Who's Who - Karl Helfferich

Karl Helfferich Karl Theodor Helfferich (1872-1924) served as German Minister of Finance and Minister of the Interior during the First World War, and was noted for his firmly stated opposition to the post-war Weimar Republic.

The son of an industrialist in Neustadt in south-west Germany, Helfferich studied law and political science at Berlin, Munich and Strasbourg.  He subsequently embarked upon a career as a journalist and academic, writing extensively on monetary policy and reform.  In 1899 he qualified as a university lecturer and was appointed professor two years later - the same year he entered the government's Foreign Office, specifically dealing with colonial affairs.

In 1903 he published Das Geld (The Money) which was to become a highly popular and influential monetary work.  In this work Helfferich emphasised the importance of a stable currency, and defended usage of a gold standard.

Between 1908-15 Helfferich served on the board of Deutsche Bank.  With war underway by this time, in 1915 he entered the government as Minister of Finance.  His policy of chiefly financing the war effort via war loans rather than through direct taxation served however to increase inflation.

May 1916 brought Helfferich an appointment as both Minister of the Interior and Vice-Chancellor.  Following Germany's military defeat in November 1918 he became increasingly politically active, implacably opposed to the institution of the Weimar Republic.  To this end he became leader of the German National People's Party (DNVP), a group which espoused arch-conservative and pro-militaristic policies.

In 1923 Helfferich, concerned at Germany's hyper-inflation, devised a new German currency.  In time the Rentenmark (and then the Reichsmark) was duly introduced, although in practice it differed from Helfferich's principles.  He was nevertheless dubbed 'the father of the Reichsmark'.

Helfferich was killed in a train accident near Bellinzona in Switzerland in April 1924.

Flak was a term used to describe anti-aircraft fire.

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