German World War II Economy: 1939

Der deutsche Wirtschaftsraum World War II
Figure 1.-- Thanks to the pacifism prevalent in Brtain and France as well as America, Hitler was able to turn a disarmed Germny into a military powerhouse in only a few years. He also constructed a deutsche Wirtschaftsraum (economic area) that could rival Britain and France. The illustration here addresses population. A GNP depiction would have been different, but more complicated to access. The poster read, "Der deutsche Wirtschaftsraum hat 2 1/2 mal so viel Konsumenten wie Frankreich oder England. (In Millionen Einwohnern) Die Wirtschaftsraum kann ohne den deutschen Markt nicht bestehen!" That translates as something like, "The German economic area has 2 1/2 times as many consumers as France or England (in millions of inhabitants). Their economy can not exist without the German market!" That of course was optimistic and the propagandist who made the illustration did not add the Soviet Union or the United States.

The Germany that Hitler seized control of was not in a position to launch another War. He launched an emense rearmament program--Aufrüstung. Nut arms wre only part of the preparations needed for war. Another was the popultion needed to conscript to the military. And thus another effort was launched to increase the German birthrate. And here they made some progress, limited but still progress. Another needed effort was y\the expand the German economomic area--der deutsche Wirtschaftsraum. And here Hitler made much more progress than in increasing the birthrate. After seizing power, he added important areas to German control bringing them within the deutsche Wirtschaftsraum. This included the Saarland (March 1935), Austria (April 1938), Czech Sudetenland (October 1938), the rest of Czechoslovakia (March 1939), Lithuania-Memel (March 1939). The first actions brought mostly Germans into the Reich. And Hitler assured Chamberlain at Munich that he wanted no Czechs. This changed when Hitler seized the rest of Czechoslovakia (1939). Not only did they gain control of millions of non-Germans, but they gained control of the important Czech arms industry, especially the Skoda Arms Complex. It would play an important role in building tanks for the Whermacht. Now Germany did have the capability of waging another war. It would play an important role in building tanks and artillery for the Whermacht. It would play an important role in building tanks for the Whermacht. Hitler launched the War by invading Poland (September 1939). The German economoc plan was put in full force with the invasion of Poland. And from the onset, the German approach to a war economy was to covert the economies of occupied countries to the production of arms and war production. And to virtually pillage occupied countries to ship food and consumer goods back to the Reich so German civilian consumption levels could be maintained. And German planners began preparations to reduce consumption in the occupied area to free up resources--one of the great crimes of history, the Hunger Plan which was part of Generalplan Ost which began to be implemented in Poland. Preparation for the Gettoization of Jews began, a program with economic consequences. Germany defeated Poland in a few weeks, but an extended war would require resources and here Germany was in a weak position in 1939. The two most serious problems were oil and iron ore. And Hitlerv focused on obtainng both in 1940.


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Created: 9:27 PM 5/3/2013
Last updated: 9:27 PM 5/3/2013