Gustav Stresemann (1878–1929) was the most successful statesman of interwar Germany. He had a career in small business and earned a doctorate before World War I (1914–1918). Afterwards, he gained renown as Germany's Chancellor (1923) and Foreign Minister (1923–1929).
In 1923, Germany suffered from severe hyperinflation. Chancellor Stresemann rescued the German economy with his capable leadership. He introduced a new currency and reduced the budget deficit. He ended the labor strike in the Ruhr and promised to pay reparations to the Allies again. His achievement was amazing because he accomplished it in a few short months.
As Foreign Minister, Stresemann spent the rest of his career and life restoring Germany's status in Europe and normalizing its foreign relations. Paying reparations to the Allies was a severe drain on the German economy, so he assiduously worked to reduce them. This was achieved with the Dawes Plan (1924) and Young Plan (1929). He got foreign troops to leave the Ruhr in 1924. Later, Germany signed the Locarno Pact and joined the League of Nations. Stresemann won the Nobel Prize for peace in 1926, along with his friend—French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand.
Stresemann died at the height of his success. Overwork was a factor in his death. He achieved a great deal, but the Germany he helped shape could not withstand the strain of the Great Depression. The Great Depression undid his economic achievements; it also opened the door for the rise of Adolph Hitler and eventual German ruin in World War II.
During the period from 1923 to 1929, the Weimar Republic recovered to a great degree. This time period is sometimes called the “Golden Age” of that republic. Gustav Stresemann is the man usually credited with having restored stability to Germany. Stresemann did this in two main ways.
The first thing that Stresemann did was to improve the German economy. The economy had been suffering from hyperinflation in the early 1920s. This was due in part to the passive resistance to the French occupation of the Ruhr after WWI. Stresemann put an end to this passive resistance. He also introduced a new currency to take the place of the old currency that had been devalued by the hyperinflation. Finally, it was under Stresemann that Germany agreed to the Dawes Plan, which reduced the annual reparations payments that were due and made them somewhat contingent on how the German economy was doing. All of these actions helped to stabilize the economy, which in turn promoted political stability.
The second thing that Stresemann did was to improve Germany’s international outlook. The Germans had been very upset with the Treaty of Versailles and this unhappiness helped bring about political unrest. Under Stresemann, Germany negotiated the Locarno Agreements of 1825. These agreements (along with the Dawes Plan) made Germany feel like less of a pariah nation. The agreement gave Germans a chance to feel that they could once again be a respected nation. This feeling also reduced the anger that Germans felt and brought about greater political stability.
In these ways, Stresemann is credited with bringing about greater stability in Germany and creating a “golden age” for the Weimar Republic. Of course, this hopeful time was destroyed in 1929 with the onset of the Great Depression.