In This Review

German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler
German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler
By Henry Ashby Turner, Jr.
Oxford, 1985, 512 pp

A seasoned historian, a master sleuth of pertinent, novel sources, reconstructs the many facets of corporate attitudes and actions vis-a-vis Nazism in the last years of Weimar. His verdict: big business, sometimes unwittingly, eased Hitler's path, but not so much by money-the Nazis raised their own money by means of small contributions-as by supporting Weimar's other gravediggers. Businessmen were unsettled by Hitler's "strategy of calculated ambiguity on economic matters," but from 1930 had to reckon with the popularity of Hitler's party. Some of them gave funds, often to individual Nazis, as protection money. Turner argues that politics, not economics, was primary. Turner dismisses all manner of facile generalities about the links between capitalism and fascism but perhaps could have described more broadly how businessmen shared with other members of the German elite a nondemocratic bias, a remarkable degree of political illiteracy, a self-assured civic amorality.