Spring 2020 - HIST 401 D100

Problems in Modern German History (4)

The Weimar Era 1918-1933

Class Number: 4655

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 6 – Apr 9, 2020: Mon, 9:30 a.m.–1:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Lauren Rossi
    Office: AQ 6011
  • Prerequisites:

    45 units, including nine units of lower division history and one of HIST 224, 225, 332 or permission of the department.



An examination of major debates concerning the history of late-nineteenth and twentieth century Germany. Themes may include the nature of German modernity, interpretations of the Third Reich, or German memory after the Second World War. Content may vary from offering to offering; see course outline for further information. HIST 401 may be repeated for credit only when a different topic is taught.


The Rise and Fall of Democracy: The Weimar Era, 1918-1933

The resurgence of far-right politics and xenophobia cloaked as patriotism have produced numerous comparisons over the last few years between contemporary politicians and the emergence of fascism in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. This period in German history has long been defined by what came before it (ignominious wartime defeat and revolution) and what eventually destroyed it: the rise of Nazism. Such an interpretation emphasizes the widespread resentment and political apathy of the German population and suggests a certain inevitability, a falling towards Hitler that became, at some point, irreversible. This course offers an alternative narrative by exploring the Weimar Republic on its own terms, beginning with the two revolutions of November 1918 and ending with the official death knell of the republic, the passage of the Enabling Act in March 1933, which entrenched Hitler’s dictatorship. Over thirteen weeks, we will examine the construction of parliamentary democracy in war’s aftermath and attempts to undermine and overthrow it; economic upheaval and hyperinflation; social issues, including shifts in class consciousness, the rise of the “new woman,” immigrants and outsiders, and new attention to issues of sex and sexuality; cultural explosions in the realm of cinema, art, and literature; and the ever-present tension between the growth of a liberal-capitalist system, the German socialist movement, and the threat of communism, which ultimately increased the appeal of far-right politics and ultra-nationalism.


  • Visual Culture Analysis 15%
  • Seminar Participation 20%
  • Literature Review 25%
  • Final Research Project: Annotated Bibliography 5%, Final Project 35% 40%



The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, edited by Anton Kaes, Martin Jay, and Edward Dimendberg

Eric Weitz, Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy

Detlev Peukert, The Weimar Republic: The Crisis of Classical Modernity

Benjamin Carter Hett, The Death of Democracy

Plus ONE of the following:

Irmgard Keun, The Artificial Silk Girl

Vicki Baum, Grand Hotel

Ernst Jünger, Storm of Steel

Hans Fallada, Wolf Among Wolves

Christopher Isherwood, Goodbye to Berlin

Hans Keilson, Life Goes on

Registrar Notes:

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