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Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  306 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews

Weimar Germany still fascinates us, and now this complex and remarkably creative period and place has the history it deserves. Eric Weitz's "Weimar Germany" reveals the Weimar era as a time of strikingly progressive achievements--and even greater promise. With a rich thematic narrative and detailed portraits of some of Weimar's greatest figures, this comprehensive history
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Hardcover, 425 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Princeton University Press (first published September 4th 2007)
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Lewis Weinstein
This is an excellent overview of major themes in the Weimar years, connecting some of the dots to the subsequent Nazi takeover 1n 1933. I read the last three chapters. Here are some fascinating (to me at least) items that might appear in one way or another in my new novel (CHOOSING HITLER) ...

... The Threepenny Opera was the theatrical sensation of 1928 … the depraved, degenerate exploitative nature of capitalism … everybody lies, everybody cheats … the police are indistinguishable from the cri
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Mikey B.
This is a study of the Weimar era from different angles – political, economic, artistic and cultural. The author describes Weimar society as free, democratic and vibrant – but with an underbelly of hate. Nobody liked it – from conservatives to communists. And nobody wanted to support it – the government was loathed by most even though it offered considerable freedom – religious, artistic... Mr. Weitz delves on many personalities like Thomas Mann, Bertold Bretcht and Martin Heidegger.

Weimar may h
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Lawrence
Feb 07, 2008 Lawrence rated it really liked it
Interesting overview of the economic, political, social and cultural forces that were Weimar Germany. And, for us, a caution to be derived from the parallels to our current circumstances. Weitz's book is ultimately about the forces that can destroy a fledgling - even established - democracy. He places blame for Weimar's demise squarely on the Right, but doesn't ignore the actions/responsibilities of the Left in ensuring that the Right ultimately triumphed. And, he makes clear that nothing about ...more
Miles Kelly
Sep 02, 2011 Miles Kelly rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, germany, culture
"Weimar Germany still speaks to us" are the opening words of this book and the author is firmly of the belief that Weimar Germany was one of the outstanding creative periods and places of the century. In Brecht and Weill, Thomas Mann, Wlater Gropius, Martin Heidegger, Siegfried Kracauer, Fritz Lang, the Bauhaus school, there was an outburst of endeavour and creativity. Some of these people had long creative lives but never was their work as significant or memorable as when they were working in ...more
Joe Johnson
Oct 03, 2016 Joe Johnson rated it really liked it
This is an interesting book covering the history of Germany from the revolution in November 1918 to the appointment of Hitler as chancellor in January 1933. The book has an unusual structure: the author has divided the book into chapters that focus on various aspects of the Weimar society, such as art or architecture or the economy, instead of arranging things in a strictly chronological order. This has the advantage that each chapter is somewhat independent of the others, so it's easy to read a ...more
Alexandra
Aug 12, 2013 Alexandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not the book I thought it was going to be. I bought it in the expectation that it would be an in-depth look at the history of Weimar Germany as a political and economic institution, because that's what I'm particularly interested in. Instead, this takes a much broader look at Weimar Germany as a particular period in a nation's history, and consequently looks at politics, economics, architecture, sound and vision, philosophy and sexuality across 1918-1933: how these things developed, ...more
Richard
Mar 21, 2013 Richard rated it really liked it
A library book that I actually finished and returned on time! Also an excellent overview of Weimar Germany's culture and political scene. Weitz sets the stage with a brief overview of WWI and the resulting peace that makes all that cultural tumult possible and actual effective governance more or less impossible. Social Democrats became the slightly dominant force in the formation of a new republic with no group having a clear majority or mandate. Weitz shows how they get the blame by taking on ...more
Richard
May 21, 2014 Richard rated it liked it
Recommended to Richard by: curiosity
I found this book interesting for the details it offered concerning the post-WWI period in Germany and the trials of the Weimar Republic at the hands of the anti-democratic elites, the economic catastrophes which followed one upon another including hyperinflation and the Great Depression, and the moralists' concerns with the loosening of convention and the emancipation of women.

