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The Weimar Republic


  • Lecturer: Eckard Michels
  • Prerequisites: no knowledge of German required
  • Assessment: one essay of approximately 2000 words; one two-hour exam requiring answers to two questions.

Module description

This course gives an overview of the history of the first German democracy from the collapse of Imperial Germany in the First World War to the Nazi seizure of power. Based on primary sources such as political speeches and manifestos, political cartoons and election campaign posters the course will deal with the relevant political, social, economic and diplomatic aspects that shaped the history of the Weimar Republic.

The approach is partly thematic, partly chronological and includes classes on the Weimar social welfare state, the revolution of 1918/19, women in the 1920s, the political party system, the constitution and foreign policy.

Indicative module content

  • Induction week (no teaching).
  • Introduction to the course.
  • The decline of the imperial regime in the First World War and the revolution of 1918/19.
  • The constitution of the Weimar Republic.
  • From inflation to the great slump: The economic development.
  • Reading week.
  • Parties, elections and governments in the 1920s.
  • The enemies of the republic: right-wing nationalism and anti-democratic thinking.
  • Versailles and its revision: German foreign policy 1918–1932 and the legacy of defeat.
  • The Weimar Republic as a social welfare state.
  • Women in Weimar Germany.
  • From republic to dictatorship: Weimar's last years (1930–33).
  • Revision class: Why did Weimar democracy fail?

Recommended reading

  • Kolb, Eberhard, The Weimar Republic (second edition) (London, 2004).
  • Peukert, Detlef, The Weimar Republic: The Crisis of Classical Modernity (London, 1991).
  • Weitz, Eric, Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy (Princeton, 2007).