About those with no one
Recall that in international law, neutrality means non-participation in the war, and in peacetime - refusal to participate in military blocs.
When the Great War broke out in August of 1914, in which almost all the great powers, with the exception of the United States, were immediately involved, not every nation on the planet was so eager to participate in it. Nineteen states, from the customary peaceful Switzerland to the very aggressive in other cases of Albania and Chile, retained full or partial neutrality, the advantages of which were defended and used in different ways.
The idea of neutrality was the basis for the foreign policy of Sweden and Norway since the Crimean War. This tandem was natural, since Norway has been associated with a neighbor's personal union since 1814, and when Sweden agreed to release Norway from its patronage and grant it independence, the states were divided, but the principle of neutrality remained the same for them. Great Britain and, of course, Germany and Russia, did not disregard such a step, especially since after the famous 1854 event of the year - the battle of Helgoland, Denmark joined the two northern partners, having a little doubted and introduced their corrections.
The summer of 1905 was marked by the aggravation of disagreements between the great powers "on the Baltic issue". Germany and Russia were annoyed that the British behaved in a straitjacket in the straits and bays of the northern countries, disregarding their interests. During the meeting in July 1905 in Tsar Nicholas and Wilhelm II Bjorka, the latter in every way elicited what Russian intentions were in northern waters, and reported on the opinion of the Swedish king Oscar II, who asserted that if Germany were allowed to occupy Bergen, then England would have taken it Kristiansand The king became agitated and wrote down in his diary: “England will thrust its fingers (correctly or incorrectly) into Norway, win influence, start intrigues and eventually take possession of Skagerrak, occupying Kristiansand, and thereby close all of us in the Baltic Sea”.
But things did not go further than fears - Russia was weakened by the war with Japan, Germany was in isolation, and neither one nor the other side accepted attempts to influence Norway through diplomatic channels.
As for the British, they acted in their inherent spirit: at the end of July, the British fleet appeared in the Baltic Sea without official warning, thus emphasizing its understanding of the term "neutrality of the northern countries." Speaking for the neutrality of Norway, signing international documents "on integrity", the UK reserved the opportunity to occupy its harbor in the event of war, "despite the naval papers."
Similarly, the UK behaved with Denmark. For example, the British channel fleet of twenty-five battleships anchored in front of the Danish harbor Esbjerg and demonstrated its presence there from June 27 to July 1 1908.
With the approach of hostilities, the "northern sea fever" intensified. Russia and the United Kingdom intended to launch a joint visit of their squadrons to Copenhagen in September of 1912, but the Danish government strongly opposed this. Sensing the imminent danger, the Nordic countries of December 21 1912 agreed on the rules of neutrality, which were based on the general principles of international law.
When the war broke out, first at the meetings of the ministers of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, and then at the meetings of the Scandinavian monarchs, the will of the three northern countries to neutrality was confirmed. But this will was constantly tested by pressure from the great powers.
Sweden and Norway still “buckled” and were forced to provide the UK with a significant part of their tonnage. Germany pressed for Sweden to guarantee its minimum need for 4 millions of tons of iron ore.
But the northern countries did not give up their positions without a struggle, at the same time striving to observe international legal norms and, of course, their own interests. Thus, Denmark freed the fairways of the Belt and Zund Straits for the passage of ships of the warring parties. But this was not enough for the Germans, - followed the order of the German naval headquarters to block the strategically important Great Belt with mines. Under the threat of a military invasion, the Danes executed the order, but it did not work, because the signal lights did not burn, and the Danish ships' watchdog service began to treat their duties lightly. Nothing happened to the Germans with an attempt to attract the Danes to espionage. Danish Foreign Minister Eric Skavenius promised Germany that his state would inform the Reich about the appearance of large British naval forces in the straits, but the promise remained a promise - neutrality was worth more.
Germany and Sweden also demanded to close the international fairway Oresund, but again nothing came of it. The Swedish government in the dispatch of 9 August 1914 of the year reported that this step is not feasible "for international legal and technical reasons." In addition to respecting neutrality, Sweden acted in the interests of its shipping. Germany had to retreat and tell the Swedes: “Germany will strictly respect the neutrality of Sweden for as long as it is not violated by one of our opponents. However, if the enemy penetrates the strait by force, then Germany reserves the right to independently use all necessary measures for its security. ” At the same time, it was concluded that the Swedish refusal was affected by the influence of the Entente and Russia, which had the greatest interest in ensuring that no one interfered with the trade of the Baltic Sea countries through the strait.
