Berlin Stories

In The Berlin Stories, Christopher Isherwood explains the daily life of a British ex-patriot living in Germany during the early 1930s. His section called “A Berlin Diary: Autumn 1930” explores the daily life and activities of the protagonist and his friends/acquaintances. Within this chapter, the reader is introduced to daily life, seeing a glimpse of how an everyday person may have lived during that time.
One line within this chapter was especially surprising given the financial and economic difficulties of the time.… Read the rest here

Mazower, Chapter 5

In Chapter 5 of Dark Continent, Mazower details the ideology of Hitler’s new order and the policies that were implemented to bring it about. At the beginning of the chapter, he explains the appeal of German Fascism (Nazism) to other European countries at the outbreak of World War II. He
illustrates this change in sentiment and perspective using statistics.

In one instance, Mazower uses France to explain this type of change in 1940. In June of 1940, France suffered a humiliating defeat in six-weeks at the hands of the German Army.… Read the rest here

Dizzy with Success

In “Dizzy with Success” (1930) Stalin discusses the need to temper growing enthusiasm in the socialist state and the socialist system. It is interesting to note that this was necessary. In America, students are still raised on ideas born of the Cold War: communism is evil; the people are never happy under communism. This piece contradicts these foundational American ideas.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Soviet citizens were ecstatic in the changes to their economy.… Read the rest here

Mussolini, “What is Fascism”

Benito Mussolini’s “What is Fascism” (1932) outlines that basic principles and guiding ideals of Fascism as he perceived and created this political ideology. He maintains throughout this piece that Fascism and Marxism (specifically Marxian Socialism) are “complete opposite[s].” In many ways this is true. These two ideologies have opposing beliefs and ideals, but each is underlined by many of the same opinions as well.

The Foundation Pit by Andrei Platonov is a novel based in the USSR during the early 1920s.… Read the rest here

“Boycotting French Fashion Goods”

The “Boycott of French Fashion Goods” excerpt from the Weimar Sourcebook focused on French Fashion’s place in German society. This piece encouraged a boycott of all French Fashion. Items could be inspired by French Fashion and made in Germany or other countries, but nothing bought could be of French origin.

It was interesting to discover that this boycott took place in 1933. This was about 15 years after the Treaty of Versailles. The fact that there was still such a level of animosity between the two countries at this point in time is very telling.… Read the rest here

Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier

Chapter IV of George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier made many interesting points about poverty and housing conditions in Interwar England. Orwell developed a very in depth study of the living conditions and how this may have affected the psyche of the inhabitants.

The Interwar Period was very concerned with behavior and order, especially in the wake of the Great War’s chaos. Psychology was one way in which many scholars began to try to understand the actions of both society and the individual.… Read the rest here

Influencing Culture

“The Proletarian Tourist in the 1930s: Between Mass Excursion and Mass Escape” by Diane P. Koenker and “Comparing Apples and Oranges: Housewives and the Politics of Consumption in Interwar Germany” by Nancy Reagin both focus on the politicization of different aspects of daily life and leisure. Koenker’s article illustrates the way in which the Soviet government propagated tourism as a means to turn this leisure activity into a political action and elevate the proletariat culturally. Similarly, Reagin’s article highlights how the various housewife organizations in Interwar Germany politicized daily activities, like grocery shopping, and changed how German culture was perceived and remembered.… Read the rest here

National Identity: the Role of Eugenics and Culture

Leora Auslander’s “’National Taste?’ Citizenship Law, State Form, and Everyday Aesthetics in Modern France and Germany, 1920-1940” described the way in which the French and German nations had dealt with the issue of identity and citizenship, specifically in terms of the Jewish populations. This text illustrated the similarities between Parisian and Berliner Jews and the larger French and German populations. These groups were marginalized in various and different ways in each country, but, through analyzing personal belongs and furnishings, Auslander discovered a cultural cohesion throughout the groups.… Read the rest here

Critical Review of Mazower

The first four chapters of Mark Mazower’s Dark Continent offer readers a look into the European political, economic and social developments of the Interwar Era. Mazower’s main argument is that many factors influenced the political path that Europe followed: meaning that democracy was not an obvious or guaranteed form of government on the continent.

The changes that were rocking the continent at this time are clearly explained in the book using comparisons as many similarities were seen in countries across the continent.… Read the rest here

France’s fears displayed in the Treaty of Versailles

The Treaty of Versailles was an extremely punitive solution to officially end of WWI. The response of the Triple Entente at the end of the war is not surprising; these countries lost so many soldiers during the war that the true level of pain and suffering is difficult to understand today. France especially blamed Germany for the loss of almost an entire generation, literally and figuratively. The toll of war and the use of new and dangerous technologies ravaged farmland as they became battlefields.… Read the rest here