“Berliner Straße mit Droschken im Regen” by Lesser Ury (1925)
The Golden Twenties were a vibrant period in the history of Berlin and European history in general.
Weimar Culture was a flourishing of the arts & sciences that happened during the Weimar Republic between the end of World War I in 1918, and Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. This period is frequently cited as one of those with the highest level of intellectual production in human history; Germany was the country with the most advanced science, technology, literature, philosophy, and art, and 1920s Berlin was at the center of this. Although not part of the Weimar Republic, some include German-speaking Austria, particularly Vienna, as part of Weimar culture. Germany, Berlin in particular, was an exceptionally fertile ground for intellectuals, artists, and innovators from many fields. The social environment was chaotic; politics were passionate. 9 German citizens were awarded Nobel prizes during the Weimar Republic. Film was making huge technical strides, giving rise to the influential movement called German Expressionism. “Talkies” = sound films were becoming popular with the general public across Europe, and Berlin was producing many of them. The University of Berlin (Humboldt University today) became a major intellectual center in Europe and the world. The sciences were especially favored – from 1914 to 1933, Albert Einstein served as director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics here. The mystical arts also experienced a revival during this period, with astrology, the occult, esoteric religions, and off-beat religious practices becoming more mainstream. Politically, Berlin was seen as a left wing stronghold; the Nazis called it “the reddest city [in Europe] after Moscow.“
The heyday of Berlin began in the mid-1920s when it became the most industrialized city of the European continent. Tempelhof Airport was opened in 1923 and a start was made on tram electrification from 1924 onwards. Berlin was also the 2nd-largest inland harbor of Germany; all of this infrastructure was needed to transport and feed over 4 million people throughout the 1920s. During the interwar period, high-quality architecture was produced on a large scale for broad sections of the population, including poorer people. In particular the Berlin Modernism housing estates built before the beginning of National Socialism set standards worldwide and therefore have been added to the UNESCO World-heritage list in 2008. Bauhaus was part of that movement.