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Finger, Jürgen ORCID: 0000-0003-4026-6826 (May 2018): [Rezension von:] Pierpaolo Barbieri, Hitler’s Shadow Empire: Nazi Economics and the Spanish Civil War (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2015. In: German Historical Institute London Bulletin, Vol. 40, No. 1: pp. 152-157
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Abstract

Pierpaolo Barbieri, executive director of Niall Ferguson’s Greenmantle advisory firm, has not written ‘a book about Spain’, as he himself states in the introduction. ‘Rather it is a story of political economy and war in the tumultuous 1930s’ (p. 2). In Hitler’s Shadow Empire he traces the creation of an informal Nazi empire back to Germany’s intervention in the Spanish Civil War and the trade benefits Germany was able to obtain in exchange for military support and munitions. At the centre of this study is Hjalmar Schacht, the temporarily ubiquitous German ‘economic dictator’, as the Financial Times called the Reichsbank president and minister of economic affairs in 1934. [...] Barbieri is not the first scholar to integrate discussions on German and Italian intervention with the question of Nazi economic and trade policy, but he does so in a sophisticated and readable way that will probably reach a wider audience than earlier literature. The book, already translated into Italian (2015, Mondadori), presents a good overview of German and Italian intervention in the Spanish Civil War embedded in the international context. Emphasizing Schacht’s role is important but, in the end, the argument by analogy (Schacht’s programmatic texts correspond to forms of organizing German–Spanish trade) does not hold. Instead of opposing two mutually exclusive models of imperialism, the author might have found it more interesting to think of them as complementary forms of exploitation and exercising power. Finally, comparing the Nazi idea of European hegemony and empire with the status and the underlying idea of the European Union, its common market and common currency (pp. 246–7) is, at best, a distortion.