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How Far Was Stresemann Responsible for the Recovery of the Weimar Republic?

By linkd95 Nov 29, 2011 1196 Words
How Far Was Stresemann Responsible For The Recovery of The Weimar Republic?

1923 was an extremely crucial time for Germany with a great shift in culture, economy and government. It was falling apart; the German economy had collapsed due to the striking between German workers and French occupiers. Hyperinflation rose so much that the German people were forced to using suitcases and wheelbarrows to carrying money not to mention the fact that the collapse of the currency caused even more havoc within the economy. Due to the French’s despise and hate for Germany they tried to encourage the Rhineland to break away, this then became a Rhineland Independence Movement which made France’s intentions possible. Furthermore left wing communist governments had taken matters into their own hands. They took control of Berlin and Hitler attempted the Beer Hall Putsch in November 1923 to overthrow the government, whilst other politicians broke away from Germany. That is what led Stresemann being appointed chancellor and foreign minister of a grand coalition government.

One of the first priorities Stresemann decided to sort out was passive resistance as it was causing Germany to become bankrupt. However he had to be cautious as it could be pictured as another climb-down to the French. Schacht was appointed by Stresemann to revive the economy. Two new currencies were enforced first the rentenmark and then the reichsmark. This allowed the economy to recover, as there was now a stable currency. Risings in Thuringia, Saxony and the Beer Hall Putsch were crushed due to Stresemann pressing the army led by General von Seeckt. This meant there was now no danger of Germany falling apart.

Stresemann’s foreign policy plan was also a success. The treaty of Locarno improved relations with France. France soon allowed Germany to join the League of Nations and Germany became a permanent member of the council. Stresemann was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This was good for Germany as it’s status as a great power was recognized even more. The allied forces were withdrawn from the Rhineland area of Germany.

However hyperinflation was still a problem. Charles Dawes the US budget director was sent to Europe to sort out Germany's economy. Under his advice, the German Reichsbank was reformed and the old money was called in and burned. This ended the hyperinflation. Dawes also arranged the Dawes Plan with Stresemann, which gave Germany longer to pay reparations. Dawes agreed to America lending Germany 800 million gold marks, which kick-started the German economy. Stresemann immediately began paying back reparations and France soon withdrew from Ruhr and German production started to recover. In fact by 1928 German industry was producing more than in 1914 and by the 1930’s it became one of the world’s leading exporter of manufactured goods. They also recovered Danzig and corrected the frontier in Upper Silesia. However Stresemann knew that Germany were now too dependent on American money. He stated at the time ‘Germany is dancing on a volcano’, in other words this means that if USA withdrew the loans then they would be in serious trouble. He was correct as in 1929 the Wall Street Crash occurred and America started withdrawing their loans which then caused banks and businesses to collapse. Unemployment rose to 6 million, communism grew and Hitler used this to an advantage and offered a strong leadership. The German public started looking elsewhere for their government.

There had been 25 separate governments in 14 years. Many nationalists had opposed Stresemann’s policies as too cautious. The Nazi’s could only get 12 seats in the Reichstag, however soon a new President came to power known as Paul von Hindenburg. He was a respected national figure who helped reconcile the Nationalists to the Weimar Republic.

Not only that but unemployment was still a serious problem. The economy may have been growing but wasn’t fast enough for Germany’s growing population. Under the control of Stresemann standards of living were rising. Wages rose, Germany had the highest paid industrial workforce in Europe. Car ownership rose by four times that of 1914. Life expectancy rose and two million new homes were built between 1924 and 1931.

Furthermore German culture had been expanded with the arrival of Jazz (900 bands in Berlin alone); forty theatres had been made in Berlin and architecture was revolutionized combining art, technology and simplicity.

However some groups saw Weimar culture as decadent and immoral. People thought it allowed an open approach to homosexuality and view of transvestites as fashionable. This shocked many conservatives.

There were still also some economic problems such as businessmen felt high taxes were used to finance Weimar’s welfare system. Farmers complained about falling prices, incomes, debts and bankruptcies. In 1929 farm laborers wages were only half the national average; and there was a massive gap between the rich and poor.

Additionally nationalists felt Stresemann had not achieved enough abroad. The Nazis and communists wanted to overthrow Weimar. Also when Hindenburg was appointed President he consulted the ex-Kaiser before accepting it, this made the German government weary about his motives.

Quotes regarding Stresemann about Germany are shown below:

‘His leadership helped Germany to survive the Ruhr occupation and to benefit from the change in the international climate that followed…his foreign policy steered Germany to a remarkable recovery…’ – J.Wright

This was stated from a historian and therefore has no motives to be biased, as he would want the most reliable information as possible.

‘An irreplaceable loss’ – Kessler, diary entry on Stresemann’s death

This quote is basically saying that Stresemann did a lot of good for Germany and it is a shame that he passed away. Despite the fact that Kessler himself was German this could possibly mean that he was bias as saying something as honorable as you’re an irreplaceable loss is probably untrue as he doesn’t know if there will be a person better than him to take his place therefore this is useful to an extent but unreliable.

Lastly Muller the chancellor on Stresemann stated he is:

‘A man of compromise who, despite the divisions of party politics performed outstanding service for the public good.’

This quote is unreliable but useful to an extent as Muller also became a chancellor but the fact that he states things such as he gave an outstanding service for the public good is quite true however he also says he divided party politics which also indicates he is bias. Stresemann may have pushed nationalists and politicians away from his ideas but he didn’t completely divide them altogether.

Judging by what I have written above under Stresemann’s guidance Germany recovered from a deep financial crisis, regained confidence, and witnessed a cultural renaissance. His influence extended until his death and the Wall Street Crash of 1929, which led to economic depression and increasing public support for a more extreme solution. However he did have the help of people such as Charles Dawes and Hindenburg but overall if it weren’t for Stresemann’s motives it would have been unlikely that the Weimar Republic recovered as much as it did.

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