From the turn of the century until 1923, the year of the National Socialist putsch, popular entertainment in Munich reflected the sentiments and ideas of its largely middle-class audience. While industrialization, rapid urbanization, World War I, and the German Revolution of 1918–19 created an atmosphere of turbulent change, performances on Munich’s popular stages gave voice to the continuity of several basic attitudes: patriotism; nostalgia for a preindustrial, rural community; hostility toward Jews; and increasing anxiety over social status. In songs, monologues, skits, and one-act plays, popular entertainers articulated views common to Munich’s traditional middle class of tradesmen and shopkeepers and its “new” or white-collar middle class of clerks and minor officials. Folksingers Karl Valentin and Weiss Ferdl serve as examples of this relationship between politics and culture. They shared their audience’s class background and sympathies, and in the cabarets and music halls their songs dealt with vexed social and political issues.
This intriguing book in cultural history adds to our understanding of social conditions preparing the way for political change. A model case study, it explores the roots of Nazism in a large urban setting.