Political calm, spd can’t compromise, Hindenburg causing problems, lack of cooperation between parties causing polarisation but no outright revolutions that happened during 1919-24, growing foreign relations lorcano/treaty of berlin Economic development, result of lorcano meant breathing space from reparations also dawes and young plan and rentenmark – dawes plan borrowed US money lead to increase in capital. Later though fulfilment still causing problems and unemployment pay is causing issues, increase in taxes Social progress, conservative right unhappy and manifests in literature and cinema expressing glory in WW1 contrasts with neue sachlichkiet modern Weimar culture, Bauhaus linking art and functionality.
Highlighting social issues within Weimar Overall relative calm but lack of progress, economic development but in short term and social progress but not helping Weimar. The years 1924 to 1929 are often described as the ‘Golden years’ but it is debatable to what extent Germany actually experienced political calm, economic development and social progress during this time. Certainly there was not the turbulence of post-war Germany and the consequences of the crippling Versaille Treaty were not as harsh in this period but this does not mean it was a time of development and progress.
It can be suggested that it was not a period ‘of political calm’, there was certainly a lot of tension between the various political parties that made up the many coalition governments in this period, the failure of so many governments alone suggests that there were serious political issues. The narrowing of the interests of each party meant that it was becoming increasingly difficult for effective coalition governments to be formed. The SPD were especially difficult in this time as they were against compromising with the ‘bourgeois parties’ as they felt a change in ideals would occur and proposed policies like the Heidelberg Programme which would see private ownership of industry be taken over by social owners.
Obviously many parties from the left felt this but the SPD had the largest amount of seats in the Reichstag, over 150 at their peak in the 20’s, and therefore had the ability to put the government into a stalemate. The SPD’s inability to compromise makes the political stage even worse when Hindenburg is elected as president in 1925. Hindenburg, being a veteran of the Franco-Prussian war and the general who won the battle of Tannenburg was already conservative and took as many steps as he could to reduce the power the SPD had. Hindenburg also believed the powers of the president should be unrestrained and even blocked a draft that would limit his ability to use Article 48. This incoduscive atmosphere meant that by the time the SPD were willing to cooperate with a coalition government, individual interests and polarisation of parties had developed and no one else was interested. Therefore this cannot be classed as a period of political calm due to the stagnant political system.
However, it could be suggested that this tension is to be expected as people are still feeling the effects of the First World War and political calm could be defined by the lack of extreme political parties attempting to take over. When this era is compared to the years 1919 to 1924 it is by far a time of political calm as there were no outright attempts at revolution. The years before saw extreme right and left wing idealists try to take over and the fact that this was not attempted during the ‘golden years’ meant it was a time of relative political calm. This is not to mention the successes in Stresemann’s foreign policy, which put Germany back on track to becoming a serious European power once again. The admittance of Germany into the league of nations and the signing of various treaties, such as the Lorcano treaty, meant Germany were in a period of political calm; not experiencing the diplomatic humiliation of the years before.
The various treaties signed by Stresemann also helped the economic development in this period. The Dawes gained significant investments from the US and the Young Plan reduced the reparations Germany would have to pay, and set a timescale for how long they would have to pay. This gave the country some ‘breathing space’ to repair and develop its own economy. The young plan, for example, reduced the amount they would have to pay by 1700 million marks than they would in conjunction with the Dawes plan. These plans, alongside the introduction of the rentenmark meant there was an increase in German capital in this period, which can certainly be classed as a period of economic development.
Whilst there is definitely evidence of economic development in the mid-1920’s it did also experience financial issues. The increase in unemployment, 15% of the workforce were unemployed by 1929, put a heavy strain on the welfare system of Weimar Germany. The institution for paying unemployment benefits had to borrow money from the Government, 342 million reichsmarks, and the parties could not agree how to find this money. The SPD would increase taxes while the DVP would cut benefits. This can be seen as a backwards move in economic development, as the system did not address the problem of unemployment, but just found more money to pay it, with the decision of how to pay for the unemployment benefits was delayed until 1930.
This can be seen as the government almost shooting themselves in the foot and making a short term fix for a long term problem. This short-sightedness can also be argued to be found in Stresemann’s policies, for borrowing money from the US. An international financial crisis would leave over-dependant-on-America Germany in a high amount of debt, which is what happened when the Wall Street Crash occurred. Therefore it can be said that these years were a period of economic development, but that there would be little long term effect on the country from these developments.
Social progress is probably the only contention that can be absolutely agreed with, with very influential movements like the Bauhaus dominating this period of time, summed up as Neue Schlachkliet. This movement, saw a progression in modern views and an attempt to undermine the Weimar government by exposing the issues faced through literature, theatre and film. The need for educational and social reform was well documented and although this did not bode well for the Weimar government it definitely showed progress in attitudes of the general public. The conservative nature of many Germans could still be found and also classed as a social progress in the form of anti-democratic writings and films that promoted the glory of the First World war. The two social ideas both grew in this period, but neither celebrated the Weimar Government so whilst it was undoubtedly social progress it was not productive for the Weimar republic.
There is definitely a case for political calm, economic development and social progress in the mid-1920’s but they were not necessarily the advances that would warrant the term ‘golden years’. The political calm was only due to a lack of serious opposition to the government but still they could not successfully form an effective coalition government and whilst the economy did improve in this time the provisions made were short-sighted and the country was over-reliant on foreign investments. Whilst social progress was made in this era it is easy to see that the progress wasnot in the name of democracy and presented the Weimar government with future problems as popular ideology differed from what they promoted.
Courtney from Study Moose
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