Have military veterans social security loans


Herbert Obinger

To person

is Professor of Comparative State Activity Research and Comparative Social Policy at the University of Bremen and Director of the Political Economy of the Welfare State Department at the Socium - Research Center for Inequality and Social Policy. [email protected]

In the course of the 19th century, all Western European countries created their first social laws. It all started with legislation on the protection of workers, initially limited to children and young people, later extended to women and finally to the entire industrial workforce. Starting in the 1880s, the breakthrough in social security began with the German Empire, and on the eve of the First World War, all Western European countries had already created at least one social security program. [1] Unemployment insurance spread rapidly in Europe after World War I, and state cash benefits for families were introduced for the first time around World War II.

The emergence and expansion of the modern welfare state has many causes. In addition to far-reaching social and economic upheavals in the course of the industrial revolution and the associated rise of the labor movement, the emergence of nation states, the legitimacy problems of autocratic regimes, and processes of secularization and democratization also played an important role. [2] However, the history of the creation of the welfare state also has dark sides. Guided by the state's foreign policy ambitions for power, military interests, war and dealing with the consequences of the war have also shaped state social policy. In isolated cases the military was even a relevant socio-political actor, and not only when it came to the social security of members of the armed forces and their families. [3]

The influence of the military and military interests on social policy may come as a surprise at first sight. On closer inspection, however, a number of interfaces become apparent when the changes in military organization and technology, the far-reaching socio-economic upheavals and the increasing international tensions in the late 19th century are viewed together.

Almost all continental European countries introduced compulsory military service in the second half of the 19th century. [4] At the same time, military technology made enormous advances: the development of the machine gun and technical innovations in the artillery and navy massively increased the firepower and destructive power of weapon systems. Means of transport such as the railroad, the motorization of the armed forces and new communication technologies such as telegraph and telephone accelerated the spatial expansion of wars. All of this contributed to a totalization of warfare, which now aimed at subjugating the enemy completely and destroying his military and economic capacities. The mounting tensions between European nation-states made this scenario more and more likely until it finally became a cruel reality in 1914.

These upheavals in military technology and army organization coincided with a phase of advancing industrialization and demographic upheavals. As a result of the migration movement to the mostly urban industrial centers, the family and professional social protection institutions of the old, agricultural and craft-based world dissolved, while the new capitalist labor market decoupled employers from any social duty of care, so that children and young people also had to contribute to livelihood through factory work. With the advent of the industrialized mass war, the quantity and quality of the population [5] and the associated implications for the "national and military force" came into focus. This connection resulted in important impulses for social and educational reforms as well as an increased interest of the military in these questions. The guiding principles were purely power-strategic and military-functional motives, which were already reflected in the social-political phase in the war planning phase. When the war broke out, militarily motivated aspects of legitimation and motivation became socio-politically significant, while after the end of the war the demobilization of the armies of millions and dealing with the war-induced mass misery spurred the expansion of the welfare state.

Pronatalistic population policy

In the age of mass war, population policy moved into the focus of military strategic planning. At the end of the 19th century, the beginning of the demographic transition, i.e. the long and multi-stage transformation from very high to low birth and death rates, attracted increasing attention to the potential of soldiers who could be mobilized, disparagingly referred to by the military as "human material". For the military, the size of the able-bodied population was primarily of interest, especially the birth rate. The demographic changes brought about by modernization were indeed enormous; between 1870 and 1940 the birth rate in the western world fell by around 50 percent. [6] This transformation took place with a time lag depending on the national level of modernization and industrialization. The decline in the birth rate began unusually early in France. Due to the comparatively low birth rate, massive fears of depopulation have been circulating there since the 1880s. Demographic doom scenarios ("finis Galliae") and the traumatic defeat in the Franco-German War of 1870/71 gave the impetus for a pro-natalistic population policy that enjoyed broad support in politics and the military. [7] In addition to propaganda, social and tax policy was discovered as an instrument to increase the birth rate and to combat child mortality. France became a pioneer of state family policy. Before the First World War, tax breaks and selective transfer payments were introduced for large families, as well as universal cash benefits for families in 1931.

