Power and initiative in twentieth century germany : the case of Hugo Junkers
Byers, Richard W
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This dissertation explores the relationship between private enterprises and nation states in high technology research and applications. As the twentieth century progressed, this relationship became more contentious as state organs, citing national security priorities, attempted to assert their influence on private manufacturers. Nowhere is this relationship better illustrated than in the aircraft industry, and Germany’s geopolitical circumstances during the first half of the twentieth century provide an excellent framework to explore this intersection of interests. The dissertation focuses on the relationship between Professor Hugo Junkers and three successive state regimes in Germany between 1914 and 1934. Already a successful businessman and entrepreneur by the beginning of the First World War, Hugo Junkers continued to pursue plans for all-metal aircraft designs after war began despite wartime supply difficulties and widespread skepticism that such a craft would ever fly. Successful flight trials in 1915 lead to increased official interest in the Junkers firm as a possible military aircraft supplier, and military representatives began negotiations with Junkers over possible production of his aircraft designs. When these negotiations foundered, state officials accused Junkers of pursuing selfish objectives at the state’s expense, and increasingly intervened in the firm’s production processes. Professor Junkers fiercely resisted these incursions, and this resistance permanently damaged relations between the two parties. Throughout the life of the Weimar Republic, Junkers and state officials fought to control the firm’s production and design priorities. Eventually the state tired of Junkers’ machinations and applied coercion in conjunction with financial pressure to remove Hugo Junkers from control of his firm, a process completed by the National Socialist regime in 1934. This national takeover characterizes the loss of individual initiative within high technology sectors considered crucial to national security throughout the twentieth century.