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Germans on WelfareFrom Weimar to Hitler$

David F. Crew

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780195053111

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195053111.001.0001

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Introduction: The Meaning of the German Welfare State

Introduction: The Meaning of the German Welfare State

(p.3) Introduction: The Meaning of the German Welfare State
Germans on Welfare

David F. Crew

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the history of the Weimar welfare system from the following perspectives: national, regional, local, and individual. In order to understand the meaning of the German Welfare State, one has to look towards the history of modern Germany. It has been recognized that it is hard to link a single strand in the history of the German welfare state since Bismarck because Germany failed to establish a stable, liberal parliamentary system of government, a democratic political culture, or an egalitarian civil society. Thus, the new German industrial nation allied with the Prussian aristocracy and the authoritarian German state to resist the forces of democracy. The welfare state became a central fixture of Germany's 20th-century modernity. The public welfare system touched the lives of Weimar Germans because the only means of assistance during the great period of inflation and the Depression was public welfare.

Keywords:   Weimar welfare system, German Welfare State, modern Germany, Bismarck, Prussian aristocracy, public welfare

The Narratives of Modern German History

If narrative theorists are right and meaning is constructed by the way in which a story is told, then it is difficult to attribute a single meaning to the history of the German welfare state since Bismarck.1 If there ever was an authoritative “master narrative,” it has certainly dissolved in recent years into a variety of new, often competing narrative possibilities. This narrative pluralism has been produced by the broader debates about modern German history in which scholars have engaged since the late 1960s. The search for the origins of Nazism has dominated discussions of both the Wilhelmine Empire (1890–1918) and the Weimar Republic (1919–1933). In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Jürgen Kocka, and other members of the Bielefeld school proposed a view of recent German history that rapidly attained the status of a “new orthodoxy.”2 This interpretation saw Nazism as the inevitable end product of Germany's political and social “misdevelopment” in the Wilhelmine and Weimar periods. Unlike other western European nations (especially Britain), Germany failed to establish a stable, liberal parliamentary system of government, a democratic political culture, or an egalitarian civil society. Instead of following the “British road” to democracy, the new German industrial nation traveled a quite different path of “Prussianism.” The old, “preindustrial” elite, the aristocratic Prussian Junker class, refused to give way to the rising German middle classes. The middle classes, in turn, increasingly frightened by the emergence of a socialist working class, forsook their “historic mission.” Renouncing their earlier liberal goals, they allied, albeit as junior partners, with the reactionary Prussian aristocracy and the authoritarian German state to resist the forces of democracy in Germany. By 1933, this conspiracy of preindustrial Junker and “feudalized” bourgeoisie could turn only to (p.4) Hitler in a last desperate and ultimately disastrous gamble to overturn Weimar democracy and resist the threat of Bolshevism in Germany.

In The Peculiarities of German History, which appeared in 1984, David Blackbourn and Geoff Eley challenged the Bielefeld school's arguments about Germany's “failed development” and its “special path” (Sonderweg) to fascism. Blackbourn and Eley attempted to “normalize” recent German history by shifting the focus of their discussion from “pre-industrial continuities” to the “silent bourgeois revolution in economy and society,” which by the end of the nineteenth century had transformed Germany into one of the most “modern” of the European industrial nations.3 But if Germany was a “normal” western European country before 1914, as Blackbourn and Eley claimed, why then did it plunge into genocidal barbarism after 1933? Detlev Peukert sought the answers to this problem in the “pathologies of modernity.” In major works on Weimar and Nazi Germany, Peukert called for a “sceptical de-coupling of modernity and progress,” arguing that historians must “raise questions about the pathologies and seismic fractures within modernity itself, and about the implicit destructive tendencies of industrial class society, which National Socialism made explicit and which it elevated into mass destruction.”4

The Bielefeld school had located the origins of Nazism in the persistence of fatal “preindustrial traditions.” Peukert detected a different set of continuities between Nazism and Germany's pre-1933 past. He argued that the Kaiserreich (1871–1918) introduced a period of “classical modernity” that experienced its crisis years during the Weimar Republic.5 The Third Reich was the result of Weimar's failure to resolve the multiple crises of “classical modernity” within the political framework of bourgeois democracy: “The NSDAP was at once a symptom, and a solution, of the crisis.” Peukert insisted that the Third Reich was a pathological variant of Germany's pre-1933 modernity, an exaggerated development of modernity's “dark side.”6

Peukert's “classical modernity” is characterized by advanced capitalist forms of production and economic organization, by bureaucratization, by the growing “rationalization” of society and culture, and by the “social disciplining” and “normalization” of the everyday lives of the masses. In the epoch of “classical modernity,” instrumental reason and the spirit of science assumed hegemonic roles in the ordering of German society. Peukert's discussion of Germany's classical modernity owes much to Max Weber. Yet this is a very different Weber than the social theorist to whom the Bielefeld historians laid claim in the 1960s and 1970s. That Weber was seen as the German prophet of a teleological American-style “modernization theory,” which could serve as a liberal/Social Democratic West German antidote to the dogmas of East German Marxism. By contrast, Peukert's Weber is a symptomatic thinker of the German and European Jahrhundertwende (“turn of the century”) who confronts not Marx but Nietzsche and who refuses to embrace the Enlightenment master narrative of “progress.” Peukert's Weber is sensitive to and troubled by the “antinomies of modernity,” which can be summarized as the progressive “rationalization” of everyday life through the processes of secularization and bureaucratization that threatens to produce the complete “disenchantment of the world” and the growth of a misplaced faith in the capacity of rational science to solve all human problems. Indeed, Peukert's almost postmodernist Weber presents an ambiguous and contradictory “modernity” with a “Janus” face.7

(p.5) Telling the Story of the Welfare State

The Pathologies of Modernity?

The welfare state became a central fixture of Germany's twentieth-century modernity, yet the history of German welfare has, until recently, been poorly developed by comparison with Great Britain.8 Early research was selective; historians focused on Bismarck's social insurance policies (sickness insurance in 1883, accident insurance in 1884, and old age and disability insurance in 1889) but neglected the history of poor relief and the poor law. This was no accident. Concentrating on Bismarck's social insurance policies allowed supporters of the Sonderweg thesis to argue that it was the political interests of the preindustrial ruling elites and not those of the bourgeoisie that both produced and profited from the precocious development of the modern welfare state. As George Steinmetz puts it in an excellent discussion of these issues, this “scholarship … often coded Bismarck's social policies as a result of neo-feudal paternalism and the weakness of liberalism, or as disqualified by the manipulative motives that inspired it.” But Steinmetz argues that the German social insurance system was unmistakably “modern” and “bourgeois”: It had much stronger support from industrial interests than from agrarian ones, and the practical ideologies according to which it functioned were quintessentially bourgeois.