When the demographic transition began with a delay in Germany and Italy, similar demographic doom scenarios emerged in the context of the military expansion efforts of Italian fascism and German National Socialism. The population of a country was equated with power and world renown. In 1927, Benito Mussolini called for the population of Italy to rise to 60 million for the second half of the 20th century, because "what are 40 million Italians against 90 million Germans and 200 million Slavs?" [8] The National Socialists saw the decline in the birth rate as a harbinger of the looming trend "Volkstods". [9] For an apologist of total war like Erich Ludendorff, the loss of birth was an "immeasurable danger" that "must make itself felt in the Wehrmacht". [10] He therefore called for a pro-natalistic population policy based on eugenic principles. This would create a "healthy, growing sex that gives the army numerous and powerful replacements and is able to wage and endure total war".

Ludendorff spoke from experience. As the de facto chief of the 3rd Supreme Army Command (OHL), he commissioned the Prussian general staff doctor and head of field medical services Otto von Schjerning to draft a memorandum that was remarkable from a socio-political point of view, in view of the high losses and the increasingly disastrous supply situation. [11] Proceeding from the thesis that the power and welfare of a state are based on the number and strength of its population, it is conceded that it was only after the World War that the relevance of these factors was drastically demonstrated. Specifically, the memorandum complains about the decline in the birth rate, the high infant mortality rate and the high direct and indirect war losses. To "restore and increase the German national and military strength" dozens of measures are proposed, which are equivalent to a social policy action program: grants and cheap loans for setting up households, improving the position of married people in working life, tax relief for married people with higher taxation of unmarried people and better living conditions in the Cities to tackle hygiene problems, child poverty and child mortality. The latter should be curbed through better baby feeding and baby care, the construction of "nurseries", a midwifery law and breastfeeding bonuses. Measures to protect children and young people include the expansion of crèches and kindergartens, the introduction of comprehensive school medical examinations, the expansion of physical education, better hygiene conditions in schools, the provision of milk and higher taxation on tobacco and alcohol. Measures to compensate for additional family-related costs also take up a large part of the memorandum. These include (private) maternity and parenting insurance, progressive tax relief for families with increasing numbers of children, higher taxation for the childless and school fee reductions for large families. Similar measures were also discussed in the Reichstag, but due to a lack of funds and political resistance, concrete measures were not taken in the late war phase.

The National Socialists followed up on some of these family policy proposals. The introduction of the marriage loan, the child benefit and the reform of the tax brackets served pro-natalistic-folk goals and were, not least, militarily motivated. [13] Military expansion efforts were also the basis of the pronatalism of Italian fascism, where in addition to propaganda and a tightening of the abortion law, social and tax policy measures were used to increase the birth rate. These included penalty taxes for single and childless couples, tax relief for large families, child benefit, preferential treatment for married people with children in employment and in housing, as well as various measures to improve maternity protection and curb child mortality. [14] There was no effect on the birth rate, which led the Frankfurt journalist and local politician Ernst Kahn to the derisive remark that "the power of the Italian dictator comes to an end in front of the bedroom, because despite all efforts, fertility in Italy is falling from year to year". [15]

Strengthening the defense force

In addition to the number of soldiers, in the context of the military-technological and socio-economic upheavals described, the "quality" of the population also became of increasing military relevance. Above all, this applied to the health and education level of potential recruits. The transition from an agricultural to an industrial society was not without consequences for the army. Instead of physically strong young men from the country, more and more urban industrial workers appeared before the drafting commissions. For the first time, the samples provided mass data on the health and educational level of the male population. [16] In countries like Austria-Hungary, up to 70 percent of the young men who were patterned were unfit. [17] With a view to national military strength and high mobilization strength, these numbers were worrying for the military in view of falling birth rates, at the latest in the event of war.

