Walter Christaller (1893 –
1969), was a German geographer whose principal contribution to the
discipline is Central Place
Theory , first published in 1933.
theory was the foundation of the study of cities as systems of
cities, rather than simple hierarchies or single entities.
Before 1914, Christaller began studies in philosophy and political
economics and subsequently served in the army; later, during the
twenties, he pursued a variety of occupations. In 1929 he resumed
graduate studies that led to his famous dissertation on Central
Place Theory in 1933.
At the end of the 1930s he held a short-lived academic appointment,
but then joined the Nazi
Party in 1940. He
moved into government service, in Himmler
's SS-Planning and Soil Office,
during the Second World War. Christaller’s task was to draw up
plans for reconfiguring the economic geography of Germany's eastern
conquests ("General plan of the East") – primarily Czechoslovakia
and Poland, and if successful, Russia itself. Christaller was given
special charge of planning occupied Poland, and he did so using his
central place theory as an explicit guide.
After the War he joined the Communist Party and became politically
active. In addition, he devoted himself to the geography of
tourism. From 1950 forward, his Central Place Theory
was used to restructure municipal relationships and boundaries in
Republic of Germany and the system is still in place
- Christaller, Walter (1933): Die zentralen Orte in
Süddeutschland. Gustav Fischer, Jena.
- Rössler, Marc (1989): Applied geography and area research
in Nazi society: central place theory and planning, 1933-1945.
Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 7, 419-431.