Otto Friedrich: Deluge Part I

  1. Ch 1 General Background. As we will see, Berlin experienced a true "golden age". So what we must do here over the next weeks is to demonstrate the nature of the cultural achievement and explain the factors that produced it. Why called Weimar?
    1. Demographics as a factor. Consider the implications of rapid demographic change. [5] Population growth: 200,000 in 1815; 825,000 in 1870; and 2.5 million in 1900; but well designed (especially the boulevards) and neo classical styles. Most born elsewhere.
    2. Weltanschauung / Mindset Changes over tree periods:
      1. [7] Read this section on nostalgia: “ Kaiserzeit a period of peace and order, respect for traditional values, eine christliche Weltanschauung.
      2. [8] "Weimar" Berlin represented “a state of mind, a sense of freedom and exhilaration”. But also [9] the juxtaposition of grim tenements and luxury villas in the Gruewald area [10] The destruction of Berlin began with the arrival of Hitler (1933), the best and brightest (and not just Jews) left.
    3. [11] Note the characteristics of the Weimar : theater, concerts, night-life, Cafes. Berlin had a “new society based on new money, and on extravagance, brashness, show. The neurosis was the clash of values, between the old and the new" Menuhin. Everything became possible.” Can this be a factor? Cf. Athens.
    4. [12] Tynan: “I enjoy decadence, and I also enjoy democracy, Germany then was about as decadents as is humanly possible to be, but it was also fairly democratic. It even seemed to be moving toward Socialism, and that would have been ideal: Socialism and self-gratification and the same time.” Cause or effect?
  2. Ch 2 As war ended, old order crumbles, there is a power vaccuum.
    1. Abdication [15-16] At the end of the war, the world turned upside down War begun with high expectations and euphoria, sense that they [Germans]had been attacked. Hunger (1000 to 1200 cal/day for months in last years of war. 1.7 deaths; By midsummer 1918, no more troops to send to the front.
      1. [17]. Generals claimed defeatism and sabotage at home had led to loss, the “stab in the back”
      2. [18] Hunger led to food riots, strikes and demand for peace earlier in 1918. but without leaders had failed. The role of the Socialists. Tho the strongest single party (tho hardly a majority), their “internationalism” and “pacifism” had been compromised by the war in that they felt they had to support the patriotic effort.
    2. [19] General amnesty proclaimed. Extemist parties begin to form..Spartacists. speaks for new regime on model of Lenin’s Russia. Explain significance. Soviet socialism? Bourgeois parties of the middle who had been compromised by participating in the war effort and in signing the peace.
    3. Terminal Crisis
      1. [20] Sailors refuse to fight Brits. Mutiny quickly spreads as soldiers seize control of cities and march on Berlin—revolutionary songs and red flags. Government could not hold out, disintegration of political power; the Kaiser must abdicate. Ebert fears social revolution. Prince Max to Ebert: “ if I should succeed in persuading the Kaiser [to abdicate], do I have you on my side in the struggle against social revolution?” “If the Kaiser does not abdicate, social revolution is inevitable!” Note passive reaction of the cultivated elite. [22] Reception for Carmen; hansel und gretel --atmosphere of disbelief.. General strike begins. Waving red flags.
      2. [24] Fearing that Liebknecht would declare a Soviet Republic, the socialists abandon the govt and Scheidemann proclaims the German Republic.
      3. [25] Liebknecht goes to Royal Palace, proclaims “free socialist republic”
      4. [26] Program of democratic socialists more pragmatic: better wages and working conditions under a benevolent monarchy. –not revolutionary.
  3. The Underlying Dilemma: The bourgeois parties (including the socialists) feared social / proletarian revolution more than they feared the army and the rightist paramilary bands.
    1. [27] The new deal: Army expects the government to support the office corps in maintaining discipline and strict order in the army; the office corps expects the government will fight against Bolshevism and places itself at the disposal of the government (the new republic) for such a purpose.” 28. Eberts decree: amnesty, freedom of speech, press, assembly, elections by secret ballot; food, jobs housing. Promise of public ownership in the distant future.
    2. Ending the war…The dilemma: High command unable to fight on, but also unwilling to surrender, and denies any responsibility for the peace.
      1. [30] But govt had little authority as paramilitary groups spread. Army returns to Berlin but disintegrates; discipline lost. Soviets established, election of officers, abolition of rank, etc.
      2. [31] Already hatred of the November criminals (the socialists under Ebert) who signed the armistice. Göring and Hitler on the events: revenge, outrage, hatred of socialists. 3000 left wing sailor occupy royal palace, demand “compensation” act like robber bands.
    3. Freikorps. Threat of civil war. The parties. Fear of a Communist uprising; a Soviet! Leaders of social democrats prefer alliance with army to proletarian revolution. A conservative population. Despite machine guns, Christmas shopping [34] Was this the moment for the Revolution ??