a French term used to describe both a form of theatrical entertainment and the dance halls and taverns in which the genre blossomed around 1900. It was in the Weimar era, principally in Berlin,* that cabaret flourished in Germany. In a period marked by artistic productivity, cabaret served to popularize much of the talent. Although Scala, Wintergarten, and Kabarett der Komiker were well-known Berlin establishments offering cabaret, Max Reinhardt's* Schall und Rauch, Die Bose Buben of Carl Meinhard and Rudolf Bernauer, and Rudolf Nelson's Nelson-Revue were devoted almost ex-clusively to cabaret. The chief writers of cabaret texts included Kurt Tucholsky,* Walter Mehring,* Marcellus Schiffer, and Erich Kastner,* while much of the music* was composed by Richard Heymann, Friedrich Hollander, Rudolf Nel-son, Theo Mackeben, and Mischa Spolianski.
   Weimar cabaret, evolving from fin de siècle vaudeville, provided a popular escape from the misery of everyday modern life. But while entertainment— indeed, wantonness—was a basic attraction, social satire remained cabaret's focal point. Performers satirized contemporary culture and politics through skits, pantomimes, poems, and songs (chansons). Since the motif was often set by contemporary events, cabaret assumed an importance larger than that accorded mere entertainment. In a republic plagued by defeat, incomplete revolution, hun-ger, rampant inflation,* and counterrevolution, satirists had abundant raw ma-terial for active imaginations. For example, in Weimar's early months the "unholy alliance" formed by a socialist, Friedrich Ebert,* and the army's Quar-termaster General, Wilhelm Groener,* allowed for trenchant satire; in the name of the Kaiser's army, Groener agreed to support a socialist-led regime while Ebert agreed to preserve that army as a bulwark against disorder. Since satire thrives on embellishing discrepancies between ideals and reality, the Groener-Ebert accord richly augmented those in sympathy with Carl von Ossietzky's* claim that Weimar was a "republic without republicans." This image of political absurdity was sustained and embellished until the regime's collapse.
   It has been argued that nothing so subverted the Republic, while concurrently diminishing the menace of Nazism, as the careless ridicule of Weimar cabaret. As time passed, every actor on Weimar's stage—the Kaiser, the generals, Ebert, Gustav Noske,* Matthias Erzberger,* Walther Rathenau,* the anti-Semites, Hugo Stinnes,* Gustav Stresemann,* Paul von Hindenburg,* Heinrich Brüning,* Hitler*, the bankers, and the industrialists—was reduced to a common level of absurdity. If one assumes that art relates a political message to which society is attentive, then it was among the Republic's chief tragedies that its intellectuals were unable to juxtapose caustic derision with a presentation of the regime's positive aspects. Blind to the threat of Nazism, many would regret the omission. With the Third Reich's horrors as backdrop, there is dark poignancy to the satirical nihilism that was so much a part of respectable, middle-class Weimar culture.
   REFERENCES:Appignanesi, Cabaret; Jelavich, Berlin Cabaret and "Cabaret"; Kiaulehn, Berlin.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .


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