In The Guardian, the journalist Vanessa Thorpe follows in the footsteps of Franz Hessel, author of the 1929 book Walking in Berlin. Quite remarkably, she contends that “the city that comes to life on Hessel’s pages could be straight out of Cabaret, based on Christopher Isherwood’s novel Goodbye to Berlin” – a book published 10 years later. If anything, Isherwood took inspiration from Hessel rather than the other way round.
In the current issue of Central European History, Jochen Hung reviews new literature on the history of the Weimar Republic, focusing on the often-used “plot” of Weimar’s cultural modernism juxtaposed with its democratic breakdown: “More than thirty years ago, Eberhard Kolb commented that the vast wealth of research on the history of the Weimar Republic made it “difficult even for a specialist to give a full account of the relevant literature.” Since then, the flood of studies on Weimar Germany has not waned, and by now it is hard even to keep track of all the review articles meant to cut a swath through this abundance. Yet the prevailing historical image of the era has remained surprisingly stable: most historians have accepted the master narrative of the Weimar Republic as the sharp juxtaposition of “bad” politics and “good” culture, epitomized in the often-used image of “a dance on the edge of a volcano.””
This new volume edited by Matthew S. Adams and Ruth Kinna sheds some much-needed light on the history of the Anarchist movement and its response to WWI: “Considerable research has been inspired by the failure of the mainstream European socialist movement to prevent hostilities in 1914, but virtually no work has been done on the anarchist response. This is despite the fact that all of the belligerents hosted anarchist groups and dissidents, and that anarchism dominated what Benedict Anderson called the self-consciously internationalist radical Left in the years leading up to the war’s outbreak. Anarchism 1914-1918 takes a first step toward filling this gap. Continue reading
A slightly different take of the currently popular Weimar comparisons in the Berlin-based expat magazine Exberliner: “Our new issue looks at the impact that Weimar’s gay sexologists, expat authors, cabaret dancers and Dadaist visionaries had on today’s Berlin and asks: How close are we to Weimar 2.0?”
There is no such thing as “surreal objectivity” – or is there? Based on works from the Nationalgalerie’s rich collection of paintings from the period between the two World Wars, the exhibition Surreal Objectivity. Works from the 1920s and 1930s from the Nationalgalerie takes a fresh look at the phenomenon of the New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit), from a perspective sharpened by the knowledge of Surrealism’s achievements. Continue reading