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The Weimar Republic Paperback – September 1, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0809015566 ISBN-10: 0809015560

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang (September 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809015560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809015566
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Born out of national defeat in 1918, the Weimar Republic launched Germany on an experiment in modernity under the least propitious circumstances. In an outstanding scholarly study that is likely to spark controversy, late German historian Peukert ( Inside Nazi Germany ) claims that the distinctive national characteristics of German history and of Weimar do not all point in a direct line to the Nazi seizure of power in 1933. Weimar's fragile attempt at democracy, he contends, was destroyed by a steady retreat from political compromise and by a continuous shrinking of the material and economic base, which prevented the liberal government, with its welfare structure, from gaining real legitimacy in the eyes of the German people. Interpreting Weimar as a brief, headlong tour of the fateful choices made possible by the modern world, this rigorous history explores the paradox of a society that spawned avant-garde cultural breakthroughs amid bleak poverty and political breakdown.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This relatively brief history appeared first in German in 1987, three years before the author's death. Now in a sound English translation, it offers a wide-ranging social, political, and economic analysis. While not arguing that the Weimar experiment in democracy was doomed to fail, Peukert ( Inside Nazi Germany , Yale, 1989) clearly suggests that a general "crisis of modernity" rendered a happy outcome most unlikely. Especially good at describing the era's economic problems and class struggles, he fails to do full justice to such social themes as gender and age conflict, which he introduces only to pass over too quickly. Based almost entirely on secondary works in German, the book contains occasional broad generalizations that, together with an overuse of the passive voice, result in imprecision. Nonetheless, it is well-crafted, sober, and succinct, well suited to its intended audience of undergraduate readers and the informed general public. -- James B. Street, Santa Cruz P.L., Cal.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Hingston on May 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
I'm doing some research into the years immediately prior to WW2 and needed a good recap of Weimar for context. This book was superb for the purpose. Not long after starting it I concluded that I might as well save my yellow hi-lighter and simply dip the whole book in florescent yellow ink. There is hardly a page that is not a superbly concise rendering of an important point. Peukert, who died at age 39, was a star of German history of the 20th century, and this book, intended as both a primer and a summary, shows why. Excellent grasp and presentation of both statistics and economics. Few if any hacknied answers to banal questions, but rather a probing for new questions as well as new answers. A willingness to say "I don't know" when that is the proper thing to say. Peukert's intellectual honesty shines through, and all his traits inspire confidence. This book is not, however, a delightful read, being so thoroughly boiled-down to its essence. It contains very little in the way of flowing narrative, witty vignette, or deft portraiture -- mostly it sticks pretty close to what might, with a wink and a nod, be called the "objective facts" of Weimar. It is nonetheless well written, crammed with information, and free of jargon (this last point not to be taken for granted in academic writing of the 70s and 80s) -- and apparently well-translated. A very good job of what it sets out to do. That said, I got very little in the way of the "flavors" of Weimar from it, and now feel the need to read something else for that -- perhaps Doblin's "Berlin Alexanderplatz" will provide that.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Paul B. Dunlap on June 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
I completely disagree. with galwaygirl's review I am just an amateur student of history, with no considerable prior knowledge of this period or Germany in general, and I found Peukert's book very understandable, concise and informative. Yes, it is dense, as any detailed history book has to be to do justice to its subject. As a reader, I did find I had to stop periodically and work to consolidated my thoughts to retain comprehension, but of course that's to be expected. Bottom line, I learned alot, and did not lose patience with the writing, and I am not the most patient fellow on earth.

Also, it is correct that this book focuses alot on social-economic conditions, but its discussion of politics is by no means destitute. Perhaps the reviewer meant that Peukert doesn't discuss personal politics and party politics in minutia, which is true, but the discussion of general political trends, their causes and effects is excellent.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Christopher D. Helmkamp on December 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
Detlev Peukert's analysis of Weimar Germany exceeds any other in breadth and readability. His book not only examines the experiment of Weimar democracy from social, economic, political, and cultural angles, but provides an interesting thesis for why Weimar democracy failed, namely that Weimar Germany epitomized the crisis of classical modernity. I have read many books on Weimar Germany, most of which focus on one particular aspect. Peukert synthesizes all of the most important aspects into one, offering a clear account of why Hitler happened.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Acute Observer on October 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
Detlev Peukert was a professor of modern history at the University of Essen. This book covers the history from the failed revolts of 1918 to the Enabling Act of 1933. The important dates are in the `Chronology' on pages 282 to 289. The defeat in WW I ended the monarchy but left the aristocracy (big landowners) and corporate owners in power. The Social Democrats, Liberals (middle class) and the Catholic Center Party contended for control of Germany. The government was influenced by the aristocracy and against ordinary workers and people, and the splinter parties. The former ruling class enabled the Nazis to gain power legally (p.280). The hyperinflation was a way to impoverish people who did not own productive property but only paper wealth. This hardship caused suicide rates to soar. The aristocracy used the Freikorps, SA, and the NSDAP to suppress popular political parties.

The military defeat of Germany caused the Kaiser to abdicate and Ludendorff to resign. A civilian government took power (p.28). The Social Democrats did not introduce democratic reforms or purge the aristocratic officer class (p.30); they did call for new elections and a new constitution (p.31). Armed groups moved against protesting workers (p.32). The Weimar Coalition was in power (p.33), it relied on the military and bureaucracy (p.34). Did proportional representation contribute to the collapse of the Republic (p.38)? The emergency powers of Article 48 gave the President sovereign authority (p.39). Listing basic rights did not deliver them (p.41). The Versailles Treaty is explained as the result of Germany's defeat (pp.42-46). The real problems were the existence of anti-republican elites in government and the army, and the loss of republican sentiments among the middle class (p.50).
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By onemvc on March 15, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
History does seem to repeat it self, I still have hope that this nation of ours will wake up sooner than later
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Unlike Eric Weitz's fascinating book, which focused on social and cultural developments, this book focused on politics, and it was exceedingly dull. The great question is why a great modern nation's first experiment with democracy failed so conspicuously; while Weimar was troubled from its inception, it seems to me that it might have had a chance to survive if the Great Depression had not intervened and given Hitler the opportunity he needed. There is not much else I take away from this wordy analysis of Germany's first democratic republic, other than these interesting statistics: in 1932 there were 85 suicides per million inhabitants in Great Britain, 133 in the United States, 155 in France...and 260 in Germany. Troubled times indeed.
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