chapter  5
15 Pages

The Nazi economy

The period 1933-6 was dominated by the Economics Minister, Hjalmar Schacht, whose New Plan of 1934 was intended to promote Germany’s exports, reduce imports, strengthen the currency and establish a series of bilateral trade agreements with those less developed countries which were rich in raw materials. For a while therefore there was economic equilibrium. Between 1935 and 1936, however, an economic crisis forced Hitler to make a decision about future priorities. He therefore introduced in 1936 the Four Year Plan, the intention of which was to develop substitutes for essential raw materials which Germany lacked and to move to a war footing. The result was a rapid increase in the rate of rearmament. Military expenditure increased from 1.9 billion marks in 1933 to 5.8 billion at the start of the Four Year Plan, rising to 18.4 billion in 1938 and 32.3 billion in 1939. Accompanying rearmament was a series of measures to create a more disciplined workforce. In place of the trade unions, the workforce had to accept membership of organisations such as Strength through Joy (KdF) and Beauty of Labour (SDA) while, at the same time, coming to terms with falling living standards.