Herle, Jakob

(1885-1957)
   industrialist and business leader; helped guide German industrial growth in the 1920s. Born in the Rhineland town of Erkelenz, he completed a doctorate in economics at Tübingen in 1911. His optimistic demeanor, for which he was acclaimed, served him well throughout his career. Connections with Gustav Stresemann* brought his 1910 appointment as assistant general manager of the Bund der Industriellen (League of Industrialists), an economically liberal organization seeking overseas expansion. When war led the Bund to merge with the Central-verband Deutscher Industrieller (Central As-sociation of German Industrialists), Herle became the new organization s busi-ness manager.
   Germany s sophisticated network of business societies played a key role both in linking big business and in lobbying government. In February 1919 Herle became business manager for the new RdI, Germany s premier industrial Spitz-enverband; he retained the post until 1934. During his tenure he helped found the cartel* department, the Russian Committee of the German Economy, and the Exhibition and Fair Office. He also formalized the RdI's foreign contacts and represented it at the International Trade Commission in Paris. His success at harmonizing industrial-political goals led Ludwig Kastl,* an RdI director, to call him "the soul of organization. In 1925 he instituted a pension fund that ensured the autonomy of his office. The proliferation of cartels was largely owed to his talent at linking competitive enterprises, but his commitment to interna-tional trade produced friction with heavy industry.
   Herle was careful in the early 1930s to uphold RdI independence in the face of growing Nazi coercion. In July 1932 he drafted a restrained yet piercing thirty-page critique of the NSDAP s economic program. Once Hitler* became Chancellor, Herle did not hide his discomfort with many of the NSDAP s po-sitions. A committed Catholic* and friend of Heinrich Brüning,* he was ejected from his posts in 1934—retaining, however, a high position in private enterprise. In 1945 the Soviets captured and imprisoned him as a "class enemy" (Klas-senfeind). Joseph Wirth* gained his release in 1952.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; NDB, vol. 8; Turner, German Big Business.

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

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