Paul von Hindenburg (10/2/1847 – 8/2/1934) was a general who commanded the Imperial German Army during World War I. He would go on to become the President of Germany in 1925 during the time of the Weimar Republic (1919 – 1933), an office that he held until his death. On November 19, 1932, a letter known as the “Industrielleneingabe” was signed by more than a dozen representatives of industry, finance, and agriculture urging President Hindenburg to appoint Adolf Hitler (4/20/1889 – 4/30/1945) Chancellor of Germany. One of the notable signatories on that letter was Fritz Beindorff, Sr (4/29/1860 – 6/2/1944), then owner of Pelikan. Mr. Beindorff was incredibly influential in Hannover at the time, holding many honorary, appointed, and elected positions. Few companies have shaped the face of Hannover more than Pelikan thanks in no small part to his leadership. Hindenburg did not immediately comply with the request but, under pressure from several advisers, he would appoint Hitler to the position of Chancellor in January 1933, a pivotal moment in the Nazi rise to power.
Sir Horace Rumbold (2/5/1869 – 5/24/1941), the British Ambassador to Berlin at the time wrote in February of that year; “Hitler may be no statesman but he is an uncommonly clever and audacious demagogue and fully alive to every popular instinct.” Hitler would use his new position to suppress opposition and to consolidate and strengthen his power. In 1933, the German cabinet enacted a law which stated that upon Hindenburg’s death, the office of the president would be abolished and its powers merged with those of the Chancellor. This allowed Hitler’s government to become a legal dictatorship. In that role, he would spend the next five years forging new alliances and rebuilding the German war machine. This culminated on September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland effectively kicking off World War II. The United Kingdom and France would declare war on Germany two days later. Pelikan had just celebrated its 100th anniversary the year prior and had only entered the fountain pen market ten years earlier. Much of the company’s manufacturing apparatus at the time was contained within Germany and therefore was subject to many wartime regulations that would come to be handed down over the course of the conflict. Read on to find out just how the war and its aftermath would affect Pelikan’s domestic and international operations. As the text is heavily laden with dates, I have included a timeline at the end so that you may better visualize how the events unfolded.