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Walther Rathenau: Weimar’s Fallen Statesman

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Walther Rathenau: Weimar’s Fallen Statesman

Rathenau.jpg
Rathenau.jpg

Walther Rathenau: Weimar’s Fallen Statesman

25.00

By Shulamit Volkov
Published January 24, 2012
256 pages

“Incisive and probing” —The Washington Times

This deeply informed biography of Walther Rathenau (1867–1922) tells of a man who—both thoroughly German and unabashedly Jewish—rose to leadership in the German War-Ministry Department during the First World War, and later to the exalted position of foreign minister in the early days of the Weimar Republic. His achievement was unprecedented—no Jew in Germany had ever attained such high political rank. But Rathenau’s success was marked by tragedy: within months he was assassinated by right-wing extremists seeking to destroy the newly formed Republic.

Drawing on Rathenau’s papers and on a depth of knowledge of both modern German and German-Jewish history, Shulamit Volkov creates a finely drawn portrait of this complex man who struggled with his Jewish identity yet treasured his “otherness.” Volkov also places Rathenau in the dual context of Imperial and Weimar Germany and of Berlin’s financial and intellectual elite. Above all, she illuminates the complex social and psychological milieu of German Jewry in the period before Hitler’s rise to power.

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About the Author

Shulamit Volkov is professor emerita of modern European history, Tel Aviv University. Her most recent book is Germans, Jews, and Antisemites: Trials in Emancipation. She lives in Herzliya, Israel.



Reviews

“An illuminating, thoroughly researched and sympathetic account of this intriguing, enigmatic life” —The Wall Street Journal

“[A] fascinating introduction to an important, multifaceted early 20th-century figure” —Publishers Weekly

“This is by far the best and most sophisticated life of Rathenau in English.” —London Review of Books

“Revelatory” —The Jewish Daily Forward