Hans Staudinger

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Hans Staudinger (born 16 August 1889 in Worms, Germany; died 25 February 1980 in New York City, NY) was a politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and an economist, as well as a secretary of state in the Prussian trade ministry from 1929 to 1932. From November 1932 to June 1933 he was a Social Democrat member of the Reichstag. (…)

In spring 1934, he was made a Professor of Economics at the New School for Social Research in New York City. Many emigrants who were either friends or acquaintances of his also worked at this institution, such as Eduard Heimann, Arnold Brecht and Emil Lederer. He received American citizenship in 1940.

Staudinger’s political and writing experiences in the field of the social economy found an interested specialist audience in the United States. President Roosevelt was trying to overcome the effects of the Great Depression with his New Deal policy. Some of the largest projects were for example the creation of an authority for energy production and regional development, the Tennessee Valley Authority, which was to develop the use of the water power of the Tennessee River as well as the development of the extensive Tennessee Valley. Staudinger was able to show in his publications what kind of employment stimulus could be expected from large electrification programmes, the new room for manoeuvre the government could gain against regional electricity monopolies by setting up public energy suppliers, and what social effects electrification would have on rural areas that had hitherto been overlooked by the electricity suppliers for reasons of costs.

In his new academic post, however, his time was spent less on research and publications than on academic administration and teaching. Over several years he influenced the work of the Graduate Faculty of Political und Social Science as its dean, by turning the “University in Exile” into an American academic institution. He became dean in 1939 after the death of economist and sociologist Emil Lederer. Staudinger’s wife Else, whom he had married in 1912, had taken her Ph.D. under Lederer’s supervision, being the first woman to do so in Heidelberg. Staudinger also worked as dean from 1941 to 1943, from 1950 to 1951 and from 1953 to 1959. He was also active in fundraising, as his faculty was one that frequently suffered under a lack of resources.

Hans and Else Staudinger founded a committee to support persecuted scientists and intellectuals, the American Council for Émigrés in the Professions, in the New School for Social Research. In this they co-operated with the prominent religious socialist Paul Tillich and Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the US President. Until the end of the 1950s, the Council helped more than 3,000 refugees to find jobs.

In the United States, Staudinger was in close contact with exiled Social Democrats from Germany, many of whom he had known personally before he emigrated. He belonged to the founders of the German Labour Delegation who included Max Brauer, formerly the mayor of the Prussian town of Altona, his friend Rudolf Katz and the former Prussian Minister of the Interior Albert Grzesinski. In the second half of World War II he turned away from this group however, when they started vehemently arguing against plans for an Allied occupation of Germany, under the influence of Friedrich Stampfer, a member of the SPD leadership. In 1943 Staudinger, Tillich, Paul Hertz and Carl Zuckmayer formed the core of the Council for a Democratic Germany that was officially founded in 1944.

In January 1947 Staudinger was amongst the signatories of a declaration by former Social Democratic Reichstag members that was printed in Time and in the Neue Volkszeitung, the leading German-language newspaper in the United States. This declaration argued against mass expulsions, dismantlement of German industry and an occupation of Germany, and demanded a peace treaty, with reference to the Atlantic Charter.

After the Second World War, Staudinger became an important link between the United States and Germany in the academic world. On his initiative, on the occasion of Theodor Heuss’ visit to the United States in the early 1960s, the Theodor Heuss Chair was created at the New School for Social Research. This was to give young social scientists the opportunity to teach in New York for one year. After 1959, Staudinger worked as editor of the political science journal Social Research.

After his retirement, along with his wife Else Staudinger he donated the endowment for a professorial chair at the New School for Social Research in 1965. After Else died, he married Elisabeth Todd in 1967.

Source: Hans Staudinger. Wikipedia. Web. 09 Nov 2014.

Photo: Büro des Reichstags (Hrsg.): Reichstags-Handbuch, VII. Wahlperiode. Reichstagsdruckerei, Berlin 1933. via Wikipedia. Web. 09 Nov 2014.