By comparison with social insurance, poor relief might appear to have been a “traditional” form of social provision. But it, too, was emphatically “bourgeois.” Before World War I, systems of poor relief were largely constructed and implemented at the level of the local state by the liberal middle classes who still dominated local government and administration. The major nineteenth-century model of poor relief—the Elberfeld System—“stressed individual responsibility, self-monitoring, and quick reintegration of the poor into labor markets.”9 Regular visiting to achieve the intense “individualized” treatment and surveillance of the poor anticipated the central practices of twentieth-century social work.

By the late nineteenth century, however, bourgeois social reformers were beginning to insist that the German state would have to do more to promote the health and welfare of the German people as a whole than the existing framework of the poor law allowed if Germany was to become a world power and if its political order was not to be undermined by the spread of socialism among the poor. Alongside the poor-relief system there now emerged maternal and infant welfare centers, youth welfare officers, housing inspectors, and public health agencies that campaigned against tuberculosis. Advice and information would be dispensed even to “healthy” families and individuals in order to educate them in rational and scientific methods of reproducing and raising children, caring for the body and the home, and managing family economies. “Welfare was … increasingly understood as education in the methodical, rational conduct of life, as conformity of the everyday existence of the lower orders to the demands of scientific rationality.”10

World War I produced a rapid expansion of the welfare system. The national military emergency and the domestic crisis caused by mass deprivation and hunger on the home front forced the German state to assume responsibility for a much wider range of “clients” (war widows, war wounded, and others) and to expand social rights in return for the population's “sacrifices to the nation.”11 After 1918, the success or (p.6) failure of the Weimar Republic depended to no small degree upon the welfare state's ability to give millions of Germans at least a fundamental level of material and mental security in the face of the new risks to which they had been exposed by the effects of the lost war, the Revolution, and inflation.12 Yet the economic problems of the postwar period meant that, even in its best years, the Weimar Republic was an “overburdened welfare state.”13 The onset of the Depression and the growth of mass unemployment after 1929 destroyed republican democracy and the welfare state upon which it was based.14

The Nazis insisted that social policy must serve the priorities of “racial hygiene.” Instead of supporting the “weak” and the “unproductive,” as the Weimar system was alleged to have done, social policy in the Third Reich devoted its resources to the “biologically” valuable, who could contribute to the economic and racial health of the nation. The “biologically inferior” were denied economic assistance and subjected to “negative” eugenic measures, including forced sterilization, even euthanasia. In any relatively “benign narrative of [the] modernizing welfare state,” the Nazi “racial state” can only appear as a radical break from the previous history of the German welfare system and from “a central, secular developmental trend of modernity.”15 After 1945 (so this argument continues), the German welfare state resumed a “normal” trajectory that eventually produced the social justice and “security” that, until recently, and with some exceptions, has characterized the Federal Republic since the 1950s.16

Detlev Peukert's examination of the “pathologies of modernity” forces us to confront a much darker history. Peukert argues that the growth of Germany's modern welfare state was inspired by and in turn nourished a “utopian” view of social policy. Welfare reformers maintained that just as medical science had learned to cure diseases previously thought to be hopelessly fatal, so, too, modern social welfare would be able to heal the body social. This Fortschritlsoptimismus seduced social policy experts into believing that they could soon achieve a “final solution” of the social problem. Weimar represented the high point of this enterprise when social policy became firmly anchored in the state. Yet Weimar was also the crisis period of classical modernity in social policy, as in other areas of social, political, and economic life. Especially after 1929, when the Great Depression, mass unemployment, and state welfare cutbacks created previously unimaginable material deprivation and social dislocation, “the limits of what social-technology could achieve were reached in every direction.”17 Rather than accepting that German history had frustrated their ambitions, welfare experts began to redefine their Utopia. If German society as a whole could not be cured of its social problems, then healthy individuals must be protected from the influence of the “incurables.” The “scientization” of the social and the “medicalization” of social problems had, Peukert argues, opened the door to a new and distinctly modern “pathology” that found its ultimate expression in the Nazi program of separating the “healthy” Germany Volk from its “degenerate” racial and biological enemies, followed by their sterilization or extermination.18

However, Peukert's discussion of the pathologies of modernity in its German context does oversimplify a complex, conflict-ridden history. I would offer at least four major criticisms. First, Peukert stresses continuity at the expense of seriously underestimating the significance of the ruptures produced by World War I and by the Nazi (p.7) accession to power. Second, for Peukert, the vital continuity is a consistent “utopianism” that eventually led social policy experts to embrace “social racism.” Many of the participants in postwar social policy debates certainly believed that the Weimar welfare system would promote the “rationalization” of social behavior and everyday life.19 Yet this commitment to social rationalization often drew its inspiration less from the confident faith in social progress described by Peukert than from Germany's desperate need for social reconstruction following war, defeat, revolution, and inflation. Contemporaries often saw the Weimar welfare state more as a form of damage control than as the culmination of a Utopian project initiated in the 1890s. Nor was the Weimar welfare state run by a monolithic regime of experts singularly intent upon the pursuit of “the final solution to the social problem” but rather by a somewhat improvised chaos of competing authorities, underfunded agencies, and a mixture of private and public bodies. The ideological vantage points of most of the major welfare interests (whether Catholic, Protestant, or socialist) immunized them against exaggerated expectations. The Weimar welfare “establishment” also included local government officials and tens of thousands of volunteer workers (ehrenamtliche Organe), who were often more concerned with reducing the costs of welfare administration than with any Utopian goals. Moreover, attempts to impose the dictates of instrumental reason on the organization of everyday life “from above” could by no means count on a warm reception from below, among the welfare clients who were the targets of social rationalization. The friction generated by the welfare system's invasion of the “life-worlds” of millions of Germans and the resulting “confrontation of the concept of rationalization with other norms, or … behavioral orientations” made it difficult for the Weimar state to secure the popular legitimacy it so urgently required.20 Third, most recent discussions of the Weimar welfare state recognize the influence of what Peukert calls “social racism” but emphasize that it was only able to become the dominant welfare discourse and practice (and hence a murderous reality) after its critics had been silenced by the Nazi destruction of the Weimar public sphere and of the legal rights of welfare clients after 1933. Fourth, Peukert expands the concept of the “final solution” to include the persecution and extermination of large numbers of non-Jews who were regarded by the Nazis as racially or biologically “inferior,” as “lives unworthy of life.” Wolfgang Ayass has recently cautioned against blurring vital distinctions between the Nazis' victims. Ayass reminds us, for example, that “unlike Jews and Gypsies, the ‘asocial’ had certain ways out. The main criterion of selection was always active participation in the labor process or the war machinery. Whoever demonstrated that they could be ‘reeducated’ also gave evidence that their deviant behavior was [perhaps] not hereditary.”21

