Germany and the Diplomacy of the Financial Crisis, 1931

Germany and the Diplomacy of the Financial Crisis, 1931

Germany and the Diplomacy of the Financial Crisis, 1931

Germany and the Diplomacy of the Financial Crisis, 1931

Excerpt

The German and American archival records available today are unprecedented in that they give us a full, public view of policies which were pursued within living memory. For the first time, we have records of twentieth century diplomacy which are so complete that significant suppression or omission is almost ruled out. It seems possible to draw from such sources many conclusions which are still applicable today. Some examples, taken from the brief period covered by this study, might be: that new policies must be thoroughly discussed with the other nations concerned before they are publicly announced; that financial experts do not necessarily make good diplomats; that a reportedly adamant internal opposition can be used by a national leader for extracting foreign concessions; that a plausible legal case does not in itself ensure diplomatic success; or that financial pressure used for political ends may be self-defeating. But while I have not hesitated to draw certain conclusions (some of which will doubtless be contested), I would like to suggest that there is another type of conclusion that should not be drawn. No country today is playing the same role it played in 1931. In particular, the West Germany of today cannot properly be identified with the Germany of 1931. Wisdom involves not only the identification of similarities, but also the recognition of differences.

For such conclusions in this study as may go beyond the evidence, I alone am responsible. For assistance in whatever is sound and objective in it, I am indebted to a number of individuals and institutions. Various members of the Harvard History Department were kind enough to read the manuscript and comment on it as it developed from a doctoral dissertation to its present form. I owe . . .

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