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I'm trying to write a fictional piece in which the main character is an unemployed Jew, searching for jobs on the streets. Assume that he (the character) finds a temporary low wage job to do, like cleaning or helping out with things, not by actually getting employed.

  1. How much would a small low-wage job in Nazi Germany have paid (in German Marks, the currency in the time of Nazi Germany)? This piece takes place in 1935, after the hyperinflation of Germany. Prices should be relatively stable and regular.

  2. What were the average prices of basic food staples, like bread/meat/milk and common items?

I need a sense of what and how many common items could a temporary low-wage German worker buy with their income.

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    If I remember correctly, Victor Klemperer speaks about these sorts of things in his diary. That would probably be a good place to start. – Shimon bM Jun 6 '17 at 8:27
  • This might help. The top row is the official appartment rental statistics of Nuremberg in 1914 and 1933 for buildings constructed before 1918. The prices are per year. – Adwaenyth Jun 6 '17 at 9:28
  • The hyperinflation was in 1923. – Martin Schröder Jun 6 '17 at 16:12
  • Since it's set in 1935: Before or after the Nuremberg Laws? You should really get your history right. – Martin Schröder Jun 6 '17 at 16:15
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    The currency before 1945 was the Reichsmark (RM). The Deutsche Mark (DM) came after the war. – fdb Jun 6 '17 at 18:33
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I find a couple of figures concerning wages. According to HistoryLearningSite:

The KdF also involved itself in introducing a scheme whereby the workers could get a car. The Volkswagen – People’s Car – was designed so that most could afford it. The Beetle, designed by Ferdinand Porsche, cost 990 marks. This was about 35 weeks wages for the average worker. To pay for one, workers went on a hire purchase scheme. They paid 5 marks a week into an account.

Theoretically, when the account had reached 750 marks the worker would be given an order number which would lead to them receiving a car. In fact, no-one received a car. The millions of marks invested into the scheme were re-directed into the rapidly expanding weapons factories.

Not a great business practice, but the quote gives us a number to work from. Doing the math this works out to an average wage of 28.28 Marks per week.

Another source, a book published in 2000, Hitler:1889-1936 Hubris, by Ian Kershaw has some figures within it showing nearly 50% of German workers earned

18 Reich Marks or less per week, which was substantially below the poverty line.

So wages for German workers in this era could be expected to typically fall between 18 and 28 Marks per week.

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  • Sorry I couldn't find any real figures on food prices however. The searches kept getting stuck on the 1923 'wheelbarrows' full of Marks to buy a loaf of bread type quotes. – justCal Jun 6 '17 at 12:54
  • No worries, I'll try to find some. Thanks! – Mingle Li Jun 6 '17 at 12:55
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    According to the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, no cars were actually delivered to the workers who paid layaway and it was a big scam. – Clint Eastwood Jun 6 '17 at 14:30
  • Noted, expanded the entry from same source, reflecting the final outcome of this 'investment'. Still gives a numerical basis for computing wages to answer the original question. – justCal Jun 6 '17 at 17:16
  • @ClintEastwood Today I learned that the first KickStarter took place in Nazi Germany. – A Bailey Jun 7 '17 at 20:09

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