My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX
Monsieur Poincaré

ON the 23rd January 1924 I arrived in Paris at the request of the Dawes Committee. Instead of coming to Berlin they had preferred to discuss the German economic situation first in Paris, and my presence was required as a source of information. On the afternoon of my arrival I had to appear before a sub-committee under the chairmanship of the American, Owen Young. Anyone with experience of the years immediately following Germany's collapse in 1945 can picture something of the anti- German atmosphere of those earlier days and understand that I approached this new task with some inner anxiety.

Owen Young greeted me in true American fashion with a hearty handshake and the customary "How do you do". The Frenchman shook hands with obvious reluctance, the Belgian hesitatingly, the Englishman coolly. The sense of constraint vanished only when the Italian--Professor Flora from Bologna-- shook hands warmly with a good old Austrian "Habe die Ehre." ("It's a pleasure.")

Then the examination started. The secretary of the subcommittee, a Belgian, had prepared a lengthy questionnaire. I don't know if that questionnaire was in any way comparable with the one we were submitted to after 1945, but so far as I could tell from a glance, the number of questions cannot have been much smaller. It would have taken days to answer all those questions, as the first of them, with their replies, showed. The practical American soon had enough of it.

"Gentlemen, we shall never get through at this rate. I think we should do far better to ask HerrSchacht to give us a coherent report on the economic and financial conditions in Germany as they were, and as they stand today."

Even at that time the Americans carried so much weight in international matters that no one ventured to object. I was in no sense prepared for such an eventuality, but conditions in Germany were of course so familiar to me that I declared, without any hesitation, that I was ready to do as the committee asked.

So for nearly two hours I gave them, extempore and in English, a detailed report. I described how Germany's resources had been

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