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The Vampire Economy: Doing Business Under Fascism

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Here is a study of the actual workings of business under national socialism. Written in 1939, Reimann discusses the effects of heavy regulation, inflation, price controls, trade interference, national economic planning, and attacks on private property, and what consequences they had for human rights and economic development. This is a subject rarely discussed and for reaso Here is a study of the actual workings of business under national socialism. Written in 1939, Reimann discusses the effects of heavy regulation, inflation, price controls, trade interference, national economic planning, and attacks on private property, and what consequences they had for human rights and economic development. This is a subject rarely discussed and for reasons that are discomforting,: as much as the left hated the social and cultural agenda of the Nazis, the economic agenda fit straight into a pattern of statism that had emerged in Europe and the United States, and in this area, the world has not be de-Nazified. This books makes for alarming reading, as one discovers the extent to which the Nazi economic agenda of totalitarian control--without finally abolishing private property--has become the norm. The author is by no means an Austrian but his study provides historical understanding and frightening look at the consequences of state economic management.


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Here is a study of the actual workings of business under national socialism. Written in 1939, Reimann discusses the effects of heavy regulation, inflation, price controls, trade interference, national economic planning, and attacks on private property, and what consequences they had for human rights and economic development. This is a subject rarely discussed and for reaso Here is a study of the actual workings of business under national socialism. Written in 1939, Reimann discusses the effects of heavy regulation, inflation, price controls, trade interference, national economic planning, and attacks on private property, and what consequences they had for human rights and economic development. This is a subject rarely discussed and for reasons that are discomforting,: as much as the left hated the social and cultural agenda of the Nazis, the economic agenda fit straight into a pattern of statism that had emerged in Europe and the United States, and in this area, the world has not be de-Nazified. This books makes for alarming reading, as one discovers the extent to which the Nazi economic agenda of totalitarian control--without finally abolishing private property--has become the norm. The author is by no means an Austrian but his study provides historical understanding and frightening look at the consequences of state economic management.

30 review for The Vampire Economy: Doing Business Under Fascism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ed Kless

    Far too many people I encounter seem to think that Fascism/Nazism is associated with free-market capitalism. This book written by a Communist-leaning German economist destroys that notion. As the full name of the Nazi Party suggests, the National Socialist German Workers' Party (German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) was in every way Socialist where society (in this case defined as Arians) is more important than the individual. The burdensome regulations that changed on the whim Far too many people I encounter seem to think that Fascism/Nazism is associated with free-market capitalism. This book written by a Communist-leaning German economist destroys that notion. As the full name of the Nazi Party suggests, the National Socialist German Workers' Party (German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) was in every way Socialist where society (in this case defined as Arians) is more important than the individual. The burdensome regulations that changed on the whims of both national and local leaders kept more business owners in a perpetual state of instability. In addition, while the government leaders encouraged the sciences to assist with the military's demands, entrepreneurialism and innovation with other ares of the private sector were discouraged. The book does tend to get repetitive in parts, so some skim reading of those areas is recommended. However, do give up on the book completely. Some of the later chapters are well worth the investment.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

