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Weimar culture

From Academic Kids

Weimar Republic refers to the years (1919-1933) in German history. Politically and economically, the nation struggled with the harsh terms and reparations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles (1918) that ended World War I, and endured punishing levels of inflation.

But the fourteen years of the Weimar were also marked by explosive intellectual productivity. German artists made significant cultural contributions in the fields of literature, art, architecture, music, dance, drama, and the new medium of the motion picture that still have worldwide cultural impact today. Political theorist Ernst Bloch described Weimar culture as a Periclean Age.

Weimar culture is too rich and complex to intelligently generalize about. Its political content retains a sense of immediate risk. Its sexual content retains the power to shock. It contains the sharp political caricature of Otto Dix and John Heartfield and George Grosz, the brilliantly futuristic skyscraper dystopia of Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis and other products of the vast UFA studio, the beginnings of modern architecture at the Bauhaus and the mass housing projects of Ernst May and Bruno Taut, physical culture and nudism movements, the Americanization of the commercial street, and the decadent cabaret culture of Berlin documented by Christopher Isherwood.

Writers like Alfred Döblin, Erich Maria Remarque and the brothers Heinrich and Thomas Mann presented a sobering look at the world and the failure of politics and society through literature. The theatres of Berlin and Frankfurt am Main exploded with new, experimental dramas by Bertolt Brecht, cabaret, and revolutionary stage direction by Max Reinhardt and Erwin Piscator. Concert halls and conservatories were ablaze with the atonal and modern music of Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg, and Kurt Weill.

Finally, during the era of the Weimar Republic, Germany became a center of intellectual thought at its medieval universities, and most notably social and political theory (especially Marxism) was combined with Freudian psychoanalysis to form the highly influential discipline of Critical Theory—with its development at the Institute for Social Research (also known as the Frankfurt School) founded at the University of Frankfurt am Main.

With the rise of Nazism and the ascension of Adolf Hitler to power in 1933, many German intellectuals and cultural figures fled Germany for Turkey, the United States, the United Kingdom, and other parts of the world. Those who remained behind were often arrested, sent to early concentration camps to either be killed or die from maltreatment or disease. The intellectuals associated with the Institute for Social Research (also known as the Frankfurt School) fled to the United States and reestablished the Institute at Columbia University in New York City.

In the words of writer Marcus Bullock, "Remarkable for the way it emerged from a catastrophe, more remarkable for the way it vanished into a still greater catastrophe, the world of Weimar represents modernism in its most vivid manifestion."


Contents

Notable Cultural Figures of the Weimar Era

Art

Architecture

Literature

Music

Theater and Film

Intellectuals

See also

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