Birthday: January 22, 1877
Died At Age: 93
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Also Known As: Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht
Born Country: Denmark
Born in: Tinglev, Denmark
Famous as: Economist
Height: 6'3" (190 cm), 6'3" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Manci (m. 1941), Luise Sowa (1903-1940)
father: William Leonhard Ludwig Maximillian Schacht
mother: baroness Constanze Justine Sophie von Eggers
children: Cordula Schacht, Konstanze Schacht
Died on: June 3, 1970
place of death: Munich, Germany
education: University of Kiel, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
awards: Golden Party Badge
Who was Hjalmar Schacht?
Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht was a German investor, financier, banker, economist, and statesman who was appointed as the currency commissioner and president of the Reichsbank under the Weimar Republic. The co-founder of the German Democratic Party in 1918, he was one of the most vocal detractors of Germany’s post-World War I reparation commitments. He served as the President of the Reichsbank in Adolf Hitler’s administration for about six years between 1933 and 1939 and was made the Minister of Economics in August 1934. Schacht played a pivotal role in the meteoric rise of the German economy in the 1930s. However, he criticised Hitler's policy of German re-armament as it infringed the Treaty of Versailles. He also believed that it impacted the German economy negatively. These views resulted in a conflict with Hitler and most importantly with Hermann Göring. He was sacked from his position in the Reichsbank in January 1939, but the Third Reich still kept him as a minister without portfolio. Following the attempted assassination of Hitler in July 1944, he was taken into custody by the Gestapo. He was subsequently imprisoned in several concentration camps until the fall of the Third Reich. Schacht was still prosecuted at Nuremberg but was fully exonerated.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on January 22, 1877, in Tingleff, Schleswig-Holstein, Prussia, German Empire (now in Denmark), Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht was the son of William Leonhard Ludwig Maximillian Schacht and baroness Constanze Justine Sophie von Eggers.
After Hjalmar Schacht finished his abitur at the Gelehrtenschule des Johanneums, he pursued degrees in medicine, philology, and political science at the Universities of Munich, Leipzig, Berlin, Paris and Kiel. In 1899, he obtained a doctorate from Kiel. He wrote his thesis on mercantilism.
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In 1903, Hjalmar Schacht started working for the Dresdner Bank and served as its deputy director from 1908 to 1915. He subsequently became a board member of the German National Bank and held that position until 1922.
Following the merger between the German National Bank and Darmstädter und Nationalbank (Danatbank), he became a board member of the latter bank.
When World War I was going on, Schacht was part of the staff of General Karl von Lumm, the banking commissioner for Occupied Belgium. His main job was to arrange the financing of Germany's purchases in Belgium.
After General von Lumm found out through the Dresdner Bank that Schacht had transferred the note remittances for nearly 500 million francs of Belgian national bonds that were supposed to be payments for the purchases, he fired Schacht.
After his sacking, Schacht spent a brief period at the Dresdner Bank and then held various posts at other banks. In 1923, he unsuccessfully sought to be hired as the head of the Reichsbank.
Appointment as the President of the Reichsbank
The leaders of the Weimar Republic disregarded Hjalmar Schacht’s professional misadventures and appointed him the currency commissioner in November 1923. He also took part in the introduction of the currency Rentenmark, the value of which was tied to a mortgage on all of the properties in Germany. It then became a country with two currencies for a brief period: the Reichsmark, supervised by Rudolf Havenstein, President of the Reichsbank, and Rentenmark, supervised by Schacht.
His economic policies proved to be instrumental in combating the hyperinflation in Germany. He was subsequently appointed the president of Reichsbank on November 12, 1923.
In 1926, he gave the capital for the establishment of IG Farben. He and several other prolific economists came together to create the 1929 Young Plan to change the manner in which Germany was paying war reparations.
Association with the NSDAP & Government
In 1918, Hjalmar Schacht helped set up the German Democratic Party. However, by 1926, he had made his departure from it and become quite close to the Nazi Party (NSDAP). While he never joined them, he was an active supporter and even aided their effort to garner funds after becoming acquainted with Hitler.
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Since leaving the German Democratic Party, his political affiliation leaned towards centre-right. Before 1931, he was closely associated with Heinrich Brüning's centrist government. That changed in October when he joined the radical ring-wing Harzburg Front.
His personal disillusionment with the Weimar Republic was caused by two main factors: his vehement opposition of the Social Party being part of the government and his wish to witness Germany regain its former glory.
After the Nazi Party’s considerable success at the July 1932 elections, Schacht and Wilhelm Keppler supervised a petition of the industry leaders asking President Paul von Hindenburg to make Hitler the chancellor. When the Nazi Party seized power in January 1933, Hitler reinstated Schacht as Reichsbank’s president on 17 March.
In August 1934, Hitler made Hjalmar Schacht the Minister for Economics. Schacht backed public-work programs that had been initiated by von Schleicher's government in late 1932. He also created the ‘’New Plan’’, which was Germany’s bid to gain economic "autarky".
Schacht found innovative and successful ways to deal with the various after-effects of the Great Depression, including foreign currency and government deficits.
In January 1937, he received an honorary membership of the NSDAP and the Golden Party Badge. He opposed what he dubbed the “unlawful activities" against Germany's Jewish minority.
When the economic crisis of 1935–36 hit Germany, Schacht was one of the co-leaders of the "free-market" faction in the German government. This faction requested Hitler to cut down military spending, discard the autarkic and protectionist policies and lower state control in the economy.
On October 18, 1936, Göring was made "Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan”, which gave him significant power over various aspects of the Nazi government, including the economy.
Göring’s almost-complete ignorance about economy irked Schacht and he left his posts as minister of economics and general plenipotentiary in November 1937. However, Hitler was aware that Schacht’s complete exit from the government would be questioned outside Germany, so he retained Schacht as a minister without portfolio.
Eventually, Schacht was fired as the president of the Reichsbank in January 1939. He was removed from his post as a minister without portfolio in January 1943.
After the Night of Broken Glass or Kristallnacht took place in November 1938, Schacht voiced his disdain for such measures and proposed a plan to get rid of Jewish people in a more “humane” way. However, this plan never materialised.
Association with the Resistance & Arrest
According to various sources, Hjalmar Schacht was corresponding with the German resistance even in 1934. Following the assassination attempt on Hitler on July 20, 1944, Schacht was apprehended by the Gestapo on 23 July. He subsequently was placed in the concentration camps in Ravensbrück, Flossenbürg, and Dachau.
One of the 134 special and clan prisoners, he was then moved by the Schutzstaffel into the "Alpine Fortress" to Niederdorf in South Tyrol, where he and other prisoners were released on April 30, 1945.
Despite the fact that Hjalmar Schacht spent time in the concentration camps, he was prosecuted during the Nuremberg trials. However, he was completely exonerated. In 1953, he established the bank Deutsche Außenhandelsbank Schacht & Co. He also served as an economic advisor for several developing countries.
Family & Personal Life
Hjalmar Schacht married twice in his life. His first wife was Luise Sowa, to whom he was married from 1903 until her death in 1940. They had two children together, a son, Jens Hjalmar Schacht, and a daughter, Inge Schacht.
In 1941, he exchanged wedding vows with his second wife, Manci.
Death & Burial
Hjalmar Schacht passed away on June 3, 1970, in Munich, Bavaria, West Germany. He was 93 years old at the time. He is interred at the Munich Ostfriedhof.