Apolitical Politics in the Weimar Republic: the Left-wing Artists and the Process of Self-marginalization
My Senior Individualized Project has involved looking at the lives and works of four Weimar artists: Kathe Kollwitz, Otto Dix, Kurt Tucholsky, and George Grosz. I selected my SIP topic based on two primary considerations. The first was that, though I had spent the majority of my time at Kalamazoo College studying modem German history, I felt that I did not know enough about the First World War. The second was that I had taken a class on Weimar literature while I was on study abroad in Erlangen, and Erich Kastner's novel, Fabian, caught my attention as something that both interested and entertained me. Though I did not end up specifically studying Kastner or his novel, it did induce me to consider more carefully the artistic community in Germany between the tum of the century and the Second World War. I began looking at visual as well as literary artists and through them began to piece together the events leading up to and directly following the First World War in, what seemed to me, to be a revolutionarily new way of considering history. Each of my chapters deals with the lives and works of a single artist, a technique I had not previously considered. Weimar art is a broad subject which requires narrowing, but instead of organizing my chapters around subjects or chronological events, I chose to look at the artists themselves and what they meant in the context of the Weimar Republic. This meant excluding a great deal, as there are dozens of artists that could have just as easily been included. However, the benefit of closely considering not only the work, but also the backgrounds and perspectives of these artists provided me with a social context that I believe would have otherwise been lacking. Finally, their lives and opinions turned out to be just as interesting and important when considering the Weimar Republic as a whole as the political trends or artistic movements. I learned a great deal not only about the First World War but also about historical perspective through writing this project.