After the Weimar Republic had survived the year of crisis 1923, it was granted a short time of economic recovery and political stability. These were the “Golden Twenties”. But the German democracy was shaky. Already in the middle of the twenties, the parties of the center and center-left lost many votes whereas the hardliners, even extremists on both sides grew stronger.
An international committee worked out a plan for the reparations to be paid by Germany, it is referred to as Dawes Plan after its American chairman Charles G. Dawes. Germany was obliged to pay enormous sums every year that should increase in 1928, that way the interests of the Allied were covered. But it also took a bit of pressure of the Weimar Republic, Germany was granted large foreign loans and the Allies’ right on sanctions was limited. Moreover, the French eventually accepted the Dawes Plan and withdrew from the occupied areas in July and August 1925.
That way, German economy gradually recovered and in 1928 reached the production level of 1913. The following years brought some political recovery and some stability, a period of uneven prosperity. Also a lot was done for people: Unemployment insurance, 8 hour days, better protection for working youngsters and mothers, paid vacation, new flats to live in and education benefits, employees’ councils to represent employees’ interests.
The hardliners grow stronger
The German democracy, however, was shaky. Already in the middle of the twenties, the parties of the center and center-left lost many votes whereas the hardliners, even extremists on both sides grew stronger. Chancellors like Wilhelm Marx struggled to keep democratic governments going, foreign Minister Stresemann sought understanding with the former enemies.
Swing to the Right
Reichspräsident Friedrich Ebert died in 1925. Field Marshal Hindenburg, a supporter of the monarchy and candidate of the political Right, won the elections and became Reichspräsident. He swore an oath on the Weimar Constitution and remained loyal to it until the end. For many people and particularly the Reichswehr troops, Hindenburg became a “Substitute Emperor”, because he stood for the conservative, national tradition, and with him on top they could arrange with the Republic although they rejected parliamentarian democracy. Yet, Hindenburg was already 78 years old when he took up his new office.
Briand and Stresemann
As to foreign policy, these years are marked by Aristide Briand on the French and Gustav Stresemann on the German side. Both strove for understanding instead of eternal enmity. In October 1925, the Treaty of Locarno was concluded by which Germany recognized its borders with France and Belgium according to the Treaty of Versailles, voluntarily relinquished Alsace-Lorraine and accepted that the Rhineland would remain a demilitarized area forever. Britain, Italy and Belgium would assist France should German troops march into the demilitarized Rhineland. In turn, Germany regained freedom of action, was protected against French attacks on the Rhine and Ruhr area and could look forward to be accepted into the community of nations soon again. In July 1925, the French troops began to withdraw from the Ruhr Area.
In 1926, Germany joined the “League of Nations”. The same year, Briand and Stresemann were together awarded with the Nobel peace prize. In 1930, the last Allied troops left Germany, five years earlier than stipulated in the Treaty of Versailles, as an answer to the policy of reconciliation under the Stresemann administration. Yet, not all people in Germany and France were ready for a policy of understanding, both Briand and Stresemann were grimly criticized in their countries. Shortly after, Briand was replaced by the hardliner Poincaré. In the German general elections for the Reichstag of 1928, the Deutschnationale Volkspartei (DNVP, German National People’s Party) emerged as second strongest faction in the Reichstag, after a campaign against the Treaty of Locarno.
The short 20th century | The Great War | German Revolution 1918/19 | Occupation of the Rhineland | Weimar Republic – Years of Crisis | Weimar Republic – Golden Era | Weimar Republic – Depression and Decline | Nazi Germany | World War II | Federal Republic of Germany
Berlin, Wohltätigkeits-Festessen im Hotel Adlon
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