The core of the book deals with the Right's antagonism toward the Republic and the constant attack by the entrenched el
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Nicole
Aug 11, 2012 Nicole rated it did not like it
I can't tell you how many times I fell asleep reading this book. I thought it would be a little more interesting, seeing that this was the time before Hitler and the Nazi Party came into power. It was a time that was DRAMATICALLY different from the World War I-era before it, and the World War II-era following it. It was a time of peace, of art, of revolution, and the author (in my opinion) failed to really grasp these concepts in an interesting manner.

Weimar Germany was mildly interesting, when
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Michael
Oct 16, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it
This is a curious book. The first two chapters are engaging and written with flair and then it sinks into a rather mishmash of sociological and cultural comments about the Weimar period, only to redeem itself with the last chapter, which is brilliantly written. The second chapter already had me wondering. He calls it "Walking the City," but there's no map. And anyone, like me, who is researching the period will realize pretty quickly that while walking he magically skips certain areas. I ...more
James
Jun 12, 2008 James rated it liked it
Recommended to James by: OnPoint with Tom Ashbrook, WBUR Boston
Democracy can be fertile soil for all sorts of interesting debates and for the efflorescence of the cultural spirit. But when virtually every debate become a live-or-die question about the essential features of human existance, from intimacy in the bedroom to the structure of the business world, when every issue is seen to carry earth-shattering significance, when there is no overarching system of belief to which most people giver their loyaly, a democracy cannot long endure. And it especially ...more
Angian
Jan 17, 2015 Angian rated it really liked it

Il libro descrive l'ambiente culturale della repubblica di Weimar, cioe' dello stato tedesco nel periodo tra la fine della seconda Guerra Mondiale (1918) e la salita al potere dei nazisti (1933).

La trattazione, dopo un preambolo che sintetizza la fine della prima guerra mondiale dal punto di vista tedesco, descrive la confusa situazione politica del periodo, e si sofferma su alcuni settori specifici della cultura, particolarmente fecondi: cinema, letteratura, architettura, filosofia.
L'ultima p
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A
Sep 01, 2016 A rated it liked it
Not as great as I'd hoped. Weitz does give a nicely curated account of the cultural achievements of the Weimar era, and offers a very good summary of the political and economic climate, but ultimately I was unsatisfied. Main beefs: 1. The dude's just not a great writer. A perfectly servicable and gramatically correct writer, but very far from wonderful. Sure, fine, he's an historian whose first language is not English, but these factors shouldn't prevent me from craving fine prose in my ...more
Adam
Jul 01, 2009 Adam rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this one, but I thought this book ran out of steam well before it ran out of words. The essential problem, I believe, is that Weitz sees too much 'promise' in evidence that is heavy on 'tragedy'. Accentuating this admirable-but-problematic reading of the Weimar Republic is the way this book bounces between high politics, high culture and everyday life. Lots of good political horse-trading tales and fantastic intellectual debates here, but underplayed here are the pressures ...more
Dr.J.G.
It was said that Berlin was more, not less, cosmopolitan and brilliant, place for art and music and learning, high society and thinkers and intellectuals, for the brief time period after the first world war and before the beginning of nazi blot on the escutcheon of Germany. When the blot began most part of good German people waived it off as unimportant until it was too large to ignore and it took over, and those that still did not go with the wave and were not caught for that serious ...more
Joe
Nov 30, 2014 Joe rated it it was amazing
This is a very fine history indeed. Extremely well illustrated and more on cultural and social life (less on Nazis) than other books which are dominated by politics. The book charts how both far left and right worked against the republic, but it is very much a celebration of its achievements. Its cultural output and influence have been truly extraordinary; from architecture, to design, cinema, literature and the fine arts. And most of this happened in ten years and largely in Berlin. You get the ...more
Martin
Nov 19, 2010 Martin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
a solid 3 stars, maybe leaning towards 3.5. this is a good but not an excellent book, oftentimes a little too repetitive. though largely unnecessary in my opinion, the writer occasionally seems to feel obliged to deliver (sometimes weird) comments or qualifications of personal taste in regard to architecture, art, philosophy... a few disputable simplifications and generalizations aside, this is overall a good and interesting read and much, much better than the other weimar history-book i read ...more
Brian
Aug 10, 2011 Brian added it
This book details the cultural, social, and economic conditions in Germany after the end of World War I which set the stage for Hitler's eventual rise to power. The key takeaway from this book is this:



