Karl Radek


The Annulment of
the Treaty of Versailles

(22 September 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 81, 22 September 1922, pp. 605–606.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2020). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

Before the honorable authors of the Treaty of Versailles meet again, not to pull their hair in despair, but to proceed with their work, the Treaty of Versailles will probably have been annulled in all its parts by the force of events.

The Red Army had begun this liquidation of the Treaty when it cut with its bayonets the noose prepared for the Russian Revolution. The golden dollars of the United States, poured upon the Treaty, have continued the process. The United States has broken England’s control of the seas. Mr. Marc Sullivan, the American historian of the Washington Conference, declared truly that no one had ever sunk as many English ships as Mr House, Secretary of State, and that, without any naval combat. As for the reparations part of the Versailles program, neither dollars nor bayonets were necessary to tear it up. Since the purpose of this program was to force Germany to pay, it is destroyed by the very fact that Germany has no dollars. The only question is to know whether the reparations problem will be solved before or after the fall of bourgeois society in Germany.

And now we see the absolute failure of the Treaty of Versailles in the near East. The victory of the Turks is a defeat for England. There is nothing platonic in Mr. Lloyd Gorge’s friendship for the millionaire Basile Zakharov. Mr. Basile Zakharov, of the firm of Vickers and Co. (war ammunitions), and the principal financial supporter of the Greek Government, had been able to lend this Government the handsome sum of £4,000,000 to conduct the present war. This financier is one of the binding agents between Greek and English capitalism. Greek capitalism represents the interests of England in the Near East, and the conflict between Mr. Venizelos and King Constantine was really the conflict of French and English capitalism. Mr. Venizelos is the agent of Schneider & Co. of the Creusot Works and the Bank L’Union of Paris. King Constantine was bound by Basile Zakharov to the firm of Vickers & Co. and the British Trade Corporation. The defeat of the Greek forces, then, is a defeat of English capitalism.

This is more for England than a purely commercial defeat. The Turks demand Thrace, peopled by Greeks and Bulgarians, and in which England is greatly interested; not because it is anxious to defend the rights of nationalities (she has proved this when she delivered millions of Germans to France, Poland and Czecho-Slovakia), but because the question of Thrace is also the question of The Straits. Constaninople is formally occupied by the Allies. In fact the Turkish capital is controlled by England; at least this is what the semi-official organs of the French Government continually affirm. This is why Turkey has a much harder fight before it to conquer Thrace than to defeat Greece.

England has always known how to let others fight her battles. Colonel Repington declares that the occupation of Thrace by the Turks would gravely prejudice the interests of the people living near the Black Sea. Whom does Mr. Repington mean? Czecho-Slovakia has a sea shore only according to Shakespeare. Jugoslavia borders only on the Adriatic. Roumania is divided between the opposite influences of France and England, and consequently does not quite know what its interests in the question of the Dardanelles are. Besides these there also exist near the Black Sea, Bulgaria, Soviet Russia, Soviet Ukraina, Soviet Georgia, whom Mr. Repington certainly did not consult.

Mr. Repington made a mistake. Soviet Russia, even if it renounced the policy of Romanov and Miliukov, has nevertheless a great interest that the Dardanelles question be solved without detriment to the people of the Black Sea, and will never recognize any decision reached without consulting it.

English imperialism, wounded in Asia Minor and in Thrace, has suffered further defeat in Egypt and Mesopotamia.

During the War, fearing the rebellion of the Mohamedan people, it had adopted liberal manners, and distributed, here and there, diplomas of national independence. Last February, after imprisoning Ragul Pasha and the leaders of Egyptian nationalism, English imperialism proclaimed ... the independence of Egypt. Over independent Egypt it set a ruler backed only by the English guns left behind in the liberated country. Then the leaders of the Egyptian National Movement still at liberty, published in June a protest against English tyranny. Lord Allenby then brought these leaders before an English court martial and punished each to seven years at forced labor – this in independent Egypt. Another Egyptian delegation, which protested against this interpretation of Egyptian independence, was also arrested. This is probably in accordance with Mr. Lloyd George’s solemn agreement of February 27th: “From now on”, said the English Prime Minister, “the Egyptians may decide on their own institutions”.

The Manchester Guardian characterizes this as a tragic-comedy which may end rather badly. The liberal English organ remarks that a new Egyptian Government exists only thanks to the support of English military authority and the English court martial; that it had never been elected by anybody nor would ever be. Elections under the regime of the English occupation would be only another irony. The explanation is that Mr. Lloyd George cannot recall the English troops from Egypt because Great Britain needs the Suez Canal. It is the bad luck of these unhappy Egyptians that they were born near this Canal. Why do the Governments of Penza and Tambov not live in Soviet Russia. Mr. Lloyd George would make no difficulty about recognizing their independence.

In Mesopotamia the English have also erected an independent kingdom which they have naturally robbed of its petroleum exploitations in Mossul. As a compensation it received the English troops of Sir Cox, and as King, ex-Emir Faysal of Syria, chased from his throne by General Gouraud, another founder of independant kingdoms, but for the account of France. To keep Faysal as near Syria as possible, the statesmen of London have made him King of Mesopotamia, naturally a duly elected king. That is to say, the English Commandant asked the chiefs of the Arab tribes if they wanted Faysal and his English pounds. The enthusiasm of these chiefs was great. But the beautiful English pounds in the hands of the Arabs may serve unexpected purposes. When Sir Cox came to pay a visit to the King of Mesopotamia, he heard England damned. He was naturally displeased. King Faysal suddenly fell ill ... (appendicitis). His ministers were arrested.

The English press is no medical authority. Mesopotamia and King Faysal are suffering from another disease than an inflammation of the intestine. The organism is suffering from the presence of parasites. No surgery will cure them, even if one cuts off the heads of the “Sick King” and his most robust ministers.

The situation of England in the Near East is another proof of the failure of Versailles. Versailles is being annulled there also. Where an organized force is working its annulment, as in Russia and Turkey, the process is much more rapid. In other countries, the process drags. But in both cases the annulment proceeds, and nothing can stop it.

Last updated on 3 September 2020