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4. Germany Revision Notes The Golden Years Of Weimar Germany Notes

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1. Stresemann: foreign policy and currency stabilisation

2. US investment and economic recovery and growth

3. Hindenburg and political stability: the working of coalition government

4. Weimar culture

5. Dancing on the volcano: underlying weakness and instability

Overview of Weimar Germany:

1918-1919 = German 'revolution' and creation of Weimar Germany

1919-1923 = Challenges to Weimar Germany

1924-1929 = 'Golden Years'

1929-1933 = Years of crisis

1. STRESEMANN: FOREIGN POLICY AND CURRENCY STABILISATION Foreign Policy When the war ended, Stresemann was excluded from the new liberal party, the DDP, and he formed his own party, the DVP. At first, it was hostile to the 1918 revolution and the Republic and campaigned for the restoration of the monarchy. It was only after the failed Kapp putsch and the murders of Erzberger and Rathenau that Stresemann led his party into adopting a more sympathetic approach towards the Weimar Republic. Stresemann's subsequent career shows that he was a committed supporter of constitutional government. By 1921 he had become convinced that the Republic and its constitution provided Germany with its only chance of preventing the dictatorship of either the left or right. This was his realistic assessment of the situation and why he was referred to as a rational republican, rather than a convinced one.
 Stresemann became responsible for foreign affairs at the height of the 1923 crisis and his foreign policy was shaped by his deep understanding of the domestic and international situations. He recognised that Germany had been military defeated, and not simply 'stabbed in the back'.

 Stresemann's foreign policy built around concept of 'fulfilment' - an attempt to improve relations with Britain and France by complying with the terms of the Versailles Treaty. It was assumed that the two Western powers, once convinced of Germany's good intentions, would be willing to modify or revise the treaty. His main aims in the 1920s led him to pursue the following objectives: To recognise that France did rightly have security concerns and that France also controlled the balance of power on the continent o He regarded Franco-German friendship as essential to solving outstanding problems To play on Germany's vital importance to world trade in order to earn goodwill and cooperation of Britain and the USA o The sympathy of the USA was also vital so as to attract American investment into the German economy To maintain the Rapallo Treaty-based friendship with the USSR o He rejected those who desired an alliance with Soviet Russia and described them as the 'maddest of foreign policy makers' o Stresemann's strategy was in the tradition of Wirth's fulfilment To encourage cooperation and peace, particularly with the Western powers o This was in the best interests of Germany to make it the leading power in Europe once again

As a result of these aims, Stresemann hoped that:

The reparations problem would be solved The 1923 Ruhr and Rhineland occupation would end The military control of Germany would end Germany's eastern borders would be revised

Foreign affairs 1923-29 The Dawes Plan 1924

KAISER TO FUHRER - THE GOLDEN YEARS OF WEIMAR GERMANY Starting point of Stresemann's foreign policy  issue of reparations As Chancellor, he had called off 'passive resistance' and agreed to resume the payment of reparations. The result of this was the USbacked Dawes Plan which has been described as 'a victory for financial realism'. Despite opposition from the right wing it was accepted in April 1924. THE DAWES PLAN 1924 Acceptance of German reorganisation of the German currency

One new Rentenmark was to be worth one billion of the old marks The setting up of a German national bank, the Reichsbank, under Allied supervision

An international loan of 800 million gold marks to aid German economic recovery

The loan was to be financed mainly by the USA

New arrangements for the payment of reparations Dawes Plan left the actual sum to be paid unchanged BUT the monthly instalments over the first five years were calculated according to Germany's capacity to pay

Benefits of the Dawes Plan For the first time since the First World War, Germany's economic problems received international recognition Germany gained credit for the cashstarved German economy by means of loan and subsequent investments

It resulted in a French promise to evacuate the Ruhr during 1925

Drawbacks of the Dawes Plan The whole system was dangerously dependent on the continuation of American loans In attempting to break out of the crisis of 1923, Stresemann had linked Germany's fortunes to powerful external forces, which had dramatic effects after 1929 US investment made the German economy dependent on foreign markets and economies, and therefore problems with the US


