Stresemann, Gustav

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Stresemann, Gustav

Gustav Stresemann (gŏŏs´täf shtrā´zəmän), 1878–1929, German statesman. A founder (1902) and director (until 1918) of the Association of Saxon Industrialists, Stresemann entered the Reichstag in 1907 as a deputy of the National Liberal party and represented the interests of big business. During World War I, he supported the monarchy and an annexationist policy, but after the proclamation of a German republic in 1918 he founded the conservative German People's party and turned to a conciliatory policy in harmony with the weak position of his country. As chancellor (1923) and foreign minister of the Weimar Republic from 1923 until his death, he made it his task to reconcile former enemy nations to Germany, to remove the harsh clauses of the Treaty of Versailles, and to regain for Germany a respected place in the world. His policy, although it alienated Germany's nationalist and monarchist elements, was remarkably successful.

Although Stresemann knew of efforts by Hans von Seeckt to evade the disarmament clauses of the Treaty of Versailles, he won the confidence of the Allies. He ended (1923) the passive resistance in the Ruhr district against French and Belgian occupation and obtained the evacuation of the Ruhr in 1924; he accepted the Dawes Plan (1924) and the Young Plan (1929) for reparations; he raised the hope for peace by his part in the Locarno Pact (1925); he renewed (1926) the Rapallo treaty with the USSR; and he had Germany admitted (1926) into the League of Nations with the rank of a great power. His harmonious relation with France's Aristide Briand became one of personal friendship. In 1928, Stresemann signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Soon after obtaining his last success, the evacuation of the Rhineland, Stresemann died of the consequences of overwork. His death was, prophetically, considered a calamity by all but the extremist elements in Germany. Stresemann shared the 1926 Nobel Peace Prize with Briand.

See his Essays and Speeches (tr. 1930, repr. 1968); E. Sutton, ed., Gustav Stresemann: His Diaries, Letters, and Papers (3 vol., 1935–40); biography by J. Wright (2003); studies by H. L. Bretton (1953), H. A. Turner (1963), D. Warren (1964), F. E. Hirsch (1964), and C. M. Kimmich (1968).

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