Germany refused to pressure on Sweden. But the UK succeeded - with respect to Norway. But not at the beginning, but at the end of the war. In a note from 7 of August 1918, the United Kingdom requested the Norwegian government to mine the fairway west of Carme Island and prevent the promotion of German submarines by means of security. Norway conceded, especially since the outcome of the Great War was a foregone conclusion.
The policy of neutrality of the "northern three" in the difficult war years justified itself. Their economy has strengthened and developed, meanwhile, the economy of a dilapidated continental Europe was in a deplorable state.
And Denmark, moreover, met its old national demand - it acquired North Schleswig. Being in personal union with Denmark, Iceland gained independence in 1918, so by the end of the Great War, instead of three Scandinavian kingdoms 1905, five independent states were formed (with the independence of Norway from Sweden, the great powers finally reconciled during the First World War). As for the zakordonnyh territories belonging to Denmark, then in 1917, the last of them - the West Indies (Virgin Islands) were sold to the US for 87 million crowns.
The years have passed, the time has come for new trials, and now in September 1939, the Scandinavian countries reiterated their intention to adhere to the “certain neutrality” line. How did you manage to hold this line - a special topic.
A rare good fortune for a small country in the years of World War II is to remain peaceful, being literally between two fires. In fact, how to maintain neutrality while in the hell of military events? For the Netherlands, all means were good, - diplomatic cunning, economic compliance with respect to each of the belligerents, finally, personal connections at the top of the great powers ... Anyway, the political course of neutrality in 1914-1918. contributed to the recovery of the economy of the Netherlands, the accumulation of large financial resources, with which the government of this country managed to save it from social upheavals in the postwar period and to carry out progressive reforms.
The geographical position of the Netherlands, located between hostile Great Britain and Germany, forced this state to resort to the policy of maneuvering, and sometimes finely play on the contradictions between them. Their own interests were put on the forefront.
Staying on the neutral line, the Netherlands tried to maintain good relations with the mistress of the seas - Great Britain, realizing that without her support it would be difficult to control her vast colonies, above all - Indonesia. At the same time, by the end of the 19th century, the country's economy became more and more dependent on the German market, and part of the ruling elite, which was feeding on the profits of industries related to Germany, tried to incline the government to a political rapprochement with it. When the Netherlands was governed by the clerical cabinet of A. Körner, it almost led to the country's accession to the Tripartite Alliance in the 1905 year. But here the parliament was indignant - the States General, and then the people went on unrest against the violation of state security. Neutrality has been preserved.
When the Great War began, 30 July 1914, all political parties in the country, the entire population declared the Netherlands committed to a policy of neutrality, which was almost immediately put to the test. In August 1914, the Netherlands almost invaded Germany, just like neighboring Belgium. According to the plan of the German strategist Schlieffen, the German troops were to go on a victorious march through the territory of the Netherlands province of Limburg. Even if the whole country would not have been occupied, even if the Germans marched very carefully on Limburg, the Second Declaration of Neutrality article would still be violated, and The Hague itself would be involved in hostilities on the side of Germany.
Fortunately for The Hague, the Schlieffen plan was unexpectedly adjusted, there is a version that the informal relations of some Dutch leaders with the military leadership of Germany contributed to this.
Yet impeccable neutrality in the Netherlands was questioned. The media in a number of countries, in particular France, reported that on August 4 of the year 1914, during a campaign against Belgium, the German cavalry division proceeded along the Dutch territory near the southern border - near the town of Valais.
The angry notes of protest from the governments of Belgium, Great Britain, and France followed. The military command of the Netherlands was forced to conduct a thorough investigation into this dubious incident, as a result of which 12 January 1915 was reported: in the interests of truth must be categorically refuted. " The document further stated that it was in vain to doubt the intentions of the Netherlands to strictly follow the article of the Third Neutrality Declaration, which prescribes immediate disarmament and internment before the end of hostilities in the event of the appearance of foreign troops or military personnel of belligerent parties. Nevertheless, the fact remains a fact ...
