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German History in Documents and Images
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Heinrich Brüning at his Desk (1931)
Heinrich Brüning (1885-1970) was temperamentally well suited to governance by decree, which he viewed as a stepping stone to an authoritarian reshaping of the Weimar Republic. Likewise, he was also well suited to deflationary policies that spared business and exacted an ever-greater toll on the population at large. Faced with falling tax revenues and the looming threat of government bankruptcy, Brüning followed the economic wisdom of the day: he raised taxes, cut social welfare benefits, slashed government employees from the payroll and cut the salaries of those who remained, and forced localities to balance their budgets. Like Herbert Hoover in the United States, he would pay a political price for his narrow-minded policies, but the political outcome in Germany would be far more drastic and frightening.