Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy / Edition 1

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
$19.65
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $5.16
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 82%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (28) from $5.16   
  • New (6) from $19.91   
  • Used (22) from $5.16   

Overview

"This is not another standard history of the Weimar Republic. Eric Weitz effortlessly blends politics and economics, philosophy and literature, art and architecture in a gripping portrait of a culture whose pathology was exceeded only by its creativity. From Heidegger to Hitler, from Bauhaus to 'our house,' from Thomas Mann to Fritz Lang, much of Western modernity was invented here-its glories as well as its horrors. This is history at its best."—Josef Joffe, publisher and editor of Die Zeit and fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University

"This superb book not only finally delivers a satisfying general history of Weimar that has been missing for many years, but, more important, is a remarkable accomplishment in that it covers all the main themes of Weimar Germany, ranging from politics to literature, architecture to economy, cinema to ideology. Elegantly written and cleverly structured, this is an outstanding achievement by a mature, erudite, balanced, and intellectually sophisticated scholar."—Omer Bartov, Brown University

"Implied throughout this book is the question of whether it is possible for contemporary democracies to succumb to neofascist forces in the same way that the Weimar Republic fell to the Nazis. For Weitz, the downfall of Weimar does not simply provide a lesson of what we should avoid today. Rather his insightful book vividly portrays the Weimar period as a historical epoch filled with creative experiments and utopian projects that still need to be realized."—Jack Zipes, University of Minnesota

"Eric Weitz, a leading American historian of the German Left, has given English-language readers the most textured, encompassing, and engaging history of Weimar to date. He presents the first German republic, and Berlin in particular, as a beleaguered experiment in mass politics and mass culture: overshadowed by the terrible costs of a lost war, deeply divided politically, but still an open-ended wager on modernity."—Charles Maier, Harvard University

"Weitz has written a simply magnificent history of the Weimar Republic, one that incorporates its economic, political, and cultural history in a way that no other book has succeeded in doing. The book is knowledgeable, lively, lucid, and thorough, and Weitz's enthusiasm for his subject is palpable. Undoubtedly, this will be the standard history of Weimar Germany for years to come."—Richard Wolin, author of The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism

"Enriched by many contemporary photos, Weitz's comprehensive and highly readable account of the Weimar Republic incorporates the latest research on post-World War I Germany. To my knowledge, there is no other book that does a better job of examining the country's precarious existence between liberal-democratic modernity and conservative-authoritarian backlash."—V. R. Berghahn, Columbia University

"This is an important and evocative book that balances broad cultural developments and richly detailed analyses of, for example, the cultural criticism of Siegfried Kracauer, the collages of Hannah Höch, and the pessimistic ruminations of Oswald Spengler. Weimar Germany should find a broad audience given its subject, its lucid and lively style, and its wonderful illustrations."—Mary Nolan, New York University

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

The Economist
[Weitz] is a reliable guide through Weimar's political and economic maze, and a good one on the social revolution that made many women—far from all—less dependent on husband, hearth and home. In one of his best chapters, Mr. Weitz takes us on a ramble through the sleepless metropolis of 1920s Berlin: from the glittering cafes around Potsdamer Platz to Isherwood's cabarets and seedy bars, from the bracing beaches of Wannsee Lake to the dank and stifling dwellings of the workers' quarter, Wedding.
The Financial Times
It is impossible to talk about post-1918 Germany without focusing on its political and financial instability. . . . Weitz covers this ground clearly and in sharp detail, breaking down the complex tug-of-war between communists, democrats and conservatives. . . . But more gripping to Weitz (and to this reviewer) is the artistic and intellectual ferment that Weimar embodied—a cultural explosion he chronicles with a passionate, persuasive voice. . . . [Weitz] wins points for his no-frills language that transports us back to the racy, cosmopolitan atmosphere of 1920s Berlin—and for saving his best for last. In the book's resonant closure about the rise of authoritarianism, Weitz seems in directly to hold a mirror up to America's own political catastrophe in the post-9/11 Bush years.
— Michael Levitin
The New York Sun
The name Weimar has always carried a double charge. In politics, it means an incurable disease, a state divided against itself, a habit of hatred and assassination; in culture, it means fruitful transgression, the gratified shock of the modern. By showing how these two sides belong to the same coin, Weimar Germany serves as a perfect introduction to its subject.
— Adam Kirsch
The Jerusalem Report
Considers Germany between the World Wars from far more than merely the political perspective. Stressing the new liberalism and modernism that marked the Republic, Weitz . . . devotes whole chapters in his new work to Weimar's astonishing flowering in architecture, cinema, photography, literature, painting, sculpture, journalism, and cabaret life. . . . Presents a comprehensive synthetic history, it is thoughtfully illustrated (including wonderful color plates) and it is written in a crisp, transparent prose that might serve as a model for modern historians.
— Matt Nesvisky
The Globe & Mail
Eric D. Weitz, in his well-illustrated book, explores this contested society. He sees the 'promise' of his subtitle in the optimism of its creative community's embrace of the Weimar Republic's potential, and the 'tragedy' in the efforts of the established right to destroy the republic.
— James Skidmore
Modernism and Modernity
Weitz . . . attempts far more than merely to produce a new history of Weimar suitable for the age of the 'War on Terror.' His aim is to transform the way that we approach the 1920s in Germany. . . . Weimar Germany is a most welcome addition to the existing literature on this hotly contested period.
— Tobias Boes
European History Quarterly
Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy is an impressive work, interesting, well researched and creatively written. . . . He includes many important observations on Weimar politics and economics, but the greatest strength of the book is its treatment of Weimar culture and particularly the crucial place of Berlin in that history. . . . It is a significant addition to the literature on Weimar Germany and should be read by everyone interested in the period.
— Paul Bookbinder
European Legacy
Weitz is at his best when examining the vibrant cultural life of Weimar and the many individuals whose work both evoked and manifested the hope that a better society would emerge from the ruins of the old.
— Irene Guenther
H-Net Reviews
Weitz has done a fine job of integrating much of this material (highlighted in a short bibliographic essay) into a fresh new synthesis. His particularly judicious selection of illustrations—color plates and black and white—makes the volume a well-rounded resource for students and scholars alike.
— Ulf Zimmermann
NYMAS Review
A valuable read for those interested in what came before as well as later.
The Historian
Weitz has penned an outstanding book. He gives the message of 'Berlin is Weimar; Weimar is Berlin' its most stimulating, colorful, and elegant voicing. Weitz's Weimar is visually stunning. With inviting, even friendly, prose he guides the reader through the sights and sounds of Berlin. . . . Weitz's structure is clean yet rounded; functional yet playful; revolutionary yet organic. . . . His bibliographic essay is a model of concision.
— Kevin Ostoyich
Monatshefte fur Mathematik
[A]s the discussion of right-wing discourses, parties, and movements progresses, one is struck again by the author's ability to tie specific example to general trend. Like his account of the republic's beginning, Weitz's depiction of the end is a taut, clear narrative that delivers thought-provoking analysis.
— Theodore F. Rippey
Bookforum

