Republican State Re-presentation and Public Performance Culture in Weimar Germany

Nadine Rossol (University of Essex)

The term ‘Weimar culture’ generally evokes a set of mental images of 1920s Germany. Some of these snapshots are of the stunning Marlene Dietrich, Bauhaus architecture, or Charleston-dancing girls in short dresses. This division of the Weimer years into spectacular, often urban, culture and disastrous politics has long impeded scholars from seriously concentrating on an area in which the fusion of culture and politics was practiced – republican state representation.

In the light of current research questioning the concept of a ‘doomed’ republic, my work shows that state representation of the young democracy was inspired by aesthetic and festive elements rooted in a public performance culture of the 1920s and 1930s. A stress on rhythm, moving bodies, wholeness, and national community characterized the Weimar Republic and strongly influenced festivities, parades, sporting events, and spectacles organized by the republican state. Grounding what is often termed ‘Nazi aesthetics’ in the time of the republic changes commonly assumed ideas on state representation in Weimar and Nazi Germany. The republic was more keen on, and successful with, the staging of political spectacles than is generally assumed. But for this very reason, it paved the way for the Third Reich’s successes in the same realm.




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