Hjalmar shaft

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hjalmar Schacht (1931)

Horace Greeley Hjalmar Schacht (born January 22, 1877 in Tingleff , North Schleswig ; † June 3, 1970 in Munich ) was a German politician and banker , from 1923 to 1930 and from March 1933 to January 1939 President of the Reichsbank and from 1934 to 1937 Reich Minister of Economics .

Schacht was one of the 24 leaders of the National Socialist regime accused in the Nuremberg trial of the main war criminals before the International Military Court . He was acquitted on October 1, 1946, on all charges .


Family, education and other things

Schacht was the son of the German businessman William Leonhard Ludwig Maximillian Schacht and his Danish wife, Baroness Constanze Justine Sophie von Eggers. He received his first two first names in honor of the American politician and publisher Horace Greeley, who had died a few years earlier . Hjalmar is a Scandinavian name. Schacht came from a relatively poor family. The parents gave the last of their money so that Schacht and his two brothers could go to the Johanneum School of Academics in Hamburg , where Schacht graduated from high school in 1895 . When his parents' income improved, Schacht was able to enroll to study medicine at the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel . He switched to German studies in the second semester . In the third semester - now enrolled at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich - he discovered his interest in economics in the lectures of the then most important economist (economist) Lujo Brentano . He also studied these at the universities of Leipzig , Berlin and Kiel as well as at the Sorbonne in Paris . In the summer semester of 1898 he returned to his home university in Kiel and completed his studies there with a doctorate (1900 with the political scientist Wilhelm Hasbach with a thesis on the theoretical content of English mercantilism ). Since there was no separate political science faculty in Kiel, as in numerous other universities in the empire, Schacht received his doctorate in philosophy (Dr. phil.). While his dissertation received the rating valde laudabile (“very praiseworthy”), the overall grade was less good because in the oral exam, in addition to economics and political science, the compulsory subject philosophy was examined, in which Schacht said he failed almost completely.

After Schacht had gained a foothold in the private sector and was making good profits, in 1903 he married Luise Sowa, the daughter of a detective inspector. A daughter was born in 1903 and a boy in 1910. In 1938 the couple separated, partly for political reasons, because Luise had developed more and more into a National Socialist , while Schacht came more and more into conflict with Hitler. In 1940 the seriously ill Luise died. In 1941 Schacht married Manci Vogel, 30 years his junior, with whom he had two daughters.

Schacht was a decidedly free spirit in his younger years who did not care about bourgeois conventions. He was literarily and artistically educated and of a liberal worldview. He regarded the practice of religion as a private matter. On June 3, 1906, he became a member of the Urania Freemason Lodge for Immortality in Berlin. Even after the compulsory dissolution of the Masonic lodges in the Third Reich, he publicly confessed to Freemasonry. Here he declared in 1914 that German Freemasonry had never given room to any exaggerated nationalistic sentiments, which is why it was entitled to say that the downfall of German culture would damage not only German Freemasonry but all of Freemasonry. In 1933 he declared on the role of Freemasonry that it had the obligation to deepen the tremendous experiences of the times (meaning the "National Socialist Revolution" ) in the minds and hearts of the people. His renewed admission to a Masonic lodge (1949 Zur Brudertreue an der Elbe in Hamburg) was not without problems in view of its importance for the rise of National Socialism and the associated ban on Freemasons.

Activity in the private sector

From 1900 he was an assistant at the "Central Office for the Preparation of Commercial Contracts" and from 1901 to 1903 managing director of the commercial contract association . From 1903 he took on tasks as head of the archive and the economic office of the Dresdner Bank , where he was employed from 1908 to 1915 as deputy director. In the first years of the First World War , as head of the banking department of the General Government of Belgium in occupied Brussels , he initiated the establishment of the central bank and the financing of the Belgian (compulsory) contributions .

From 1915 to 1922 Schacht was a board member of the National Bank for Germany and, after its merger with Darmstädter Bank, was a board member of Darmstädter und Nationalbank KGaA until 1923 .

Hyperinflation and Reichsbank

From November 12, 1923 until his appointment as President of the Reichsbank on December 22, 1923, he was Reich currency commissioner and played a key role in the introduction of the Rentenmark (November 15, 1923), which succeeded in ending hyperinflation .

In addition, on April 7, 1924, he became chairman of the supervisory board of the Deutsche Golddiskontbank, founded on his proposal to support the convertibility of the Reichsmark . In the same year he took part in the deliberations of the experts on reparations issues and in the London conference and took part in the Dawes loan . In 1929 Schacht was head of the delegation to the Reparations Expert Conference in Paris.

