WEIMAR CULTURAL LIFE
Weimar Cultural Life
• Germany became one of the leading
centres of European culture during the
• There were exciting developments in
literature, art, music and film.
• It was during this
period that writers
such as Thomas
Hesse and Erich
came to the fore.
• An important
playwright of the time
was Bertolt Brecht.
• Germany’s film
a ‘golden age’.
• Films included Blue
Marlene Dietrich; and
the horror film, The
Cabinet of Dr Caligari
• Berlin replaced Paris
as the centre of
modern art, thanks to
the work of modernist
painters such as Otto
Dix and Max
• Modernism and
popular art forms
Modernism describes a series of reforming cultural
movements in art and architecture, music, literature
and the applied arts.
Painting by German
artist Paul Klees
1. Beckmann - Carnival
2. Dix – Stormtroopers advancing
under gas attack
3. Dix – Portrait of a journalist
• The Bauhaus school
of architecture and
design saw advances
in building technique
• This artistic growth was accompanied by
the emergence of avant garde
(experimental and new) lifestyles,
seemingly hedonistic (given over to
pleasure) and a freer approach to
• This was epitomised by the cabaret culture
• This cabaret culture and
risque entertainment is
seen in the movie,
• However, it should not be
forgotten that Berlin was
also the centre of serious
art forms and that
Germany was one of the
most educated societies
in Europe. German
scientists won 7 Nobel
Prizes during the 1920s.
Why did culture flourish in
Germany at this time?
• There was some
American music and
cinema. This was the
decade of the ‘roaring
Effects of World war I
• Post World War I Germany gave some sections
of society the freedom to express and
experiment in a more liberal atmosphere.
• Some sections of the community reacted to the
horrors of WWI and economic and social
dislocation, with experimental art forms or simple
• Those who participated in many of the new
cultural activities turned away from traditional
German influences and responded more to
trends in the international community.
What were the results?
• Germany gained an international reputation for avant
garde art forms. This created resentment amongst some
• It was essentially an urban phenomenon and alienated
the rural areas and large sections of both the
conservative and working classes.
• Conservatives and nationalists saw it as evidence of the
decadence of democracy.
• Conservatives claimed it was ‘unGerman’ and influenced
by the left-wing elements of society.
• Moreover, the apparent outbreak of immorality, which
seemed to accompany democracy, helped convince
many that the country needed a return to a more
ordered, authoritarian system of government.
The ‘New Woman’ – the perception
• The rights and status of women underwent
significant change during the Weimar era. In
1918 the new German constitution gave all
women over the age of 20 the right to vote and
hold public office.
• More women entered white–collar professional
• There was a new perception of women as being
sexually liberated, financially independent, city-
dwelling single girl.
The ‘New Woman’ – the reality
• This perception was not representative of the
majority of women.
• Most German women were eager to marry and
• Few were involved in the sexually active, single
• Most women in the workforce were unmarried
and gave up work when they married.
• Men called on women to return to their maternal
role and to stop competing with men in
economic and political matters.