Petty Bourgeoisie in Weimar

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Weimar Germany in the 1920s and early 30s presented a progressively increasing number of challenges for most Germans. Not excluded from this reality was Emil Kleinholz. As a husband, father of two, and small business owner – Kleinholz faced the challenges of Weimer in both personal and professional life. Focusing on the instability of Weimar, Fallada uses Kleinholz in his novel to depict the vast scope of inflation and how it affected and influenced the petty bourgeoisie politically, economically, and socially.

Kleinholz is introduced to the reader as a customer of the novel’s protagonist. Approaching Pinneberg at his retail job, Kleinholz offers him a good job at a “good clean Aryan firm” if he ever gets “fed up working for a Jewish firm”. (pg. 49) A business owner with anti-Semitic sentiments, Kleinholz can be categorized as a supporter of the Weimar right. Kleinholz’s view, shared by many Germans on the eve of the 1930s, was not only spiteful but strategically defensive. Political views based around hostility towards Weimar’s Jews were on the basis that they were the enemy of the state who stabbed Germany in the back during WWI and continued to betray the nation through the Treaty of Versailles. While Kleinholz’s political allegiance is never descriptively stated – the basis of his ideologies, his comfort with Lauterbach’s activism, and the worsening economic conditions are all lined up with the platform of the rising National Socialist party. To provide for his family, Emil is the third generation owner of Kleinholz Grain Merchants - selling corn, animal feed, and fertilizer. By hiring workers and having a means of production, this places Kleinholz amongst the bourgeoisie in terms of class. Yet while Kleinholz owns his own business, it is a small business and not of very prestigious craft – aligning him more closely with the petite bourgeoisie. Furthermore, Kleinholz’s business is declining. The effect of inflation on his business truly reveals...
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