Historical Social Research

Alf Lüdtke: Writing Time – Using Space. The Notebook of a Worker at Krupp’s Steel Mill and Manufacturing – an Example from the 1920s[Abstract]

This piece shall explore the use-value of ego-documents which are not in the focus of the recent surge of interest in these materials. At the center is an unpublished ‘Aufschreibebuch’ (not a diary but a notebook) of a Krupp-worker covering the 1920s into the late 1940s (with some addenda even into the 1970s). How did the writer try to ‘keep time’ in his recordings of his spending and using time? One of the striking features is the spatial ‘simultaneity of registers’ which the author pursued: politics, family and weather/gardening stand out, occasionally seasoned by local, national or global catastrophes. More generally, this spatial frame paralleled multiple activities and occurrences. Still, the writer followed their temporal sequence. In other words: the spatial recordings show the flipside of the ‘timespace’ (Jon May) the writer encountered and appropriated. Thus, temporality appears as the space of and for writing – made visible and at the same time consumed by inscribing pages of paper. From this angle I want to re-set the question of ‘acceleration’ which has become a principal label of the modern era, esp. the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Here my take is that ‘acceleration’ is missing crucial practices (and experiences) of the historical actors. Rather, scrutiny of people’s usage of space when writing time reveals various forms of intensification.

Order this article (PDF)
Back to issue HSR 38.3 / table of contents