Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance

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Regional relations
Events leading to World War II
  1. Treaty of Versailles 1919
  2. Polish–Soviet War 1919
  3. Treaty of Trianon 1920
  4. Treaty of Rapallo 1920
  5. Franco-Polish alliance 1921
  6. March on Rome 1922
  7. Corfu incident 1923
  8. Occupation of the Ruhr 1923–1925
  9. Mein Kampf 1925
  10. Second Italo-Senussi War 1923–1932
  11. Dawes Plan 1924
  12. Locarno Treaties 1925
  13. Young Plan 1929
  14. Japanese invasion of Manchuria 1931
  15. Pacification of Manchukuo 1931–1942
  16. January 28 incident 1932
  17. Geneva Conference 1932–1934
  18. Defense of the Great Wall 1933
  19. Battle of Rehe 1933
  20. Nazis' rise to power in Germany 1933
  21. Tanggu Truce 1933
  22. Italo-Soviet Pact 1933
  23. Inner Mongolian Campaign 1933–1936
  24. German–Polish declaration of non-aggression 1934
  25. Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance 1935
  26. Soviet–Czechoslovakia Treaty of Mutual Assistance 1935
  27. He–Umezu Agreement 1935
  28. Anglo-German Naval Agreement 1935
  29. December 9th Movement
  30. Second Italo-Ethiopian War 1935–1936
  31. Remilitarization of the Rhineland 1936
  32. Spanish Civil War 1936–1939
  33. Italo-German "Axis" protocol 1936
  34. Anti-Comintern Pact 1936
  35. Suiyuan campaign 1936
  36. Xi'an Incident 1936
  37. Second Sino-Japanese War 1937–1945
  38. USS Panay incident 1937
  39. Anschluss Mar. 1938
  40. May Crisis May 1938
  41. Battle of Lake Khasan July–Aug. 1938
  42. Bled Agreement Aug. 1938
  43. Undeclared German–Czechoslovak War Sep. 1938
  44. Munich Agreement Sep. 1938
  45. First Vienna Award Nov. 1938
  46. German occupation of Czechoslovakia Mar. 1939
  47. Hungarian invasion of Carpatho-Ukraine Mar. 1939
  48. German ultimatum to Lithuania Mar. 1939
  49. Slovak–Hungarian War Mar. 1939
  50. Final offensive of the Spanish Civil War Mar.–Apr. 1939
  51. Danzig Crisis Mar.–Aug. 1939
  52. British guarantee to Poland Mar. 1939
  53. Italian invasion of Albania Apr. 1939
  54. Soviet–British–French Moscow negotiations Apr.–Aug. 1939
  55. Pact of Steel May 1939
  56. Battles of Khalkhin Gol May–Sep. 1939
  57. Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact Aug. 1939
  58. Invasion of Poland Sep. 1939

The Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance was a bilateral treaty between France and the Soviet Union with the aim of enveloping Nazi Germany in 1935 to reduce the threat from Central Europe. It was pursued by Maxim Litvinov, the Soviet foreign minister,[1] and Louis Barthou, the French foreign minister, who was assassinated in October 1934, before negotiations had been finished. His successor, Pierre Laval, was sceptical of the desirability and of the value of an alliance with the Soviet Union. However, after the declaration of German rearmament in March 1935, the French government forced the reluctant foreign minister to complete the arrangements with Moscow that Barthou had begun.


The pact was concluded in Paris on 2 May 1935 and ratified by the French government in February 1936. Ratifications were exchanged in Moscow on 27 March 1936, and the pact went into effect the same day. It was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on 18 April 1936.[2]

Laval had taken the precaution of ensuring that the bilateral treaty agreement was strictly compatible with the multilateral provisions of the League of Nations Covenant and the Locarno Treaties. That in practice meant that military assistance could be rendered by one signatory to the other only after an allegation of unprovoked aggression had been submitted to the League of Nations and only after attaining the approval of the other signatories of the Locarno Pact (the United Kingdom, Italy and Belgium).

The Franco-Soviet Pact was no longer what Barthou had originally planned, but it remained to serve the purpose of acting as a hollow diplomatic threat of a two-front war if Germany pursued an aggressive foreign policy. Most of the Locarno powers felt that the pact would act only as a means of dragging them into a suicidal war with Germany for the Soviets' benefit.

The pact marked a large-scale shift in Soviet policy in the Seventh Congress of the Comintern from a pro-revisionist stance against the Treaty of Versailles to a more western-oriented foreign policy, as championed by Litvinov.


On 16 May 1935 the Czechoslovak–Soviet Treaty of Alliance was signed after the Soviet treaty with France, which was Czechoslovakia's main ally.