Indeed, there is ample evidence that the poor physical condition of the young population has helped initiate social policy measures to improve public health. In addition to occupational health and safety legislation, the focus was also on health policy programs aimed at reducing infant and child mortality. One of the first examples is the Prussian "Regulatory Regulations on the Employment of Young Workers in Factories" of March 9, 1839. The impetus was provided by a Landwehr business report by the Prussian Lieutenant General Heinrich Wilhelm von Horn from 1828, in which he pointed to falling numbers of recruits due to widespread child labor in the Rhineland industrial regions. [18] This regulation included occupational safety measures for children and young people and linked permissible gainful employment for minors to attending school. Although military arguments no longer play a role in the decision-making process, this early social law can still be seen as evidence of military-inspired state activity in social and educational policy in a pioneering nation of general conscription. In the later German labor protection legislation, too, military motives appear repeatedly - above all the contribution of labor protection legislation to strengthening the military. With a few exceptions, however, it was not the military but the political elites who used arguments of this kind. Even the social democrats tried to convince the conservatives of the usefulness of potential social reforms with the defense force argument. [19] The aforementioned memorandum of the 3rd OHL also suggested occupational safety measures, such as extending factory worker protection up to the age of 18 or better protection for expectant mothers and women in physically demanding jobs. The National Socialist Youth Protection Act (1938) and the Maternity Protection Act (1942) were also in the tradition of a militarily motivated social policy. [20]

This nexus between worker protection and military strength was by no means restricted to Germany, but can also be found in the reasons for the Swiss factory legislation or the workers protection reforms of the Habsburg monarchy in the 1880s. In Great Britain, the military disaster of the Boer Wars was associated with the negative consequences of industrialization ("social degeneration") in the mother country and subsequently triggered social reforms in the field of child and youth welfare. [21] In Japan it was even right-wing national military who initiated social reforms in the context of a war of expansion. In view of the incapacity rate of 40 percent, a welfare ministry was created in 1938 at the instigation of general and military doctor Chikahiko Koizumi, which he later took over. The central measure was a massive expansion of health insurance, the coverage ratio of which rose from 3.9 million in 1937 to over 50 million insured persons in 1944. The pension insurance introduced in 1942 also served to finance the war. [22]

The rapid (military) technological progress also increased the qualification requirements in the popular armies. Although the more educated sections of the population were now drafted into the army as a result of general conscription, illiteracy was still widespread in the 19th century, especially in the south-eastern regions of Europe. The operation and maintenance of the technologically more sophisticated weapons and communication systems, however, required basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills. Military propaganda and mass indoctrination also require a uniform national language and reading skills of the population. In multinational armed forces such as Austria-Hungary, language skills were also acquired to ensure effective military communication. [23] Education therefore became increasingly important from a military point of view. On the one hand, the armies maintained educational institutions, organized literacy programs and thus literally became a "school of the nation". [24] On the other hand, there is evidence that military defeats and military rivalries between states led to state educational reforms and higher education spending. [25] One example is the Austrian Reich Primary School Act of 1869, which stipulated compulsory education for eight years and was passed one year after the introduction of general military service. Both reforms were initiated by the defeat by Prussia in the Battle of Königgrätz (1866). The higher level of education in Prussia was identified as a cause of the defeat. In contrast - according to an anonymous author in the "Militär-Zeitung" - the eastern half of Austria is a "pure agricultural state" with "a popular education that touches on the Asian". [26] A few weeks later a military man wrote in the same magazine: "For the real cause of our defeats, however, I consider: 'The all too rigid adherence to forms at the expense of the independent idea - the self-thinking spirit'". The way of fighting of the Prussians "proved that they gave the thinking spirit of each individual commander a higher right than brute force or strict form, and this was the cause of their tactical successes. Of course, it is not so easy in Austria to get the idea that way To leave room to maneuver, as in Prussia, because intelligence has not advanced as far as there.(...) More and more, however, the intelligentsia would have to be promoted throughout the state through more appropriate and widespread popular education, so that a certain group of ideas would also be implanted in the masses and in each individual of the masses. "[27] Similar to German labor protection legislation, however, applies Here, too, that although military aspects provided an impetus for reform, they were not the main motive for the passing of the law. [28] Nevertheless, the Minister of Education defended the Reich Elementary School Act in parliament with the words: "Not only on the battlefield, but also on the field, which the plowman cultivates, the elementary school is decisive everywhere. "[29]

Securing mass loyalty

At the latest with the outbreak of World War I, the social reformers recognized the military value of social policy. [30] The modern war - according to the general secretary of the Society for Social Reform, Waldemar Zimmermann - is a people's war which "is ultimately decided by the efficiency, physical and moral strength of the broad masses of the people". [31] The German labor protection and social insurance legislation has improved the working and hygiene conditions, medical care and the protection of the "offspring, this strongest source of the people's military strength", and has contributed to "strengthening the inner bond between all ethnic groups and the state". That is why social policy is an important element of "social armament", "preventive welfare work on the people's body" and a "strong helper in making the German people fit for war". For the President of the Reich Insurance Office Paul Kaufmann, workers' insurance was even a "source of German willingness to go to war", [32] and at the end of 1914 he saw the patriotic fever in the achievements of social and educational policy as the reason for the victory: "The battle of Königgrätz is well known the German schoolmaster won. Now German school and social policy are victorious. "[33]

