Which Crisis? Which Modernity? New Perspectives on Weimar Germany

Moritz Foellmer (University of Leeds)

In recent years, interdisciplinary interest in ‘Weimar’ as a discrete period of German culture, society and politics has grown stronger. Correspondingly, interpretations of the years between 1918 and 1933 in the light of Imperial Germany, of the Third Reich, the Federal Republic or the German Democratic Republic now appear somewhat exhausted. Likewise, Detlev Peukert’s brilliant and influential thesis that Weimar marked the ‘crisis of classical modernity’ has undergone critical scrutiny.

Against this backdrop, there is currently a renewed empirical attention to the cacophony of themes, groups and individuals populating Germany during the 1920s and early 1930s, which defy easy generalisation and often did not fit into any of the post-1933 worlds. How can we do justice to this complexity and still connect diverse and specialised empirical studies? One answer lies in an analysis of ‘crisis’ and ‘modernity’ that, rather than reifying the notions, asks what they meant for contemporaries.

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