Nazi Economic Practice

Nazi economic practice was dual-focused, addressing immediate domestic issues and ideological conceptions of international economics separately.

Domestic Economic Policy

The regime’s domestic economic policy was driven by three primary objectives:

  1. Elimination of Unemployment: The Nazi government sought to eliminate unemployment, which had been a significant issue during the Weimar Republic. Through large-scale infrastructure projects, such as the autobahn, and rearmament programs, they aimed to provide jobs to the unemployed masses.

  2. Elimination of Hyperinflation: Addressing the hyperinflation that plagued the Weimar Republic was crucial for economic stabilization. Though the end of hyperinflation predated the Nazis, they are often credited with this achievement. The Nazi regime maintained strict control over the economy to prevent such occurrences.

  3. Expansion of Production of Consumer Goods: Improving the living standards of the middle and lower classes by expanding the production of consumer goods was a strategy to garner domestic support. This approach contrasted sharply with the emphasis on military spending, as it sought to ensure the populace saw tangible improvements in their daily lives.

The Nazi party’s implementation of these policies led to a remarkable turnaround in the German economy. Between 1933 and 1936, the German GNP and the industrial sector saw substantial growth rates. However, some economists argue this recovery was already underway due to the Weimar Republic’s late policies rather than the Nazi regime’s efforts.

Despite the debate over the origins of economic recovery, the Nazi policies undeniably brought Germany from a deep depression to full employment in less than four years. This period saw significant increases in public and private consumption. However, the focus on consumptive rather than productive investments—such as make-work projects and military expansion—eventually led to inflationary pressures and contributed to the conditions making a European war seemingly inevitable.

International Economic Ideology

Internationally, the Nazi party harbored a conspiratorial view blaming a supposed international banking cabal, associated with Jews, for the global depression of the 1930s. This anti-Semitic ideology linked economic policies with broader genocidal intentions.

The Nazi’s understanding of international economics was rudimentary, focusing on the forceful incorporation of resources into the Reich rather than engaging in international trade. This approach differed fundamentally from the trade-oriented international socialism practiced by the Soviet Union, underscoring the Nazis’ prioritization of political and ideological goals over economic pragmatism.

Economic Relation to Fascism

Economically, Nazism is akin to a specific form of Fascism, sharing many policies and ideologies but also featuring distinct characteristics. Both Nazism and Fascism advocated for government control over key economic sectors, yet they allowed for corporate power and market mechanisms to exist within a tightly controlled framework.

The state’s role in these economies was to fund goods and services rather than directly manage production, allowing prices to signal scarcity and inform production decisions. This approach differed from socialist and communist economies by maintaining a semblance of market dynamics.

Labor relations under Nazi Germany also mirrored Fascist Italy, emphasizing a syndicalist approach to managing labor disputes and integrating labor movements into the totalitarian state apparatus. This strategy aimed to eliminate class conflict by subsuming labor under state control, further consolidating the regime’s power.