Courtesy Reuters

Germany: Battlefield of the Middle Classes

THE chief aim of Germany's post-war foreign policy has been to get rid of the burden of Versailles. Whether by destroying the treaty by means of her own power; or through an alliance with Russia to combat the "western capitalistic system" and the treaty that was its symbol; or by a rapprochement with England and Italy which might make them new allies; or by means of a direct understanding with France -- whatever the form, Germany's aim has always been the destruction of the intolerable treaty. In this aim all her politicians agreed. Their differences seemed to be a matter of political temperament. But it was more than that. There were different types of politicians fighting for the upper hand. They belonged to different social worlds, or at least they thought so.

The struggle over the course to be taken by the German Republic in foreign affairs was fought out in three phases, which marked off at the same time three main periods of internal development. The first epoch ended with the liquidation of the Ruhr struggle and the stabilization of the German mark; the second ended with the Hague settlement and the collapse of the great coalition between the German People's Party and the Social Democratic Party; the third reached its culmination in the seizure of power by the National Socialists in 1933.

The first five years after the Armistice were marked, so far as internal politics went, by the effort to establish and consolidate the Republic. There can be no question that the masses generally longed for peace after the convulsions and losses of war; but from the very first day of the breakdown of 1918 there existed also the idea of a levée en masse. The warrior had not yet returned home. A part of the fighting spirit was preserved in the revolutionary spirit.

Every decision in German foreign affairs during this epoch was unstable. The internal struggle regarding the acceptance of the Treaty of Versailles remained undecided until

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