Volker Weidermann, Ruth Martin
Mr B's review
Mr B’s Christmas Catalogue Review 2018
A zesty entertaining history of the short-lived ‘People’s State of Bavaria’ which emerged amidst the spirit of discontent and revolution in Germany following the end of WW1. Weidermann describes how a group of wordsmiths and cultural figures, including Thomas Mann and Rilke, pushed for change under the leadership of journalist Kurt Eisner. Concentrating on the role of these creatives in this tumultuous six-month slice of history, the author also muses on what might have been, had their new state survived.
At the end of the First World War in Germany, the journalist and theatre critic Kurt Eisner organised a revolution which overthrew the monarchy, and declared a Free State of Bavaria. In February 1919, he was assassinated, and the revolution failed.
But while the dream lived, it was the writers, the poets, the playwrights and the intellectuals who led the way. As well as Eisner, Thomas Mann, Rainer Maria Rilke, and many other prominent figures in German cultural history were involved.
In his characteristically lucid, sharp prose, Volker Weidermann presents us with a slice of history – November 1918 to April 1919 – and shows how a small group of people could have altered the course of the twentieth century.