Schacht, Hjalmar Horace Greeley

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Schacht, Hjalmar Horace Greeley

Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht (yäl´mär shäkht), 1877–1970, German financier. He held executive positions in several major German banks before becoming (1923) commissioner of currency. Inflation had reached its height and the paper mark had become worthless. Schacht substituted the rentenmark, in theory secured by a mortgage on all land and industry. By various stringent deflationary measures the rentenmark was stabilized and the budget balanced. In 1924, Germany obtained a foreign loan under the Dawes Plan, and in 1925 the rentenmark was replaced by the reichsmark, based on a gold standard. Appointed president of the Reichsbank in Dec., 1923, Schacht resigned in 1930 because of his opposition to continued German reparations payments. A nationalist and representative of conservative capitalism, Schacht after 1931 supported the National Socialist (Nazi) party. He was appointed president of the Reichsbank (1933) and minister of economy (1934) and was given wide powers. Through bartering agreements with Balkan and Middle Eastern countries, he enabled Germany to secure raw materials for its rearmament and developed German trade. Conflict with Hermann Goering, who had been made virtual economic dictator, led to Schacht's resignation from the ministry in 1937. Schacht continued as president of the Reichsbank until 1939, when he was dismissed for opposing the huge armament program, which he felt would cause inflation. He remained minister without portfolio until 1943. In 1944 he was placed in a concentration camp for his alleged part in the plot against Hitler's life. Acquitted (1946) by the war-crimes tribunal at Nuremberg, he twice won (1948, 1950) appeal from a German "denazification" court's sentence. In 1953 he established a private bank in Düsseldorf.

See his autobiography, Confessions of the Old Wizard (1953, tr. 1956); A. E. Simpson, Hjalmar Schacht in Perspective (1969).

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