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Weimar Republic - Stresemann 1923-1929

In the summer of 1923, President Ebert asked Gustav Stresemann, the Deutsche Volkspartei (DVP) chairman, to form a new cabinet coalition to resolve the crisis. Stresemann typified the Weimar Vernunftrepublikaner (commonsense republican); a former National Liberal and annexationist, he supported the republic for pragmatic reasons. During his brief chancellorship (August-November 1923), he headed the "great coalition," an alliance that included the SPD, Center Party, DDP, and DVP. The Stresemann government achieved currency stabilization, and on 15 November 1923 a strict revaluation of the mark puts it on a stable foundation.

After Stresemann's chancellorship ended because of combined opposition from the right and left, Stresemann served as German foreign minister until his death in 1929. The Stresemann era (1923-29) was a period of rapprochement with the West during which passive resistance in the Ruhr was ended. As foreign minister, Stresemann pursued negotiation rather than confrontation with the Allies. His policy, however, was strongly opposed by members of both the DNVP and the KPD.

  • The Treaty of Rapallo, signed with the Soviet Union on 17 April 1922, included a number of mutually beneficial political and economic provisions, along with secret military agreements. While publicly abiding by the terms of the Versailles Treaty, the German government moved secretly to circumvent its provisions. Under the farsighted guidance of Generaloberst (Colonel General) Hans von Seeckt, Chief of the Reichswehr, the diplomats obtained a provision whereby a number of German pilots and engineers were placed at the disposal of the fledgling Red Air Force. The German government tried to make the western powers more willing to make concessions in the reparation question and to stifle possible Russian claims on Germany. But the Treaty antagonized the west without tangible gains. It was nevertheless a popular in Germany, since it looked like an independent and self-assertive foreign policy.
  • The Dawes Plan of April 1924 was a plan for German economic recovery prepared by the American financier Charles G. Dawes. The Dawes Plan attempted to coordinate German reparations payments with a program of economic recovery whereby Germany was required to make only limited payments until 1929. To assist with the recovery, the Reichsbank was founded, and foreign credit, mainly from the United States, was filtered into Germany. As a result, between 1924 and 1929 German industry and commerce made unprecedented progress, and both the standard of living and real wages rose steadily. The Dawes Plan also provided for the withdrawal of French and Belgian troops from the Ruhr district. Treaty of Locarno of October 1925, signed by Luther and Stresemann for Germany, guaranteed that the German western border would not be changed except by peaceful means. This was part of Stresemann's policy to create two standards for Germany, under which German recognition of some parts of the Versailles Treaty rendered other parts of the original treaty (forced upon the Germans) increasingly hollow.
The Reichstag elections of May 1924 reflected the intense anger of the preceding year. The SPD and the middle parties lost ground, while the radicals of the left and right made massive gains. The ant--democratic right-wing Deutschnationale Volkspartei (DNVP) became the strongest party, and a radical rightist party (successor to the illegal Nazi party) under Ludendorff emerged and won about 6% of the vote. The influx of American credits under the Dawes Plan secured relative, though unsound and deceptive, prosperity over the next few years, and the Reichstag elections in December 1924 benefited the moderate parties. In 1925 President Ebert died, and the German people elected their national hero, Paul von Hindenburg, who supported the policies inaugurated by Stresemann until 1929, the year of Stresemann's death. The Reichstag elections in May 1928 seemed to confirm the trend toward stability and democratic government. In the 1928 elections the SPD, the party most strongly committed to the Weimar Republic, had fared well and gained votes. For the first time since 1920 a Social Democrat (Hermann Müller) was appointed chancellor. He formed a government with broad parliamentary support. The SPD formed a "gand coalition" (as in 1923) with the Center, the DDP, [the middle parties] and the DVP on the moderate Right, under Chancellor: Hermann Müller of the SPD.

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