How successful was Hitler’s economic policy in the period from 1933 to 1945?
Student Answer (A Grade)
In order to judge the success of Nazi economic policy it is essential to establish their aims so that economic developments can be judged against them. Hitler had come to power largely as a result of the consequences of the Depression and therefore his initial aim was to restore Germany to full employment. This would win Hitler much support and help consolidate the Nazi regime. At the same time economic recovery would mean more resources would be available and this would allow Hitler to rebuild German military power, allowing him to pursue his other priority of territorial expansion. In order to achieve this, Hitler believed that it was important for Germany to be self sufficient and geared for war; this was seen as essential following the disasters of the blockade during World War One.
Hitler was very successful in achieving his aim of reducing unemployment. When the Nazis came to power there were close to six million unemployed, yet by 1934 this had dropped to 2.3 million and was down to 0.2 million by 1938. Through public works schemes such as housing, land improvement schemes, the building of canals, rail and motorways, large numbers of jobs were created and the number of people in employment also rose. For many Germans this was Hitler’s greatest achievement and won him widespread support, one German commented: ‘I would have made a pact with the devil if it meant work’, so desperate was the situation when Hitler came to power. At the same time as this reduction in unemployment, industrial production rose by a staggering 60% and GNP rose by 40%. However, although jobs were created, some of them paid very little and were very mundane in nature and the introduction of compulsory labour service in 1935 introduced further control over the workers. At the same time, although the recovery cannot be denied there are certainly question marks...
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