Graduation Year

2019

Graduation Month

May

Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

School or Department

History

Major

History

Faculty Mentor

Robert Greene

Faculty Mentor Department

History

Faculty Reader(s)

Robert Greene

Keywords

Weimar Republic, 20th Century Germany, Walther Rathenau, Baden, Germany, Newspapers

Subject Categories

Cultural History | European History | Other German Language and Literature | Political History | Public History

Abstract

On June 27, 1922, the state funeral procession of Walther Rathenau, the German foreign minister, made its way through the Brandenburg Gate down Unter Den Linden, the famous Berlin avenue that Berlin’s sympathetic crowds now filled. Three days earlier, anti-semitic terrorists had publicly murdered Rathenau in an attempt to derail the Weimar Republic, the democratic government that succeeded the fallen German empire. In numerous local newspapers, writers eulogized Rathenau, but also expressed their support for the democratic, worldly values the republic embodied. Germans expected the Berlin press to voice its support, but they were surprised by the coverage the provincial press organs afforded Rathenau’s death. Before his death, Baden, a Catholic, Alemannic speaking region in the southwest, had only covered the fallout of the First World War and local news; after Rathenau’s death, the Baden press’s stories, coverage, and writing now reflected political identification with the republican system. Therefore, Rathenau’s death marked a distinct turning-point in the manner in which Baden newspapers covered political and cultural life in Germany and the world. Through research in German of Baden’s Weimar-era newspapers and of secondary literature, this paper explores the turning point or “Wendepunkt” and the birth of “Weimar Patriotism,” that is, political identification with the Weimar Republic and embrace of its cosmopolitan, classically liberal values. Through analyzing the fallout of Rathenau’s death on a micro-historical level, this paper posits that Rathenau’s death created social traction for Weimar Patriotism in all of Germany and brought the country to mobilize in favor of the republic, reconciling democracy and “Germanness” and therefore legitimizing the republic. It also addresses the ultimate lesson that Weimar’s fall does not reflect lack of support or an unfeasible system; rather Weimar’s fall exhibits a haunting lesson regarding the consequences of a growing belief in inevitability.

Honors College Research Project

Yes

GLI Capstone Project

no

Available for download on Sunday, May 03, 2020

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© Copyright 2019 Ronan Kennedy