Feminist Historiography: Women/gender and the Welfare State

Historians of women and gender have also begun to rewrite the history of Germany's welfare state. Seth Koven and Sonya Michel argue that largely middle-class women philanthropists and social reformers played a previously neglected but extremely important role in the early development of welfare states in America, Britain, France, and Germany. Under the banner of “maternalism,” these women advanced new claims to participate in a previously masculine public sphere and attempted to expand the (p.8) boundaries and transform the definition of “politics” itself by insisting that social policy take account of the interests of women and children, which male politicians had largely ignored.22 However, Kathleen Canning suggests that Koven and Michel's claims for the importance of “female agency” are weakened by their own observations about Germany, where a strong state constructed “comprehensive social welfare programs for women,” even though German women exerted less political influence than their American or British counterparts. Canning argues that “even where women lacked ‘bureaucratic and political power’ … ideologies of gender shaped the definitions and practices of welfare and were in turn recast by state interventions and anchored by state authority.” Social policy “sought to fix gender roles, to align sexual divisions of labor with the social order, to regulate the social body through policing female bodies, even where bourgeois feminist-maternalists were unsuccessful or inactive.”23 In this book, I will argue that gender certainly played an important role in the shaping of the Weimar welfare state. But the gender lines drawn by the Weimar welfare state were complex, contradictory, and unstable. Bourgeois women struggled with bourgeois men but also with working-class men and women for power and influence within the administrative structures of the welfare state. The voices of bourgeois women competed with each other, as well as with those of bourgeois men, working-class men, and women in the new public spheres that formed to discuss welfare issues.

Gender must, however, be understood, as Eve Rosenhaft has recently suggested, as not just “the qualities attributed to empirical individuals but as a system of organizing social perception in which sexual difference is pivotal.”24 Adopting this perspective will allow us to see that the Weimar welfare state was traversed by divisions and tensions between (but also within) a series of gendered “spaces,” practices, and identities. The rational principles of “administration,” culturally coded as masculine, repeatedly collided with a more emotional, even spiritual ideal of “feminine caring.” Both male and female welfare officials frequently felt themselves pulled in the opposing directions that “bureaucratism” and “social work” signified. “Social work” repeatedly attempted to differentiate its (gendered) practices from those of a “policing” conceived of as masculine—yet policing remained an integral component of social work. Consequently, the Weimar welfare state cannot be characterized as either simply patriarchical or maternal.25

History of Everyday Life

Peukert's analysis of the pathologies of modernity and Koven and Michel's attempts to gender the narrative of the welfare state concentrate largely upon the discussions of feminists, social reformers, and welfare experts and the laws and institutions that their debates produced. Yet the Weimar welfare state was not simply the product of discourse and discursive struggle; it was also constructed and reproduced by the daily interactions of hard-pressed officials and impatient, frequently desperate clients. To see how welfare discourses were translated into welfare practices by local welfare officials and appropriated, contested, or renegotiated by millions of welfare clients, we need the perspective that Alltagsgeschichte (history of everyday life) can provide. The history of everyday life insists on the importance of getting “inside” the (p.9) “structures, processes and patterns” of social analysis.26 Through the careful construction of historical “miniatures” that allow “thick description” of the social production and construction of meaning,27 Alltagsgeschichte tries to understand how “big structures, large processes” were experienced and appropriated by ordinary people.28 But it is important not to think of “structure” and “agency” as antagonistic categories. “Structures” should rather be seen as “at once the medium and the outcome of human interactions. They are transformed by agents, but they are also reproduced by agents. … Agents could not exist without the structures that provide their constraints and possibilities, and structures could not exist without the agents who enact and/or transform them.”29

With very few exceptions, discussions of the German welfare state have simply ignored the voices of the millions of Germans who came in contact with the welfare system as its clients. Welfare clients appear as statistics, seldom as individuals. This is a peculiar silence, given the importance welfare authorities themselves assigned to the client's role in the welfare system. Weimar welfare offices distributed material support, but they also tried to educate their clients.30 This pedagogical project could not succeed without the clients' cooperation.31 Clients' responses to this project cannot be reduced simply to “compliance” or “resistance.” Alf Lüdtke's concept of Eigensinn can help us to understand the “ambiguities and contradictions of ordinary people's perceptions and behavior as they actually live their lives.”32 Eigensinn describes the inconsistent, even contradictory, practices through which ordinary people tried to assert their identities and interests. These small physical or verbal acts of daily self-assertion might be directed against those “above” (the authorities and their rules) but also against those “around” one (other welfare clients). And Eigensinn has no simple, unilinear consequences or significance: “Eigensinn makes it possible, makes it easier for the individual just to keep going and thus also opens up space for further participation and hanging on. In other words, questions about Eigensinn by no means lead us only or even primarily to resistance or complete emancipation.”33

The meanings and the consequences of Eigensinn did not remain constant from one historical period to another. War, revolution, and the promises of the Weimar constitution nurtured a historically specific “moral economy” that allowed Weimar clients to advance claims seldom voiced by Germans who turned to the poor law or private charity before 1914. Some Weimar welfare clients appealed explicitly to the social and political rights proclaimed by the constitution. Others cited the provisions of the new welfare laws. Even welfare clients who made no specific reference to constitutional or legal arguments may certainly have been encouraged to assert their interests by new conceptions of justice, right, and dignity. But self-assertion was an end in itself as well as a means to an end.34 The very act of challenging the authority of welfare officials, of calling into question their definitional powers over one's case, could be just as important to many welfare clients as any concrete material benefit that such a challenge might produce. Yet enjoying the immediate symbolic pleasures of self-assertion could jeopardize longer-term material interests. Welfare authorities often disciplined or excluded clients they regarded as “difficult.” Avoiding these painful sanctions called for more subtle and opaque forms of self-assertion, or what Michel de Certeau terms “surreptitious creativities” that “far from being regulated or eliminated by panoptic administration, have … insinuated themselves into the (p.10) networks of surveillance, and … are merely concealed by the frantic mechanisms and discourses of the observational organization.”35

Why Weimar?