Adolf Hitler justified the remilitarisation of the Rhineland by the ratification of the Franco-Soviet Pact by the French Parliament and claimed that he felt threatened by it. David Lloyd George, a pro-German member of the British House of Commons, stated in that body that Hitler's actions in the wake of the pact had been fully justified to protect his country and that he would have been a traitor to Germany if he had failed to act.[3]

The Franco-Soviet Pact's military provisions were practically useless because of their multiple conditions, such as the requirement for Britain and Italy to approve any action. Their effectiveness was undermined even further by the French government's insistent refusal to accept a military convention stipulating how both armies would co-ordinate their actions in the event of a war against Germany. The result was a symbolic pact of friendship and mutual assistance that had little consequence other than raising the prestige of both parties. However, after 1936, the French lost interest, and all parties in Europe realised that the pact was a dead letter. By 1938, the appeasement policies implemented by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier ended collective security and further encouraged German aggression.[4] The German Anschluss of Austria in 1938 and Munich Agreement, which led to the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939, demonstrated the impossibility of establishing a collective security system in Europe,[5] a policy advocated by Litvinov.[6][7] That and the reluctance of the British and the French governments to sign a full-scale anti-German political and military alliance with the Soviets[8] led to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Germany in late August 1939,[9] which indicated the Soviet Union's decisive break with France by becoming an economic ally of Germany.[10]


Article 1
In the event that France or the U.S.S.R. are subjected to the threat or the danger of aggression on the part of a European state, the U.S.S.R. and France engage themselves reciprocally to proceed to an immediate mutual consultation on measures to take in order to observe the provisions of Article 10 of the League of Nations Pact.
Article 2
In the event that, in the circumstances described in Article 15, paragraph 7, of the League of Nations Pact, France or the U.S.S.R. may be, in spite of the genuinely pacific intentions of the two countries, and subject of unprovoked aggression on the part of a European state, the U.S.S.R. and France will immediately lend each other reciprocal aid and assistance.
Article 3
Taking into consideration the fact that, according to Article 16 of the League of Nations Pact, every member of the League that resorts to war contrary to the engagements assumed in Articles 12, 13 or 15 of the Pact is ipso facto considered as having committed an act of war against all the other members of the League, France and the U.S.S.R. engage themselves reciprocally, [should either of them be the object of unprovoked aggression], to lend immediate aid and assistance in activating the application of Article 16 of the Pact.
The same obligation is assumed in the event that either France or the U.S.S.R. is the object of aggression on the part of a European state in the circumstances described in Article 17, paragraphs 1 and 3, of the League of Nations Pact.

Protocole de Signature

Article 1
It is understood that the effect of Article 3 is to oblige each Contracting Party to lend immediate assistance to the other in conforming immediately to the recommendations of the Council of the League of Nations as soon as they are announced under Article 16 of the Pact. It equally understood that the two Contracting Parties will act in concert to elicit the recommendations of the Council with all the celerity that circumstances require and that, if nevertheless, the Council, for any reason whatever, does not make any recommendation or does not arrive at a unanimous decision, the obligation of assistance will nonetheless be implemented....

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Maksim Litvinov". Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  2. ^ League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. 167, pp. 396-406.
  3. ^ "Mr. LLOYD GEORGE: I am coming to..." TheyWorkForYou.
  4. ^ Pavel A. Zhilin, "The USSR and collective security 1935–1939." Scandinavian Journal of History' 2.1-4 (1977): 147-159.
  5. ^ Beloff, Max (1950). "Soviet Foreign Policy, 1929–41: Some Notes". Soviet Studies. 2 (2): 123–137. doi:10.1080/09668135008409773.
  6. ^ Resis, Albert (2000). "The Fall of Litvinov: Harbinger of the German–Soviet Non-Aggression Pact". Europe-Asia Studies. 52 (1): 33–56. doi:10.1080/09668130098253. S2CID 153557275.
  7. ^ Uldricks, Teddy J. (1977). "Stalin and Nazi Germany". Slavic Review. 36 (4): 599–603. doi:10.2307/2495264. JSTOR 2495264.
  8. ^ Carley, Michael Jabara (1993). "End of the 'Low, Dishonest Decade': Failure of the Anglo–Franco–Soviet Alliance in 1939". Europe-Asia Studies. 45 (2): 303–341. doi:10.1080/09668139308412091.
  9. ^ Watson, Derek (2000). "Molotov's Apprenticeship in Foreign Policy: The Triple Alliance Negotiations in 1939". Europe-Asia Studies. 52 (4): 695–722. doi:10.1080/713663077. S2CID 144385167.
  10. ^ G. Bruce Strang, "John Bull in Search of a Suitable Russia: British Foreign Policy and the Failure of the Anglo-French-Soviet Alliance Negotiations, 1939." Canadian Journal of History 41.1 (2006): 47-84.


  • Pavel A. Zhilin, "The USSR and collective security 1935–1939." Scandinavian Journal of History' 2.1-4 (1977): 147-159.
  • Ragsdale, Hugh. The Soviets, the Munich Crisis, and the Coming of World War II
  • Azeau, Henri (1969). Le Pacte Franco soviétique [du] 2 mai 1935. Presses de la Cité.