The comparisons between Donald Trump’s political success and Hitler’s rise, so numerous even before the election, have intensified since the former won the electoral vote in November 2016. Historians have weighed in with differing opinions and analyses about the two phenomena. This is an on-going collection of articles on the topic, all suggestions welcome! Continue reading “Trump and Weimar Germany”
When the coalition talks between Merkel’s CDU, the Greens and the liberal FDP collapsed recently, pundits immediately detected “echoes of Weimar“. The Guardian drew parallels between the strong showing of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland in the general election and the subsequent faltering of coalition talks with “the darkest days of the Weimar Republic, when short-lived minority governments ruled by emergency decrees.”
Stephen F. Szabo, Senior Fellow at AICGS, even argued that “Weimar now can be found in many places in eastern Germany and its impact is creating Weimar conditions for all of Germany.”
Charles S. Maier, in the NY Review of Books, provided some helpful historical context on the party-political spectrum in Germany in 2017 and the Weimar Republic. His conclusion – “no historical analogy can predict what outcome lies ahead, but the Weimar comparison reminds us that democratic institutions are not immune from resentments, demagogy, and polarization” – might be less eye-catching, but is probably the most useful invocation of Weimar to date.
Weimar film fans have something to celebrate in 2018: the Berlin Film Festival Berlinale has just announced a whole section devoted to Weimar cinema next year, from Georg Lamprecht’s gritty proletarian drama Die Unehelichen (1926) to Friedrich Dalsheim and Gulla Pfeffer’s ethnographic documentary Menschen im Busch (1931):”The Retrospective of the 68th Berlin International Film Festival will focus on the great variety of cinema in the Weimar era. Some one hundred years ago, at the end of World War I and the dawn of the Weimar Republic, one of the most productive and influential phases in German filmmaking began unfolding, a creative era that went on to shape international perception of the country’s film culture, even to the present day. For “Weimar Cinema Revisited”, the festival will present a total of 28 programmes of narrative, documentary, and short films made between 1918 and 1933. … Most of the silent film screenings will be accompanied by music played live by internationally renowned musicians.”
The historical image of the Weimar Republic has long been dominated by the trope of the “Wilden Zwanziger”: the juxtaposition of an all-consuming crisis with a supposedly uniquely modern culture and decadent nightlife. In the past decade or so, historians have questioned and complicated this cliché (see the Reading List on this site), but to no avail: this year, Babylon Berlin, the most expensive TV series every produced in Germany and which promises to be an international hit, has reanimated the view of 1920s Berlin full of “growing poverty and unemployment [that] stand in stark contrast to the excesses and indulgence of the city’s night life and its overflowing creative energy”. Continue reading “Return of the “Wilden Zwanziger””
From the British Pathé archive, this film was commissioned by the Reichsbahnzentrale für den Deutschen Reiseverkehr (Central Travel Office of the German state Railways) to promote Berlin as a travel destination in the run up to the 1936 Olympics. A fascinating glimpse into everyday life in Germany before WWII.
In Lions and Lambs. Conflict in Weimar and the Creation of Post-Nazi Germany Noah Strote analyses the generation that shaped the post-Nazi reconstruction to arrive at a “bold new interpretation of Germany’s democratic transformation in the twentieth century”: “Not long after the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust, Germans rebuilt their shattered country and emerged as one of the leading nations of the Western liberal world. In his debut work, Noah Strote analyzes this remarkable turnaround and challenges the widely held perception that the Western Allies—particularly the United States—were responsible for Germany’s transformation. Continue reading “New book: Conflict in Weimar and the Creation of Post-Nazi Germany”
Writing for the Smithonian Magazine, Linda Simon, author of Lost Girls. The Invention of the Flapper, argues that the women of the “Roaring Twenties” had a lot in common with today’s millennials: “Many young feminists embrace the flapper’s sassy, independent spirit of seeming to play at adulthood, and are perfectly comfortable referring to themselves as ‘girls’—notably, the questing young women on Lena Dunham’s TV show ‘Girls.’ Flapper styles may be relegated to costume museums, but the flapper spirit lives again after a hundred years.”
Knut Langewand’s study on metaphors of bodies and sickness in Weimar’s political discourse shows how the discussion about the health of some of Weimar’s leading statesmen undermined the legitimacy of the new Republic itself. On the basis of the cases of Stresemann, Ebert, Braun, Müller, and Brüning, the book discusses the construction of terms such as “kranker Volkskörper” and their impact on the political culture of the time.
Alfred Flechtheim, the art dealer who brought Picasso to Berlin and founded the magazine Querschnitt, was one of the most important figures of Weimar Germany’s cultural scene. 80 years after his death, the Georg Kolbe Museum has put on a show about his life and work, featuring works by the artists he represented: Continue reading “Exhibition on Alfred Flechtheim”
ARIADNE, the journal published by the Archive of the German Women’s Movement, is inviting contributions for a special issue on the “female history/ies of the Weimar Republic”. The editors aim to present the different female lifestyles and social realities and ask which role women played in the new state.
Proposals have to be submitted before 1 July 2017 to email@example.com.
In August 2016, the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena established the Forschungsstelle Weimarer Republik, a “central platform for German and international Weimar research”. Funded by the Ministry of Economy, Science and Digital Society of Thuringia, the new research centre hosts a yearly conference, organises regular workshops for early career researchers, awards prizes for research publications (from BA theses to Habilitationen), and publishes a series on Weimar history.
“Give me four years’ time” – with this slogan Hitler promised a total transformation of German society in 1933. The new exhibition Berlin 1937 at the Berliner Stadtmuseum looks at daily life in the German capital after Hitler’s four years and “the National Socialist dictatorship had permeated every aspect of German everyday life”: “What was the city like for its residents as they went from their homes to school or to work, to the church or to the synagogue, to air raid exercises or to dance? What changed under Nazi rule; what stayed the same? What were the consequences for individuals and for societal groups? And: To what degree was it possible to recognise the system’s criminal nature before the war and the Holocaust began?”
The FAZ and regional broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk have teamed up for an essays series on the topic of “Weimarer Verhältnisse?” (Weimar conditions): a group of distinguished historians of the era, including Andreas Wirsching, Ute Daniel and Hélène Miard-Delacroix, consider the reasons for Weimar’s collapse and its lessons for today, from democratic breakdown to economic policy.
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Marlene Dietrich’s death, Resonance FM repeated Marlene Dietrich – Beyond Top Hat and Tails, a radio feature we posted about before. It is available to listen online until 13 May.
The BBC has produced a programme on revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, with input by historians Jacqueline Rose, Mark Jones, and Nadine Rossol: “Melvyn Bragg discusses the life and times of Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919), ‘Red Rosa’, who was born in Poland under the Russian Empire and became one of the leading revolutionaries in an age of revolution. She was jailed for agitation and for her campaign against the Great War which, she argued, pitted workers against each other for the sake of capitalism. Continue reading “BBC on Rosa Luxemburg”