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February 20: Hitler Meets with German Capitalists

lawrencebush
February 20, 2014
nazi-propagandaOn this date in 1933, between twenty and twenty-five German capitalists met with Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering at the Reichstag Presidential Palace and contributed three million Reichsmarks to fund the Nazi Party's victory in the approaching March 5 election. "Private enterprise," Hitler warned the industrialists during his 90-minute speech, "cannot be maintained in the age of democracy. It is conceivable only if the people have a sound idea of authority and personality." Yet the Weimar Government, he continued, "imposed upon us a certain constitutional order by which they put us on a democratic basis." Under such circumstances, "it was inevitable that communism, in ever greater measure, penetrated the minds of the German people." In the coming election, therefore, "We must first gain complete power if we want to crush the other side completely." Hitler and Goering also promised the highly profitable rearmament of Germany, and made clear that there would be no radical economic experimentation under Nazi rule. By April, however, Jews were removed "from representative positions in business and industry" and many Nazi government controls were placed on business, writes Ian Kershaw in his biography of Hitler. However, "business recovery, high profits, secure private property (apart from that of Jewish businessmen), the crushing of Marxism, and the subduing of labor saw big business increasingly content to adjust to full collaboration with the new regime . . ." "With this donation, big business was helping consolidate Hitler's rule. But the offering was less one of enthusiastic backing than political blackmail." —Ian Kershaw, Hitler