    This remarkable book, written in 1939 by a leftist economist, is one of the most interesting accounts of the rise of fascistic Germany I've ever read. Relying on explicit Nazi policies, guidance letters, first-hand accounts, and contemporary reports, Reimann effectively describes the Orwellian nightmare of Germany's command economy of the 1930s - eventually becoming completely dominated by war preparation. Nazi Germany engaged in a wholesale expropriation of capital and and the complete destruct This remarkable book, written in 1939 by a leftist economist, is one of the most interesting accounts of the rise of fascistic Germany I've ever read. Relying on explicit Nazi policies, guidance letters, first-hand accounts, and contemporary reports, Reimann effectively describes the Orwellian nightmare of Germany's command economy of the 1930s - eventually becoming completely dominated by war preparation. Nazi Germany engaged in a wholesale expropriation of capital and and the complete destruction of competitive enterprise. Businessmen became subservient to the Party - their precarious existence continuing at the sufferance of the state. Only those with connections to the Party or willing/able to make massive bribes could continue operating their businesses. However, as economic difficulties - inherent to a command economy - multiplied, even favored industrialists had to fear being sacrificed by the authoritarian regime in the "interest of the state." The Nazis absolutely rejected longstanding rights in private property, instead subjecting its citizenry to rabid nationalistic economic policies. As Reimann put it, "Under Bolshevism all your cows will be taken away from you because you are a kulak. Under National Socialism, you are allowed to keep the cows; but the State takes all the milk, and you have the expense and labor of feeding them." Overall, this book provides great, contemporary insight into the operation of the Nazi economy. It's also an effective rebuttal against modern denialists who claim Nazi Germany had a privatized economy - examples of state control over the means of production are discussed at length (e.g., price controls, employment controls, licensing/permitting controls, direct state management, import/export controls, ruinous taxation, removal of racial minorities and Jews from the economy, military takeover of industry, etc.). "The life of the German businessman is full of contradictions. He cordially dislikes the gigantic, top-heavy, bureaucratic State machine which is strangling his economic independence. Yet, he needs the aid of these despised bureaucrats more and more, and is forced to run after them, begging for concessions, privileges and grants in fear that his competitor will gain the advantage."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ietrio

    Reading this text in 2018: mind blowing! I could not believe it was written by a communist (!), with knowledge of economy (!!), in 1939 (!!!). He perfectly describes the workings of the Communist countries, with the mention that the failure was faster as there were no more entrepreneurs, just state bureaucrats. He perfectly describes the economy of the "West", meaning Europe and North America. It used to be for the Nation and than the people. Now it's Safety for the people. The results are the same Reading this text in 2018: mind blowing! I could not believe it was written by a communist (!), with knowledge of economy (!!), in 1939 (!!!). He perfectly describes the workings of the Communist countries, with the mention that the failure was faster as there were no more entrepreneurs, just state bureaucrats. He perfectly describes the economy of the "West", meaning Europe and North America. It used to be for the Nation and than the people. Now it's Safety for the people. The results are the same. At least Animal Farm is an allegory, so one can get some comfort from it not being real. This is real.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Really interesting to read about the economy and business activities of Nazi Germany from someone who lived through it. The government controlled practically every facet of the economy, I'm amazed that Germany didn't collapse a lot sooner. Unfortunately the book has a lot of redundancy which started to bore me half way through. The book should be edited and cut by at least 30%. Really interesting to read about the economy and business activities of Nazi Germany from someone who lived through it. The government controlled practically every facet of the economy, I'm amazed that Germany didn't collapse a lot sooner. Unfortunately the book has a lot of redundancy which started to bore me half way through. The book should be edited and cut by at least 30%.

