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Weimar Republic

Weimar Republic

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Published by Scott Abel
A cultural and social history work about 1920s Germany that argues the rise of fascism was not inevitable even at that point because of the strength of the liberal-democratic freedoms available to citizens and the presence of strong counterweights to conservative forces. I accept the impact of World War I on the emergence of the Nazis but World War II was not inevitable in Germany during the Weimar Republic. I made significant prose changes and clarified my argument in my revisions.
A cultural and social history work about 1920s Germany that argues the rise of fascism was not inevitable even at that point because of the strength of the liberal-democratic freedoms available to citizens and the presence of strong counterweights to conservative forces. I accept the impact of World War I on the emergence of the Nazis but World War II was not inevitable in Germany during the Weimar Republic. I made significant prose changes and clarified my argument in my revisions.

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Published by: Scott Abel on Jan 11, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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The Weimar Republic
In 1920s Germany
Scott AbelThe era of the Weimar Republic saw some artists and journalists who depicted theGermany that they lived in through their art and literature in manner that the governmentwould censor only a decade later. The social commentary of the journalist, Joseph Roth,and contemporary artists demonstrated that the Weimar Republic gave a certain amountof freedom of speech and press. Only until after the start of the Great Depression did the National Socialist Party, also known as the Nazis gain considerable power. The Germanartists and journalists of the Weimar Republic depicted German society as fractured anddivided along class, ethnic, religious, and political lines, but this did not mean that theGermany of the 1920s was inevitably leading towards a totalitarian fascist regime thatwould bring Europe into chaos. Germany during the Weimar Republic was acosmopolitan and tolerant country that took full advantage of its new-found freedoms.The works of Joseph Roth provided social commentary on German society duringthe 1920s. Roth did not depict a society ripe for a popular fascist coup d’état; rather hedepicted a society divided along class, ethnic, religious, and political lines. Roth oftenfocused his attention on the neglected people of German society, such as the poor and thereligious minorities. One such group was the followers of the Jewish faith, who oftenlived separately from the rest of the population. Roth, an anti-Zionist, firmly believedthat the Jewish people should live as wanderers who must deal with pogroms and not asconquerors of Arab lands. Roth left out mentioning any large scale institutionalized anti-1
 
Semitic activity. Roth only capitulated to the Nazis in 1933 after they succeed in burningmany books written by Jews. Berlin also possessed a substantial population of homeless people, who rioted after being fomented by an agitator from East Prussia. However, thisriot was not a political response to a lack of humanitarianism. Instead the riot releasedthe anger and frustration from day-to-day life that resulted in the injuring of an officialand the calling up of the police to quell the rioters.
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 German artist George Grosz painted some scenes of daily life during the Weimar years and often his works commented on the socio-economic conditions of the German people in the 1920s. Grosz often portrayed ideas that consistent with major political beliefs at the time, such as the ideology of the Social Democrats, and avoided anassociation with radical right-wing nationalists. Grosz compared the affluent to the poverty-stricken with such commentaries as the named “Although Ruhr Sickens,” whichdepicted a wealthy German only sacrificing by eating an entire prepared chicken.Contrarily, Grosz demonstrated the lives of the less-fortunate in “Sticking It Out” withimpoverished citizens begging for spare change on the street. This social disparity failedin providing for a fertile breeding ground for the rise of fascism, but allowed for theopportunity for a liberal democracy to take root.
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 Unlike the Nazis, Grosz also showed a society truly tired of war and not achingfor revenge in his work, “Four Years of Murder,” in which soldiers execute unarmed people. Grosz consistently created politically based satire that possibly consideredsedition in previous years, such as “High Treason,” “Fatherland, May You Be at Peace,”
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Joseph Roth,
What I Saw: Reports from Berlin 1920-1933
, (New York: Norton, 1996) 45-50, 63-64, 297
2
George Grosz, “Sticking It Out”
 Albrechnung Folgt! 57 Politische Zeichnungen (1923),
Graphic Witness,Visual Arts and Commentary, http://www.graphicwitness.org/historic/gr2.htmGeorge Grosz, “Although the Ruhr Sickens,” http://www.graphicwitness.org/historic/gr2.htm
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and “Arise, Ye Works From Your Slumbers.” Another work, “Stinnes and HisPresident” demonstrated that Grosz believed that wealthy capitalists controlled thenational policy rather than the workers. These works consistently demonstrated thatGrosz wanted the workers of Germany to unite to form a government that better providedfor the German people, yet the German government still allowed these challenges to their authority. Such freedom of speech allowed for Germans to have the opportunity todevelop a democracy that could last.
3
 Although George Grosz had some disagreements with the government, he was nota maverick out-of-touch with the populace, but rather he demonstrated common beliefsamong many of the German people during the Weimar years. For example, on January19, 1919 during the election of the National Assembly when the Socialist DemocraticParty became the largest party with 37.9% of the vote as opposed to the conservativeGerman National Party, which won 10.3% of the vote. These results demonstrated thatthe social disparity did not directly result in the rise of the Nazi party, but helped their opponents instead. This Socialist Democratic victory was due in large part to the militantand brutal tactics of their opponents in the Freikorps, which caused violence andmurdered socialists Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. This helped to unify thesocialists as the Friekorp and other similar civilian groups often fought against their leftist opponents. These groups were not successful in managing to gain power in a putsch lead by Wolfgang Kapp in March of 1920.
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3
George Grosz,
Four Years of Murder,”http://www.graphicwitness.org/historic/gr2.htmGeorge Grosz, “High Treason,” http://www.graphicwitness.org/historic/gr2.htmGeorge Grosz, “Fatherland, May You Be at Peace,”http://www.graphicwitness.org/historic/gr2.htmGeorge Grosz, “Arise, Ye Works From Your Slumbers,”http://www.graphicwitness.org/historic/gr2.htmGeorge Grosz, “Stinnes and His President,” http://www.graphicwitness.org/historic/gr2.htm
4
Detlev Peukert,
The Weimar Republic
, (New York: Hill and Wang, 1987) 30-33
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