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IB History - Stresemann's foriegn policy

IB History - Stresemann's foriegn policy

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Published by Yegor Lanovenko

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Published by: Yegor Lanovenko on May 12, 2010
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Yegor Lanovenko

IB History

Is there a stronger case for Stresemann’s success than for his failure in his foreign policy? Stresemann came to be the Foreign Minister of the Weimar Republic in the times that were very hard for the foreign policies: Germany’s international position in politics was weak, as Germany was treated with suspicion by the Allies, and the common people in other West European countries had not yet overcome the post-war bitterness and resentment towards Germany, whom everyone blamed for starting the war, and this view was accepted as the true one by the Allies. Stresemann not only had to re-establish friendly relations with other powers, but also had to deal with the severe opposition from the Right. To judge the successfulness of his Stresemann’s foreign policy, one must decide what exactly his aim was. Most would say that it lied in reviewing the Treaty of Versailles. But this could not be done without brining Germany up to the position of a powerful country. Stresemann decided to get concessions via establishing friendly relations with the Allied countries by letting them see that Germany is willing to follow the Treaty of Versailles and co-operate. A country cannot be powerful when its economy is ruined by the hyperinflation in 1923 and with the passive resistance towards the French troops in its most important industrial area of the Ruhr. Stresemann was undoubtedly a skilled politician, and he called off the passive resistance, which saved the economy and eased the tensions with the French troops. He was also unarguably successfull in negotiating international loans from the U.S., resulting in the Dawes plan which made a vital contribution to the economical recovery. The following Young plan eased both the annual reparations and the total burden. The fact that the reparations cause which cause so much bitterness among the German people, was revalued by the Allies made it more likely for the payments to be fully implemented in the future. This gave Germany more hope. However, the acceptance of the Young plan was seen by the Right-wing opposition as a betrayal of the future generations of Germany, as German economy became s dependent on the U.S., and in the long-term the Plan would end up disastrously (which it did in 1929), but the question is: what else there was to do? Stresemann found the best solution at the time and acted to save Germany in the present, as without nobody knows how things would go for Germany if there had been no loans. The relations with the Allies softened greatly after Stresemann signed the Locarno pact, accepting the Western borders drawn by the treaty of Versailles. This was followed by the withdrawal of French troops and German entry into the League of Nations. All this created the mood called the “Locarno Honeymoon”, full of international optimism about Germany and European co-operation. Meanwhile in Germany itself, the Right-wing extremists saw this as a further betrayal, as it was yet another acceptance of the Treaty of Versailles, and they stressed how much Germany was losing by signing t. In fact,

Yegor Lanovenko

IB History

Germany lost nothing but its Alsaisse-Lorraine claims, however, Germany never really regarded that area as important. Furthermore, it made France feel more secure, which was needed if Germany wanted to recover fully. In addition, it left the East open for Germany. The entrance to the League meant that Germany was becoming trustworthy in the eyes of other countries, which was exactly what Stresemann wanted. This was followed by the decrease of occupational forces in Germany, and perhaps contributed to the fact that even when Germany was breaking the demilitarization terms, it was in a way ignored. While in the League, Stresemann posed discomforting questions about the German minorities living in other states. Two treaties with USSR were signed – the Treaty of Rapallo and the Treaty of Berlin, giving Germany more reassurance and confidence, as it avoided another encirclement. However, the solid gains of Stresemann were little. The occupational troops were reduced, but still remained in Germany. The economy did recover with the help of the American loans, but that put Germany under dependency on the U.S. and some historians see that as an unwise move. Regardless of the improvements in the European relations, Germany was still treated with healthy suspicion by the Allies. The whole idea of following the terms of the Treaty, regardless of the aim of it, angered the extreme groups in the Republic, every event or a mistake, an inaccuracy was used by the extreme opposition to undermine the government. Stresemann did not achieve much, but he built a base for the future developments which never took place, as the Weimar was crushed by the Wall Street Crash in 1929. If the softened relations with the Allies and the slowly increasing economy, encouraged by Stresemann's foreign policy, would have been used, it might have resulted in a stable government. He was working in a time when his every move was being watched carefully by his bitter opponents, and this made it hard for the people to see the actual vistas, opened by Stresemann. The conclusion about the fulfillment of Stresemann's aims can be drawn: his policies, by the time that he stopped acting as the Foreign Minister, had not yet given its yield, as most of his actions had investments in long-term projects, that would work in a politically and economically stable country, but in the Weimar Republic, rocked by aggressive criticism from its own people, weakened by the division within the government and knelt down by economical complications, long-term investments did not have time to give its outcomes.

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