Geschiedenis weimar society and culture

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  • 1. HI136 The History of Germany Lecture 8 Weimar Societyand Culture

2. The Upper Classes

  • No fundamental change to the social & economic structure after 1918 no redistribution of wealth, no nationalization of industry.
  • But some social change:
  • The aristocracy (at least temporarily) dislodged from their dominant position.
  • Aristocratic ranks and titles banned after 1918 many families incorporate their titles into their surnames.
  • Nevertheless, industrialists and landowners still powerful and the old elites represented in the Reichstag by the DVP and DNVP.
  • The Officer Corps of the Reichswehr more aristocratic than the old Imperial Army:
    • 25% of regular officers came from old military families in 1913,
    • this number had risen to 67% by 1929.

3. The Middle Classes

  • Small businesses struggled to survive in the difficult economic climate of the 1920s and early 30s.
  • Many middle class families continued to fear a loss of status and the threat of revolution and the extreme left.
  • Also a lack of identification with the new Republic.
  • Even those who came to accept it often had little love for it they came to be known asVernunftrepublikaner , rational republicans.

Family of the Lawyer Dr Fritz von Glaser (1920) by Otto Dix. 4. The Stinnes-Legien Agreement15 November, 1918

  • An agreement between labour (represented by the trade unionist Karl Legien) and capital (represented by industrialist Hugo Stinnes) reached on 15 November 1918.
  • The Unions agreed not to interfere with private ownership.
  • In return, they were granted them full legal recognition and an 8 hour working day.
  • Achieved long-standing aims of the labour movement.

5. The Working Classes

  • Slow improvement in living standards after 1924.
  • Shorter working day, legal Union representation and higher wages.
  • SPD government in Prussia invested in public works affordable housing, increased benefits, education etc.
  • Extension of adult education aimed at workers.
  • But curriculum designed to raise class consciousness, not improve employment prospects or provide re-training.

6. Education

  • Weimar Constitution: the state committed to providing free compulsory education.
  • Universities controlled by central government, primary and secondary schools the responsibility of state governments.
  • Hoped that education will create a sense of civic responsibility, foster a commitment to democracy and provide greater social mobility.
  • Attempts to reform secondary education in Prussia more opportunities for girls, raised the age at which testing took place, and allowed for more movement between educational streams.
  • But resistance from the Centre Party and from within the educational establishment.
  • Many teachers and professors, recruited from the middle classes, remained hostile to the Republic and old educational methods learning by rote etc. remained standard.

7. Gender I

  • New educational and employment opportunities for women.
  • Young middle-class women increasingly employed in secretarial and other white collar jobs.
  • More disposable income & interaction with the outside world freed them from family influence.
  • Wages spent of consumer goods and entertainment fashion, cosmetics, cinema etc.
  • Absence of young men brought about changes in sexual attitudes/behaviour.

8. Marlene Dietrich (left), Josephine Baker (right), and Louise Brooks (below). 9. Gender II

  • All women over the age of 20 can vote after 1918.
  • 36 female Reichstag deputies by 1924 more than in any other parliament in the world.
  • But these criticized for confining their activities to womens issues child care, social policy, family issues etc.
  • Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine(BDF) = the largest womens organization with over 900,000 members.
  • But a split in the womens movement along age and class lines.
  • Debate over reproductive issues and the campaign to legalize abortion highlights these differences.

10. Weimar was Berlin, Berlin Weimar

  • Under the Weimar Republic Berlin became Germanys premier cultural and social centre.
  • A hub for European travel.
  • 1924: Tempelhof Airport opened.
  • Berlin had a population of 4 million by 1925 & grew by 80-100,000 people a year.
  • By 1928 Berlin was the worlds 3 rdlargest city after London and New York.
  • 1926: Funkturm Radio Tower built.
  • 1928: Kempinski Haus Vaterland amusement park opened.

