Philanthropy, Civil Society, and the State in German History, 1815-1989

June 2016
3 black and white illustrations
234 pages
9x6 in
German History in Context
Library eBook
Camden House
BISAC HIS014000, SOC033000

Philanthropy, Civil Society, and the State in German History, 1815-1989

Thomas Adam

The first book to provide the English-speaking reader with the revisionist interpretation of the role of the state and philanthropy in Germany that is increasingly embraced by German historians.

Largely unnoticed among English-speaking scholars of German history, a major shift in interpretation of German history has been underway during the past three decades among German historians of Germany. While American and British historians continue to subscribe to an interpretation of German society as state centered, their German counterparts have begun to embrace an interpretation in which nineteenth- and twentieth-century German society was characterized by private initiative and a vibrant civil society. Public institutions such as museums, high schools, universities, hospitals, and charities relied heavily on the support of wealthy donors. State funding for universities and high schools, for instance, accounted only for a fragment of the operating costs of those institutions, while private endowments running into the millions of marks funded scholarships as well as health care for teachers and students. Private support for public institutions was essential for their existence and survival: it was the backbone of Germany's civil society. This book is the first to provide the English-speaking reader with this revisionist interpretation of the role of the state and philanthropy in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Germany: a society in which private actors claimed responsibility for the common good and used philanthropic engagement to shape society according to their visions.


Thomas Adam is Professor of History at the University of Texas at Arlington. He has published extensively in the field of transnational history and the history of philanthropy.

An e-book version of this title is available (9781782046752), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.

Table of Contents

The Competition between Nobility and Bourgeoisie for Dominance over Arts and Culture
The Role of Donors in Shaping the Intellectual Elite
Private Funding for National Research Projects and Institutes
Philanthropy and the Shaping of the Working-Class Family
Civil Society in an Authoritarian State: German Philanthropy on the Eve of the First World War
The Slow Decline of Philanthropy and Civil Society
Selected Bibliography


The first really comprehensive history of modern German philanthropy. It will be indispensable to anyone who is interested in the subject from now on. JOURNAL OF EUROPEAN STUDIES

Adam provides historians of the Kaiserreich with a new insight into how its robust civil society co-existed with an authoritarian state, and perhaps reinforced it. GERMAN HISTORY

In his fascinating new book . . . Thomas Adam sets out to revise the view of 19th- and 20th-century Germany as a state-centered society . . . . [T]he reader [learns] that 19th-century philanthropy in Germany was not . . . so much different from its contemporaneous counterparts in Britain and the United States. . . . Adam also has a second target in his crosshairs: Alexis de Tocqueville . . . and the thesis linking civil society and democratization. HISTPHIL

Provide[s] the reader with a useful new lens through which to survey the philanthropic landscape of the Kaiserreich and beyond . . . . MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEW

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