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Did Nazi economic policies of the 1930s help or hinder the war effort?

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Introduction

Did Nazi economic policies of the 1930s help or hinder the war effort? The Nazis inherited a very tempestuous and poor economy. The high unemployment rates and consequences of the previous hyperinflation problems meant that Hitler needed to instigate a policy of recovery. He also wanted to begin preparing the economy for a subsequent war. However, Hitler dodged making definite decisions about the economic policy, stating that the government should "avoid all detailed statements"1 concerning it. This meant that policy of the 1930s was often vague, as not only did the party did not want to alienate economic groups, but they also had little idea of their plans themselves. This led to a generally pragmatic and responsive economic policy. This style of policy eventually benefited the economy and helped the war effort, as it enabled the government to transfer from the Four Year Plan to the War Economy quickly and effectively. Despite this, from the beginning of the decade the Nazi party realised that it would be problematic to improve the state of the economy drastically in such a short space of time. Therefore, Hitler decided to concentrate the economic policies of the time, to differing extents, on war. This can be seen through elements of both the New Plan and the Four Year Plan. However, it is important to consider whether the negative points of these plans outweigh their positive ones, if their actions helped or hindered the war effort, and whether a different economic policy throughout the 1930s would to led to a Nazi victory in World War II. The appointment of Hjalmar Schacht in 1933 let to the New Plan of September 1934. This represented a radical extension of trade policy already begun before 1933.The systems of autarky, deficit spending and 'wehrwirtschaft'2 all clearly had elements which later helped the war effort. For example, the policy of autarky was a push for self-sufficiency within Germany. ...read more.

Middle

These policies were clearly more aimed towards war than the policies of the New Plan. However, their relative success in comparison is widely debated. It is clear that by 1940 Germany was much more economically prepared for war than in 1914. However, they did not meet some of their targets, for example in oil production, Germany only managed to produce 18% of the demanded amount required for war16. Arms production also never reached the levels desired by the armed forces and Hitler. However, many of these industrial targets have now been labelled 'unrealistic' by historians such as Overy. Finances were a problem, as during 1938 the money supply grew much faster than output - 22% funding compared to just 4% growth in industrial output17. This contributed to the growing Reich debt and a subsequent diversion of resources from the consumer sector. A major problem related to this was the long time taken by the construction of the factories, which only began to benefit the economy during the war. The Nazi party increased the marginal propensity to save and discouraged consumption. This led to a slow down in economic growth after 1936. Although standards of living for ordinary Germans rose as many got jobs, they had a smaller variety of products to choose from and conditions did not recover to the relatively high standards enjoyed during Weimar Germany. Carroll has argued that it was administrative inefficiency that made rearmament industrially difficult.18 Other historians have highlighted the structural difficulties, such as confused planning, and poor factory organisation. However, despite these shortcomings there was certainly no sharp down turn in the business cycle. Although the economy could have grown faster if trade and consumer demand had been allowed to develop themselves, at the time these ideas were not publicly expressed. Despite this, most economists and historians both agree that in general the Four Year Plan was successful in preparing Germany for blitzkreig, or short wars. ...read more.

Conclusion

M. Collier and P. Pedley. Public investment figure table. 6 Germany 1919-45 (A2 Section: Section 3). M. Collier and P. Pedley.. Public expenditure figure table. 7 Nazism 1919-1945, State, Economy and Society. J. Noakes and G. Pridham. Chapter 12 - The Policies of Schacht 8 The German Dictatorship. Karl Bracher. 1973. 9 War and Economy in the Third Reich. R. Overy. Chapter 1 - Unemployment in the Third Reich. Table 1.1 - Registered unemployed 1929-1940 10 Germany: The Third Reich 1933-45. G. Layton. Chapter 4 - The Economics of the Third Reich 11 "Did Hitler Want Total War?" - Richard Overy. History paper. Quoting Bundesarchiv-Militararchiv. Goring conference 1938. 12 The Nazi Dictatorship - Ian Kershaw 1985. Chapter 3 - Politics and Economics in the Nazi State 13 "Did Hitler Want Total War?" - Richard Overy. History paper. Quoting Bundesarchiv-Militararchiv. Goring conference 1938. 14 The Nazi Economic Recovery 1932-38. R. Overy. Chapter 6 - Full employment and the coming of war. 15 The Nazi Economic Recovery 1932-38. R. Overy. Chapter 6- Full employment and the coming of war. 16 Germany 1919-45 (A2 Section: Section 3). M. Collier and P. Pedley. "Failures of the Four Year Plan" 17 The Nazi Economic Recovery 1932-38. R. Overy. Chapter 6- Full employment and the coming of war. 18 The Nazi Economic Recovery 1932-38. R. Overy. Chapter 6- Full employment and the coming of war. 19 Nazism 1919-1945, State, Economy and Society. J. Noakes and G. Pridham. Chapter 13 - The Four Year Plan. 20 The Nazi Economic Recovery 1932-38. R. Overy. Chapter 6- Full employment and the coming of war. 21 Germany: The Third Reich 1933-45. G. Layton. Chapter 5 - The Economics of the Third Reich. Quoting BH Klein. 22 Germany: The Third Reich 1933-45. G. Layton. Chapter 5 - The Economics of the Third Reich. Quoting Milward. 23 Germany: The Third Reich 1933-45. G. Layton. Chapter 5 - The Economics of the Third Reich. Quoting R. Overy. 24 The Nazi Economic Recovery 1932-38. R. Overy. Chapter 4 - Government and recovery. ?? ?? ?? ?? Jane Stiller U6ARD/U6P History Coursework 2002 ...read more.

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