Iron and Steel in the German Inflation, 1916-1923

Iron and Steel in the German Inflation, 1916-1923

Copyright Date: 1977
Pages: 544
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    Iron and Steel in the German Inflation, 1916-1923
    Book Description:

    This study explains how businessmen in the German iron and steel industry managed their enterprises, dealt with their customers, and acted in their relations with state and society during a period of war, revolution, and economic crisis. Because this industry occupied a central position in Germany during the inflation, the author's investigation illuminates certain crucial aspects of the Weimar Republic that have hitherto been relatively unexplored.

    The author explains how heavy industry-and particularly the iron and steel industry-successfully took advantage of shortages of raw materials and of inflation to gain the upper hand over customers in the manufacturing industries. He notes that it proved able to resist government and consumer efforts to change and control policies affecting heavy industry and, finally, to lead the counterattack against labor's greatest gain in the Revolution of 1918, the eight-hour day.

    Although the importance of iron and steel to the German economy declined in relation to that of more advanced sectors of the economy, its highly concentrated character, able leadership, and importance to the war and reconstruction efforts gave it advantages in reconstituting its power within the business community and the Weimar state.

    Originally published in 1977.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4788-4
    Subjects: Business, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    G. D. F.
    (pp. xvii-2)
    (pp. 3-50)

    The German inflation of 1916–1923 was a trauma that the German people have found hard to forget and historians have found difficult to assess. As a consequence, there has been a strong convergence between the popular image of the inflation and the one presented by historians. Both have stressed the horrendous hyperinflation of 1923, that spectacular dénouement of a protracted period of inflation and instability. They have conjured up the familiar but always mysterious personage of Hugo Stinnes to serve as the archetype of inflationary profiteers, and the socioeconomic history of the inflation has been conceived largely in terms...

  7. CHAPTER ONE The Dilemmas of Industrial Self-Government, September 1916–July 1919
    (pp. 51-109)

    World War I revolutionized the relationship between industry and government in Germany. Whatever their distaste for the republican regime that succeeded the monarchy after the Revolution of November 9, 1918, businessmen were aware of the fact that the “revolution” in industry-state relations had taken place during the war and recognized the significant continuity in the economic problems and practices of the wartime and postwar periods.¹ The Weimar Republic took up economically where the previous regime had left off. The wartime experience, therefore, is not so much background for this study as its logical point of departure, nor is the end...

  8. CHAPTER TWO The Disruption of Industrialist Solidarity, July 1919–April 1920
    (pp. 110-159)

    The signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the resignation of the Scheidemann government, and the fall of Wissell and Moellendorff in June–July 1919 did not trigger but rather accelerated the general drift into chaos on the iron and steel market and the continuing disintegration of the organizations and agreements intended to stabilize the industry. Between July 1919 and April 1920, the gloomy rhetorical question raised by theKolnische Zeitungin an editorial of July 3 was to be a constant theme: “When finally will the unavoidable total collapse come? That is the question that inevitably imposes itself upon everyone...

  9. CHAPTER THREE Unity Restored: The Struggle for Decontrol, 1920–1921
    (pp. 160-209)

    The development of Germany’s wartime and postwar inflation was not a smooth and continuous one, and it was anything but simple for state officials and industrialists to adjust to its imperatives. Institutions and policies designed to meet specific situations were condemned to rapid obsolescence, and lessons learned from one set of circumstances had rapidly to be unlearned or modified to meet suddenly changed conditions. All this had important psychological and political effects. It placed a premium on self-preservation and rapid adaptability and put on the defensive all those who strove to create programmatic or institutional frameworks designed to promote a...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR Vertical Concentration
    (pp. 210-279)

    The organization and regulation of the iron trades and the relations between raw materials producers and their primary consumers cannot be examined solely from the perspective of intraindustrial relations and the problem of government intervention. Both contemporaries and retrospective observers considered the massive efforts at vertical concentration undertaken by industry itself as the most fundamental and effective attempt to organize and regulate the production, allocation, and marketing of iron and steel and the products manufactured from them. An exclusive emphasis on the “superstructure” of economic activity represented by interest groups and ministries would mean neglect of the “substructure,” where important...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE 1922: From Low Interest to High Principle
    (pp. 280-345)

    In 1922–1923 rapidly increasing inflation gave way to hyperinflation and culminated in the collapse of the mark and the subsequent stabilization. It is unpolitical and unhistorical to interpret the German inflation as the consequence of “passivity” and “lack of policy” dictated by prevailing economic theories and fear of the political consequences of mass unemployment.¹ Leaving aside the question of how passivity in the face of inflation for political reasons can be described as “lack of policy,” one must note that so benign a presentation is extremely misleading because it veils the continuity of policy as Germany moved from inflation...

  12. CHAPTER SIX 1923: From Ruhr Occupation to Twelve-Hour Shift
    (pp. 346-444)

    The Franco-Belgian occupation of the Ruhr, which began on January 11, 1923, ushered in a year of such turmoil and complication in every aspect of German political, economic, and social life that efforts at a full-scale treatment or, as in this chapter, attempts to focus on certain limited but crucial aspects of the story, necessarily compel the historian to do even more violence to the fullness of reality than usual. Nevertheless, a focus on the German iron and steel industry is by no means inappropriate. The condition of that industry at the end of 1922 was symptomatic of the extent...

  13. Epilogue
    (pp. 445-470)

    In the winter of 1923–1924, German heavy industry seemed to be at the nadir of its fortunes. Production of coal, pig iron, and crude steel in 1923 had fallen even below the levels of 1919, and the Herculean efforts of heavy industry to restore its domestic and international position and redress the losses brought about by the defeat of 1918 hung in the balance. The Micum burdens seemed to leave room only for the slowest of recoveries, and even then for a recovery that would serve the interests of Germany’s major continental competitors. Hopefully, however, this study of the...

  14. APPENDIX ONE. Dollar Exchange Rate of the Paper Mark and the Gold Mark in Berlin, 1914–1923
    (pp. 472-473)
  15. APPENDIX TWO. Production of Coal, Pig Iron, and Crude Steel in Germany, Great Britain, France, and Belgium, 1913–1929
    (pp. 474-476)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 477-494)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 495-518)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 519-519)