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Hans Kehrl Describes the Fragmented and Inefficient Management of the German Economy in the Fall of 1940 (Retrospective account, 1973)

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It seemed to me completely pointless to try and influence General von Hanneken. Despite his martial appearance, he was timid, avoided responsibility and was anxiously concerned not to cause offence by raising objections. One could not expect any initiatives to come from him. I considered the trends hinted at by Körner or considered correct by Hitler were wrong and posed a serious threat to our nation. Increasingly I gained the impression that we were in the process of fighting a world war without a Reich government which contemplated mobilizing the economic and human resources of the whole nation. Certainly, the Reich Economics Ministry was the most important civilian Government department in this sphere and so if there was a complete lack of leadership here then things would hardly be any better in other departments. But I wanted to try and find out. [ . . . ]

I then spoke to State Secretary Stuckart from the Reich Ministry of the Interior. [ . . . ] I explained to him my great concern that, to put it bluntly, while fighting a life and death struggle, we did not have a functioning Reich government, but only the performance of fragmented functions by the individual Reich ministers, who were simply operating as department heads without any awareness of the overall picture. Hitler was almost never in Berlin, did not hold any cabinet meetings, nor did he exercise what we would now call 'control over the main lines of policy' [Richtlinienkompetenz]. The Führer did not even seem to be kept adequately informed from below. According to my impression, only ad hoc and often chance pieces of information reached him and only ad hoc directives were issued. And thus, in my view, the 'Führer and Reich Chancellor' could only be being inadequately and certainly not systematically informed.

I hoped to provoke Stuckart into contradicting or correcting me. But, unfortunately, while expressing himself cautiously, he basically agreed with me. He himself was trying to improve this unsatisfactory situation and was in contact with Lammers about it. If the political and military events became less turbulent, which could be anticipated for the next period, then improvements could no doubt be made. He tried to reassure me. So there was nothing doing there either!

[ . . . ]

Source of English translation: Jeremy Noakes, ed., Nazism, 1919-1945, Vol. 4: The German Home Front in World War II. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1998, pp. 208-10.

Source of original German text: Hans Kehrl, Krisenmanager im Dritten Reich: 6 Jahre Frieden, 6 Jahre Krieg: Erinnerungen. Dusseldorf, 1973, pp. 202-05.

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