Culture and Inflation in Weimar Germany

Culture and Inflation in Weimar Germany

Culture and Inflation in Weimar Germany

Culture and Inflation in Weimar Germany


"A landmark study. . . . Widdig's energetic account uses an interdisciplinary approach to reveal how economic anxieties were powerfully symptomatic of larger social and cultural issues."--Maria Tatar, author of "Lustmord: Sexual Murder in Weimar Germany"

"Bernd Widdig displays sharp intelligence and uncommon wit in this brilliant study of culture and inflation. Following the explosions in politics and culture that the inflation detonated from the end of World War I to the rise of the Nazis, this book is a bold and original meditation on modernity and money and the trauma of oblivion. It is a masterful, illuminating analysis."--Peter Fritzsche, author of "Reading Berlin 1900 "

"Widdig's account of the cultural impact of the German hyperinflation adds an important dimension to the history of interwar Germany. He brings a unique perspective to the interaction between popular culture and political and economic decisions in the twentieth century. This fascinating book raises intriguing questions for economic,and political historians."--Peter Temin, author of "Lessons from the Great Depression


When this book reaches publication, few eyewitnesses will be left to remember World War I and its aftermath in Europe. Soon the last veteran of the war that brought the European world of the nineteenth century to such an abrupt and violent end will have died; and in only a few years those who remember the great inflations that rocked Germany and Austria after the war will also have disappeared. Nothing had prepared people for the uncanny power of the inflation that reached its peak in Germany in 1923. The ever-faster-swelling stream of money betrayed long-held persuasions, swept away economic livelihoods, and destroyed the trust and confidence of a whole generation.

When I was a young boy, my grandfather, born in 1896, took me on long walks through the proverbial German forest. He would tell me about matters he thought important for me to know so that I could get a sense of the world. As a good Catholic from the Rhineland, he informed me that, next to God, we had to thank then-Chancellor Adenauer for the astounding resurrection of Germany, for the Wirtschaftswunder, the economic miracle that followed World War II. In addition to Adenauer's achievements, the general course of German history was a frequent topic for our Saturday afternoon conversations. My grandfather's recollections of the two world wars he fought in as a soldier were without doubt selective and geared toward his young listener. Even though his memo-

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