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

By Ben Lieberman | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
STABILIZATION AND STATE EXPANSION
Comprehensive City Planning

The common historical practice of identifying Weimar stabilization as illusory or false, though useful for building a linear narrative from hyperinflation to depression, does not help to explain how Germany actually continued the process of stabilization after the end of hyperinflation in 1923/24. On the municipal level, the period of stabilization brought intensive pursuit of recovery until at least 1929. Evident at all levels of government, the rapid expansion of state activity of the Weimar Republic took striking form in Germany's large cities during the era of recovery. Few, if any, areas of civic life, whether economic, social or cultural, were left untouched by municipal intervention.

Municipal leaders wished to begin work on programs of recovery before 1924, but inflation obstructed stabilization even as the collapse of currency added to the list of social and economic problems demanding state attention. Inflation rapidly shrank even large appropriations to negligible proportions, leaving Germany's mayors and municipal politicians frustrated and pessimistic. During the discussion of Hanover's budget for 1923, the city's chief financial official lamented that the budget plan gave a "clear picture of how far ...we have become impoverished."1 With the onset of monetary stabilization, the mood of Germany's civic leaders rapidly shifted. German mayors proclaimed that the time had come to begin work on programs of recovery as soon as it became evident that hyperinflation had actually come to a final end. Ludwig Landmann, in his first speech as mayor to Frankfurt's city

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Notes for this section begin on page 52.

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