To what extent was the German economy ready for war in 1939? Consider all the economic strategies implemented between 1933 and 1939 in your answer.

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To what extent was the German economy ready for war in 1939? Consider all the economic strategies implemented between 1933 and 1939 in your answer.

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Germany made military moves to expand its borders into Eastern Europe in 1939. There is certainly evidence to suggest that Germany was no-where near the targets set by Hitler for total re-armament. As well as this factor though, there is another question to consider, had Germany set out for all out international war or was it just an attempt to expand lebensraum when they took the actions of invading Poland and Austria in 1939? This is an important question because it helps to understand the motives of Hitler when he ordered the invasion of Poland. Basically, war to what extent must first be established.

On the 5th November 1937 a meeting took place between Hitler and all his important military generals. The minutes from this meeting were taken down and became known as the Hossbach Memorandum. They stated that it was agreed that by 1943 active steps towards lebensraum were to be taken. This was all that was firmly agreed though; there were no steps to preparation towards a full international war. Nothing was even mentioned of the USSR. According to Tim Mason this suggests that when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 he had no ideas of ‘world domination’ just yet. He calls the invasion of Poland a, “War of plunder”. By this he meant that the only intention was to gain some extra land and resources for Germany to live off. This is supported by the fact that by 1939 the push for arms had become very strenuous and there was a shortage in resources, labour especially. This would support the theory that Hitler was not ready for an international war by 1939, but only ready to make attempts to expand Germany’s land in-line with his ideology of creating lebensraum so that he could increase his resources. After all there were still German nationals living in Austria and Poland from when land was taken from them under the Treaty Of Versailles. This would mean that the plans that were suggested in the Hossbach Memorandum were forced to be brought forward because of the unexpected strain on resources. This evidence gives us an overall impression that Germany was only ready for a war to gain living space, through, “Wars of plunder”, But not ready for an international war.

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The counter argument to this though is that by 1939 rearmament had gone so well that Germany was ready for war. Between 1936-37 there had been an 80% increase in the rearmament budget and this resulted in two thirds of government spending by 1939 was being spent on military causes. It is evidence that leads to the idea that Germany was ready for a full international war. Indeed, by 1939 it has been suggested, there was a blueprint for ‘World Domination’ being put into action. A firm subscriber to this opinion is Richard Overy. He counter-acts Mason’s argument as ...

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