For most of the twentieth century, German mayors found themselves facing at least three ways. As public officials and administrators their first duty was to the state. But increasingly their loyalties were also to political parties as German society found itself organised around political systems. Finally, the creation of a modern public sphere wherein 'the masses' became a key agency meant that mayors had to respond to collective aspirations and interests, acting as popular representatives vis-à-is state and party. This triple role is the more interesting given Germany's chequered twentieth-century history, stumbling from autocracy to democracy in 1918, dictatorship in 1933. then democracy and dictatorship from 1945. Because the mayoralty was the fulcrum wherein state, party and people came together, as Wolfgang Hofmann seminally reminded us many years ago, 1 mayors have played central parts in this history.