Flick, Friedrich

(1883-1972)
   industrialist; led one of Germany's major iron and steel concerns. Born in the village of Ernsdorf-Kreuztal, he completed a business apprenticeship and studies at Cologne s Handelshochschule before attaining managerial positions at two small firms that formed part of the Sie-gerland iron industry. In 1915 he joined the larger Charlottenhütte enterprise and soon became Generaldirektor when stock acquisitions secured him a dom-inant position in the firm. Because his wartime dealings in scrap metal were quite profitable, the company supported his risky 1920 attempt at penetrating the Ruhr industrial complex. But his efforts were almost disastrous when they met the combined resistance of Fritz Thyssen* and Peter Klockner. Flick then retreated east, greatly expanding his interests on both sides of the Polish border. This redounded to his favor during the 1923 Ruhr occupation*: Hugo Stinnes,* a Ruhr industrialist, purchased part interest in one of his eastern concerns while providing him twelve million shares of Ruhr industrial stock. Flick thereupon formed an Interessengemeinschaft that ultimately linked iron, steel, and finishing industries.
   Flick championed the concentration tendencies so popular in the mid-1920s. As Charlottenhütte's director and as a major shareholder in the 1920 vertical combination known as the Rhein-Elbe-Union, he helped found the massive 1926 trust known as the Vereinigte Stahlwerke A.G. (United Steel Works, or Vestag). The same year he helped form the Mitteldeutsche Stahlwerke (Middle German Steel Works). With single-minded tenacity, he then prepared to conquer lead-ership of Vestag. Through a perilous but successful use of personal capital, he offered attractive stock options from the various trust companies and, assisted by stockholders, indirectly assumed a commanding position in Vestag by gaining control of its large Gelsenkirchen mining company. The manipulative buying and selling of stock packages became his hallmark.
   Flick's political connections expanded with his business influence. He was a member of the DVP and joined a futile 1924 attempt to oust Gustav Stresemann* as chairman when he disapproved of his cooperating with the SPD. Yet with his financial security weakening, he extended money to all the major bourgeois parties (not excepting the SPD) by 1930. Upon meeting Hitler* in February 1932, he was among the few key industrialists to generously finance President Hindenburg s* reelection; still fearing disaster, he then sold his majority position in the Gelsenkirchen company to the Brüning* cabinet for one hundred million marks—a transaction that, because of his network of holding companies, gave the government controlling interest in Vestag. The deal caused a sensation when it was revealed in June 1932; many denounced it as a step toward socialism. He then lavished funds on Franz von Papen* and the traditional right-wing parties in the July 1932 Reichstag* elections. But his fear of the NSDAP, a party pledged to nationalizing trusts, forced him into a double game in which the Nazis financially exploited him in the months preceding Hitler's seizure of power. Such political insurance reaped its reward when, after he formed close connections with the Party and governmental apparatus, he gained lucrative ar-mament contracts. Flick was condemned in 1947 to seven years imprisonment. Released in 1951, he reestablished much of his economic and political position by the mid-1950s.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Feldman, Iron and Steel; Turner, German Big Business.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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