War, neutrality and mobilisation: securing the unemployed in Germany and the Netherlands 1914-1927

Anja Brok

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The impact of warfare on the development of welfare has interested scholars for some time. While a number of studies assert that there is a positive relationship between war and social policies, others claim that war obstructs their progress. Irrespective of its positioning, this literature shares a focus on combatants. But what about countries that remained neutral? The distance between a state at war and a state in a world at war may not be great in all aspects. My comparative study investigates the warfare to welfare nexus in two case studies: unemployment policies during and after the Great War in the neutral Netherlands which nevertheless mobilised for war, and belligerent Germany. My research is predominantly based on an analysis of archival material, collected in the Nationaal Archief in The Hague and the Bundesarchiv in Berlin. Sources include parliamentary proceedings as well as communications of political parties, employer and worker organisations, social commentators and interest groups. I contend that mobilisation for war rather than combat created an urgent need for the German and Dutch state governments to address the new phenomenon of mass unemployment which, prior to the Great War, they had not considered to be their responsibility. Mobilisation and demobilisation played a determining role in speeding up unemployment social reform. Initially considered to be of a temporary nature in times of crisis, regulating the care for the unemployed became, however unintended, a permanent state responsibility. While strategies differed, at no time did these governments fully surrender their increased interventionist position. My research adds to scholarship on the debate of state involvement in the growth of unemployment social policies and how this debate differed from that concerning other social legislation. It addresses a gap in the warfare to welfare debate and contributes to an understanding of welfare state development in the twentieth century.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013


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