CITIES AND THE WEIMAR PRODUCTIVITY DEBATE
A s conflicts over the distribution of resources provoked reaction against municipal policies of recovery of the Weimar period of stabilization, so too did debate over the utility or productivity of municipal spending. For all of the vehemence of critiques of city governments issued by the Reichsbank and leading economic interest groups, municipal leaders were no less adamant in asserting the importance of municipal policy for recovery. Municipal leaders described their programs of recovery as comprehensive, functional, and complementary with economic rationalization. If, in fact, municipal governments had taken up critical tasks for both social and economic recovery, how could their critics maintain that cities obstructed stabilization?
Setting forth the economic arguments against municipal policy, Harold James argues that city governments exemplified the ills of public finance in the Weimar Republic: "The communes demonstrated in an especially extreme form that rather intractable problem we have diagnosed elsewhere in German public finance in the 1920s: high spending without adequate revenue, meaning a dependence on borrowing, coupled with widespread doubts about the value or purpose of public activity."1
There are two separate elements to James's critique of Weimar municipal policy. He points to the high level of municipal borrowing and to uncertainty over the value of municipal activity. Indeed, municipal governments certainly relied on loans to fund recovery programs, but did they also squander credit on projects of dubious value? The reference to "widespread doubts" about the purpose of____________________