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Economic changes in Nazi Germany. Lesson aim: To know what the economic changes were and the impact they had. Learning objectives :. I will be able to describe Nazi attempts to reduce unemployment. (C/D) I should be able to explain Nazi economic policies. (B/C)

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Economic changes in Nazi Germany

Lesson aim:

To know what the economic changes were and the impact they had.

learning objectives
Learning objectives:
  • I will be able to describe Nazi attempts to reduce unemployment. (C/D)
  • I should be able to explain Nazi economic policies. (B/C)
  • I could also be able to evaluate if Germans were better or worse off in the Nazi state.(A/B)
key words
Key words

Autarky: self sufficiency

Autobahns: German motorways

Invisible unemployed: the unemployed not counted in official figures

Real wages: wages adjusted to allow for inflation

Rearmament: Building up armed forces and weapons

key words1
Key words

‘New Plan’: introduced by Dr Schacht, President of the Reichsbank

Four Year Plan: Goring, a leading Nazi, his plan was intended to prepare Germany for war in 4 years and was linked to autarky.

National Labour Service (RAD): compulsory for men aged between 18 and 25 – built autobahns etc.

The Labour Front (DAF) replaced trade unions – ran the Beauty of Labour and Strength through joy schemes for workers.

Strength through joy: provided workers with activities in their leisure time

Beauty of Labour: main task to improve working conditions.

Volkswagen: the people’s car - a savings scheme was introduced to enable people to buy the car.

getting an overview
Getting an overview

The Nazis were determined to reduce unemployment and build up the German armaments industry in readiness for a future war.

getting an overview1
Getting an overview

1933: job creation schemes - autobahns

1934: many women forced to give up jobs

1935: National Labour Service - compulsory

1936: Many Jews forced from jobs

1937: Rearmament programme begins

1938: More than a third of spending on rearmament

1939: German army increased to 1.4 million





nazi economic policies
Nazi economic policies

Schacht and the New Plan

Dr Schacht was made Minister of the Economy in 1934. His aims were to:

  • Reduce unemployment
  • Make Germany self sufficient (autarky)

He was removed from his job in 1937.

nazi economic policies1
Nazi economic policies

Goring and the

Four Year Plan

Goring was a leading Nazi who took over economic policy from 1936.

His four plan dealt with preparing Germany for war.

The whole economy was geared towards rearmament and autarky.

the four year plan
The Four YearPlan

Propaganda poster encouraging workers to help in the struggle for autarky.

It says:

‘Help Hitler build. Buy German goods’.


How did the Nazis reduce unemployment?

Remember Hitler had

promised to sort out unemployment


How did the Nazis reduce


Job creation schemes

German autobahn built by the Nazis

how did the nazis reduce unemployment
How did the Nazis reduce unemployment?

National Labour Service (RAD)

From July 1935 it was compulsory for all men 18-25 to serve six months in the RAD.

The men built autobahns and other large scale building projects.

This removed millions from the unemployment figures.

The RAD was not popular.

how did the nazis reduce unemployment1
How did the Nazis reduce unemployment?

Invisible unemployment:

Women and Jews were forced out of jobs

Men aged 18-25 had to join the RAD

Opponents of the Nazis were sent to concentration camps.


how did the nazis reduce unemployment2
How did the Nazis reduce unemployment?


The four plan meant the economy was geared to preparing for war.

Rearmament created many new jobs as billions were spent on making weapons.

In addition the army forces were built up, this took more the a million off the official unemployment figures.

how did the nazis reduce unemployment3
How did the Nazis reduce unemployment?

The DAF (German Labour Front) was a massive organization formed to control the workers. Everyone had to join.

It put people to work on building the autobahns, hospitals, schools and other public buildings

This poster links the German Labour Front (the DAF) to World War I. The point is that just as soldiers were comrades regardless of their standing in civil life, so too all German workers were comrades in the DAF, regardless of whether they were white or blue collar. This appeared in 1933..

3740 hours
Dr Robert Ley was given the task of filling German people’s spare time.

He was in charge of the German Labour Front (DAF)

Why do you think this was so important?

Dr Robert Ley

3740 hours
the standard of living of german workers
The standard of living of German workers

Between 1936 and 1939 wages increased because of longer working hours. So people worked longer for the same money before the Wall St Crash.

Also the cost of living went up in the 1930’s. This meant real wages actually fell.

There were also food shortages.

the standard of living of german workers1
The standard of living of German workers

Trade unions had been banned by the Nazis.

They were replaced by the German Labour Front (DAF) led by Dr Ley.

It was compulsory for workers to join.

The DAF ran two schemes:

  • Beauty of Labour
  • Strength through Joy

Both were designed to keep the workers motivated and happy.


The standard of living of German workersThe KDF – ‘Strength through joy’ keptworkers happy by providing them with leisure activities.Strength through Joy

Programmes included:

  • Cheap walking and skiing holidays
  • Outings to the opera and theatre
  • Adult evening classes
  • Savings schemes to help people buy a car-VW –People’s car.
the standard of living of german workers2
The standard of living of German workers

The Beauty of Labour was another branch of the German Labour Front.

It was designed to improve working conditions and provide better facilities for workers such as canteens and swimming pools.

However, as workers were expected to make these improvements in their spare time the scheme became unpopular with many workers.

the standard of living of german workers3
The standard of living of German workers

The Volkswagen

This poster from around 1939 advertises the Volkswagen. The text: ‘Save 5 marks a week and you will drive your own car.’

By the start of the war not one car had been bought and no money was refunded.

how well off were other groups
How well off were other groups?

Farming communities:

Farmers benefitted from a rise in food prices but suffered a shortage of labour and workers left for better jobs in the city.

Small businesses:

Received support from the Nazis. Curbed influence of large department stores.

Big business:

Really benefitted. No threat from trade unions and strikes. Rearmament meant growth and larger profits. Huge government contracts were given.

how successful were nazi economic policies
How successful were Nazi economic policies?
  • Debt – had risen under the Nazis
  • Investment rose to pre depression rates by 1936
  • Autarky – Germany still imported more than they exported.
  • German production did increase especially heavy industries like iron and steel
  • Jobs created by rearmament programme
  • Unemployment dropped
  • In 1938 wages in real terms were not much higher than in 1928
  • Working conditions may have improved with schemes like the Beauty of Labour and Strength Through Joy.
  • Working hours increased from average of 40 to 60 a week between 1933 and 1944
  • Industrial accidents rose by 150% between 1933 and 1939
  • Big business no longer had to worry trade unions and strikes.
  • The Nazis were determined to make Germany self-sufficient. Schacht began a policy of autarky. This was continued with Goring’s Four Year Plan.
  • Unemployment was removed in the years 1933-1939 through rearmament, the Labour Service and ‘invisible unemployment’.
  • In some respects workers were better off under the Nazis because of Beauty of Labour and Strength through Joy.
  • In some respects they were worse off because of the banning of Trades Unions and the Volkswagen swindle.
your task
 Your task
  • Identify the key aims of Nazi economic policy.
  • What evidence indicates that Nazi economic policy to reduce unemployment was successful? What evidence indicates the opposite?
  • What did Economics Minister Schacht ‘New Plan’ involve?
  • What were the key features of the Goering’s Four-Year Plan?
useful links
Useful links
  • interactive diagram