Weimar Etudes

Weimar Etudes

Weimar Etudes

Weimar Etudes

Excerpt

It has been said that those who did not experience French society before the Great Revolution never knew how beautiful life could be, while those who were born after the first world war never knew how secure life could be. Of course there were riots and strikes, the Balkan and colonial wars, naval races and diplomatic crises, the rise in the cost of living, the recessions--all of which greatly disturbed the domestic and external peace of the prewar generation. But the question is not whether there actually were problems deep enough to justify fear; after all, there were numerous avantgardists who experienced the crisis of culture long before the war. The question is whether people generally felt that they could cope with those conflicts. That undoubtedly was the case before World War I-- and was no longer the case thereafter.

My own recollection of the prewar days is that of a well- protected childhood in the midst of an expanding empire, a recollection of well-being and of a trustworthy world. I do not think that many Europeans who were born after the war have similar reminiscences: that sense of security never returned.

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