Now . . . comes Eric D. Weitz's long-awaited Weimar Germany, a work that builds on the extant literature and gives things a refreshing new spin. A seasoned scholar of German history, Weitz offers an altogether original approach, a potent mix of cutting-edge historical analysis, rich visual and literary illustration, and imaginative excursions through the physical spaces and places of the era, bringing to bear his uncommon erudition and a prose style that is at once rigorous, wonderfully animated, and distinguished by breathtaking clarity.
— Noah Isenberg
Monatshefte

[A]s the discussion of right-wing discourses, parties, and movements progresses, one is struck again by the author's ability to tie specific example to general trend. Like his account of the republic's beginning, Weitz's depiction of the end is a taut, clear narrative that delivers thought-provoking analysis.
— Theodore F. Rippey
New York Times Book Review - Brian Ladd
In his engaging readings of these works, Weitz forgoes abstruse analysis. Instead, he presents them as fresh attempts to make sense of a world in which reliable beliefs about authority and order, class and gender, wealth and poverty, no longer held. His most innovative chapter is an imaginary walk through Berlin, observing the daily lives of the city's different classes. . . . Better than most histories, the book connects culture, politics and city life.
Times Literary Supplement - Peter Graves
Weimar Germany is elegantly written, generously illustrated and never less than informative. It is also history with attitude. In that respect, it perhaps also reflects in itself something of the fractious period which its pages so convincingly evoke.
London Review of Books - Eric Hobsbawm
Excellent and splendidly illustrated. . . . Weimar was more than a German phenomenon. . . . [Weimar Germany] is a superb introduction to its world, probably the best available.
Foreword Magazine - Peter Skinner
Brilliantly maps a pivotal era.
Choice - H.D. Baer
Weitz offers a comprehensive history of the Weimar Republic that combines a sober approach to the politics and economics of this conflicted era with a highly engaging and readable new take on its famous cultural and social experiment...One of the book's achievements compared to previous Weimar histories is Weitz's integration of important work on gender, sex, and the body throughout his nine chapters.
The Financial Times - Michael Levitin
It is impossible to talk about post-1918 Germany without focusing on its political and financial instability. . . . Weitz covers this ground clearly and in sharp detail, breaking down the complex tug-of-war between communists, democrats and conservatives. . . . But more gripping to Weitz (and to this reviewer) is the artistic and intellectual ferment that Weimar embodied—a cultural explosion he chronicles with a passionate, persuasive voice. . . . [Weitz] wins points for his no-frills language that transports us back to the racy, cosmopolitan atmosphere of 1920s Berlin—and for saving his best for last. In the book's resonant closure about the rise of authoritarianism, Weitz seems in directly to hold a mirror up to America's own political catastrophe in the post-9/11 Bush years.
American Historical Review - Robert G. Moeller
Eric D. Weitz has written a splendid book. . . . Appreciating Weimar's unique qualities and extraordinary accomplishments is something Weitz allows all of us to do with this fine book.
The New York Sun - Adam Kirsch
The name Weimar has always carried a double charge. In politics, it means an incurable disease, a state divided against itself, a habit of hatred and assassination; in culture, it means fruitful transgression, the gratified shock of the modern. By showing how these two sides belong to the same coin, Weimar Germany serves as a perfect introduction to its subject.
BookForum - Noah Isenberg
Now . . . comes Eric D. Weitz's long-awaited Weimar Germany, a work that builds on the extant literature and gives things a refreshing new spin. A seasoned scholar of German history, Weitz offers an altogether original approach, a potent mix of cutting-edge historical analysis, rich visual and literary illustration, and imaginative excursions through the physical spaces and places of the era, bringing to bear his uncommon erudition and a prose style that is at once rigorous, wonderfully animated, and distinguished by breathtaking clarity.
Harper's Magazine - John Leonard
It is the thesis of Eric D. Weitz in Weimar Germany that even before the Nazi coup of 1933, Weimar democracy, however brilliant its cultural particulars, never had a chance....And yet, as Weimar Germany makes elegantly clear, what a vibrant and kinetic moment it was with such artists as Käthe Kollwitz and George Grosz, such architects as Erich Mendelsohn and Walter Gropius, such novelists as Alfred Doblin, Thomas Mann, and Joseph Roth, the theater of Bertolt Brecht and Kurl Weill, the photography of August Sander and László Moholy-Nagy, the cinema of Robert Wiene and Fritz Lang...
The Jerusalem Report - Matt Nesvisky
Considers Germany between the World Wars from far more than merely the political perspective. Stressing the new liberalism and modernism that marked the Republic, Weitz . . . devotes whole chapters in his new work to Weimar's astonishing flowering in architecture, cinema, photography, literature, painting, sculpture, journalism, and cabaret life. . . . Presents a comprehensive synthetic history, it is thoughtfully illustrated (including wonderful color plates) and it is written in a crisp, transparent prose that might serve as a model for modern historians.
Spectator - Justin Cartwright
Weimar lasted 14 years, the Third Reich only 12. Yet Weimar is always seen as a prelude to the Third Reich, which appears to have been created by Weimar's failures. Actually, as Eric Weitz argues, the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) was not responsible for the Reich; it was a democratic, socially aware and progressive government, way ahead of many other European governments in its introduction of workers' rights, public housing, unemployment benefit and suffrage for women. However, Weimar was, from the beginning, the target of the anti-democratic forces of the established Right. . . . Weitz looks closely at many aspects of Weimar and demonstrates clearly just what an extraordinary time this was . . . A fine and important book.
Commonweal - James J. Sheehan
A well-informed, sophisticated analysis of Weimar's greatest accomplishments and their lasting significance. . . . The best introduction to the historical setting and rich legacy of Weimar culture. And this, as [Weitz] convincingly argues, is the Weimar that speaks most clearly to us.
Christian Science Monitor - Francine Kiefer
