Quotations: Weimar culture

This page contains a number of Weimar Republic quotations pertaining to art and culture in the Republic, in fields such as painting, literature and filmmaking. These quotations have been researched, curated and compiled by Alpha History authors. If you would like to suggest a quotation for inclusion on this page, please contact us.

Weimar art

“Architects, painters and sculptors must learn again to know and understand the multi-faceted form of building in its entirety as well as its parts… Let us establish a new guild of craftsmen without the presumption of class distinctions building a wall of arrogance between craftsmen and artists. Together let us call for, develop and build the construction of the future, comprising everything in one form: architecture, sculpture and painting.”
Walter Gropius, 1919

“My drawings [in the 1920s] expressed my despair, hate and disillusionment. I drew drunkards, puking men, men with clenched fists cursing at the moon… I drew a man, face filled with fright, washing blood from his hands… I drew lonely little men fleeing madly through empty streets. I drew a cross-section of tenement house: through one window could be seen a man attacking his wife; through another, two people making love; from a third hung a suicide, the body covered by swarming flies. I drew soldiers without noses; war cripples with crustacean-like steel arms; two medical soldiers putting a violent infantryman into a strait-jacket made of a horse blanket.”
George Grosz, Weimar artist

“My aim is to be understood by everyone. I reject the ‘depth’ that people demand nowadays, into which you can never descend without a diving bell crammed with cabbalistic bullshit and intellectual metaphysics.”
George Grosz, Weimar artist

“A welcome attitude to vehicles and machines… Avoiding all decoration… Using only basic shapes and colours… Economy in the use of space, materials, time and money… Simplicity.”
Walter Gropius on the principles of Bauhaus

“Together let us desire, conceive and create the new structure of the future, which will one day rise towards heaven from the hands of a million workers, like the crystal symbol of a new faith.”
Walter Gropius, Bauhaus founder

“Nobody wants to look at it. What is it all supposed to mean – the old whores and the old, worn out women and all of life’s cares… It doesn’t make anybody happy. No gallery wants to exhibit it. Why do you even bother to paint it?”
Otto Dix on his own art

“I had the feeling that there was a dimension of reality that had not been dealt with in art: the dimension of ugliness.”
Otto Dix

Weimar cinema and theatre

“Theatricality appeared to be the common denominator of all manifestations of life – from Expressionism to Marlene Dietrich’s spectacular legs in Blue Angel; from the bloody comedy of Hitler’s 1923 putsch to Brecht’s Threepenny Opera; from the impressive funeral of Rathenau to the calculated banditry of the Reichstag fire of 1933. The permanent crisis proved to be an excellent metteur en scene, one who knew how to direct quite a few memorable effects.”
Peter Sloterdijk, German philosopher

Weimar literature

“A condition of illumination dominates nowadays which is thoroughly alien to poetry – or at any rate to the poetry created and understood by an earlier generation… [Modernist] poetry will be different and will have to be different, if it is to do justice to this changed, clear-sighted young generation.”
Stefan Zweig, 1927

“This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.”
Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front, 1929

Weimar cabaret

“That is the secret of the cabaret: the aphoristic novel, the burst of short-lived drama, the two-minute song of our times, the sweetness of love, the heartbeat of unemployment, the bewilderment of politics, the standard issue uniform of cheap amusement. All without the drain of five acts, three volumes and a thousand kilograms of psychology.”
Friedrich Hollaender, German composer

“Under the cover of an evening’s relaxing entertainment, cabaret, like nothing else, suddenly dispenses a poisoned cookie. Suggestively administered and hastily swallowed, its effects reach far beyond the harmless evening, to make otherwise placid blood boil, to inspire a sluggish brain to think.”
Friedrich Hollaender, German composer

“Life in the big city is a multiple interweaving of surfaces. But everyone wants an art in which one sees life reflected… For the big city dweller, the true mirror and abbreviated chronicle of the age has always been the revue [cabaret], that colourful, whirring, easy going, incredibly mobile suggestive replica of existence, aswirl in a storm.”
Maximilian Sladek, German dramatist