  5. 4 out of 5

    wally

    The Vampire Economy (1939), is a fascinating read, a study in easy-to-understand language, that makes no attempt to be pedantic, I read it with an eye toward comparing how America the Beautiful compares w/this time period of Germany. Granted, there are vast differences, but the similarities are troubling. Being a self-employed man for more than twenty years now and seeing the slow but steady encroachment of the State and witnessing, almost on a daily basis, the cry for more of the same, more o The Vampire Economy (1939), is a fascinating read, a study in easy-to-understand language, that makes no attempt to be pedantic, I read it with an eye toward comparing how America the Beautiful compares w/this time period of Germany. Granted, there are vast differences, but the similarities are troubling. Being a self-employed man for more than twenty years now and seeing the slow but steady encroachment of the State and witnessing, almost on a daily basis, the cry for more of the same, more of what almost destroyed the world and did destroy Germany, I am troubled. Reimann talked with businessmen from Germany, including in this study things they wrote in letters, many, if not most, written when they were away from Germany, away from the censors. Their candid words about the course of Germany at the time reveal a system spiraling out of control, its final destination illustrated with a comparison to the good soldier Schweik, that Reimann uses in the final pages, a chapter called “A World of Absurdities.” (Hajek, The Good Soldier Schweik) Schweik, hiding from his superiors in the gunpowder room, smokes his pipe, and when the sergeant surprises him, sparks fly from the pipe. Though the sergeant tries to coax Schweik from the gunpowder room, Schweik replies that he is quite content there on the gunpowder. “The fascist dictator is in the same position as Schweik. The preponderant weight of force, both internally and externally, is against him, but he, like Schweik, with lighted pipe in hand, is seated on a keg of gunpowder. The conservative forces which helped the fascist dictator thought they would be able to control him, but now they do not dare to make use of their power against him. They know that nothing of the old system would remain if the structure he has built were to fall.” There are many ideas presented in the work, the idea that the business man who failed did so to sabotage the Party. In court, one could more readily win or not be bruised, not by an appeal to law, but by an appeal to Party. There is a line in the first chapter, written by an honest businessman on a trip out of the country--and even that--leaving the country was difficult. But he writes a letter, free from censorship--and this in a day when he didn’t have a facility like the NSA listening to his every call, reading his every internet transmission…he writes, “Everyone has his doubts about the system unless he is very young, very stupid or is bound to it by the privileges he enjoys.” The Party ignored economic conditions unless they agreed with Party notions. “The full force of propaganda…used to force consumption of goods which were abundant. The same means were brought into play to prevent the use of goods which were scarce. Medical experts were conscripted and had to prove that available foods were of greater health value that those which were scarce.” “All of us in business are constantly in fear of being penalized for the violation of some decree or law.” One businessman is forced to build a gymnasium and athletic field for his workers who are too tired to want it, but the Party decreed it and it was so. If moral is low, free beer and sausage, as a substitute to a better wage. There was a “Strength through Joy” movement. With all the controls and decrees, “hundreds of thousands of small businessmen and their customers are forced to violate the law daily, and a whole army of policeman has been subsidized to catch these lawbreakers.” “The most repressed and restricted businessman in Germany will not be found in the ranks of big businessmen.” “Shopkeepers were told the Nazis would destroy the competition of the chain stores, trusts and Jewish shopkeepers. The State was going to give them special protection.” The State apparatus got rid of the Jewish shopkeeper, but then turned its eye to the next in line as it sought to keep itself in power. “The old type of conservative employer who tried to establish some kind of patriarchal relations w/his workers and who could afford to pay a relatively high wage to those workers he needed most, cannot survive under fascism.” One businessman tried to attract efficient workmen by offering higher wages. That was forbidden by the regime. He was breaking the law! The State sent out a decree that “buna” and “brabag” shall be produced, even though those in business knew it was a waste of everything concerned, buna, or synthetic rubber, and brabag, a kind of synthetic gas. After Hitler took Czecho-Slovakia, an industrialist wrote in an uncensored letter, “Wait and see…when we [the workers] get arms in our hands, many things might happen.” Though Reimann says nothing more about personal arms, my assumption is that the fascists had already outlawed personal arms. Perhaps there were guns that a few maintained, and if anything, the work does a disservice to that aspect of personal liberty, for only a handful of men in the Warsaw ghetto (one who passed away a year ago, though I’ve forgotten his name, alas.) were able, w/a few small arms, to delay the might of the German was-machine. “Most State agencies and commissars start functioning by issuing prohibitions. One