Nothing enlivens history more than the people who experienced it, and Weitz gets at concepts and trends through the work and lives of the players. His mostly lively and descriptive writing paints visual pictures that are complemented by well-chosen photographs and illustrations. . . . Generally, Weitz, as in his tour of Berlin, succeeds in guiding readers down the avenues of this unusually rich and complex time, until these boulevards finally meet in an abrupt dead end.
The Globe & Mail - James Skidmore
Eric D. Weitz, in his well-illustrated book, explores this contested society. He sees the 'promise' of his subtitle in the optimism of its creative community's embrace of the Weimar Republic's potential, and the 'tragedy' in the efforts of the established right to destroy the republic.
German Studies Review - Hanna Schlissler
The unquestionable strength of this well-written book . . . lies in the depictions of culture, everyday life, art, literature, and philosophy as well as in the deep understanding of the changing world of everyday people. . . . Weitz's unobtrusive gender awareness and his sense of class-bound life and experiences come across in a matter-of-fact manner and show what writing about history has to offer when a talented author knows how to combine political, economic, social, gender, and cultural history and how to weave them into a lucid picture of the past.
Modernism and Modernity - Tobias Boes
Weitz . . . attempts far more than merely to produce a new history of Weimar suitable for the age of the 'War on Terror.' His aim is to transform the way that we approach the 1920s in Germany. . . . Weimar Germany is a most welcome addition to the existing literature on this hotly contested period.
New York Law Journal - Walter Barthold
In Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy, Professor Eric D. Weitz of the University of Minnesota fills in the details. He does a good job. He presents a case history worthy of study by lawyers of this century.
Central European History - Peter Jelavich
[Weitz] has written a spirited survey chat for grounds cultural and intellectual developments, and it will find a well-deserved place in many courses on German history and German cultural studies.
Wilson Quarterly - Colin Fleming
The story of the Weimar Republic is the story of Germany's journey from fallen Old World power to the ultimate symbol of modern horror—of cutthroat politics, lingering postwar resentments, new freedoms, and modernist art. Eric D. Weitz, a University of Minnesota historian, sorts through this knotty mass of narratives in order to describe how German consciousness was uprooted from the Bavarian forests and ushered into the ferocity—and beauty—of the machine age.
Virginia Quarterly Review - Lou Tanner
Weimar Germany is strikingly illustrated with numerous photographs, posters, and reproductions of paintings supplemented by text that is both well-written and captivating in its use of imagery. The author's interest in the period shows through as does his sense of foreboding, given the aftermath of this fiery burst of creativity.
Sydney Morning Herald - Bruce Elder
Between 1918 and 1933 every aspect of Weimar Germany was in a state of flux. It is a great achievement that Weitz has managed to bring all the disparate strands together and to develop a cogent argument that Weimar Germany was so dynamic, so exciting and so suffused with optimism and creativity. Weitz's strength lies in his ability to make the era come alive. This is superb history.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - Roger K. Miller
Each era writes its own histories of earlier eras, and now we have the equally commendable Weimar Germany . . . . To read about Weimar is to be reminded of the stupendous number of gifted people it produced or nurtured or gave passing shelter to, and who contributed to creating 20th-century Western culture. Weitz goes into illuminating detail about their achievements and their influence, even in areas beyond their art.
CultureKiosque - Alan Behr
A concise, yet comprehensive survey of life, art and politics during a crucial period in German and, indeed, world history.
eHistory - Faith Anne Scott
An engaging representation of the cultural climate of Weimar Germany in a variety of areas.
Maui News - Harry Eagar
Eric Weitz paints Weimar—actually Berlin, nothing much ever happened in Weimar—as suffering from a split personality: vibrant and creative, on the verge of modernity; and sullen, backward-looking and afraid.
Cleveland Plain Dealer - John Kappes
[Weitz tells] a story that continues to attract us three-quarters of a century later as lived experience, a story that, while it ended badly, should not sit perpetually in Hitler's shadow. . . . Perhaps the best single-volume history available in English.
European History Quarterly - Paul Bookbinder
Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy is an impressive work, interesting, well researched and creatively written. . . . He includes many important observations on Weimar politics and economics, but the greatest strength of the book is its treatment of Weimar culture and particularly the crucial place of Berlin in that history. . . . It is a significant addition to the literature on Weimar Germany and should be read by everyone interested in the period.
European Legacy - Irene Guenther
Weitz is at his best when examining the vibrant cultural life of Weimar and the many individuals whose work both evoked and manifested the hope that a better society would emerge from the ruins of the old.
H-Net Reviews - Ulf Zimmermann
Weitz has done a fine job of integrating much of this material (highlighted in a short bibliographic essay) into a fresh new synthesis. His particularly judicious selection of illustrations—color plates and black and white—makes the volume a well-rounded resource for students and scholars alike.
The Historian - Kevin Ostoyich
Weitz has penned an outstanding book. He gives the message of 'Berlin is Weimar; Weimar is Berlin' its most stimulating, colorful, and elegant voicing. Weitz's Weimar is visually stunning. With inviting, even friendly, prose he guides the reader through the sights and sounds of Berlin. . . . Weitz's structure is clean yet rounded; functional yet playful; revolutionary yet organic. . . . His bibliographic essay is a model of concision.
Monatshefte - Theodore F. Rippey
[A]s the discussion of right-wing discourses, parties, and movements progresses, one is struck again by the author's ability to tie specific example to general trend. Like his account of the republic's beginning, Weitz's depiction of the end is a taut, clear narrative that delivers thought-provoking analysis.
From the Publisher
"Eric Weitz paints Weimar—actually Berlin, nothing much ever happened in Weimar—as suffering from a split personality: vibrant and creative, on the verge of modernity; and sullen, backward-looking and afraid."—Harry Eagar, Maui News

