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Lecture and Discussion

Germany in 1918: end of the First World War, revolution, victory of democracy. At the same time, a triumphal march of liberated lifestyles begins. Inflation has shaken traditional values. Everything was to change from the ground up: the 'new woman', the 'new man', 'new living', 'new thinking'.

With the currency reform in November 1923 and the Dawes Plan for German reparations payments, the economy improved and Germany became a different country. Women conquered the racetracks and tennis courts, went out alone in the evenings and didn't think about getting married. Unisex, the androgynous and experimental became fashionable. At the same time, however, Adolf Hitler was sentenced to five years in prison in April 1924 and released in December of the same year.

Jähner tells of the invention of leisure, of boxing halls and dance palaces, and of the hotspots of the new era, of the office and big city traffic, of the department stores' as a promise of happiness or the street as a place of fierce battles. So much seems astonishingly modern today. The preference for irony, the straightforward and direct. But also the fear of the 'devaluation of all values', the rule of the cheap. A large proportion of Germans did not recognise themselves in this new departure. Gradually, the deep divisions in society and the inability to endure them became apparent.
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