NicosiaBusiness - Chapter 01 | eBooks | Non-Fiction

NicosiaBusiness - Chapter 01

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I would like to begin this essay by answering the question posed in the title. Banks and insurance companies, the two types of enterprises to be discussed here, were at times reluctant and at times willing collaborators with the National Socialist regime. How reluctant or willing they were varied with time, place, and the relevant interests and issues, and since corporations are not monoliths, with the individuals involved as well. This does not mean that generalizations cannot be made and conclusions drawn if they are placed in a well-grounded historical context. On the surface, this should seem reasonable and obvious to persons engaged in historical studies. The reality is, however, that this is a field in which commentary has not been limited to historians, and that has long been a playground for ideologists, journalists, and others for whom sound historical practice and method have often been of minor importance or no importance at all. Financial institutions seem to have an especially magnetic attraction to such persons.

Thus, most recently a professor of communications, Christopher Simpson, has republished the well-known OMGUS (Office of the Military Government of the United States) reports of 1946 on the Deutsche and Dresdner Banks. In his inadequate introduction, Simpson speaks of the kind of contextualization practiced by the historians working on the histories of the various banks as "spin-doctoring" for the banks that commissioned them to do this work.1 On the one hand, Simpson treats the OMGUS reports, written slightly over a year after the war ended and for prosecutorial purposes by persons who were also trustbusters interested in the breaking up of the big banks and who had a deficient understanding of the German banking system and its history, as some kind of holy writ, and he never properly places them into context. He asserts that "[N]o scholarship on Nazi-era banking produced in any language for almost forty years matched the OMGUS work in its scope, overall accuracy, or depth of documentary evidence."2 The forty years in question conveniently include the first publication of the OMGUS reports in German in 1986, but preclude all the work done since 1986.3

I would like to begin this essay by answering the question posed in the title. Banks and insurance companies, the two types of enterprises to be discussed here, were at times reluctant and at times willing collaborators with the National Socialis
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