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Germany – The Weimar Republic, 1918-33

2. The Beginnings of Weimar Germany

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In this module, we explore the establishment of the Weimar Republic in the years 1918-19, thinking in particular about the compromises that were made to ensure broad support for the new constitution.


In this course, Professor Benjamin Ziemann explores the Weimar Republic, the system of government that replaced the German Empire in 1919. In the first module, we think about the beginning of the Weimar Republic, before moving on to consider political fragmentation in the German state. In the fourth and fifth modules, we turn to two groups that were overwhelmingly important the period—Reichsbanner Black-Red-Gold and the Nazi Party—before thinking in the sixth module about the crises that marked the end of the Weimar Republic and the beginning of Nazi Germany.

Select Bibliography:
- Falter, Jürgen W.: ‘The social bases of political cleavages in the Weimar Republic, 1919-1933,’ Historical Social Research, Supplement 25 (2013), pp. 194-216: Link
- Fischer, Conan, ‘A Very German Revolution’? The Post-1918 Settlement Re-Evaluated’, Bulletin of the German Historical Institute London 28 (2006), No. 2, pp. 6-32: Link
- Föllmer, Moritz, ‘Which Crisis? Which Modernity? New Perspectives on Weimar Germany,’ in: Jochen Hung, Godela Weiss-Sussex, Geoff Wilkes (eds.), Beyond Glitter and Doom: The Contingency of the Weimar Republic, Munich: Iudicium, 2012, pp. 14-25: Link
- Stibbe, Matthew, Germany 1914-1933. Politics, Society and Culture, Harlow: Longman, 2010 (the best short textbook on Weimar Germany)
- Szejnmann, Claus-Christian/Benjamin Ziemann, ‘“Machtergreifung”. The Nazi Seizure of Power in 1933’, Politics, Religion & Ideology 14 (2013), pp. 321-337
- Ulrich, Bernd/Benjamin Ziemann (eds.), The German Soldiers of the Great War. Letters and Eyewitness Accounts, Barnsley: Pen & Sword, 2010
- Ziemann, Benjamin, ‘Germany after the First World War - A Violent Society? Results and Implications of Recent Research on Weimar Germany,’ Journal of Modern European History 1 (2003), pp. 80-95: Link
- Ziemann, Benjamin, ‘Weimar was Weimar. Politics, Culture and the Emplotment of the German Republic,’ German History 28 (2010), pp. 542-571: Link
- Ziemann, Benjamin, Contested Commemorations. Republican War Veterans and Weimar Political Culture, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2013

Primary Sources:
- A particularly useful collection of primary sources, images and maps is the Weimar section of the German History Docs project


Benjamin Ziemann gained his PhD from the University of Bielefeld and joined the department in 2005. He has authored, edited and co-edited 15 books. In addition, he has published more than 100 journal articles and book-chapters. His articles appeared in leading peer-reviewed journals, including Journal of Contemporary History, Contemporary European History, Geschichte und Gesellschaft, German History, Central European History, Historische Zeitschrift and Archiv für Sozialgeschichte.

Benjamin's research covers a broad range of topics in German history during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and in post-1945 Western European history. He is a renowned expert in the comparative military, social and cultural history of the First World War, and continues to conduct research on the First World War and on mass-violence in the twentieth century more generally. In his second monograph, praised by one reviewer as ‘one of the most important studies in contemporary history published in recent years’, he has analysed the process of the ‘scientisation of the social’, taking the Catholic Church in the Federal Republic as an example. One of Benjamin Ziemann’s long standing research interests is peace history. He is director of the Centre for Peace History at the Department of History, founded in 2009.

His current work is a biography of Martin Niemöller (1892-1984), a navy officer and submarine commander during the First World who became a Protestant pastor and figurehead of the Confessing Church during the Third Reich. In this book, under contract with Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Benjamin Ziemann will not only offer the first primary-souce based account of the turbulent life of Niemöller, including his eight years in Sachsenhausen and Dachau Concentration Camps from 1938 to 1945 and his tireless campaigning for peace and disarmament in the decades since 1945. Through the prism of Niemöller’s life, the book will also offer a reflection on continuities in Germany’s twentieth century history and contested issues such as nationalism, religion, guilt and morality.

Benjamin Ziemann has received numerous grants and fellowships, among others from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the British Academy, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Gerda Henkel Stiftung, the Volkswagen Foundation and the Ministry for Schools, Science and Research in North Rhine-Westphalia. He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Tübingen and a Visiting Scholar at Humboldt-University Berlin, at the University of York, the University of Bielefeld and at the Forum for Contemporary History at the University of Oslo.

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APA style

Ziemann, B. (2018, August 15). Germany – The Weimar Republic, 1918-33 - The Beginnings of Weimar Germany [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Ziemann, B. "Germany – The Weimar Republic, 1918-33 – The Beginnings of Weimar Germany." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,