Film in Weimar Germany

The excerpts from the primary source documents from the Weimar Republic show a Germany in reconstruction. The post war period for Germany was full of rough times of economic downturn and international repression; however the sources demonstrate a great national promise of growth a changing into modernity. Two, of many, very large themes within most of the works are the changing cultural identity of German people, and the modernization of the German state.

In many of the pieces discussing films or alternative forms of entertainment the “Future of the Feature Film in Germany” these themes are exemplified. First the changing place of the medium of film is argued. Lang says that development of the film industry is growing to “Know no bounds” and become the preeminent force of modern propaganda and cultural representation of the national identity. Lang, assuming that while the German cultural soft power and film industry will never be as strong as the American counterpart, sees the German application as a much stronger intellectual and cultural factor. This source continues to describe how the importance of the modern film builds Germany. More interestingly the idea that the German film industry builds the national identity, in the modern sense, begins with the emotional level and builds to the national level.

The idea of the growing power of films in the Weimar Republic begs the question in which way the propaganda machine of the Nazi party began the decade before. How the people viewed these pictures and to what degree they attended and believed these films are important to understanding the impact of the future films.

Weimar Sourcebook

The various articles, written by a number of Weimar intellectuals provide us with a snapshot into the cultural life of inter-war Germany. The final article on the death penalty written by E.M. Mungenast, is a pointed criticism of the death penalty that existed in most “civilized” European countries and in the United States. Mungenast calls the death penalty “a remnant of past times.” He argues against the death penalty not from a religious or even a humane standpoint; Mungenast states that the death penalty “contradicts all principles… of a modern civilized state.” He goes on to theorize that the death penalty not only unfairly takes the life of a citizen of the state, but it costs the state any of the “reparations for his misdeed” this inmate would have to preform which might help the state.

Mungenast is a clear example of the growing secularism and liberalism that Germany and the World went through during the inter-war years. He uses the end of his article to critique America and its handling of the Sacco and Vanzetti case, he realizes that the populous is largely disgusted with the breach of justice that was served to these two men. The death penalty does not keep a population in line it scares and angers a them, Mungenast considers it a break of trust by the government to kill these men. These were all interesting points put forth by Mungenast, that were very different from ones put up by groups such as the Nazi party was espousing. Although Mungensat had rather forward and interesting ideas they were not really put to practice in Germany before the Nazi’s came to power.

Is it a brach of limits and civil freedom if a liberal democratic government decides to kill one of its citizens?