Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht: “Hitler’s Money Man”

Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht: “Hitler’s Money Man”

All final war preparations require liquid finance or “filthy lucre” as the Holy Bible refers to money in 1st Timothy 3:3, and bankers and financiers are the “cash cows” who arrange so much of its conception, usually behind closed doors, and frequently with devastating results.

Between the two wars, Dr. Hjalmar Schacht was the main organ grinder in Germany’s money markets in preparing for the advancing Nazi war machine that would devastate so much of Europe, although later he does seem to have lukewarm doubts about Hitler’s war ambitions. But by then it was too late, Hitler’s deadly dice had been tossed into the quagmire of European pre-war structure, and the world would never be the same again or since.

Schacht was born in 1877 and seems from an early age to have been an ambitious boy. (He once wrote about this trait in his personality by saying rather condescendingly: “As if ambition was a fault. I have never tried to hide this ambition.”) He would certainly have inherited a Protestant Lutheran/reformed religious background I suspect, and would have had some knowledge of the Bible and its teachings.

As well as attempting to escape the rigid class system, then prevalent in Germany, would be another of his young ambitions. His father it seems would frequently face bankruptcy by bringing the family to almost financial ruin. (I’m not sure if the bailiffs ever did bang on the Schacht’s front door but this embarrassment of their financial plight was a grievance and shame that would have a deep and lasting effect on the psyche of the young Schacht.)

In later life at school he would be “cold-shouldered by the richer students, he was solitary, obsessively hardworking, and conscientious,” writes Liaquat  Ahamed in his book The Lords of finance. Later as Schacht manoeuvred up the greasy, sometimes corrupting banking pole, one prominent Swiss banker later remembered that “he considerably outshone his fellow directors, all sons of rich fathers or mere time servers.” Later he would be known as, ”the young wizard.”

And yet it was “his unusual gift of making enemies (that) continued to dog him,” writes Liaquat Ahamed. In most of the previous press news photographs taken of him over his long life, they reveal a veil of inscrutability that he wears with charm and of course confidence, and most certainly in the post-Nuremberg years, remains very noticeable.

Money and the pursuit and distribution of its power are always problematical to those who desire and crave its possession, seldom does satisfaction enter into the equation. Schacht would spend a lifetime pursuing its pleasures and privileges.

The guns of August 1914 ushered in the arrival of “The Great “War” as it used to be known as. Dr. Schacht’s defective eyesight naturally prevented him from participating in its foolishness as a conscript. He like so many others foolishly believed it would all be completed by Christmas. Sadly the hostilities would claim millions before the final trumpet was sounded in 1918.

In 1908 when he was thirty-one-years old Schacht was elected to become a Freemason, perhaps of the Scottish Rite. This initiation into the lodge would supply him in the years ahead with many valuable business/political contacts, none more so than Montage Norman, the powerful Governor of the Bank of England, and both American President Roosevelt’s: Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt would share some of Schacht’s company on his frequent journeys to Washington. Luke 8:17 comes to mind, offering the following warning to those fools who dabble in this masonic occult: “For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest: neither anything hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.”

Today all prospective Catenian and round-table membership or other lodge activities should be avoided. Do not go down the rolled up trouser leg mentality.

The end of the War in 1918 found him as so many others did bitter at its hasty conclusion. The late Kaisers army, it was suggested, conspiratorially to whoever would listen and millions did just that. They had been brutally ‘stabbed in the back’ by ‘left wingers’ and ‘Jewish war profiteers’ and ‘Freemasons sure what Schacht thought about these ‘claims!’)

Later Schacht would travel to post war Holland as part of the summoned German delegation to hear what their punishment would be. Because of the lack of chairs, which was deliberate of course, the German delegation remained standing on their feet, to be lectured by seated gloating Allied victors: “You seem to have forgotten that you lost the war,” shouted one of them to Schacht.

From these sojourns the seeds of resentment and revenge would be planted into the consciences of the German people, who now existed in the ill-fated Weimar Republic, that would later spawn the fledgling Nazi party, as a well as the financer Dr. Schacht, who always had a long memory. 

There must have been many fortuitous meetings in history to remember for example when Mr. Rolls met Mr. Royce or when Mr. Marks shook Mr. Spencer’s offered hand. Or perhaps more disturbingly when Burke and Hare sealed their fate together in Edinburgh, Scotland in the 1820s.

So I find it interesting that the official meeting between Adolph Hitler and Dr. Schacht was as late as the early 1930s. It does seem rather late to me given the political and financial turmoil in those ‘doomed days’ of the Weimar Republic.

Dr Schacht it seems was an inquisitive newspaper reader, with his finger very much on the German pulse of what was happening then on the streets of Berlin. He had of course as early as 1926 been offering concealed support to the up and coming dangerous Nazi party, as well as making anti-Jewish statements such as: “The Jews must reconcile themselves to the fact that their influence among us is over, once and for all.” And these spiteful words concerning the ‘Jewish problem’ in Germany would certainly endear him to Hitler’s listening ear, but I can’t help speculating that Schacht didn’t really mean what he preached, rather just mouthed the correct words for the ‘faithful’ Nazi to hear and digest.

