The long First World War and the survival of business elites in East-Central Europe : Transylvania's industrial boom and the enrichment of economic elites
Title: The long First World War and the survival of business elites in East-Central Europe : Transylvania's industrial boom and the enrichment of economic elites
Author: RIGO, Mate
Citation: European review of history ; Revue Européenne d'histoire, 2017, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 250-272
ISSN: 1350-7486; 1469-8293
This article explores one often-overlooked consequence and paradox of the First World War: the prosperity of business elites and bankers in service of the war effort, despite the destruction of capital and wealth by belligerent armies. Wartime destruction and the birth of war millionaires were two sides of the same coin. Through following the rapid wartime expansion of the Renner tannery in Kolozsvar/Cluj-Napoca in Transylvania, the article explores the repercussions of wartime prosperity, including the takeover of the family business by large corporations and increasing dependence on army commissions. Whereas 1918 is often portrayed as a radical break in the history of East-Central Europe, this article explores why the Renner corporation, owned by ethnic Germans and Magyars, managed to remain prosperous even after Romania annexed Transylvania in December 1918. The increasing ethnic mobilization and hostilities between Magyar and Romanian nationalist elites did not directly impact Transylvania's business life during and after the First World War. The author investigates why Magyar, Hungarian Jewish and German bankers and industrialists were successful at cementing their pre-war and wartime social positions and economic influence in Greater Romania.
Published online: 09 Mar 2017
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