Germanic Languages | German Cultural History
E322 | 14873 | Rasch

Topic: Weimar Germany: Politics and Culture in the 1920s

The German state between the end of World War I (November 1918) and
the rise to power of Adolf Hitler (January 1933) is customarily
referred to as the Weimar Republic, because its political constitution
was written in the culturally famous town of Weimar in 1919.  German
society during this time was marked by the deep, traumatic
after-effects of a devastating war for which the victorious powers
placed exclusive responsibility on the vanquished in the
controversially punitive peace treaty of Versailles.  The consequences
of the war and the peace produced waves of economic and political
turmoil that characterize the period and, so it is often claimed,
paved the way for the fascist takeover.  But the Weimar period was
also a time of great political, social, cultural and artistic
experimentation.  The wide range of seemingly legitimate political
forms and ideologies far exceeded today’s paltry choices; many aspects
of aesthetic modernism (in architecture, film, theater, and other
areas) were born or grew to maturity during this age; and in the
workplace and everyday life, experimentation in collective and
individual identities, practices, fashions, and forms of entertainment
left their mark – and influence – in dramatic ways.  These were times
of poverty, famine, and foreign occupation, of ultra-nationalist
resentments and anti-Semitism, but also of strong working class
movements (in politics, education, social welfare, and art) as well as
more flamboyant explosions and explorations of sexuality, youth and
alternative culture, the artistic avant-garde, and the delightful
charms of an exuberant night life in the big cities.

In this course we will be able to explore only a small cross-section
of these phenomena, but it should provide a basis for further
independent and individual study.

Anton Kaes, Martin Jay, Edward Dimendberg, eds.: The Weimar Republic
(California UP; 978-0520067752; $45.00)

Ruth Henig: The Weimar Republic 1919-1933 (Routledge; 978-0415132848;

Erich Maria Remarque: The Road Back (Simon Publications;
978-1931541749; $35.95)

Imrgard Keun: The Artificial Silk Girl (Other Press; 978-1892746818;

Bertolt Brecht: The Threepenny Opera (Penguin Classics;
978-0143105169; $11.00)

Joseph Roth: What I Saw (Norton; 978-0393325829; $14.95)

Magdalena Droste: Bauhaus 1919-1933 (Taschen; 978-3822850022; $14.95)