There is doubt from some historians as to whether the ‘Golden Age’ actually existed. However, there were improvements that helped ordinary working Germans during this time:
Despite all of this, a large increase in the working age population during the mid-20s led to increasing unemployment, and farmers in particular suffered from declining incomes.
German women contributed massively to the war effort during World War One. However, after the war the government ordered women to return to their pre-war roles, either in low-skilled jobs or in the home, to allow returning soldiers to take up work:
German women achieved the vote on an equal basis with men when the new German constitution was announced in August 1919, along with the right to be elected to the Reichstag and all other governmental bodies. There is evidence that women’s roles in politics grew during the Weimar Republic, but there were also limitations to the progress they made:
Propaganda usually appealed to women as wives and mothers, rather than asking for their vote on the basis of improving their own lives.
Women and men tended to vote for similar parties, although women were more likely to vote for religious parties, which tended to be more conservative. Historians disagree on how decisive women’s votes were in bringing the Nazis to power in 1933, but the party’s propaganda targeted women heavily.
The classic image of German women in the 1920s is that of the so-called ‘New Woman’, similar to the ‘Flapper’ in 1920s USA: short haired, liberated, having fun. However, not all women’s lives changed as drastically and the leisure activities women took part in showed elements of both continuity and change.
|Stayed the same||Changed|
|Most women continued to enjoy reading as their main leisure activity, with romantic fiction being their preferred genre||There was a huge increase in the number of newspapers and magazines following the abolition of censorship, and many of these new publications were aimed specifically at women|
|Both working and middle class women enjoyed attending tea dances, where they could meet young men||In urban areas young middle class women began to go out to dance alone, with the American dance known as the Charleston becoming particularly popular in Berlin|
|Women enjoyed needlework in the home||Women were estimated to have made up around 75 per cent of cinema audiences during the 1920s. Films were cheap to watch, but only 2 per cent of small towns had a cinema so it was mainly urban women who benefitted from this|
|Gymnastics was a popular sport amongst women. In 1914 88,000 German women were members of gymnastics associations and by 1930 this number had risen to 200,946||Women began to take part in a greater range of sports, in particular athletics. In 1928 Hilde Krahwinkel won an Olympic gold medal in the 800m and in 1931 Cilly Aussem became the first German woman to win Wimbledon|