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The Struggle for the Streets of Berlin
Politics, Consumption, and Urban Space, 1914–1945


  • Author: Molly Loberg, California Polytechnic State University
  • Date Published: March 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108417648

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About the Authors
  • Who owns the street? Interwar Berliners faced this question with great hope yet devastating consequences. In Germany, the First World War and 1918 Revolution transformed the city streets into the most important media for politics and commerce. There, partisans and entrepreneurs fought for the attention of crowds with posters, illuminated advertisements, parades, traffic jams, and violence. The Nazi Party relied on how people already experienced the city to stage aggressive political theater, including the April Boycott and Kristallnacht. Observers in Germany and abroad looked to Berlin's streets to predict the future. They saw dazzling window displays that radiated optimism. They also witnessed crime waves, antisemitic rioting, and failed policing that pointed toward societal collapse. Recognizing the power of urban space, officials pursued increasingly radical policies to 'revitalize' the city, culminating in Albert Speer's plan to eradicate the heart of Berlin and build Germania.

    • The interdisciplinary approach draws on lively and diverse primary sources, including police reports, commercial and political advertising, artwork, film, and citizens' letters
    • Through the lens of the city, it brings together political, economic, social, and cultural history, which will appeal to readers in any of these subfields
    • Encompasses the whole period from 1914 to 1945, crossing the typical barriers of chronology and periodization in German and interwar history
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Molly Loberg illuminates the sequential phases of the commercial and political 'scramble for space' and struggle for access to and control of the streets of post-World War I Berlin. Alongside the less well known contestations - the stories of rogue placard pasters, hawkers, beggars, unruly drivers, and gangs of thieves - is the assault on Jewish space in Berlin. The extinction of Jewish space preceded the extinction of Jewish life. This is a deeply-researched, highly original, and creative venture in spatial history.' Christopher R. Browning, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

    'It is a rare book that allows today's readers to mingle with yesterday's crowds, to touch the textures of streets, the noise of hype, but also to feel the suspicious glances of policemen, Nazis, and ordinary strangers. Loberg's superb book explores how possibility and apprehension intertwined to make and remake the face of twentieth-century Berlin.' Peter Fritzsche, author of An Iron Wind: Europe under Hitler

    'Brimming with fresh empirical findings and intellectual insights, The Struggle for the Streets of Berlin makes a significant contribution to the historiography of the German metropolis in the Weimar and Nazi periods. The book should also be of interest to scholars of consumption, commerce and social control in European cities.' Moritz Föllmer, University of Amsterdam

    'Placing the familiar story of the rise of National Socialism in the context of the changing texture of urban life, Molly Loberg offers a fresh perspective on Germany during the 1920s and 1930s. In an extremely well-researched book, she shows how people (and police) interacted in public space - through commerce, consumption, crime and the often chaotic patchwork of daily life - in the 'struggle for the streets of Berlin.' Richard Bessel, University of York

    'How do the big political events and large-scale social transformations make their way into the ground-level experience of everyday lives? In this fascinating social topography of popular politics in early twentieth-century Berlin. Molly Loberg challenges many familiar assumptions about how political changes can occur.' Geoff Eley, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108417648
    • length: 338 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.68kg
    • contains: 20 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures
    Introduction: streets of desire and discontent
    1. Paper revolutions: urban advertising in the aftermath of the First World War
    2. Commerce turned inside out: street hawkers, shopkeepers, and the moral geography of consumption during the inflation
    3. Crowd control: traffic, spectacle, and demonstrations during the 'golden twenties'
    4. Fortress shops and militarized streets: looting in depression-era Berlin
    5. When rogues become regulators: 'coordination 'of the streets under the new Nazi regime
    6. Visions of a Nazi world capital: urban 'revitalization' from the Christmas market to Kristallnacht
    Epilogue: eradicating Berlin: urban destruction from Germania to the Second World War

  • Author

    Molly Loberg, California Polytechnic State University
    Molly Loberg of California Polytechnic State University, is a Fulbright Scholar and Humboldt Fellow. She has won several awards for her research, including the History Article Prize (2013) from the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians.

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