NicosiaBusiness - Chapter 03 | eBooks | Non-Fiction

NicosiaBusiness - Chapter 03

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Business-State relations in the chemical industry under Nazism were structured by the prominence inevitably assigned to this branch of production by the Nazi goals of autarky and armament. To reduce Germany's dependence on imported raw materials and amass a modern, well equipped military force, Hitler's regime needed the inventiveness and manufacturing capacity of the nation's chemicals firms. Convincing them to turn their efforts in these directions, however, meant overcoming traditional market reasoning, since products derived from domestically available resources often could not compete in price and/or quality with substances made elsewhere, and reliance on proffered government purchases or subsidies entailed high political risks. The Third Reich thus presented the industry with both high prospective profits and considerable pressure, and the combination proved irresistible in the aftermath of a depression and in the context of a dictatorship. My book on the giant IG Farben concern, originally published in 1987, thus portrayed that firm as becoming ever more deeply implicated in the criminality of the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945, yet always on the defensive against it, as both lured and lashed into serving Hitlerian purposes.1

Now, having completed a study of the Degussa corporation in the same period, I am struck by the degree to which the history of that rather different sort of chemicals enterprise duplicates the general pattern seen earlier, bu Business-State relations in the chemical industry under Nazism were structured by the prominence inevitably assigned to this branch of production by the Nazi goals of autarky and armament. To reduce Germany's dependence on imported raw materials a
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