Executive Leadership in the Bavarian Finance Ministry and the Legacy of National Socialism

Employees (IfZ):  PD Dr. Bernhard Gotto

The question of the extent and significance of continuities from the Nazi dictatorship was particularly pressing for the Ministry of Finance. Between 1933 and 1945, financial officers had played a key role in the plundering of the Jewish population, as research has unequivocally demonstrated for Bavaria in particular. Extensive areas of competence, moreover, fell to the Bavarian state financial administration that were directly linked to the consequences of Nazi injustice, including reparations, the administration and evaluation of former Nazi property, and pensions for state officials who had to leave their positions during the Nazi era or afterward. A view to financial administration and policy can, however, also support the analysis of long-term processes of change that had an effect on the understanding of the state itself.

The project investigates what consequences such influences and experiences, long-standing continuities and new democratic beginnings, all had on the leadership of the Ministry of Finance. The sample includes all leading officials from office heads upwards. The aim here is not only to reconstruct their attitude towards Nazi ideology but also the scopes for action and decisions within their administrative frameworks. Alongside this actor-focused research, continuities and new beginnings will also be analyzed in selected fields of activity. This will include the subordinate agencies at the ministry and the Oberfinanzdirektionen (regional financial offices) in particular. The study will, lastly, have a thorough look at what was considered at different times to have constituted a “Nazi past”.

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