Economic historian Gerd Hardach died


Gerd Hardach was born on September 29, 1941 in Essen. At the time, his family had just moved from Cologne to Essen, where his father was working in the management of croup started. Fritz Wilhelm Hardach (1902 to 1976) received his doctorate in Cologne in 1927 with a thesis on business administration tasks of business associations. From 1935 to 1941 he taught business administration at the Technical University of Berlin. Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, the last sole owner of the Krupp Group, was arrested in April 1945 and put on trial in Nuremberg together with eleven senior employees. Fritz Wilhelm Hardach, who had lived in Villa Hügel from 1943, was appointed a member of the Board of Directors in September 1945. From 1953 to 1963 he was a member of the board of directors of Hütten- und Bergwerke Rheinhausen AG. As early as 1951, Hardach told the American news agency Associated Press: "The Krupp works will never carry out an armaments order again, even if one day we were accused of sabotaging European rearmament."

Inevitably, Gerd Hardach was dealing with Krupp and the armaments industry when, in 1973, at the age of only 32, he presented his book “The First World War”, which was published by Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag in a series edited by Wolfram Fischer on the history of the world economy in the 20th century. Authors of other volumes were among others Charles P. Kindleberger and Alan S. Milward. Gerd Hardach studied in Münster, at the Free University of Berlin and at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. In his dissertation, which he completed in 1968, he already demonstrated his eye for current topics by turning to the history of the working class, like his classmate Jürgen Kocka ; Hardach examined the social status of French steel workers in early industrialization. In 1972 he received a professorship at the Philipps University marburg. The World War Book, of which English editions were published by Penguin and the University of California Press, as well as his treatise on the Marshall Plan, which was also originally published by dtv in 1994, are still standard works cited today.

Hardach was already considering German economic history in a global context and used a visiting professorship at the University of Tokyo from 1982 to 1984 to study the German colonial economy. In 1990 König Kopra, his book about the Mariana Islands in the South Seas, which the German Empire bought from Spain in 1899, was published. The purchase of copra, a raw material for edible fat, candles and soap, which is extracted from coconuts, made it economically attractive. Hardach showed that actual exports lagged far behind the slogans of the colonial movement. In his monograph he also deals with the structure of the colonial administration, demographic change and the missionary efforts of the Capuchins from his Rhenish-Westphalian homeland. With his wife, the sociologist Irene Hardach-Pinke, Gerd Hardach published sources on the history of childhood in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

labor movement and social science

In the 1970s, especially after Ernst Nolte left Marburg for Berlin, the themes of the global economic crisis and National Socialism in Marburg were dealt with less by the local historians than by the political scientists of the Marxist Wolfgang Abendroth school, especially Reinhard Kühnl. Gerd Hardach also published in anthologies by Kühnl in the Pahl-Rugenstein publishing house, which was close to the DKP, which made him few friends among his Marburg colleagues. In 1977, together with Abendroth, Frank Deppe and Georg Fülberth, he founded the Labor Movement and Social Sciences publishing house in Marburg. At the same time, this did not prevent him from being a founding member of the Committee for the History of Dogmas, which was set up in 1978 at the Verein für Socialpolitik. His introduction to socialist economic theory, written with Detlef Karras and published by the Scientific Book Society, was published in Christopher Hill's "English Historical Review". discussedthe doyen of English Marxist history.

Gerd Hardach's childhood world: The Krupp headquarters built in 1938 on Altendorfer Strasse in Essen.  His father Fritz Wilhelm Hardach worked for the group from 1941 to 1963.  Large companies and their role in economic policy became a life topic for the economic historian Gerd Hardach.


Gerd Hardach's childhood world: The Krupp headquarters built in 1938 on Altendorfer Strasse in Essen. His father Fritz Wilhelm Hardach worked for the group from 1941 to 1963. Large companies and their role in economic policy became a life topic for the economic historian Gerd Hardach.
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Image: Uwe Barghaan / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0


Gerd Hardach is the typical example of a humanities scholar for whom retirement did not mean the end of his research and publication activities. He just kept writing and publishing. He also dealt with questions aside from economic history topics, such as the "Parallel Lives" of the painter Karl Hofer and his wife Mathilde Scheinberger, who was murdered in Auschwitz in 1942. Hardach remained in demand as a specialist. He worked on competition policy in the commission of historians on the history of the Federal Ministry of Economics. On the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, economic historians also increasingly devoted themselves to this topic, which had always been somewhat overshadowed by the coming to terms with National Socialism and the Second World War, and drew on Hardach's expertise in several publications.

Most recently, he was occupied with a "contemporary history of the German economy", which dealt with the economic order and the economic-historical development of both German states. That A book, which will be published by De Gruyter in time for the national holiday on October 3rd, unfortunately he will no longer be able to hold it in his hands. On September 11, Gerd Hardach died in Berlin at the age of eighty.



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