"[Weitz tells] a story that continues to attract us three-quarters of a century later as lived experience, a story that, while it ended badly, should not sit perpetually in Hitler's shadow. . . . Perhaps the best single-volume history available in English."—John Kappes, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy is an impressive work, interesting, well researched and creatively written. . . . He includes many important observations on Weimar politics and economics, but the greatest strength of the book is its treatment of Weimar culture and particularly the crucial place of Berlin in that history. . . . It is a significant addition to the literature on Weimar Germany and should be read by everyone interested in the period."—Paul Bookbinder, European History Quarterly

"Weitz is at his best when examining the vibrant cultural life of Weimar and the many individuals whose work both evoked and manifested the hope that a better society would emerge from the ruins of the old."—Irene Guenther, European Legacy

"Weitz has done a fine job of integrating much of this material (highlighted in a short bibliographic essay) into a fresh new synthesis. His particularly judicious selection of illustrations—color plates and black and white—makes the volume a well-rounded resource for students and scholars alike."—Ulf Zimmermann, H-Net Reviews

"A valuable read for those interested in what came before as well as later."—
NYMAS Review

"Weitz has penned an outstanding book. He gives the message of 'Berlin is Weimar; Weimar is Berlin' its most stimulating, colorful, and elegant voicing. Weitz's Weimar is visually stunning. With inviting, even friendly, prose he guides the reader through the sights and sounds of Berlin. . . . Weitz's structure is clean yet rounded; functional yet playful; revolutionary yet organic. . . . His bibliographic essay is a model of concision."—Kevin Ostoyich, The Historian

"[A]s the discussion of right-wing discourses, parties, and movements progresses, one is struck again by the author's ability to tie specific example to general trend. Like his account of the republic's beginning, Weitz's depiction of the end is a taut, clear narrative that delivers thought-provoking analysis."—Theodore F. Rippey, Monatshefte

