In Studio Theatre’s A Bright Room Called Day, a group of artists in 1930s Germany slowly realize the political terror about to unfold around them, and must decide to flee or fight for their true beliefs. Here now is a look at the actual events that led to the rise of Hitler.
After the first world war ended in 1918, Germany was economically crippled and there was a profound sense of resentment towards the Kaiser. Late that year, a process known as The November Revolution forced the Kaiser’s abdication and a new parliamentary government was formed. It became known as the Weimar Republic.
A constitution was drafted by the new legislative assembly, creating a new democratic Germany. It comprised two parliamentary houses: The Reichstag which represented the nation, while The Reichsrat represented the different regions of Germany.
Although this new government began its life with a high level of national support, Germany was dogged by a number of social and economic issues and the frustrations and anger of the people began to be aimed at politicians, and the system itself. As well as the vast economic and human cost of the war, The Treaty of Versailles ordered Germany to pay reparations and territory to the allies. Germany was unable to pay, and when France invaded the Ruhr Valley in retaliation, the German government ordered its workers to put down their tools. The economy suffered terribly and as more and more money was printed to pay the workers, hyperinflation left its currency virtually worthless.
Germany slowly began to recover. In 1923, Gustav Stresemann was elected as Chancellor and he made great steps towards stabilizing the country.
As well as sending the Ruhr workers back to the factories, he began to address the floundering economy with a number of austerity measures, and to seek ways to ease Germany’s financial burden to its former enemies. The period of 1923-1929 became known as The Golden Age.
When Stresemann died and The Great Depression began – both in 1929 – the ensuing financial chaos proved to be a turning point. Fueled by rage and desperation, people began looking past ‘ordinary’ solutions to their problems and support for extremist groups quickly grew. These groups (especially The National Socialist German Workers Party or Nazis) used fear to sow division between different groups of people. Their leader, Adolf Hitler, worked to destabilize the government, blaming the political left and Jews for Germany’s problems. Hitler also skillfully blindsided the German Communist party by siding with the government against them. Their tactics worked, and within four years their share of seats in the Reichstag increased exponentially – from 12 to 288.
Hitler’s rise to power was briefly checked by his loss to General Paul Von Hindenburg in the 1932 parliamentary elections. However, in an ill-fated attempt to assimilate Hitler’s increasingly powerful voice within the existing government he was offered the vice-chancellorship. Hitler refused, demanding to be made chancellor, and in January 1933, his demand was met.
When the Reichstag was razed by fire in 1933, Hitler was granted emergency powers, allowing him to act without approval or authorization from the government. This Enabling Act effectively handed Hitler absolute power. Democracy became dictatorship. As swiftly as the Third Reich rose, the Weimar Republic fell. When Hindenburg died, Hitler became Führer.
A BRIGHT ROOM CALLED DAY
by Tony Kushner
Directed by Brenley Charkow
Set/Props/Lighting Designer: Lee Livingstone
Costume Designer: Reza Basirzadeh
Sound Designer: Michael Caron
Video Designer: Matt Schuurman
Timms Centre for the Arts
October 12–21, 2017 at 7:30 pm
Preview October 11 at 7:30 pm
No Show October 15 Matinee October 19 at 12:30 pm