Reading List

Bundesarchiv Bild 102-01702, Foto: o. Ang.The amount of literature on the Weimar Republic in both English and German is vast and it is impossible to put together a definitive reading list on the subject. However, we will introduce some of the most recent publications at the forefront of Weimar research on this page.


Weimar Germany (Short Oxford History of Germany), edited by Anthony McElligott, 2009

This book offers a brilliant introduction to the Weimar Republic, as it avoids the traditional view of Weimar Germany as a ‘prelude to silence’ (Arnold Brecht).

Sebastian Ullrich: Der Weimar-Komplex. Das Scheitern der ersten deutschen Demokratie und die politische Kultur der frühen Bundesrepublik, 2009

Only a few years after its publication, this study on the changing historiography of the Weimar Republic after World War II has already been acknowledged as one of the defining contributions to Weimar research. Ullrich shows how political agendas skewed the historical image of the Weimar Republic during the Cold War and continue to shape its historiography to this day. (in German)

Die ‘Krise’ der Weimarer Republik. Zur Kritik eines Deutungsmusters, edited by Moritz Föllmer and Rüdiger Graf, 2005

The Weimar era has often been described as a ‘universal crisis’ of all aspects of life, from politics to culture and even modernity itself. This book shows how this ‘crisis narrative’ was developed already in the Weimar Republic itself and subsequently adopted by historians, obscuring the principal ‘openness’ of the time. (in German)

Beyond Glitter and Doom. The Contingency of the Weimar Republic, edited by Jochen Hung, Godela Weiss-Sussex, Geoff Wilkes, 2012

This volume gathers the latest research on the history and culture of the Weimar Republic. The authors aim to move the discussion beyond the limited image of Weimar as a ‘dance on the volcano’. Their essays cover a wide range, from Weimar’s legal framework to musical theatre, each challenging hitherto accepted views in its respective field. Despite their thematic range and differences in approach, the contributions are united by the common theme of contingency. They posit the idea of Weimar’s historical ‘openness’, reflected in the period’s pluralism, as a counter-narrative to the image of the first German democracy as a moribund mixture of modernist glitter and socio-economic doom.

Detlef J. K. Peukert, The Weimar Republic. The Crisis of Classical Modernity, 1987

In his influential study of the Weimar Republic, Peukert frames the 14 years of Germany’s first democracy in terms of a culmination of the modern age, stemming from his earlier work on Weber’s analysis of modernity. Despite some criticism (including in the works cited on this page) still the reference work for most research on Weimar done today.

Review Articles:

Jochen Hung: ‘”Bad” Politics and “Good” Culture: New Approaches to the History of the Weimar Republic’, Central European History, Vol. 49, No. 3-4, Dec. 2016, pp. 441-453

An overview over the latest analysis of the history of the first German democracy, focussing in particular on the problems of “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’.”

Benjamin Ziemann: ‘Weimar was Weimar: Politics, Culture and the Emplotment of the German Republic’, German History, Vol. 28, No. 4, Dec 2010, pp. 542-571

An excellent review article giving an overview of the latest research on the Weimar Republic, including two of the above-mentioned books: ‘The article suggests that the modernity of metropolitan culture in Berlin, and its significance for Weimar Germany more generally, have been overestimated, and hence concludes that—in cultural terms—Weimar was Weimar: it is best represented by the small town in Thuringia.’

Nadine Rossol: ‘Chancen der Weimarer Republik‘, Neue Politische Literatur, Vol. 55 (2010), No. 3, pp. 393-419

This article reviews a selection of recent historical literature on Weimar Germany including overview studies, monographs, edited volumes and collections of primary sources. Divided into six parts, new developments in the research on the Weimar Republic are identified and explained. The focus lies on crisis constructions and future expectations, political culture and symbolism, Vernunftrepublikaner and Weimar democrats as well as on political violence and body history. Approaches stressing the open nature of the Weimar years, sometimes suggesting continuities with the Third Reich, are examined and situated in the historiographical framework. (in German)

Björn Hofmeister: ‘Kultur- und Sozialgeschichte der Politik in der Weimarer Republik 1928 bis 1933’, Archiv für Sozialgeschichte, Vol. 50 (2010), pp. 445-501

An exhaustive overview over the current research on the cultural and social history of Weimar politics. (in German)

Peter Fritzsche: ‘Did Weimar Fail?’, The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 68, No. 3, Sep. 1996, pp. 629-656

An earlier review article that gives a good introduction to the role the Weimar Republic plays in German history and shows how the Weimar era has been mostly viewed from its end: ‘What is Weimar without the Republic? Not much, it seems, since for most German historians the plot that holds the story together has been fragile democracy and its demise.”Weimar” is, as numerous subtitles inform us, the “history of the first German Democracy,” the site where democracy surrendered or failed.’