The essential cause of the stability of our currency
was to be sought for in our concentration camps.
For many years a single question has tormented the historians and politicians of many countries: would it have been possible to prevent the horrific Second World War? And it’s clear from even a superficial analysis of the situation that there was indeed a wealth of such opportunities. A closer look will reveal that Adolf Hitler was clearly provided with assiduous assistance as he rose to power and embarked on war.
Let’s start with the biggest opportunity to thwart his takeover – democracy. As we recall, the Weimar Republic was a democratic state where public officials were freely elected by citizens exercising their rights of universal suffrage and a secret ballot. This was the system in place from 1919 to 1933, a period when the Nazis were not the only players on the German political stage, and yet the activity of other political organizations was dissolved and banned and then a law was passed forbidding the creation of new parties. However, the Germans had spent 14 years living under a total democracy.
And so what prompted the Germans to vote for the NSDAP? Because, after all, repression, concentration camps, and the Gestapo are not a very satisfactory explanation. Historians offer an unequivocal answer: the economic crisis fueled Hitler’s rise to power. Germans were hit first with appalling levels of inflation and then a Great Depression that was equally devastating.
Between 1918 and 1923, the German mark lost 99.9% of its value against the US dollar. But things were just getting started. The real “economic miracles” began in 1923.
Exchange rate of the German mark to the US dollar
|July 1, 1923||
|Aug. 1, 1923||
|Sept. 4, 1923||
|Oct. 1, 1923||
|Nov. 1, 1923 года||
|Nov. 30, 1923||
By the end of November 1923, one dollar was worth four trillion, two hundred billion German marks!
One might recall that in 1923, the German businessman and patron of the arts, Ernst Hanfstaengl, who worked for US intelligence, helped Adolf Hitler buy a printing plant and begin mass production of his Nazi newspaper. While the Fuhrer himself was quite self-confident and raved on (literally) about revolution, he also imperceptibly absorbed Hanfstaengl’s ideas about the need for German friendship with America and Great Britain.
There is no way the abysmal horror of German life at that time could be summed up in a single sentence. Or perhaps it can: people were now buried in cardboard bags instead of wooden coffins. A coffin had become an extraordinary luxury. As had the American dollar – even just one of them. And Ernst Hanfstaengl presented his friend Adolf with a thousand dollars. Did all this happen arbitrarily?
Here’s another fact to help prove that German inflation was something artificial, a deliberate creation. By the time of Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch, inflation had skyrocketed to truly astronomical numbers, but it halted less than three weeks after that failed coup. The unprecedented, astronomical surge of inflation came to an end in one day! It seems it was no longer needed. The German people, even under these phantasmagoric circumstances, did not support Adolf Hitler’s violent attempt to seize power. On November 13, 1923, five days (!) after the Beer Hall Putsch, Hjalmar Schacht was nominated for the position of currency commissioner. It was he who recorded the final purchase price of 4.2 trillion marks to the dollar. On December 22, 1923, Schacht became the head of the German Central Bank, and in August 1924 he introduced a new mark, erasing 14 zeros from the old German currency like a bad dream. One US dollar was now worth 4.2 German marks.
But even this first economic cataclysm in Germany was unable to propel Adolf Hitler to power. A second one was needed. On October 29, 1929, the infamous “Black Friday,” an unprecedented financial disaster, occurred on the stock exchange in New York. This launched an overwhelming, worldwide economic crisis known as the Great Depression, which, by another “miraculous” coincidence, lasted precisely until Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor. However, this is not the most surprising fact to be discovered in the history of the Great Depression.
We will analyze the facts, and only the facts, but one in particular leaps off the page. And that is the strange relationship between cause and effect. In the US there was a crisis, but it was in Germany that Hitler came to power. That’s what our venerable historians tell us. But where is the logic? In the United States, commodity dealers and brokers shoot themselves and fling themselves from the windows of skyscrapers, hundreds of thousands of farms are ruined, thousands of banks are wiped out, and production decreases dramatically.
But Americans had no intention of quietly accepting a rapid and catastrophic plunge in their living standards. The US was rocked by a series of public demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of protesters, and the situation was so grim that the frequent hunger marches of unemployed workers became emblematic of the United States (not Germany!). These protests culminated in December of 1931 with a national hunger march on Washington, and by the summer of 1932, unemployed veterans of the First World War were advancing toward the US capital. They picketed the Capitol building for five days, after which the US president gave orders for the veterans to be dispersed by force. However, it was not the police, but military units, including the cavalry and even armored tanks that were called in to carry out that operation!
So Germany was not the only country where ordinary people scavenged through garbage cans in search of food – there were far more of those reduced to such a state across the ocean. So where should one have expected the Nazis to rise to power? Judging by the number of unemployed, this would have seemed a more likely outcome in the US. In Great Britain as well, extremists should have won at least a huge role in the domestic political scene, if not an outright victory. But nothing of the kind came to pass in the Anglo-Saxon countries. Why were the local fascist parties that emerged there so weak, with no voice in the destiny of their nations?
Because no one in England or the United States was prepared to usher in a Fuhrer!
Hitler’s rise to power was not the result of economic woes, nor can it be explained by German domestic politics. The decision to place him at the helm was not made in Berlin, but in London and Washington.
 Preparata, Guido Giacomo. Conjuring Hitler. How Britain and the USA Created the Third Reich.
 The Great Depression began in 1929 and ended in 1933.
 Between 1929 and1933 coal production in the US fell by 42%, the production of pig iron by 79%, steel by 76%, and automobiles – 80%. Out of 297 blast furnaces, only 46 were operating. During these years of crisis in the United States an astounding number of businesses and companies, 135,747, were wiped out. Like American industry and financial markets, the agricultural sector soon plunged into a deep crisis – US wheat exports dropped by 82%. There was also a sharp decrease in the prices for agricultural products, and as a result farming incomes fell by over 50%. During the five years of crisis, 18.2% of all the farms in the US, over one million, were sold at auction.
ORIENTAL REVIEW publishes exclusive translations of the chapters from Nikolay Starikov’s documentary research ““Who Made Hitler Attack Stalin” (St.Petersburg, 2008). The original text was subject to minor cuts by the OR editorial.