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Gustav Stresemann, though sometimes overlooked now, was a miracle worker for Germany. Ever heard of the "hyperinflation" that plagued Germany after WWI? Well, Gustav Stresemann helped cure it. Apart from this, Stresemann tried to transform the image of German from a war-mongering imperialist state to that of a peaceful European country with a booming economy. Let's dive deeper into Stresemann's achievements!
|1907||Stresemann was elected into the Reichstag of the German Empire.|
|1917||Stresemann became the leader of the National Liberal Party.|
|1918||Stresemann temporarily exited politics.|
|1920||Stresemann re-entered politics. By 1923, he had already been involved with three separate parties governing Germany.|
|August 1923||Stresemann became the Chancellor and the Foreign Secretary of Weimar Germany.|
|November 1923||Stresemann's government dissolved and he stepped down as Chancellor. He continued to be the Foreign Secretary, from which position he negotiated terms to end hyperinflation in Germany.|
Stresemann's fight against hyperinflation ended in victory, ushering in an economic boom in Weimar Germany.
|1925||Stresemann signed the Locarno Pact which settled territorial issues with France and Belgium and re-established amicable relations.|
|1926||Thanks to Stresemann's efforts, Germany was admitted into the League of Nations, no longer seen as a loser of the First World War but as an equal among European nations. He was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.|
The hyperinflation experienced by Germany was among the worst cases of monetary devaluation ever recorded. In 1923 hyperinflation reached its peak in Germany, almost causing a collapse of not only the German economy but its society as well.
Germany was failing to make reparation payments in time. This led to France's occupation of the Ruhr, one of Germany's key industrial zones. Stresemann made it his mission to rescue Germany from the economic turmoil. To do so, Germany would have to concentrate all of its political might on rebuilding its economy.
With the French occupation of the Ruhr, the German economy was further destabilised. Rebuilding the German economy would need cordial relations with Germany's neighbours, especially France.
As a first step, Stresemann introduced a new currency into the German system, the Rentenmark. The novelty of the Rentenmark was that it gave German citizens a currency that was worth something. This new currency would also soon become worthless if the German government did not act and find a solution.
How was the Occupation of the Ruhr received in Europe?
Negotiation with the French was the next step in pursuing the revival of the German economy. Though many states disapproved of the French (and Belgian) Occupation of the Ruhr, under the pretext of the Treaty of Versailles it was a legal occupation. Thus, the League of Nations never intervened.
Stresemann decided that it was time to negotiate with France. As a sign of good faith, he called off the passive resistance in Ruhr. Stresemann promised that Germany would make reparation payments..
Germany was not the only one suffering economically. France was too, and France was dependent on German reparations to keep its own economy running. To make sure that both economies survived, the Allied Reparations Commission called on the American diplomat Charles Dawes to think of a solution. The Dawes Plan was signed on 16 August 1924 in Paris.
The more you know...
The year is 1924 and Stresemann is no longer Chancellor of Germany. Due to internal political problems, Stresemann's government was dissolved, but Stresemann continued to lead the country out of the economically troublesome period as a Foreign Secretary of Weimar Germany.
Thanks to Stresemann's persuasion, the French loosened their grip on Ruhr, accepted the Dawes Plan, and fully withdrew from Ruhr in August 1925.
This was how the Dawes Plan worked:
Thanks to the Dawes Plan, the Rentenmark was replaced by the gold-backed Reichsmark and Germany was able to stabilise its economy and end hyperinflation in Germany. This ushered in a period known as the Golden Age of the Weimar Republic or the Golden Twenties. During this time, Germany's economy flourished and liberal values became more mainstream within Germany.
Gustav Stresemann was among other German politicians who detested the Treaty of Versailles and spoke out about it. Although it was thanks to Stresemann's efforts that Germany was able to get back on its feet as a functioning economy, Stresemann was very much aware of the devastation the Treaty of Versailles had brought on his country. He knew better than most that the only relief from the harsh terms of the treaty was to prove Germany was now a changed country.
From a glance, Gustav Stresemann's greatest achievement wasn't just solving the hyperinflation crisis in Germany but his greatest achievement was in how he solved the hyperinflation crisis. Stresemann's real strength lay in foreign affairs.
