Research assistant Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung (Mannheim Centre for European Social Research)
International tutor and research assistant Chair for the Study of Early Modern Period | Historical Institute | University of Mannheim
M.A. in History Advanced disciplinary modules in History of Law, Philosophy, Literature, and Media and Communication Studies
Final dissertation: The Basic Concepts of History as a Source: the Invention of Modernity in the 1970s
B.A. in History with Sociology University of Mannheim
Final dissertation: How Does Stolpersteine Contribute to Collective Memory in Germany? On the Role of the Individual in Commemorative and Memory Culture – with an Exemplary Study of the Work of the Cultural Monument Stolpersteine in Ludwigshafen am Rhein
Doctoral scholarship of the Forschungsnetzwerks Alterssicherung (Pensions Research Network)
Travel scholarship of the DHI Paris
Scholarship of the Hans Böckler Foundation
The Gagfah – Between Non-Profit Efforts and State Regulation. On the Intertwinement of Pensions and Housing Projects from the Early Twentieth Century to the Present Day
Although it was barely noticed by the broad public, the Gemeinnützige Aktien-Gesellschaft für Angestellten-Heimstätten (Non-Profit Publicly-Owned Company for Employees’ Dwellings), or Gagfah for short, played a decisive role in shaping the residential construction policies of the Federal Republic of Germany in the twentieth century. The housing projects it implemented reflected and reinforced a historical trend that began in the late nineteenth century. Members of the newly emerging class of employees sought to distinguish themselves from workers via their living and working conditions, despite the fact that their wages did not actually justify such a distinction. The Gagfah housing projects gave them a raised standard of living that soon became popular throughout Germany.
But why is all this of interest today? The Gagfah no longer exists, and in 2020 identity is rarely defined by conscious membership of the employee class. However, living remains a broad subject in everyday life in the Federal Republic; the same goes for questions of social belonging and social fairness.
After its foundation by the Employees’ Associations, the Gagfag was financed by the Reichsversicherungsanstalt für Angestellte (Imperial Insurance Institute for Employees, RfA). Over the course of the last century, this developed into the Bundesversicherungsanstalt für Angestellte (Federal Insurance Institute for Employees, BfA) before being subsumed by the Deutscher Rentenversicherung Bund (German Pensions Association, DRV). What the RfA and its successor institutions have in common is that they were majority shareholders of the Gagfah. Hence the close connection between pensions and housing projects.
To this day, a number of Gagfah buildings have had a visual effect on towns and cities. They are meant to represent a modern zeitgeist, expressed in their layouts and architectural peculiarities.
This study seeks to reconstruct the employees’ pension fund’s involvement in housing projects and to establish the associated self-understanding of the Gagfah and the RfA/ BfA. Moreover, it examines issues related to the consequences for urban construction, the framework of the welfare state and their international embeddedness.
The Gagfah thereby becomes a symbol of social structural transformation processes, ideas about identity and belonging, and the shifts in social and economic responsibility in the context of housing projects. Not least, the doctoral project reflects the development of our pension system and the content of their variables.