Title: From Düsseldorf to Stalingrad: German private business, the NSDAP regime and the Drang nach Osten

Abstract: Overall, German private business firms played a vital role in the German war economy, and the exploitation of occupied territories during the Third Reich. Contrary to the image they crafted in the immediate post-war era, this role was not forced upon them. It was one they consciously and actively chose, but nevertheless one that existed within an authoritarian system where their agency could be limited. This was the case for the planning and implementation of the occupation of the Soviet Union in 1941 as well. In the Soviet Union and in general, business served the regime’s goals while serving its own goals.

This paper explores the key issues and circumstances which influenced the business-state relationship in the context of planning and implementing the invasion and occupation of the Soviet Union. An understanding the economic motivations and foundations of the invasion, and how the economic exploitation of the Soviet Union was to proceed is important. Through this, we can understand the place of business in the Soviet Union, the economic visions of the East, and the dynamics of the broader power relationships between business, the state, and the NSDAP.

Presenter: Troy Gillan, HDR candidate in the School of Historical & Philosophical Inquiry.