- Hardcover: 524 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (January 24, 1985)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195034929
- ISBN-13: 978-0195034929
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.7 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,583,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler
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In addition, it is a circular argument to assert that, owing to the fact that big business eventually benefited from Nazism, that big business therefore created Nazism. (p. 354). Ironically, by characterizing the Nazis as another tool of the capitalists, the Communists helped the Nazis by diverting attention away from the radicalism and malevolence of the real Nazi agenda. (p. 357).
Consider the sources used by author Turner. A wealth of documentation has survived, and it is incorrect to suppose that the destruction of documents had been sufficient to obscure any putative relationship between Nazism and big business. (p. xiii-xiv).
The support of many small businesses for Nazism should not be confused with the same from big businesses. (p. 191). In addition, the support from small businesses owed to the desperate conditions resulting from the Great Depression, during which small businesses lacked the protective resources enjoyed by the big businesses. (pp. 433-434). However, even the support of small businesses for the Nazis was a late development--the early 1930's. (p. 191, 203).
When the Nazi movement began in 1919, it consisted of an assortment of misfits, including workers who were anti-capitalist but were repelled by the internationalist and other aspects of conventional socialism. Conspicuously absent from the early National Socialist movement were businessmen. (p. 47). Most Berlin businessmen, in 1922, refused to support the NSDAP. (p. 51). This trend continued, as described by Turner, "Despite repeated press rumors about capitalists purportedly providing the Nazis with enormous sums of money, Hitler's first efforts to win over members of the business community failed to bridge the wide gap that separated the NSDAP from big business in the second half of the 1920's". (p. 97; see also p. 54). Much the same was the case in 1930. (p. 113).
Let us elaborate on the latter. The Nazi electoral breakthrough in 1930 occurred without aid from big business (p. 342), and most big businesses continued to look at National Socialism with puzzlement and skepticism in 1930. (p. 142). Some support for Nazism, by big business, belatedly began to emerge about 1931. (p. 142). Slightly later, "Nothing indicates that the Nazis received any notable infusion of funds in January 1933 from any source, much less from big business." (p. 318). The anti-Semitism of the Nazis was repulsive to big businesses well into the 1930's. (p. 252).
Hitler frequently condemned big business, in private as well as in public. The former refutes the contention that his anti-capitalism was merely political posturing to win over the working class. (p. 75). Ironically, leaders of big business frowned on National Socialism owing to its very-real support of working-class issues. (p. 52). They also found "extremely disturbing" the NSDAP's support of a major strike in 1930. (p. 127).
To what extent was National Socialism a form of socialism? Back in 1920, at least, Hitler favored the socialization of natural resources and banking. (p. 383). In the mid-1920's, Hitler expressed opposition to "international stock-market and foreign capital" and to "loan capital". (p. 79). Hitler believed that his movement would eventually render obsolete the distinctions between the German social classes, and that the question of who owned the means of production would become moot. (pp. 79-80).
In 1920, Alfred Rosenberg stated his economic plans. (p. 61). While opposed to the nationalization of all industries, he believed that the state should have unrestricted supervision of, and intervention in, economics. He also opposed monopolies and trusts. Joseph Goebbels also favored the NSDAP expropriating banks and giant trusts, while opposing the abolition of private property. (p. 113).
In the early-mid 1920's, at least, there was a "left wing" branch of Nazism that favored more explicitly socialistic solutions. The Nazis economic philosophy favored a compromise between full private ownership of the means of production, and the full state ownership of the means of production. (p. 64). In the latter half of the 1920's, the Nazis often voted with Socialists and Communists. (p. 67, 343). Even as the Nazis were coming to power in the early 1930's, they retained a genuine anti-business and capitalism-curtailing agenda, one that they skillfully hid from businesses. (p. 344-345).
Ironic to the much-publicized later relationship of Farben and the Nazis, it was long a regular target of Nazi invective. The Nazis condemned the company for its Jewishness, as well as its international financial interests, monopolization of markets, and its payment of hefty dividends while it was laying off employees. (p. 247).
First, let's be clear about what Turner does not say in this book:
* He does not say the Nazi's were leftists.
* He does not say Nazis were anti-business or anti-capitalist.
* He does not say that big business never supported the Nazis.
Turner's claim is that the Nazi movement started without the help of big business. This is true and uncontroversial and Turner's occasional suggestions otherwise is an expedient strawman to try to lend importance to his book. Turner's other expediency is focusing on financial contributions to the Nazi Party while downplaying other important factors in the party's rise to power. Turner also conveniently stops his narrative at 1933 after which the party did reach out and form an alliance with big business. That the giants of German industry didn't finance the Nazis before 1933 is true but of debatable importance given their embrace of the Nazis after 1933 and Turner's myopia is disingenuous. More disturbing though is his repeated declarations that Hitler and the Nazis did not have a clear economic policy agenda prior to taking power because Hitler was uninterested and ignorant about economics. Turner's claim is so obviously belied by clear historical evidence (not the least of which being Hitler's own speeches) that it casts doubt on the whole of Turner's scholarship in the rest of the book. These omissions leave Turner with a book that mainly serves as a source of pull quotes for propagandists unconcerned with historical accuracy.
See Ishay Landa's "The Apprentice's Sorcerer" (Brill, 2010, pp. 75-98) for a through refutation of Turner's poor scholarship in this book.