is forbidden much more often than permitted.” The Party, the bureaucrats produced nothing, took everything, and they existed by and large, only to prohibit. An interesting story within: Kaffee Haag. Maker of caffeine-free coffee almost was able to make a nicotine-free cigarette. After extensive research, a factory was started. Other decrees by the Party made advance impossible. In Germany at the time, too, jewelry, diamonds and platinum, was desired more so than currency and gold. The jewelry business was flourishing. “The totalitarian state will not have an empty treasury so long as private companies or individuals still have ample cash or liquid assets.” “Under fascism, big bankers…have become State officials in everything but name.” The president of the Reichsbank, in 1935 “must have foreseen that the huge financial deficit of the State could not continue forever. But Dr. Schacht did not expect that a financial crisis would endanger his position as economic dictator.” His speech was not free. So he printed and distributed it himself. He was belittled as “an old woman.” He replied, “My comrades and fellow-Germans, to dismiss the gravity of the situation and our task as Germans with cheap phrase-mongering is not only silly but damned dangerous.” Dr. Schacht lost his job. “…an artificial belief in credits and financial obligations has to be maintained in open conflict with realities.” There existed a State Commissar for the Stock Exchange pre-Hitler. “The ‘Aryan’ members of the Berlin Stock Exchange have lost much more than they gained by the removal of the ‘Non-Aryans.’” The S.E. still retained the function of evaluating the “earning power” of private companies. Yet any knowledge gained by that must have been willfully ignored as anything that did not jive w/the want of the Party was not used--the more a raw material had to be imported, the harder the Party tried to find a synthetic replacement, resulting in higher cots, lower quality--they even spent more on one product, way more--than it would have cost to import it! There’s information about world trade, a line or two about the Versailles Treaty that I understand was instrumental in Hitler’s rise to power. The chapter on trade reminded me of Heller’s Catch-22 and more recently, his Closing Time. (Heller, by da vay, made good usage of the good soldier Schweik in Closing Time). Milo Minderbinder engages in incompressible trades practices, the likes of which I can’t recall in detail to include here, other than cotton, eggs, and chocolate, among other items, are involved, as well as a bombing run on friends, all in the name of trade. I thought it was interesting in a review of Closing Time, a reviewer pointed out Milo’s “capitalist” tendencies, still at the forefront, as they are in the better-known Catch-22. I find statements like this telling. What I can see now, having read The Vampire Economy, in which the good solider Schweik is featured, as he is in Heller’s latter work, is that Heller’s Milo could be interpreted as not only a nefarious “capitalist”---that darling whipping boy of the world press, the American media in the forefront--but the wrong kind of capitalist, the kind that the fascists in Germany tried to become. In fascist Germany, “the greater the scarcity of raw materials, the stronger becomes the pressure of the State to extend production of ersatz, regardless of expense and in spite of insufficient technical experience.” Too, they used subsidies to foster the product the Party desired, regardless of cost. By subsidizing one commodity, they penalized another, and the entire economy suffered. They tried to make synthetic products to meet the demand for resources they would have otherwise had to import. It was a miserable failure. It led to their economic collapse, it led to world war. There’s a frightening quote, considering what happened, “The pig is still the best fat producer. We have not been able to discover an industrial process for producing fat so effectively.” 1939 this was. The fascists, Reimann suggests at one point, wanted a kind of State capitalism--the nature of which Milo practiced in Catch-22. That might have been their goal and of course they were blind to their own faulty logic though there were those who tried to dissuade them, ironically, the Army leadership, who could see the error of the Party and Hitler. Today, my experience, that you can ignore and minimize at will, I’m ready for that and I’d be surprised to find commiseration--one could substitute the word “American businessman” in all the old Nazi propaganda about “the Jew”. Put another way, the next time you read, see, hear (daily, mind you) something about the nefarious American businessman, try to imagine the same segment using the phrase, “the Jew” or maybe it would be easier if “the Black” were used. But like I said, go ahead and diminish and minimize my experience, tell me I’m some sort of right-wing wacko, in our time, Upright Bipolar Locomotion has become the norm and though we may have two parties here in America the Beautiful, it is the State that is increasing in size, increasing in power, increasingly injecting itself in business. The Germans did not learn in the small span of time between the world wars. I have much less confidence that liberty will ever be embraced with the same enthusiasm the karaoke machine enables each of us. “Not the military experts, but the Party leaders, decided the tempo of militarization and rearmament.” Though the “open flouting of the Versailles Treaty” was welcomed by army officers, we know the outcome. They were destined to fail. “The fascist war preparations, however, have defeated their own ends.”

