“Lieutenant, if you dare to make the slightest fuss, I’ll pull your sword out of the sheath, break it in two, and send the pieces to your regimental commander. Do you understand me, you young fathead” (Schnitzler 10).
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The quotation comes from the novel Lieutenant Gustl written by Arthur Schnitzler in 1900. These words from the inner monologue of an Austrian officer named Gustl. In particular, he recalls his encounter with a baker in a cloakroom. Gustl insults this person, but he is not ready for the response to his rudeness. It should be noted that the baker takes his officers’ sword and promised to break it into pieces if Gustl does not act politely. The passage is important because it helps the author to describe the inner world of the main character as well as his values. For example, this person is used to behaving in a rude and arrogant manner.
Nevertheless, he is utterly astonished by the fact that other people can respond to him in an equally rude way. Moreover, this passage helps the writer to depict the values of Australian officers who are sensitive about their reputation and honor; yet, at the same time, they deny other people the right to honor. Furthermore, their major concern is the opinion of other officers. This is why the baker says that he will report this incident to the regimental commander of Gustl (Schnitzler 10). This passage is related to the larger theme explored by Arthur Schnitzler. The author is able to demonstrate the flaws of the Austrian army and society in general at the beginning of the twentieth century. In many cases, the behavior of a person could be governed by superficial social conventions, rather than moral principles.
“It will take us longer to tear down the Wall in our heads than any wrecking company will need for the Wall we can see” (Schneider 119).
This quote comes from the book The Wall Jumper: A Berlin Story by Peter Schneider in 1998. The author depicts the encounter between an unnamed narrator, who lives in West Germany, while his friend Pommerer comes from East Germany. This passage should not be overlooked because it illustrates the experiences of German people who were forced to live in two different countries (Schneider 119). Moreover, the author suggests that this division led to significant differences in their worldviews. This is one of the aspects that can be distinguished. This argument is important for showing that the socio-political environment of a country can profoundly shape the identity of an individual and his/her values. People, who take part in this conversation, admit that to some degree, they represent different political regimes (Schneider 119).
More importantly, the word wall does not refer only to the notorious Berlin Wall. More likely, one should focus on the sense of alienation between people, even though they belong to the same cultural and ethnic group. It should be noted that the writer depicts the events that took place at the time when the Cold War was still raging. Thus, one can argue that Peter Schneider shows how people could be involved in this confrontation even against their will (Schneider 119). The narrator and his friend Pommerer do not feel any animosity towards one another. Nevertheless, they find it difficult to overcome their distrust. So, this chosen quote illustrates the long-term implications of the Cold War and its legacies.
Analysis of the cultural objects
Many of the cultural works created during the Weimer Republic can throw light on the political, social, and economic issues that shaped the lives of Germans who struggled to overcome the legacies of World War I. It is possible to discuss the novel The Road Back written by Erich Maria Remarque. Furthermore, one can examine the film Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang. To a great extent, they can illustrate the major concerns of people living during this period of economic and social uncertainty. On the whole, it is important to focus on such issues as growing economic inequalities and unemployment. More importantly, one should pay close attention to the unwillingness of people to return to war which proved to be a traumatic experience for many people. This concern is particularly important if one speaks about soldiers. These are the main questions that should be examined in greater detail.
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The movie Metropolis depicts the life of a dystopian city. It is not quite clear when the action takes place, but the viewers can clearly see that Fritz Lang portrays a futuristic society. He focuses on the experiences of people who represent the lower classes of society. In particular, the director illustrates the contrast in the lifestyles of the rich and poor (Metropolis). Moreover, the cinematographic work shows that the factory dehumanizes individuals since they can be treated as mere pieces of equipment that can be easily replaced. Overall, this film is informative because it indicates the potential political conflict within the Weimar Republic. In particular, one can argue that left-wing ideology affected the life of society. To some degree, many people like Fritz Lang aspired for social equality, and their aspirations could lead to political turbulence. Additionally, this movie may suggest that at that time, there could be significant economic disparities that could be easily reduced. This issue is reflected in the way in which Metropolis is depicted. This city consists of two parts. First of all, one can speak about the upper part in which wealthy industrialists live (Metropolis). In turn, one can speak about the lower part inhabited by poor workers who are supposed to supplement the machines which are needed for the functioning of factories (Metropolis). However, these parts of Metropolis remain isolated from one another, and it is rather difficult for people to climb the social ladder. This lack of opportunities is the main cause of their discontent.
To a great extent, this film reflects the difficulties faced by people during the Weimar Republic. In particular, one can speak about people’s efforts to adjust to the post-war society that has to recover from the deaths of many people. It should be kept in mind that this country was affected by inflation, unemployment, and the declining purchasing power of people (Balderston 79). So, many individuals believed that they could be defrauded by the government (Balderston 79). Thus, people, who lived during that period, desperately wanted these problems to be addressed affectively (Balderston 79). This is one of the points that can be made. So, although Metropolis is a dystopian film, it can help viewers better understand the Weimar Republic and the lives of people.
Similar issues are examined by Erich Maria Remarque in his novel The Road Back. This literary work throws light on the experiences of German soldiers whose worldviews are shattered by the rapid transformation of Germany during the early twenties. For example, one can speak about the dissolution of the county for which many people sacrificed their lives. This author indicates the economic problems faced by people, especially unemployment. His characters had to “scramble for jobs” in order to overcome extreme poverty (Remarque 195). So, they were extremely concerned about economic security. It should be noted that the author does not want to speak about the social and political issues affecting German society. As a rule, his characters do not want to take part in political debates or public life. This is one of the aspects that can be singled out.
In addition to that, one should speak about the concerns of the main characters. These people do not want World War I to repeat itself. These people are haunted by the memories of trenches, and these recollections are very disturbing. These individuals do not want to hear the sounds of explosions and “shriek of shells” (Remarque 10). In many cases, the images of death give rise to the nightmares that continuously haunt them. To a great extent, they accept the principles of pacifism, and they cannot tolerate the very idea of war. However, the expectations of these people were bitterly disappointed. Thus, one can say that this novel is also very informative. This literary work can be used as the primary source for the study of the Weimar Republic and its internal problems. Certainly, the author focuses on a very narrow group of people, but his book incorporates very vivid images of this society.
These cultural objects suggest that the German society during the Weimar Republic was plagued by a variety of social problems and economic problems. Moreover, one can about the problems of soldiers who passed through the traumatic experiences of war. One can say that the film directed by Fritz Lang and Remarque’s novel can be regarded as valuable primary sources. This is the main argument that can be advanced.
Balderston, Theo. Economics and Politics in the Weimar Republic, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Print.
Metropolis. Ex. Prod. Fritz Lang. Berlin: UFA, 1927. DVD.
Remarque, Erich. The Road Back: A Novel, New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 1998. Print.
Schneider, Peter. The Wall Jumper: A Berlin Story, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. Print.
Schnitzler, Arthur. Plays and Stories: Arthur Schnitzler, New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 1982. Print.