Reinhard Höhn (1904-2000) was a commander of the SS, one of Nazi Germany’s most brilliant legal minds, and an archetype of the fervid technocrats and intellectuals that built the Third Reich. Following Germany’s defeat, after a few years in hiding, he emerged in the early 1950s as the founder and director of a renowned management school in Lower Saxony. Höhn’s story wouldn’t be very different from that of many other prominent Nazis if not for the fact that a vast number of Germany’s postwar business leaders—more than 600,000 executives—were educated at his management school. In this fascinating book, Johann Chapoutot, one of France’s most brilliant historians, traces the profound links between Nazism and the principles of modern corporate management, our definitions of success, and a concept of personal freedom that masks rigid hierarchical structures of power and control.
Johann Chapoutot teaches Contemporary History at the Sorbonne in Paris. He is the author of The Law of Blood: Thinking and Acting as a Nazi and Greeks, Romans, Germans: How the Nazis Usurped Europe's Classical Past. His book Free to Obey will be published by Europa Books in April of 2023 in a translation by Steven Randall.