The Bankers’ Thoughts

The banker Leo Fischel remains perplexed about the Parallel Campaign, despite Ulrich’s advice. But, then, this is not his area of expertise.

Director Leo Fischel of the Lloyd Bank, like all bank directors before the war, believed in progress. As a capable man in his field he knew, of course, that only where one has a thorough knowledge of the facts can one have a conviction on which one would be willing to stake one’s own money. The immense expansion of activities does not allow for such competence outside one’s own field. Accordingly, efficient, hardworking people have no convictions beyond the limits of their own narrow specialities; none, that is, they will not instantly abandon under pressure from the outside. One might go so far as to say that conscientiousness forces them to act differently from the way they think. (I,141-142)

He sounds out his colleague at the bank for his opinions of the campaign.

So far, however, von Meier-Ballot, the chief executive who had been consulted by the general manager, had himself formed an excellent impression of the undertaking. When he received Count Leinsdorf’s “suggestion,” he went over to the mirror–naturally though not for that reason–and there he saw, above the tailcoat and the little gold chain of his order, the composed face of a middle-class government minister, in which the hardness of money was at most barely visible somewhere far back in the eyes. His fingers hung down like flags in a calm, as though they had never in their life had to carry out the hasty movements with which an apprentice bank teller counts his cash. (I,142-143)

Meier-Ballot cautiously seeks the advice of two former government ministers.

It is of course possible that von Holtzkopt and Wznieczky, as men informed and experienced in public affairs, felt some qualms, especially as they might assume that they themselves would be expected  to play a part in the further development of this campaign. But it is easy for people who live on the ground floor to be choosy and turn down whatever does not suit them. One whose gondola in life is nine thousand feet up in the air, however, can’t simply step outside, even if one is not in accord with everything going on. And since persons in such high circles really are loyal and–as opposed to the previously mentioned bourgeois dither–do not like to act otherwise than they think, they must in many cases avoid giving too much careful thought to an issue. (I,143-144)


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