Schacht's request to the German banks to reduce stock market loans triggered a Black Friday on May 13, 1927 on the Berlin Stock Exchange : the stock index of the Reich Statistical Office collapsed by 31.9 percent on that day.

In November 1918 Schacht was one of the founders of the (left) liberal German Democratic Party , from which he resigned in May 1926. After that he turned to  more and more right-wing conservative forces - mainly because of what he saw as the overly generous spending policy of the Weimar coalition parties SPD , DDP and Zentrum . His criticism of the course of the DDP party leadership regarding their attitude to u. a. The referendum on the expropriation of the German royal houses without compensation, supported by the SPD and KPD (which did not achieve the necessary quorum in June 1926 and thus failed), was the reason for his resignation. In contrast to other parties, the party leadership had not given any election recommendations, but rather gave its members and supporters the option of supporting or rejecting the expropriation of the princes.

From February to June 1929, Schacht headed the German delegation to the international Parisian expert consultations, which, under the chairmanship of the American banker Owen D. Young, were to draw up a final payment plan for the German reparation obligations , the Young Plan . Together with his colleague, the heavy industrialist Albert Vögler , he hoped to prove through extensive figures and economic analyzes that Germany would be able to pay very little. The United Kingdom and France had agreed in advance that they would need the equivalent of around two billion Reichsmarks annually to service their inter-allied war debts with the United States and to keep a surplus to rebuild the areas devastated in the war. Schacht, on the other hand, only offered the equivalent of 1.37 billion, provided that Germany got back the colonies that it had had to surrender in the Versailles Peace Treaty . The expert consultations were on the verge of failure, but the Reich government under the Social Democrat Hermann Müller (SPD) instructed Schacht to give in. Without a new regulation, it would have had to pay the significantly higher annuities of the Dawes Plan ; in addition, there was a threat of loan withdrawals from abroad. Schacht complied, but subsequently declined any responsibility for the Young Plan , which he believed could not be fulfilled. In October 1929, Schacht took part in another commission of experts that prepared the establishment of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). The reparations were to be transferred through them.

When, at the following intergovernmental conference in The Hague, the German terms of payment deteriorated even further and the Reich government did not impose the strict austerity measures that he considered necessary to fulfill the Young Plan, he resigned as President of the Reichsbank in March 1930. His successor was the former Chancellor Hans Luther . As a result, he devoted himself to running his farm in the Mark Brandenburg for three years . Politically, he moved ever closer to the nationalist and Nazi enemies of the Weimar Republic and joined the society to study fascism . In 1930 he became a member of the Society of Friends .

National Socialism

Meeting of the Transfer Commission in the Reichsbank, from the left Schacht, Blessing , Puhl and Wedel (April 27, 1934)

Through the mediation of Emil Georg von Stauß , he met Hermann Göring in December 1930 . On January 5, 1931, at a meal together, he met Hermann Göring, Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Hitler , and he was deeply impressed by the latter. In October 1931 Schacht gave a sensational speech at the meeting of the NSDAP , the DNVP and the Stahlhelm in Bad Harzburg ( Harzburg Front ), in which he polemically attacked the monetary policy of the Reichsbank. In 1932 Schacht began to support the NSDAP, but without joining the party by then. He became a member of the Keppler Circle, which was converted into the Friends of the Reichsführer SS in 1933 . Schacht was one of the signatories of the petition of twenty industrialists, bankers and great agrarians to Paul von Hindenburg with the request to appoint Hitler as Chancellor. This submission did not have immediate success. Instead of Hitler, Hindenburg initially appointed Kurt von Schleicher as Reich Chancellor .

After Schleicher's failure, Hitler became Reich Chancellor. On March 17, 1933, he made Schacht President of the Reichsbank again. In this position, Schacht helped finance the armament of the Wehrmacht with the Mefo bills of exchange . In the same year, Reichsbank President Schacht, Hitler's confidante Hermann Göring and Reichswehr Minister Werner von Blomberg agreed on the financial framework for this armament: 35 billion Reichsmarks, spread over eight years. Four years should be used to build up defense capacity and another four years to create an offensive army . At the invitation of the NSDAP, he attended the Nazi party rally in Nuremberg several times and donated considerable sums of money to the SA . On January 30, 1937, Hitler awarded him and the other Reich Ministers the Golden Party Badge of the NSDAP on the fourth anniversary of the seizure of power . Schacht was thus a member of the NSDAP ( membership number 3,805,230), which he denied after the end of National Socialism. Schacht paid an annual membership fee of 1,000 Reichsmarks. In 1937 and 1938 he could be seen - in some cases with foreign guests - on many photos from official occasions with the party badge of the NSDAP.

