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Suicide in Nazi Germany$
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Christian Goeschel

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199532568

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199532568.001.0001

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The Weimar Background

The Weimar Background

(p.11) 1 The Weimar Background
Suicide in Nazi Germany

Christian Goeschel

Oxford University Press

Justifying one's suicide with reference to Germany's defeat in 1918 was common among nationalist men in the war's immediate aftermath, reflecting despair at their country's failure. For suicides, the German defeat, the revolution of 1918, and the shift from a largely authoritarian monarchy to a seemingly chaotic republic amounted to a vast upheaval of traditional norms and values. Their known world had ceased to exist. Here was suicide presented as an act of patriotism, reflecting the military tradition of shooting oneself to maintain one's honour. After 1918, contemporaries generally believed that times of general uncertainty, political disorder, and socio-economic hardship inevitably led to rising suicide levels. This obsession with rising suicide rates helped undermine the stability of the Weimar Republic. Suicide was the subject of discussion not only in politics and the mass media, but also among the churches, with the Protestant and Catholic churches placing great emphasis on prevention. The Weimar background is crucial to an understanding of Nazi attitudes towards suicide in the Third Reich.

Keywords:   Weimar Republic, Germany, politics, mass media, churches, patriotism, hardship

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