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The Respectable Career of Fritz K.

The Respectable Career of Fritz K.

Hartmut Berghoff | Cornelia Rauh


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Entrepreneur and Nazi functionary Fritz Kiehn lived through almost 100 years of German history, from the Bismarck era to the late Bonn Republic. A successful manufacturer, Kiehn joined the Nazi Party in 1930 and obtained a number of influential posts after 1933, making him one of the most powerful Nazi functionaries in southern Germany. These posts allowed him ample opportunity to profit from “Aryanizations” and state contracts. After 1945, he restored his reputation, was close to Adenauer's CDU during Germany's economic miracle, and was a respected and honored citizen in Trossingen. Kiehn's biography provides a key to understanding the political upheavals of the twentieth century, especially the workings of the corrupt Nazi system as well as the “coming to terms” with National Socialism in the Federal Republic.

Hartmut Berghoff is Director of the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C. and Professor of Economic History at the University of Göttingen in Germany. In 1998 he won the ABB-Wissenschaftspreis for his book on the harmonica manufacturer Hohner, Zwischen Kleinstadt und Weltmarkt (Schöningh, 1997). Most recently he co-edited Business in the Age of Extremes: Essays on the Economic History of Germany and Austria (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Cornelia Rauh holds the Contemporary History Chair at the University of Hanover. She is the author of Katholisches Milieu und Kleinstadtgesellschaft (Thorbecke, 1991) and Suisse Aluminium for Hitler’s War? The History of Alusuisse from 1918 to 1950 (Beck, 2009), which won the Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte (GUG) prize. She has also published biographies of entrepreneurs and other books on twentieth-century German and French history.

“…offers a welcome addition to English-language readers who are interested in learning more about protagonists beyond the usual suspects of Daimler, Deutsche Bank, or Krupp…It is an intriguing story, perhaps more in the context of local than of business history. But then again, all business history is local.” · Journal of Modern History

“Berghoff and Rauh provide an admirably well-researched picture of a Nazi provincial activist from the economic Mittelstand, and of the networks of corruption and cronyism that characterized the workings of the ‘Third Reich’ at the local and regional level…[They] do an exemplary job of integrating Kiehn’s biography with local, regional, and national history, in a fine example of the use of microhistorical analysis (of an inherently mediocre figure) to shed light on business history and the workings of the Nazi regime at the provincial level.” · European History Quarterly

“By outlining Fritz Kiehn's career both in a rational-academic but also lively manner, the authors have succeeded in creating an unusually insightful and astute book on what was ‘normal’ in Germany in the twentieth century.” · Die Zeit

“The documentation and interpretation of what was usual makes [the book's] presentation interesting and worth reading. It is also worth reading, of course, because of the writing talents of both its authors, [who] have not only penned a rich socio-historical study, they have, quite simply... written a good book.” · Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte

“A historiographical masterwork, a successful example of how fruitful interdisciplinary historical research can be. It is about structures, milieus, mentalities, and microhistory. But it is also just as much about grand politics, economic history, and a very particular person whose contradictions the two authors managed to describe with brilliance.” · Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
The Respectable Career of Fritz K. iii
Contents v
Figures and Tables vii
Preface ix
Abbreviations xii
Introduction 1
Chapter 1 Kiehn’s Rise to the Middle Class 11
Chapter 2 Rapid Ascent through the Nazi Ranks 28
Chapter 3 Between Gleichschaltung and the Party Purge of 1934 45
Chapter 4 Riding Nazi Party Coattails 73
Chapter 5 Between Corruption and Camaraderie 87
Chapter 6 Kiehn and Gustav Schickedanz in the Race for Aryanization 102
Chapter 7 Wartime Deals and “Marriage Politics” 131
Chapter 8 “The King of Trossingen” 144
Chapter 9 From “War Criminal No. 1” to Sought-After Employer 187
Chapter 10 “Scot-Free, by the Skin of Their Teeth” 202
Chapter 11 “Ripe for Satire” 228
Chapter 12 “Kiehn Left No One Behind”? 257
Chapter 13 Honored Citizen Again 273
Chapter 14 The Twilight Years of an Honored West German 289
Chapter 15 Coming to Terms with the Past in the Twenty-First Century 312
Conclusion 323
Bibliography 339
Index 357