The Weimar Republic Personalities

Like the primary source documents on this website, this section offers only a sampling of key figures from Weimar Germany. The group represents a wide spectrum of political and social perspectives. Click on any of the names below to begin an exploration of the individuals whose choices and actions helped shape the course of events.


Adolf Hitler emerged from WWI in 1918 as a man with none of the normal prerequisites for success in Germany. He had no University degrees, and lacked even a secondary school leaving certificate. He had no distinguished family name and no family connections. He had not been an officer in the army. He had no money and lacked a trade or profession. He was not even a German citizen. Yet by 1932, he had built the most successful political movement of the Weimar years and had become the most popular political leader in Germany. Consumed by racist antisemitism and contempt for democracy, he destroyed the Weimar Republic and created the genocidal Nazi dictatorship.

Read about Bernard Lichtenberg, a Catholic priest who spoke out against the Nazis.

Learn about Bertha Pappenheim who was a leader in championing the cause of German women and was the head of the Judisches Frauenbund (Federation of Jewish Women).

Friedrich Ebert was a German politician and leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Ebert began his professional life as a saddle maker, and became active in his labor union before joining the Social Democratic Party. While an elected member of the Reichstag (German legislature), Ebert became a leader of the SPD. He supported the war effort during World War One, although he opposed the expansionist war aims and lost three sons. Following the abdication of the Kaiser at the end of the war, Ebert was given the unenviable task of leading the transitional government. One of Ebert’s first challenges was a rebellion from the radical left, which he put down in alliance with the conservative generals. The National Assembly chose Ebert to serve as President of the Republic. Committed to democracy and to the Republic, Ebert struggled to represent all of the people of Germany.

Read biographical information and artistic background on Germain filmmaker Fritz Lang. Lang was a film director in the Weimar Republic.

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Everything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice.