Essay, 5 pages (1200 words)

Gustav stresemann

1. Gustav Stresemann, the most influential German politician from 1923-1929 helped Germany, in many ways recover in the years he was in power.

Stresemann was a more skilful politician than Ebert, and, as a right-winger, he had wider support. He was also helped by the fact that through the 1920’s the rest of Europe was gradually coming out of its post war depression. Slowly but surely, he built up Germany’s prosperity again.

Firstly, Stresemann called off the passive resistance (striking) in the Ruhr. He then helped Germany’s economic situation by calling in the worthless marks and burning them, replacing them with a new currency called the Rentemark. Stresemann then began negotiations to receive American loans under the Dawes Plan. He even negotiated reparations payments.

Under the Dawes Plan reparations payments were spread over a longer period, and the loans from the USA poured into German industry. By 1927 German industry seemed to have recovered very well, and exports were on the increase. There was also an increase in cultural achievement in Germany. Artists, writers and poets flourished, especially in Berlin, and produced powerful paintings such as source A.

Stresemann also showed great skill in foreign policy. In 1925 he signed the Locarno Treaties, guaranteeing not to change Germany’s Western borders with France and Belgium. As a result, in 1926 Germany was accepted into the League of Nations. Here he began to work, quietly but steadily, on reversing some of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, particularly those concerning reparations and German’s eastern frontiers. By the time he died in 1929, Stresemann had negotiated the Young Plan, which further lightened the reparations burden on Germany and led to the evacuation of the Rhineland by British, French and Belgium troops.

There were problems too during this period and Stresemann’s foreign policy (joining the League of Nations) upset right-wing extremists such as the Nazis.

However, it is clear that Stresemann certainly eased Germany’s situation and helped the country in some ways recover in the years 1923-1929.

2. The 1920’s saw a huge cultural revival in Germany. These years have been seen as a greatest period of experimentation in the whole of Germany’s history. As things settled down politically, writers and artists had more of a chance to try out new ideas. The results were impressive and spread across all areas of the arts.

A variety of ideas and techniques were produced by the key painters of the time. For example, some artists like George Grosz, used art to criticize society. One of his paintings, Grey Day, was a comment on the boredom experienced by most people in their every day lives.

Alternatively, some artists, such as Hannah Hoech were members of new movements. She was a member of a group, which believed that the absurd should be considered normal, much of her work was in the form of collage, assembled from smaller parts, including photographs.

This new approach to art was given the name ” Neue Sachlichkeit” or ” new objectivity” because artists tried to portray society in an objective way. New objectivity was particularly associated with painters such as George Grosz and Otto Dix.

Germany also became the center for new plays and operas. The most famous playwright of the time was Bertolt Brecht, whose Three-penny Opera was an enormous success. The cinema also took huge strides. One film, the Cabinet of DR Calgari conveyed a massage of anti-military and anti-war. Also, in literature Erich Remarque wrote the celebrated war novel, All Quiet on the Western Front. This novel described the horrors and destruction of the First World War and within three months of its publication in 1929, it had sold 500, 000 copies. Later, it was dramatized and made into a highly successful film.

Finally, architecture took a big leap due to Walter Gropius, who, after the First World War became the most influential of all the leaders of the fine arts. He developed a new form, known a Bauhaus, which applied especially to buildings and furniture. He used bold designs and unusual materials. He had many critics within Germany and when Hitler came to power his works were declared degenerate. He was later forced to leave Germany in 1934 but went on to carry on with architecture at Harvard, the USA’s leading university, where he became professor of architecture.

Due to this explosion in culture, lively debate flourished in the atmosphere of completely free expression allowed by the republic. At the center of this hectic activity was Berlin, with its 120 newspapers and periodicals (magazines) and 40 theaters. One German writer, Thomas Mann, claimed that Germany had replaced France as a cultural center of Europe.

However, there was opposition to these changes in culture. People on the far right including the Nazis criticized the new culture and people on the far left wing, especially the communists, felt that experimentation was a luxury and did not reflect the real needs of the working class. Moreover, there were many ordinary people in Germany who were confused by the rapid changes in culture and were not impressed when they saw the paintings of Grosz, or the new buildings or furniture of Gropius.

The 1920’s were a time of turmoil and anxiety for many Germans. However, out of this time came some of the most innovative and exciting art and culture in Europe. The strict pre-war censorship was removed and throughout the 1920’s Berlin challenged Paris as cultural capital of Europe, with new and significant developments in painting, cinema, architecture, design, the theatre and other fields.

3. In many ways the years 1923-1929 were years of recovery for certain elements in Germany. Elements such as the economic crisis, helped by the introduction of the Rentemark and backed up by the Dawes Plan, Germany’s foreign affairs, in which Germany were accepted into the League of Nations due to the signing of the Locarno Treaties, thanks to Stresemann’s skill in foreign policy, here Stresemann began work on reversing some of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, and the situation of some areas back home was improved, for example the revival of art and culture in Berlin.

Indeed, Stresemann’s government certainly succeeded in stabilizing Germany.

However, criticism and opposition to the changes in Germany came from several quarters including the Communists on the far left wing and the Nazi Party on the far right. By 1930 this resulted in many of the key artists and painters of the time fleeing from Germany, despised or threatened by the Nazis. Additionally, tension and conflict beckoned as extremists opponents of the Weimar government were just below the surface and through the 1920’s they were organizing and regrouping, waiting for the chance to win power.

One of the most important of these extremists groups was the Nazi Party and the culture of the Weimar Republic later became a target for the Nazis during the period of the Third Reich. They attacked it as ” degenerate” and ” un-German”. Additionally, the Nazi Party tried to seize power in Germany by holding the government members at gun point in the Munich Putsch in 1923, they failed in their attempt however, it was a sign of things to come throughout the 1920’s in what would be a time of tense and turbulent political problems.

To conclude, on the whole, the darling lifestyle and ideas which characterised 1920’s Berlin were not to be found in other parts of Germany where people were shocked by the liberal attitudes, to them and many others Berlin was seen as sleazy, corrupt and sex-obsessed. In reality, back home not much of a recovery had been made what so ever and things seemed to have gone from bad to worse between the years of 1923-1929.

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