Monday, February 29, 2016

Wilhelm Röpke: The Economist Who Stood Up to Hitler

Wilhelm Röpke

Richard Ebeling emails:

Dear Bob,

I have a new article on the “EpicTimes” news and commentary website on, “Wilhelm Röpke: The Economist Who Stood Up to Hitler.”

Though not as widely known as he might be, Wilhelm Röpke is usually credited as one of the intellectual fathers of the "German Miracle" after the Second World War in terms of the free market-based policies leading to the country's economic recovery.

This February marks fifty years since his death In 1966, and it seems worthwhile to remember and pay tribute to him.

Röpke was also one of the few prominent Germans who continued to publicly speak out in no uncertain terms against Hitler after be came to power, warning that Germany under the Nazis was sinking into barbarism, irrationality, brutality, and a dangerous racist form of collectivism. He finally was forced to leave Germany when Nazi thugs threatened him and his family.

Teaching in neutral Switzerland during and after the Second World War, Röpke proceeded to publish a series of books explaining how Western Civilization had reached this crisis of a collectivist and totalitarian revolt against individual liberty, free markets, and limited government under the rule of law.

He also outlined the principles, policies and cultural ideals that were necessary if after the catastrophe of war, the world and a post-Nazi Germany were to restore a decent, humane, peaceful, productive, and free society.

His books and ideas became an inspiration and guide for many of the policies introduced in Germany starting in the late 1940s that put that country on an economic path of an “economic miracle” of renewed prosperity that exceeded the postwar recoveries of some of the victorious nations.

While not a proponent of laissez-faire in a variety of economic and social policy areas, Röpke strongly warned of the dangers and pitfalls arising from the growing interventionist-welfare state.

His economic diagnosis and policy proposals, combined with a strong emphasis on the importance of an ethical anchor for the preservation of human liberty and an open, decent society makes his ideas as timely today as when he penned them decades ago.


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