"The threats to democracy are not always from enemies abroad. They can come from those within who espouse the language of democracy and use the liberties afforded them by democratic institutions to undermine the substance of democracy. Weimar [Germany] cautions us to be wary of those people as well
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Julio Reyes
Apr 18, 2015 Julio Reyes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La llegada de Hitler al poder ha sido siempre vista como un enigma. ¿Cómo un sujeto tan liviano, basado en una ideología tan básica, alcanza tan rápido el poder y la adhesión de una nación con tanta historia como Alemania? La historia puede explicarse a través de grandes procesos, como también del azar y la suerte.
Peter Mcloughlin
Deals with a really interesting moment in the twentieth century the Wiemar Republic the turbulent bloom before the Nazi frost. The politics of the era was polarized and chaotic as was the economy of Germany in this period but artistically and culturally there was a bloom during this respite between the Kaiser and the Nazis. The Republic was doomed but it had some beautiful fruits while it lasted.
Matthew
A very handsome book, with some fascinating tidbits, but overall, rather elementary.

Weitz includes tons of primary sources translated from German that are way more interesting than his actual writing. His writing skills are paltry when compared to stuff he quotes; the amount of times he awards someone or something the prefix "the great" is exhausting.

Call it a coffee table book.
Richard Chandler
Aug 03, 2011 Richard Chandler rated it it was amazing
Due to its relatively small scope (1918-1933), Weitz's history is able to probe quite specifically the culture and politics of post WWI Germany. It is of particular interest to those interested in the period's cultural icons: Bertolt Brecht, Martin Heidegger, Thomas Mann, Erich Mendelsohn, etc.
Simon
May 11, 2014 Simon rated it really liked it
There are so many histories on Hitler and Nazi Germany, that it is refreshing to have a cultural history of the Weimar Republic. It looks beyond seeing the republic as a sad footnote in history by advocating it as a period of immense, radical and traumatic change.
Cera
May 07, 2012 Cera marked it as grazed
Sadly, every time I put it down for a day or two, I couldn't figure out where I'd quit reading, which is a really Bad Sign. I mean, if I can't remember if I've already read a chapter... I'm not really getting much out of the book, am I?
Diane
Mar 08, 2009 Diane rated it really liked it
Excellent history of the political, cultural, and economic history of the Weimar period. This book provided more insight into the different political parties in Germany after World War I, and why they failed, then any other book that I've read.
Victoria
Feb 13, 2008 Victoria rated it really liked it
Very thorough examination of the Weimar Republic, from every possible angle. Some of his translations were a bit awkward and prose in some places very stiff. A book for those interested in German history specifically.
Tobias
May 19, 2013 Tobias rated it really liked it
Well written, almost breezily so, Weitz's is probably the best one-volume history of the period. Not necessarily meant to be all encompassing — the chapters on culture use short biographical sketches illustratively — but gives a strong sense of the flavor of Weimar.
Javier Noriega
Exhaustivo, lento, a veces insufrible. Sin embargo, uno termina el libro con la idea de haber entendido bastante de lo que pasó en Alemania en los años 20 y principios de los años 30.
Rosemary
Jul 21, 2014 Rosemary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great overview of the Weimar period, but it is an overview. Nothing is explored in great depth and personally I was looking for something more focused on the cultural aspects of tje Weimar period.
Peter
Peter rated it really liked it
Feb 28, 2012
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“. And it especially cannot endure when powerful groups in that society seek at every turn to undermine and destroy its very being. The threats to democracy are not always from enemies abroad. They can come from those within who espouse the language of democracy and use the liberties afforded them by democratic institutions to undermine the substance of democracy. Weimar cautions us to be wary of those people as well. What comes next can be very bad, even worse than imaginable.” 1 likes
“Probably no other country in the 1920s—certainly not the United States, with its stark repression of the Left, vicious antiunion policies, and legally enshrined racism—had so wide a range of free speech, such a vital public sphere, as Germany.” 0 likes
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