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Culture

A strong argument could be made that Germany’s cultural heydays were during the Weimar Republic. Masterful achievements blossomed throughout this flourishing landscape. In literature, there were the Nobel Prize laureates Thomas Mann and Gerhart Hauptmann as well as Bertolt Brecht, Hermann Hesse, and Kurt Tucholsky; in the visual arts, Otto Dix, Paul Klee, Max Beckmann and Käthe Kollwitz. Yet there were also significant cultural achievements in cinema, theater, cabaret, and varieté; Berlin became a cosmopolitan capital and a Mecca for gifted artists in these areas. Surrounded by political and economic misery, people sought distraction in the cultural arena. A “dance on top of the volcano” started, giving rise to the reputation of the “Golden Twenties”.

George Grosz

(© unbekannt, gemeinfrei)

1893-1959

  • Painter, graphic artist of the New Objectivity

Grosz was born in 1893 in Berlin as Georg Ehrenfried Groß. His father was a restaurant owner. Thanks to his artistic talent, he was admitted to Dresden’s Royal Academy of the Arts in 1909. After that, he attended Berlin’s school of the arts, where he became a mentee of Emil Orlik. Although he volunteered to serve in World War I, he was declared unfit for military service in 1915 because of an illness. In 1916, he changed his name to George Grosz. Grosz was one of the Weimar Republic’s most influential artists. His works are considered part of the avant-garde art genre referred to as the New Objectivity. In addition, Grosz became involved in politics, joining the KPD in 1919. His political views, sharply critical of society, were also reflected in his artwork. After the Nazis seized power, he immigrated to the US, where he continued his career. In 1958, Berlin’s Academy of Arts elected him extraordinary member of the “Visual Arts” department. He died shortly after moving to Berlin.

Find further information and an overview of his work on artsy.net

Wikipedia entry

Thomas Mann

(© Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H27554)

1875-1955

  • Writer

Thomas Mann was born into a family of patricians in Lübeck on 11 June 1875. He broke off grammar school and moved to Munich with his mother. O.C. there, he started working for an insurance company. Yet with the success of his written works, he quit his job. Thomas Mann published Buddenbrooks - his greatest prose tome - in 1901. It earned him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929. Another influential novel, The Magic Mountain, was published in 1924 and translated into numerous languages. Mann’s political views transformed during the Weimar Republic. In contrast to his “Betrachtungen eines Unpolitischen” essay, promoting conservative values, the government’s war goals, and the Kaiserreich, he later became a defender of the democracy. He joined the fight against national socialism before the Nazis seized power. After emigrating to Switzerland and the US, he continued his career in literature. After the war, Mann decided to not make a permanent move back to Germany. He died in Zurich in 1955.

Wikipedia entry

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Glossar

Abkürzungs- und Siglenverzeichnis der verwendeten Literatur:

ADGBFederation of German General Trade Unions
AEGGeneral Electricity Company
AfA-BundGeneral Free Federation of Employees
AGCorporation
AVUSAutomobile Traffic and Training Road
BMWBavarian Motor Works
BRTgross register tons
BVPBavarian People’s Party
CenterCenter Party
DAPGerman Workers’ Party
DDPGerman Democratic Party
DNTGerman National Theater
DNVPGerman National People’s Party
DVPGerman People’s Party
GmbHLimited (form of company)
KominternCommunist International
KPDCommunist Party of Germany
KVPConservative People’s Party
LKWtrucks
MSPDMajority Social Democratic Party of Germany; the Majority Socialists
NSnational socialism (Nazi)
NSDAPNational Socialist German Workers’ Party; Nazi party
NVNational Assembly
O.C.Organization Consul
OHLArmy High Command
RMReichsmark
SASturmabteilung; Brownshirts
SPDSocial Democratic Party of Germany
SSSchutzstaffel
StGBPenal Code
UfAUniversum Film Aktiengesellschaft
USPDIndependent Social Democratic Party of Germany
VKPDUnited Communist Party of Germany
ZentrumCenter Party
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[BihlBihl, Wolfdieter, Der Erste Weltkrieg 1914 - 1918. Chronik - Daten - Fakten, Wien 2010.
[BüttnerBüttner, Ursula, Weimar. Die überforderte Republik 1918-1933, Stuttgart 2008.
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[Ebert/Wienecke-JanzEbert, Johannes/Wienecke-Janz, Detlef, Die Chronik. Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts bis heute, Gütersloh/München 2006.
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[EtzoldEtzold, Hans-Rüdiger, Der Käfer II. Die Käfer-Entwicklung von 1934 bis 1982 vom Urmodell zum Weltmeister, Stuttgart 1989.
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[GrüttnerGrüttner, Michael, Das Dritte Reich 1933-1945 (= Bd. 19, Gebhardt. Handbuch der deutschen Geschichte), Stuttgart 2014.
[HildebrandHildebrand, Klaus, Das Dritte Reich, 7. Aufl., München 2010.
[Kessler Tgbb]Harry Graf Kessler. Tagebücher 1918-1937, hrsg. von Wolfgang Pfeiffer-Belli, Frankfurt a. M und Leipzig 1996.
[KittelKittel, Erich, Novembersturz 1918. Bemerkungen zu einer vergleichenden Revolutionsgeschichte der deutschen Länder, in: Blätter für deutsche Landesgeschichte 104 (1968), S. 42-108.
[KolbKolb, Eberhard, Die Weimarer Republik, 7. durchges. und erw. Aufl., München 2010.
[NiedhartNiedhart, Gottfried, Die Außenpolitik der Weimarer Republik, 2. aktualisierte Aufl., München 2010.
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[Overesch/SaalOveresch, Manfred/Saal, Friedrich Wilhelm, Die Weimarer Republik, Eine Tageschronik der Politik, Wissenschaft Kultur, Augsburg 1992.
[PeukertPeukert, Detlef, Die Weimarer Republik. Krisenjahre der Klassischen Moderne, Frankfurt a.M. 1987.
[PK]Paul Kaiser: Die Nationalversammlung 1919 und die Stadt Weimar (Weimarer Schriften, Heft 16), Weimar 1969.
[PM]Paul Messner: Das Deutsche Nationaltheater Weimar. Ein Abriß seiner Geschichte. Von den Anfängen bis Februar 1945 (Weimarer Schriften, Heft 17), Weimar 1985.
[ThHB]Thüringen-Handbuch. Territorium, Verfassung, Parlament, Regierung und Verwaltung in Thüringen 1920 bis 1995, hrsg. von Bernhard Post und Volker Wahl, Redaktion Dieter Marek (Veröffentlichungen aus Thüringischen Staatsarchiven, Bd. 1), Weimar 1999.
[TofahrnTofahrn, Klaus W., Chronologie des Dritten Reiches. Ereignisse, Personen, Begriffe, Darmstadt 2003.
[UB]Ursula Büttner: Weimar. Die überforderte Republik 1918-1933. Leistungen und Versagen in Staat, Gesellschaft, Wirtschaft und Kultur, Stuttgart 2008.
[VU]Volker Ullrich: Die Revolution von 1918/19, München 2009.
[WinklerWinkler, Heinrich-August, Weimar 1918-1933. Die Geschichte der Ersten deutschen Demokratie, München 1993.
[WirschingWirsching, Andreas, Die Weimarer Republik. Politik und Gesellschaft, 2. erw. Aufl., München 2010.

(zusammengestellt von Dr. Jens Riederer und Christine Rost, bearbeitet von Stephan Zänker)