From the Archivportal: "Focus on – Welfare"

By Florian Brückner (University of Stuttgart)

This month, we are pleased to present a contribution by Florian Brückner (University of Stuttgart) from the portal for regional studies LEO-BW . In the information on further research possibilities below, we would like to refer you to the object gallery on the homepage of the theme portal, in which we present further sources on this group of topics.

The welfare services provided in the Weimar Republic were a direct result of the consequences of the First World War. Assistance for war victims, provision for the poor, widows and orphans as well as a continually growing number of unemployed benefit recipients was a heavy burden on the first German democracy. Numerous cases of social hardship were mitigated by church institutions here.

 „Hauptaufgabe, den Caritasgedanken in weitere Volkskreise zu tragen“, BArch R 1501.
The Caritasverband für Berlin (Caritas Association for Berlin), founded at the beginning of the 20th century, is complaining about precarious living conditions and reporting on its activities in the business year 1920/1921 and on its “main task to take the Caritas (charity) idea into wider parts of the population”, BArch R 1501 (German Federal Archives).

These included, for example, the Innere Mission (Inner Mission) of the Protestant Church. The Innere Mission had been formed in the 19th century as a reaction to pauperisation, i.e. the mass impoverishment which had hit the proletarian classes in the course of industrialisation in Germany. The problems of social hardship arising from industrialisation and social upheaval were seen by Protestant church leaders to be, above all, in the loss of Christian values. To remedy this, Christian morality had to be raised and an environment created, within which people could find their way back to God through charity. This was by no means just about improving precarious living conditions, but also about the Christian conversion of those missioned in the age of secularisation.

Such an environment was created by founding diaconal institutions, rescue homes for neglected young people and educational institutions for school teachers for the poor. It was particularly the deaconess houses which comprised care for the poor and the sick, infant schools and institutions for boys and girls in need (so-called Jünglingsvereine (youth associations), Herbergen zur Heimat (hostels for homes), Marthastifte (charitable foundations)). Supportive measures regarding the resocialisation of inmates released from prisons were just as much part of the Innere Mission’s field of activity as the founding of so-called women’s shelters and workers’ colonies for the homeless and the unemployed. The organisation and administration of these houses was the responsibility of the respective city missions.

Die Evangelische Stadtmission Heidelberg richtet sich mit einem Schreiben an den Kreis mit einem Unterstützungsgesuch für die Errichtung eines Obdachlosenheims. Anliegend an das Schreiben sind Pläne und Zeichnungen mitgeschickt, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Abt. Generallandesarchiv Karlsruhe, 321 Nr. 341.
The Evangelische Stadtmission Heidelberg (Protestant city mission of Heidelberg) addressed a letter to the district with a request for support to construct a shelter for the homeless. Plans and drawings were enclosed with the letter, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Abt. Generallandesarchiv Karlsruhe (State Archives of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Dept. General State Archives Karlsruhe), 321 No: 341.

The Badische Landesverein für Innere Mission (Baden National Association of the Inner Mission) is still one of the largest social bodies in Baden today. Founded in the Grand Duchy of Baden in 1849, the nursing and care of pensioners, the support for educational opportunities for underprivileged children and young people and the integration of people with mental and physical handicaps or mental illnesses into society are some of its central fields of activity up to the present day. As in many other charity institutions, like the Baden Women’s Association for example, the Grand-Duchesses were also some of the most important sponsors of this association here

Ausschnitt aus einem Brief von dem Sekretär des Badischen Landesvereins für Innere Mission, Theodor Koch, an die Großherzogin Luise von Baden, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Abt. Generallandesarchiv Karlsruhe, FA N 2754, 3.
Extract of a letter from the secretary of the Badische Landesverein für Innere Mission, Theodor Koch, to the Grand-Duchess Luise von Baden. Koch is complaining about the lack of support in the population and refers to the 70th anniversary celebrations of the association, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Abt. Generallandesarchiv Karlsruhe, FA N 2754, 3.

The text is by Florian Brückner from the information system for regional studies at the Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg. We would like to thank the portal for regional studies LEO-BW for making this text available.


Links to the sources in the theme portal

Deutscher Caritasverband (German Caritas Association)

A request of the Evangelische Stadtmission Heidelberg (Protestant city mission of Heidelberg) for the district to participate in the expansion of their hostels

Letter from Theodor Koch to the Grand-Duchess Luise; the work of the Landesverein für Innere Mission (National Association of the Inner Mission); anniversary celebrations of the Landesverein; publication of a small chronicle on its work; recruitment of new missionaries


Research possibilities in the Archivportal-D

If you are interested in further sources on welfare in the Deutsches Reich (German Empire), select "Kirchliche Sozialarbeit" (“church social work”) and "Freie Wohlfahrtspflege" (“non-statutory welfare work”) in the A-Z index and combine these thematic keywords with the geographical reference “Deutsches Reich”.

You can find further sources on the keywords "Kirchliche Sozialarbeit" and "Freie Wohlfahrtspflege" in the object gallery on the homepage of the theme portal.