Weimar Republic (#AtoZChallenge 2018)
I’ve been partecipating to the AtoZ Blogging Challenge for a few years now and always it has been a fantastic experience.
The AtoZ Challenge is a blogging marathon happening throughout the month of April. Bloggers are challenge to blog every day but Sundays, following the alphabet. So on April 1st we’ll be blogging about something that starts with A, on the 2nd about something starting with B and so on.
This would be an awesome idea in itself, and in fact, this was what got me excited at first. But the true worth of the challenge is in networking. Yes, we will be blogging everyday, but we’ll be also visiting, reading and commenting on fellow challengers’ blogs everyday. In fact, this was what taught me what blogging is truly about the first year I took part. Reading other people’s blogs, commenting, getting in touch, becoming blogging friends. It’s a very enriching experience and I suppose this is why I keep on it, even if — let me tell you — it is a commitment.
This will be my fourth challenge and my fourth Theme Reveal.
Themes are not mandatory in the challenge, bloggers may indeed blog whatever they want on any specific day. But Themes are recommended because they help keeping the challenge coherent and encourages readers to come back, if they like what you’re blogging about.
My experience is also that it’s a powerful tool of research. We do have to write 26 posts on the subject we choose and to research and write about it in a very short time. It’s a full immersion that really helps sinking into a subject, even one new to us.
My themes so far:
This year, I was particularly eager to tackle a new subject which I have been playing around but didn’t really started seriously researching. That’s why I had considered doing my own challenge even if the AtoZ was not happening.
Welcome to my theme:
1920s WEIMAR GERMANY
The fourteen years of the Weimar Republic always felt as an in-between time. The Great War before and the Third Reich after seemed to be so much more meaningful.
Born from revolution in 1919, the Weimar Republic’s troubled time died in the rise of the Third Reich in 1933. Because of how it would end, the first democratic regime in Germany has traditionally been considered as fated to utter failure. But in recent years it has been re-evaluated. Historians have started to condiser it an important time of experimentation and freedom, not just for Germany, but for the totality of European cultures.
A dichotomy of political weakness and cultural boldness always characterised the Weimar Republic. To some extent this is still true, but historians today tend to give more importance to the complexity of Weimar reality.
It is true that from the beginning the republic had to fight many and powerful opponents, both from inside and outside. Cast as everyone’s enemy, the sole responsible for the Great War, weighed down by a peace treaty that was indeed very harsh (though maybe not as destructive as Germans believed at the time), Germany was cut off from the European and world political and economic community for years. Germany had to accept the Treaty of Versailles and its punitive demands, and it was the republic who had to do it, once the Keiser abdicated. This original sin was never forgotten by Germans. It created any kind of divisions and instability inside the parliament, even among the supporters of the republic.
This didn’t help circumstances that were already critical. The Great War had destroyed the old ways. Everywhere in Europe, ways of life where changing dramatically as societies moved — sometimes very swiftly — from agricultural to industrial lifestyles. Social mores and behaviours were changing, political systems too as everywhere the old nobility regime were supplanted by new, experimental political forms. These dramatic changes weren’t the fault of the republic, but the instability and insecurity they brought about were indeed blamed on the republic and the parliament inability to create any form of stability — which in the minds of Germans translated into weakness if not outright treason.
It would have been very hard even without the need to cope with the aftermath of a devastating war and the many economic crises and the political unrest and totalitarian evolution that this ensued.
Still the republic was also a cradle of liberal ideas and practices. It was in the time of the Weimar republic that German women were first granted the right to vote and be voted and that Jews first gained full citizenship rights. During the republic time, Dr Hirschfeld founded the fist institute in the world which focus was sexuality and which had great importance in the freedom homosexual people found in their everyday life — if not in front of the law — especially in Berlin. Free papers and publishing became the norm. Nobody was untouched by critiques on papers or even in the strongly politicised cabaret shows.
Experimentation became common in all forms of arts. German literature and philosophy would influence those field ever since. German cinema was going to have great influence on cinema everywhere in the western world for decades afterward. Psychology and medicine evolved dramatically, also in response to the Great War solicitations. German physics were on the forefront of experimentation in a wide range of fields.
It may seem odd that such an intellectual vivacity should happen in such a time of political and economic instability, but in truth the two things went hands in hands.
The war was never over in the minds of Germans. The inequality they were sure they had been treated after the armistice never ceased to bug at their minds and souls and they had a strong feeling that the time of peace they were living was just a pause in the war. Men and women who had fought the Great War felt that the old world was over and a new one was close at hand. They refused everything that the old world offered — the world that had sent them to died on the battlefields –and were eager to experiment anything new, to embrace any form of avant-garde and experimentation. They were not afraid of trying anything new, since nothing could be worse that what they had already been through.
But the political instability would in the end exact its toll. Tired of insecurity, eager for a regime that would give them a future that didn’t look shaky, Germans, like other people in Europe, thought a parliamentary dictatorship might be the answer to their questions. A strong man at the helm was better than a plethora of democratic parties that never found a accord on where to bring the nation.
The Third Reich was rising and the republic did not have the strength, or the possibility, to oppose it.
See the complete list of posts here