11. Patrons of the Eldorado, Berlins notorious transvestite bar. The Potsdammerplatz by night. Six-day bicycle races. Marlene Dietrich as the cabaret singer Lola Lola 12. Crime & Policing

  • Chaotic conditions in the early and later years of the Republic a breeding ground for crime.
  • Prostitution the police estimated that there were 25,000 full time prostitutes in Berlin in 1929.
  • Drugs.
  • Organized Crime extortion, illegal gambling, protection rackets etc.
  • Murder:
    • Fritz Haarmann, the Butcher of Hanover, killed 24 tramps and male prostitutes between 1919 and 1924.
    • Karl Grossman murdered perhaps as many as 50 women before he was arrested in Berlin in 1921.
    • Peter K rten, the Vampire of Dsseldorf, was convicted of 9 murders and 7 attempted murders in 1931.
  • By 1929 50,000 crimes being reported annually in Berlin alone.
  • Policing effective the uniformedSchutzpolizei(Schupo) and the plain clothesKriminalpolizei(Kripo).
  • Berlin police well trained and well educated, with a high success rate: 39 out of 40 reported murders solved in 1928, while culprits brought to trial in all 20 cases of attempted murder.

13. Above: Peter Lorre as the child murder inFritz LangsM(1931) Ernst Gennat (1880- 1939), head of the Homicide division of the BerlinKriminalpolizei (1925-39) and originator Of the term serial killer ( Serienm rder ). Left: Peter K rten (1883-1931), theVampire of Dsseldorf. 14. Weimar Cinema

  • The war freed German cinema from foreign competition and provided a captive audience for home-grown products.
  • 1917: The German High Command force a merger of German production companies to formUniversum Film A.G.(Ufa).
  • 1918: The state withdrew its stake in Ufa, which continued as a private concern and Germanys largest production company.
  • Technological innovations, high production values and a strong aesthetic sense put Weimar cinema at the fore-front of the European avant-garde.

15. Notable German Films, 1918-33

  • Der Golum(1920)
  • Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari(1920)
  • Der m de Tod(1921)
  • Dr Mabuse, der Spieler Ein Bild der Zeit(1922)
  • Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens(1922)
  • Der letze mann(1924)
  • Die freundlose Gasse(1925)
  • Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed(1926) the worlds first feature length animated film.
  • Metropolis(1927)
  • Der blaue Engel(1930)
  • Westfront 1918(1930)
  • Die Dreigroschenoper(1931)
  • M(1931)

16. Notable Directors and Actors

  • Directors
  • Fritz Lang
  • F. W. Murnau
  • G. W. Pabst
  • Ernst Lubitsch
  • Josef von Sternbeg
  • Billy Wilder
  • Walter Ruttmann
  • Paul Leni
  • Arnold Franck
  • Actors
  • Conrad Veidt
  • Emil Jannings
  • Rudolf Klein-Rogge
  • Marlene Dietrich
  • Peter Lorre
  • Max Schreck
  • Werner Krauss
  • Leni Reifenstahl

17. Expressionism

  • Expressionismis the tendency of an artist to distort reality for an emotional effect; it is a subjective art form.
  • Art movement very influential in Germany since the turn of the century ( Die Brcke ,der Blaue Reiter ).

Wassily Kandinsky,Der blaue Reiter(1903) 18. Expressionist Architecture The Einstein Tower in Potsdam (1919-20), designed by Erich Mendelsohn The Chilehaus in Hamburg (1922-24), designed by Fritz H ger 19. Expressionist Film Scenes fromDas Cabinet des Dr Caligari(1920) Still fromNosferatu(1922), directed by F. W. Murnau The Tower of Babel from Fritz LangsMetropolis(1927) 20. Expressionist Theatre

  • Expressionist theatre was strident and hostile, eccentric in plot, staging, speech, characters, acting, and direction. (Peter Gay).
  • Ernst Toller,Die Wandlung( Transformation , 1919).
  • George Kaiser,Die Koralle(1917),Gas(1918) &Gas II(1920).

The director and impressario Max