The essays in this volume consider the involvement of business corporations and of individual businessmen in the politics of the 1930s and 1940s: in the move away from the market and also from democracy, towards state control and authoritarianism, including the massive intervention of the state in property rights. How far did businesses attempt to guide this intervention for their own purposes, and to what extent did they succeed? This debate deals, centrally, with the role of German business, of banks, of industrial corporations, and of small tradesmen in the Nazi regime. An older discussion of how they may have facilitated the Nazi takeover has been supplemented here by an investigation into how they made the regime’s policies possible, and the extent to which the profit motive drove them to participate - with sometimes more, sometimes less enthusiasm - in the politics of inhumanity. Such discussion has been given further impetus by legal action, initially in the United States, in the form of class action suits on behalf of the victims of Nazism. What do such legal and political debates mean for business history? What are the current responsibilities of business facing the consequences of historical action? And what lessons should be learned concerning the ethics of business behaviour? The contributions to this volume were originally presented as papers at a conference organised by the Society for European Business History in Paris in November 1998.
Contents: Introduction; The economic origins and dimensions of European Fascism, Gerald D. Feldman; Banks and the era of totalitarianism: banking in Nazi Germany, Harold James; Industry under the swastika, Peter Hayes; Comment, Christopher Kopper; Spanish entrepreneurs in the era of Fascism: from the Primo de Rivera dictatorship to the Franco dictatorship (1923-1945), Mercedes Cabrera and Fernando del Rey; The Fascist regime and big business: the Fiat and Montecatini cases, Franco Amatori; Entrepreneurs and the Fascist regime in Italy: from the honeymoon to the divorce, Luciano Segreto; Comment, Pablo Martin AceÃ±a; Enterprises in Switzerland during World War II, Jean-FranÃ§ois Bergier; Business as usual? The Danish economy and business during the German occupation, Per H. Hansen; Comment, Jakob Tanner; Business in the Grossraumwirtschaft: Eastern Europe 1938-1945, Richard J. Overy; Polish and Jewish entrepreneurs during the German Occupation in Poland 1939-1945, Zbigniew Landau; Comment, Boris Barth; The Belgian business elite, economic exploitation and National Socialist corporatism, Dirk Luyten;The Dutch economy during the German occupation 1940-1945, Hein A. M. Klemann; French enterprises under German Occupation 1940-1944, Patrick Fridenson; Index.