From Recovery to Catastrophe: Municipal Stabilization and Political Crisis in Weimar, Germany

By Ben Lieberman | Go to book overview
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Conclusion FROM RECOVERY TO DESTABILIZATION

I n stressing the fragility of Weimar recovery, historians have been able to place Germany's path from hyperinflation to depression easily into standard narratives of Weimar Republic calamities. Weimar stabilization, however, was no mere illusion, as a close reexamination of the period from the perspective of municipalities shows. The middle years of the Weimar Republic, though not "golden years," did not represent a period of "false" stabilization. Instead, this period of Weimar stabilization was a time in which numerous German institutions, including city governments, undertook a wide range of ambitious and sometimes successful programs in pursuit of recovery.

Municipal history of the Weimar Republic furnishes ample evidence that German city leaders, eager to repair the economic and social damage inflicted by war and inflation, undertook comprehensive, functional programs of recovery in a remarkable display of municipal activism. The pessimism with which historians, knowing of the Weimar Republic's fate, describe Weimar stabilization stands in marked contrast to the optimistic tones adopted by many civic leaders to describe their recovery programs. Until 1928 and 1929, German civic leaders had reason to believe that their work of recovery was headed for success. As late as 1929, political groups of the Left and Right competed to take credit for popular recovery programs in Hanover. Indeed, new housing settlements, sports facilities, utilities, and numerous other projects were the visible achievements of municipal activism in cities across Germany.

In spite of the deep political rifts and persistent feuds over symbolic issues, recovery programs acquired broad political support.

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Notes for this section begin on page 194.

-184-

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