Did the Nazis solve Germany’s economic problems from 1933 to 1939?
Between 1933 and 1939 Germany suffered economic problems. The main economic problems were Germany was dependent on the foreign market and the imports, the industrial production, unemployment, the cost of living and wages. Hitler and the Nazis tried to solve the problems, they were successful but there were hidden factors to each solution. Firstly unemployment was a problem because it had risen to over six million by 1933 and that was 25. 9% of the country. With people out of work the standards of living dropped.
By 1939 Hitler had reduced the number of unemployed, it was now just above three hundred thousand, which was 0. 5% of the country and thanks to one of Hitler’s schemes to reduce unemployment, new roads had been built. Hitler reduced unemployment by introducing the autobahn scheme, which created many jobs for men as the Nazis were aiming to build over 7000 km of road. Hitler also continued with the national labour service, which became compulsory for German men between 18-25 years old. The men had to work on public works schemes such as land reclamation, tree planting, construction and road building.
The schemes seemed to work, removing thousands of young men from the unemployment figures. The schemes appeared to be working but the results were that the unemployment figures hid a lot, such as the impact on women and Jews. The loss of rights for workers because trade unions were banned. There was no negotiation of wages and there was no right to strike. The national labour service was temporary and there was low wages for those who joined. The autobahn was actually part of war plans. The next problem was that Germany was too dependent on the foreign market and its imports.
Hitler felt that Germany was too reliant on the foreign imports, which he felt made Germany to venerable and Hitler wanted to stop the need for the foreign market. Hitler’s solution to this problem was “Autarky”. Autarky was the creation of artificial substitutes (using ersatz) for products such as oil, textiles, food and rubber. The effect of Autarky was ersatz materials. These were developed, produced and ordered. The increase of ersatz made Germany more self reliant but it was still not totally reliant, as Germany continued to import 33% of its raw materials and 17% of its food.
The result of Autarky was ersatz was a complete failure because they were inferior products. Ersatz contributed to the decrease in living standards for German people. The third problem was the industrial production of Germany. Due to high unemployment, many factories were closed down. This meant that production was at a low level and by 1933 the production of goods ad fallen by a third since 1929. Between 1933 and 1939 the production in heavy industry increased largely. Coal and chemical production doubled, oil, iron and steel production trebled and iron ore extract production increased by five fold.
Consumer goods were not as important so they were produced at a slower rate. Hitler managed to increase production by firstly introducing autarky. By doing this it enabled the country to become more self sufficient for wartime production. Hitler began rearmament, which opened up job opportunities both in the factories and the army. Rearmament helped to reduce unemployment levels. Hitler’s other solution was to increase working hours. In 1933 on average, per week, working hours were 42. 9 but had increased to 47. 0 in 1939. This meant that production increased.
The result of Hitler’s solutions was Germany became more likely to start war. The next problem was the issue with wages. The problem was that because of the high unemployment, employers had lots of people wanting jobs, so they could offer low wages and people would have to accept them. This lead to the working class not having a very high standard of life. Hitler’s solution was to get rid of local and national wage rates and introduce performance principle. This scheme meant that the more work a person did the more money they earned.
The effect was that the real value of take home pay increased and longer working days let people gain more money. The positive result of Hitler’s solutions was that the quality of life got a little bit better for a majority of the working class. The negative results of Hitler’s solution were it didn’t suit older people and less fit people, as they could not work as long as others. Sickness and absenteeism increased meaning people didn’t earn money. Longer working days and hours meant people do not have much energy to work and trade unions were taken away, which gave the people little rights.
The last problem was the cost of living. The problem was that everyday items were too expensive because of the average pay; there was not enough money. Hitler did nothing about this problem because he wanted to keep the support from the farmers. The effect from this problem was the cost of living in 1939 had increased since 1933. All basic groceries, except fish had risen in price. This was because food items were in short supply and it was the Nazis policy to discourage agricultural production because it had to keep up prices for the benefit of farmers.
The result was the standard of living was very low for most Germans, mainly the working class. Hitler did manage to solve most of Germanys economical problems but it was not entirely down to Hitler and the Nazis. Before Hitler can chancellor in the early 30’s, the Weimar government was in power and this was during the 1920’s depression. After the 1920’s depression, the German economy was starting to recover, the worst of the depression was over, unemployment was decreasing and inflation was going back to a suitable amount.
With the economy going back to normal the Weimar government started to set up new schemes to help solve all the problems. The Weimar government set up the national labour service, but Hitler improved it by making it compulsory to join in 1935 and the Weimar government also came up with the autobahn idea but lack of money in the 20’s meant it could not go ahead but in 1934 Hitler had enough money to start the construction of the autobahn. So although it may have seemed that Hitler came up with these ideas and solved the economical problems he didn’t, he made the Weimar governments ideas better because he had the money to do so.
When Hitler was came into power there was a worldwide recovery happening after the depression and in Germany. This factor led to an increase in production, which helped solve one of the economical problems in the early 30’s in Germany. Hitler’s solution did bring about some improvements such as the fall in unemployment, new roads and German citizens having a slightly better quality of life, but there were a lot of hidden and negative factors to these improvements.
Women could not work nor the Jewish, so there standard of living dropped, a lot of the improvements were for the war effort, not the country, the autobahn, rearming and conscription were part of the war effort and trade unions were abolished meaning workers had no or very little rights. This was all part of Hitler’s plan for dictatorship. Another factor was most of these solutions were not long term and Hitler hadn’t really thought about the consequences because the standard of living was still going down, there was still food being imported and the working hours were getting longer.