Schacht, Dr Hjalmar, 1877-1970

Schacht was HITLER’s brilliant Minister of the Economy who engineered Germany’s recovery and rearmament in the 1930s. In 1923 he was appointed special commissioner to restore Germany’s currency and managed to defeat inflation by the summer of 1924. He warned against the shaky foundations of the 1920s’ prosperity and accurately foresaw the advent of the economic world crisis. In the winter of 1928-29 Schacht was one of two chief delegates to the Young Committee on reparations and protested violently against the resulting Young Plan. He joined Hitler’s camp (though he never joined the Nazi Party) in 1930 as an economic adviser and brought with him his enormous prestige and the support of his many influential industrial contacts. A respectable bourgeois conservative he believed that Hitler would bring stability to Germany but that he could be controlled and was therefore instrumental in bringing him to power. He became President of the Reichsbank in 1933 and Economic Minister in 1935 in which capacities he masterminded German economic recovery without inflation, especially through fiscal and foreign trade operations. Though he believed that rearmament was essential to Germany he disagreed with Hitler in the subordination of all other matters to this objective. On these grounds he resigned in 1937 as Economic Minister and his functions were taken over by GOERING. Similarly in 1939 he was dismissed as bank president after protesting against Hitler’s extravagant military expenditure. Schacht also maintained that Germany could not hope economically to sustain a prolonged war. In 1943 he left the Cabinet and public affairs completely.

Schacht had been involved in German opposition circles since his participation in the Abortive military coup of 1938 and the Nazis had never trusted him. After the July 1944 Bomb Plot he was arrested on suspicion and imprisoned in Flossenberg. Released by the American advance, he was later tried and acquitted at Nuremberg.

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