Moellendorff, Wichard von

(1881-1937)
   engineer and political economist; worked to restructure the German economy along corporatist lines. The son of a Prussian aristocrat and consul, he was born in Hong Kong while his father was on assignment. He studied mechanical engineering at Ber-lin's* Technische Hochschule and then worked during 1906-1914 in the metals division of German General Electric (AEG), where he became an associate of Walther Rathenau.* It was during this period that he evolved his ideas for a radical restructuring of industry. Early in the war Rathenau invited him to join the new Kriegsrohstoffabteilung (War Materials Department or KRA); the idea for the KRA, which was intended to centralize control of raw materials, origi-nated with Moellendorff. The KRA saved Germany during the first year of the war. Moellendorff served thereafter as an economics expert in the War Office and devised the framework for the Hindenburg Program, an effort at centralized planning that he later repudiated. His economic ideas, which appeared in 1916 in Deutsche Gemeinwirtschaft (German social economy), were so original that in 1918 he was offered a full professorship at Hanover's Technische Hochschule.
   Moellendorff's controlled economy, blending Prussian authoritarianism and socialism in a society reorganized on semicorporatist lines, aimed at a pyramid-style economic structure crowned by a National Economic Council.* Mirroring ideas on the Right of the SPD, he became a director in the Economics Office (renamed "Ministry" in February 1919) in December 1918. Serving with Eco-nomics Minister Rudolf Wissell,* he resigned in disgust in July 1919 when his plans were rejected by the new cabinet of Gustav Bauer*; thereafter he expressed only contempt for the Republic. While his ideas were anathema to most of the business community, leaders in the metal and chemical industries embraced him.
   A member of the Juni-Klub (see Herrenklub), he served during 1923-1937 as president of the Material Testing Office (Materialprüfungsamt) and sat on the supervisory board of IG Farben.* From 1926 he worked for the League of Nations and was involved in 1932 with several economists associated with Eco-nomics Minister Hermann Warmbold,* who sought to spur recovery from the depression* by developing plans for countercyclical monetary policies.
   Although Moellendorff was convinced that parliamentary democracy and free-market capitalism were antiquated, he rebuffed the NSDAP. Commenting later on Germany s Nazi leaders, he equated himself with a trained surgeon forced to watch butchers demanding the right to perform surgery.
   REFERENCES:Barclay, "A Prussian Socialism?"; Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lex-ikon; Klaus Braun, Konservatismus und Gemeinwirtschaft; Feldman, Great Disorder; Hayes, Industry and Ideology; Von Klemperer, Germany's New Conservatism.

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

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