We spent the morning walking through the city of Weimar, the long-time cultural center of Germany. The 1,111-year-old city is beautiful and has a fascinating history. Not only was the city home to German cultural figures Goethe and Schiller, but it was also the place of origin for Bauhaus architecture and style. Our guide, Alexander, took us through the city, showing the homes of Goethe and Schiller and recounting interesting aspects of their public and personal lives while in Weimar. Our group also saw the first Bauhaus building constructed, which Weimarians criticized as looking like a public toilet! After walking through the charming Goethe Park, Alexander took us to the famous Hotel Elephant, where Napoleon once stayed and politicians now stay. We also learned that this was Hitler’s hotel of choice when he stayed in Weimar, and we were reminded that when he came to power Hitler was very popular in Weimar.
Alexander also discussed the history of the Weimar Republic. After World War I Weimar became an attractive prospect as the capital city of Germany because it seemed safe and far removed from the roiled political parties in Berlin, Munich, and other larger German cities. The Weimar Republic, as it was known, officially began on August 11, 1919 and lasted until 1933. The Weimar Republic was stigmatized because during its time Germany endured horrible economic downturn and social angst. Many Jewish citizens were active in the Weimar government; this, in part, laid the foundation for the antisemitism that spread during the 1920s. Being in this beautiful city and knowing about the unrest in the days of the Weimar Republic is difficult, and it is sometimes hard to believe that this quaint city was once the symbol of a devastated Germany.