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Hitler's Shadow Empire: Nazi Economics…
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Hitler's Shadow Empire: Nazi Economics and the Spanish Civil War

by Pierpaolo Barbieri

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First up I'm going to admit that when I learned that Niall Ferguson was the author's mentor (Ferguson's evolution from superstar scholar to political hack is a cautionary tale in its own right), I considered setting this book aside.

That said when one of the great ironies of history is that Europe finds itself again sitting in the shadow of German economic predominance, after having fought two general wars in large part to stave off this turn of events, an examination of German informal empire in the Thirties is a useful thing indeed. The only problem Barbieri concludes is that the older men intent on state-building (economic manager Hjalmar Schacht being the main protagonist of this story) truly could not control Hitler and his vision of racialist empire. Thus leading to the eternal regret of the neoconservative mind that the survival of the West entailed the bad-faith deal of allying with Stalinist Russia. Under these circumstances it certainly makes the policy of Appeasement with Berlin seem so much more sensible.

Apart from that Barbieri also writes quite eloquently about the deep origins of the Spanish Civil War for a modern audience; the book would be worth one's time on that basis alone. ( )
  Shrike58 | Aug 18, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0674728858, Hardcover)

Pitting fascists and communists in a showdown for supremacy, the Spanish Civil War has long been seen as a grim dress rehearsal for World War II. Francisco Franco’s Nationalists prevailed with German and Italian military assistance―a clear instance, it seemed, of like-minded regimes joining forces in the fight against global Bolshevism. In Hitler’s Shadow Empire Pierpaolo Barbieri revises this standard account of Axis intervention in the Spanish Civil War, arguing that economic ambitions―not ideology―drove Hitler’s Iberian intervention. The Nazis hoped to establish an economic empire in Europe, and in Spain they tested the tactics intended for future subject territories.

The Nazis provided Franco’s Nationalists with planes, armaments, and tanks, but behind this largesse was a Faustian bargain. Through weapons and material support, Germany gradually absorbed Spain into an informal empire, extending control over key Spanish resources in order to fuel its own burgeoning war industries. This plan was only possible and profitable because of Hitler’s economic czar, Hjalmar Schacht, a “wizard of international finance.” His policies fostered the interwar German recovery and consolidated Hitler’s dictatorship. Though Schacht’s economic strategy was eventually abandoned in favor of a very different conception of racial empire, Barbieri argues it was in many ways a more effective strategic option for the Third Reich.

Deepening our understanding of the Spanish Civil War by placing it in the context of Nazi imperial ambitions, Hitler’s Shadow Empire illuminates a fratricidal tragedy that still reverberates in Spanish life as well as the world war it heralded.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 18 Jul 2015 16:51:21 -0400)

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