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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Leonard and Fritz on Lu

Today’s document is a series of letters in September and October 1973 between Leonard E. Read and F. A. Hayek about an obituary Hayek wrote for Ludwig von Mises. The article, “Tribute to von Mises, Vienna Years” by Hayek was published in the November 9th, 1973 issue of National Review.

Several things are interesting about this exchange. First, and most striking, is that all the letters take place before Mises had passed away. Hayek’s Letter to Leonard Read on September 27, 1973 is about how Alan Reynolds at the National Review requests an obituary for “our dear friend.” Hayek does not know how to get his contribution to Reynolds so he is giving it to Read to pass it along for him.

Read’s Letter, dated October 3, 1973, to Hayek agrees to pass it along to the National Review (and does so in the third letter, sadly we do not have the actual article to attach) but also expresses his amazement of Mises health, “according to the doctors, Mises should have passed away several weeks ago but I am informed that yesterday he walked outdoors. He is a tough man!” Mises passed away seven days later on October 10, 1973. Read also expressed concern about Hayek’s health and mentions the sad new that his own wife is ill.

Another interesting aspect of these letters is how Read refers to Hayek as Fritz, he did so in all his letters to Hayek. Hayek apparently hated the nickname Fritz. Nobel Prize winning economist James Buchanan even wrote an article called, “I Did Not Call Him “Fritz”: Personal Recollections of Professor F. A. v. Hayek.” Still, Hayek even signs his letter, Fritz! This is probably a sign of how close of a friend Hayek considered Read. Read was after all one of the original member of Hayek’s Mont Pelerin Society.

Download the Hayek and Read 1973 exchange on Mises here.

  • Nicholas Snow is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Kenyon College in the Department of Economics, and previously a Senior Lecturer at The Ohio State University Economics Department. His research focuses on the political economy of prohibition.