World War II: Germany--NAZI War Economy--Labor

German women workers
Figure 1.--A problem for any country going to war is labor. Men are needed for the military which means that agriculture and industry will be adversely affected, impairing the war evomnomy. America and Britain solved this problem by bringing women into the work force. The German propaganda photograph shows Germany foing the same. The press caption read, "German Women Report for Factory Work: German women arriving with their children to start their day's work at a factory. They are filling the places in industry of the thousands of men who are now engaged in military service. As in Soviet Russia the women can leave their children in kindergartens during working hours." The photograph was dated February 10, 1940. The caption is curious because unlike NAZI Germany, the Soviet Union avoided war with Britain and France, although it was a NAZI ally. Employing women was not a sollution for the German labor shortage. Women were already employed employed in the labor force to a much greater rxtent than America and Britain. The NAZI military victories would be the sollution, the use of POWs and various forms of slaved and forced lbor from the ovvupied countries.

Labor was a major concern for Hitler and the NAZIs. The massive unemployment as a result of the Great Depression was a primary reason that the NAZIs were able to win over voters and ultimately seize power. German industrial labor at the time did not have a right-wing orientation, but rather a left-wing orientation, voting for Socialists and Communists. Some desperate unemployed workers voted for the NAZIs and Communist votes increased as well. Most of this came from the Soicialist Party (SPD) which had been the dominant German political party. Workers retained their socialist outlook which was a problem for Hitler and the NAZIs. Their answer was to take ove the free labor movement and controling labor through the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (DAF). The NAZIs did succeed in reducing unemployment anf this was a focal point of Goebbels propganda machine which hid certain sttoicical slight oif hand by no longer including female unemployment. This was accomplished through a massive combintion of defecit spending to finance rearmment, the Reich Labor Service (RAD) to take youth out of the job market, military conscription, amd other prigrams, ultimately the War. While the NAZIs reduced unemployment what they did not do was to increase worker wages in real terms such as clothing, housing, and diet. This of course because Germny's production was being directed at military spending not at workers' well being. With the advent of World War II, labor became a problem as so many workers were conscripted. America and Britain solved the problemn by bringing women into the workforce, but this sollution was less availble to the NAZIs. Despite NAZI propahanda about Kinder, Küche, Kirche (Children, Kitchen, Church), women already were a very substantial part of the German workforce. Thus women could not have the massive impact it did in the Allied countries and NAZI ideology did not favor this sollution. Even before launching World War II with his ally Stalin, Hitler had the sollution. The concentration camps opened by the SS in Germany provided slave labor. Hitler had occupied Czechoslovakia (March 1939), meaning that captive people could be use to replace German workers conscripted into the military. Czechoslovakia of course was only the beginning. Beginning with Poland a huge swath of Europe fell to NAZI control. When his advisers complain of a labor shhortage, Hitler would fly into a tirade, demanding that since they controlled most of Europe, there could be no labor shortage. The NAZIs would slove the labor shortage by various forms of slave and forced labor. The SS concentration camp system in the Reich was massively expanded in the occupied countries. POWs also added to the labor pool, although more thsn a nillion Soviet POWs were allowed to di from starvtion and exposure before the realities of war change NAZI policy. The Jews were a potential sourcde of slave labor, but here the orders were to kill rather than use them. Hitler appointed Ernst 'Fritz', Gauleiter of Thuringia, to be the General Plenipotentiary for Labour Deployment (March 1942). He would commit terrible atrocities in obtaining workers and transporting them to the Reich. Speer cooperated closely with him, but managed to cover up his involvement at the rime of the Nuremburg trials.

The Depression (1929-33)

Labor was a major concern for Hitler and the NAZIs. In the prosperous economic climate of the late-1920s,even the monarchist People's Party joined in a coalition with the three main republican parties. The NAZIs were still unable to muster much political success in 1928. They won only 12 Reichstag seats. The Party was, however, growing and were very well organized. The massive unemployment as a result of the Great Depression was a primary reason that the NAZIs were able to win over voters and ultimately seize power. NAZI membership stood at only 108,000 in 1928. German unemployment had reached 6 million people at the time that Hitler was appointd chancellor.

Political Orientation

German industrial labor at the time did not have a right-wing orientation, but rather a left-wing orientation, voting for Socialists and Communists. Some desperate unemployed workers voted for the NAZIs and Communist votes increased as well. Most of this came from the Soicialist Party (SPD) which had been the dominant German political party.

Deutsche Arbeitsfront (DAF)

German workers retained their socialist outlook which was a problem for Hitler and the NAZIs. Their answer was to take ove the free labor movement and controling labor through the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (DAF). The NAZIs did succeed in reducing unemployment anf this was a focal point of Goebbels propganda machine which hid certain statistical slight of hand by no longer including female unemployment in the data. The reduction in unemployment was accomplished through a massive combination of defecit spending to finance rearmment, the Reich Labor Service (RAD) to take youth out of the job market, military conscription, other programs, and of coirse ultimately the War. While the NAZIs reduced unemployment what they did not do was to increase worker wages in real terms such as material advances in clothing, housing, and diet. This of course was because Germany's production was being directed at military spending not at workers' well being.

War Labor Shortage

With the advent of World War II, labor became a problem as so many workers were conscripted. America and Britain solved the problemn by bringing women into the workforce, but this sollution was less availble to the NAZIs. Despite NAZI propaganda about Kinder, Küche, Kirche (Children, Kitchen, Church), women already were a very substantial part of the German workforce. Thus women could not have the massive impact it did in the Allied countries and NAZI ideology did not favor this sollution. Much larger numbers of German women were active in the economy thn either America or Britain. They were not working in factories but un Germany's highly inefficent peasant agiculture, small unmechanized family farms. In fact more than a third of the German work force was female in 1939 and about half of Germn women (age 16-60 years) were economically active. [Tooze, p. 238.] Peasant agriculture was not all of the female labor picture. Large numbers of of German women worked in major cities like Berlin. [Tooze, p. 359.]

NAZI Labor Sollution: Slave and Forced Labor

Even before launching World War II with his ally Stalin, Hitler had the sollution. The concentration czmps opened by the SS in Germny provided slave labor. Hitler than occupied Czechoslovakia (March 1939), meaning that occupied people coiuld be use to replace German workers conscripted into the military. Czechoslovakia of course was only the beginning. Beginning with Poland a huge swath of Europe fell to NAZI control. When his advisers complain of a labor shhortage, Hitler would fly into a tirade, demanding that since they controlled most of Europe, there could be no labor shortage. The NAZIs would slove the labor shortage by various forms of slave and forced labor. The SS concentration camp system in the Reich was massively expanded in the occupied countries. POWs also added to the labor pool, although more thsn a nillion Soviet POWs were allowed to di from starvtion and exposure before the realities of war change NAZI policy. The Jews were a potential sourcde of slave labor, but here the orders were to kill rather than use them. Hitler appointed Ernst 'Fritz', Gauleiter of Thuringia, to be the General Plenipotentiary for Labour Deployment (March 1942). He would commit terrible atrocities in obtaining workers and transporting them to the Reich. Speer cooperated closely with him, but managed to cover up his involvement at the rime of the Nurmburg trials.

Sources

Speer, Albert. Inside the Third Reich (Avon, New York, 1970), 734p.

Tooze, Adam. The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of th Nazi Economy (Penguin Group: New York, 2007), 800p.






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Created: 3:37 PM 9/20/2017
Last updated: 3:37 PM 9/20/2017