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East Germany

Stresemann Era

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. After his 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.

In 1924 the German government adopted 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. 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 Locarno treaties, signed in 1925 by Germany and the Allies, were part of Stresemann's attempt at rapprochement with the West. A prerequisite for Germany's admission to the League of Nations in 1926, the treaties accepted the demilitarization of the Rhineland and guaranteed the western frontier as defined by the Treaty of Versailles. Both Britain and Germany preferred to leave the question of the eastern frontier open. In 1925-26 the Allies withdrew their troops from the right bank of the Rhine. In 1926 the German and Soviet governments signed the Treaty of Berlin, which pledged Germany and the Soviet Union to neutrality in the event of an attack on either country by foreign powers.

The Locarno treaties, the Treaty of Berlin, and Germany's membership in the League of Nations were the successes that earned Stresemann world renown. The Young Plan of 1929, which was also introduced during the Stresemann era, formulated the final reparations settlement. Germany agreed to a 59-year schedule of payments averaging approximately 2 billion Deutsche marks annually. The Bank of International Settlement was established to facilitate transactions. The Allies, in turn, promised to complete the evacuation of the Rhineland.

Data as of July 1987