Barmat, Julius

(1889-1938)
   businessman; central to the Barmat corrup-tion trial of the mid-1920s. Born to a rabbi in Petrikov, Russia, he emigrated to Holland in 1906 and, with his brothers Salomon and Hershel, founded a busi-ness. He developed connections with key members of the SPD before World War I, and the business shipped large quantities of food to Germany during the war and in its immediate aftermath. Julius moved to Berlin* to facilitate his lucrative business and begin new enterprises. During the hyperinflation, how-ever, he financed his enterprise with loans from the Prussian State Bank and the German Postal System. Although the Barmat-Konzern was not alone in over-extending itself during a period of easy credit, its links with the SPD transformed its misconduct into high drama. After the unanticipated currency reform of late 1923, Barmat satisfied his creditors for about a year. By the end of 1924, however, his company was 39 million marks in debt; on 31 December 1924 the Barmat brothers were arrested. The company immediately collapsed.
   The Barmat trial dragged on until 30 March 1927. While many politicians could justify their dealings with the Barmats during the war-induced famine, others were rightly or wrongly implicated in the firm's shady dealings. On 25 April 1925 Anton Hofle, a member of the Center Party* and a former Postal Minister, apparently committed suicide while awaiting trial. Gustav Bauer,* a postwar Chancellor, was suspended from the SPD for failing "to distinguish politics from business." DNVP members of the Barmat Committee, appointed by the Prussian Landtag, were chiefly concerned with discrediting Friedrich Ebert,* who in 1919 had urged giving Barmat a visa.
   Found guilty of two acts of bribery, Barmat benefitted from one of the era's more evenhanded trials. Sentenced to prison, he was released in poor health in August 1929; his brothers were acquitted. All three men returned to Holland, where, in the mid-1930s, another scandal ensued involving the Belgian National Bank. At least one brother had by then fled to Poland* to live under an assumed name. Julius died in January 1938 while interned in Brussels. In Germany, meanwhile, the radical Right exploited the Barmat case as evidence of socialist complicity in Jewish corruption.
   REFERENCES:Eyck, History of the Weimar Republic, vol. 1; Internationales Biogra-phisches Archiv; Niewyk, Socialist.

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

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