12 November 2019

Jochen Hung for the BBC on the Weimar Republic

De communistische Rotfrontkämpferbund marcheert door Berlijn-Wedding, 1927. Bron: Wikimedia/German Federal Archive
Berlin 1927, Reichstreffen RFB, Thälmann, Leow. Source: Wikimedia/German Federal Archive

A hundred years ago, the Weimar Republic was founded. In honour of this historical moment, Dr Jochen Hung (History and Art History) created a radioshow for the BBC on the history of the Weimar-era and how we remember it today.

Dr. Jochen Hung
Dr Jochen Hung

Obsession

"Why are we so obsessed with the Weimar Republic?" Hung gives several explanations for this, such as the idea that the fate of the republic echoes a warning for our own time and the fact that "the Weimar Republic seems to have been something of a crossroads for modernity itself". The questions posed back then are still urgent now.

Positioning

Often, the Weimar Republic is seen as a neat, separate part of German history, dragged out of its continuum. Hung disagrees with this approach, for example on the topic of national socialism: "National socialism was a product of Weimar democracy and it is inconceivable without it. [...] It would do us well to historicise the particular terminology and the way we talk about the Weimar Republic".

Comparison

What, then, can the struggles of the Weimar-period teach us about our own time? Will history indeed repeat itself? "As a historian of the period, I find such comparisons problematic. The time and the experiences of the people who lived through it are so different from ours, that it seems impossible to draw any real lessons from them."