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A history primer for Weimar fans

Last chance to see the Deutsches Historisches Museum's Weimar exhibit, a multi-media walk through of the short-lived republic's political struggles, cultural leaps and progressive aspects of Weimar life. Through Sep 22.

Demokratie 2019 / Weimar: Vom Wesen und Wert der Demokratie4. April bis 22. September 2019Deutsches Historisches MuseumFoto: David von Becker
Foto: David von Becker

Photo by David von Becker. Last chance to see Weimar: The Essence and Value of Democracy at the Deutsches Historisches Museum, through Sep 22.

The Weimar trend may be past its peak, but if you’re hungry for more and want to learn about the short-lived (1919-1933) republic’s political struggles and cultural leaps, this exhibition at the Deutsches Historisches Museum is for you. Pegged on the 100-year anniversary of the country’s first parliamentary elections, the first half of this engaging multi-media walk through the period focuses on political reform – political posters, photos, original newspaper clippings and flyers highlight central points of contention such as the fight for national unemployment benefit and retirement funds and the increased occurence of right-wing violence. In a lightly dimmed hall on the first floor of the museum, and surrounded by a structure of scaffolding (a nod to the work-in-progress nature of this first German democracy?) visitors walk through the thematically structured exhibition. The second half  focuses on the progressive aspects of Weimar life: new sexual freedoms as represented by objects from Magnus Hirschfeld’s revolutionary Institute for Sexual Science, some of the first versions of condoms, vaginal showers, and contraceptive ointments, clips from movies featuring queer actors and plot and a section on the German FKK nudist tradition vomplete with community zines. There are also examples of the new woman’s fashion, a life-sized model of a Bauhaus-style kitchen, as well as early radio sets and recording of original Brecht radio plays, jazz shows and more. And while some of the word play on posters and pamphlets may be lost on non-German speakers, fear not: all exhibition text is translated into English, so nothing stops you from becoming the Weimar expert you’ve wanted to be ever since Charlotte Ritter stepped on the scene. 

Weimar: The Essence and Value of Democracy | Deutsches Historisches Museum, through Sep 22