The Life of Weimar’s Fallen Statesman

256pp 9 ILLUS 2012 LIST PRICE: £18.99 B790



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This biography of Walther Rathenau (1867-1922) tells of a man who – both thoroughly German and unabashedly Jewish – rose to leadership in the German War Ministry during the First World War and later became foreign minister in the early days of the Weimar Republic. His achievement was unprecedented – no Jew in Germany had ever attained such high political rank. But Rathenau's success was marked by tragedy: within months he was assassinated by right-wing extremists seeking to destroy the newly-formed Republic. Drawing on Rathenau's papers, Volkov creates a finely drawn portrait of this complex man who struggled with his Jewish identity and who treasured his 'otherness'. Above all, she illuminates the complex social and psychological milieu of German Jewry in the period before Hitler's rise to power.

This is by far the best and most sophisticated life of Rathenau in English. LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS