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Theodor Fritsch and the German (völkische) version of the Garden City: the Garden City invented two years before Ebenezer Howard

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Abstract:

The garden city is generally credited as being the brainchild of the English reformer and visionary, Ebenezer Howard, first published in 1898 in his book To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform. However a German contemporary, Theodor Fritsch (1852-1933), also claimed authorship of the idea in 1896 in his book Die Stadt der Zukunft. The second edition of this book, published in 1912, actually bears the subtitle Gartenstadt. Unlike Howard's progressive and humane reformism, Fritsch's vision reflected an extreme-racist perspective that later contributed to National Socialist ideology and caused him to be revered as a prophet of Nazism. Unlike Howard, Fritsch was a prolific author whose other work included rabidly anti-Semitic propaganda, often expressed in his journal, Hammer. His ideas were almost completely ignored by the German garden city association, founded in 1902, which embodied Howard's more liberal and humanistic perspectives. This article examines Fritsch's claims to authorship and considers the nature of his vision of the garden city, using his other writings to give a fuller picture of his thinking. It also details two settlements with which Fritsch was actively associated, Eden (1893-) and Heimland (1908-). Finally it compares the nature of Howard's and Fritsch's garden city visions and offers some reasons as to why the former became so completely dominant.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0266543042000177896

Affiliations: TU Hamburg-Harburg Woellmerstraße 1 20144 Hamburg Germany, Email: d.schubert@tu-harburg.de

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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