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Political Violence in the Weimar Republic, 1918-1933: Fight for the Streets and Fear of Civil War

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Volume 10

Studies in German History

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Political Violence in the Weimar Republic, 1918-1933

Fight for the Streets and Fear of Civil War

Dirk Schumann
Translated from the German by Thomas Dunlap

398 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-460-9 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (March 2009)

ISBN  978-0-85745-314-3 $34.95/£27.95 Pb Published (April 2012)

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


In noting that political violence was the product of choices made by political actors rather than the result of irresistible forces …Schumann issues a pertinent warning while making a first-rate contribution to the scholarly literature on the Weimar Republic.  ·  Central European History

Today’s readers, living in what Charles Maier calls ‘a new epoch of vanished reassurance’, will find this book absorbing and troubling.”  ·  The Historian

[A[ well-documented and skillfully argued book.”  ·  German Studies Review

“In his exceptional regional study of the Prussian province of Saxony, Schumann offers a richly detailed analysis of political violence in the Weimar Republic…This is a wordy but methodical and ultimately convincing work of scholarship.”  ·  Choice

"Schumann ... calls into question some assumptions, provides interesting nuances, and helps to refine our understanding of the nature of political violence in Weimar Germany."  ·  Journal of Modern History

"… provides a well-documented, solid narrative and challenging analysis of Weimar’s political violence…"  ·   American Historical Review

“[This] definitive work, rich in source material and analysis, dispels stereotypes of political violence in the Weimar Republic.“  ·  Historische Zeitschrift


The Prussian province of Saxony—where the Communist uprising of March 1921 took place and two Combat Leagues (Wehrverbände) were founded (the right-wing Stahlhelm and the Social Democratic Reichsbanner) - is widely recognized as a politically important region in this period of German history. Using a case study of this socially diverse province, this book provides a comprehensive analysis of political violence in Weimar Germany with particular emphasis on the political culture from which it emerged. It refutes both the claim that the Bolshevik revolution was the prime cause of violence, and the argument that the First World War’s all-encompassing “brutalization” doomed post-1918 German political life from the very beginning. The study thus contributes to a view of the Weimar Republic as a state in severe crisis but with alternatives to the Nazi takeover.

Dirk Schumann is Professor of History at Georg-August University, Göttingen. He is the co-editor of Life After Death (2003), Violence and Society after the First World War (first issue of Journal of Modern European History [2003]), Between Mass Death and Individual Loss (2007). Most recently, he has edited Raising Citizens in the "Century of the Child". The United States and German Central Europe in Comparative Perspective (2010).

Subject: History: 20th Century to Present
Area: Germany


List of Illustrations and Tables
List of Abbreviations
Note on the administrative structure of Prussia



Chapter 1. Radicalization and Violence 1919
Chapter 2. New Mistrust, Old Enemies: The Massive Experience of Violence during the Kapp Putsch of 1920 and its Aftermath
Chapter 3. Preventive Offense and Improvised Uprising: the “March Action” of the Prussian Government and the Communists 1921


Chapter 4. The Political Murders of 1921/1922 and their Consequences in the Province of Saxony
Chapter 5. The Catastrophe that did not Happen: Food Protests and Political Violence under Hyperinflation 1922/1923


Chapter 6. The Rise of the Combat Leagues (Wehrverbände)
Chapter 7. The Continuity of Violence
Chapter 8. A Parade of Men. Violence in the Political Culture


Chapter 9. The Rise of the Nazi Movement and the Persistent Weakness of the Communists
Chapter 10. Escalation without Limits? Political Violence in the Final Phase of the Weimar Republic
Chapter 11. Misjudgment, Downplaying, Approval: Interpretations of Political Violence 1930-1933

Conclusion: Political Violence and the Weimar Republic’s Chances of Survival

Subject Index
Index of People and Places

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