state. Chief of these was the greater freedom to speak and organize. Trade-union membership reached a peak of nine millions during the revolutionary upsurge of 1919. The crisis years from 1920 to 1924 reduced this total by two millions, but the trade unions retained enough strength to bulk large in German life. The establishment of the eight hour day, the formation of state employment agencies, and the improvement and extension of the social-insurance system were real gains. However, the fundamental change that the German worker expected from the revolution, socialization of large industry, was never forthcoming.
Committees established to study the problem of socialization, assisted by frightened Socialist leaders, eventually smothered all such proposals under a bureaucratic flood of reports and statistics. The economic councils established by the Reichstag were supposed to provide some of the advantages of socialization. The law guaranteed labor a voice in the control of industry to protect workers against unfair discharge, assure equal opportunity of employment, and safeguard the interests of the consumer and the nation. Council members were to be represented on corporation boards, a regulation which industry subverted by having executives deal directly with large stockholders rather than with the boards. Plant councils were shorn of their limited powers during the inflation, and unions were successfully excluded from many plants and industries. National councils in the coal, potash, and iron industries were eventually converted into cartels for the fixing of prices and the curtailment of production. The national commission which was appointed to study socialization, on which industrialists were well represented, came to an end with the industrialists promising to give thoughtful consideration to the matter. Naturally they decided that they were indispensable.
a report from the newspaper Berliner Tageblatt, 4 December 1927
HEAVY FOG blankets the plains of Central Germany. It lies unbroken from Halle to Naumburg, Zeitz, and beyond that to Leip