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posted Oct 12, 2016, 6:21 AM by Linsey Rose
Hermann Struts
Hermann Struts, a lieutenant in the German army, fought bravely during the war. He comes from
a long line of army officers and is himself a graduate of the German military academy. Struts has
always taken pride in the army’s able defense of the nation and its strong leadership. Yet Struts is
bitter about the fact that he has not had a promotion in over ten years. Few soldiers have, mainly
because the Treaty of Versailles limited the size of the German army. In the old army, Struts
would have been at least a captain by now and possibly a major. The treaty, he argues, has
harmed not only Germany’s honor but also his own honor as a soldier. He feels that if the government
had refused to sign the treaty and allowed the army to fight, both he and Germany would
be better off.

Otto Hauptmann
Otto Hauptmann works in a factory in Berlin. Although his trade union has actively worked for
better conditions and higher wages, it has not made many gains. Hauptmann blames their lack of
success on the 1923 inflation and the current depression. He believes that the union would be
more successful if the economy were more stable. Still, it is the union that has kept him
employed. At a time when many of his friends have been laid off, his union persuaded the owners
of his factory to keep men with seniority.

Karl Schmidt
Karl Schmidt is an employed worker who lives in the rich steel-producing Ruhr Valley. Like so
many men in the Ruhr, he lost his job because of the depression. Yet Schmidt notes that the owners
of the steel mills still live in big houses and drive expensive cars. Why are they protected from
the depression while their former employees suffer? Although the government does provide
unemployment compensation, the money is barely enough to support Schmidt, his wife, and their
two children. Yet the government claims that it cannot afford to continue even these payments
much longer. Schmidt feels that the government would be in a stronger position to help people if
it cut off all reparations.

Elisabeth von Kohler
Elisabeth von Kohler, a prominent attorney who attended the University of Bonn, has a strong
sense of German tradition. She believes that her people’s contributions to Western civilization
have been ignored. Kohler would like to see the republic lead a democratic Europe. She disapproves
of the methods the Weimar Republic often uses to silence and repress different points of
view. Her sense of justice is even more outraged by the way the victors of World War I, particularly
France, view Germany. She would like to prove to the world that the Germans are indeed a
great race. She is proud to be an attorney and a German woman in the Weimar Republic.

GerdaMunchen
Gerda Munchen is the owner of a small Munich grocery store started by her parents. For years,
her parents saved to send her to the university. But Munchen chose not to go and the money
stayed in the bank. In 1923, she had planned to use the money to pay for her children’s education.
But that year inflation hit Germany. Just before her older daughter was to leave for the university,
the bank informed the family that its savings were worthless. This was a blow to Munchen,
but even more of a blow to her daughter, whose future hung in the balance. Munchen does not
think she will ever regain her savings. With so many people out of work, sales are down sharply.
And Munchen’s small grocery is having a tough time competing with the large chain stores. They
can offer far lower prices. She and her children question a system that has made life so difficult
for hardworking people.

Albert Benjamin
Albert Benjamin is a professor of mathematics at the University of Berlin. While his grandparents
were religious Jews, Benjamin is not religious. Benjamin’s three brothers, however, are religious
Jews. He is very proud of his German heritage, and even volunteered to serve in the German
Army during World War I. After the war, Benjamin married Eva Steiner. Eva is Protestant and they
are raising their three children as Christians. Benjamin is concerned because prices have gone up
while his salary as a professor has not. His family can no longer afford vacations and special presents
for the children. His wife worries that if the economic problems continue, the family might
have to cut back on spending for food.

Eric von Ronheim
Eric von Ronheim, the head of a Frankfurt textile (fabric) factory, is very concerned about the
depression. Sales are down and so are profits. If only Germany had not been treated so ruthlessly
at Versailles, he argues, the nation would be far better off. Instead the government has had to
impose heavy taxes to pay reparations to its former enemies. As a result, Germans are overtaxed
with little money to spend on textiles and other consumer goods. The worldwide depression has
made matters worse by making it difficult to sell German products to other countries. Even if the
depression were over, Ronheim does not think taxes would come down because of reparation
payments.
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