My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE
Some Economic After-Effects

WHEN I left the General San Martin at Hamburg at the end of our Mediterranean cruise I anticipated a period of less strenuous effort. Unfortunately, however, things didn't work out that way. The birth of the new Reichsmark had been successfully accomplished after hard labour, but there remained a good few after-pains.

Barely a fortnight after my return, I received a visit from the heir to a big industrial combine whose founder had died the preceding year and who was very anxious to discuss his financial situation with me. He showed me the balance-sheet of his total assets. The figures were imposing, though they showed a heavy indebtedness. Nevertheless there was a considerable surplus of assets over liabilities, in spite of which I could only assume that he wished to go into the matter of his debts.

"I am glad", I began, "that you have managed to preserve the large fortune that your father left you. I take it you have come to see me on account of your debts?"

"As a matter of fact, sir, I'm dreadfully worried about them."

"Tell me some details."

"Among my liabilities are ninety million marks in bills of exchange and I haven't the necessary liquid resources to repay them."

"Well, I expect there's a way out."

"Unfortunately it isn't as simple as all that. You see, these liabilities are payable not in marks but in pounds sterling."

"You aren't trying to tell me that you owe bills of exchange to the tune of ninety million marks payable in pounds sterling! Who in Heaven's name granted you such vast credits in pounds?"

"I had it from several London banks."

"When do the bills fall due?"

"In fourteen days."

I found it difficult to conceal my irritation and astonishment.

"I know that you have inherited a heavy burden; I can also appreciate your probably not wanting to part with any of your property. If, however, you could only maintain that property at the price of such a crushing burden of debt, then it was an absolute

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