Hitler's Banker: Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht

John Weitz, Author Little Brown and Company $29.45 (352p) ISBN 978-0-316-92916-5
Schacht (1877-1970) bankrolled Hitler's Wehrmacht but was acquitted at Nuremberg of having conspired to wage war. He was, his lawyers contended, a German patriot who had worked as Reichsbank president to arrest the runaway inflation of the early 1920s and rebuild the nation's economy. Weitz (Hitler's Diplomat) defends the deeply conservative, anti-Semitic Schacht, who survived six postwar trials and lived to a prosperous 93, as a nonparty capitalist who cautiously distanced himself from the Nazis before the shooting started. U.S. Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson, who prosecuted Schacht unsuccessfully at Nuremberg, labeled him ""a Brahmin among the untouchables [who]... never could... afford to separate from them politically."" Weitz depicts the ambitious Schacht as a slippery, contradictory, vain, courageous figure. Turning a nation with empty coffers into an industrial giant geared for war, he worked, so he claimed, not for personal gain but for the ""welfare of the broad masses."" The book's inconsistencies and irrelevancies (we learn, for no reason, the license number of Hitler's Mercedes) suggest some carelessness in preparation. However, this first biography of the banker in English is useful as a balance to Schacht's memoir, published when he was 76. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-7515-2666-0
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