Nothing contributed so much to the success of Hitler
as did his Four Years' Plan, which promised to end
. When Hitler was appointed as chancellor
in late January 1933 there were six million
without jobs. As a way of gaining the
adulation of the workers, Hitler proclaimed May Day
1933 a public holiday
and then worked to create
for the millions that were out of work. To
begin with, the Nazi
s organised workers in military-style labour camps, in schemes such as road
and land improvement schemes. These small
projects were mainly intended to utilise the millions of
workers while a massive rearmament project was developed.
The Nazis saw Autobahnen (highway
s) as of great value,
and so employed a large number to construct them in
September 1933. Less than a year after his appointment as
chancellor, Hitler had succeeded in reducing the
unemployment figure by two million.
A new Labour Front, set up in 1934 and run by Robert Ley,
allowed the Nazis to draft workers to occupations as part
of the complete control they gained over the Third
resources. As economic
and labour institutions had always been independent of
and self-administered, the Nazis had a great
challenge in coordinating them. Under Ley, the Nazis
immediately made lockouts and strikes illegal, and
subdued trade union
s and employers' associations. Many
Germans became annoyed when Nazi Old Fighters received
municipal jobs even if they were not fitted.
were as completely affected by
Order as the millions of conscripted
workers, as they also had to abide by the rule that the
state's interests came before the individual's. New rules
forced employees to join the Nazi Labour Front or be
fired, and any opposition to the new Labour Front was
quelled with brutal efficiency.
Realising that domestic
projects were not sufficient to
cure Germany's unemployment ailment, Adolf Hitler began,
in 1935, to conscript workers for arms
They built new barracks
s and hospitals, and
produced all kinds of weapon
s and munitions
across Germany. According to
the historian Klein, however, ". . . the National
did not shift a large proportion of the
labour force into war
activities . . ." except for an
unsurprising large increase in the army
100,000 that the Treaty of Versailles
had set. With the
onset of the second World War
again found themselves working in the arms industry as
Germany's largest industries began to produce war goods.
The very small German workforce meant that these
companies had to rely heavily on foreign
much that by 1944 one in four employees were non-German.
Between 1925 and 1939 there was a significant drop in the
number of workers employed in agriculture
proportional rise in public
employment. Hitler's belief
that the rural peasants
were the foundation of
a healthy German economy
prompted him to distribute
handouts, secure control of imports and set agricultural
prices at higher levels. Despite this, the fact that
s could not compete with urban
terms of wages ensured a steady flow of workers to the
towns. Accordingly, Germany became urbanised very quickly
and the nation found that she had to import many raw
materials from other nations. This displeased Hitler, who
had tried "to make Germany independent of foreign
countries for all those materials which can possibly be
manufactured in Germany" through the launch of a Second
Four Years' Plan.
Under the Nazis, differences in earnings for the working
grew when they eliminated regional and national
rates and employers paid workers in agreement with
the "performance principle." Under this, labourers were
paid according to their individual results - an
arrangement that worked well for skilled or healthy young
workers but not as well with the infirm. An increase in
the length of the working day also resulted in a rise in
wage pay between 1936 and 1938. Other rewards for good
workers were provided by the "Strength through Joy"
organisation. Although it mainly benefitted middle-class
and skilled blue-collar workers, the leisure facilities
and holidays it granted raised the workers' morale
Bollen, JD. & Cosgrove, JJ. (1992) Two Centuries. A Profile of Modern History.
Charman, T. (1989) The German Home Front 1939-45.
Barrie & Jenkins, London.
Fest, JC. (1974) Hitler.
Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London.
Fleming, G. (1986) Hitler and the Final Solution.
Geary, D. (1993) Hitler and Nazism.
Routledge, New York.
Jamieson, A. (1972) Europe in Conflict: A History of Europe 1870-1970.
Koch, HW. (1985) Aspects of the Third Reich.
St. Martins, New York.
Large, DC. (1997) Where Ghosts Walked: Munich's Road to the Third Reich.
Norton, New York.
Triggs, TD. (1991) Germany Between the Wars.
Oliver & Boyd, London.