New York Times Book Review
In his engaging readings of these works, Weitz forgoes abstruse analysis. Instead, he presents them as fresh attempts to make sense of a world in which reliable beliefs about authority and order, class and gender, wealth and poverty, no longer held. His most innovative chapter is an imaginary walk through Berlin, observing the daily lives of the city's different classes. . . . Better than most histories, the book connects culture, politics and city life.
— Brian Ladd
Times Literary Supplement
Weimar Germany is elegantly written, generously illustrated and never less than informative. It is also history with attitude. In that respect, it perhaps also reflects in itself something of the fractious period which its pages so convincingly evoke.
— Peter Graves
London Review of Books
Excellent and splendidly illustrated. . . . Weimar was more than a German phenomenon. . . . [Weimar Germany] is a superb introduction to its world, probably the best available.
— Eric Hobsbawm
Foreword Magazine
Brilliantly maps a pivotal era.
— Peter Skinner
Choice
Weitz offers a comprehensive history of the Weimar Republic that combines a sober approach to the politics and economics of this conflicted era with a highly engaging and readable new take on its famous cultural and social experiment...One of the book's achievements compared to previous Weimar histories is Weitz's integration of important work on gender, sex, and the body throughout his nine chapters.
— H.D. Baer
American Historical Review
Eric D. Weitz has written a splendid book. . . . Appreciating Weimar's unique qualities and extraordinary accomplishments is something Weitz allows all of us to do with this fine book.
— Robert G. Moeller
BookForum
Now . . . comes Eric D. Weitz's long-awaited Weimar Germany, a work that builds on the extant literature and gives things a refreshing new spin. A seasoned scholar of German history, Weitz offers an altogether original approach, a potent mix of cutting-edge historical analysis, rich visual and literary illustration, and imaginative excursions through the physical spaces and places of the era, bringing to bear his uncommon erudition and a prose style that is at once rigorous, wonderfully animated, and distinguished by breathtaking clarity.
— Noah Isenberg
Harper's Magazine
It is the thesis of Eric D. Weitz in Weimar Germany that even before the Nazi coup of 1933, Weimar democracy, however brilliant its cultural particulars, never had a chance....And yet, as Weimar Germany makes elegantly clear, what a vibrant and kinetic moment it was with such artists as Käthe Kollwitz and George Grosz, such architects as Erich Mendelsohn and Walter Gropius, such novelists as Alfred Doblin, Thomas Mann, and Joseph Roth, the theater of Bertolt Brecht and Kurl Weill, the photography of August Sander and László Moholy-Nagy, the cinema of Robert Wiene and Fritz Lang...
— John Leonard
Spectator
Weimar lasted 14 years, the Third Reich only 12. Yet Weimar is always seen as a prelude to the Third Reich, which appears to have been created by Weimar's failures. Actually, as Eric Weitz argues, the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) was not responsible for the Reich; it was a democratic, socially aware and progressive government, way ahead of many other European governments in its introduction of workers' rights, public housing, unemployment benefit and suffrage for women. However, Weimar was, from the beginning, the target of the anti-democratic forces of the established Right. . . . Weitz looks closely at many aspects of Weimar and demonstrates clearly just what an extraordinary time this was . . . A fine and important book.
— Justin Cartwright
Commonweal
A well-informed, sophisticated analysis of Weimar's greatest accomplishments and their lasting significance. . . . The best introduction to the historical setting and rich legacy of Weimar culture. And this, as [Weitz] convincingly argues, is the Weimar that speaks most clearly to us.
— James J. Sheehan
Christian Science Monitor
Nothing enlivens history more than the people who experienced it, and Weitz gets at concepts and trends through the work and lives of the players. His mostly lively and descriptive writing paints visual pictures that are complemented by well-chosen photographs and illustrations. . . . Generally, Weitz, as in his tour of Berlin, succeeds in guiding readers down the avenues of this unusually rich and complex time, until these boulevards finally meet in an abrupt dead end.
— Francine Kiefer
German Studies Review
The unquestionable strength of this well-written book . . . lies in the depictions of culture, everyday life, art, literature, and philosophy as well as in the deep understanding of the changing world of everyday people. . . . Weitz's unobtrusive gender awareness and his sense of class-bound life and experiences come across in a matter-of-fact manner and show what writing about history has to offer when a talented author knows how to combine political, economic, social, gender, and cultural history and how to weave them into a lucid picture of the past.
— Hanna Schlissler
Jewish Book World
Weitz's meticulous research and excellent use of contemporary poster and photographs, along with other period pieces, make 1920s Germany, especially Berlin, come alive. Readers will stroll down Potsdamer Platz with its elegant shops. They will hear political debates in beer halls, cabarets, and street corners. They will see the birth of modern architecture and view the neighborhoods of the Jews, Poles, and Slavs fated to become Nazi scapegoats. . . . This is a thought provoking book that gives keen insight into a society teetering over the edge.
Central European History
[Weitz] has written a spirited survey chat for grounds cultural and intellectual developments, and it will find a well-deserved place in many courses on German history and German cultural studies.
— Peter Jelavich
New York Law Journal
In Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy, Professor Eric D. Weitz of the University of Minnesota fills in the details. He does a good job. He presents a case history worthy of study by lawyers of this century.
— Walter Barthold
Wilson Quarterly
The story of the Weimar Republic is the story of Germany's journey from fallen Old World power to the ultimate symbol of modern horror—of cutthroat politics, lingering postwar resentments, new freedoms, and modernist art. Eric D. Weitz, a University of Minnesota historian, sorts through this knotty mass of narratives in order to describe how German consciousness was uprooted from the Bavarian forests and ushered into the ferocity—and beauty—of the machine age.
— Colin Fleming
Virginia Quarterly Review
Weimar Germany is strikingly illustrated with numerous photographs, posters, and reproductions of paintings supplemented by text that is both well-written and captivating in its use of imagery. The author's interest in the period shows through as does his sense of foreboding, given the aftermath of this fiery burst of creativity.
— Lou Tanner
Sydney Morning Herald
Between 1918 and 1933 every aspect of Weimar Germany was in a state of flux. It is a great achievement that Weitz has managed to bring all the disparate strands together and to develop a cogent argument that Weimar Germany was so dynamic, so exciting and so suffused with optimism and creativity. Weitz's strength lies in his ability to make the era come alive. This is superb history.
— Bruce Elder
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Each era writes its own histories of earlier eras, and now we have the equally commendable Weimar Germany . . . . To read about Weimar is to be reminded of the stupendous number of gifted people it produced or nurtured or gave passing shelter to, and who contributed to creating 20th-century Western culture. Weitz goes into illuminating detail about their achievements and their influence, even in areas beyond their art.
— Roger K. Miller
CultureKiosque
A concise, yet comprehensive survey of life, art and politics during a crucial period in German and, indeed, world history.
— Alan Behr
eHistory
An engaging representation of the cultural climate of Weimar Germany in a variety of areas.
— Faith Anne Scott
Maui News
Eric Weitz paints Weimar—actually Berlin, nothing much ever happened in Weimar—as suffering from a split personality: vibrant and creative, on the verge of modernity; and sullen, backward-looking and afraid.
— Harry Eagar
Cleveland Plain Dealer
[Weitz tells] a story that continues to attract us three-quarters of a century later as lived experience, a story that, while it ended badly, should not sit perpetually in Hitler's shadow. . . . Perhaps the best single-volume history available in English.
— John Kappes
Publishers Weekly

