Question: How Did Eucken, Böhm, and Miksch Manage to Publish a Book in Berlin in 1942?

This is a question I have been pondering for some time.

The pioneers of ordoliberalism are generally described as intellectual resistants to Nazism. Modern ordoliberals never tire bringing up that Franz Böhm was dismissed in 1938 from his professorship at the University of Jena because of “critical comments he had made on the National Socialist regime’s treatment of Jews.[1]

If true, this is undoubtedly a very honorable attitude. But how did Walter Eucken, Leonhard Miksch and he manage to publish critical contributions on Nazism in Berlin in 1942 (that is, when the Third Reich entered its tougher phase)?

Indeed, Professor Goldschmidt somehow naïvely reports that “several economists opposing the Nazi-Regime” wrote contributions which were edited in 1942:

[W]hile this sounds more like fiction and legend, it is fact that the idea of a “controlled or guided market economy” […] was quite common during these years; even Müller-Armack spoke of controlled market economy before he established the term “Soziale Marktwirtschaft.” It was Erich Preiser […] who in an article he contributed to the volume “Der Wettbewerb als Mittel volkswirtschaftlicher Leistungssteigerung und Leistungsauslese” (Competition as a means of boosting economic performance and selection based on performance, edited by Günter Schmölders in 1942), coined the term “government-controlled market economy” as a contrast to “free market economy.” This 1942 volume contains contributions of several economists opposing the Nazi-Regime, working on plans for the social and economic order after the war. Later on, they pursued their work on a private basis and their work is recorded in the literature as the “Arbeitsgemeinschaft Erwin von Beckerath.” Thus, not only the concept, but also the term has some roots in the resistance against the Nazi regime.[2]

Now, it appears that this volume was published not in some democratic foreign country, but in Berlin. Moreover, it seems that this book was not a samizdat.





Moreover, these ordoliberal authors published many other works between 1933 and 1942: source.

How was it possible? What about censorship?

As Professor Jörg Guido Hülsmann reports, economist Hans Hellwig suggested an explanation:

Hellwig had expressed such views in published writings from 1955 onwards. In a piece for Muthesius’s journal, he had argued that antitrust policies were counterproductive and that the champions of such policies — most notably Eucken, Miksch, and Böhm — could therefore not properly be called classical liberals. Moreover, he had the indelicacy to point out that Böhm’s and Miksch’s monographs had been published in the Nazi era, and could only have been published at the time because the Nazis did not perceive neoliberalism as a fundamental threat. On the contrary, quite a few of them took a liking to the idea of government imprinting its “order” on competition. Hellwig knew what he was talking about: he had been a Berlinbased journalist during those very years. But Walter Eucken’s widow, Edith, and Wilhelm Röpke protested with great vehemence and recrimination to Muthesius for publishing such politically incorrect views. Mises sided with Muthesius.[3]

Unfortunately, Professor Hülsmann does not indicate how Eucken’s widow and Röpke justified their protestations. It would be very interesting to clarify this point.

So, if anyone has any information about this subject, please let me know.


[1]     Viktor J. Vanberg, The Constitution of Markets – Essays in Political Economy, Routledge, Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2003, first published in 2001, p. 38.

[2]     Nils Goldschmidt, « Alfred Müller-Armack and Ludwig Erhard: Social Market Liberalism, » Walter Eucken Institut, Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics, 04/12, p. 4.

[3]     Jörg Guido Hülsmann, Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism, Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2007, pp. 1007-1008.