Hans Sennholz

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Hans F. Sennholz
Born (1922-02-03)3 February 1922
Brambauer, Unna, Germany
Died 23 June 2007(2007-06-23) (aged 85)
Grove City, Pennsylvania
Nationality German-American
Institution Foundation for Economic Education
Grove City College
Iona College
Field macroeconomics, political science
School or
Austrian School
Alma mater New York University
(PhD) 1955
University of Cologne
(Dr. rer. pol.) 1949
University of Marburg
(M.A.) 1948
University of Texas
Influences Ludwig von Mises
Influenced Joseph Salerno, Ron Paul, Peter Boettke, Lawrence W. Reed

Hans F. Sennholz (3 February 1922 – 23 June 2007) was a German-born American Austrian School economist who studied under Ludwig von Mises. He was drafted into the Luftwaffe during World War II and became the pilot of a Messerschmitt Bf-109, earning the Iron Cross for valor from his engagements in Norway, France, and Russia. He was shot down over North Africa on August 31, 1942, at a time when the battle for north Africa was intensifying, and spent the remainder of the war in a POW camp in the United States, ultimately located to a POW camp in Wilson, Arkansas, where he worked from 1945 to 1946 at the Wilson dairy farm "milking 20 cows twice a day".[1]

During his stay in Arkansas, he maintained a journal of his time as a POW prisoner.[2] Upon the news sometime in 1946 of his transfer back to Germany, he gave the journal to a trusted guard. "Please send this to my home when the time comes." But the journal never arrived.[3]

Instead, it was discovered by William Harrison, a Jonesboro, AR factory worker, in the spring of 1964. He had been prowling along the banks of Bay Ditch, a drainage artery bordering 'old' Highway 63, a few miles southeast of Jonesboro. A compulsive collector, and recognizing that the spiral-bound book was written in a foreign language, he held onto it hoping to discover its meaning.[4]

In November, 1985, Harrison took the journal to Scott Darwin, a professor of German at Arkansas State University. He confirmed what an earlier visit to ASU in 1968 had determined: that no one on staff could read it because it had been hand written in a style that was superseded in the '40s. The 'old' script was no longer used and no one on staff could decipher it.

But Darwin remembered having met a woman who may be able to help. Erika Cohen had come to America as the wife of Robert S. Cohen, M.D. whom she married while he was serving in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. As a native of Germany and having attended school in the thirties, she might be able to help.[5]

Mrs. Cohen translated the journal, revealing the fascinating story of its author's travails as a Luftwaffe pilot having been shot down in north Africa and subsequent time as a German POW. But there was no hint as to the identity of the author. This, perhaps, was intentional, as the POWs were to have no personal possessions.[6]

Ultimately, Harrison got the story of "Who Wrote the Diary" published in Die Welt, a large-circulation German newspaper. Upon reading and re-reading the story in August, 1988, Willie Weischhoff wrote to his friend and fellow German POW with whom he had kept in touch, Hans Sennholz, now a Professor of Economics at Grove City College since 1956. Weischhoff had been mentioned, by name, in Harrison's story. On October 20, 1988, Harrison received the following letter: "I am the POW author you have been looking for."[7] It was from Dr. Sennholz.

Sennholz ultimately flew his Gruman four-seater to Jonesboro to meet Harrison and reunite with the long-lost journal. Sennholz attempted to pay Harrison but Harrison refused. "This is yours. I'm simply returning it to you."[8]

After returning to Germany, he took degrees at the universities of Marburg in 1948 and Köln in 1949.[9] He then moved to the United States to study for a Ph.D. at New York University. He was Ludwig von Mises' first PhD student in the United States. He taught economics at Grove City College, 1956–1992, having been hired as department chair upon arrival. After he retired, he became president of the Foundation for Economic Education, 1992–1997. Calvinist Political Philosopher, John W. Robbins pointed out in a book printed in honor of Sennholz shortly after his death that "Sennholz, ... rests his defense of a free society on revelation."[10]

Fellow Austrian School economist Joseph Salerno praised Sennholz as an under-appreciated member of the Austrian School who "writes so clearly on such a broad range of topics that he is in danger of suffering the same fate as Say and Bastiat. As Joseph Schumpeter pointed out, these two brilliant nineteenth-century French economists, who were also masters of economic rhetoric, wrote with such clarity and style that their work was misjudged by their British inferiors as 'shallow' and 'superficial'."[11]

2008 U.S. presidential candidate Ron Paul credits his interest in economics to meeting Sennholz and getting to know him well.[12] Peter Boettke, Deputy Director of the James M. Buchanan Center for Political Economy at George Mason University, first learned economics from Sennholz as a student at Grove City College. Terree P. Wasley Summer, author of the book "What Has Government Done To Our Health Care?" was also heavily influenced by Dr. Hans Sennholz as a student at Grove City College. Lawrence Reed, co-founder of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan and current president of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) is one of Sennholz's most accomplished students.


  • Divided Europe, New York, NY, 1955.
  • How Can Europe Survive, D. Van Nostrand Company, 1955
  • Moneda y libertad, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1961.
  • The Great Depression, Lansing, MI, 1969.
  • Inflation or Gold Standard, Lansing, MI, 1973.
  • Gold is Money, Westport, CT, 1975.
  • Death and Taxes, Washington, DC, 1976, 2nd ed. 1982.
  • Problemas económicas de actualidad, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1977.
  • Age of Inflation, Belmont, MA, 1977, 1979; Spanish: Tiempos de inflation, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1983.
  • Money and Freedom, Spring Mills, PA, 1985; Spanish: Moneda y libertad, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1987; Polish: Pieniadze I Wolnosc, London, England, 1991.
  • The Politics of Unemployment, Spring Mills, PA, 1987.
  • Debts and Deficits, Spring Mills, PA, 1987.
  • The Great Depression: Will We Repeat It?, Spring Mills, PA, 1988.
  • The Savings and Loan Bailout, Spring Mills, PA, 1989.
  • Three Economic Commandments, Spring Mills, PA, 1990.
  • The First Eighty Years of Grove City College, Grove City, PA, 1993.
  • Reflection and Remembrance, Irvington, NY, 1997.
  • Sowing the Wind, Grove City, PA, 2004.
  • Age of Inflation Continued, Grove City, PA, 2006.



  1. ^ Arkansas Times, April 1989, p. 52
  2. ^ ibid, p.53
  3. ^ From E.P. Cohen's notes of her translation of the Sennholz journal from German (written in the 'old' script) into English
  4. ^ Arkansas Times, April, 1989, p. 33
  5. ^ ibid, p.34
  6. ^ ibid., p. 53
  7. ^ ibid, p. 52
  8. ^ Personal reflection, Stephen P. Cohen, son of Erika Cohen, the translator of the diary.
  9. ^ http://www.sennholz.com/resume.php
  10. ^ http://trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=271
  11. ^ https://www.mises.org/story/1155
  12. ^ Taylor Paul interview

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