[OPE-L] Guenter Reimann. 1904 - 2005

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Tue Mar 08 2005 - 18:03:51 EST


Guenter Reimann
Casting a critical eye on capitalism
Michael Hrebeniak
Tuesday March 01 2005
The Guardian

Guenter Reimann, who has died aged 100, was a pioneer of global financial
analysis and founder of the prestigious newsletter International Reports
On Finance And Currency, which provided an independent voice in the field
after the second world war.

Reimann was born Hans Steinicke into a bourgeois German-Jewish family in
Angermuende, north-east of Berlin. As a schoolboy, he joined the Communist
party, then a vigorous force in German national politics. He was
instinctively drawn to the leftist intelligentsia of inter-war Berlin, and
regular nights in the company of Ernst Thaelmann, Anna Seghers and Walter
Ulbricht at the Romanische Cafe followed. At 17, under the pen-name
Guenter Reimann, he was appointed economics editor of the communist
newspaper, Rote Fahne.

Having graduated in economics from the Berlin Wirtschaftshochschule in
1925, Reimann resigned from the Communist party in 1933, as one of the
first to protest publicly at Stalin's rise to power. After the Reichstag
fire, he worked underground with German social democrats and communist
resistance fighters, fully aware that this might prove a terminal
decision. Indeed, by 1934 the Gestapo was closing in. Nazi officials
raided his house and arrested his student guest, Hu Lan-Xi, who would go
on to become the Red Army's first female general.

Reimann fled Berlin, walking through the Bohemian forest to Vienna, and
thence to Paris. He soon discovered, however, that the radical political
circles that had always engaged him now lay across the English Channel. So
he moved to London, seeking the tutelage of John A Hobson, whose work had
exposed the rapacious market basis of imperialism at the turn of the 20th

Three years of hardship ensued, some of it ameliorated by daily sessions
in the warmth of the British Library, where Reimann researched his book,
The Vampire Economy: Doing Business Under Fascism. In spite of his
situation, he took charge of two Jewish children until the Quakers, who
had brokered the German refugee train on which they arrived, could find
them a home.

Although he kept to government edicts to desist from political activity,
in 1937 he was threatened with deportation to Germany, after the secret
service had intercepted one of his letters. Fortunately, the American
Friends Service Committee intervened to help him obtain political refugee
status in the US, and he arrived in New York clutching the manuscript of
The Vampire Economy, a scathing critique of the economic incompetence of
the Third Reich.

Acknowledging that "in the shape of capital, the instruments of production
dominate and pump dry the living labour power of the wage worker," Reimann
concluded that "the dictatorship of the state bureaucracy becomes
increasingly a dictatorship over the capitalist entrepreneurs, the small
as well as the big business men."

Two more analyses of fascist economics, The Myth Of The Total State (1941)
and Patents For Hitler (1942), soon followed. However, realising that the
fall of capitalism was probably not imminent, Reimann set about
demystifying the financial controls of industrialism and secured a job
with the International Statistical Bureau.

Shortly after the war, he testified before Congress, and was instrumental
in engineering the repeal of the US Trading With The Enemy Act. Shipments
of care packages were immediately sent to German civilians in dire need of
food, medicine and clothing - an achievement later recognised by the
German government, which honoured Reimann shortly before his 100th
birthday with the Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit, the country's
highest civil honour.

Although he considered returning to Germany to participate in its
reconstruction, Reimann remained in New York out of a sense of
responsibility to his two children, the product of a shortlived marriage
to the activist Miriam Weber. He nevertheless maintained close relations
with his homeland, initiating a lively correspondence with Herbert Wehner,
the future chairman of the German Socialist party, which was later
published in book form.

Taking advantage of his position at the epicentre of world capital,
Reimann intensified his search for the appropriate bearings and tools to
scrutinise global finance without institutional encumbrance. International
Reports On Finance And Currency, which he founded in 1946, engaged leading
financial figures as correspondents, and provided an uncompromising
analysis of world markets. Subscribers included governments and central
banks, and chief executives and national leaders actively courted his

Such men would, no doubt, have been surprised to discover that Reimann's
understanding of capitalism derived from the position of desiring its
overthrow. Remaining vehemently opposed to the tyranny of both state and
market, his vision of individual freedom was rooted in the small-scale
communalist models that he saw in the early work of Mao Zedong.
Friendships with such renowned figures of the left as Karl Radek, George
Padmore, Freda Utley and Mario Pedrosa testified both to Reimann's passion
and international standing.

Reimann remained editor-in-chief of International Reports until 1983, when
he sold the publication to the Financial Times. He continued as a
consultant in international finance, working most notably with Madeira to
set up a free trade zone, which remains intact today. He was still
publishing prolifically on economics and history, in both German and
English, well into his 90s.

He is survived by his wife, Jutta, whom he married in 1955, their two
children, and the two children of his previous marriage.

· Guenter Reimann (Hans Steinicke), financial analyst, born November
13 1904; died February 5 2005

Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited

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