NicosiaBusiness - Chapter 06 | eBooks | Non-Fiction

NicosiaBusiness - Chapter 06

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This concluding essay is designed to take up some of the key problems relating to the role of business in the Third Reich that the other contributors to this volume have raised. It will attempt to contextualize them historiographically as well as historically. In addition to looking back in time, it will suggest a few directions in which future research may fruitfully go.

One of the key issues with which the preceding contributions have been grappling is the political responsibility of German businessmen under Nazism (i.e., how far they had a hand in the rise and consolidation of Hitler's power), on the one hand, and their moral and criminal culpability (i.e., how far they were involved in the regime's crimes as defined by international law and Nuremberg Tribunal codes), on the other, and whether in this context they were, as Gerald D. Feldman puts it, "reluctant or willing collaborators."1 The question of business responsibility was first debated among Marxist and non-Marxist social scientists during the 1930s as they set out to explain the rise and stabilization of the Hitler regime.2 It was only during World War II that Western and Soviet analysts fully turned their attention to the question of business culpability, as the world became increasingly aware of the massive crimes committed by Germany after 1938. By 1944-1945, the concepts of political responsibility and moral culpability had become completely intertwined. At war's end, preoccupation with criminal culpability had pushed the question of political responsibility into the background. Later, in the 1950s, there was a reversal of this imbalance, with the issue of political responsibility once again overshadowing that of culpability. Much of the more recent scholarship, it seems, has been concerned with delineating the two concepts more sharply in an attempt to pinpoint where in the period 1933-1945 we can, and indeed must, speak of political responsibility to be borne by a strategic elite group such as businessmen, and where we can and must speak of criminal culpability.

This concluding essay is designed to take up some of the key problems relating to the role of business in the Third Reich that the other contributors to this volume have raised. It will attempt to contextualize them historiographically as well as
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