My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ELEVEN I meet some of the Big Bankers

THE Handelsvertragsverein proved a very important factor in my upward progress. Not only did I make the acquaintance of the outstanding economists of the day, but they for their part were able to see me at work, and my method even at that time must have acquired a fairly definite character.

I remember a conversation with Georg von Siemens on the subject of a colleague whose erratic ways obviously got on his nerves. "Look, Herr Schacht," said Siemens, "this is how your colleague works--" and his index finger hop-skipped-and-jumped across the table. Then he withdrew his hand abruptly and looked at me: "And this is how you work." This time his finger sped in a single energetic movement over the surface.

Since I had obviously not made a bad impression it was a foregone conclusion that in due course sundry members of the board of management should approach me with offers of employment, not all of which were tempting, though more than one appeared very interesting.

Thus it happened that Prince Ernst Günther of Schleswig- Holstein, brother-in-law of the Emperor Wilhelm II and brother of the Empress Auguste Viktoria, sent his adjutant to see me one day and invited me to a conference.

The Prince received me at his Berlin residence, wearing a dark blue suit, and for half an hour stood chatting with me, smoking a cigar, and giving me the impression of a quiet, almost shy personality. His idea had been to appoint me administrator of his property and financial affairs--certainly a most honourable position but not one which would really have satisfied me.

Early in 1903 I had the opportunity of entering an important South German Chamber of Commerce as a member of the Committee. Shortly afterwards old Emil Rathenau invited me to join him at the Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft (A.E.G.--General Electric Company). I was tempted to agree. But a third offer attracted me still more. Waldemar Müller, a privy councillor and a member of the board of the Dresdner Bank, offered me a post in that undertaking.

I felt that employment in one of the big "D" banks would afford me the widest scope to acquire the greatest possible insight

-97-

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