Schacht was a member of the National Socialist Academy for German Law . He was a member of the board of the German Colonial Society and was senator of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society from 1933 to 1946 .

On July 30, 1934, Schacht succeeded Kurt Schmitt as Reich Economics Minister (until November 1937), and from May 1935 to November 1937 he was also authorized representative for the war economy.

As Reich Economics Minister, in September 1934 he put legislation called the New Plan into force. It was intended to counter the foreign exchange shortage by drastically restricting imports and promoting bilateral trade and clearing agreements . In November 1937, Schacht resigned from his position as Minister of Economics because Hitler did not take him seriously in this position. Schacht had great reservations about the autarky policy of the Third Reich. In the case of the synthesis of gasoline from coal, he criticized the inefficiency of the process; in the case of the plan to only supply iron ore from German ore deposits, the poor quality of the German iron ore, which would make self-sufficiency impossible. For Schacht, the self-sufficiency policy was largely a waste of resources. In pursuing the four-year plan, Hermann Göring also constantly intervened in the powers of the Minister of Economics, without Hitler having stopped it. At Hitler's request, Schacht remained - without influence - Reich Minister without portfolio until Hitler dismissed him from this office in 1943.

In December 1938, Schacht was negotiating the evacuation of Jews in London; these became known as the Schacht-Rublee Plan . With effect from January 20, 1939, he was dismissed from the office of Reichsbank President by Hitler because of his criticism of armaments and financial policy.

Three days after the assassination attempt on July 20, 1944 , Schacht was arrested by the Gestapo for allegedly having had contact with the assassins. After four months in the Berlin Gestapo prison, he was interned in the Ravensbrück and Flossenbürg concentration camps. On April 8, 1945 he was transferred to the Dachau concentration camp . In the last days of the war he was one of the 141 special prisoners and clan prisoners who were transported by the SS from Dachau to the “ Alpine fortress ” in Niederdorf in South Tyrol , where they were liberated on April 30, 1945 .

War crimes trials after 1945

Hjalmar Schacht in an Allied internment camp (1945)
Hjalmar Schacht on July 21, 1947 in Nuremberg as a witness in the Flick trial

At the Nuremberg trial of major war criminals , he was accused of, among other things, “crimes against peace”. Schacht pleaded not guilty and stated that by the start of the war he had already lost all authority. His companion Hans Gisevius , who was invited as a witness, testified in his favor. Next said William Vocke , Member of the Executive Board of the Riksbank 1919-1939, as a defense witness from. Schacht was acquitted by the court in 1946.

The US psychologist Gustave M. Gilbert examined all defendants of the Reich government and the military for their intelligence; he attested Schacht an IQ of 143, the highest IQ among the defendants.

Schacht was arrested a few days after his acquittal on the instructions of the state government of Württemberg-Baden on the grounds that as a former Reichsbank President and Reich Economics Minister he was one of the leaders of the “Third Reich”. 1947 sentenced him (after protests from the population), the denazification - denazification in Stuttgart as the "main culprit" to eight years in a labor camp near Ludwigsburg . In 1948 he appealed; in September 1948 he was acquitted and released as "exonerated". In the same year he published his book Abrechnung mit Hitler .

In the Federal Republic

Grave site of the Schacht family in Munich's Ostfriedhof

Schacht, like John Maynard Keynes , advocated controlled money creation by the central bank in order to combat deflationary tendencies and finance work programs.

In 1953 he published his autobiography 76 Years of My Life , in which he discussed , among other things, his relationship with Hitler. Hitler is said to have always been very polite and approachable towards Schacht, while Schacht's relationship with Göring steadily deteriorated the more openly he contradicted Göring's rampant economic policy, which ultimately led to his dismissal as Reich Minister of Economics. In this autobiography Schacht made an attempt to deny his membership in the NSDAP. Schacht quoted a woman who had written to him in a letter that despite the golden party badge he could not be a party member of the NSDAP because he was a Freemason and a villain. In 1953, Schacht founded the German foreign trade bank Schacht und Co. in Düsseldorf , which he represented until 1963.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Hjalmar Schacht worked as a financial policy advisor in West Africa and the Middle East, but above all in Brazil and Indonesia . The governments there made use of Schacht's expertise, particularly when it came to fighting runaway inflation. In the German public he appeared as a critic of expansive financial policy and excessive government debt until his death.

