Courtesy Reuters

How Real Is the German Recovery?

BETWEEN February 1933, when Hitler became Chancellor, and July 1934, the number of Germany's unemployed fell from six million to two and a half million. In the same period industrial production rose by one-third. The German trade recovery evidenced by these widely-published figures was extremely important for National Socialism, since Hitler's alleged success in overcoming the economic crisis justified his rule in the minds of millions of Germans. But a more thorough study reveals that the actual extent of German recovery was considerably smaller than suggested by the figures cited. Further, the recovery was achieved at the cost of enormous sacrifices, and these sacrifices seriously depleted Germany's strength. The present study attempts to lay the foundations for the belief that on June 30, 1934, a new stage of Nazi rule began. Up to that date the German Government was fighting to raise production and decrease unemployment; since then its struggle has been to hold its earlier gains. In judging its likelihood of success even in this restricted field we must take account of the special structure of German economics and of the degree to which Germany is dependent on the outside world.[i]


Of all German economic figures none show an upward movement of such great scope as those covering unemployment. The table on the following page appears to confirm fully the assertion of the German Government that the basic evil of the economic crisis has been overcome.

Date Unemployed Employed
End of February 1933 6,004,000 11,553,000
End of May 1933 5,039,000 13,200,000
End of August 1933 4,124,000 13,700,000
End of October 1933 3,745,000 14,100,000
End of December 1933 4,050,000 13,300,000
End of February 1934 3,374,000 13,967,000
End of May 1934 2,529,000 15,559,000
Improvement in 15 months 3,475,000 4,006,000

If one follows the official German comments on the situation in the labor market, the first thing noted is that a considerable part of the decrease in the number of unemployed has come to pass without any additional employment, but only by "substitute employment." The latest available figures show the situation at the end of February 1934; it is unlikely that any considerable change has come since that time. There were then employed: in voluntary labor camps, 230,000; in emergency farm work, 150,000; and in emergency relief work, 550,000; a total "substitute employment" of 930,000. These 930,000 are

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