17 Reasons Why Germany's Weimar Republic Was a Party-Lovers Paradise
17 Reasons Why Germany’s Weimar Republic Was a Party-Lovers Paradise

17 Reasons Why Germany’s Weimar Republic Was a Party-Lovers Paradise

D.G. Hewitt - October 18, 2018

17 Reasons Why Germany’s Weimar Republic Was a Party-Lovers Paradise
The party carried on even when it became clear the Nazis were a real threat. Pinterest.

16. Berlin’s party people carried on drinking and dancing as the Nazis came to power, and some even supported the evil new regime

The Berlin cabaret scene of the Weimar period is widely credited with being a staunch opponent of the Nazi movement. And rightly so. From the very start, the stars of the stage would mock the Nazi brownshirts who roamed the streets of Berlin through the 1920s. Big-name acts would also routinely laugh at Adolf Hitler, poking fun at everything from his mustache and hair through to his mannerisms. But in many cases, the mocking was just that, a form of entertainment. Even when it became clear that the Nazis were no laughing matter, in Berlin, the party continued.

As some more recent histories of the Weimar Republic have shown, for all their mocking, Berlin’s clubs and dance halls continued to cash in even as the mood darkened in Germany. Many of the biggest stars carried on performing even as their Jewish colleagues started to leave the country in fear of their lives. Solidarity with Jewish musicians and artists was relatively rare. Indeed, even when it became clear to most people what a Nazi regime meant for Jews and other minorities, the clubs and bars of Berlin were as full as ever, as their guests partied, drank and took drugs like it was 1921 all over again.

Notably, for a short period, the Berlin club scene even fell into bed with the Nazis. In February of 1934, Moka Efti, regarded as one of the ultimate icons of the Weimar era, hosted a special party to celebrate the first anniversary of the Nazi party coming to power. According to the records, after a lavish banquet, the compere led the club’s guests in toasting Hitler, with “three Sieg heil for Germany’s Fuhrer and savior.” Similarly, over at the Eldorado, for many years one of Berlin’s main gay and lesbian venues, the owner closed the venue and handed the premises over to the Nazi SA. The once-infamous venue became the headquarters of the brownshirts in Berlin.

17 Reasons Why Germany’s Weimar Republic Was a Party-Lovers Paradise
The Eldorado nightclub became the Nazi SA’s headquarters – proof the Weimar era was at an end. Pinterest.

17. The decadence of the Weimar Republic would never be tolerated by the Nazis, and so the good times quickly came to an end

Even if some club owners tried to get on the right side of the Nazi regime from the mid-1920s onwards, the decadent, liberal lifestyle of the Weimar Republic would always be at odds with the authoritarianism of National Socialist ideology. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, the writing was on the wall, not just for the Berlin nightlife but for many of its star performers and biggest fans. After all, a scene which celebrated homosexuality and where many of the biggest producers and stars were Jewish could never be allowed to continue under Hitler.

In fact, the end of the cabaret scene began before Hitler was named Chancellor. His predecessor Franz von Papen was a staunch Catholic. In the summer of 1932, he instructed the police to clamp down on all “amusements with dancing of a homosexual nature.” This meant that many of Berlin’s famous clubs and bars were subject to a strict curfew. Most were forced to close their doors by 10 pm at the latest. Soon after, same-sex couples were banned from dancing in public. This was only the beginning, however.

Within a matter of weeks of the Nazis coming to power, Hermann Goering was busying himself interfering in the private lives of German citizens. In February of 1933, dozens of Berlin venues were forcibly closed down. At the same time, gay men and transvestites were arrested and thrown into prison, often on trumped-up charges. Many more were subject to harassment and beatings in the street. The days of tolerance were well and truly over, and Germany was plunged into more than a decade of harsh and bloody authoritarian rule where even the slightest act of subversion might be punishable by death.

 

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

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“Paradise regained.” Salon.com, November 2000.

Lustmord: Sexual Murder in Weimar Germany, by Maria Tartar.” Humanities and Social Sciences Net.

“A Peek Inside Berlin’s Queer Club Scene Before Hitler Destroyed It.” The Advocate, July 2016.

“The Weimar Republic, 1918-1929.” BBC History

“Babylon Berlin and the myth of the Weimar Republic.” Washington Post, March 2018.

“Where to go in Berlin for a taste of the Weimar Republic.” The Local, Germany.

“Weimar Republic: The Cabaret.” Broadway World.

“Culture in Weimar Germany: on the edge of the volcano.” The British Library.

“Inside the Drug Use That Fueled Nazi Germany”. SARAH PRUITT. History.

“Ten Things You Might Not Know About Femme Fatale Marlene Dietrich”. Another Magazine.

“Back to the 1920s with Babylon Berlin’s Moka Efti Orchestra”. DW.

“Lustmord: Sexual Murder in Weimar Germany”. Maria Tatar.

“George Grosz, Otto Dix and World War I”. Museum of Brooklyn.

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