Reusch, Paul

(1868-1956)
   industrialist; a spokesman for iron and steel during the Weimar era. Born in Konigsbronn to an official who administered Württemberg's mining and steel industry, Reusch opted for a career in private business. Through vocational training he cultivated an expertise in heavy in-dustry. By 1909 he was general manager and board chairman for Gutehoff-nungshutte (GHH) in Oberhausen, a large coal and steel firm engaged in machinery production and owned by the Haniel family.
   Although Reusch was committed to increasing the size and profits of GHH, he denounced war profiteering. After World War I he cultivated a pattern when he organized the Essener Montagsgesellschaft (Essen Monday Society), a group of Ruhr industrialists who met monthly to discuss common concerns. His un-derlying aim was to use the postwar period of flux to reorganize and rationalize heavy industry. Relatedly, he pursued a strategy for vertical concentration and in 1920 won a struggle with Hugo Stinnes* for control of southern Germany's largest machine builder, Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nurnberg (MAN). Annoyed by the December 1918 formation of ZAG, he decried the abandonment of yellow unions (company-sponsored unions) and the implementation of an eight-hour day. In 1923 he championed both runaway inflation* and passive resistance in the Ruhr, hoping thereby to damage the French economy and force the removal of all foreign troops. When Gustav Stresemann* halted passive resistance in September 1923, Reusch christened him "the Chancellor of capitulation" and resigned his membership in the DVP.
   Reusch owed his influential economic position to his station in heavy industry. A member since 1920 of the powerful RdI, he served during 1924-1930 as chairman of the northwest division of the Association of German Steel Indus-trialists, a giant steel cartel.* On behalf of GHH, he also assumed control of three south German newspapers.* Late in 1927 he initiated conversations that resulted in the formation of the Ruhrlade, a secret club of twelve individuals comprising the managerial elite of the Rhenish-Westphalian iron and coal in-dustry. Although the Ruhrlade enjoyed some success as a covert pressure group, it failed to prevent Alfred Hugenberg* from displacing the more moderate Kuno von Westarp* as leader of the DNVP. By 1930 Reusch was frustrated by the fragmentation between the nonsocialist parties. Disenchanted with parliamentary democracy after the September 1930 elections and convinced that Hugenberg was the obstacle to nonsocialist cooperation, he began espousing cautious co-operation with the NSDAP. Although he was troubled by the Party's anti-Semitism* and social radicalism, Reusch was among those who believed that Hitler* could be "tamed." Yet he supported the government of Franz von Pa-pen* and even hoped that the latter would displace Hugenberg as head of the DNVP. Once the NSDAP gained power, Reusch was increasingly opposed to its economic policies. In 1942 he retired to an estate near Stuttgart.
   REFERENCES:Maschke, Es entsteht ein Konzern; Turner, German Big Business and "Ruhrlade."

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

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