The Weimar Republic - Germany’s first democracy

DE | EN

Science

Germany’s scientific achievements were world-class during the Weimar Republic. Major researchers and scholars were at work here, including Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Werner Heisenberg, and Fitz Haber. Their discoveries and theories revolutionized entire scientific disciplines.

Albert Einstein

(© Bundesarchiv Bild 183-19000-1918)

1879-1955

  • Theoretical physicist
  • Inventor of the theory of relativity
  • Laureate of the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics, bestowed in 1922

Albert Einstein is considered one of the 20th century’s greatest minds. In 1916, he published his theory of general relativity, which revolutionized theoretical physics. In 1917, he was named director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics. In 1921, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. However, he did not actually receive the prize until 1922. During the Weimar era, Einstein became active in politics, alongside his scientific work. Accordingly, he worked to promote the founding of the left-wing liberal DDP party in 1918 and was a member of the league for human rights. Together with other Weimar-era intellectuals, he signed the Urgent Call of 1932 for a joint alliance of left-wing forces against national socialism. After the Nazis seized power, he went into exile, continuing his teaching and research at the elite American university Princeton.

Wikipedia entry

Friedrich Bergius

(© Bundesarchiv Bild 102-16352)

1884-1949

  • Chemist
  • 1931 Laureate of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Bergius’ father was a Silesian factory owner. His family had brought forth numerous achievements in the sciences. In 1903, he started studying chemistry and technology at the University of Breslau, where he attained his doctorate in 1907. In 1912, after obtaining his post-doctorate qualification required for professorship, he became an instructor at the Technical University for Physical Chemistry. He was specialized in the synthesis of chemical bonds via the chemical high-pressure method. In this area, he managed to produce diesel oil under high pressure using coal and oxygen as well as to develop a more efficient method to transform wood into sugar. In 1931, he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, together with Carl Bosch, for his achievements in this area. Yet his business activities were less successful. Accordingly, despite the services he rendered to science, he sank deeply into debt. He spent the last years of his life, after the war, in Buenos Aires, where he died in 1949.

Wikipedia entry

Werner Heisenberg

(© Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R57262)

1901-1976

  • Theoretical physicist
  • 1932 Laureate of the Nobel Prize in Physics

Heisenberg came from a Bavarian family of scholars. After qualifying for university studies, he first studied mathematics before transferring to physics. He was already finished with his doctorate in 1932, at the University of Munich, where he finished his post-doctorate qualification the following year, entitling him to teach at the university level. At the ripe age of 26, Heisenberg became a professor at the University of Leipzig, where he and his colleague Friedrich Hund turned his department into an international Center for theoretical physics. In 1932, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his research in quantum mechanics, yet above all for the uncertainly principle he postulated. During the Third Reich, unlike many other scientists and despite numerous threats, he did not emigrate. Instead, he cooperated with the regime within the framework of the Uranium Project in 1941. After the war, he continued teaching and researching at various universities and institutions. In the young Federal Republic of Germany, he promoted the use of nuclear energy for civil purposes.

Wikipedia entry

Show glossary
A project of Weimarer Republik e.V., with generous support from

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
[AB]August Baudert: Sachsen-Weimars Ende. Historische Tatsachen aus sturmbewegter Zeit, Weimar 1923.
[AS]Axel Schildt: Die Republik von Weimar. Deutschland zwischen Kaiserreich und „Drittem Reich“ (1918-1933), hrsg. von der Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Thüringen, Erfurt 2009.
[BauerBauer, Kurt, Nationalsozialismus. Ursprünge, Anfänge, Aufstieg und Fall, u.a. Wien 2008.
[BihlBihl, Wolfdieter, Der Erste Weltkrieg 1914 - 1918. Chronik - Daten - Fakten, Wien 2010.
[BüttnerBüttner, Ursula, Weimar. Die überforderte Republik 1918-1933, Stuttgart 2008.
[DNV]Die Deutsche Nationalversammlung im Jahre 1919 in ihrer Arbeit für den Aufbau des neuen deutschen Volksstaates, hrsg. v. Ed.[uard] Heilfron, Bd. 1 bis 6, Berlin [1919].
[Ebert/Wienecke-JanzEbert, Johannes/Wienecke-Janz, Detlef, Die Chronik. Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts bis heute, Gütersloh/München 2006.
[EK]Eberhard Kolb: Die Weimarer Republik, 3. überarb. u. erw. Aufl., München 1993.
[EtzoldEtzold, Hans-Rüdiger, Der Käfer II. Die Käfer-Entwicklung von 1934 bis 1982 vom Urmodell zum Weltmeister, Stuttgart 1989.
[GG]Gitta Günther: Weimar-Chronik. Stadtgeschichte in Daten. Dritte Folge: März 1850 bis April 1945 (Weimarer Schriften, Heft 33), Weimar 1987.
[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.
[O/S]Manfred Overesch/ Friedrich Wilhelm Saal: Die Weimarer Republik. Eine Tageschronik der Politik, Wirtschaft, Kultur, Düsseldorf 1992.
[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)