Compare and contrast the situation in Italy 1919-22 with that in Germany 1919-29

The next aspect that must be analyzed in order to differentiate the situations in Germany and Italy in the outlined time span can be determined by the comparisons of their economic conditions. In Italy by the end of the World War 1 3,000,000 men were de-militarized and de-mobilized after the war period, thus this led to widespread unemployment. By November 1919 2,000,000 men were unemployed. This together with the poverty of the South (e.g. landless peasants) and a huge inflation of about 560% led to a very tense situation in the land. On the other hand in Germany a combination of the occupation of the French in the Ruhr land (their industrial land) stopped mass production of raw materials, which also led to unemployment, affected the German income. In addition to the unemployment in the Ruhr was the unemployment of soldiers who fought in the war. On top of this all was the reparations that the German government had to pay, their debts, welfares, medical fees for the injured, and re-compensations to families. The Germans were in need of more money; money that was beyond their reach, eventually they resulted to printing more money which they hoped would pay for what they wanted and result in not having to pay for the reparations as their currency was now worthless. The German hope for settling everything else within their country was a dream comes true even though the middle class were upset, but, the Germans were not excused from paying the reparations. As a result of these financial problems Gustav Stresemann and Hjalmar Schacht (finance minister) replaced Ebert.

Under Stresemann the Germans successfully agreed to Locarno which would secure German boundaries, and then signed the Dawes Plan and the Young’s Plan with the USA, whereby the Americans would invest and loan money to Germany so that reparations could be paid; which meant that all money owed to other countries would be paid in turn. The Young’s Plan on the other hand was an American plan as well whereby the Germans would be given 2 billion Pounds to pay for the reparations and it would eventually be paid back over a 59 year period. This provided economic prosperity and growth which wasn’t seen in Italy at this time, international intervention and a change in leadership had helped the Germans achieve more in this field in comparison to the Italians who were better off to start in comparison to the Germans. It was mentioned that the Italians faced an inflation of about 560%, although it must be remembered that the German inflation surpassed this over the years, in addition to this the German inflation had begun earlier than the Italian inflation in the year 1923, the Stresemann’s ability to change the currency to Rentenmarks, and then Gold Marks to revive the German economy was a risk, yet it paid off, the Italians on the other hand seemed to have taken a conservative measure towards their economy or arguably nothing at all. All was fine until the Wall Street Crash of 1929, when the Germans were asked to return the money loaned as the Americans had to finance their own economic wellbeing.

Thirdly and lastly, the social situation in both countries is to be analyzed and looked into. In Italy the people were not satisfied as 700,000 men were lost in the war and 1,000,000 men wounded at battle and most permanently handicapped for life. The families were upset as the war had changed the way an average family elsewhere would life, as wounded and handicapped fathers couldn’t work, and those who went to fight the war now found it incredibly hard to find jobs as the war had changed the mannerism of jobs as women were now introduced into the job ‘culture’. On top of this the Italians were unsatisfied about the fact that there wasn’t any unity in society between the ‘rich’ north and the ‘poor’ and ‘uncivilized’ south. But ultimately, all Italians believed that the Treaty of Versailles didn’t give them enough to justify their entry into the war, they felt cheated. As part of the Treaty of Versailles they had claimed South Tirol, Istria, and Trieste. However they had not received Dalmatia, Fiume and the Aegean Islands as they hoped to have. The Italians were frustrated and this fact was used to stimulate and propagandize nationalists and patriots. The ex-servicemen became an important ingredient in fascist combat groups. Furthermore, the people were dissatisfied about the government as a result of them not being able to handle the situation after World War 1 they had expected their ‘patriotic’ government to be firmer and stronger about the views and thoughts of the people as they were a medium of representation of the people at the Treaty of Versailles, therefore the people had felt let down by their leaders.

Moreover in the Fiume Incident which occurred in September of 1919 (to be explained later), the late intervention of the government into the incident proved to the people the ‘weaknesses’ of their government and the loss of patriotism in the government. The Fiume Incident was an incident whereby the writer and war hero D’Annunzio (together with 2600 Legionaries) occupied the town of Fiume in September 1919. They transferred it into a city state and established an authoritarian government. There wasn’t any reaction from the Italian government until December of 1920 when a troop attacked and seized power in the city. The people saw the late reaction as a weakness of the government and they viewed the incident as ‘unpatriotic’ of the government. However a further incident made the people even more angered when the city of Fiume was later internationalized. In 1929 it was acquired by the Italian government under the authorization of the Yugoslavian government. This showed the determination of the people in obtaining what they wanted even though it was initially rejected in the international front. There is no doubt that the Germans had arguably attained more success, yet, successes like this by the Italians as well shouldn’t be ‘swept under the carpet’ like the Italian attitudes. The General Strike of 1922 is the event in which the crises in Italian politics continued at the advantage of the fascists. The ‘squadristi’ was very active against the socialist’s in the general strike of the August 1922. The strike was basically organized and ill-led and it collapsed within 24 hours, although it was undermined as it was let down the fascists got the credit for ‘saving’ the country. The squadristi continued the struggle against the socialists.