Short term - success - German economy was not weakened since it received twice as much capital from abroad as it paid in reparations The mere fact that reparations were being paid regularly contributed to the improved relations between France and Germany during these years There is little doubt that the Dawes Plan was fundamental in strengthening the German industrial base and in developing better relations with the USA, in particular improving trade

economy (most significantly the Great Depression) would later severely hurt Germany as it did the rest of the western world which was subject to debt repayments for loans of US dollars. Germany still had to pay reparations

The Locarno Pact 1925 The ending of the occupation of the Ruhr and the introduction of the Dawes Plan showed that the Great Powers were prepared to take Germany's interests seriously. However, Stresemann continued to fear that Anglo-French friendship could lead to a military alliance. In order to counter this concern, Stresemann proposed an international security pact for Germany's western frontiers. Although France was at first hesitant, Britain and the USA both backed the idea. This formed the basis for the Locarno Pact:

1. Germany, France and Belgium pledged themselves not to use force to change the borders laid down in the Versailles Treaty

2. This meant that Germany abandoned any claim to AlsaceLorraine, and France undertook not to repeat its occupation of the Ruhr

3. A series of arbitration treaties were signed at Locarno between Germany and France, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Belgium (an agreement to accept the decision by a third party to settle a conflict)

KAISER TO FUHRER - THE GOLDEN YEARS OF WEIMAR GERMANY On balance, since regaining Alsace-Lorraine was a very long way from the top of any German agenda, Germany gained more out of Locarno than it conceded Significance of the Locarno Pact:

The Locarno Pact gave rise to a great deal of optimism that the historic quarrel between France and Germany had finally been buried. Not surprisingly, Stresemann and his French opposite number, Aristide Briand, were in 1926 jointly awarded the Nobel Peace prize The Locarno treaties represented an important diplomatic development. Germany was freed from its isolation by the Allies and was again treated as an equal partner. Stresemann had achieved a great deal at Locarno at very little cost By establishing the beginnings of a solid basis for Franco-German understanding, Stresemann had lessened France's need to find allies in Eastern Europe. The Poles viewed the treaty as a major setback, since Stresemann had deliberately refused to confirm the frontiers in the east.

Further diplomatic progress 1926-30 Although there was further diplomatic progress in the years 1926-30 it remained limited:
 1926  Germany originally been excluded from the League of Nations but, in 1926, she was invited to join the League and was immediately recognised as a permanent member of the Council of the League
 1928  Germany signed the Kellog-Briand Pact, a declaration that outlawed 'war as an instrument of national policy.'
 1929  Allies agreed to evacuate the Rhineland earlier than intended, in return for a final settlement of the reparations issue: o The result of this was the YOUNG PLAN, which further revised the scheme of payments. Germany now agreed to continue to pay reparations until 1988, although the total sum was reduced to £1850, only one-quarter of the figure demanded in 1921

The Treaty of Berlin 1926

KAISER TO FUHRER - THE GOLDEN YEARS OF WEIMAR GERMANY April 1926  signed between the Soviet Union and Germany, each country reconfirming the terms of the Treaty of Rapallo (signed in 1922 between Germany and Russia under which each renounced all territorial and financial claims against the other following the Treaty of BrestLitovsk and World War I) and both stressing neutrality in the event of attack by a third power. This was a recognition by Stresemann that Germany's defence needs in the heart of Europe meant that she had to have understanding with both the East and the West. The treaty with the USSR therefore reduced strategic fears on Germany's Eastern Front and placed even more pressure on Poland to give way to German demands for frontier changes. It also opened up the possibility of a large commercial market and increased military co-operation.

Key Question  how successful was Stresemann's foreign policy?

International Success?
Dawes Plan made a vital contribution to German economic recovery. Young Plan then reduced both current payments and the total burden, and the rescheduling of payments over a longer time span reduced the likelihood of payment being fully implemented. Perhaps Stresemann's greatest achievement was the Locarno Pact - Germany lost nothing by signing Locarno as it had no sound national claim to Alsace-Lorraine. Entry into the League of Nations was required in order for the Locarno Pact to come into operation. Because of Stresemann's insistence on only entering as a permanent member of the Council, Germany's status as a great power was formally acknowledged.

Domestic Success?

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