Europe, c. 1930: The Crisis (of Everything)
Talk with Katja Patzel-Mattern
The time between the World Wars emerged as a phase of unending crises. Much seemed to confirm the perception of a “particular unrest of the time,” which André Breton spoke of in 1926: from the continuation of the colonial projects of the “victorious powers” over the beginning bloc formation to the radicalization of political landscapes on a national level, the situation was tense. The global crises of capitalism threatened economies as well as personal livelihoods. In a letter of 1931, Carl Einstein lamented the crisis as a permanent condition, overlooking the fact that the decade had begun with hope: the League of Nations promised international balance for Europe, and the Central Working Group promised social compromise for Germany.
Katja Patzel-Mattern maps out a panorama of an era in which cultural criticism, political propaganda and science condensed to a crisis of modernity. She shows how this perception made reforms seem increasingly pointless, while the radical break pointed the way forward.
Katja Patzel-Mattern is an economic and social historian at the University of Heidelberg. She researches how societies have dealt with crises and disasters since the eighteenth century as well as the society of the Weimar Republic. After studying in Münster and Barcelona, she worked at the Technoseum in Mannheim and at the Cusanuswerk in Bonn. After completing her habilitation in Konstanz in 2007 she moved on to Heidelberg. In her recent writings she discusses historical crisis communication after industrial accidents and female employment in the context of social expectations.