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1931: Debt, Crisis, and the Rise of Hitler

Tobias Straumann

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Hardback

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Oxford University Press
11 April 2019
History; European history; 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000; Fascism & Nazism; Financial crises & disasters; Economic history
Germany's financial collapse in the summer of 1931 was one of the biggest economic catastrophes of modern history. It led to a global panic, brought down the international monetary system, and turned a worldwide recession into a prolonged depression. The German crisis also contributed decisively to the rise of Hitler. Soon after the crisis, the Nazi Party became the largest party of the country which paved the way for Hitler's eventual seizure of power in 1933. The reason for the financial collapse was Germany's large pile of foreign debt denominated in gold currency which condemned the government to cut spending, raise taxes, and lower wages in the middle of a worldwide recession. As the political resistance to this austerity policy grew, the German government began to question its debt obligations, prompting foreign investors to panic and sell their German assets. The resulting currency crisis led to the failure of the already weakened banking system and a partial sovereign default. Hitler managed to profit from the crisis, because he had been the most vocal critic of the reparation regime. As the financial system collapsed, his relentless attacks against foreign creditors and the alleged complicity of the German government resonated more than ever with the electorate. Sadly enough, Germany's creditors hesitated too long to take the wind out of Hitler's sails by offering debt relief. In 1931,Tobias Straumann reveals the story of the fatal crisis, demonstrating how a debt trap contributed to the rapid financial and political collapse of a European country, and to the rise of the Nazi Party.
By:   Tobias Straumann
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 224mm,  Width: 148mm,  Spine: 27mm
Weight:   386g
ISBN:   9780198816188
ISBN 10:   0198816189
Pages:   272
Publication Date:   11 April 2019
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Tobias Straumann is an Associate Professor of Economic History at the University of Zurich. He is a member of the European Historical Economics Society and the academic council of the European Association for Banking and Financial History. Straumann has widely published in the area of twentieth-century European financial and monetary history, and is the author of Fixed Ideas of Money: Small States and Exchange Rate Regimes in Twentieth-Century Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2010), and co-author of The Value of Risk: Swiss Re and the History of Reinsurance (Oxford University Press, 2013).

Reviews for 1931: Debt, Crisis, and the Rise of Hitler

A stunning, fast-paced and deeply researched narrative that accurately delineates the links between financial panic and political collapse in the most iconic case of all: the destruction of democracy in Weimar Germany. * Harold James, Claude and Lore Kelly Professor in European Studies, Princeton University * Tobias Straumann's book is a welcome addition ... Straumann ably shows the progress of the German crisis and how it was intertwined with the vexed issues or reparation ... Straumann relates [...] complex events with remarkable clarity, largely eschewing jargon and displaying considerable panache. Rarely has the dismal science been less dismally presented. Happily, for those wishing to write about Nazism's rise, there is now an accessible, non-specialist volume to explain the economic aspect. * Roger Moorhouse, BBC History Magazine * The value of Swiss historian Tobias Straumann's book is that it focuses our attention squarely on the drama of that year, the moment when the fragile political and financial order restored after the first world war came apart ... a fast-paced and elegantly constructive narrative... If John Kenneth Galbraith forever etched the 1929 crash into historical consciousness, with his classic 1955 account, Straumann has given us the narrative of 1931 that every decision maker in Europe should read. * Adam Tooze, Financial Times *


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