Questioning the Generational Concept in Weimar Research

Jochen Hung (Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, London)

One of the many crises that haunted Weimar Germany was the ‘Problem of Generations’: For many contemporary commentators, the experience of the First World War and the following turmoil that accompanied the beginning of the Weimar Republic had created a gap that sharply divided the generations into people of the 19th and the 20th century, and the relationship between the young and the old had become problematic.

In the historical analysis of the Weimar Republic, this generation gap has – like so many aspects of Weimar culture and society – frequently been used to explain the ‘inevitable’ collapse of the first German democracy, portraying the young generation as united by the distrust of Weimar Germany’s democratic institutions. In this talk, I want to offer a re-evaluation of the role of ‘Generation’ in the Weimar Republic and of the concept of ‘generation’ in general.

I will draw on my research on the liberal newspaper Tempo, published in Berlin from 1928 till 1933 and directly targeted at the young generation, to illustrate the fact that the ‘young generation’ of the Weimar Republic was not a politically homogeneous social group, but rather an ideological concept that was fiercely debated over at the time.


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