Some of the best recent work on Germany's welfare state has refused to be confined by the periodization that Germany's political history supplies. Peukert's search for the pathologies of modernity transgresses the chronological boundaries between Wilhelmine, Weimar, and Nazi Germany. Andreas Wollasch, Ewald Frie, Young-Sun Hong, and Greg Egighian all see the “crisis” decade from 1914 to 1924 as a single, formative phase in the history of Germany's modern welfare state. And Peukert, Liz Harvey, and Marcus Gräser have identified important continuities in social policy that connect the last phase of the Weimar Republic to Nazi Germany.

Without denying the importance of these wider historical perspectives, I want to argue that the search for the meaning of the Weimar welfare state must bring us back to the specific circumstances of the Weimar Republic itself. The history of the Weimar welfare state was determined more by what distinguished it from its Wilhelmine predecessor and its Nazi successor than by what they all had in common. Revolution and defeat transformed the political, ideological, and economic contexts within which welfare institutions and practices were situated. The German Revolution of 1918/19 and the creation of the Weimar Republic destroyed the two foundations of the “imperialist motif” that had sustained and justified “bourgeois social reform” since the 1890s, namely, “a strong state and an expanding economy.”36 Bourgeois social reform and social work had not been able to strengthen the imperial state and prevent revolution. The labor movement now challenged the bourgeois monopoly of social work, demanding a democratization of welfare. The religious charities were able to resist the Social Democrats' demand for a complete state monopoly of welfare functions and to secure for themselves a special legal position in the Weimar welfare state.37 However, their experience in the Weimar Republic taught the religious welfare interests that state welfare threatened to secularize and bureaucratize all welfare practices, leaving no room for the traditionally important spiritual dimensions.

Germany was also poorer after 1918. Armed with new legal rights, welfare clients battled with the state and each other for the scarce and shrinking material resources of the welfare system.38 Welfare thus became a highly contested public sphere in the Weimar Republic, torn by incompatible visions of society and competing identities and interests. Between 1919 and 1933, the always fragile compromise that had allowed the Weimar welfare state to come into being began to unravel beyond repair. Those who had never been comfortable with Weimar's welfare state eventually turned their backs on it altogether and began to search for a completely different alternative. The Nazi accession to power allowed them to pursue that search untrammeled by the constraints—legal, political, and moral—that Weimar's public sphere had still managed to impose.

From a late-twentieth-century perspective, Weimar cannot be regarded as the period of Germany's decisive breakthrough to the modern welfare state; that transition is located in the years after Germany's defeat in World War II.39 Yet the political (p.11) commitment to the idea of the “social state” was a cornerstone of the Weimar social contract.40 This promise of the welfare state created popular expectations that turned quickly into grievances when the economic and political context of the Weimar Republic prevented this Sozialstaatspostulat from being translated into a meaningful social reality.41 Yet at the same time that clients were experiencing the manifest inadequacies of the Weimar welfare system, its opponents charged that the welfare state had grown too big, was too costly, and had made far too many Germans dependent upon handouts. It is important to remember that “the picture, so familiar to us, of the Weimar Republic as the first welfare state in German history was, for many contemporaries, only a pejorative designation.”42 In the Weimar Republic, we can observe the emergence of a political rhetoric about an overextended welfare system that continues up to the very present to nourish assaults upon the welfare state not only in Germany but in other western European countries and in the United States.43

Which Welfare State?

Until quite recently, discussions of Weimar's welfare state have focused primarily on labor legislation, public housing, and the introduction of unemployment insurance in 1927.44 But the 1920s witnessed a massive expansion of public responsibilities (under the umbrella of the 1922 Youth Welfare Law and the 1924 National Welfare Decree) for a heterogeneous collection of often newly constituted welfare clients—ranging from single mothers, illegitimate children, and delinquent youths to all those whose lives had been damaged by the war and the inflation. Contemporaries described this complex of means-tested support and educational therapies that supplanted both the Wilhelmine poor law and private welfare activities as Wohlfahrtspflege or Fürsorge. These terms had not been widely used in the nineteenth century, when “Wohltatigkeit” denoted private charity and emphasized its voluntary nature and “Armenpflege” described the limited, disciplinary and demeaning state poor law. By the twentieth century, both Wohltätigkeit and Armenpflege were seen as backward and discriminatory and were thus increasingly replaced by the terms “Wohlfahrtspflege” and “Fürsorge.”Both concepts intoned the importance of systematic, comprehensive treatment of social problems by the state in cooperation with private welfare organizations.45 It is this sphere of public welfare activities that is the subject of this book.

The public welfare system touched the lives of millions of Weimar Germans. During two major periods of crisis in Weimar's history—the inflation of 1918 to 1923 and the Depression of 1929 to 1933—public welfare became the only means of assistance for the great majority of those in need (see Table 1). At the beginning of December 1923, for example, 22 percent of the Munich population was on welfare; in Frankfurt am Main this figure was 39 percent, in Nuremberg 49 percent, in Stettin 56 percent, and in Dortmund, as a consequence of the Ruhr occupation, 80 percent.46 In the mid-1920s, the numbers of Germans who had to turn to public welfare decreased considerably, but after the onset of the Depression welfare dependency once again became widespread. In 1927, some 1,571,700 Weimar Germans were on welfare; this figure rose to 1,983,900 in 1930 and to 4,608,200 by the end of 1932 (an (p.12)

TABLE 1. Permanent Welfare Clients, per 1,000 Population




























Sources: SJDR, 46Jg., 1927, p.443;SJdS, 22 Jg., 1927, p. 441, 23 Jg., 1928, p. 126, 25 Jg., 1930, p. 431, 26 Jg., 1931, p. 333, 27 Jg., 1932, p. 324.

increase of 193 percent between 1927 and 1932).47 The four cities whose records provide much of the information about local conditions and welfare practices analyzed in this book all had per capita rates of welfare clients that were considerably higher than the national average in 1927. Between 1927 and 1930, the growth of caseloads in these four cities was consistently higher than the national average (with the exception of Cologne in 1930).48 By 1932, Hamburg's welfare clientele was eight times larger than it had been in 1925, and almost 23 percent of the city-state's inhabitants were on welfare.49

Toward (a) Possible Narrative(s)

How then should the story of the Weimar welfare state be told? Obviously, I do not think we should attempt to search for a new master narrative. What we need, as both gender history and Alltagsgeschichte have shown, is a way to tell the story that does not rely upon “a concept of reality which is monolithic, linear and does not allow for plural realities.”50 An adequate narrative will have to be skeptical about any “optimistic teleology of modernization,”51 but it must also resist the temptation, as Atina Grossmann has recently put it, “to impute to social welfare in general, from the imperial era on, a kind of slippery slope trajectory of inexorability that led in a perhaps bumpy, but nevertheless logical line to forced sterilization, euthanasia, and then genocide.”52 An adequate narrative must, finally, be able to recognize continuities without effacing breaks, ruptures, and discontinuities. With regard to Weimar's welfare state, this injunction means being able to locate Weimar in a wider historical context but not at the expense of understating the importance of the ruptures produced by the German Revolution in 1918/19 and the Nazi seizure of power in 1933. I hope this book will show how these requirements can be met.

