Compare and contrast the economic and political developments in the USSR and Germany 1918-1924

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Kristian H. Foged

History HL – 2.U


History Home Essay:

Post-War USSR and Germany 1918-1924

Figure 1: Geographical Flags of Germany and USSR 1918-1924:

Essay Question:

Compare and contrast the economic and political developments in the USSR and Germany 1918-1924

By Kristian H. Foged

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Contents Page

Page Number

Introduction                                                                                3

Body                                                                                                3

Conclusion                                                                                 8

Bibliography                                                                                9

        1918 was a year of great historical significance. On the 11th of November, 1918, Germany signed the armistice with the Allied forces, marking the end of World War I. Accordingly; it was also the year that marked the start of European recovery, after four years of being in the state of total war, what condition were these countries in; politically and economically? Total war takes its toll on not only on the income of a country, but also on the political institutions in the place at the time; a government will have its fate closely entwined with the outcome of the war it has entered. By 1918, most of Europe was, in broad terms, a mess, however, the situation was better for the victors as they laid claim on reparations and increased the burden of the defeated powers.

        In the following essay we lay specific focus on the two powerful and notorious countries of Europe; Germany, the aggressor of WWI, and the USSR, the centre of communism. To what extent were these countries, compared to each other, changed politically and economically by the effects of WWI? And what developments were to come in the following years up till 1924? These were the years where Germany was marked by the Weimar Republic and the USSR by Lenin and his Bolsheviks.

        By the end of World War I, Germany and the USSR were in different situations. The USSR had left the war before it ended, having signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany already in April 1917 and Germany had been defeated by the Allies with the question of reparations yet to be answered.

        What marked the biggest political differences between the two nations in 1918 was the stark contrast in political systems in the immediate post-war years. In Russia, the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, had destroyed the Provisional Government and outlawed all other political parties, making Russia a one party state. Germany was to go down a different path; Imperial Germany could not survive after the allied victory. Therefore Ludendorff tried, in October 1918, to reform Germany, making it a constitutional monarchy, and handed over power of the armed forces to the Reichstag. Germany was moving towards a more democratic rule than Russia.

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        The October reforms in Germany, however, were not enough. By early November sailors had taken over major ports like Kiel and Hamburg; believing that the naval officers were planning a suicidal assault on the British navy. The discontent among the people became apparent as the call for revolution spread. So on November 9th, Germany was declared a republic and Kaiser Wilhelm II went into exile in Holland.

        Germany now had a provisional government, under the new Chancellor Ebert, that consisted of three left-wing parties: the SPD, USPD, and the Spartacists. The splits were significant as the SPD wanted a ...

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