My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO
The Secret of the Stabilized Mark

IN the summer of 1923 the inflation in Germany, with its attendant misery, reached its climax. Five years after the end of World War I found Germany in the grip of a fever that threatened to undermine her last vestige of strength. In Saxony, Thuringia and Bavaria riots broke out everywhere. Hitler was tub-thumping in the south. The Communist-Social-Democratic Zeigner Government in Saxony gave the Red terror a free hand. In Hamburg street fights raged all day and fifteen policemen and sixtyfive civilians were killed. The danger of a Communist upheaval was imminent.

I felt it my duty to evacuate my family from this hell's kitchen and pack them off to Switzerland so that I myself might not be hindered by personal considerations were I to be drawn into the whirlpool. From my window in the Danatbank on the Schinkelplatz, quite near the Schloss, I had a wonderful view of the Church of Our Lady. But even the most peaceful view could not gloss over the fact that we were living on the edge of a volcano. So I offered my two children the chance of perfecting their knowledge of French. My thirteen-year-old boy was sent to school in Lausanne and my twenty-year-old daughter interrupted her studies in Heidelberg to attend Lausanne University.

Everyone was agreed that the Communist peril could be averted provided the fight against the French occupation of the Ruhr were ended (this being the principal cause of the rapid inflationary progress), and a stabilized currency established. For three years the most widely different plans for stabilization had been under discussion without coming to any definite decision. The Stresemann Cabinet finally resolved to put an end to the Ruhr dispute and concentrate on an attempt to stablilize the national currency.

Stresemann's political merit in this late summer of 1923 cannot be overestimated. He wasted no time on theoretical propositions. His aim was to create such a position in internal affairs as would ensure a sufficient majority in favour of stabilization. Furthermore he succeeded in enlisting Allied interest and co-operation to establish order in German financial and economic affairs. This co-operation led to the convening of the group of international

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