The “Founding Generation” of the Bank Deutscher Länder with Wilhelm Vocke between the Weimar Era and the Early Federal Republic

Employees (IfZ):  Dr. Rouven Janneck

This project investigates the “functional elite” consisting of senior central bank officials within the context of the multifaceted monetary policy from the hyperinflation of 1923 through to the founding of the Bundesbank in 1957. Wilhelm Vocke serves here as the biographical focal point, as he, like no other, embodies the continuities and fractures of the history of the German central banks from the Weimar Republic through to the early Federal Republic: He was a member of the Reichsbank Board of Directors from 1919 to 1939, a director at the Hamburg Reichsbank center in the British Occupation Zone, and then President of the Board of Directors of the Bank deutscher Länder (BdL) from 1948, before becoming the first Bundesbank President. He did not play an active role at the central bank between 1939 and 1946 as he and several other members of the Board of Directors were removed from their positions for their criticism of the regime’s armaments policy and the resulting dangers for the stability of the currency.

Beginning with Vocke as the departure point, the project also looks into his colleagues, associates, and adversaries (including Karl Bernard, Friedrich Wilhelm Dreyse, Ernst Hülse, Kurt Lange, Otto Pfleiderer, Emil Puhl, Hjalmar Schacht, Friedrich Wilhelm von Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm, and Eduard Wolf). It investigates career patterns and fractures, (monetary policy) influences and the organizational and leadership cultures at the Reichsbank and BdL. It methodically connects group and individual biographies and analyzes the self-descriptions of the actors, (conflicting) narratives and the politics of remembrance at the BdL.

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