Social Change
        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
  Mann, Hermann
  Hesse and Erich
  Maria Remarque
  came to the fore.
• An important
  playwright of the time
  was Bertolt Brecht.
• Germany’s film
  industry experienced
  a ‘golden age’.
• Films included Blue
  Angel starring
  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
  cubism became
  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
  and design.
            New Lifestyles
• 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
  of Berlin.
• 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
  influence from
  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
  German nationalists.
• 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
  have children.
• 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.

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