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Weimar Germany and the Rise of Hitler
Fifth edition. July 2009.
This unit challenges students to ponder one of the twentieth century's most troubling political legacies. Students explore why democracy failed to take root, and consider how the carefully crafted parliamentary system of the Weimar Republic led to the triumph of Nazism in Germany. Primary source documents, readings, excerpts from literature, and political art immerse students in the spirit of the Weimar Republic. The materials prepare students to simulate the debate that surrounded the Reichstag elections of 1932
Three readings familiarize students with the zeitgeist of the Weimar era and prepare them to consider the choices facing the German electorate in July 1932. Part I reviews Germany's emergence as a major power in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and recounts the country's defeat in World War I. Part II examines the forces that contributed to the polarization of German politics in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Part III has students explore the highly politicized art and culture of the Weimar period.
The Choices Role Play
The four distinct political party platforms at the core of the unit reconstruct the German political spectrum in July 1932. Each platform is grounded in a clearly defined philosophy about the German role in the world, the lessons of World War I, and Germany's compliance with the Versailles Treaty. By exploring a broad range of alternatives, students gain a deeper understanding of the competing values and assumptions that framed the political debate in the Weimar Republic.
The Birth of the Weimar Republic
Students explore maps, sections of the Versailles Treaty, and other documents to analyze the events and decisions that led to the creation of the Weimar Republic.
Hyperinflation, Prosperity, and Depression
Students use charts, graphs, poetry, and graphics to define hyperinflation and evaluate the impact of the Great Depression on Germany.
Culture, Values, and Politics
Students explore the relationship between art and politics using visual art and songs of the Weimar period.
Children's Literature in Weimar Germany
Students read selections from three stories that were written to shape the political and social values of young readers during the Weimar period.
Role-Playing Platform Presentations
Working in groups, students advocate for political parties at the 1932 Reichstag elections or play undecided voters in order to understand the values of Weimar's political parties.
Lessons from the Weimar Experience
Students evaluate the factors that led to the Nazi party's electoral success and the implications for democracy today.
Conscience and the Patriot
Using a case study of two Germans, students consider what a patriot can do when government policies conflict with personally held values.