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stefania Vede

    What a great book ! Filled with a bulk of history of The Third Reich which would otherwise be difficult to find in any history account, this book offers really interesting insights into Nazi economy and its manny paralels with the USSR economy at that time. It is worth while to mention that some common economic policies of modern states today mirror disturbingly well a great deal of Nazi policies (unfair government susidies at the expens of others to branches of industry deemed of national intere What a great book ! Filled with a bulk of history of The Third Reich which would otherwise be difficult to find in any history account, this book offers really interesting insights into Nazi economy and its manny paralels with the USSR economy at that time. It is worth while to mention that some common economic policies of modern states today mirror disturbingly well a great deal of Nazi policies (unfair government susidies at the expens of others to branches of industry deemed of national interest, an overgown bureaucracy apparatus to handle economic affairs, the ever important existance of a skilled accountant to handle the every changing policy of governments etc.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Barry Linetsky

    This book was written in 1938, before WWII. Interesting contemporaneous journalistic perspective of how business people fared and how the ability to do business and adapt to bureaucratic and state intervention deteriorated as Hitler exerted more and more control over the running of the economy in preparation for war. Of course, those who complied were allowed to live, and those who could not meet their arbitrarily imposed production targets had to fear for their lives and bribe party officials t This book was written in 1938, before WWII. Interesting contemporaneous journalistic perspective of how business people fared and how the ability to do business and adapt to bureaucratic and state intervention deteriorated as Hitler exerted more and more control over the running of the economy in preparation for war. Of course, those who complied were allowed to live, and those who could not meet their arbitrarily imposed production targets had to fear for their lives and bribe party officials to save them.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Marek Dohojda

    Great book all should read The best I've read about actual interworking of German economy. It's social implications and results. The books lays it out in black and white why fascism, national socialism and communism are all ultimately one and the same . Great book all should read The best I've read about actual interworking of German economy. It's social implications and results. The books lays it out in black and white why fascism, national socialism and communism are all ultimately one and the same .

  9. 5 out of 5

    Paul Fox

    Very Good. Fascinating book about Nazi fascism and business in Hitler's Germany. Though they loathed one another's system's of government, it's interesting to read of the many similarities in outcome between Hitler's Socialism and Stalin's. Very Good. Fascinating book about Nazi fascism and business in Hitler's Germany. Though they loathed one another's system's of government, it's interesting to read of the many similarities in outcome between Hitler's Socialism and Stalin's.

  10. 4 out of 5

    G.S. Richter

    Vital information, bone-dry delivery. Reads like a textbook written by a Vulcan. Reimann has a deep understanding of capitalism and economics--which is odd for a professed communist. Everyone should read at least some part of this book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    Very informative but the author does confuse Fascism and National Socialism as being the same. He is also a communist so will be writing through that lense but in doing so accidentally shows how similar the Nazi policies are to his own without realizing it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carlos "CAP"

    Useful to understand the workings of the German economy during the Nazi period just before WW2.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Craig Scott

    Fascinating.

  14. 5 out of 5

    D. Jason

    Published in 1939, this survey of how the fascist economy actually worked (or, mostly, didn't) in Germany under Nazi rule is fascinating and scary in equal measure. It lays out the kind of detail that you don't usually get, explaining just how the National Socialists took control, and kept things running even as they ran them into the ground. It bogs down a bit in a couple of chapters, when Reimann lays many, many charts and numbers on the reader. But that sort of detailed comparison is precisely Published in 1939, this survey of how the fascist economy actually worked (or, mostly, didn't) in Germany under Nazi rule is fascinating and scary in equal measure. It lays out the kind of detail that you don't usually get, explaining just how the National Socialists took control, and kept things running even as they ran them into the ground. It bogs down a bit in a couple of chapters, when Reimann lays many, many charts and numbers on the reader. But that sort of detailed comparison is precisely what makes the book so valuable, along with the snapshot of pre-war Germany inherent in the book having been written in 1939.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    This should be a fascinating read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dunpeal

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joe

  18. 5 out of 5

    Charles McMullen

  19. 4 out of 5

    DrooAnon

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mike F

  22. 5 out of 5

    David E Sandy

  23. 4 out of 5

    Marc

  24. 4 out of 5

    Peter

  25. 4 out of 5

    Danuta

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lee B

  27. 4 out of 5

    S2 Actual

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mathias

  30. 4 out of 5

    P

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