Ludwig Erhard

A Biography

By Alfred C. Mierzejewski

296 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 11 illus., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-2139-5
    Published: May 2014
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6368-8
    Published: December 2005

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In the first English-language biography of one of the most important figures in postwar German history, Alfred C. Mierzejewski examines the life and service of Ludwig Erhard (1897-1977), West Germany's first minister of economics and second chancellor. Erhard liberalized the German economy in 1948 and is generally considered the father of West Germany's "economic miracle"--the period of extraordinary growth in jobs and improvement in the standard of living in the 1950s that helped stabilize Germany's first successful democracy.

While recent scholarship has dismissed Erhard's influence on Germany's economic recovery, Mierzejewski returns to little-cited German analyses and Erhard's own record and concludes that Allied currency reform and Erhard's liberalization of the economy were crucial triggers for Germany's unprecedented economic boom. Mierzejewski provides insight into Erhard's policies, his ideas, his character, and his relationships with Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle. By offering a fresh account of Erhard's career as a leader in postwar West Germany, Mierzejewski provides a deeper understanding of Germany's economy as well as its democracy.

About the Author

Alfred C. Mierzejewski is professor of German history at the University of North Texas. His previous publications include The Most Valuable Asset of the Reich: A History of the German National Railway (Volumes 1 and 2) and The Collapse of the German War Economy, 1944-1945: Allied Air Power and the German National Railway.
For more information about Alfred C. Mierzejewski, visit the Author Page.


"Illuminating . . . offers essential insights into fundamental conflicts in the early Federal Republic. . . . Highly recommended."--Choice

"Drawing on the published German literature, with some primary research on key topics, [Mierzejewski] has written a solid, sympathetic biography. . . . It offers an informative overview of an important figure."--American Historical Review

"It can certainly be argued that the current plight of the German economy is due to the willingness of successive German governments, supported in turn by all the major parties, to ignore the simple truths with which Erhard tried to enlighten the West German public in the 1950s and 1960s. This clear, well-founded political biography is urgently needed. In addition to describing an important historical figure, the book has a relevant message for Germany today."--A. J. Nicholls, Emeritus Fellow, St. Antony's College, Oxford