Cultures of Administration: The Reich Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, and the Interior Ministry of the GDR between Continuity and Political System Dependence, 1919-1975

Employees (IfZ):  Dr. Frieder Günther

Although the study began with a more specific focus on the Department for Constitutional and Administrative Law at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the project’s framework has now been expanded. The goal is to provide a comparison of the central ministries of the interior of the Weimar Republic, the Nazi state, and East and West Germany, identifying continuities and fractures in the administrative culture in the process. The following questions will also be pursued:


Was there a path dependence for the German state administration in the 20th century? To what extent did the four political systems connect with administrative traditions in 1919, 1933, and 1949, traditions which in some cases reach back to the German Empire? Or did once established administrative practices in fact change over the course of time as within the contexts of the political consolidation of the 1920s, of the Second World War, the formation of geopolitical blocs in the Cold War, and the “planning euphoria” of the 1960s? Did commonalities in administrative culture continue to predominate or did new cultures conditioned by the respective systems emerge instead in the Weimar Republic, the “Third Reich”, and East and West Germany? How did systemic fractures influence communications within the bureaucracy and external communications, their handling of justice and the law, and indeed the self-understanding of officials and administrative staff members?

The period in question begins with the founding of the first republic in 1919 and ends in the mid-1970s, when West Germany saw the end of an era of reform and with it a phase of administrative change. The concept of administrative culture provides a theoretical framework at the center of the project. This connects with recent approaches to the history of culture that distance themselves from the traditional history of policy and administration and which complement the investigation of important decision makers and the decisions they made with a greater emphasis on processes, symbols, and interpretations.

Three areas of investigation will lie at the center of the research on the four ministries: the ministerial staff, the self-interpretation of the ministries and ministerial staff and their interpretation by others, and the communications both within the ministries and their external interactions.



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