Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
Thanks for that post, interesting;

however, without knowing the details of Veblen's analysis, I might remark that the following view:

> In that case, the industrialists would hire >
> themselves > a dictator who would allow them to
> reorganize.

Is only a very imprecise characterisation of Hitler and his relation to German industry. Certainly, I cannot reproach Veblen for writing this two decades before the Nazi seizure of power, how could he have known the precise dynamics in any detail. However, in the thirties, fourties and fifties this view (largely appropriated by the Marxists) had very wide circulation but it is essentially wrong, I would argue. Hitler was not "hired" by industrialists; his party was a revolutionary force based on popular support;

after seizing power, he ruthlessly pursued his racial goals through the power of the state which ultimately overruled any business interests; there was a lot of tension between the Nazis and industry as the Nazis began to gear the German economy towards war, imposing taxes and price controls, directing investments away from civilian production, establishing huge state controlled concerns (such as the Reichswerke Herman Goering), forcing businesses to buy government bonds etc;

of course, overall industry had little to complain as German recovery gained pace, Hitler dissolved all independent unions and the initial phase of war and conquest allowed them to reap untold profits; large parts of industry became extremely guilty; certainly, there was nothing resembling any kind of organised resistance to Hitler;

nevertheless, and in particular in the early 30s and before the seizure of power, industrialists were generally neither Nazis, nor particularly interested in giving a radical like Hitler a shot at government; they prefered a conservative authoritarian government such as that of von Papen in the early 1930s; the collaboration with Hitler was only meant to use his popular support to legitimize a conservative, traditional solution which on its own had very little popular backing at the time;

in this sense, one may say they "hired" hitler; but "they" is more the conservative political class than German industry per se; moreover, "they" never intended Hitler to become the absolutely dominant force in Germany as he swiftly did; nor was this any well-thought out plan to "hire a dictator"; rather, it was an emergency solution judged necessary by some of these deluded fools because they feared that if they did not integrate at least one of the big popular parties into government (and they sure wouldn't let the communists), popular unrest may spiral totally out of control;

by Almanax on Fri Feb 23rd, 2007 at 09:30:54 AM EST
"Imperial Germany" is a fairly large book.  My summary is a few sentences.  Obviously, I left a lot out.  Probably a LOT of important stuff.

The industrialists may not have exactly hired Hitler even if Herr Krupp claimed just that.  What is more important is that the industrialists got a lot of power in how the economy would be structured at the expense of most other actors--including banking.  And it showed--Germany was the first country to emerge from the global economic depression.

"The industrial system is handicapped by dissension, misdirection, and unemployment of material resources, equipment, and man power, at every turn where the statesmen or the captains of finance can touch its mechanisms." Thorstein Veblen (1921)

"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Fri Feb 23rd, 2007 at 05:00:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The industrialists may not have exactly hired Hitler even if Herr Krupp claimed just that.

I'm not sure what quote you refer to, but maybe you mean rival Franz Thyssen who wrote a book titled "I paid Hitler".

I also believed a simple picture of industrialist support until reading a historian's article presenting a more complicated picture, pointing out ignored or misinterpreted evidence.

For example, there was the secret 20 February 1933 meeting when 25 industrialists donated 3 million. But this was after Hitler became chancellor, and the meeting was organised by the Nazis, with much wit. Göring issued the invitations as speaker of the Reichstag, for a 'presentation of the new economic programme'. Then Hitler gave a talk about the menance of communism, hinted that democracy will soon be over, then pro-Nazti bankier Hjalmar Schacht said the famous words ("Und nun, meine Herren, an die Kasse!" = 'And now, dear Sirs, to the cashier!'). Peer pressure was also employed. So the relationship was the opposite as commonly suggested on the left: the (majority of) industrialists bowing to pressure to go along, rather than directing events from the background.

