German World War II Economy 1940

German school cones
Figure 1.--Germany staggered the world with major victories in 1940, especially defeating France. Losses were light and the German victory enabled them to exploit the French economy as well as the other occupied countries. Thus despite the War production, food and consumer goods were still widely available in Germany during 1940. Civilians were not yet significntly impacted by the War. This little boy began school as if the War did not exist. Notice the small cone his little brother got as well. The older boy has a typical haircut of the time.

The victories of 1939 significantly boosted the German war economy, but both Czechoslovakia and Poland were relatively small countries. Germany victories in the West, however, were starteling and signoficantly changed the world ballance of power. First came the conquest of Denmark and Norway provided two more small countries to exploit (April 1940). Then came the shattering victories in Western Western Europe (May-June 1940). France had the largest economy in continental Europe outside Germany, offering the Germans both massively increased industrial power and very important agricultural harvests to exploit. The the low countries taken as a whole also offered important indusyrial and economic potential to exploit. The Germans began to exploit these countries, but did notnove to massively convert the economies to war production. They were happy to ship French consumer goods to the Reich to supply the civilian population. As a result, rationing in the Reich was still very limited and consumer goods still eidely available. We are not entirely sure why the Germans did not move more aggressively to convert the French as well as the Belgian and Dutch economies to war production. One reason was that Hitler wanted to militarize France and eventually partition it so that it woukd never again be a threat to Germany. Also there were vast profits to be made from obtaining French consumer good cheaply and selling them in the Reich. Less apparent were German diplomatic steps. Hitler met with Franco at Hendaye on the French-Spanish border (October 1940). Hitler expected Franco to join the Axis and enter the War. Franco refused which meant that Germany would be unable to exploit the Spanush economy. Minerals and other resources Germany wanted would have to be paid for. Hitler did force Romania in to the Axis and German troops moved into Romania, seizing comtrol of the rail lines (October 1940). This was a key step because Germany had no important oil resources. The Ploesti oil fields would be Germany's major source of petroleum duruing the War. And the Germans did not have to pay the Romanians for it. Hitler believing the War had been won, actually scaled back war production in 1940-41. This was done even while planning for the invasion of the Sioviet Union had begun. He was concerned about stressing the home front. This decession delayed critical work on weapons development (such at jet aircraft). Hitler was very concerned with maintaining German civilian consumption levels. Hitler even before the War began was concerned about the home front. He was aware that food shortages had destroyed civilian morale and that the collapse of the homec front. Disorders at home were the principal factor in the Kaiser's abdication. The cut backs proved to be a terrible miscalculation. The NAZIs neither used Germany''s potential or effeciently used the potential of the occupied countries. The Germans also received larege deliveries of raw matwerials, including oil, from the Soviet Union as provided for under the terms od NAZI-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. These rail deliversies unlike maritime trade could not be interdicted by the Royal Navy,


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Created: 6:09 AM 1/29/2011
Last updated: 6:09 AM 1/29/2011