Confessions of "The Old Wizard"': Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht; Diana Pyke | Go to book overview

XX
INFLATION

THE YEARS 1920 to 1924 are still known as "the period of inflation." Although few people can explain the meaning of the word it has come to signify many things for whole generations.

To all who still remember it, the period of inflation stands for the hunger blockade, the surrender of real values to foreign powers, political outlawry; regrouping of the population; the rise of obscure figures to sudden wealth. To the hitherto wealthy classes it meant loss of capital; to the well-to-do, the moderately comfortable and the small man it spelled ruin. In government and official circles it signified corruption, political jobbery among the parties, the Wehrmacht (Defense Force) and the ministries. Increase in child mortality, in crime; the young crippled with rickets, the old dying before their time. All this and much beside is summed up in the expression "period of inflation."

Inflation is loss of capital in its widest sense. The Latin word signifies "blowing up"; in its narrower sense therefore it signified the blowing up of a currency. In Germany this is easy to grasp from a statistical point of view: at the end of the war the mark was worth about half as much as at the beginning of hostilities. A gold mark (the standard on which the paper currency is based) was worth 2.02 paper marks. But in November 1923 a gold mark was worth one trillion paper marks. This is how it appeared in figures: 1,000,000,- 000,000.

Within five years the German Reichsmark had sunk to a five hundred billionth of its value. At the end of the war one could, in theory, have bought five hundred billion eggs for the same price as that for which, five years later, only a single egg was procurable.

Such comparisons are mere juggling with figures. But for the oneand-only breadwinner of a family they represented not juggling with figures, but direst need.

We do not find the word Währung in other languages. There is

-151-

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Confessions of "The Old Wizard"': Autobiography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction vii
  • Contents xv
  • Illustrations xix
  • I - The Schacht and the Eggers Families 1
  • II - Three Towns Beginning with "H" 14
  • III - Three Emperors in One Year 26
  • IV - Cholera in Hamburg 38
  • V - A Meeting with Bismarck 47
  • VI - At the University 52
  • VII - An Unpaid Assistant on the Kleines Journal 60
  • VIII - Paris at the Turn of the Century 66
  • IX - Doctor of Philosophy 72
  • X - Commercial Treaties 80
  • XI - I Meet Some of the Big Bankers 87
  • XII - The Dresdner Bank 92
  • XIII- The Near East 101
  • XIV - My Family 107
  • XV - Germany's Turning Point 112
  • XVI - The First World War 119
  • XVII - Appointment as Director of the Bank 128
  • XVIII - The Founding of a Party 136
  • XIX - Member of the Workers' And Soldiers' Council 143
  • XX - Inflation 151
  • XXI- With the Danat Bank 156
  • XXII - The Secret of the Stabilized Mark 162
  • XXIII - President of the Reichsbank 173
  • XXIV - The Bank of England 179
  • XXV - The Center of Separatism 186
  • XXVI - Monsieur Poincaré 192
  • XXVII - A Painful Recovery 198
  • XXVIII - The Reichsbank from the Inside 206
  • XXIX - Some Economic Aftereffects 211
  • XXX - Clouds on the Horizon 217
  • XXXI - I Sign the Young Plan 224
  • XXXII - A Far-Reaching Idea 230
  • XXXIII - I Resign from the Reichsbank 237
  • XXXIV - On My Own 244
  • XXXV - The End of Reparations 250
  • XXXVI - Meeting with Hitler 256
  • XXXVII - The Bank Crisis 262
  • XXXVIII - The Harzburg Front 268
  • XXXIX - President of the Reichsbank Again 275
  • XL - A Visit to Roosevelt 281
  • XLI - Conversion Fund and "Mefo" Bills 287
  • XLII - A Stronghold of Justice 294
  • XLIII - The New Plan 301
  • XLIV - Mainly About Pictures 308
  • XLV - At Odds with the Party 313
  • XLVI - The Königsberg Speech 318
  • XLVII - The Jewish Question and The Church Question 322
  • XLVIII - Rearmament 330
  • XLIX - Hermann Goering 335
  • L - Foreign Policy 346
  • LI - I Break with Hitler 353
  • LII - From an Attempted Coup D'Etat To an Attempted Assassination 361
  • LIII - Concentration Camps 382
  • LIV - In American Hands 397
  • LV - Nuremberg Prison 402
  • LVI - The Prisoners 405
  • LVII - The Nuremberg Tribunal -- I 411
  • LVIII - The Nuremberg Tribunal -- II 425
  • LIX - The Denazification Tribunals 442
  • LX - Free Once More 449
  • LXI - Off to the Far East 453
  • LXII - Under the Garuda 459
  • LXIII - Finale 468
  • Index 473
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