Germany's Recover Under Gustave Stresemann

Germany's Recover Under Gustave Stresemann

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Gustave Stresemann had a lot of influence over Germany in the period between 1923 and 1929. Though he was only chancellor for a short while he occupied other very important positions such as Germany’s Foreign Minister. Before Stresemann took charge in 1923 the Weimar Republic had many problems.
In 1922 the government declared that they could no longer pay reparations to France due to severe economic problems. The French responded to this by sending 60,000 French and Belgian troops to invade the Ruhr. They took most of Germany’s raw materials, the government called for the workers to carry out passive resistance; the workers in Germany refused to collaborate with the French. Consequently industrial production ground to a halt. Many in Germany blamed the government for the invasion of the Ruhr as it was the government who signed the treaty which meant they had to pay large reparations to France. Already the government was facing unpopularity with some Germans. After the invasion of the Ruhr, industrial production decreased dramatically so industries and factories shut down. This meant that unemployment rose. Consequently poverty in Germany rose too. The government decided to print more money to give to the people. As more and more was printed prices rose higher and higher and then more money had to be printed to meet the increasing prices. As a result money became worthless. This was the second problem the Weimar Republic faced; hyperinflation. Although the wages rose the prices always seemed to rise faster this meant that many people’s income was too low to live on. Most people suffered from the hyperinflation, and were extremely fed up with how the government had printed more money. It wasn’t just the fact that all their life savings could now only buy them a loaf of bread but it was also that it was degrading and it was humiliating: the German mark and economy had become worthless. Before Stresemann the Weimar Republic was facing unpopularity amongst most people, without Stressemann the Weimar Republic might not have seen 1924.
     I will first examine how Stresemann was in helping the Weimar Republic overcome the economic and social problems which they faced. Stresemann put an end to hyperinflation, he did this by getting rid of the mark and introducing the new Rentenmark. This stabilized the German currency and meant that money was worth something again. It also meant that Stresemann gained the confidence of many people because during hyperinflation many people were suffering.

