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Theoretical Articles

Structural Problems of German Industry in International Comparison

Since the beginning of the 1970s, Germany has been passing through a radical economic restructuring process which is by no means completed at present and which poses major problems for the 1980s. Admittedly, there have been structural changes in our national economy time and again, but they have never before been as serious or as incisive as the current restructuring process. At the same time, the solution to the economic problems is exacerbated by a general growth and investment weakness. Consequently, for example, the structural problems encountered in the 1950s and 1960s with simultaneous strong economic growth were easier to solve than at present.
Manfred Lennings

Can Societies Learn from Economic Crises?

In 1972 Thomas Nipperdey stated that the role of history in our cultural and social life was coming increasingly under question. Evidence of this he found not only in the diminishing importance which was attached to history as a subject in schools, but also in that “the historian is no longer fashionable as a speaker at public events.” That is what he said, but it was ten years ago.
Knut Borchardt

What can the Businessman Learn from History, especially Business History?

In this essay I should like to put forward a few arguments in support of the thesis that commerce and economics graduates working in companies can benefit from a study of history, especially business history. In my view history imparts a knowledge of how to act that can help target identification and the allocation of means in a company. This thesis is contrary to the results of a recent survey, which showed that the majority of businessmen interviewed and the researcher who evaluated the answers thought a study and knowledge of economic history was not necessary for the commerce or economics graduate who wanted to work in a business1.
Dieter Lindenlaub


The Establishment of the Life Insurance Business in Germany in the Nineteenth Century

The history of the German life insurance business still awaits its great interpreter, and that is as surprising as it is regrettable. It is surprising because provision for old age and surviving dependents has been of major concern for very much longer than the debate on the future of the state pension schemes, and it is regrettable because most of those who have written on the subject lack the necessary historical understanding, for all their good intentions and some admirable achievements. Few have enjoyed the advantage of the order a theoretical concept would provide. Much as the works of Ludwig Arps, Malte von Bargen, Heinrich Braun, Karl Hax, Werner Mahr or Albert Rosin1 on the development of the insurance business deserve acknowledgement and recognition, since they illustrate a wide range of interrelations and collate much valuable basic material, the lack of a systematic approach has meant that much has been overlooked, connecting lines and interdependence concealed and many facts have been wrongly interpreted or disorted.
Peter Borscheid

Forms and Phases of Industry Finance up to the Second World War

The director of the Königliche Bank und preußische Seehandlung in Berlin, Rother, said to the President of the Rhine province in 1846 that in his view entrepreneurs were not sufficiently concerned with their own capital base and “instead too eager for state support”. 136 years later the Vice-President of the Deutsche Bundesbank, Schlesinger, said something very similar1.
Hans Pohl

Breaks and Continuity in the Economy and Social Structures between the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich

In the following article I take a look at basic indicators to examine whether the fundamental structures, functions and development trends in the German economy and society were deformed as radically between 1933 and 1939 as political government and the use of police and military power.
Volker Hentschel


A Review of the New Literature on Business History

Approximately 300 publications and “commemorative volumes”(“Festschriften”) on business history were printed in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1983. This pleasantly high number — in spite of an economic recession — stems almost certainly partly from an increasing awareness of history and tradition. On the other hand it is also a result of the founding of several firms in 1883 many of which for economic reasons did not publish a commemorative document for their 50th anniversary in 1933.
Beate Brüninghaus

The Integration of Foreign Workers

Report of the 8th Public Symposium held by the German Society for Business History, May 25, 1983 in Cologne
The subject was “The Integration of Foreign Workers”, but it was apparent both in the papers and in the discussion that integration is not the main problem in the employment of foreign workers, either in the past or today. Professor Dr. Wolfgang Köllmann, an economic and social historian from Bochum, concluded in his paper on “Foreign Workers in Germany before the beginning of the Inflow of Guest Workers” that despite the different nature of the various inflows of foreign workers to Germany since industrialisation began, the problem of assimilation or integration did not exist or was at most marginal. The number of British workers, for instance, who came to Germany during the early phase of industrialisation and were absorbed here, was too small for the question of integration to arise. There were large numbers of seasonal foreign workers who in any case only came for a limited period. Again the question of social integration did not arise. The only parallel that might be drawn to the present inflow of foreign workers was, according to Professor Köllmann, the East-West migration during the peak industrialisation phase. The main characteristic here was the determination of the Poles in the Ruhr to maintain their cultural and national identity, and this stood in the way of integration. It was only when most of the Poles left the Ruhr after the First World War that those who remained began to be assimilated, but this took generations.
Beate Brüninghaus

The Role of Women in German Business Life

Report of the 8th Academic Symposium held by the German Society for Business History, December 8/9, 1983 in the Villa Hügel in Essen
The role of women in business and society in the past and today is a much-discussed and often controversial subject. It is the theme of a large number of recent publications and research projects, with changes in the role of women arousing most attention. Generally interest focusses on an analysis of the social position of women, but the conference was concerned to examine the role of women in business life, an area hitherto rather under-researched. How topical the subject is was evident from the broad reaction to the conference, as more than 100 scholars and representatives of the press and business life responded to the invitation. This was also evident in the very lively discussions, which were objective but showed a high degree of engagement.
Beate Brüninghaus
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