University of Minnesota history professor Weitz takes readers on a walk through Weimar Republic-era Berlin in the footsteps of a 1920s flâneur, an urban ambler. Wandering among cafes and department stores, Weitz notices the "New Women," the jazz bands, the prostitutes, the beggars, the war wounded. He considers how radio and motion pictures changed public gatherings, internationalizing mass entertainment. Separate chapters, with a wealth of well-chosen illustrations, explore Weimar's new theories of architecture, graphic arts, photography, theater, philosophy and sexuality. Weitz selects key exemplars of each discipline-Brecht, Weill, Mann, Bruno Taut, Erich Mendelsohn, August Sander, László Moholy-Nagy, Hannah Höch, Siegfried Kracauer, etc.-for in-depth focus before turning to the backlash that their radicalism aroused. In his closing discussion of the collapse of the republic, Weitz elaborates on the right's resistance to modernization, as well as the overall fragility of the democratic spirit. A lively style and excellent illustrations make this intellectually challenging volume accessible to both academics and armchair scholars. 8 color (not seen by PW) and 52 b&w photos. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Weitz (history, Univ. of Minnesota; Creating German Communism, 1890-1990) has produced an elegant and captivating study of Germany's Weimar years, that turbulent period from 1918 to 1933 when the old German society seemed to break apart. In this period, Germany became a constitutional democracy, the arts blossomed, modern and liberal ideas flourished, and the economic and political situation staggered from one crisis to another, ending in the Nazi ascendance to power. This period is often treated as simply the forerunner to the Nazi era, but Weitz shows that it was far more than that. Leading readers through the sights and sounds of Berlin and into the worlds of politics, economics, daily life, material culture, sexual liberation, and, finally, the revolution and counterrevolution from the Right, he concludes that the Nazi era was not inevitable. To reach this point, Weitz has synthesized in clear and engaging fashion a great deal of the huge primary and secondary literature of Weimar, taking into consideration the social and political circumstances of Western Europe between the wars. This book will undoubtedly be assigned to college students, but it will reward anyone interested in this fascinating and pivotal era. If you have only one book on the Weimar period, this should be it. For all libraries.
—Barbara Walden

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691016955
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 9/4/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 978,202
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author


Eric D. Weitz is Distinguished McKnight University Professor of History at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of "A Century of Genocide" and "Creating German Communism, 1890-1990" (both Princeton).
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Weimar Germany

PROMISE AND TRAGEDY
By Eric D. Weitz

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS

Copyright © 2007 Princeton University Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-691-01695-5


Chapter One

A Troubled Beginning

A defeated army on its return home is never a pretty sight. The bandaged wounds, the missing limbs, the hobbled walk on crutches seem even more ghastly shadowed by the sullen mood of the bedraggled soldiers (fig. 1.1). But on 10 December 1918, the chairman of the Council of People's Representatives, Friedrich Ebert, in office for just a month, sought to put a brave face on his greetings to the returning soldiers who had been defeated in battle.

Comrades, welcome in the German Republic, welcome in the homeland, which has yearned for you.... Joyfully we welcome you back in the homeland.... No enemy has prevailed over you. Only when the opponent's superiority of men and matériel became ever more oppressive did we give up the struggle.... You have protected the homeland from the enemy's invasion. You have saved your women and children, your parents, from the murder and fire of war. You have saved Germany's fields and workshops from devastation and destruction. For that we at home thank you from the very depths of our being.

Ebert, who had supported the war and had lost two sons to it, could not venture to critique the war as a tragic waste of human lives and material resources. He still sought meaning in the venture.

But he also sought to prepare the soldiers for the vast changes at home. The old rulers, who had weighed like a curse on Germany, have been shunted aside by the German people. We are now the masters of our own destiny, he claimed, and the future of German freedom rests on you, the returning soldiers. "Nobody has suffered more than you from the injustice of the old regime. We were thinking of you when we cleared out that doomed system. For you we fought for freedom, for you we've established the rights of labor." We cannot greet you with rich offerings and comforts. Our "unhappy country has become poor," and the victors burden us with harsh demands. "But out of the destruction we want to shape a new Germany."

More than thirteen million men, 19.7 percent of Germany's 1914 population, served in the army during World War I. Nearly eight million of them were still in arms on 11 November 1918, when the armistice was signed. They had gone to war, so they had been told, to defend the Fatherland against the barbaric Russians, who threatened to wreak chaos and destruction on German soil; against the Belgians and French, who had designs on German land and German women; against the British and Americans, who coveted German goods and feared German economic competition. Not all Germans had gone to war willingly; in the summer of 1914, stirring calls for peace and negotiations had also resounded in towns and cities. There were pacifists like the young architect Bruno Taut and radical socialists like Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, who opposed the conflict as the ultimate manifestation of capitalism's inhumanity. But those voices were ultimately drowned out by the headlong rush to war spearheaded by Kaiser Wilhelm II, his generals, and his civilian government. However much democracy had progressed in Germany in the decades before World War I, the army and the government still served at the behest of the kaiser, not of the Reichstag and certainly not of the electorate.