As is well known, things turned out differently. The existing social policy was unable to alleviate the social misery of an unexpectedly long, industrial mass war, while the necessary expansion in wartime was blocked by the exorbitant military spending. However, this exacerbated the social tensions and created problems of legitimation. In this situation, social policy was instrumentalized for propaganda purposes. To strengthen the will to persevere and the morale of the troops, German military authorities referred to the social and educational achievements of the empire for the workers in the context of the so-called fatherland lessons. In a decree of the Deputy General Command of the XIX. Army Corps from 1917 said: "The basic lines of all social legislation must be set out. Reference must be made to the sums of millions that have hitherto been paid to the workers by social security and are paid daily. Above all, it should be emphasized here that the subsidies that the Reich contributes to the social security are extremely high. It should be emphasized here that these services of Germany for its workers are unique in the world. "[34] Even the" Sozialdemokratische Feldpost "referred to the insurance legislation in 1917, the German social policy and powerful workers' organizations as defensible German achievements. [35]

All of this was repeated on a grand scale in World War II. Great promises of the welfare state and the struggle for a more just post-war order were opposed to the privations and horrors of war. Well-known examples are Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Bill of Economic Rights" or the British Beveridge Plan. With the Atlantic Charter, both governments even declared the guarantee of social rights to be an official war goal of the Allies. Even a totalitarian regime like National Socialist Germany was dependent on a certain amount of internal cohesion and therefore instrumentalized the national social policy to secure mass loyalty. [36] The Nazis promised the largest and most exemplary welfare state in the world for the post-war period, and the German Labor Front pursued corresponding plans with the "Social Work of the German People" in the first years of the war. [37] The propaganda instrumentalization of social policy was now directed more towards the outside. German abstracts of the Beveridge Report were dropped on Germany by the Royal Air Force, while the Nazis propagated their model of society on the international stage. [38] Shortly after the Beveridge Report was published, the Reich Ministry of Labor had prepared a German translation. The whole report would - as can be read in the foreword - only illustrate the backwardness of England in the field of social policy. [39] Internally, however, the ministry feared negative effects on the mood of German workers should the advantages of the Beveridge Plan become known in Germany, and therefore demanded socio-political concessions. [40] As later in the Cold War, social policy became the subject of an ideological system competition. It is no coincidence that Great Britain set itself apart from the National Socialist in the 1940s warfare state the term welfare state which previously only circulated in intellectual circles and had a rather negative connotation. [41]

Social policy coping with the consequences of war

The enormous social problem pressure built up by both world wars was released in the post-war period under changed political power relations in extensive social reforms. [42] The demobilization of the armies of millions, political unrest and fears of revolution increased the pressure to legitimize and act after the end of the First World War, but at the same time opened a (short) window of reform. Independent labor or social affairs ministries have been created almost everywhere. The new social programs initially focused on caring for war invalids and survivors as well as integrating veterans. These programs demanded a lot of resources in the short term, but also contained innovative elements which in the long term also had an impact on the "civil" welfare state, above all disability policy. [43] In the context of military demobilization, unemployment benefits were introduced, which were later replaced by unemployment insurance in war-torn European countries. [44] In labor law, the introduction of the eight-hour day and dismissal protection regulations should be mentioned. [45] At the international level, cross-border, socio-political cooperation was promoted with the establishment of the International Labor Organization (1919).

After the Second World War, the democracies kept their promises of the welfare state, and the sociopolitical promises of the Atlantic Charter found their way into the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which for the first time enshrined social rights. At the national level, a new branch of the program was introduced alongside the restructuring and expansion of existing social security systems with universal cash benefits for families. Once again, countless military and civilian war victims had to be cared for and millions of veterans had to be integrated into society and the labor market. The socio-political coping with the consequences of the war resulted in a massive, long-term increase in public social spending [46] and - as in the case of war victims' benefits - is still visible in the social budget to this day.