How far do you agree with the view that it was only in Foreign Policy that the Weimar Republic had any successes between 1924-1929?
Following the unstable years of 1918- 23, the Weimar Republic enjoyed five years of supposed prosperity. Indeed, they were characterised as ‘golden’. It is true that the Weimar Republic experienced a number of successes within foreign policy however; that is not to say there was a lack of success in other aspects of Weimar Germany. This essay will therefore demonstrate that whilst there were undoubtedly successes within foreign policy, progress was also evident within the economy, as well as in the political and social spheres. However, this essay will also address the issue as to whether foreign policy, along with the other developments at this time, was in fact wholly successful.
To begin, Gustav Stresemann’s foreign policy was built around the concept of ‘fulfilment’ - an attempt to improve relations with Britain and France by complying with the terms of the Versailles treaty. Stresemann hoped that the reparations problem would be solved, that military control of Germany would end and that Germany’s eastern borders would be revised. The Dawes Plan in 1924 has been described as ‘a victory of financial realism’. It accepted the reorganisation of the German currency, an international loan of 800 million gold marks was given to Germany (this was to be financed mainly by the USA) and finally, new arrangements for the payments of reparations were arranged. The Dawes Plan was beneficial as the mere fact that reparations were being paid contributed to the improved relations between France and Germany during these years. However, the whole system was dangerously dependent upon the continuation of American loans and therefore problems with the US economy would later severely damage Germany. The Locarno Pact of 1925 witnessed an international security pact for Germany’s western frontiers. Germany gained much more of Locarno than it conceded and it seemed that the historic quarrel between France and Germany had finally been buried. In 1926, Germany was invited to join the League of Nation and was immediately recognised as a permanent member. Further, in 1928, Germany signed the Kellog-Briand Pact, a declaration that outlawed ‘war as an instrument of national policy’. Overall, it is evident that internationally Stresemann’s foreign policy was a success. Stresemann transformed Germany from being a distrusted outcast to being actively involved in European diplomacy. However, the concrete gains from his diplomacy were limited: no formal agreement existed changing the demilitarisation terms of Versailles and he did not gain French withdrawal from the Ruhr by 1925. Significantly, his policies failed to rally support domestically. Many Germans saw Stresemann’s policy of fulfilment as unpatriotic. Thus overall, despite indubitable successes, it seems inaccurate to argue that it was only in foreign policy that the Weimar Republic was successful; firstly, as Stresemann’s achievements were too subtle to be greeted enthusiastically by the majority and secondly, as there were achievements in other areas as well.