Tackling economic problems
Measures to reduce unemployment
Unemployment was a major problem in Germany, with at least 6 million Germans unemployed. During the 1932-33 election campaigns Hitler had promised the people Work and Bread. Hitler’s intentions:
1. Reduce unemployment
2. Create jobs through rearmament (avenge the Treaty of Versailles and prepare to expand Germany)
3. Create an economically self-sufficient Germany (Autarky).
The person responsible for implementing these ideas was financial expert and President of the Reichsbank, Hjalmar Schacht.
He was sacked in 1936, and Herman Goering replaced him, with the Four Year Plan (1936-40).
The National Labour Service
The previous government had started many work schemes to reduce unemployment. One of these schemes was the Reichsarbeitsdienst (or the RAD, Reich Labour Service). In July 1935 the Reich Labour Service Act was passed, which forced every man aged between 18 and 25 to: complete 6 months training at the RAD wear military uniform live in camps receive pocket money only (no wages) do military/physical exercise every day.
The RAD's work included: planting forests digging ditches on farms.
June 1933 - The Unemployment Relief Act
Build a network of motorways (Autobahn)
All this work was done manually, so more workers were needed. This meant it would take more time to do the work and created work for 80,000 over the following five years.
Rearmament created new jobs - manufacturing arms, supplying raw material and manufacturing military equipment, eg tanks and submarines.
The intention was: to increase the army from 100,000 to 300,000 to increase the navy and the number of submarines to construct two battleships to increase the air force.
Remember that the Treaty of Versailles had prohibited all this, but from 1935 onwards Germany was openly rearming – every man aged between 18 and 25 had to spend two years in the armed forces.
The effect of this was:
1933 – 100,000 members in the armed forces
1939 – 1,400,000 members
The majority of Germans were glad to get secure and fairly safe jobs. Industrial workers had regular work, although they had lost their rights.
Whilst large businesses were prospering, small businesses and the middle classes were squeezed out of the market. The government provided aid to farmers, told them what they should grow and how much to grow, and dictated their prices.
The economy grew as the country prepared for war and rearmament.
Result: A reduction in unemployment
By 1939 there were fewer than 350,000 people unemployed. The SS would persecute the unemployed, calling them ‘lazy’. But, who weren’t included in these statistics?
Men aged 18-25 (conscription/military service for two years)
In order to be economically self-sufficient, Germany searched for artificial ingredients to replace things like oil, rubber, textiles and coffee. This was not a success. Agriculture suffered due to a shortage of workers and machinery. Germany continued to import a lot of goods such as butter, oil and vegetables. In 1939, it was importing 33 per cent of its raw materials. There was a shortage of food in Germany.
Working hours were increased.
Wages were frozen.
It was impossible to show disapproval about this.
Strength through Joy Movement (KdF)
The workers had to be kept happy, and the Strength through Joy Movement, or theKdF, was established to provide workers with leisure opportunities. It was a popular movement which developed into a business company.
Through the KdF the state was able to control the individual, got everyone to conform and managed their leisure time. It was a way of removing social barriers. In the past, only the rich could afford a holiday.
The purpose of the KdF
To support the Führer and thank him
To keep everyone happy after abolishing the trade unions
The KdF's activities
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