This panel's central theme will address Iran’s political and economic transformation during the Interwar period. Although Reza Shah Pahlavi’s policies of national economic modernization have been well documented, considerably less attention has been accorded to the interaction between foreign and local actors in Iran’s economic and political spheres. The first paper, paper entitled, “Iran in the Focus of National-Socialist Power Politics, 1933-1943.”will assess the impact of World War II on the strategies and plans of the German foreign ministry, the Wehrmacht, and the secret services. While Iran may be seen as a theatre of German power politics within the geopolitical arena of the Middle East, It will show that the Iranian government and its agencies in Tehran were aware of these plans to the extent that collaboration with the German forces was either avoided or encouraged, depending on the context. In response to these perspectives, The second paper "Iran in the Nazi New Order, 1934-1941" will discuss Germany’s economic cooperation with Iran, especially those policies led by Hjalmar Schacht, the Reich Minister of Economics from 1934 to 1937. Furthermore, it will address how the global outreach of the Nazi economy resonated with Reza Shah's vision of national modernization and also found expression in the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 1939. Subsequently, the third paper will analyze the ramifications of Soviet trade agreements and conceptualizations of industrialization with respect to Iranian economic nationalization. It will assert that Soviet influence was adapted to local economic conditions and cultural practices, reflective of the divergences in approaches to economic centralization and manifestations of the national subject in these countries. Finally, the fourth presentation will elucidate the potential for agency amongst crafts people vis-a-vis Pahlavi economic policies of large-scale industrialization, which intensified with the growing power of monopolies during the 1930s. More specifically, it will examine the modernization of Iran’s textile industry, including its reconfiguration into factories and its impact upon local textile craftsmen. Taken in toto, these panel presentations will demonstrate that foreign interests competed for prominence in Iran’s economic and political affairs. However, the Iranian government and other local actors were capable of regulating these ties for greater benefit, which was indicative of increasing political sovereignty and diplomatic leverage. Conversely, at the domestic level, the Iranian subaltern sought a position of economic stability in its relations with the modern Iranian state.
In contrast to the economic and diplomatic relations between Pahlavi Iran and the Third Reich, which form a well-researched field of modern Iranian history, the military and strategic interests of Germany have found less attention. This paper will attempt to present an overview over the respective strategies and plans of the foreign ministry, the Wehrmacht and the secret services involving Iran as a theatre of German power politics in the Middle East before and after the outbreak of World War II. Aside from the question how and whether strategic planning had changed under the impact of war, the paper will also examine to which extent these plans had been known to the Iranian government, and in which way government agencies in Tehran tried either to avoid an involvement of Iran into such schedules or may have sought a collaboration with the German forces.