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Stressemann also ordered striking workers back to the Ruhr to start working again and production began once more. Also, in 1924 Stresemann signed the Dawes plan with USA, Britain and France to avoid any other financial collapses such as hyperinflation in the future. The Dawes plan meant that USA would lend Germany 800 million gold marks. Stresemann used this to build new factories that would produce jobs and goods. This meant a rise in the standard of living for most German people and because of this Stresemann gained support from many Germans. The Dawes plan also spread the load of reparations according to Germany’s ability to pay. Therefore the Dawes plan did much to restore the German economy and Stresemann was the one who signed the Dawes plan. Stressemann also signed the Young plan which extended the reparation payments for another 59 years, this meant that Stresemann could concentrate on building up Germany. Although Stresemann had managed to sign the Dawes plan with the USA which in the short term had positive effects on Germany’s economy, in the long term it was to prove disastrous as the German economy was becoming dependant on US loans. Stressemann also helped the social problems a lot by introducing reforms to make conditions for the working class better. Labour Exchanges and unemployment pay were also introduced and Stresemann supervised 3 million houses being built in order to hose all those who had lost their homes during hyperinflation and the war. Stresemann also made medical and education policies in Germany ensuring that children went to school and had a proper education with proper facilities and that sick people could be treated with the right equipment in the right environment. The industrial production also increased dramatically between 1923-1926 as Stresemann had sent the striking workers back to the Ruhr“1923 industrial production was 30% and in 1925 it had increased to 70% (estimated figures)” However, in early 1927 industrial production was beginning to slow down and there was a depression in farming emerging. “In 1927 coal production had only increased 10% in the last two years”
     The economy flourished under Stressemann, industrial production rose, unemployment fell and trade from abroad started once more. From this we can say that economy improved drastically under Stresemann from 1923-1929 however, more care should have been taken to make sure that Germany was still independent economically. Most aspects of the social problems in Germany were solved were solved and most Germans were a lot better off than before and with new schools and universities German people could be properly educated and go on to help Germany in the future.
     Now I will evaluate how far Stressemann improved the political situation in Weimar Germany. As Germany became more stable economically and socially Stresemann’s support from the public increased. Therefore there was a decline in extremist parties such as the Communists and the National Socialists because many Germans didn’t want an extreme change and liked Germany pretty much as it was. However, although support for extremist parties had declined, the parties themselves had not vanished and they were still out there plotting against the Weimar Republic. There was still political instability in Stresemann’s Germany because no one party could gain a majority in the republic. This meant that decision making was difficult and could easily be overturned at the whim of a minority of parliamentarians. From this we can say that politically Germany had not recovered much although there was a lot of support and the Weimar Republic government had support at that time, if in the future people did not agree with something the government was going to do, the Weimar Republic could easily lose control due to the system of parliament. Just because the Weimar Republic had gained the people’s popularity then did not mean it would stay like that and because other parties still existed, the government could change on even the account of one person’s vote.
     Now I will assess the extent to which he improved Germany’s relations with other countries. Stresemann reintegrated Germany into Europe and international politics. At the Locarno conference in 1925 Germany was involved in the negotiations as an equal with the other European countries. Stresemann gained a lot of popularity amongst the German people for doing to his as after the treaty of Versailles Germany had been made to feel humiliated and like an outsider in Europe and now Stresemann had made the people feel patriotic towards Germany and that they were a country and were back on the map. In 1926 Germany was made an equal and was allowed to join the league of nations. This was a very important part in Germany’s development because now Germany was seen as an equal to very powerful countries. Again this helped the German people feel more patriotic and it also meant they would continue to work hard and go along with the government new ideas as Germany had come such a long way. In 1928 Stresemann signed the Kellogg-Briand pact with over 60 other countries this Pact promised that the participating countries would never wage war against each other. Not only was this recreating the bonds with other countries and making them seem reliable and truthful to other countries it also protected Germany from any kind of war that was likely to happen in the future. Signing the Kellogg-Briand pact also helped the economy as people trusted Germany as they had signed a pact with them so people began to do trade once more so German exports and imports increased as well.
     International relations had recovered dramatically under Stresemann, other countries such as France, Britain and the USA trusted Germany enough to lend them money, Sign plans with them and even to the extent that they formed a pact with Germany saying they would never wage war against each other (The Kellogg-Briands pact -1928) International relations increase Germans economy, built trust and protected them from any invasions in the future.
     Lastly I will decide how far Stresemann improved the cultural life of Germany. In the 1920’s the was a huge change in Germany’s culture, Berlin became the pleasure capital of Europe. There was more freedom than ever before in Germany, there was freedom of speech and therefore there was many books and newspapers being published that meant people criticised things that the never could have done before. “Erich Remarque wrote an antiwar novel called ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ ” and Gorge Grosz used his art to criticise society. Going to clubs and cafes that were built under Stressemann were an important part of German culture. Many people saw this as a positive thing as many foreign people flocked to Berlin to experience its well known social life. However some people saw the new culture unpatriotic and degrading but to most it meant that Germany was catching up with the rest of Europe Berlin had become more well known that even France’s capital city: Paris.
     I think Stresemann improved Germany’s cultural life a lot, whilst the rest of Europe moved on Germany remain the same with the same old culture. Maybe the cultural revival in German made more people have a positive attitude towards change and made people want to modernise Germany.
     In conclusion I believe that Stresemann was quite successful recovering Germany as overall he managed to improve Germany economically, Socially and politically. Economics increased in Germany, Socially life became better for the German people and although politically the recovery was not as drastic as seen in other parts of German recovery we can still say politics had become more stable than before Stresemann and because of his tremendous recovery with the international relations in Germany we can say that Stresemann’s achievements outweighed his weaknesses. Stresemann was not as successful in politics as he was in other areas I think the reason for this was the way the Weimar Republic was sat up in the first place as if even a minor party disagreed with a law the law could not be passed unless the chancellor or president was given the right to rule by decree. Apart from this issue I feel that Stresemann made tremendous recovery in Germany between 1923 and 1929 because in such a short time he managed to change Germany around from being a backward country suffering from war effects into a modern and richer country. The real genius thing about Stresemann was that he managed to link his achievements to help more than one problem. By solving social/economical problems such as the shortage of home’s Stresemann gained political support from the people in parliament. By making international relations meant that Germany would become economically better off as trade from abroad would start again. I have reached the conclusion that although German was not perfect under Stresemann, Stresemann had recovered Germany a lot.

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