Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Mrs. Cobden, what does the word 'swindle' mean?"

Well, it is that time of year again! This history teacher is starting her WWII unit. This week I started teaching about the Weimar Republic. I always try to convey to students the struggles of the Republic that helped open the door for Hitler to come to power.

You know the highlights. This new government was blamed for signing the Treaty of Versailles. The struggles faced by a developing democracy. Don't forget hyperinflation. I always show the picture. You know the one...the kiddos stacking the worthless German marks.

I was looking for something to add to the mix. I stumbled across some interesting primary sources courtesy of Facing History and Ourselves. Sources include music, paintings, sculpture, film, etc. I found one of the Cabaret songs of particular interest.

"It's All a Swindle" is a song from 1931 and presents an interesting view of society and the government during the Weimar years. Lyrics include:

Nowadays the world is rotten
honesty has been forgotten
fall in love but after kissing --
check your purse to see what's missing


are magicians
who make swindles disappear
The bribes they are taking
the deals they are making
never reach the public's ear.

It is important for students to understand that the depression had started and support for the government continued to dwindle.

This song has lyrics in German and in English. There is a performance of the song for students to listen to in German, but an English performance is available on YouTube.

The goal, overall, of course, is to give students a bit of insight into the struggles of the Weimar Republic and what conditions helped make it possible for Adolf Hitler to come to power. This song helps give an interesting glimpse into German society at a very volatile period in history.

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