From Recovery to Catastrophe: Municipal Stabilization and Political Crisis in Weimar, Germany

By Ben Lieberman | Go to book overview

Chapter 7
STATE AND SOCIETY The Contradictions of Recovery

G erman mayors, city planners, and other civic leaders of the Weimar Republic made recovery a top priority, but by the late 1920s, municipal officials and politicians found themselves charged with having undermined stabilization. Critics of municipal policy argued that soaring municipal expenditures damaged the economy. Financial authorities and local splinter parties asserted that municipalities squandered large sums on unproductive or useless projects. And while municipal leaders at least promised to provide urban residents with improved living conditions, the organization of programs of recovery revealed and expanded divisions within civic communities.

Growing mistrust of city governments culminated in accusations of municipal scandal and corruption. Charges of municipal corruption became a hallmark of local political activity by National Socialists and organized house owners.1 Even in cities in which mayors remained unscathed by charges of impropriety, residents had only too look at the front pages of newspapers to learn of scandal elsewhere, most notably in Berlin. The subject of enormous publicity throughout Germany in 1929, the Sklarek scandal was named for the Sklarek Brothers clothing company that bought clothes stockpiled by Berlin during the war, claimed that the clothes were of poor quality, obtained a refund and a monopoly contract on supplying clothing to Berlin, and was then found to have bribed municipal officials and to have sold a coat at far-below market cost to Berlin's Mayor Gustav Böß as a present for his wife.2 Böß, despite his tan-

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Notes for this section begin on page 181.

-163-

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