Karl Helfferich

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Karl Helfferich
Karl Helfferich.jpg
Karl Helfferich
Secretary for the Treasury of German Empire
In office
31 January 1915 – 22 May 1916
Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg
Preceded by Hermann Kühn
Succeeded by Siegfried von Roedern
Secretary of the Interior of German Empire
In office
22 May 1916 – 23 October 1917
Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg
Georg Michaelis
Georg von Hertling
Preceded by Clemens von Delbrück
Succeeded by Max Wallraf
Personal details
Born Karl Theodor Helfferich
(1872-07-22)22 July 1872
Neustadt an der Weinstraße, Rhineland-Palatinate
Died 23 April 1924(1924-04-23) (aged 51)
Bellinzona, Switzerland
Nationality German
Alma mater University of Berlin
University of Munich
University of Strasbourg
Occupation Lawyer, economist
Religion Protestant[1]

Karl Theodor Helfferich (22 July 1872 – 23 April 1924) was a German politician, economist, and financier from Neustadt an der Weinstraße in the Palatinate.

Life and career

Helfferich studied law and political science at the universities of Munich, Berlin, and Strasbourg. He taught at the University of Berlin and later at the government school for colonial politics and oriental languages. In 1902 he entered upon a diplomatic career. He soon became a leader in the German government's policy of economic imperialism, and in 1906 he was appointed director of the Anatolian Railway which was financed by Deutsche Bank. In 1908 he was made chairman of the directorship of the powerful Deutsche Bank in Berlin.[2]

At the close of the Balkan War, Helfferich was the German financial delegate to the international conference (1913). He was Secretary for the Treasury from 1916 to 1917, and was said to be responsible for financing expenses for World War I through loans instead of taxes. He counted upon a final German victory and upon imposing heavy indemnities upon the Allies.[2] He also served as Vice-Chancellor for Chancellors Georg Michaelis and Georg von Hertling.

After the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Helfferich was sent to Moscow as the German Ambassador to Russia, succeeding Wilhelm Mirbach, who was assassinated. Elected to the Reichstag of 1920, Helfferich led the conservative and monarchist right, known as the Deutsch-Nationalen, and strongly opposed reparations and the economic fulfillment of the Versailles Treaty. In particular, he directed his denunciations against the democratic Catholic leader Matthias Erzberger with whom he had a celebrated lawsuit in 1920.[2]

Helfferich was a prominent politician of the German National People's Party (DNVP) and gave radical anti-republican speeches against politicians who supported reparations fulfilment. In June 1920 he was selected as spokesman in the Reichstag for the parliamentary committee of inquiry into policies during the war, which he defended.

During the 1923 hyperinflation, Helfferich developed a plan for a new rye currency, indexed to the price (in paper Marks) of rye and other agriculture products.[3][4] His plan was rejected because of the extreme variability in the price of rye compared to other commodities, but many of his plan elements were incorporated in the successful RentenMark that began circulation on 15 November 1923. At the end of 1923, when Helfferich applied for the post of Reichbank president, he was rejected in favor of Hjalmar Schacht.

Helfferich was killed in a railway wreck near Bellinzona, Switzerland, on 23 April 1924.

His publications comprise chiefly economic and political studies.

Publications by Helfferich

  • The Reform of German Finance, 1897
  • Studies on Money and Banking, 1900
  • Money, 1903
  • Germany's National Wealth 1888-1913, (Deutschlands Wohlstand, 1888-1913) 1915
  • Speeches and Essays from the War, 1917
  • Do Away with Erzberger!, Verlag Scherl, Berlin, 1919, letters to the editor, the Berlin newspaper "Tag"
  • The World War, (Der Weltkrieg) (3 vols.) published 1919 by Ullstein Berlin

See also


  1. http://www.deutsche-biographie.de/sfz29487.html
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2F1922_Encyclop%C3%A6dia_Britannica%2FHelfferich%2C_Karl "Helfferich, Karl" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). London & New York.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Holtfrerich, Carl-Ludwig & Balderston, Theo (1986), The German Inflation, 1914-1923, New York: De Gruyter, pp. 315–318, ISBN 3-11-009714-1<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  4. Guttmann, William; Meehan, Patricia (1975), The Great Inflation, Germany 1919-23, Farnborough: Saxon House, pp. 206–207, ISBN 0-347-00017-7<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.

Further reading

  • Williamson, John G. (1971), Karl Helfferich, 1872-1924: Economist, Financier, Politician, Princeton University Press<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  • New International Encyclopedia
  • "A Crash (obituary)", Time magazine, May 5, 1924<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Political offices
Preceded by
Clemens von Delbrück
Vice Chancellor of Germany
Succeeded by
Friedrich von Payer