Von Papen on the German economic crisis (1932)


Chancellor Franz von Papen’s June 1932 address on the German economic crisis:


The German situation is characterized by the following:

1. A high level of interest, which crushes agriculture and also industry.

2. The burden of taxation, which is so oppressive that it cannot be increased, but has nevertheless been increased, to assure the very existence of the State.

3. External or foreign debt, the service of which becomes ever more difficult by reason of the progressive decline in exports.

4. Unemployment, which is relatively more widespread than in any other country… What is particularly fatal is that an ever-growing number of young people have no possibility and no hope of finding employment and earning their livelihood. Despair and the political radicalization of the youthful section of the population are the consequences of this state of things…

The former reserves of the Reichsbank are exhausted. The reserves in gold and foreign currency of which the Reichsbank can freely dispose are no more than 390 million marks… If, in the next few weeks, we are to fulfil our obligations, this will become even more insufficient… The foreign trade of Germany closed in 1931 with an surplus of some 3 billion marks…. This favourable balance has led in all countries to protective measures against German imports, with the consequence that the excess of exports rapidly diminished in 1932…

Germany could not by herself arrest this development. No international decision has been taken up to now to arrest this development. The very wise initiative of President Hoover in June 1931 was inspired by the idea of giving the world a respite destined to produce a solution of the most urgent economic problems. This goal, nevertheless, has not been reached. Sufficient account has not been taken of economic reality.