My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FORTY-THREE
The New Plan

MY two offices kept me well and truly occupied. I began the morning at the Reichsbank and changed over to the Ministry, in the Unter den Linden, about midday. My secretary, Fräulein Steffeck, came with me. During my three years' absence from the Reichsbank she had held a job in the statistical department and had waited for me to come back. Her fellow-workers had sometimes chaffed her a bit, but she had taken it in good part.

Her nickname "S.S." often upset her in those days, as it recalled Himmler Schutzstaffeln. But it had originated in something quite different. When she had accompanied me to a conference in London in 1924, a society paper had commented on the important part played by the women secretaries of the German delegation, the "smiling slaves" as they described them, who discharged their arduous duties with unfailing pleasantness. The initials had caught my fancy and the nickname had stuck to her.

Like myself she took a decisive and somewhat frank stand against all Party encroachments. One day, when I was again in London, a Party pundit rang through, obviously anxious to go to London, and demanding forthwith a sum in English pounds.

"What for?" enquired Fräulein Steffeck.

"We have to fly to London with a very important communication for Dr. Schacht."

"A telegram to London costs five marks. You can pay that at a German post office in German money."

"The information is much too confidential to be telegraphed."

"Then use a code," said Steffeck imperturbably. "Send it in cypher to the German Embassy. That's even quicker and cheaper than a plane."

The "brass hat" tried again several times. But S.S. was not to be persuaded.

In my activities as Minister of Economic Affairs, Hitler accorded me the same freedom and independence that I already enjoyed as President of the Reichsbank. He understood nothing whatever about economics. So long as I maintained the balance of trade and kept him supplied with foreign exchange, he didn't bother as to

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