The State’s Dealing with the Poor before, during, and after National Socialism
Continuities and Discontinuities, Part 1
Keywords:socio-political history of the treatment of the poor, continuities and discontinuities before, during and after National Socialism, rehabilitation efforts regarding ‘asocials’ and ‘professional criminals’ in Germany of the late 2010s, divergence of the social case law regarding sanctions of unemployed since the mid-1990s
This article reconstructs the continuities and differences in the treatment of the poor and unemployed before, during, and after National Socialism. To this end, it takes as its starting point previous research on the socio-political history of poor relief from the late Middle Ages to the present, and on the persecution of the poor and unemployed between 1933 and 1945. The author illuminates in particular the role of the image of the poor and their mistreatment by welfare institutions. The reconstruction of continuities in these respects serves as a starting point for answering the question of whether the historically consolidated parameters of poor relief still have an impact in the twenty-first century. To answer this question, the author examines two current cases. The first is the efforts in the late 2010s to rehabilitate people who were persecuted and murdered as “asocials” and “professional criminals” during the Nazi regime. The second is a hitherto little-noticed peculiarity of social case law on sanctions for the unemployed since the mid-1990s: a divergence from the consolidated unanimous supreme court jurisprudence in Germany. It has resulted in the recipients of unemployed benefits being restricted with regard to their constitutional guarantee of legal recourse.
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