The book is part of the 5-volume series “German Social Policy”, a unique multidisciplinary approach to the history of German social policy written by the doyens of their respective disciplines. The volumes expound the contribution of the German tradition to the rise of social policy in the Western world in the 19th and 20th centuries. Germany pioneered modern social policy in the 19th century when Bismarck introduced social insurance. After the Second World War, Germany’s Social Market Economy became a model of social integration. The volumes cover the history of ideas (volume 1), the legal and political history before and after 1945 (volumes 2 and 3), the German Democratic Republic (1949-1990) and the impact of German reunification (1990) (volume 4). Volume 5 embeds the German case in a major comparative study of European welfare states, complemented by a study of the USA and the Soviet Union. The volumes also yield insights into general theoretical issues of social policy beyond the empirical case of Germany. Each volume has an introduction by the editor who summarizes the contribution made by the volumes and looks into the future of German social policy.
This book traces the origins of the German welfare state. The author, formerly director at the Max-Planck-Institute for European Legal History, Frankfurt, provides a perceptive overview of the history of social security and social welfare in Germany from early modern times to the end of World War II, including Bismarck’s pioneering introduction of social insurance in the 1880s. The author unravels “layers” of social security that have piled up in the course of history and, so he argues, still linger in the present-day welfare state. The account begins with the first efforts by public authorities to regulate poverty and then proceeds to the “social question” that arose during the 19th-century Industrial Revolution. World War I had a major impact on the development of social security, both during the war and after, through the exigencies of the war economy, inflation and unemployment. The ruptures as well as the continuities of social policy under National Socialism and World War II are also investigated.