My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
Director of the Bank

MY activities were not affected by Herrvon Lumm's intrigue in Brussels. Immediately after my return to Berlin I resumed my work in the Dresdner Bank. My old chief, Eugen Gutmann, intimated that I would be appointed a regular member of the board at the earliest opportunity. That I had done some successful work as Deputy Manager in occupied Belgium had doubtless more than a little to do with it.

At home I found my wife and the two children in none too easy circumstances. Food had grown scarcer. Milk for children was unobtainable. So I did what hundreds of thousands of Berlin working-class families had done earlier. I started a vegetable garden and acquired a nanny-goat which my twelve-year-old daughter had to learn to milk. Of course there were other ways of adding to the scanty food supplies, but they were less commendable. The usual "wangling" was not in my line. I had to submit to cultural and mental interests being crowded out by the material difficulties of wartime housekeeping.

Towards the end of the year--since my promised appointment to the board appeared to be held up--I enquired how matters stood and Gutmann rather hesitatingly disclosed that his son Herbert, who was a member of the board, had opposed my nomination.

"The best thing you can do," he said, "is to have it out with Herbert." Which, of course, I did without delay. Herbert Gutmann was naïve enough to give me the reason for his opposition.

"If you come on the board, Doctor Schacht, I am afraid you will very soon take all the syndicate business away from me."

By syndicate business is meant the collective activities of several big banks which as a rule are too extensive for any one bank to tackle alone, or which concern clients who deal with more than one bank.

My answer to Herbert Gutmann was short and to the point. I laughed.

"If you're scared, my dear Herbert, I'll clear out."

That same day I told the board that I intended to leave the Dresdner Bank. There was a certain jarring atmosphere towards the end of my time there which both parties regretted. I had been

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