Scope and Sources

This book examines the history of the Weimar welfare system from a number of perspectives: national, regional, local, and individual. The types of sources examined are, correspondingly, quite varied. Three national welfare publications proved to be of greatest use for reconstructing the national debates and conflicts on welfare (p.13) issues and policies in the Weimar period: the Social Democratic Arbeiterwohlfahrt, the Catholic Caritas, and the Protestant Innere Mission. Complete runs of each of these three national publications are housed in the Caritas-Bibliothek in Freiburg, where I was able systematically to work my way through every Weimar-era issue of each of these three journals. In Freiburg, too, I was able to explore what is undoubtedly one of the richest single collections of published contemporary materials dealing with both public and private welfare activities in the Weimar years. Here I also discovered and was able to begin to retrieve another type of extremely valuable source (although this search continued in a number of regional/municipal archives and libraries): the local welfare journals that a great number of Weimar welfare offices and agencies published, frequently in limited numbers and primarily for the use of local professional and volunteer welfare workers. These publications proved to be indispensable sources of information on local welfare practices and problems. In the library and archive of the Institute for Social History at the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Bonn, I found a rich collection of published material concerning the participation of Social Democratic organizations in the Weimar welfare system. The institute's extensive microfilm collection also gave me access to a wide range of regional and local Social Democratic Party (SPD) newspapers from the 1920s.

Primary responsibility for the implementation of national welfare laws and policies and for the day-to-day administration of public welfare lay in the hands of local authorities. Consequently, intensive research for this book was done in a series of local archives. I decided that it was important to pay attention to a range of different local social, economic, cultural, and political milieus. In northern and western Germany, I decided to focus upon Hamburg, Düsseldorf, and Cologne, three centers of industrial production with quite different political, cultural, and religious complexions. Hamburg, Germany's second-largest city (population 1,152,523 in 1925) and at the same time a federal state, was a largely Protestant stronghold of both the Social Democratic labor movement and the Communist party.53 Hamburg was one of the most important ports in northern Europe, and its economic and social life was shaped by the postwar fortunes of international commerce and the shipbuilding industry. In 1925, 26.8 percent of Hamburg's workforce was employed in commerce and trade, 13.5 percent in transport, and 5.5 percent in machine construction (2.9% in shipbuilding); 5.2 percent worked in the building industry and another 5.2 percent in the clothing trades.54 In the Rhineland, Düsseldorf (population 432,633 in 1925) and Cologne (population 700,222 in 1925) were heavily Catholic cities and Center party strongholds, where the political presence of the Social Democrats was considerably weaker than in Hamburg (although the Communists were just as strong).55 Düsseldorf's most important sources of employment were commerce and trade (18.1 % of the workforce in 1925), machine building and metal engineering (12.8%), basic metals production (8.6%), and transport (5.4%). In Cologne, the commerce of the Rhine River was a major source of employment; 20.0 percent of the local workforce was engaged in commerce and trade and 9.6 percent in transport in 1925. But 7.8 percent was also employed in machine building, 7.1 percent in the building trades, 7.0 percent in clothing manufacture, and 5.7 percent in the food trades. In south Germany, I focused primarily on Stuttgart (population 341,967 in 1925), a predominantly Protestant city where the Social Democrats were stronger than in Düsseldorf or Cologne but weaker (p.14) than in Hamburg. In Stuttgart, the important sources of employment were commerce and trade (17.2% of the workforce), followed by the clothing trades (7.7%), machine construction (7.5%), electrical, optical, and fine mechanical engineering (7.0%), and transport (6.6%).56 I also used archival materials relating to the entire region of northern Württemberg, which included several quite rural and agrarian districts as well as urban ones. In the Oberamtsbezirk Künzelsau, for example, where 56.7 percent of the population was Protestant, and the population density (excluding towns over 10,000) was less than 60 inhabitants per square kilometer in 1930 (compared with over 200 inhabitants per square kilometer in Stuttgart), 63.7 percent of the population was engaged in agriculture.57 Small farms of less than 5 hectares constituted between 50 and 60 percent of all agricultural enterprises; the remainder were between 5 and 100 hectares in size. The average size of a Künzelsau farm was between 6 and 8 hectares.58 It was not possible to engage in detailed research in East German local archives, but I have drawn wherever possible upon contemporary published sources from the eastern parts of Germany, especially the local welfare journals mentioned above. Indeed, local welfare journals have provided a great deal of information on a considerable number of localities in a number of different regions of Germany, beyond those for which it was possible to undertake detailed archival research.

The main aim of this book is to go beyond the type of discussion of welfare state policies and institutions that has largely occupied historians until now. I have examined the policies and the institutions of the emerging welfare system in considerable detail, but I have tried to show that these structures of the welfare state were the always provisional outcomes of complicated and contradictory interactions and relationships between welfare officials and welfare clients; in this book, “social practice moves to the center of the stage.”59 David Sabean points out that “once we center our attention on [social] relationships, we are forced into research strategies which favor the local and the particular.”60 Initial investigations of a number of local archives in northern, western, and southern Germany revealed that the administrative records of local welfare agencies have been quite unevenly preserved. My richest discoveries were made in Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Cologne, and Ludwigsburg. Among the very considerable treasures of the Hamburg Staatsarchiv are, for example, the detailed minutes of the regular roundtable meetings that brought the directors of each of the city's district welfare offices together to discuss current issues and problems of everyday welfare practice. In Ludwigsburg, I had the good fortune to discover detailed individual case records and petitions in a number of different administrative districts of northern Württemberg. However, the sheer abundance of administrative records in these particular archives does not solve the problem of gaining access to the voices of the people being administered. Welfare records reveal a close and reciprocal relationship between official claims to power and modes of representation. Although the construction of case files and other welfare documents often required taking direct testimony from welfare clients, welfare officials insisted on their exclusive right to interpret these statements and to define their authors' interests and identities. Officials tried to assert absolute control of the narrative constructed by their case files. Even the apparently most objective statistical lists were always, at least in some measure, “strategic representations of social reality.”61 We must, therefore, read welfare records against the grain, paying close attention not only to the strategies (p.15) deployed by welfare officials to defend their monopoly of definitional powers but also to the tactics with which clients attempted to contest, subvert, or evade these official claims.62

