Rethinking German History, 1918-1933 ma option Summer 2011



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Rethinking German History, 1918-1933
MA Option – Summer 2011
Dr Christian Goeschel

The question why the Nazis came to power in 1933 has long overshadowed the historiography of the Weimar Republic, Germany’s short-lived first democracy. This MA option offers a different perspective. It studies the Weimar Republic in its own right from its beginnings amidst the German defeat and revolution to the civil-war-like atmosphere of 1933. It familiarises students with the very rich and diverse new historiography of Weimar Germany, which has shifted attention from the Weimar Republic’s socio-economic and political crises to Weimar’s role as a laboratory of modernity. We will explore themes in the political, socio-economic and cultural history of Weimar Germany, such as the forging of the Weimar Republic, the Great Inflation, welfare reform, sexual reform and women’s emancipation, the Bauhaus and film. This option will introduce students to primary sources, the historiography of Weimar Germany, and approaches to the Weimar Republic that take account of politics, nation, sexuality, society, and culture.




  1. Introduction

  2. The Culture of Defeat and the Revolution of 1918

  3. The Great Inflation

  4. Weimar Politics

  5. Weimar Culture

  6. Social Reform

  7. Women and Sexuality

  8. Visions of the Future

  9. The Great Depression and its Aftermath

  10. Weimar in History

Preliminary Reading:


Eric D. Weitz, Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy (2007) (essential text, worth buying)
Anton Kaes, Martin Jay and Edward Dimendberg (eds.), The Weimar Republic Sourcebook (1994) (essential book, worth buying)
Detlev Peukert, The Weimar Republic: The Crisis of Classical Modernity (1991)
Jeffrey Herf, Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich (1984)
Eberhard Kolb, The Weimar Republic (1988)
Peter Fritzsche, ‘Did Weimar Fail?’, Journal of Modern History 68 (1996), 629-56.
Peter Gay, Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider (1969)


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