Nothing contributed so much to the success of Hitler as did his Four Years' Plan, which promised to end unemployment. When Hitler was appointed as chancellor in late January 1933 there were six million Germans 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 employment for the millions that were out of work. To begin with, the Nazis organised workers in military-style labour camps, in schemes such as road-building, afforestation 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 (highways) 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 Reich's labour resources. As economic, commercial and labour institutions had always been independent of the state 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 unions and employers' associations. Many Germans became annoyed when Nazi Old Fighters received municipal jobs even if they were not fitted. Capitalists were as completely affected by Ley's Industrial 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 development. They built new barracks, tanks and hospitals, and produced all kinds of weapons and munitions in numerous factories across Germany. According to the historian Klein, however, ". . . the National Socialists did not shift a large proportion of the labour force into war activities . . ." except for an unsurprising large increase in the army from the 100,000 that the Treaty of Versailles had set. With the onset of the second World War labourers 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 workers, so 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 and a 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 farmers could not compete with urban industry in 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 class grew when they eliminated regional and national wage 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.

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