LearnGermanwith Us!Start Learning!
Erster Teil (first part): The Golden Twenties?
In the beginning years of the First World War, soldiers and citizens alike were all too eager to go off to battle. Many soldiers viewed the war as an Ausflug (trip,outing) and believed they would soon be Zuhause (home) with their families. When the war ended, Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm II abdicated the throne. In reality, most of the government officials ran away due to popular disapproval of how the war was handled. With the disintegration of the Prussian Monarch, the Weimar Republic was formed. Während der Weimarer Republik (during the Weimar Republic), Bürger (citizens) who once felt a national Stolz (pride) during WWI, began to question the motives and violence behind the Krieg (war).
Die Weimar Republik stellte (portrayed) a shift in thinking dar (prefix of stellen). It was a step away from monarchy and a step closer toward Democracy; a Hinweis (evidence) that military rule and honor had failed. This shift in thinking gave rise to one of the greatest periods in artistic thought—der Expressionismus (expressionism).
Expressionism concerned itself with the Entdeckung (discovery) of the neuer Mensch (new human) or the transformation of the self. Artists wanted to express their ideas in big, bold, and/or distorted images. The end effect was to elicit emotion in the viewer. Groups to come out of this era include: Die Blaue Reiter (The Blue Riders), Der Brücke (The Bridge), and Bauhaus. One of my favorite Expressionist artists is Ernst Barlach.
Ernst Barlach, a berühmter (famous) Bildhauer (sculptor), Zeichner (drawer), und (and) Theaterautor (playwright),was an all-around Renaissance man. His sculptures depict poignant images of distraught Soldaten aus der ersten Weltkrieg (soldiers from the first World War) to the core of human essence. Barlach searched for “Dinge hinter der Wirklichkeit (things behind reality).” An example of his work can be found at the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, ME:
Though, Der Spazierganger, (The Strolling Man), who appears to be moving at a rate faster than a stroll, is not a soldier, it is a good representation of Barlach’s idea of the human struggle. The sculpture shows a man walking with difficultly against the wind. Perhaps Barlach is suggesting no matter how hard we strive to find happiness and serenity in our lives, there will always be an outside force against us.
However, it wasn’t long before politicians and party members turned their backs on each other. With the pressure of war reparations and inflation increasing everyday, it’s no wonder die Weimarer Republik survived mit Ach und Krach (with great difficulty, by the skin of one’s teeth) for little over a decade.
Although the Weimar Republic was a shift in thinking and a step away from a strong military rule, the failure of the Republic and the democratic election of the Führer (Adolf Hitler) to lead, represented a necessity for rule the German people carried within them. This seems to have had a lingering effect on the German culture. In Germany today, there are many rules to be followed and left unbroken. The best example I have, occurred in 2003 when I was at a Baeckerei (Bakery) in Lueneburg, Germany. I ordered a cup of coffee to go (which is somewhat rare in Germany) and because I drink my coffee black, an issue arose. I asked the server to fill the cup up to the brim for I didn’t want milk or cream. Her response was, “Ich darf nicht (I’m not allowed).” To which I replied, “I will pay you one Euro more.” Still, “Ich darf nicht,” was the only response I got. This rule-following mentality may be an anecdote to their empirical past. Frustrated because I didn’t get 2ml more of coffee, I stormed out of the bakery. For many Americans who are used to “having it [their] way,” this “Ich darf nicht,” response seems a little absurd and takes some time getting used to.
The Weimarer Republik (Weimar Republic) was a turbulent time in German Geschichte (history). Constant fighting, politische Unruhe (polictical unrest), growing Kunstbewegungen (art movements), and a massive output in literature and theatre are characteristics that beschreiben (describe) the Weimar Republik.
Note to the reader: The Weimar Republic is a very expansive and muddled time period in German artistic and political history. I have only touched the surface in this blog, but would like to continue writing about this topic—perhaps a small series. If any of you are interested in reading or learning more about the Republic, post your comments.
Die Weimarer Republik-the Weimar Republic
Die politische Unruhe-political unrest, upheaval
Die Geschichte-history, story
beschreiben-(v) to describe
Der Ausflug-trip, outing
Während der Weimar Republik
Die Bürger-citizens (pl)
Der Stolz-pride, boast, elation
darstellen-(v) separable prefix- to depict, portray
Das Hinweis-hint, clue, evidence
Die Soldaten-soldiers (pl)
Die Soldaten aus der ersten Weltkrieg:
(Soldiers from the first Wold War)
“aus der ersten Weltkrieg” is a dative prepositional phrase
aus-out,from, made of (preposition)
die Erste Weltkrieg-the first World War
Der neue Mensch-a new person, human
“Dinge hinter der Wirklichkeit” (things behind reality)
mit Ach und Krach-idiomatic expression, (with great difficulty, by the skin of one’s teeth)
Die Blaue Reiter-art movement-the blue raiders
Der Brücke-art movement-the birdge
Bauhaus-a specific school of architect
Der Führer-leader, Adolf Hitler
Der/Das Teil-part or section. Depending on the meaning, the gender of the article changes