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International RelationsGustav Stresemann, as foreign minister (1924-29) has sought to improve our international position, cooperate with France and Britain in order to secure a revision of some of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.He has achieved a large measure of success as he has been responsible for a number Foreign Policy successes. In 1925 we signed the Locarno Treaties with Britain France, Italy, Belgium, Czechoslovakia and Poland.The Locarno treaties seemed to have secured European peace. It guaranteed our borders with France and Belgium but there were no guarantees over Eastern borders; finished territorial claims in the West but it left the east open to negotiation. Britain and Italy countersigned these guarantees and agreed to intervene if our western frontiers were violated. The treaties filled Europe with a sense of peaceful negotiation and stability –the ‘spirit of Locarno’  that was a welcome relief following the hostilities of the war and the retribution of Versailles. Locarno also paved the way for our admission to the League of Nations; full membership was granted in September 1926. It was a triumph for the policy of Stresemann, who for two years had worked tirelessly to restore our good reputation and status within the international community. The nationalists in our country, however, viewed Locarno as yet another back down by a government more eager to negotiate than fight for our territory. Stresemann followed up the Locarno agreements with the Treaty of Berlin, a five-year agreement with the Soviet Union, signed in 1926. This treaty sought to further restore diplomatic relations and ensure peace between Berlin and Moscow. The two countries already had a working agreement in place but the Berlin treaty extended and strengthened this arrangement. It also contained non-aggression clauses: the Soviet Union and us have committed to peace if the other was attacked by a hostile power.PoliticsPolitical stability was partly due to the foreign loans which kept us afloat due to the large amounts of money owed in reparations. However, our greatest weakness was our failure to establish lasting political stability. A well-know historian Kershaw once said that “a stable coalition is an oxymoron”. Our prosperity after 1924 was financed for the most part by borrowed money. The basic weakness was that the government was using short-term loans to fund long-term projects. As the great depression set in on October 1929  the United States recalled their short-term loans to us, and then our economy began to collapse. This caused a lot of problems for us as now they had no money to rebuild their still broken economy, and they still had to pay off the large sums in reparations. Support for our government was lost and several other political groups emerged such as the Nazi’s who were now gaining support. Therefore it can be seen that much of the stability during this time was a facade for what the government wanted the people.The economyA lot of changes in economic policy led to our economic recovery from 1924 onwards. Our diplomats negotiated with the US Government in late 1923 and early 1924. They sought to gain aid from the US and establish trading links that would enable them to stabilise the currency, which would then act as a stepping stone to economic growth. The Dawes Plan was the result of negotiations between the US Government and us. The plan allowed the coordination of reparations repayments, making these more manageable. This involved paying reduced payments until 1929 when the situation would be reappraised. The Dawes plan also provided for the gradual removal of French and Belgian troops from the Rhineland. Dawes Plan – effects The Dawes Plan provided short-term economic bene?ts to our economy. It softened the burdens of war reparations, stabilised the currency and increased foreign investments and loans to the our market. However, it made our economy dependent on foreign markets and economies. The introduction of the Rentenmark was highly significant, it allowed the currency to stabilise and supported by the Dawes Plan it stood a good chance of not succumbing to inflationary pressures as had previously happened. The Rentenmark was exchangeable and was actually worth something. Inflation ceased to be a problem, our people accepted the value of the new currency and businesses accepted it as being of worth. The stability of the new currency couldn’t be taken for granted however and a range of measures was implemented that would keep inflation and the exchange rate at acceptable levels. Our government altered the policy with regards the printing of money. Previously we had increased the amount of money being printed as inflation had risen, this had simply led to prices rising even more rapidly. Now the government decided that the amount of money in circulation would be strictly limited to the real worth of economy. However, our farmers also continued to struggle during the 1924-29 period. As producers, farmers were relatively secure during the hyperinflation crisis. Nonetheless, by the mid-1920s, our farmers were confronted with cheaper imported food, which required them to improve productivity to remain competitive but such changes required investment in new machinery. Some farmers borrowed heavily to purchase this equipment.Farmers regularly defaulted on debt payments. The plight of our farmers worsened due to a global grain surplus in 1925-6. In 1928 farmers initiated a series of riots in protest against farm closures and low market prices. By 1929, our  agricultural production was at less than three-quarters of its pre-war levels. The political parties of the far-right attempted to win support from disgruntled farmers by emphasising the importance of agriculture, as well as tapping into traditional values. Many farmers, struggling with large debts and difficult banks, felt helpless and were sympathetic to Nazi propaganda.

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