- Co-founder of Rhenish-Westphalian Power Plant Corporation (RWE)
- Member of the Reichstag
Stinnes came from a family of entrepreneurs in the Ruhr valley region. At 23, he launched his own business activities, founding several successful companies that took on much greater proportions than the family’s previous portfolio. When building his group of companies, he followed the example of American trusts and big businesses, pursuing similarly aggressive corporate growth policies. Given that Stinnes’ companies were largely financed from abroad, he benefited from the currency devaluation during the inflation period, earning him the nickname of “inflation king”. With his enormous economic clout, he also had political influence, which he used during the 1923 Ruhr struggle in particular. During the November Revolution, Stinnes feared the socialists would overthrow the government. This spurred him to try to reach a settlement with the unions; in 1918, he signed the Stinnes-Legien Agreement with the unionist Carl Legien. The agreement recognized unions as representatives of workers’ interests and social partners with equal standing. In return, the unions promised to not hinder the functioning of the free market economy. Aside from signing this agreement, Stinnes was elected to the Reichstag in 1920, where he was part of the DVP’s right wing. In 1924, Stinnes died from the complications of a gall bladder operation. Soon thereafter, his company started to collapse.