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Wednesday, November 20, 2019


82 Annual Meeting of the VHB

March 17 - 20 2020

Frankfurt a. M., Germany

Business Studies in the Immediate Post-War Period

After the collapse of the Third Reich, almost all former members of National Socialist organizations were initially dismissed from their university teaching positions; almost all the professors, however, managed to return to the universities – mostly in the late 1940s – irrespective of any earlier National Socialist activities. Professed National Socialists were also mostly reinstated to their old posts after a certain “cooling off period”. The most prominent exceptions are Walter Thoms (who admittedly went on to receive a lectureship in Mannheim in 1957) and Erwin Geldmacher, who had both compromised themselves to such an extent during the Nazi period, especially among their peers, that they were not reappointed to their previous professorships due to opposition from their former colleagues.


On the initiative of certain individuals – most notably Bruno Rogowsky, Wilhelm Hasenack and, to a lesser extent, Eugen Schmalenbach – it was possible to re-establish contacts with expelled colleagues fairly quickly after 1945. Their willingness to return, however, also depended greatly on their economic and social position in their adopted countries – despite their almost constant willingness to re-establish contacts with Germans who had not compromised themselves during the Nazi period. A simple pattern is apparent here: The majority of the Jewish university lecturers expelled remained abroad (Alfred Isaac was an exception) while most business academics who had been expelled for political or other reasons returned. However, possibly with the exception of Riester, who was made a full professor at an advanced age, most of them failed to make an academic breakthrough at German universities.


The comprehensive defeat of National Socialist Germany in every respect – militarily, politically and morally – also had repercussions for business studies institutions: Through the decrease in size of the failed German Reich, the subject lost many permanent posts – as well as degree courses in Königsberg, Breslau and Prague. Moreover, in the medium term the subject also lost its institutional bases in East Germany. In the West, however, these losses were swiftly compensated for through additional institutions and newly introduced degree courses. Examples of universities where the subject was only established post-1945 and went on to become extremely important in the field are Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Saarland University and the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.


In West Germany after 1945, business academics who had held fairly high-ranking positions during the Third Reich but at least taken a critical view of National Socialism had the strongest influence on the discipline. Prominent examples are Wilhelm Hasenack, Erich Schäfer, Theodor Beste and Erich Gutenberg. In the post-war period, however, public and, in very isolated cases, semi-public criticism of the behavior of business academics under National Socialism was rare. A critical examination at the Nazi period – as in other disciplines – was generally lacking.


It is also striking that those persecuted by the National Socialist regime were not commemorated in an official form. It was not until 1957 that expelled business academics were remembered in an article by Hasenack. And even then it was not entirely unselfishly: Hasenack, who was concerned about the future of the subject (after all, 16 former full professors of business studies died between 1945 and 1955), saw the discipline facing a “disastrous situation” as regards the next generation, so he proposed a highly utilitarian redemption policy: Business studies should remember the business experts who were persecuted or emigrated and “in such cases endeavor to tap into the wealth of export and general global-economic experience gained in the meantime by harnessing it for teaching purposes and thus accomplish a fair and possibly productive form of redemption.”


The direct political influence of business academics during the Nazi period was small and only became stronger in the post-war period: While the political influence of business academics had primarily been restricted to advisory capacities closely linked to economics during the Third Reich, in the Federal Republic of Germany business academics attained positions of direct power. Some business experts who had already been professionally active in the Third Reich played a key role in shaping the Federal Republic: Ludwig Erhard became Minister of Economics and later Chancellor; Hermann Lindrath, Joachim Tiburtius, Wilhelm Eich and Fritz Terhalle became ministers or senators; Hanns Linhardt was a Member of the Landtag (State Parliament) and almost the Bundestag (German parliament); Waldemar Koch and Wilhelm Eich also held – if only for a short time – high-ranking positions in the Soviet Occupation Zone as co-founders of the Liberal Democratic Party.



  • Zitat Steins: Archiv des Leo Baeck Institute, Sign. AR 1209: Nathan Stein an den Karlsruher Oberbürgermeister vom 29.5.1964.
  • Zitat Isaacs: Akten der Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Akten Isaac–Scheller: „2.Verhandlungstermin Prof. Dr. Isaac / Stürmer-Holz am 16.1.1931“.
  • Zitat Hitlers: Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf. Zwei Bände in einem Band, München 37. Auflage 1933, S. 255f.
  • Zitat Manes': Universitätsarchiv der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Bstd. HH/WH, Nr. 277, Bl. 117: Gesuch Manes' vom 27.7.1934 an die Berliner IHK.
  • Zitat Schmalenbachs: Bezirksregierung Düsseldorf, Dezernat 10 (Wiedergutmachung), ZK 18, 065, Wiedergutmachungsakte Eugen Schmalenbach: Eugen Schmalenbach, „Bericht über die mir von den Nationalsozialisten zugefügten Schädigungen“ vom 1.11.1948.
  • Zitat Hasenacks: Wilhelm Hasenack, Zum Tode von Prof. (em.) Dr. Friedrich Kürbs, früher Königsberg. Zugleich ein Überblick über das Schicksal von emigrierten und politisch verfolgten deutschen Betriebswirten, in: BFuP, 9. Jg. (1957), S. 81f.
  • Hetzartikel gegen Isaac erschienen in: Stürmer Nr. 32/1930.
  • Hetzartikel gegen Schmalenbach erschienen in: Stadt-Anzeiger (Nr. 491) vom 28.9.1939.
  • Artikel Nicklischs erschienen in: Die Betriebswirtschaft – Zeitschrift für Handelswissenschaft und Handelspraxis, 26. Jg. (1933), S. 173.
  • Brief Fritz Schmidts an Eugen Schmalenbach vom 18. August 1943: Schmalenbach-Archiv, Bestand 70/2.


(Peter Mantel)

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