Another of the most dangerous military episodes for the Netherlands during the war years was the advance of the German army on the Western Front in the spring of 1918. It seemed that this time the invasion of the Germans could not be avoided, but it helped, now precisely, the proximity of high-ranking officials to the imperial house. So the Netherlands met the end of the Great War without much stress. And its people, according to Finance Minister M. Treba, can “consider it as happiness that they jumped out of the fire without receiving serious burns.”
Of course, not everything went smoothly, as it seems at first glance. The Netherlands faced major problems on the sea routes she used for active trade. Britain held at its ports the Dutch ships, fearing that part of the cargo, primarily food, was destined for Germany. She has repeatedly warned that any deliveries of Germany will be regarded as smuggling. Tight surveillance of the ships en route from and to the country continued until the end of hostilities.
As for Germany, by the end of 1914, it had already significantly expanded the list of goods transported by the courts of the Netherlands, marked as “Smuggling”. Control control, and the sea - the sea. Dutch ships still carried goods to all the countries of Central Europe. Shipowners made super profits. And not only they.
The policy of neutrality contributed to the fact that the country's industry, which continued to receive raw materials from supplier countries, increased its pace. The chemical industry and metalworking were booming. Agriculture flourished, whose products during the war were particularly in demand. The “national idea” (the idea of neutrality), as emphasized by the leader of the Social Democrats, P.I. Trulstra, took over the "national differences."
But all good things come to an end. By the end of the war, Britain had confiscated about a third of the trade fleet countries. Germany increasingly threatened the Dutch with an invasion, demanding increased food supplies.
Since the end of 1916, the economic situation began to deteriorate, in particular, this was facilitated by the actions of the United States, which entered the war in April, 1917, and joined the Anglo-French naval blockade of the Netherlands. The country introduced cards, food shortages grew, followed by the so-called. “Potato riots”, when hungry crowds smashed shops, warehouses, barges ...
There were difficulties on the foreign policy front. The Entente was outraged that Hague granted asylum to German 10, who had fled from Germany on November 1918, to refugee William the Second, and let thousands of German soldiers retreating through their territory to 70. And then Belgium, after the war, declared its claims to the province of Limburg, and only skillfully carried out diplomatic negotiations helped to resolve this problem. But the main thing - in the years of the Great War, the Netherlands, in spite of everything, managed to maintain the status of a neutral power, to protect cities from destruction and to leave their fiery years with the least losses. In the Second World War, alas, it was not possible to hide behind the neutrality of the country of tulips.
Neutral position does not save everyone ...
The fate of the states located in the center of Western Europe convinces this. Switzerland, which had not fought for two centuries, traditionally declared its neutrality with the start of the Great War, but nevertheless placed around 250 thousands of servicemen under arms so as not to fear the transfer of military operations to its territory. The main forces were concentrated on the borders with France and Italy. The border with Germany was less covered, and this is understandable: seventy percent of the population were Germans and sympathized with the Central Powers. As soon as it became clear that no one was going to touch Switzerland, the number of troops was reduced to 38 thousand people. This happened after Switzerland concluded a tripartite agreement with the warring parties not to conduct hostilities in close proximity to its territory.
And in the course of hostilities about a thousand incidents involving the crossing of the Swiss border were recorded, and violations were particularly frequent in the region of the Passo-Stelvio Pass in the Eastern Alps, where Italian and Austrian troops fought.
The Leaky Neutrality has taught the Swiss something. They still adhere to the policy of non-intervention, but they keep an army equal in size to the troops of Austria, Belgium, Norway, Finland and Sweden together.
Some countries, especially dwarf ones, did not even ask if they were neutral or not. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg undertook to maintain neutrality in the war, but the Germans occupied it already in 1914.
Very peculiar pursued a policy of neutrality Spain. She regularly offered herself as an intermediary in negotiations, although in fact she played the role of a completely reliable rear for France, not hindering, and often helping to supply, the Entente countries in the supply of humanitarian goods and weapons from all over the world.
In short, neutrality is a delicate matter and its observance requires great skill.
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