On the 16th April 1922, former First World War enemies Germany and Russia signed the Treaty of Rapallo. Both countries had been excluded from the League of Nations, and this acted as a catalyst for the pact.
The Western powers were startled by the agreement. When Germany drew up the harsh Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918, Russia had been forced to sign away large swathes of land. The Treaty of Rapallo meant the two countries abandoned all territorial and financial arguments stemming from Brest-Litovsk and, instead, to “co-operate in a spirit of mutual goodwill in meeting the economic needs of both countries”.
The Treaty of Rapallo was particularly important for Russia, as it was the first international recognition of the Bolsheviks as the official government. However, it was the military clauses – most of them secret – that were most valuable to both sides. German factories producing military goods were able to move to Russia, effectively bypassing the Treaty of Versailles limits on German weaponry. Furthermore the two armies conducted joint training exercises deep inside Russia, which enabled the German army to continue to use technology banned by Versailles such as tanks and war planes.
Russia benefited from this agreement as well. They were able to see Western European military technology, and work with German engineers who shared techniques that were to be the bedrock of Stalin’s Five Year Plans.
The Rapallo Treaty alarmed the Western Powers, but the danger was short-lived. By the middle of the 1920s, Germany under Stresemann had begun to improve relations with them as a result of the Locarno Treaties, meaning a close relationship with Russia was less vital.