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The man who inspired Hitler's economic policy

Updated: Mar 29, 2020

By Amy Nicholas

Wo Hitler Wirtschaften lernte

Earlier this week in the Süddeutsche Zeitung journalist and economist Nikolaus Piper shed light on the man who is thought to have inspired Hitler’s economic policy. In early 1919 an unemployed corporal (by the name of Adolf Hitler) attended a lecture held by Gottfried Feder, author of a pamphlet published a few months earlier entitled “Manifest zur Brechung der Zinsknechtschaft des Geldes” (The Manifesto for the Abolition of Enslavement to Interest on Money).  While this meeting was more than 10 year prior to Hitler’s seizure of power in 1933 its significance is noteworthy.

While Piper considers many of Feder’s theories to have been “grober Unfug” (utter nonsense), his work was significant in the development of a specifically National Socialist economic policy. Feder’s manifesto distinguished sharply between good and evil; namely between good creative work and the “evil” accumulation of financial capital, and the anti-Semitism inherent in his work served as a model for the nationalist propaganda. Thereby, Feder provided Hitler the bones of an economic programme that suited the National Socialist Party’s political agenda.

Gottfried Feder is accurately described as ein Nazi der ersten Stunde (a Nazi of the first hour) – he joined the party promptly upon its formation in 1920 and, although by 1933 he no longer held a leading position within the party, he remained an outspoken supporter and member until his death at the age of 58 in 1941.

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