The welfare state was one of the pillars of the Weimar Republic. The Weimar experiment in democracy depended to no small degree upon the welfare system's ability to give German citizens 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, revolution, and inflation. But the problems of the postwar period meant that, even in its best years, the Weimar welfare state was dangerously overburdened. 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. On the ruins of Weimars social republic, the Nazis built a murderous racial state.
Existing work on the Weimar welfare state concentrates largely on the discussions of social reformers, welfare experts, feminists, and the laws and institutions that their debates produced. Yet the Weimar welfare state was not simply the product of discourse and discursive struggles; it was also constructed and re-produced by the daily interactions of hard-pressed officials and impatient, often desperate clients. Adopting a "history of everyday life" perspective, Germans on Welfare: From Weimar to Hitler, 1919-1935 shows how welfare discourse and policy were translated into welfare practices by local officials and appropriated, contested, or re-negotiated by millions of welfare clients.
"[T]he latest and [one] of the most impressive contributions to the burgeoning field of the history of German social welfare."--Central European History
"This is a first-rate manuscript, based on extensive and extraordinarily dense archival research, with a strong and appropriate sense of the prevailing historiographical and conceptual/theoretical questions for this period of German history, by one of the leading German historians in the United States...This book has been well worth waiting for, and will certainly have a major impact on the field."--Geoff Eley, Department of History, University of Michigan
"A major study on the Weimar Republic and on how millions of destitute Germans fared on welfare prior to the rise of Hitler. The author richly details the experiences of men and women at the grass-roots level of society, but also looks at their interaction with the policy-making authorities at the top. Methodologically innovative, this book will serve as a model for a new integrated socio-political history of modern industrial societies."--Volker Berghahn,
"David Crew has produced an original and important contribution to the growing literature on welfare policy and politics in interwar Germany...[His] rich reconstruction of individual experience shows the independence and agency of those dependent on the state, and it illustrates the complex relationship of political affiliation and welfare politics."--Journal of Modern History
"Crew pays special attention to various groups...women, the elderly, schoolchildren - and through an examination of the welfare state's policy towards them sheds light on a hitherto unexplored facet of German inter-war history."--Bulletin of the Institute of Holocaust Research