In the 1960s he became a member of the right-wing society for free journalism . In 1967, Schacht gave an economic policy lecture at the party congress of the nationalist collection movement, the Action Community of Independent Germans (AUD), which later became part of the Greens . In his book 1933. How a Democracy Dies from 1968, he presented his views on the failure of the Weimar Republic.

After his death in 1970, Hjalmar Schacht was buried in the Ostfriedhof in Munich (grave field # 55).

His daughter Cordula Schacht regarded as executor of Joseph Goebbels , since they of François Genoud 'got the rights to Goebbels estate.


  • 1926: The Reich legislation on coin and central banking .
  • 1926: The Stabilization of the Mark (English 1927: The Stabilization of the Mark , London: Allen & Unwin).
  • 1926: The policy of the Reichsbank .
  • 1926: New colonial policy .
  • 1927: Own or borrowed currency .
  • 1930: Don't talk, act! Germany, take your fate into your own hands!
  • 1931: The end of the reparations .
  • 1931: Economic Germany and abroad .
  • 1932: Principles of German Economic Policy .
  • 1933: interest or dividend? - A question for the world .
  • 1935: Germany and the world economy .
  • 1935: The German company law reform .
  • 1936: Germany's colonial problem .
  • 1938: “Financial Miracle” and “New Plan” .
  • 1948: Settlement with Hitler .
  • 1949: More money, more capital, more work .
  • 1953: 76 years of my life . (with Hans Rudolf Berndorff as ghostwriter)
  • 1956: Tomorrow's credit policy and export finance .
  • 1957: Capital market policy .
  • 1957: Small confessions from 80 years (collection of own poems in private printing)
  • 1960: No more inflation .
  • 1961: Diplomatic monetary policy .
  • 1965: Concerned about the Deutsche Mark .
  • 1966: the magic of money .
  • 1968: 1933. How a democracy dies .
  • 1968: The theoretical content of English mercantilism .
  • 1970: The policy of the Deutsche Bundesbank .


  • Liaquat Ahamed : The Lords of Money. How four bankers sparked the Great Depression and drove the world into bankruptcy. Finanzbuch-Verlag, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-89879-578-4 (English original: Lords of Finance. The Bankers who broke the World . The author, a hedge fund manager, received the Pulitzer Prize for this book for history 2010).
  • Frédéric Clavert: Hjalmar Schacht. Financier et diplomate 1930–1950. (= Enjeux internationaux , 6). Peter Lang, Brussels 2009, ISBN 978-90-5201-542-2 .
  • Sören Dengg: Germany's exit from the League of Nations and Schacht's “New Plan”. On the relationship between foreign and foreign trade policy in the transition phase from the Weimar Republic to the Third Reich 1919–1934. Frankfurt 1986.
  • Albert Fischer:  Schacht, Horace Greeley Hjalmar. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 22, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-428-11203-2 , pp. 489-491 ( digitized version ).
  • Albert Fischer: Hjalmar Schacht and Germany's “Jewish Question”. The "economic dictator" and the expulsion of the Jews from the German economy . Böhlau, Cologne a. a. 1995, ISBN 3-412-11494-4 .
  • Christopher Kopper : Hjalmar Schacht. The rise and fall of Hitler's most powerful banker. Hanser, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-446-40700-6 . Paperback edition dtv, 2010, ISBN 978-3-423-34608-5 .
  • Christopher Kopper: New contradictions in the life of a contradicting personality. In: German Historical Institute Moscow: Bulletin No 2/2008, The Special Archives of the Russian State Military Archives. Research reports from scholarship holders of the DHI Moscow. Pp. 28–36 ( PDF; 1.1 MB ).
  • Norbert Mühlen : The magician. Life and bonds of Dr. Hjalmar Horace Greeley Manhole. Europe, Zurich 1938 (preface by Konrad Heiden ).
  • Heinz Pentzlin : Hjalmar Schacht. Life and work of a controversial personality. Ullstein, Berlin / Frankfurt am Main / Vienna 1980, ISBN 3-550-07913-3 .
  • Jens van Scherpenberg: Hjalmar Schacht, Enrico Mattei and Bavaria's connection to the oil age. In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 63 (2015), pp. 181–227.
  • Richard Stöss : From nationalism to environmental protection. The German Community / Action Group of Independent Germans in the party system of the Federal Republic. Opladen 1980.
  • Adam Tooze : Economics of Destruction. The history of the economy under National Socialism. Siedler, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-88680-857-1 (new edition: publication series of the Federal Agency for Civic Education Volume 663, Bonn 2007, ISBN 978-3-89331-822-3 ; new edition: Pantheon, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-570-55056-4 ).
  • André Wilmots: Hjalmar Schacht, Grand argentier d'Hitler. Le Cri, Brussels 2001, ISBN 2-87106-278-1 .

