My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX
Meeting with Hitler

DURING my absence, the political influence of the greatly increased radical parties--both left- and right-wing--had made itself effectively felt. It had become obvious that economic developments could not proceed along the same lines as heretofore. On Brüning fell the heavy burden of somehow maintaining the standard of living of the German population in the face of constant pressure from abroad and the results of the world economic crisis. This task could have been carried out only if the Central Parties, including the German National and the Social- Democrats, had backed up Brüning. Unfortunately they did not. As the strongest Party, the Social-Democrats refused to cooperate with the other Central groups, so that the Chancellor was continually faced with the danger of a vote of no-confidence in the Reichstag. As a result, Brüning was forced more and more to take the path of so-called Presidential Government, which was constrained to rely, not on majority resolutions in the Reichstag, but on constitutional pre-arranged emergency orders issued by the President. The masses, already crying out against the prevailing misery, sided on the one hand with the National-Socialists and their radical promises, and on the other hand with the Communists. It seemed as though before long political developments in Germany would admit of no way out save the transition of the Government either to the right or the left wing of the Reichstag.

In December 1930 von Stauss, a friend of many years' standing who had been on the board of the Deutsche Bank since 1915, asked me to a dinner one evening to which he had also invited Hermann Goering. I was naturally very pleased to have the opportunity of meeting one of the foremost leaders of the National-Socialist movement. This dinner party of three discussed the universally burning topics of the economic situation, the rise in unemployment figures, the timidity of German foreign policy and all the other relevant questions. Goering turned out to be a pleasant, urbane companion, though he did not give me the impression of being especially conversant with any one subject. I could not possibly have deduced from the conversation anything that might have been described as an irreconcilable or intolerable political radicalism.

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