His primary foreign policy was simple: get the French and the Belgians out of the Ruhr! This was simpler said than done. To do so, Germany would have to appease the French. Giving his word that Germany would recover economically and pay the French their share in reparations was the first step in proving that Germany was going to make sure its responsibilities were met.
This elevated the country's status in the eyes of many. With Germany's cooperation in the Dawes Plan, it became evident that Stresemann was true to his word. Thanks to Stresemann's achievements in his foreign policy, by August 1925, the French and Belgian forces left the Ruhr.
The act of satisfying someone's needs, desires or requests
It was evident to France that Stresemann was trustworthy. He had kept his promise to France, which in turn began warm relations between Stresemann and the French Foreign Minister, Aristide Briand. This warming relationship between Germany and France was soon symbolised by the Pact of Locarno of 1925, which did the following:
Thanks to Gustav Stresemann's efforts, not only were the points of the Pact of Locarno successfully implemented, but in 1926, Germany became a member of the League of Nations. No longer was Germany seen as the loser of the First World War, but as an equal among the European Nations.
For his efforts, Stresemann shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Aristide Briand.
How was the Pact of Locarno received in Weimar Germany?
Gustav Stresemann might have been the German state's saviour, but he also had opponents. The right-wing extremists in particular were his main opposers. Even though Stresemann himself was a fervent opponent of the Treaty of Versailles, it was during his tenure as Chancellor and then Foreign Secretary that he found out that the only way to build up the German state from the dire position it was in, was to adhere to the very treaty he disagreed with.
The Pact of Locarno was generally well received by Germans because it guaranteed German sovereignty and economic stability. Some abhorred it, however, as Locarno confirmed the German borders laid out by Versailles.
Gustav Stresemann and his colleague, Aristide Briand, Foreign Minister of France, shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1926 for having successfully begun cordial relations between the two countries. The start of reconciliation between France and Germany was established by the Pact of Locarno. Negotiated in the Swiss town of Locarno in 1925 and signed in London that year, the pact was a combination of several treaties that guaranteed peace in Western Europe.
The more you know...
Apart from Stresemann and Briand, Charles Dawes, the father of the Dawes Plan was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize a year before Stresemann and Briand, in 1925, for his ingenious and humane economic aid that saved the German economy.
Gustav Stresemann's policies were among the key factors that contributed to relatively stable late 1920s not only in the Weimar Republic but the whole Europe. His main achievements can be summarised in the list below:
stabilizing German economy (hyperinflation) by implementation of the Dawes Plan in (1924)
improving relationship with Germany's neighbours through the Locarno Treaties (1925)
Nobel Prize (1926) for promoting peace and reconciliation between France and Germany
bringing Weimar Republic back to international community
improving relations with the Soviet Union (Treaty of Berlin)
Gustav Stresemann was the Chancellor and then the Foreign Secretary of the Weimar Republic, who aided Germany's recovery after WWI.
It was precisely thanks to Gustav Stresemann that Germany was able to get out of a period of hyperinflation and get into the golden age period in a san of a few years.
Stresemann solved the hyperinflation problem by negotiating with the French and receiving aid from the Dawes Plan.
Gustav Stresemann shared his Nobel Peace Prize with France's Foreign Secretary Aristide Briand for signing the Pact of Locarno ensuring peace in western Europe.
What do you think? Why was Gustav Stresemann so successful in establishing cordial relations with France?
Stresemann had very good negotiation skills, which were exemplified by his relationship with France. He promised that he would succeed in boosting the German economy and he did. So it was evident, that Stresemann was a man of his word. This was good enough for France to trust him.
When did Gustav Stresemann become Foreign Secretary?
When did Gustav Stresemann become Chancellor?
What do you think? What would happen if the Dawes Plan was never introduced to Germany?
If the Dawes Plan was never introduced, Germany would most likely fail as a state. Not being able to pay its war reparations, more industrial zones like Ruhr would be occupied by the French and the Belgians. Furthermore, the hyperinflation crisis would never subside.
WIth whom did Gustav Stresemann share his Nobel Peace Prize?
French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand
Who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925?
What was the period of economic prosperity in Germany which began with the end of hyperinflation called?
The Golden Age
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