to extend the terms of the Washington Naval Treaties Signed from the above
o France and Italy refused to sign this, France because it argued that it needed naval forces in the North Sea, Atlantic and Mediterranean, where Italy was only a Mediterranean force
o USA, Britain and Japan Agreed on Cruisers and did sign a treaty

· The Geneva Disarmament Conference (2nd Feb 1932 – 1934) (pg 41 in Route 2 Book)

o Prepared by the disarmament commission starting in 1926
o Underlying issue and obstacle was the balance of military forces between France and Germany (before Hitler)
o Germany insisted on parity with France, stating that France should disarm down 500,000 men to be on the same level as Germany’s 100,000 men
§ Or that Germany be allowed to rearm
o France did not agree with either scenario
§ Guarantees over inspection and verification were put into effect
· To ensure German adherence to the agreements
§ The establishment of an international peace keeping force was implemented
o US and G.B showed sympathy towards Germany
§ Stated ToV had been too harsh
§ Stated to not limit the forces as severely as ToV had done
§ Neither would give France the additional guarantees they were seeking
§ June 1932 Hoover (USA) proposed a difference between offensive and defensive weapons
· To abolish offensive weapons and reduce defensive weapons by 1/3
· Proved very difficult in practice rather than in theory and went nowhere
o Adjourned in 12th June 1933
§ No sign of breakthroughs had been made
§ Germany threatened a walkout unless parity of arms with France was accepted
o 5 power conference (Organized by G.B, with USA, Germany, Italy and France) Dec 1932
§ Attempted to reach a compromise to bring Germany back to the conference
§ Agreed that Germany would get “equality of rights in a system which would provide security for all nations’”
o Adolf Hitler Appointed Chancellor of Germany
§ Hitler hated LoN and wanted to leave the disarmament talks
o Ramsay MacDonald’s Proposals (G.B prime Minister)
§ France, Germany, Italy and Poland would move towards parity of # of troops
§ Germany would not get access to all levels of weapons that France would get
o Conference reconvenes (October 1933)
o Germany Leave the Conference (14th Oct 1933)
§ Used France’s refusal to allow German parity as an excuse
§ Gave notice that they would leave LoN
§ The conference was effectively killed off by this
o Conference reconvenes for a final fruitless session (May 1934)
o Hitler now rearmed openly throughout 1933-1934
o Germany announced conscription and new army force of 550 000 men in March 1935

· Germany Leaves the LoN 21st Oct 1935


The Geneva Conference was the advent of the idea of global disarmament. Global Disarmament was first introduced by the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907, which had failed in their main goals. The creation of the Geneva conference started during the Treaty of Versailles with Articles eight and nine. The creation of an advisory commission on armaments was appointed at the time of the signing on June 28th, 1919. This advisory met on May 18th 1926, and began preparatory talks for the conference which took five years.

During those five years two main conferences happened that had a direct impact on the Geneva conference. The Washington Conference from 1921-1922 took major steps to prevent a naval arms race, signaled the end of Britain’s Naval Dominance, and marked a partial withdrawal of British from East Asia which empowered the United States in East Asia. The London Naval Conference of 1930 tried to extend the terms of the Washington Conference, but disagreement between France and Italy inhibited the full success of this conference. However the United States, Britain and Japan all accepted terms of the new treaty.

The Geneva Conference officially started on February 2nd, 1932. The first major issue addressed by the conference was the balancing of the military forces of France and Germany. The main issue was that Germany wanted equal military forces with France, 500 000 men, or that France should disarm down to Germany’s 100 000 men. France would not agree with either scenario and wanted inspection and verification comities put in place to monitor Germany’s forces, however during this time Great Britain and the USA started showing sympathy towards Germany. They shared the opinion that the Treaty of Versailles had been too strict on Germany. They would also not give France the additional guarantees that it was looking for.

In early June of 1933 president Hoover of the USA proposed the idea that there was a difference between offensive and defensive weapons. His idea was was that offensive weapons should be destroyed and that the number of defensive weapons should be reduced to one third of their original amount. This policy would have proved difficult in practicality and therefore got nowhere but was a valiant idea.

On June 12th 1933 the conference was adjourned with no signs of any breakthrough and with Germany threatening to walk out if its military equality with France was acknowledged. In the time the conference was adjourned there was a smaller Five Power Conference in which the major countries attempted to bring Germany back to the talks in the Geneva Conference. Adolf Hitler was also appointed as chancellor of Germany. He hated the League of Nations and had plans to leave the disarmament conference.

Great Britain’s Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald proposed that the small countries would reach equality in the number of troops and that Germany would not have access to all levels of weapons that France had access to. In October 1933 the conference reconvened and on the 14th of that month Germany left the conference. They used the grounds of France not accepting equality as grounds; they also gave notice of leaving the League of Nations. This effectively killed off all talks for the conference and the conference ended.

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