Surviving Times of Crises 1914–1950: Focus Nutrition


Forschungsnetzwerk Interdisziplinäre Regionalstudien (first)


April 2016 - March 2018

Principal Investigators

Ernst Langthaler and Ulrich Schwarz-Gräber


Ulrich Schwarz-Gräber



The project “Surviving Times of Crises 1914–1950: Focus Nutrition” examines different forms of access to nutrition and diets of food insecure people in the first half of the twentieth century in Lower Austria. The manner in which nutrition was dealt with in crisis situations here serves as a prism to analyze the plethora of strategies for securing a livelihood and the lifestyles and survival strategies of economically underprivileged people.

Studies have been conducted in Austria to some extent on the nutritional situation during World War I, the subsequent stabilization phase, the world economic crisis, the stagnation phase of the Dollfuß-Schuschnigg dictatorship, and under the war economy of the Nazi regime. However, there have hardly been any attempts to examine this entire period collectively. Moreover, the focus of research has to date lain on the metropolitan conurbation of Vienna. The nutritional situation in medium-sized and smaller towns in Lower Austria as well as in industrial settlements and peripheral agrarian landscapes, by contrast, has hardly been studied at all, with only a few prominent exceptions. This spatial and temporal fragmentation limits the possibilities of understanding the development of nutritional practice: The division between city and countryside has eclipsed manifold relationships of exchange between these spaces. Chronological divisions have moreover neglected to examine experiential contexts that influenced both individual means of nourishment as well as public welfare politics.

A primary goal of this project is therefore the explorative research into scattered and heterogeneous source materials from these spaces and time periods as well as the analytical concentration of the most various data sets. The focus is directed at those strategies adopted by agents to alleviate the existential threats of moments of crisis and to secure lasting access to physiologically sufficient as well as socially acceptable forms of nutrition within their economically limited means.