The Weimar Republic (1918-1933) discussion

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What interests you about the Weimar Republic?

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message 1: by J.W. (last edited Apr 28, 2014 03:04PM) (new)

J.W. Horton (JWHorton) | 4 comments Mod
Let me as your moderator welcome you to this spanking new group. Let me first very quickly outline my own interest in the Weimar Republic.

I am especially interested in the German Revolution itself, and in the German Left (e.g. Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht). I am also attracted by the whole idea of the street life or cafe life of Weimar Berlin. The film of that period is also interesting (e.g. Metropolis) as is the art of such figures as George Grosz and Christian Schad.

Yes, I know the whole Weimar thing is always freighted with that air of impending tragedy, the "dancing on the volcano" idea wherein we can now look back and seem to see that Weimar was always doomed and that the Nazis and their collaborators destroyed so much.

But I agree with Peter Gay that Weimar was not doomed. Things could have turned out very differently. Nor do I believe in granting the fascists some posthumous victory by having our image of Weimar tainted by an air of failure and fatality. Yes, Weimar failed in some ways. But it also endures as a kind of permanent victory. I cannot google "weimar republic" without having an endless list of fascinating stuff to peruse.

I have also written fiction based on the Weimar Republic: ANGELS OF THE REVOLUTION


message 2: by Lilo (last edited Apr 28, 2014 04:39PM) (new)

Lilo (lilo-hp) | 1 comments I am interested in the Weimar Republic because it preceded the Third Reich. I must say, however, that I am totally swamped with all kinds of important have-to-dos and tons of TBRs, for quite some time to come. Therefore, have no time to dig into this subject or be active in the group. Consider me a mainly passive member.

Let me say one thing, however: While WWI, the treaty of Versailles, the bad economy, and the chaos of the Weimar Republic certainly contributed to the rise of the Nazis, fear of the communists/bolsheviks also had to do with it. The middle-class and upper-middle class (to which my non-Nazi family belonged) were more afraid of the communists to start out with than of the Nazis, whom they did not take too seriously in the very beginning; and by the time they did, it was too late.

I read a book (meanwhile out of print), written by a local historian. This book tells in detail how the "nazification" of my hometown happened. There were initially about 20, very determined Nazis. They were led by two pairs of brothers, who were immensely power-craving, immensely opportunistic, immensely determined, and immensely stupid. They managed to get Hitler to visit my hometown, held rallies, held parades, held get-togethers with heavy drinking, and showered citizens with propaganda and brainwash. Once they had enough followers, those who refused to be brainwashed were terrorized. It was as simple as that.

The Weimar Republic was one of several contributing factors for the Nazis to rise to power; however, the main factors seemed to have been determined power-craving and opportunism by the leaders, who lured the stupid masses with promises, propaganda, and brainwash. And some promises were even kept. The most stupid individual could have a great career with the SS, as long as he was Aryan, was a blind follower of Nazi ideology, and was ruthless enough to follow all orders, no matter if this meant torturing people, committing murder, or even mass murder.


message 3: by Sophia (new)

Sophia Martin | 1 comments Hello! I've just been studying the Weimar Republic, after a foray into the Stab-in-the-Back myth. And now I've just picked up The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany and am a few pages into it. So your invitation to this list is very timely!

I've always been interested in the Weimar period as well as the subsequent Nazi years. Half my family is French, on my mother's side, and they lived through the Occupation. To my mother growing up, the bogeymen were Germans.

I recently got back into the topic in some depth because of a debate I got tangled into on Twitter. I saw someone say that Obama was both a Nazi and a socialist. So I tried to argue with them about the feasibility of that. Come to find out that there are a LOT of people out there now who conflate Nazism with socialism. I guess some guy wrote a book claiming that the Nazis were socialists as a way of allowing people who hate Obama to claim he's both.

In the debate, which got nasty very fast (it's truly depressing how people who might otherwise be capable of disagreeing in an intelligent way devolve into throwing insults and demeaning you on Twitter--maybe it's the limitation on the characters?), I felt like I was only somewhat confident in my position, not having read anything recently at that time about the topic.

Meanwhile, I was working on a history of the Jews in Europe which I've been presenting to my high school history students. Hence my focus on the Stab-in-the-Back myth. So it followed logically that I should read up on Weimar.

I discovered Plenge and Spengler in doing so. When you consider that Spengler's "true socialism"--AKA corporatism--is considered to be foundational to Nazi thought... well, let's just say I wish I'd read this stuff BEFORE the debate happened. Also some direct quotes from Hitler and co. about socialists and communists... wish I'd had those handy.


message 4: by Jesper (new)

Jesper Jorgensen (jespercfs2) Well, I have read a lot about WWII, some of it covering the immediate Pre-WWII period. I have read a little about WWI but not much about the inter-war years as such.

But naturally I have seen The Weimar Republic mentioned in many of the books I have read as a 'forerunner' to the Nazi's and their assumption of power.

So it may be time to read more about 'the life and death of The Weimar Republic'.


message 5: by J.W. (new)

J.W. Horton (JWHorton) | 4 comments Mod
Sophia wrote: "Hello! I've just been studying the Weimar Republic, after a foray into the Stab-in-the-Back myth. And now I've just picked up [book:The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany|7..."
I've almost always found that anti-socialists know nothing about socialism, and it sounds from the likes of the people you have been debating that this is no exception. One most definitely cannot be a Nazi and a socialist at the same time. What is so astonishing is the conviction with which they peddle their ignorance. So it seems to me you are on very solid ground.


message 6: by J.W. (new)

J.W. Horton (JWHorton) | 4 comments Mod
Lilo wrote: "I am interested in the Weimar Republic because it preceded the Third Reich. I must say, however, that I am totally swamped with all kinds of important have-to-dos and tons of TBRs, for quite some t..."
This sounds like a very sad and demoralizing story.


message 7: by J.W. (new)

J.W. Horton (JWHorton) | 4 comments Mod
Jesper wrote: "Well, I have read a lot about WWII, some of it covering the immediate Pre-WWII period. I have read a little about WWI but not much about the inter-war years as such.

But naturally I have seen The ..."

It's an absolutley fascinating period of history!


message 8: by Stubbs (new)

Stubbs | 1 comments The Shirer book, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, has been considered THE book on the subject for more than fifty years. I read it in high school in the 1960s. It is very good on the origins of the National Socalists, which is the expanded version of the Nazi name. They hated communists, and the "national" part of their name was there to contrast with "international" communism. I believe that the party's started out in the Bavarian labor movement as a "worker's party."

The West German television production of Berlin Alexanderplatz (based on a Doblin novel) is probably available from the usual online sources. It gives a picture of the time, of which grinding poverty was a chief characteristic.


message 9: by Paul (new)

Paul (weltbuehne) | 1 comments I've just joined Goodreads, and came across this group, which doesn't seem to be very active. I write a blog of translations of German journalists of the Weimar period, the address is in my profile, and would be interested in any feedback.


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