He had previously thought of Hitler as “full of will and spirit” but did he just remain ambivalent to the Nazis and their threats as encapsulated in Mein Kampf. Apparently “he was taken” by some of the content. He admitted that the author (Hitler) displayed “a keen brain.” Safe words it seems from a banker known for “his cutting and devastating humour and his sarcastic poems.” Foolishly he underestimated Hitler but then so did many others eventually to their cost and their families.

So perhaps the original ‘engagement’ between finance and fascism occurred before the official 1931 soiree, between Mr. and Mrs Schacht and Adolph Hitler at Hermann Goring’s ‘swanky’ apartment in Berlin. Certainly, the politics and personality of Adolph Hitler made a lasting impression on Mrs Schacht that evening, and her husband it seems remained lukewarm about the man and his future vision of Germany. Later it seems when their marriage crumbled, perhaps because of her admiration for Hitler, Schacht would write perhaps with rather tongue-in-cheek that: “My wife could have sent me to the gallows, for the things I said about him.”

Then later after her death in 1940, he would show little grief or pain of what had happened, only relief it seems at her demise.

Now with Hitler’s arrival in an unstable Germany as the chosen chancellor in 1933, I suspect Schacht’s main preoccupation would be to obtain hard currency for the Nazi coffers, and to quietly finance Hitler’s coming wars.

Although not a paid practicing member of the Nazi party, unlike other members of his family, Hitler would in 1934 make him an honouree member of the party and later award him the coveted “Nazi Golden Swastika.”

Comically in 1942 in a letter from Martin Bormann, he would be required to return the decoration, but I’m not sure if he ever did. But as Dr. Goebbels cynically remarked in his confiding dairy, concerning the loyalty of Schacht: “In his heart, he doesn’t belong to us.” And in this brief surmise, the devious doctor seemed to be accurate, as usual.

Yet another colleague who knew him well in those mid 1930s wrote that: “He is undoubtly an exceedingly vain man” and the American ambassador’s daughter in Berlin remembered him as a very frequent guest at the popular embassy dinners. She recalled the old boy was something of a regular party animal, dressed in his high collars, pinz-nez glasses, with plastered down hair and an eye for the ladies as well it seems.

From 1933 onwards Schacht may have been just about politically ‘in step’ with his master (see picture) yet realistically Hitler’s banker was walking a slippery political tightrope, and isn’t this always dangerous in any totalitarian state.

Watching and waiting in the wings of the Reich was another crude Nazi ring master, he of course was Hermann Goering, who had long hoped to acquire lucrative finances for his expanding air force, and he had long cast his beady eyes on the Reichbank and of course Schacht.

Finally in 1939 as many expected Schacht, after dismissals and returns, was finally dismissed. He had after all been skating on some thin ice, with Hitler and perhaps just a thin slice of a bankers cunning perception, had prevented him from being escorted through the gates of Dachau at the time. Although that event in his life would come perhaps sooner than even he had expected.

From then until 1943 he would occupy the empty political ceremonial ‘Minister without portfolio’ office and it seems drawing a comfortable salary as part of the package, maybe this sweetened the pill of being fired, who knows.

Yet more importantly he had been allowed after dismissal the rare wartime opportunity to amazingly travel extensively, and to the Far East as well, and all it seems with Hitler’s personal permission to do so. But more importantly, for him, he had also acquired a younger second wife, who this time it seems wasn’t a flag waving Nazi like his late wife but had only dreamy eyes for him.

Life must have looked good and yet this idyll that he enjoyed and perhaps rather took for granted was all about to end suddenly, perhaps sooner even than this financer imagined.

Although the ill prepared attempt on Hitler’s life on July 22 1944 failed, Himmler’s sweep of locating and destroying the alleged conspirators somehow threw up Schacht’s name. For now, things did not look good for him. There seems no doubt that he was certainly aware of the plots intentions and apparently, “Schacht was fully informed about the plot,” so it is recorded.

Then at 7am on 23 July 1944, Hjalmar Schacht was politely arrested at his home by the Gestapo. As John Weitz would recall in his informative book, “Hjalmar Schachtspent the next four years in a succession of thirty-two different prisons or concentration camps, two of those years in solitary confinement.” Prison and the scarce limitations that it offers to a man’s freedom can usher in suicide and suspicion, any doctor will explain. And in fact on Christmas Day, 1944 Schacht had to listen to drunken SS soldiers assaulting the carol Silent Night and strangely as I write these words on Christmas day 2012, my festive thoughts are not for him or his condition, but for another man, himself a prisoner being confined in a cold vile smelling cell so long ago and chained to a Roman soldier. That man of course was Paul the Apostle, who had suffered deeply himself, over ten years in assorted prisons in the then sprawling Roman Empire of that day. And what of Paul’s thoughts and prayers as he endured so much suffering in his love for Christ, that he could joyfully proclaim: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Spiritual words to meditate and think about. But I’m not sure how Schacht’s membership to the lodge assisted him in his long months of confinement. Later at Nuremberg, when he was eventually acquitted by the allies, with perhaps expected but unconfirmed assistance from the Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Monague Norman, also a practicing freemason, some persuasion from the Governor of the bank might have aided Schacht gaining his awaited freedom or so he thought.