At different points in this book, I have engaged in the thick description of certain individual cases that produced exceptionally rich paper trails. The individual voices that emerge from these particular case files are not representative in any strictly quantifiable sense. In many instances, these files are so rich precisely because the clients in question had assumed the anomalous role, at least in official eyes, of “professional complainer” (Querulant). In their thoughtful examination of one such case, Adelheid von Saldern, Karen Heinze, and Sybille Küster suggest, however, that the Querulant/Querulantin may be exceptional only insofar as he or she functions as an “extremely delicate sensor … who, in exaggerated … manner draws attention to structures of the social order that are open to criticism and thus concern more than just this individual case.”63 In my readings of the individual cases that are presented in some detail in this book, I have tried to listen to these suggestions and to pay attention to what the individual case may be able to tell us about the range, if not necessarily the quantifiable distribution, of possible experiences, perceptions, and responses among the welfare officials and clients who did not leave behind such extensive documentation of their individual stories.

Chapter 1 of this book shows that the Weimar welfare system was made possible only by a fragile compromise between religious welfare interests and the Social Democrats. The conflicts of worldview that marked the origins of the Weimar welfare system continued to traverse its subsequent history in the 1920s and eventually contributed, during the Depression, to the dissolution of Weimar's version of the welfare state. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 take us inside Weimar welfare offices by exploring the identities and interests of the major actors at the local level: welfare officials, volunteer workers, female social workers, and welfare clients. A major aim of this book is to examine the broadest possible range of encounters Weimar Germans might have had with the welfare system; consequently, Chapters 5, 6, and 7 examine the experiences and reactions of different major categories of Weimar welfare clients, beginning with “social pensioners” and “small capital pensioners” in Chapter 5, then moving on to women (Chapter 6), and children, young people, and families (Chapter 7). Chapters 8, 9, and 10 are concerned more with experiences (hunger, homelessness, and unemployment) that were shared by a variety of different types of welfare clients. The conclusion offers a summary of the range of identities and interests that emerged from these encounters with the welfare system and then moves on to a consideration of the transformation of the Weimar welfare state into the Nazi racial state.


(1.) See Hayden White, “Historical Emplotment and the Problem of Truth,” in Saul Friedlander, ed., Probing the Limits of Representation: Nazism and the “Final Solution”(Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1992), pp. 42–43.

(2.) See especially Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Das deutsche Kaiserreich 1871–1918 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1973).

(3.) David Blackbourn and Geoff Eley, The Peculiarities of German History: Bourgeois (p.218) Society and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Germany (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984), p. 17.

(4.) Detlev J. K. Peukert, Inside Nazi Germany: Conformity, Opposition, and Racism in Everyday Life, trans. Richard Deveson (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987), pp. 15–16.

(5.) Detlev J. K. Peukert, Die Weimarer Republik: Krisenjahre der Klassischen Moderne (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1987).

(6.) Peukert, Inside Nazi Germany, p. 42.

(7.) Detlev J. K. Peukert, Max Webers Diagnose der Moderne (Göttingen: Vandenhocck and Ruprecht, 1989), pp. 55, 60, 62–64.

(8.) In the past several years, there has, however, been a rapid expansion of research in this area; some of the most important works include Christoph Sachsse and Florian Tennstedt, Geschichte der Armenfürsorge in Deutschland, 2 Bd., Fürsorge und Wohlfahrtspflege 1871 bis 1929 (Stuttgart: Verlag W. Kohlhammer, 1988) and 3 Bd., Der Wohlfahrtsstaat im Nationalsozialismus (Stuttgart: Verlag W. Kohlhammer, 1992); Detlev J. K. Peukert, Grenzen der Sozialdisziplinierung: Aufstieg und Krise der deutschen Jugendfürsorge von 1878 bis 1932 (Cologne: Bund-Verlag, 1986); George Steinmetz, Regulating the Social: The Welfare State and Local Politics in Imperial Germany (Princeton: Princeton University, Press, 1993); Elizabeth Harvey, Youth and the Welfare State in Weimar Germany (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993); Ewald Frie, Wohlfahrtsstaat und Provinz: Fürsorgepolitik des Provinzialverbandes Westfalen und des Landes Sachsen, 1880–1930 (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schoningh, 1993); Marcus Gräser, Der blockierte Wohlfahrtsstaat: Unterschichtenjugend und Jugendfürsorge in der Weimarer Republik (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1995); Young-Sun Hong, “World War I and the German Welfare State: Gender, Religion, and the Paradoxes of Modernity,” in Geoff Eley, ed., Society, Culture, and the State in Germany, 1870–1930 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996), pp. 345–369, and Welfare, Modernity, and the Weimar State, 1919–1933 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998);Christiane Eifert, Frauenpolitik und Wohlfahrtspflege: Zur Geschichte der sozialdemokratischen “Arbeiterwohlfahrt” (Frankfurt: Campus Verlag, 1993); “Der Wohlfahrtsstaat in der Stadt: Wohlfahrtspolitik und Wohlfahrtspflege in Westfalen, 1890–1945,” Westfälische Forschungen 43 (1993); Karl Christian Führer, Arbeitslosigkeit und die Entstehung der Arbeitslosenversicherung in Deutschland, 1902–1927 (Berlin, 1990); Greg A. Egighian, “The Politics of Victimization: Social Pensioners and the German Social State in the Inflation of 1914–1924,” Central European History 26, no. 4 (1993): 375–404; Edward Ross Dickinson, The Politics of German Child Welfare from the Empire to the Federal Republic (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996).

(9.) George Steinmetz, “The Myth of an Autonomous State: Industrialists, Junkers, and Social Policy in Imperial Germany,” in Eley, ed., Society, Culture and the State, pp. 267, 289, 295–300.

