Changes Under the Weimar Republic


Living standards Improved for the Working Classes

Despite political, social and economic unrest, life did improve for some under Weimar Republic.

During the 'Golden Years', living standards improved in the Weimar Republic. This was a result of Germany's economic prosperity, but also of the reforms that took place throughout the 1920s

Unemployment - Were more protected. In 1927, the government introduced unemployment insurance. Workers could pay into the scheme and would recieve cash benefits if they became unemployed.

Wages - Working classes became more prosperous. Wages for industrial workers rose quickly in the late 1920s.

Housing - Government launched mass housing projects. More than 2 million new homes were built between 1924 and 1931. This also provided extra employment.

Some problems remained: Higher living standars could only be maintained with a strong economy, and Germany's was fragile ; the changes mainly helped the working classes - the middle classes couldn't acess the welfare benefits, they felt ignored and their resentment made it easier for the government's political opponents to gain support.

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Women gained more Freedoms

Women were given more freedom and greater access to public life under the Weimar Republic.

1. Politically, given more representation. They were awarded the vote and could enter politics more easily - between 1919 and 1932, 112 women were elected into the Reichstag.

2. Women showed they were capable workers during the war, number of young women working increased.

3. The traditional role of women began to change. New female sports clubs and societies sprang up, and women had more opportunities.

4. Divorce became easier, and the number of divorces rose.

These changes fuelled right-wing criticism - some German nationalists thought giving women more power and freedom threatened traditional family life and values in Germany.

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Weimar had many Cultural Achievements

1. The Weimar Republic was a period of creativity and innovation in Germany. Freedom of expression generated new ideas. Artists began to question traditional forms and styles, especially ones that focused on authority and militarism.

2. New advances in art - some bold and new, like the drama of Bertholt Brecht. The Bauhaus School of design was highly influential, especially in fine arts and architecture.

3. Important changes in music, literature, cinema. German films were successful - e.g. 'Metropolis' directed by Fritz Lang.

4. The Weimar Republic encouraged new ways of critical thinking at places like Frankfurt University and a cabaret culture developed in Berlin.

Not all Germans liked the rejection of traditional forms and values in Weimar culture. Some were afraid it symbolised a loss of German tradition.

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