Neighbors and Enemies provides a new interpretation of the collapse of Germany's first democracy, the Weimar Republic, which ended with the naming of Adolf Hitler as chancellor in January 1933. This study focuses on individual workers in Berlin and their strategies to confront the crises in their daily lives introduced by the transformation of society after 1918 and intensified during the Depression. Tensions between the sexes and generations, among neighbors, within families, and between citizens and their political parties led to the emergence of a radical - and at times violent - neighborhood culture that signaled a loss of faith in political institutions. Swett offers an interpretation that marries a history of daily life in Depression-era Berlin with an analysis of the meanings of local politics in workers' communities, shifting our focus for understanding Weimar's collapse from the halls of governmental power to the streets of the urban core.
'Pamela Swett's fine new study of neighbourhood radicalism in late Weimar Berlin not only fleshes out our current knowledge but recasts it. Swett demonstrates how to write a history that fully incorporates gender and generation. ... the stories of neighbourhood battles and denunciations are riveting.' The German History Society
"Swett's study wonderfully recreates the politics of taverns, tenement courtyards, and the cramped spaces of the city's hundred-thousand apartments. Placed as she is on the street, Swett introduces full-sized working-class Berliners who reordered the public sphere as much as they suffered from its postwar dislocations and who emerged as active participants in the tumultuous, violent politics of the 1920s and 1930s. Gracefully written and superbly researched, Neighbors and Enemies is a marvelous study of Berlin, its people, and their politics."
-Peter Fritzsche, University of Illinois
"Pamela Swett's meticulous account of the local dynamics of politicization defies all odds in casting the demise of the Weimar Republic in a fresh and challenging light. By bringing the analysis of the big political questions down to Berlin's neighborhoods and streets, she grounds the dynamics of violence and the paralysis of national policy in a richly researched argument from the grass roots. She beautifully demolishes any remaining skepticism about the advantages an 'everyday life' perspective can bring. German historians will welcome Neighbors and Enemies as the most illuminating scholarly book on the rise of the Nazis for some time."
-Geoff Eley, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
"...Swett's careful attention to the culture of everyday life yields a rich evocation of what life in a Berlin Kiez was actually like for men as well as women, adults as well as children. Even more importantly,she has deepened our understanding of how small "p" politics worked on the Berlin streets...[readers] should pick up this marvelous study of Berlin street politics...."
-Corinna Treitel, Harvard University, Washington University St. Louis, H-Net
"...the stories of neighbourhood battles and denunciations are rivetting... Swett demonstrates how to write a history that fully incorporates gender and generation."
"Swett's excellent study shows how confrontation and violence between rival political militias in Berlin contributed to the dissolution of the Weimar Republic."
-Peter C. Caldwell, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
"Professor Swett has marshalled an impressive range of evidence to reconstruct the pathology of Weimar Berlin's inner-city radicalism, and on many levels, she is eminently convincing. Furthermore, beyond the central focus of a fascinating study readers will find this richly documented investigation stimulating and revealing in unexpected ways."
-Conan Fischer, University of Strathclyde
"Few have...investigated the relationship between the dissolution of the Weimar Republic and the 'politics of everyday life' in working-class neighborhoods during the Depression. The achievement of Pamela E. Swett's challenging new book is to show that this question deserves more attention than it has so far received."
-David F. Crew, The University of Texas at Austin, Journal of Social History