(10.) Sachsse and Tennstedt, Geschichte der Armenfürsorge in Deutschland, 2 Bd., p. 12. See also Ekkart Pankoke and Christoph Sachsse, “Armutsdiskurs und Wohlfahrtsforschung: Zum deutschen Weg in die industrielle Moderne,” Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 32 Heft, 1992, p. 158. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own.

(11.) See, for example, Belinda Davis, “Home Fires Burning: Politics, Identity, and Food in World War I Berlin” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1992). See also Hong, “World War I,” p. 347.

(12.) Pankoke and Sachsse, “Armutsdiskurs und Wohlfahrtsforschung,” p. 159.

(13.) On the economic and social consequences of the war, see Richard Bessel, Germany after the First World War (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993). On risk, see Ulrich Beck, Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity (London: Sage, 1992). For an extended consideration of economic historians' disagreements about the Weimar Republic, see Geschichte und Gesellschaft (11 Jg., 3 Heft, 1985), “Kontroversen ubcr die Wirtschaftspolitik in der Weimarer (p.219) Republik,” ed. Heinrich August Winkler, especially Jürgen von Kruedener, “Die Überforderung der Weimarer Republik als Sozialstaat,” pp. 358–376.

(14.) Werner Abelshauser, “Die Weimarer Republik—Ein Wohlfahrtsstaat,” in Werner Abelshauser, ed., Die Weimarer Republik als Wohlfahrtsstaat: Zum Verhältnis von Wirtschafts—und Sozialpolitik in der Industriegesellschaft (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden, 1987), pp. 10–11; Pankoke and Sachsse, “Armutsdiskurs und Wolfahrtsforschung,” pp. 163–164.

(15.) Atina Grossmann, Reforming Sex: The German Movement for Birth Control and Abortion Reform, 1920–1950 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. viii.

(16.) Pankoke and Sachsse, “Armutsdiskurs und Wolfahrtsforschung,” pp. 167–168. See also Hans Braun, “Das Streben nach ‘Sicherheit’ in den 50er Jahren: Soziale und politische Ursachen und Erscheinungsweisen,” Archiv für Sozialgeschichte, 18 Bd., 1978, pp. 279–306. The history of the DDR seldom figures prominently, if at all, in discussions of post–1945 German social policy, although the social problems facing East Germans in the wake of unification have made the DDR tradition of social welfare, now dismantled, somewhat more visible. See Hans Gunter Hockerts, “Grundlinien und soziale Folgen der Sozialpolitik in der DDR,” in Hartmut Kaelble, Jürgen Kocka, and Hartmut Zwahr, eds., Sozialgeschichte der DDR (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1994), pp. 519–544.

(17.) Peukert, Die Weimarer Republik, pp. 137, 139.

(18.) Peukert, Max Webers Diagnose der Moderne, pp. 102–121.

(19.) On the rationalization of women's domestic reproductive labor, see Karen Hagemann, Frauenalltag und Männerpolitik: Alltagsleben und gesellschaftliches Handeln von Arbeiterfrauen in der Weimarer Republik (Bonn: Verlag J. H. W. Dietz Nachfolger, 1990), pp. 99–116, 220–305, as well as Mary Nolan, Visions of Modernity: American Business and the Modernization of Germany (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), pp. 206–226. See also Tilla Siegel, “Das ist nur rational: Ein Essay zur Logik der sozialen Rationalisierung,” in Dagmar Reese, Eve Rosenhaft, Carola Sachse, and Tilla Siegel, eds., Rationale Beziehungen? Geschlechterverhältnisse im Rationalisierungsprozess (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1993), pp. 363–396.

(20.) Siegel, “Das ist nur rational,” pp. 386–387.

(21.) Wolfgang Ayass, “Asozialeim Nationalsozialismus (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1995), pp. 9–12,219.

(22.) Seth Koven and Sonya Michel, eds., Mothers of a New World: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of Welfare States (New York: Routledge, 1993), pp. 29–30.

(23.) Kathleen Canning, “Social Policy, Body Politics: Recasting the Social Question in Germany, 1875–1900,” in Laura Levine Frader and Sonya O. Rose, eds., Gender and the Reconstruction of Working-Class History in Modern Europe (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996), pp. 212–213.

(24.) Eve Rosenhaft, “Women, Gender, and the Limits of Political History in the Age of ‘Mass Politics,’” in Larry Eugene Jones and James Retallack, eds., Elections, Mass Politics, and Social Change in Modern Germany: New Perspectives (Washington, D.C.: German Historical Institute, 1992), p. 159.

(25.) See, for example, Ursula Nienhaus, Vater Staat und seine Gehilfinnen: Die Politik mit der Frauenarbeit bei der deutschen Post (1864–1945) (Frankfurt: Campus Verlag, 1995).

(26.) Geoff Eley, “Foreword” to Alf Lüdtke, ed., The History of Everyday Life: Reconstructing Historical Experiences and Ways of Life (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), p. viii.

(27.) Alf Lüdtke, “Geschichte und Eigensinn,” in Berliner Geschichtswerkstatt, ed., Alltagskultur, Subjektivät und Geschichte: Zur Theorie und Praxis von Alltagsgeschichte (Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot, 1994), p. 147.

(p.220) (28.) Charles Tilly, Big Structures, Large Processes, Huge Comparisons (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1984).

(29.) William H. Sewell, Jr., “How Classes Are Made: Critical Reflections on E. P. Thompson's Theory of Working-Class Formation,” in Harvey J. Kaye and Keith McClelland, eds., E. P. Thompson: Critical Perspectives (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990), p. 66; this is Sewell's rendering of Anthony Giddens's arguments.

(30.) Sachsse and Tennstedt, Geschichte der Armenfürsorge in Deutschland, 2 Bd., p. 12.

(31.) Ralph Jessen argues that this need for the client's cooperation was one of the reasons why before World War I in Prussia “welfare” functions (such as housing inspection) were taken from the police, who were associated with repressive practices, and assigned to specialized, new welfare agencies; see Ralph Jessen, “Polizei, Wohlfahrt und die Anfänge des modernen Sozialstaats in Preussen während des Kaiserreichs,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 20 Jg., 2 Heft, 1994, p. 178.

(32.) Eley, “Foreword,” p. x.

(33.) Lüdtke, “Geschichte und Eigensinn,” pp. 147, 151.

(34.) Thomas Lindenberger, Strassenpolitik: Zur Sozialgeschichte der öffentlichen Ordnung in Berlin 1900 bis 1914 (Bonn: Verlag J. H. W. Dietz Nachfolger, 1995), p. 284.

(35.) Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), p. 96.

