Walther Rathenau: The Life of Weimar's Fallen Statesman

Yale University Press
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This deeply informed biography of Walther Rathenau (1867-1922) tells of a man who--both thoroughly German and unabashedly Jewish--rose to leadership in the German War-Ministry Department during the First World War, and later to the exalted position of foreign minister in the early days of the Weimar Republic. His achievement was unprecedented--no Jew in Germany had ever attained such high political rank. But Rathenau's success was marked by tragedy: within months he was assassinated by right-wing extremists seeking to destroy the newly formed Republic.

Drawing on Rathenau's papers and on a depth of knowledge of both modern German and German-Jewish history, Shulamit Volkov creates a finely drawn portrait of this complex man who struggled with his Jewish identity yet treasured his "otherness." Volkov also places Rathenau in the dual context of Imperial and Weimar Germany and of Berlin's financial and intellectual elite. Above all, she illuminates the complex social and psychological milieu of German Jewry in the period before Hitler's rise to power.

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About the author

Shulamit Volkov is the Konrad Adenauer Chair for Comparative European History and Professor of Modern European History at Tel Aviv University. She was previously a fellow at St Anthony's College, Oxford, the Wissenschaftskolleg, and the Historisches Kolleg. Volkov is the author of The Origins of Popular Antimodernism in Germany: The Urban Master Artisans, 1873 1896 (1978) and the editor of Deutsche Juden und die Moderne (1994) and Being Different: Minorities, Aliens, and Outsiders in History (2000).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Yale University Press
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Published on
May 14, 2014
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Pages
254
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ISBN
9780300178470
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Language
English
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Shulamit Volkov
Antimodernism, a popular movement growing out of fear and hostility toward an emerging new world, became a central ideological trend in late nineteenth-century Europe. Shulamit Volkov explains its development in Germany by providing a biography of one group—the urban master artisans—whose political attitudes came to be dominated by antimodernist feelings.

As small, independently employed practitioners of traditional crafts, the master artisans possessed a special social identity. The author focuses on their character as a group, their public behavior, and the formation of their ideas and political allegiance. She contends that between 1873 and 1898—a period often called the "Great Depression"—this group underwent a crucial change in attitude reflecting a growing sense of social isolation and political homelessness. To understand the complexities of their outlook, Shulamit Volkov considers changes in their economic and social position during industrialization and the Great Depression, comparing the German experience with that of England. Her analysis of economic, social, cultural, and political history uncovers the forces that led to the emergence of popular antimodernism and helped attract part of the German populace to prefascist ideas.

Originally published in 1978.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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