My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FORTY-SEVEN
The Jewish Question and the Church Question

PRIOR to 1930 there was scarcely any sign of an anti- Semitic political movement in Germany. Inasmuch as it did exist to a very small extent, it could be attributed to economic motives among the lower middle class. In this plebeian anti-Semitism racial enmity was entirely unknown. Mixed marriages were frequent. In good middle-class society the Jew was a welcome guest.

The fact that Hitler made use of anti-Semitism for propaganda purposes can be traced back to his Vienna period. In Germany he was helped by the fact that, at the time of the Weimar Republic, an unusually large number of eastern Jews from Poland, Roumania and Russia poured into Germany, consisting to a great extent of suspicious or even desperate elements. These eastern Jews contributed largely to the vitiating of business life. They took advantage of the disturbed political conditions, not only to profit by inflation, but to play a particularly active part in the corrupting of officials who put them in the way of a good deal of black-market business. Nevertheless, anti-Semitism never became popular with the masses of the German people even in Hitler's time. Every action launched by the Party against the Jews had perforce to be carried out by specially detailed Party members. The great mass of the population took no part in these excesses.

In the field of business, when the Party proceeded against individual Jews, I intervened in every case that was brought to my notice and successfully stood up for the Jews so long as I held the post of Minister for Economic Affairs. In November 1935 I issued a ministerial communication to the head of the National Chamber of Industry which was passed on to all affiliated organizations:

"On the 14th October I requested you to inform industrial groups that, pending the forthcoming re-assessment of the position of the Jews in industrial life, no steps are to be taken by affiliated organizations against Jewish firms. Your communication, as well as other incidents, impel me to instruct the National Chamber of Industry to see to it that all industrial authorities, whether of regional or special character, are to refrain from any measures which conflict with the laws at present in force, or which seek to

12*

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