It is not so well known or understood but several of the convicted top Nazi high command did finally repent of their sins according to Pastor Gereck, the then army Chaplin under the strict command of Col. Burton Andreus. However, I’m not so sure about Doctor Schacht, who still claimed to any who would listen to him, that he should never have been confined in Nuremberg prison, with the other war criminals.

Interestingly both my son and I had the rare opportunity some years ago to visit the town and the original courtroom, and surprisingly very little had changed since those dramatic days of 1945/6 in post war Germany, when the Nazi bloodletting was carried out.

In October 1946 Dr. Schacht was surprisingly acquitted of the courts serious charges against him, but for now, he was a free man. An interesting black and white press photo of him taken after his release at a press conference sees him in his heavy fur lined overcoat and laughingly signing autographs for those who requested them in return for bars of chocolates, presumably for his young children living with his wife on Lunenburg heath.

Hjalmar Schacht ever the showman really should have joined the others on the scaffold on October 16th of the same year, but I suggest there was in his case certain grounds for imprisonment but not however the death sentence.

Schacht’s expected release from prison proved to be premature because after few days of freedom with his young family, he was re-arrested by the German backed allied government on serious charges. The picture at the top of the page incidentally was taken of him as he mournfully looks through the forbidden wire. Freedom must have seemed very distant on that day behind the wire. However, he would use his incarcerated time  whilst in confinement to draft his memoirs. By now he was 73-years-old and an ageing survivor from the old Germany and about to enter the new world order and its evil ways.

Incidentally, the present crisis in Europe, with its unstable money markets will never be solved collectively. Yet one day an individual yet to mount the waiting world stage will do just that by bringing ‘stability’ to the markets. He is of course the Antichrist as revealed in the Book of revelation. So keep watching.

During the 1950s after his final release, he became a travelling economic consultant, advising foreign governments such as Egypt, Indonesia, Iran and India. I was amused that he refused to disembark from his plane and instead stayed in the airport terminal in Singapore, where he was scheduled to hold important meetings with local bankers because it seems, “He had read an unpleasant article in the Singapore Straits Times which doubted that he should be allowed a visitor’s visa, considering his Nazi history,” so recalled the author, John Weitz. And incidentally both James and myself have some dear friends in that part of the world, and we send them our warmest regards if they are reading this.

For the rest of his life, Schacht’s fortunes in banking would expand as an international financer, always advising world governments on how to manage and guard their finances. However, in 1960 he was back in Dachau Concentration Camp, this time as an invited guest for the dedication of a memorial chapel. As an old inmate, it must have been very bizarre for him to be back again in such a bleak location on that parade ground. As I well remember its location myself when we visited the camp some years ago.

Finally on June 4th 1970, “The man who had escaped Hitler’s wrath and the allied hangman was killed by an embolism.” One morning whilst pulling up his trousers in his Munich flat, he stumbled and fell over, he was 93-years-old.

Hjalmar Schacht seems to have been a rather arrogant ambitious and artful banker, so beloved of the newspaper cartoonists, and with his stiff shirt collars, he is easily ridiculed. But this would be a mistake. Schacht’s allegiance had always been to himself, you don’t after all survive by caring about other people. Life he would argue was far too short for that sort of ‘nonsense.’

In his published memoirs he does offer a transparent reference to being “a Christian” but he seemed to have little or no interest in spiritual matters. He did however offer some mute admiration to the Lutheran Pastor Gerecke by remembering there was a, “moving quality about him and a devotion to his tasks.” All very nice of course, but Gerecke understood his earthly mission to explain to men that they must repent to be born again and quickly, otherwise they will never encounter or enter the coming kingdom of Heaven.

Whether this Doctor understood this is unclear and I rather suspect through his stubbornness and stupidity he declined this simple free gift that is offered to all seeking sinners. Again as Paul confirms in his first epistle to Timothy: “That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” And Jesus Himself declared: “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:13.)

Dr Schacht may have been a banking giant but he remains a pygmy in seeking the truth that, “He that hath the Son hath life; but he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12.)

Yet somehow today in 2013 I rather suspect that Dr. Schacht would never have spoken or have seen himself when he was alive and jetting around the world as a sinner who inhabits “dirty rags,” but rather as a “good” person and of course, there are no such people. We are all soiled sinners until we repent and are born again in the Spirit. But then sadly today there are millions rather like him with the same negative attitude who refuse and reject a lasting relationship with Christ. They are of course “dead in trespass and sins.” But perhaps it was his belief in the false values of Freemasonry and its so-called ‘inspiration in the good works’ of the lodge that separated Schacht from seeking a full commitment to the true God of the Bible.

However in conclusion Freemasonry is but just another fault line that can and does lead to oblivion to the terrible gates of Hell, from which there is no return or recall.

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”

Used references

Hitler’s banker, John Weitz

Lords of Finance, Liaquat Ahamed





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