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The four essays in this module, all written by professor Paul Bookbinder, University of Massachusetts, Boston, provide an overview of some of the main themes and issues raised in an exploration of the Weimar Republic:
- Why Study Weimar? This essay is an excellent summary of the main issues we examine in this module. It is helpful for teachers and students looking for a succinct understanding of the time period.
- 1929: A Turning Point During the Weimar Republic. This essay presents a snapshot of Weimar through the lens of the pivotal year, 1929. Although we have the tendency to want to look at the Weimar Republic as a slow steady decline from the promise of democracy to its ultimate collapse, in reality, there were successes and failures throughout the fourteen years. This essay helps to complicate and deepen our thinking.
- Weimar Political Parties. For the first time in German history, political parties had real power during the Weimar Republic. This essay provides an overview and descriptions of each of the major political parties. It can be best utilized in conjunction with some of the political party posters and platforms found in the primary source section, as well as the interactive election chart exercise found in the Lessons and Activities section.
- Choices and Consequences in Weimar Germany. Facing History and Ourselves content stresses the premise that history is not inevitable, but is rather the consequence of choices made by individuals and groups. Each of us makes choices, large and small, in our lives every day. Whether that choice is to act or not to act, still it is a choice. This essay applies this concept to the history of the Weimar Republic. Professor Bookbinder chooses a few key examples of decision points during the fourteen year history that illustrate the idea that the collapse of democracy was not inevitable.