By October they burnt down 500 weaknesses meeting place and broken about meetings (especially In Milan and Bologna). Their manner of managing the socialists with the Italian Squadristi can be compared to the Freikorp of Germany who fought socialism in their nation. In 1920 over 2000 strikes occurred (280 in Milan in 1919) many of the wealthy landowners and industrialists feared a Bolshevik style takeover, in the south peasants began to seize land. They were ready to turn to someone that could restore order in the country. However, in Germany there was no doubt that the Germans blamed many government officials, branded them as November Criminals for the war and it’s outcomes; nothing to this scale was ever experienced from a social class despite the threat of socialism which was known to be the ‘red plague’. Yet, we must draw our attention to an event like many other rebellions which attempted to install power through force, the Kapp Putsch was no different as the Chancellor at the time, Ebert didn’t support the cause, which in turn showed the weakness and how uncoordinated the government was. In Germany on the other hand, the social condition was simply chaos. A mixture of governmental issues, the war, the post war issues, the inflation, the economy, social reactions, and the outcomes of the Treaty of Versailles all resulted to create a complete negative sensation which set out to disturb social order. The Germans like the Italians were angry about the fact that the war had shook families and caused problems for them as injured and handicapped fathers couldn’t work to bring food to the table, other were also unemployed after the war. However unlike the Italians, the Germans had more to be angry about after the Treaty of Versailles had, disarmed Germany, gave the Germans the ‘guilt of war’ clause, and had forced the Germans to pay for reparations on top of their falling economy.

The resulting hyperinflation hadn’t affected the poor who didn’t have money to begin with, and did not affect the rich as they had properties elsewhere; however it had successfully managed to squeeze the middle class who were dependant on the money they had in local banks that lost money as the value of the Mark dropped. The people in the middle class were particularly angry about it as their life savings were lost, furthermore, the war bonds which they invested in were now worthless considering the value of the money after the inflation. The money that was invested in the war bonds by the people meant nothing. The people were disappointed, and had felt cheated by their government. This meant that both the Italians and Germans shared the same hard feelings towards their governments; however the German people faced an issue which would change their lives forever. The people of Germany and Italy at this time also were separated as they had many different political beliefs and could never synchronize with the same ideologies. Others believed that by restoring Germany into Prussia they could enjoy life the way they had been before the Franco-Prussian war. People of both countries also feared a Socialist revolution and were insecure about it. However The Germans saw the light by the end of the tunnel under Stresemann, this was an element that the Italians had never got to experience. The Economy was getting better, the government was steady and more people were being employed as more jobs were created. The people of Germany also faced further problems despite the mentioned as trading couldn’t occur and were limited with the resources they had as they were experienced an embargo, also the cold winters during which time had caused many fatalities and as a result affected many of the homeless who faced the adverse affects of the hyperinflation. Moreover, what the Germans faced that the Italians didn’t have to encounter was the Ruhr crises of 1923.

The Italians did not have to deal with another nation in a situation whereby the public were being affected as jobs were lost; people were injured in small fights against the French, and not producing goods from the industrial region. In conclusion it can be seen how much more the Germans had to face in relation to that of which the Italians faced to eventually obtain success. In conclusion, in the extract above the nature of events after the war has been outlined, it is noticeable that the Germans had faced events over the time period whereby their situation after the war had been worse as the magnitude of the event they encountered was comparable despite the similarity in nature, thus, the Germans has done better than the Italians. One may ask what that means. Well it simply means that the Germans had to work harder than the Italians to live through inflation higher than 560%, to see a glimmer of the Golden Age of the Weimar, to unlock the impositions of the Treaty of Versailles peacefully through an international treaty otherwise known as Locarno and lastly to have even lived through 5 stable years under Gustav Stresemann with high expectations. Many historians today do support this theory as in-depth analysis shows that if the governing body of post-war Italy had been in charge of Germany, instead of Ebert and particularly Stresemann, the achievements of Germany would not have been seen. The fruit wouldn’t have been seen, the apple would not have been eaten.