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Ludwig Erhard in his office (1949)
© Walter Sanders/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

1919 – 1944

The researcher Ludwig Erhard – the theoretical basis

From 1919 to 1922, Ludwig Erhard studied at the commercial college in Nuremberg, completing his studies with a degree in Business Administration. He subsequently studied Business, Political Economics, and Sociology at the University of Frankfurt am Main, and in 1925, earned his doctorate title Dr. rer. pol. with professor Franz Oppenheimer on the Nature and meaning of the unit of value.

From 1925 to 1928, he was executive in his parents’ business before becoming assistant lecturer at the Institut für Wirtschaftsbeobachtung der deutschen Fertigware, a marketing research institute at the commercial college in Nuremberg. Here, in 1935, Erhard organized Germany’s first marketing seminar. He remained at the institute until 1942, later becoming its Deputy Director.

In 1942, he established his own institute for consumer research, the Institut für Konsumforschung. On behalf of the Reichsgruppe Industrie (German Industry Group), he devoted himself to post-war economic planning, despite a ban to do so by Hitler. In 1944, he completed his memorandum Financing the war and consolidating debts. The content comprised considerations about the reconstruction of the economy after the war.