My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THIRTY
Clouds on the Horizon

THE purchase of Gühlen soon proved itself to have been a wise and far-sighted move. A man in my precarious, semieconomic, semi-political position needed a home outside the capital; a fortress to which he could retire if the number of his enemies should become too great.

During the years following the inflation my part as President of the Reichsbank appears to me to have been first and foremost that of watchdog, keeping a sharp eye on our currency and seeing that there was no drop in market quotations. I took careful note of every slightest shift in the money market, every striking quotation below par of the new German mark. Any multiplication of danger signals meant prompt intervention on my part. Today it seems to me only natural that I did not always resort to gentle methods and that my opponents in the open market--who thought only of their personal advantage and never of the general welfare-- should avoid me. No one defending a cause in which he believes will be able invariably to confine himself to soft words and kindly warnings.

In order to ensure that Germany intended to pay her reparations, the Dawes Committee had installed reliable confidential agents in the Reichsbank and other German business establishments. These men, working under Parker Gilbert, the Agent for Reparations, practically controlled Germany's ability to pay. It was their job to see that the reparations instalments were punctually remitted.

But were we actually in a position to remit payments on reparations--to transmit over two milliard German marks annually in foreign currency? We were not. Nevertheless we did it. And we did it by first borrowing from abroad the monies which we later paid out abroad.

Other nations lent us money--but through whom? The politicians? Certainly not. The politicians were engaged in votecatching in their own countries, by promising their electors that Germany would pay vast sums in reparations. Economists and business-men were wiser, more far-sighted than the politicians. They saw the great danger that threatened if a land such as ours was barred from international competition. They recognized that it

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