The Rise and Fall of Weimar Germany


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Germany, 1918:
a country in flux. The First World War is lost, traditional values are shaken to their core, revolution is afoot and the victory of democracy beckons. Everything must change with the times. The country is abuzz with talk of the 'new woman', the 'new man', 'new living' and 'new thinking'.

What follows is the establishment of the Weimar Republic, an economic crisis and the transformation of Germany. A triumphant procession of liberated lifestyles emerges. Women conquer the racetracks and tennis courts, go out alone in the evenings, cut their hair short and cast the idea of marriage aside. Unisex style comes into fashion, androgynous and experimental. People revel in the discovery of leisure, filling up boxing halls, dance palaces and the hotspots of the New Age, embracing the department stores' promise of happiness and accepting the streets as a place of fierce battles. So much of this short burst of life between the wars seems amazingly modern today, including, amidst a frenzy of change, the backlash from those who did not see themselves reflected in this new culture. Little by little, deep divisions in society began to emerge. Divisions that would have devastating consequences, altering the course of the twentieth century and the lives of millions around the world.

Praise for Aftermath by Harald Jähner:

'Exemplary [and] important... This is the kind of book few writers possess the clarity of vision to write' - Max Hastings, Sunday Times

'A masterpiece' - Spectator

'Magnificent... There are great lessons in the nature of humanity to be learnt here' - Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph

©2024 Harald Jähner (P)2024 Penguin Audio


  • From women in the workplace to traffic lights, from yo-yos to dance culture, Jähner tracks the 15 chaotic years of the Weimar Republic with his characteristic verve and attention to detail. This is one of the most gripping accounts of an era spanning war defeat, humiliation and failed revolution in 1918 to the violence, intimidation and propaganda of the Nazis' rise to power in 1933. It contains many lessons for the world now.
    John Kampfner, bestselling author of Why the Germans Do it Better

About the author

Harald Jähner

Harald Jähner is a cultural journalist and former editor of the Berliner Zeitung. He was also an honorary professor of cultural journalism at the Berlin University of the Arts. His book Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich was shortlisted for the 2021 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction in the UK and won the Leipzig Book Fair Prize for Non-Fiction in his native Germany.
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