The Nazi rule in Germany is associated with (among many, many other things) a sudden and powerful economic resurgence. This is especially impressive since it happened in a country that was practically the definition of economic hell during the 1920s, and because it happened around the same time that the economies of many other countries (such as the United States) was being utterly devastated by the Great Depression. (In fact, the economic turnaround was so striking that even 20 years later, it would inspire an episode of Star Trek.)

I've always understood that this had mostly to do with inspiring the population, getting their passions up, and applying a little of that German efficiency once again. Hitler was nothing if not motivating, and the first thing that anyone learns about the Nazis was their (oftentimes terrifying) ability to mobilize large groups of people toward a single goal.

But it's worth asking, did the Nazis do anything specific to stimulate their economy during this time? Was there an economic wunderkind among the Nazi leadership, or some new economic doctrine associated with the Nazi regime that was especially effective? Or was it really just a matter of passion and discipline, and a will to return to the greatness that was Germany?

  • 3
    Rearming creates a lot of new jobs.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 23:50
  • 6
    Wikipedia answers this very well.
    – Comintern
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 23:54
  • Whoah. I hadn't found that article, but that's the biggest wall of text I've ever seen on Wikipedia! Thanks for the link!
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 23:57
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    Most of the supposed economic "success" was exaggerated or simply illusory. Financially, Germany was in a desperate situation in the 1930s and the spending policies of the National Socialists simply made things worse. If you want to understand it better, read the book "Wages of Destruction" by Adam Tooze. Commented Oct 11, 2014 at 9:22
  • as did all the similar government spending programs all over the world...
    – jwenting
    Commented Oct 11, 2014 at 16:07

2 Answers 2


I wouldn't call it "unique," but Hitler adopted the "Keynesian" prescription of "pump-priming" a depressed economy through government spending. Even if it was for military spending (which to Hitler, was a form of "investment.")

This started in 1933-34, and pre-dated Keynes' 1936 tome, "A General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money." This gave Nazi Germany an economic "head start" of several years over the Allies: France, England, and America.

  • On a totally unrelated note: bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-22/… the new EU accounting practice also includes military spending as investment.
    – user45891
    Commented Oct 11, 2014 at 23:07
  • The first bits of recovery from the depression in America occurred under FDR in 1933, pretty close to the beginning of Hitler's reign. "After showing early signs of recovery beginning in the spring of 1933, the economy continued to improve throughout the next three years, during which real GDP (adjusted for inflation) grew at an average rate of 9 percent per year. A sharp recession hit in 1937, caused in part by the Federal Reserve’s decision to increase its requirements for money in reserve." For instance, this on the Great Depression.
    – AlaskaRon
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 3:17

There was an economic wunderkind of sorts. The economist and Reichsbank president Hjamlman Schacht was an early Nazi supporter, though never a major figure in the party. He managed to stabilize Weimar inflation by issuing bonds based on shares of "land," which he claimed had an instinctive, stabilizing appeal. He was also a compelling figure with high contacts in industry and world banking. When his secretary was asked what exactly he did to stabilize the currency and partly resolve the crisis, she said: "Nothing, he just smoked cigars and talked on the phone."

  • Sources? Is this history, or anecdote?
    – MCW
    Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 18:20

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