The Nazi Economy (1933 – 1939): Unemployment, Autarky and the Working-Class

Rijk Eric Mollema

Abstract


My paper contextualizes and evaluates the interwar economic policies of the National Socialist Workers’ Party (NSDAP). I consider economic policies relating to unemployment, autarky, the working-class, as well their standard of living. I argue against the idea perpetuated by Nazi propaganda that the Party was able to achieve an ‘economic miracle,’ by 1939. Instead, I posit that the economic agenda of the NSDAP was not sustainable in the long-term and could only produce short-term measures to serious structural economic issues. Specifically, I posit that the NSDAP prioritized autarky through rearmament and the acquisition of Lebensraum, which was only sustainable in the case of a German victory in the Second World War. Furthermore, I argue that the working-class was especially affected by these policies. Yet, I concede that in some instances the standard of living did improve under the NSDAP. In sum, however, I believe the so-called ‘economic miracle’ was nothing more than a temporary mirage.

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