No soldier drafted into the German army in World War I began his march home on 11 November 1918 as the same man he had been in 1914 or 1916 or even in September and October 1918, when draftees were still being sent to the front. No returning soldier found his family and his village, town, or city in the same condition as he had left it. The sheer number of casualties had been too great. In Elkenroth, a tiny village of about 700 people in Rheinland-Pfalz, 91 men served in the army during the war, 21 percent of whom died and another 23 percent of whom came back wounded. Every inhabitant of the village was directly affected by the loss of life or the physical and psychic damage of the war. All told, roughly 2 million German men were killed and 4.2 million wounded in World War I. Around 19 percent of the entire male population were direct casualties of the violence of the war. Many of the survivors lived the rest of their lives with appalling physical and psychological wounds. Some were spirited away by their families or attempted of their own volition to endure life in bitter isolation from society. Yet the war-wounded, masks covering faces that had been blown away, dark glasses covering blinded eyes, wheelchairs replacing the gait of the walker, were everywhere visible on the streets of Germany's cities and towns in the postwar decade. Physicians had to deal also with a new "disease," shell shock, the autism and tremors that soldiers developed in reaction to ceaseless bombardments in damp and dirty trenches.

When the soldiers disembarked from the trains that eventually carried them home, they found that the women left behind had endured their own ordeal. Everywhere food rationing had been instituted by the spring of 1915, but food shortages nonetheless became the daily reality. In the winter of 1916-17, children five to seven years old in Essen were allotted only one-quarter liter of milk three times per week. The city authorities noted that the bread was almost unpalatable because of all sorts of additives-bean flour and sometimes even sawdust-used to compensate for the shortages of wheat and rye. The infamous "turnip winter" of 1916-17 was indeed reality for many Germans. Many years later, one man, a schoolboy during the war, remembered eating turnips for breakfast, unpacking the school lunch his mother had sent him to find turnips, and going home to a dinner of still more turnips.

Women had also gone to work in the munitions factories. The extent of the transformation has often been exaggerated, since before 1914 large numbers of women already labored in Germany's industrial plants. But the demands of total war, of an economy and society that were completely mobilized to support Germany's army in the field, meant that many women moved into metalworking and munitions factories. Where once they had been few in number and hired only as helpers, now they became numerous and skilled machine operatives. At Krupp in Essen, Germany's major munitions factory, the company in August 1914 employed only 963 women out of a total workforce of 41,764. By mid-1917, the workforce had tripled in size, and one-quarter, 28,664 in total, were women. Before the war most of the women had worked as cleaners and kitchen staff. By 1917, they were filling casings with gunpowder, polishing metal, and working the lathes and drill presses that kept production moving.

The work was hard, the conditions deplorable. Alfred Döblin, one of Weimar Germany's master novelists, in A People Betrayed, had one of his characters, Minna Imker, describe to her brother, newly returned from the front, the conditions she endured in a Berlin munitions plant. She worked long hours for minimal pay. Her hair had turned green from the gunpowder in the factory. But it was not only bosses and foremen and the extreme conditions of war that created such misery for her.

We were doing piece work. The men were in charge of regulating the machines. Sometimes there would be six lathes to one man. In the meantime you just stand around and time passes and you know you'll get fired. He's happily working away at his girlfriend's lathe. The rest can wait. Ed, I've stood there sometimes so wild with anger. And when they're eating and drinking, what do they talk about if not the horses? Women. They passed the word to each other who was good in bed. They exploited our misery just like the owners. Or Wilhelm and his generals.

Women also spent countless hours searching for food and fuel. Grandmothers and aunts took to the queues, waiting for meager rations of bread, while younger women worked their shifts in the factories. Hordes of women and youth spread out over railroad yards to pick up chunks of coal that had fallen from trains, or rummaged through fields like gleaners depicted in the Bible. As women engaged in more active protests, sometimes invading and looting stores or markets, the police reacted with a mix of exasperation, outrage, and empathy. The Berlin police reported as early as 1915 that "there are innumerable families who are going day after day without butter or other fats, and who are forced to eat their bread dry and to prepare their food without cooking fat.... Even good, faithful patriots have begun to turn into pessimists." The police admitted that they "hated [taking] drastic measures toward women." The "hours-long, often fruitless wait of housewives" made them easily susceptible to political agitation, in the view of the police.

The burdens of industrial labor and food hunts were great, but far worse was the loss of loved ones, the husbands, brothers, and lovers who never returned from France, Belgium, or Russia. Those who did come home were often physically and psychically wounded. The pain of the loss would always remain, and was captured best, perhaps, by the artist and pacifist Kathe Kollwitz. She lost her only son in the first months of the war and spent years trying to exorcise her loss through her art. The sculpture Mother and Son (fig. 1.2), commonly known as The Pieta which she finally completed in 1937-38, is a searingly sad commentary on the waste of war. The artistic creation did little to assuage her own pain, which mirrored the ache felt by so many German mothers.

