Nazi Economic, Social and Racial Policy

Nazi Economic, Social and Racial Policy

Nazi Economic Policy

Hitler’s Economic Aims

  • Hitler aimed for autarky (self-sufficiency) to prepare Germany for war.
  • His focus was on aggressive economic expansion and rearmament, violating the Treaty of Versailles.

Rearmament and the Four Year Plan

  • The Four Year Plan was launched in 1936 with the aim of increasing production of steel, oil and rubber.
  • Massive investment was put into rearmament and the German arms industry.
  • Unemployment rates fell, boosting the economy and strengthening Hitler’s position.

Impact on Workers

  • Trade unions were banned, which meant workers had no independent representation.
  • The German Labour Front (DAF) was formed to control the workers and ensure their loyalty to the Nazi regime.
  • Working hours increased and wages remained low, despite improved unemployment figures.

Nazi Social Policy

Women in Nazi Germany

  • In Nazi ideology, the role of women was primarily as wife and mother.
  • The Law for the Encouragement of Marriage provided loans to newly married couples on the condition that the wife left employment.
  • Despite these policies, many women continued to work due to necessity and the demands put upon the economy by rearmament.

Education and Youth Policies

  • Education was used as a tool for indoctrination, with the curriculum heavily focussed on Nazi ideals.
  • Membership of the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls was encouraged, and later made compulsory, as a means of honing loyalty to the Nazi regime.

Nazi Racial Policy

Anti-Semitic Policies and Persecution

  • Anti-Semitism was central to Hitler’s ideology and was used to rally support and deflect blame for Germany’s problems.
  • A series of anti-Semitic laws were passed, including the Nuremberg Laws in 1935, which deprived Jewish people of their rights as German citizens.
  • Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) in 1938 marked a significant escalation in the Nazi persecution of Jews, with widespread violence and destruction of Jewish property.

Euthanasia Programme

  • The T4 Euthanasia programme targeted disabled individuals, who were deemed ‘life unworthy of life’ according to Nazi ideologues.
  • This constituted another facet of the racist and eugenic policies of the Nazi regime.

Understanding these economic, social, and racial policies helps to gain insight into how Hitler consolidated power, mobilised the economy, and implemented his ideological vision. Each of these policies signals the increasing control the Nazi regime had over various aspects of German life.