We are about to be sitting for the IGCSE History exams, so, last week, we began practising on how to do a good Paper 4 Depth Studies essay. In our case, this would consist either of USA or Germany. In order to get to know what was like doing one of these essays, for last Friday 19th, we had to choose an essay question from the professor’s blog, Lenny Ambrosini. My essay is the following:
How important were the cultural developments in the lives of ordinary Germans in the Weimar Republic? Explain your answer.
After Gustav Stresemann took over Germany, the economic crisis the country was undergoing was slowly leaving more time for the society to focus on its culture. The artistic field, including art, writing and cinema, flourished talent as well as the new type of architecture did. Also, nightlife became a major issue for the society. However, there was some resistance on behalf of the rural Germans towards the new urban culture.
On the one hand, during the times of the Kaiser, censorship restricted the Germans’ expression of ideas. On the contrary, in the Weimar Republic, people were liberated to voice their thoughts. Mainly, this was done by art and writing. Through them, writers, poets and painters displayed, for once, the reality that they were facing no matter how striking could it be. For instance, Grosz showed his criticism towards church, the army, politicians and businessmen for their cruelness, the same way that he markedly portrayed the traumas that soldiers had picked up during war. Besides, the Bauhaus style of design and architecture was elaborated. Artists who followed the Bauhaus style abandoned the traditional way of designing to build new thrilling buildings, shops, art galleries and factories. Moreover, the 1920s were a golden era for the German film industry. Stars like Marlene Dietrich and amazing directors such as Fritz Lang distinguished the German cinema. Cabaret artists would present in clubs singing songs that were banned in the Kaiser’s days.
On the other hand, people in villages and the countryside disliked this exciting life that inhabitants of urban areas were enjoying. The Wandervogel was a movement demanding the return of the importance and original values of the country avoiding the moral decline that the towns represented. Such was the criticism that the Bauhaus design collage was forced to be built in the outskirts of Weimar.
Furthermore, culture was not the only relevant aspect of Weimar Germany. Everyday talking subjects also included economy, politics and foreign policies. Economy had been a major problem in the early years of the decade, but since 1925, it was progressively getting better. The Weimar government was quite stable, but, although opposition parties, such as the Nazis and the Communists, were not gaining so much support, they were expanding little by little. As for the foreign policy, thanks to the Locarno Treaties of 1925, Germany had finally been accepted as a peace loving country rather than an aggressive one as she was seen in the previous years. Nevertheless, she still received criticism from the part of Nationalists and the USSR.
In conclusion, culture played a very significant role in the lives of ordinary people living under the 1920s Weimar ruling. Not only did it change the design and architecture but also it boosted the free expression of ideas, either through the artistic branch. Even though, it had some opposition from the population on the rural areas.
By: Anouk de Laferrere