Nazi Economic and Social Policies

Nazi Economic and Social Policies

Economic Policies and their Effects

Nazi Economic and Social PoliciesAlthough it’s unquestionable that the Nazis held power through using terror, propaganda and by wiping out their enemies, it must also be recognized that they did manage to have a genuine level of popularity. A big part of this was the fact that they got Germany out of its economic hole. Under the Nazis, unemployment fell rapidly, and the economy started to expand.

The Nazis invested in industries and public works schemes, creating jobs:

Mercedes-Benz - History GCSE RevisionHitler’s economic aims were to create a Germany that was self-sufficient (this type of economic model is called an autarky), economically strong and able to produce the weapons he needed to re-arm Germany. Instead of worrying about balancing the budget like the Weimar chancellors had, he invested heavily in schemes such as building motorways and hospitals, and opening factories that produced consumer goods like cars, and also armaments. All these things created jobs, a key part of the Nazis’ political programme since the 1920s. By 1935 unemployment was down to 3 million; by 1938 it was just 1 million. The motorway creation scheme alone created nearly 100,000 jobs.

How did he get the money to do this? Simple: he stopped paying the Treaty of Versailles reparations.

The Nazis also provided incentives to people:

Nazi Economic and Social PoliciesOwning a car became a possibility for many people for the first time, as Germany was now producing a car – the Volkswagen Beetle – that was affordable, and offered to them on credit. The Nazi regime also provided superior medical care, education and other social benefits such as the Strength through Joy scheme, which gave people access to things like holidays, trips to the cinema and fun days out (all containing a strong Nazi message, of course).

However, we shouldn’t think that everyone started to live a life of luxury.

* Many workers found that they had to work longer for less – business owners were able to bring in worse pay and working conditions (and therefore increase their profits) because there were no trade unions any more to fight against such moves.

* Unemployed people had a rough ride – The Nazis believed that everyone had a responsibility to work. Unemployed people were often forced to work in labour camps, where they were worked extremely hard for peanuts.

And it’s not like all of the Nazi’s economic policies worked:

* The goal of autarky failedlevels of imports for many raw materials, food and goods actually increased as the German economy expanded.

* Women were needed to fill jobs in the expanding economy ordinarily this wouldn’t be a bad thing, but the Nazis believed the woman’s place was at home, giving birth to lots of Aryan children (something that they actually gave people medals for). But, as the economy grew strong, and especially as rearmament began in 1935, women were needed to work in factories. The Nazis’ own economic policy sabotaged their social policy for women!