My year with Ludwig von Mises
Most people in the economics world know about Ludwig von Mises the economist.
But what about Ludwig von Mises the man?
Over a year ago now I started out on a journey. I had just finished My Years With Ludwig von Mises by Margit von Mises and I knew I have to find out more about Mises outside of his economics works.
Being a woman fascinated in Economics outside of a college degree has raised many questions over the years.
I could be at an economics event of mostly academics when suddenly I am asked “what are you doing here?”
Yeah, that stings a little, but where else would I want to be?
That is one of the many things I loved about Mises in Margit's book. If someone came across his path and wanted to know more about human action, economics, free markets,…etc he would teach them. It was rare for women to study in academia in Mises’ day and age, but that did not stop him from supporting the studious women who would come across his path.
Mises also never doubted the intelligence of women with whom he had contact. Whilst other men may have turned a studious woman away, Mises encouraged their attendance at his lectures, as Margit von Mises pointed out:
“Lu was a great defender of women, and never doubted their mental capacities or potentials. His seminar in Vienna was well known for the many highly gifted women who attended and later became leading figures in economics and education.”
Mises's support of women really shines through in Margit's love for “Lu” as Margit called Ludwig, Their love was powerful and strong. As noted in this beautiful passage from Margit's book:
“I loved him and the longing to be with him was so strong I could not fight myself anymore. And I knew only too well that he needed me also, in the way that a man dying of thirst needs a drink of water.”
A person can only hope to love like that in their lifetime. Their love was tested however when the Nazis came to power and Mises ended up on the nazi blacklist. Thankfully Mises was not in Vienna when the Nazis came to his apartment and raided it, taking all of his work. He was safe in Geneva at the time. It was not long after the occupation of Paris that Margit convinced Lu to flee to America.
If you haven’t read Margit’s book I highly recommend it. It is one of the greatest love stories I have read and believe it could be made into an oscar-winning movie. once you finish it you desire an encore. I craved to know more about this man.
So I started out on an adventure. I felt very much like Bilbo Baggins.
I found out Mises papers after the war were kept at Grove city college. I reached out and requested permission to view the papers. Amazingly permission was granted.
It was one of the best days of my life.
Going through Mises personal papers gave you the sense that not only was mises a total genius (One moment I am reading a letter in German, the next in French, turn a page and it’s English.) But he was also a kind and thoughtful soul as well.
After Grove City college the Mises Institute was next on my list. I have visited the Mises institute many times, even used to work in the gardens. However, I knew I had to visit this year as a part of my trip. It was such a joy to go through Mises's pictures, see his ties, and even the typewriter human action was written on again. If you’re ever close to The Mises Institute I highly recommend a visit:
Sadly COVID took away my chance to visit Hillsdale college where Mises Lost papers before the war are kept along with his library. However, it is still on my list and you can listen to the amazing story about how mises lost papers were found by Richard M. Ebeling and his wife here.
You can read about many men in life who never live up to their work. Mises was the opposite of that. He is an exemplary example of a scholar and a gentleman. Mises went through total hell in his life and he crawled his way out of the darkness inch by inch. So many underserving men are given the title of hero. However, in this case, Mises is my hero.
special thanks to:
Jeffrey Herbener, Chairman of the Department of Economics and Professor of Economics at Grove City College.
Hilary Walczak, College Archivist
Lew Rockwell, Founder and Chairman of the Mises Institute
Jeff Deist, President of the Mises institute
Per Bylund, For encouraging my studies all these years.