(36.) Gräser, Der blockierte Wohlfahrsstaat, pp. 218, 222.

(37.) See Jochen-Christoph Kaiser, “Freie Wohlfahrtsverbände im Kaiserreich und in der Weimarer Republik: Ein Überblick,” Westfälische Forschungen 43 (1993): 28.

(38.) Detlev J. K. Peukert, “Wohlfahrtsstaat und Lebenswelt,” in Lutz Niethammer et al., Bürgerliche Gesellschaft in Deutschland: Historische Einblicke, Fragen, Perspektiven (Frankfurt: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1990), p. 348; Egighian, “The Politics of Victimization,” pp.400–401.

(39.) See, for example, Braun, “Das Streben nach ‘Sicherheit,’” pp. 279–306, and also Werner Abelshauser, “Arbeit, Für- und Vorsorge,” and Hans Gunter Hockerts, “Vorsorge und Fürsorge: Kontinuität und Wandel der sozialen Sicherung,” both in Axel Schildt and Arnold Sywottek, eds., Modernisierung im Wiederaufbau: Die westdeutsche Gesellschaft der 50er Jahre (Bonn: Verlag J. H. W. Dietz Nachfolger, 1993), pp. 203–206, 224–241.

(40.) Peukert, “Wohlfahrtsstaat und Lebenswelt,” p. 348.

(41.) Bessel, Germany after the First World War, p. 102.

(42.) Kaiser, “Freie Wohlfahrtsverbände im Kaiserreich,” p. 28. Kaiser points out that the term “welfare state,” with positive connotations, is an Anglo-Saxon import that first became popular in Germany in the 1950s.

(43.) See, for example, Dirk Kurbjuweit, “Der Sozialstaat ist sein Geld wert,” Die Zeit, Nr. 33, 9 Aug., 1996.

(44.) See, in particular, Abelshauser, Die Weimarer Republik, and W. J. Mommsen and Wolfgang Mock, eds., The Emergence of the Welfare State in Britain and Germany, 1850–1950 (London: Croom Helm, 1981).

(45.) Kaiser, “Freie Wohlfahrtsverbände im Kaiserreich,” p. 27.

(46.) Wilfried Rudloff, “Unwillkommene Fürsorge: Inflation und Inflationsfolgen in der Fürsorge am Beispiel Münchens,” Westfälische Forschungen 43 (1993): 180.

(47.) SJDR, 51 Jg., 1932, p. 41 I, 52 Jg., 1933, p. 507. In 1925, the total population of Germany was 62, 410, 619. SJDR, 48 Jg., 1929, p. 15.

(48.) SJdS, 23 Jg., 1928, 25 Jg., 1930, 26 Jg., 1931.

(49.) SJFHH, 1932/33, p. 161.

(50.) Thomas Lindenberger and Michael Wildt, “Radical Plurality: History Workshops as a Practical Critique of Knowledge,” History Workshop Journal, no. 33 (1992): 85.

(p.221) (51.) Eley, “Foreword,” pp. viii–ix.

(52.) Grossmann, Reforming Sex, p. vii.

(53.) In 1925, Hamburg had 985,083 Protestants and 60,017 Catholics. “Die Bevölkerung des Deutschen Reichs nach der Ergebnissen der Volksählung 1925,” Statistik des Deutschen Reichs, 401 Bd., 1 (Berlin: Reimar Hobbing, 1930), pp. 356–357. In the Hamburg Bürgerschaft elections, the distribution of votes between Social Democrats, Communists, and Nazis was as follows:


Social Democrats



























Ursula Büttner, Politische Gerechtigkeit undsozialer Geist: Hamburg zur Zeit der Weimarer Republik (Hamburg: Christians Verlag, 1985), p. 288.

(54.) SJFHH, 1928/29, Table 7, “Die WohnBevölkerung des hamburgischen Staates nach dem Hauptberuf (Haupterwerb) der Erwerbstätigen nach Wirtschaftszweigen, Wirtschaftsgruppen und Wirtschaftsabteilungen am 16. Juni 1925,” pp. 15–19.

(55.) In 1925, Düsseldorf had 128,820 Protestants and 273,198 Catholics; Cologne had 130,457 Protestants and 538,154 Catholics. Statistik des Deutschen Reichs, 401 Bd., 1, pp. 356–357. In the municipal elections held between 1923 and 1927, the relative strengths of the major parties in Düsseldorf, Cologne, and Stuttgart were as follows:









Social Democrats


























Dr. August Busch, Direktor des Statistischen Amtes der Stadt Frankfurt a.M., “Städtische Kollegien und die letzten städtischen Wahlen,” SJdS, 23 Jg., 1928, pp. 282–283.

(56.) Stuttgart had 259,003 Protestants and 64,825 Catholics in 1925. Stastik des Deutschen Reichs, 401 Bd., 1, pp. 356–357. Source for employment figures: “Volks-, Berufs- und Betriebszählung vom 16. Juni 1925: Die berufliche und soziale Gliederung der Bevölkerung in den deutschen Grossstädten,” Statistik des Deutschen Reichs, 406 Bd. (Berlin: Reimar Hobbing, 1929), pp. 434–448, 450–464, 706–720.

(57.) Württemberg in Wort und Zahl, ed. Württ. Statistischen Landesamt (Stuttgart: Verlag von W. Kohlhammer, 1930), pp.18, 21, 23.

(58.) Ibid., p. 36. One hectare is 2.471 acres.

(59.) Alf Lüdtke, “Einleitung: Was ist und wer treibt Alltagsgeschichte?” in Alf Lüdtke, ed., Alltagsgeschichte: Zur rekonstruktion historischer Erfahrungen und Lebensweisen (Frankfurt: Campus, 1989), p. 12.

(60.) David Warren Sabean, Property, Production, and Family in Neckarhausen, 1700–1870 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 11.

(p.222) (61.) Ibid., pp. 71, 76, 79, 99.

(62.) On the importance of the definitional powers of central European police, see, for example, Alf Lüdtke, ed., “Sicherheit” und “Wohlfahrt”: Polizei, Gesellschaft und Herrschaft im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1992), pp. 97–160.

(63.) Adelheid von Saldern, with Karen Heinze and Sybille Kïster, “‘Eine Sensation stösst ins Leere’: Gertrude Polley im Mittelpunkt eines Diskurses,” in Adelheid von Saldern, Neues Wohnen: Wohnungspolitik und Wohnkultur in Hannover der Zwanziger Jahre, Hannoversche Studien, Bd. 1 (Hanover, 1993), p. 92.