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(HITLER and GERMANY: 1927-35 – continued)

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Germany Recovers from the Depression

Like other economies, Germany's economy had hit bottom in 1932. Under Hitler, the strategy for recovery was largely the work of his economics minister, Hjalmar Schacht, a conservative willing to ignore free market liberalism. Schacht told a US journalist he was going to correct the excesses of capitalism and create a more stable economic system. He forbade the sending of money out of Germany. He reduced foreign trade largely to barter agreements and put strict limits on imports – all to keep wealth within the country. Under Schacht, private industry was compelled to reinvest its profits in manufacturing approved by the state. And crucial to Germany's recovery was government spending, much of it on public works, the most visible of which was a new highway system – the autobahn – which the army wanted for more efficient movements within Germany. There was also an electrification program, and government investment in industry. One third of Germany's income had as its source government payments and investments – almost three times the percentage being spent by the US government. And, as in Sweden, the government debt that Schacht was creating was quickly offset by the recovery in revenues that came with the rise in the economy.

Wages and the standard of living remained relatively low for Germans, but unemployment was falling, and business optimism returned. In 1935 compulsory labor service was introduced, and unemployment was reduced further. Tax incentives were introduced to persuade women to leave the labor force and leave more jobs for the men, to return to what was considered traditional for German women: cooking, children and attending church (küche, kinder und kirche).

Re-armament (in defiance of the Paris Peace Conference) helped boost Germany's economy, and without independent trade unions Germany could keep its wages low and its prices stable. Hitler's economy remained low in productivity, as there was little incentive, and some disincentives, to innovate – the usual incentive for innovation being high profits, which in Germany were heavily taxed. But by 1935, Germany's farmers were prospering, and industrial production was above its 1929 level and rising rapidly. note38

German workers had the right to try their employers in special courts in order to protect themselves from abuse. German workers felt more secure, and some were saying that Hitler had saved them from starvation. The German people were grateful to Hitler for what they saw as his economic recovery.

Sources

Hitlerland, by Andrew Nagorski, 2012

Nazi Impact on a German Village, by Walter Rinderle and Bernard Norling, 1992

Hitler, by Joachim C. Fest, 1992

The Hidden Hitler, by Lothar Machtan, 2001

Frauen: German Women by Alison Owings, 1993

Goebbels, by Ralf Georg Reuth, translated by Krishna Winston, 1990

Goebbels, by Helmut Heiber, translated by John K. Dickinson, 1972

Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William L Shirer, 1959

Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization, by Nicholson Baker, 2008

Copyright © 1998-2014 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.