1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Helfferich, Karl

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HELFFERICH, KARL (1872-       ), German financier and politician, was born July 22 1872 at Neustadt-on-the-Havel. In 1901 he was appointed to a professorship of political science in Berlin. In 1906 he went to Constantinople as manager of the Anatolian railway, which was financed by the Deutsche Bank, and in 1908 he returned to Berlin to take up the chairmanship of the directorate of that great bank. In 1913 he was the chief German delegate at the international financial conference held in Paris for the settlement of Balkan financial affairs after the Balkan wars. In 1915 he was appointed Secretary of State for the Imperial Treasury and carried the votes for the second, third and fourth war loans through the Reichstag. His financial policy was based upon the principle of defraying the cost of the war by borrowing rather than by fresh taxation. He counted upon a final German victory and upon imposing very heavy indemnities upon the Allies. He, therefore, became identified with the policy of Hindenburg and Ludendorff, and considered that no sacrifice of men and money was too great if Germany could hold out until the Allied and Associated Powers were sufficiently exhausted to be willing to accept a “German peace.” After a period of scepticism regarding the prospects of the U-boat warfare, he became the most vigorous political advocate of the unrestricted submarine campaign, and was one of those who expected it to reduce Great Britain to impotence in six months' time. In June 1916 he exchanged the Treasury for the Imperial Home Office, and, as Secretary of State for that department, acted as vice-chancellor or representative of the head of the Imperial Government. On the assassination of Count Mirbach at Moscow, Helfferich was appointed in June 1918 as his successor in the diplomatic representation of Germany at the headquarters of the Russian Soviet Republic. Owing to the conditions of insecurity which prevailed under the Bolshevik Government, Helfferich was never able to occupy his post. He returned to Berlin in order to conduct the economic and industrial demobilization of Germany after the Armistice. He remained the irreconcilable adversary of the new republican regime, and, in particular, directed his denunciations against the democratic Catholic leader, Erzberger, with whom he had a celebrated lawsuit in 1920. In the Reichstag he led the Conservative and monarchist right, known as the Deutsch-Nationalen. He was the author of Deutschlands Wohlstand, 1888-1913 (1913) and of Der Weltkrieg (three vols., 1919).