Berlin Stories

In the section titled Sally Bowles, of Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories, the protagonist of the novel, Chris, relates his tumultuous relationship with an aspiring actress named Sally. The presence of money, or lack thereof, is a constant theme throughout the entire novel. Sally is interested in finding wealthy gentlement whom she can swindle with her good looks and charm. Sally and Chris confide in each other and are engaged in a platonic relationship. They jokingly referred to each other as “gold diggers” when they both befriend and financially benefit from a wealth gentleman named Clide.

Germany’s dire economic conditions are implicitly referenced throughout the text. One morning Chris’s landlord, Frl. Schroeder, woke him up in a frantic state and exclaimed “they’ve shut down the Darmstadter und National! There’ll be thousands ruined, I shouldn’t wonder! The milkman says we’ll have civil war in a fortnight! (57) Although there was a note on the bank that indicated that everyone’s deposits were guaranteed, the fear of financial meltdown was always in the back of people’s minds. The growing distrust of the German economy ultimately contributed to the system’s collapse because people lost faith in the banks. Weary individuals would withdraw their entire savings accounts, leaving the banks in a state of dissarray because there was not enough money on hand to meet demand.

Do you believe that Germany’s financial collapse and accompanying hyperinflation could have been less devastating if people would have behaved less drastically and maintained faith in the banking system?

4 thoughts on “Berlin Stories

  1. Your blog post brings up important issues: the financial crisis and the banking system. When the the Darmstadter und National shit down, people of all classes (including the very wealthy) were extremely worried about their savings accounts. These people removed all of their funds immediately, which led to a very unstable and weak banking system. I do think that if people would of behaved less drastically and maintained faith in the banking system, than the collapse would of been avoided. However, the german people at the time, didn’t trust the system and they needed that trust with the bank and government to know their funds really would not be touched.

  2. I would say yes as well. If they had held on to some faith in the banking system, I believe things would have been at least a little bit better. I think the whole thing had triggers. Once those triggers were flipped, including this one, it led to financial ruin. Good question. I like your quote usage. It really helps with your main point.

  3. I think Germany’s economic situation is similar to how American’s reacted when the market crashed. Everyone ran to the banks to take out their money, which furthered the crisis and adding more problems. Their reactions were typical for those in that situation. A crash had never been that bad before, and they were scared that everything they worked for would be gone.

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