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Section XIV.—Russia and Russian States (Art. 116 and 117)

Article 116.

Germany acknowledges and agrees to respect as permanent and inalienable the independence of all the territories which were part of the former Russian Empire on August 1, 1914.

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In accordance with the provisions of Article 259 of Part IX (Financial Clauses) and Article 292 of Part X (Economic Clauses) Germany accepts definitely the abrogation of the Brest-Litovsk Treaties and of all other treaties, conventions and agreements entered into by her with the Maximalist Government in Russia.

The Allied and Associated Powers formally reserve the rights of Russia to obtain from Germany restitution and reparation based on the principles of the present Treaty.

Note to III, 116

Germany did not intend to interfere in any territory which had belonged to the Russian Empire and had already renounced the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk by the armistice; but it could not, said the German delegation, recognize a right on the part of Russia to demand restoration and reparation, and it could recognize the relevant treaties and agreements only if they were known to it and acceptable (Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vi, 845).

The Allies declined to make any changes in the treaty (ibid., p. 951).

The term Maximalist refers to the Bolshevist Government of Russia.

The treaties which were abrogated in virtue of the second paragraph and also of articles 259, 292, and 433 are listed in a note to article 433.

At the time this treaty was concluded affairs in Russia were unsettled, with the Bolshevist Government in power engaged in resisting the efforts of several military leaders to dislodge it. Uncertainty existed as to whether the parts of the former empire which had become independent would remain so or whether the Bolshevists would or could maintain the unity of the territory under their control. By this article Germany disinterested itself in these matters. Paragraph 3 reflected the hope that the Bolshevists would be replaced by another regime.

Germany and the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic at Rapallo on April 16, 1922 (19 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 247) signed an agreement which provided for a mutual waiver of “claims for compensation for expenditure incurred on account of the war, and also for war damages”, as well as for prisoners of war, for the period during which the parties were at war, that is, August 1, 1914 to March 3, 1918. Diplomatic and consular relations were resumed and most-favored-nation treatment in commercial and economic relations stipulated. This agreement was followed on November [Page 274]5, 1922 by a treaty extending the Rapallo provisions to the Ukraine, Byelo-Russian, Georgian, Azerbaijan, and Armenian Socialist Soviet Republics and the Republic of the Far East (Martens, Nouveau recueil général de traités, 3e série, xiii, 645; Reichsgesetzblatt, 1923, ii, 315); the instrument was one of the diplomatic preparations for the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. These instruments were confirmed and cast in a framework of pacific settlement by a treaty signed at Berlin on April 24, 1926 (53 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 388). In its five-year period this treaty was extended still further by an agreement on pacific settlement signed January 25, 1929 (90 ibid., p. 220), and at the end of that period, June 28, 1931, the whole set of these instruments was prolonged until notice of termination. That system of relations remained in force simultaneously with the German-initiated “anti-Comintern pact”, which first was signed on November 25, 1936 (Martens, op. cit., xxxiii, 376), which, in turn, continued in force alongside the treaty of non-aggression between the German Reich and the Soviet Union of August 23, 1939 (Reichsgesetzblatt, 1939, ii, 968). The attack by Germany upon the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 rendered this treaty structure inoperative, without abrogating it.

“In the case of Poland, no doubt arose in the minds of the [Reparation] Commission that Poland could not have constituted an independent State during the war, and the Commission came to the conclusion that any claim which Poland might have must be limited to such claim as could be sustained under Article 116 of the Treaty on the ground that part of Poland was during the war a part of Russia. It accordingly decided to transmit the claims received from the Polish Government with the following statement: ‘The Reparation Commission transmits to the German Government, with a view to their examination and subsequent settlement in accordance with the terms of Article 116 of the Treaty of Versailles, the attached claims for damages received by it from the Polish Government.’” Reparation Commission, Report on the Work of the Reparation Commission From 1920 to 1922, p. 41.

Article 117.

Germany undertakes to recognize the full force of all treaties or agreements which may be entered into by the Allied and Associated Powers with States now existing or coming into existence in future in the whole or part of the former Empire of Russia as it existed on August 1, 1914, and to recognize the frontiers of any such States as determined therein.