'Honourable Men' – West German heavy industrialists and the role of honour and honour courts in the Adenauer Era

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This article argues that traditional conceptions of honour and the social practices based on them were both persistent yet at the same time very fragile and changeable amongst post-war German steel industrialists. After a brief overview of how bourgeois honour developed up to the early 1950s, a study of the honour court case of one of the leading men of heavy industry, Hermann Reusch of Gutehoffnungshütte, which ran from 1947 to 1949, will be presented. This is followed by a description of the ultimately unsuccessful attempt by the Wirtschaftsvereinigung Eisen und Stahl to establish honour councils to enforce a price policy across the association. Both cases highlight the rapidly changing social and economic culture in West Germany in the early 1960s.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-252
Number of pages21
JournalContemporary European History
Issue number2
Early online date4 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - May 2013