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Hans Ostwald, "A Moral History of the Inflation" (1931)

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The nightmare vanished.

The German people resurrected itself. It created a new currency—on its own. And with that it rebuilt its economy, which was possible only because they were a people of work. Only through attention to work, only through work could it create values that became the basis for a new life.

In a short time illicit trade and profiteering disappeared. This pestilence on the economy and on the entirety of the German people’s intellectual and psychological life shriveled up and went away. And the whole noxious odor of exaggerated eroticism and of the crimes and conventions of the inflation flew away like clouds of dust in a purifying wind.

And we recognized that the broad masses of the German people were still intact. They had always been diligent and proper, and had remained so. The upright little man, the postman and the railroad engineer, the seamstress and the washerwoman, had always, just like other kinds of workers, fulfilled their duties. Doctors had treated the sick, scholars had advanced science, and inventors had developed and realized their ideas.

Everyone, no doubt, was visited frequently enough during the inflation by temptation. But the majority did not succumb; they overcame it.

And thus it was that such a healthy people could quickly rid themselves of the inflation and most of the consequences of that demoralizing time. The temporary symptoms, the crimes, the ecstasy, the damages, nearly all remained on the periphery, at the edges, on the surface!

Some things likely did change, were improved by new approaches and discoveries. But the great, good core remains.

[ . . . ]

Source of English translation: Hans Ostwald, “A Moral History of the Inflation,” in The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, edited by Anton Kaes, Martin Jay, and Edward Dimendberg. © 1994 Regents of the University of California. Published by the University of California Press, pp. 77-78. Reprinted with permission of the University of California Press.

Source of original German text: Hans Ostwald, Sittengeschichte der Inflation. Ein Kulturdokument aus den Jahren des Marktsturzes. Berlin: Neufeld und Henius Verlag (1931), pp. 7-9.

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