Another much-quoted evidence is the Industrielleneingabe of 19 November 1932, a letter demanding Hitler as chancellor signed by 16 (+4 later) industry leaders & financiers, but it is forgotten that  more industrialists signed a contrary petition, one titled Mit Hindenburg für Volk und Reich!, calling for support of rival parties earlier the same month.

I'd educative to compare the route of Krupp and Thyssen, the two big companies that were merged much later.

During the Weimar Republic, it was Fritz Thyssen who was pro-Nazi, while Gustav Krupp was a post-pro-Kaiser conservative who opposed Hitler and wasn't happy about his chancellorship. But then he gave funding when requested to, got a business upturn, and Hitler chose Krupp, the main WWI provider of armory, as propagandistic leader of the military industry, while after the Night of The Long Knives (the slaying of the leadership of the party militia SA, which Hitler feared as rival power base), Fritz Thyssen turned into an opponent of the Nazis, who took revenge by nationalising his firm, and even put him in a concentration camp. Meanwhile, Alfried Krupp, a son unlike father who was even in the SS before Hitler's takeover (but not the NSDAP), inherited the rival company, and it mutated into a major slave labourer under him.

Alfried Krupp would later explain his amoral opportunism with:

"Die Wirtschaft brauchte eine ruhige oder aufwärts steigende Entwicklung. Wir hatten den Eindruck, dass Hitler nie solch eine gesunde Entwicklung bescheren würde. Tatsächlich hat er das getan.""The economy needed a steady or upwards rising development. We had the impression that Hitler could never bring such a healthy development. But he did so in actuality."


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Feb 24th, 2007 at 08:53:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, you win!

Thanks for these corrections.  The really interesting story (for me) is why the German economy so completely outperformed most of the rest of the world's during the 1930s.  I THINK Veblen's explanation would be included in the following:

"The industrial system is handicapped by dissension, misdirection, and unemployment of material resources, equipment, and man power, at every turn where the statesmen or the captains of finance can touch its mechanisms." (1921)

What I know about this subject (which apparently isn't much) I got while reading Wm. Manchester's "The Arms of Krupp."  Manchester was a WWII vet who actually saw real combat (not a LOT of them from USA, you know) and spent the next 25 years trying to make sense of it all.

If you ever write a diary about this, please let me know

"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Sat Feb 24th, 2007 at 01:43:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The question of German industry and Hitler was the background to one of the nastiest disputes in recent American historiography, over a book by David Abraham which agreed with you, but was riddled with errors. Most of them were trivial sloppiness (ranging from minor cite errors to passing off paraphrases as direct quotes), but a few were quite serious (you do NOT cite non existent documents or insert/remove a negative to make it look like a key primary source says the opposite of what it really does to make your argument more convincing). Henry Turner, a very eminent historian at Yale who has specialized in the subject launched a campaign against Abraham and succeeded in getting him drummed out of the profession (he had gotten a TT at Princeton, lost his job, went to law school and is now a law prof). There was a strong political subtext to the mess as Abraham is very left wing while Turner fairly right wing.

In any case, if you want serious reading on the subject from opposite perspectives, you can try the revised Abraham The Collapse of the Weimar Republic: Political Economy and Crisis (don't read the first version) or Henry Turner's German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler

by MarekNYC on Sat Feb 24th, 2007 at 02:48:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Would you mind writing a diary about this subject (you being a qualified historian), of course if you have time to do so?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Feb 24th, 2007 at 04:11:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just remember here, we are discussing whether Veblen in 1915 actually predicted something that happened in 1932 so accurately that valid historians argue--with HINDSIGHT--whether he got it right.

The historical argument is interesting.  The validation for institutional analysis is overwhelming!

"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Mon Feb 26th, 2007 at 03:01:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Top Diaries

VDL: You Will Be Inoculated!

by Oui - Jun 11
2 comments

The Sciences of the Artificial

by Cat - May 30
19 comments

City Agriculture - May 23, 2024

by gmoke - May 23
3 comments

Occasional Series