Yet the experience of the war years, for all of the horrors at the front and difficulties at home, was also liberating for many women and men. The fury of war destroyed numerous social and artistic conventions. The Weimar era, with its heady enthusiasms, its artistic experimentation, its flaunting of sexuality and unconventional relations, its vibrant, kinetic energy, was a direct result of the vast disruptions of World War I, the distorted reverberations of its crashing destructiveness. An intense desire to grasp life in all its manifold dimensions, to experience love, sex, beauty, and power, fast cars and airborne flight, theater and dance crazes, arose out of the strong sense of the ephemeral character of life, of lives so quickly snuffed out or forever ruined by bullet wounds and gas attacks.

For many women, the factory and the city got them away from the strict gaze of parents, pastors or priests, and village gossips. As hard as the labor was, money in their own hands gave them a sense of emancipation that would carry over into the Weimar years. The forces of order-state officials, police, foremen and managers, even their own fathers, husbands, and brothers-watched all this with great trepidation. Together, they would try to ensure that the postwar factory would remain a man's world, but their success would be limited. Women would be removed from some sectors, like metalworking. But overall, the economy needed their labor-paid so much more cheaply than men's-and women needed jobs to support themselves and their families, so never was the entire female population consigned to the household.

The war also destroyed conventional notions of respectability and faith in authority. This was, after all, a war instigated by the elites of Germany and Europe. This was total war, the first of its kind, and the state assumed great responsibilities, managing everything in sight, including labor, raw materials, and the food supply. It also attempted to manage sexuality, threatening women who took lovers with the loss of their soldiers' wives' allowances. The state also promised great things, a prosperous, powerful Germany after the victory, a Germany that stood astride the continent. From that position Of dominance, the benefits would flow to every member of the national community. But when, by the third year of war, the promises seemed increasingly hollow, many Germans began to attack the symbols and institutions that they had followed into war. Officials noted nervously the murmurings of discontent, the snide references to the once-sacred symbols of Germany, the imperial family and the officer corps, the disrespect shown to foremen and managers. The artist George Grosz captured these sentiments perfectly in many of his drawings and paintings, like The Faith Healers (fig. 1.3), which shows army officers and physicians declaring even a skeleton fit for military service. Grosz's distorted depictions of aristocratic army officers and self-impressed bureaucrats reflected the loathing that so many Germans felt for their elites. Never an easygoing character, Grosz had become utterly enraged at the uselessness of the war. For Grosz as for many Germans, the savagery of total war undermined deference toward authority, and obedience and respect would never be wholly restored in the fourteen years of the republic.

* * *

On 21 March 1918, the German army had launched its last great offensive on the western front. It threw everything possible into the battle: soldiers, reserves, munitions. The campaign lasted two weeks, and the army accomplished some advances but could never achieve a clear breakthrough of the Allied defenses. The malnourished German troops fell upon the provisions they found when they took the Allies' first lines, and all the threats of their officers could not get them to move on until they were satiated. That was only one of the reasons that the German advance failed. Germany no longer had the human and material resources to do anything more than try to hold the existing positions. The military command ordered smaller offensives in the subsequent months, the last around Reims in July, and these were even less successful. In late July and August, the Allies regained the initiative and even sent German troops fleeing in panic with a tank attack near Cambrai on 8 August 1918.

Still, it took weeks for the authorities to come to grips with the reality of Germany's desperate situation. At the very end of September, in a fit of panic-which they would later try to cover up-the two leaders of the Supreme Military Command, Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich Ludendorff, approached Kaiser Wilhelm II and told him that Germany had to request an armistice. Ludendorff had been aware for months of Germany's severe military and economic deficiencies, yet had hidden the truth from the kaiser and the civilian government. The German population, still promised great things, knew even less. But Ludendorff especially was already looking to the future, and wanted to foist the responsibility for the disaster onto a civilian government based on the parliamentary parties (and not just the kaiser's wishes), and thereby preserve the pristine stature of the officer corps and the German army. The kaiser, reportedly, was taken aback, but Hindenburg and Ludendorff insisted that he initiate contacts with the American government to bring the war to an end.

America had entered the war only in April 1917. In his famous "Fourteen Points" address to Congress on 8 January 1918 and in subsequent statements and speeches, President Woodrow Wilson had promised a just and lasting peace, one that ensured every nation the possibility of free development.

There shall be no annexations, no contributions, no punitive damages.... National aspirations must be respected; peoples may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent. "Self-determination" is ... an imperative principle of action, which statesmen will henceforth ignore at their peril.

After Germany's blatant disregard of Belgian neutrality, and the ravages of French, Belgian, and Russian territory and populations, Ludendorff and Hindenburg knew that the only hope for a reasonable peace offer for Germany lay with the Americans. They understood that the Americans would need some sign of domestic reform before they would negotiate seriously with Germany. They also wanted to shift the blame for the impending defeat from the kaiser and army onto the parliament. In their hour of desperation, the two archauthoritarians, the generals who had spent two years directing a military dictatorship over Germany, initiated a process of democratization.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Weimar Germany by Eric D. Weitz Copyright © 2007 by Princeton University Press. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix
Introduction 1
Chapter 1: A Troubled Beginning 7
Chapter 2: Walking the City 41
Chapter 3: Political Worlds 81
Chapter 4: A Turbulent Economy and an Anxious Society 129
Chapter 5: Building a New Germany 169
Chapter 6: Sound and Image 207
Chapter 7: Culture and Mass Society 251
Chapter 8: Bodies and Sex 297
Chapter 9: Revolution and Counterrevolution from the Right 331
Conclusion 361
Notes 369
Bibliographic Essay 401
Acknowledgments 407
Index 409

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)