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" The restoration of prestige was more important than the achievement ofeconomic stability or the raising of the standard of living."

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Introduction

Shabeena Anait Hitler's Economic Policy 8th April 03 Title: " The restoration of prestige was more important than the achievement of economic stability or the raising of the standard of living." How far do you agree with this statement in relation to the economic policy of Germany in 1933-1941? Cited in Mein Kampf and Zweites Buch are Hitler's four main aims concerning economic policy. First, Hitler aimed to create an autarkic system, which would enable Germany to sustain broader hegemony within Europe. Secondly, he intended to target above all the lands in the east. Third, since the latter inevitably involved expansion- and therefore conflict- the economic infrastructure would have to accommodate a considerable increase in military expenditure. But, fourth, he needed the support of the German people and could not therefore risk severely depressing their living standards in any quest for military supremacy. Thus the fundamental question is, did Hitler prioritise any of his aims? The incentive of this is essay is to analyse the 'Guns v butter' debate over the priority of rearmament or the consumer- both expanded, but from 1936 onwards guns were the priority. Hitler came to power after the worst of the Depression. The 1929 Wall Street Crash affected German industry resulting in recession. Six million became unemployed where the employed suffered due to reduced hours and low earnings. Consumer demand fell, as a result of which there was a decline in small shops. Businesses and banks were heavily bankrupt and the Middle class had to rely on soup kitchens as welfare favoured factory workers. In addition they could not purchase overseas-the depressed economy had all the effects of a social catastrophe! ...read more.

Middle

Here Hitler was also fulfilling his ideological goal of Lebensraum. After invading Austria and Czechoslovakia Hitler received growing hostility from the elites, army and businessmen as invasion posed a grave risk to the economy. Germany was not ready for until the mid 1940's. However Hitler's miscalculations over the Polish crisis led to Britain and France declaring war on Germany before her plans were complete. Despite the fact that the economy was overheating Hitler achieved success with the Blitzkrieg 1939-1941. It was the only way in which Germany could grow from limited mobilisation by steadily expanding its economic base through a series of rapid and specifically targeted conquests. Blitzkrieg was as much an economic strategy as a military device. By 1941 Blitzkrieg seemed to have produced the required momentum for the achievement of the early stages of Lebensraum. Germany had gained military and economic control over Czechoslovakia, Poland, the Ukraine and a sizeable area of European Russia, as well as direct influence over Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. With these victories, the economic dimension of Lebensraum became clearer. Then came total war, which wrecked the new economic order. Total war is often projected as the logical final step: the total mobilisation of the economy to enable it to achieve the final stage. Actually, it was a response to failure to achieve a rapid victory through Blitzkrieg. It was an admission that the previous delicate balance between consumer and military needs could no longer be maintained. Above all, it was a struggle for survival as, from 1942 onwards; the tide began to turn with the military recovery of the Soviet Union and the entry of the United States into the war. ...read more.

Conclusion

It has been discovered that the employment figures under the Nazi regime are artificial. Jews, some married women, 'political' prisoners in concentration camps and so on- disappeared from the unemployment registers for ideological reasons. The Nazis claimed to have eliminated unemployment, but only because they had created a distorted economic system. Additionally workers had to pay their dues new employee organisations, and the organisations greatest scam, the Volkswagen, brought in tens of millions of marks- and not one car was delivered! In reality, the German workforce was putting in longer hours for a fractional notional increase in wages. In real terms wages were in decline compared to the increase in the standard of living. The input that workers had put into the economy was substantial but largely one-way: it fed into rearmament but received few consumables in exchange. Returning to the initial question the German people were not much better off and it seems that the standard of living was falling, not rising! Conclusively, it would seem from my analysis that the restoration of prestige 'was' more important than the achievement of economic stability or the raising of the standard of living, in relation to economic policy of Germany in 1933-41. Indeed, Hitler forced the economy to execute his ideological beliefs, in particular, the quest for Lebensraum by means of conflict. To achieve his aspirations he had to discount the welfare of his workers- after all, Lebensraum would be the German nations 'long-term' economic salvation. Hence, 'guns' were more significant than 'butter'. However, it would be ludicrous to claim that the German people did not benefit from the regime at all. If anything, success in foreign policy gave them hope of a better and united future, devoid of chaos. 5 1 ...read more.

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