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Weimar Flourishes

Summary

The republic survived the crises of 1919-23 by using the right-wing army and Freikorps units to crush the Communists, and getting the help of  the left-wing unions to crush the Kapp Putsch.

      Stresemann, and American money (the Dawes Plan) led to a period of prosperity which saw a cultural flowering in Germany.

   

Links

BBC Bitesize

Gustav Stresemann - difficult assessment

 

How stable was the Weimar Republic? - Sixth Formers' ideas

 

Podcast

- Giles Hill the Stresemann Years

 

YouTube

Mr Portman's great video

How far did the Weimar Republic recover, 191929?

(FASS)

Although it seemed that the Weimar Republic MUST collapse, it managed to survive.  To do this it used any method available to it:

  

1.  Freikorps

Against the Communists, the SPD Defence Minister, Gustav Noske, used bands of Freikorps.  They were right-wing and enjoyed putting down the Communist revolts of 19191920.

2.  Army

The Army, led by von Seeckt, was also right-wing, and enjoyed putting down the Communist revolts of 1923.

3.  Strikes

The Kapp Putsch was right-wing, so the Freikorps and Army refused to help the government.  However, Ebert appealed to the workers of Berlin (who were left-wing), who went on strike.  Berlin came to a standstill and the Putsch collapsed.

   

Also:

After 1924, a politician named Gustav Stresemann   led the government (he became Chancellor in August 1923).  At first he had opposed the Weimar Republic, but changed when he realised the alternative was anarchy.  

   

   

 

 

4.  Stresemann's Achievements  (DIFFERS)

a.  Dawes Plan, 1924

Stresemann called off the 1923 Ruhr strike and started to pay reparations again but the American Dawes Plan gave Germany longer to make the payments (and the Young Plan of 1929 reduced the payments).

b.  Inflation controlled, November 1923

Stresemann called in all the old, worthless marks and burned them.  He replaced them with a new Rentenmark (worth 3,000 million old marks).

c.  French leave the Ruhr, April 1924

Stresemann persuaded the French to leave.

d.  Foreign Affairs

In 1925, Stresemann signed the Locarno Treaty, agreeing to the loss of Alsace-Lorraine.  In 1926, Germany was allowed to join the League of Nations.  Germany had become a world power again.

e.  Economic Growth

Germany borrowed 25,000 million gold marks, mainly from America.  This was used to build roads, railways and factories.  The economy boomed and led to prosperity.  Cultural life also boomed (the Roaring Twenties).

f.  Reforms

Stresemann introduced reforms to make life better for the working classes - Labour Exchanges (1927) and unemployment pay.  Also, 3 million new houses were built.

g.  Strength at the Centre

Stresemann arranged a 'Great Coalition' of the moderate pro-democracy parties (based around the SDP, the Centre party and Stresemann's own 'German people's Party', the DVP).  United together, they were able to resist the criticism from smaller extremist parties, and in this way, he overcame the effects of proportional representation - the government had enough members of the Reichstag supporting it to pass the laws it needed.

    

Source A

Stresemann was no genius.  He was not the difference between pre- and post-1924 Germany.  What made the difference was the Dawes Plan, and the economic prosperity that U.S. money created.

Written by a modern historian.

  

Source B

Stresemann ... worked hard to rebuild his shattered country and for peace and co-operation abroad.  Because of his leadership Germany is now prospering and has an important place in the affairs of Europe.

from The Times, 4 October 1929.

An account of his life and achievements which was written just after his death.

 

The film Cabaret was set in the Kit-Kat club in Berlin in 1930, before the Nazis took power.

    

 

Cultural Flowering - The 'Roaring twenties'

The 1920s became in Germany a time of real cultural creativity, with developments in Architecture, Art, Books, Films and Cabaret.

Famous names of this period include:

  the Bauhaus school of architecture, founded by Walter Gropius.

  the artist Paul Klee.

  the singer and film star Marlene Dietrich

  the artist Otto Dix (famous for his harsh paintings of World War One trenches).

  the novelist Erich Maria Remarque, who wrote the anti-war novel All Quiet on the Western Front.

  

Links

Simple educational site

Weimar films

Prof. Rempel's page

Prof. Scheck's page

  

  

  

Extra: 

Looking at all the information on this page, how far do you think the Weimar Republic recovered, 1924-29?

 

Weaknesses of the Weimar Republic

However, many historians believe that the strength and success of the Weimar republic was largely an illusion:

1.  It depended on economic success and prosperity, and this in turn was wholly based on American loans.  If anything happened to undermine the American economy, the Weimar Republic would be in great danger.

2.  As soon as economic prosperity returned, the Great Coalition organised by Stresemann collapsed, and the moderate pro-democracy parties began to argue among themselves again.  Thus they would not be strong enough to resist a challenge from extremist parties if ever there was one.

3.  Extremist politicians were not won over by the good times.  Right-wing nationalists still hated the Republic as the 'November criminals' - they just waited for a situation to arise which would give them the opportunity to attack the Weimar government.

  

In this way, the Wall Street collapse of 1929 was to prove a disaster for the Weimar republic.

  

Source C

The German economy is doing well only on the surface.  Germany is in fact dancing on a volcano.  If the short-term loans are called in by America, most of our economy will collapse.

from a speech made by Gustav Stresemann shortly before his death on 3 October 1929