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Christian Democratic Workers and the Forging of German Democracy, 1920–1980


  • Date Published: March 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108424110

£ 75.00

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About the Authors
  • Why has democracy flourished in the Federal Republic of Germany despite that country's troubled past? Exhaustive research in German historical archives illuminates the pivotal role played by the veterans of the Christian trade unions of the Weimar Republic, the only group to participate in both of Germany's most successful political experiments after 1945, a 'Christian Democratic' party to unite Catholics and Protestants, and unified labor unions for workers of all political outlooks. They perceived that feuds between the religious confessions and competition among three rival labor federations had greatly facilitated Hitler's rise, and they resolved to bridge both chasms. Playing an influential role on the left wing of the CDU from the 1950s to the 1970s, Christian laborites alleviated class conflict through new welfare programs and laws to grant workers a powerful voice in management decisions. They took the lead in forging the distinctive 'German Model' for labor relations.

    • Painstaking archival research uncovers new evidence unknown even to specialists in the field
    • Integrates the analysis of party politics, labor history and labor relations, and Catholic Church history
    • Illuminates what German political actors truly learned from the dissolution of the Weimar Republic and the experience of the Third Reich
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'From co-determination between employees and employers to the welfare state, from debates about democracy to the gradual rise of Social Democracy, the Catholic labor movement played a critical role in constructing postwar West Germany. Patch tells the story of these 'bridge-builders' beautifully, with an unsurpassed knowledge of the sources.' Peter C. Caldwell, Rice University, Texas

    'William Patch's Christian Democratic Workers and the Forging of German Democracy, 1920–1980 offers a compelling argument that Christian labor leaders in the early Federal Republic – Catholic as well as Protestant – set aside the confessional divisions that had so severely damaged their prospects in the Weimar Republic to unite behind the newly founded Christian Democratic Union, from where they went on to play a decisive role in the creation of a stable German democracy.' Larry Eugene Jones, Canisius College, New York

    'Overturning the dominant view of the conservatism of the German Christian Democratic Party, William L. Patch shows how fundamental the impact of Christian labor on German society really was. A bold argument, based on extensive research, presented in a rich and nuanced way. Highly relevant also for our present neo-liberal and populist times. Impressive.' Patrick Pasture, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

    'The book acknowledges the contribution of the Christian Social Labor Movement to the German model of labor relations and Social Market Economy. Furthermore it impressively highlights the brave resistance against Hitler by the Christian Trade Unions of the 20s and 30s. It also shows their often overlooked influence on the CDU in West Germany. All in all an important book about a Germany which is little known.' Tilman Mayer, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108424110
    • length: 340 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.62kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: democratization and the 'German model' for labor relations
    1. Christian trade unionists and the dissolution of the Weimar republic
    2. Christian laborites and the founding of the federal republic
    3. The debate over co-determination (mitbestimmung), 1949–1953
    4. The influence of Christian democratic workers on welfare legislation, 1953–1957
    5. Seeking a new path in the twilight of the Adenauer era
    6. The political success and organizational decline of Christian democratic workers, 1966–1980
    Conclusion: the legacy of the Christian labor movement.

  • Author

    William L. Patch, Washington and Lee University, Virginia
    William L. Patch is the William R. Kenan Professor of History at Washington and Lee University, Virginia. He is the author of many monographs and articles, including Heinrich Brüning and the Dissolution of the Weimar Republic (Cambridge, 1998).

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