Frankfurter Zeitung, November 21, 1923: Rudolf Havenstein

IAt the age of 67, Rudolf Havenstein’s extremely tough character succumbed to enormous stress. As President of the Prussian Naval Trade and President of the Reichsbank, his body twice fell into the most severe crises. He overcame and seemed to become stronger each time in terms of creativity and iron will. Now Fate cut the thread, at a moment when the utmost danger of humiliation really existed.

One could almost say that similar humiliations might have been recorded in abundance throughout the last quarter if Havenstein and all his colleagues had not been so completely committed to their mission that such an interpretation was not even considered. And we assume that the high sense of duty, which especially characterized the deceased until the last hour of work at night, helped him also to come to terms with numerous innovations and changes caused by the pressure of public opinion, the pressure of economic circles. and the political authorities have finally taken over in the last few weeks, and which are clustered around the huge concepts of inflation, currency transition and banking reform.

Sometimes it seemed as if a higher mind was thinking, whether in gold settlements, intermediate currencies, or personal matters: “Just let them do it, time will pay off.” it was Havenstein and his colleagues who were most blamed for the inflation and fall of the currency, and this criticism, although the passivity towards the Minister of Finance was neither complete nor wholly voluntary, is probably the harshest that could ever be leveled against the monetary authorities regulators A minority considered the gentlemen of the Reichsbank to be slow or even dangerous remnants of the old order, but they judged too much based on mere appearances.

Neither the president nor other board members were involved in politics. They seemed completely apolitical, and their exaggerated sense of public service was likely off-putting. During the turbulent hours, the Reichsbank behaved equally negatively and loyally towards putschists on the right, such as Kapp and Ehrhardt, and towards the Spartacus uprising on the left, without attaching much importance to it. The only thing that was always noticeable was the desire to keep the Reichsbank free from the maelstrom of internal politics. And so the Reichsbank was given a serious reprimand: so much reliability and so little importance!

He was probably a modern man

In fact, there are situations in the life of an individual and a nation in which “significant but unstable” can be more useful than “unimaginative but strong in character,” and Germany may have reached this point. In particular, the central bank could well use this mixture as its reputation has weakened. And here, probably, is the main mistake: the bank’s management itself did not know about this change in requirements, it worked for too long according to the old recipe; she works hard, but without genius; She didn’t even look for fresh talent from outside, but simply supplemented herself with her own clichés. This created the image of a well-mannered, completely selfless, unworldly person.

Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine

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