Web links

Commons : Hjalmar Schacht  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Christopher Kopper: Hjalmar Schacht. The rise and fall of Hitler's most powerful banker. Munich 2006, ISBN 3-446-40700-6 , p. 330 ff.
  2. Well-known Freemasons. Urania Masonic Lodge on Immortality, archived from the original on January 15, 2015 ; accessed on January 14, 2015 .
  3. Christopher Kopper: Hjalmar Schacht. The rise and fall of Hitler's most powerful banker. Munich 2006, ISBN 3-446-40700-6 , p. 26 f.
  4. Eugen Lennhoff, Oskar Posner, Dieter A. Binder: Internationales Freemaurerlexikon. Revised and expanded new edition of the 1932 edition, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-7766-2161-3 , pp. 743 f.
  5. Christopher Kopper: Hjalmar Schacht - rise and fall of Hitler's most powerful banker. Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-446-40700-8 , p. 376.
  6. ^ A b Walter Tormin (Ed.): The Weimar Republic. 13th edition. Fackelträger-Verlag, Hanover 1973, ISBN 3-7716-2092-9 , p. 128.
  7. Black Friday . In: Die Zeit , No. 14/1967.
  8. Philipp Heyde: The end of the reparations. Germany, France and the Young Plan 1929–1932. Schöningh, Paderborn 1998, pp. 45-49.
  9. ^ Franz Knipping: Germany, France and the end of the Locarno era 1928–1931. Studies on international politics in the early stages of the Great Depression. Oldenbourg, Munich 1987, p. 99 f.
  10. Horace Greeley Hjalmar Schacht . In: Der Spiegel . No. 41 , 1958 ( online ).
  11. ^ Interrogation of Schacht on July 20, 1945, Nuremberg Document NI 406. Quoted from Eberhard Czichon : Who helped Hitler to power? Cologne 1971, p. 59.
  12. a b c d Ernst Klee : The dictionary of persons on the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. 2nd edition. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 3-596-16048-0 , p. 522.
  13. Adam Tooze : The totalitarian state - economy of horror. Der Spiegel , January 29, 2008, accessed November 25, 2017 .
  14. ^ Pentzlin: Hjalmar Schacht. P. 17.
  15. Christopher Kopper : Hjalmar Schacht. The rise and fall of Hitler's most powerful banker. Munich 2006, ISBN 3-446-40700-6 , p. 223.
  16. See the picture of the “Transfer Commission” meeting on April 27, 1934. The “Wedel” mentioned is probably Karl von Wedel-Parlow . A similar picture, but with the 2 people sitting to the left of Schacht, in a concept for the reorganization of the world , Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1977, picture section p. 129.
  17. Martin Kitchen: Brief History of the Third Reich . WBG, Darmstadt 2006, ISBN 978-3-534-19632-6 , p. 212 ff.
  18. ^ Pentzlin: Hjalmar Schacht. P. 253.
  19. a b Volker Koop : In Hitler's hand: the special and honorary prisoners of the SS. 2010, p. 61 ( online ).
  20. Peter Koblank: The Liberation of Special Prisoners and Kinship Prisoners in South Tyrol . Online edition Myth Elser 2006.
  21. ^ Hjalmar Schacht case for the defense at Nuremberg trials .
  22. GM Gilbert: Nürnberger Tagebuch. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1977, ISBN 3-436-02477-5 , p. 36.
  23. ^ Die Zeit , September 16, 1948 , September 23 and 30, 1948 .
  24. Hjalmar Schacht: 76 years of my life . Kindler and Schiermeister, Bad Wörishofen 1953, p. 432.
  25. Guido Knopp: Hitler's Manager. C. Bertelsmann Verlag, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-570-00701-4 , p. 397 f.
  26. ^ LG Munich I on the dispute over the Goebbels estate , LTO.de; accessed on June 12, 2019.
  27. Kindler & Schiermeyer, 3rd ed. 1953.
  28. ^ Bruno Jahn: Die deutschsprachige Presse , Volume 1, Munich 2005, entry "Berndorff", p. 82.
  29. Review by Christopher Kopper in the magazine of the DHI Paris Review in Francia 2010, no.3.
  30. u. a. Clavert is very rich in sources; the reviewer, however, easily criticizes the lack of analysis and a certain good faith towards Schacht and his companions with self-statements ( Persilscheine ) and "The first Schacht biographer, who fully evaluated the enormous amount of documents of the denazification process."
  31. ^ Review by Rudolf Herlt in Zeit 18 (1980).