Courtesy Reuters

The Industrial Power of the Nazis

IF the economic relations between nations were normal and rational, the position of Germany would be primarily that of a converter of foreign raw materials into manufactured goods for the world market. But since the First World War these relations have not been normal, and they have become even less so since the National Socialist régime put Germany's economy on a permanent wartime basis. A necessary part of Hitler's Wehrwirtschaft has been the attempt to make Germany as self-sufficient as possible of foreign, more particularly non-European, sources of supply. Yet despite the gains achieved by autarchy, through such devices as the intensification of agriculture and the development of Ersatz industries, the fundamental composition of Germany's foreign trade had changed comparatively little before the outbreak of the war. There was, however, a definite trend toward Latin America as a source of supply in order to counteract the exchange difficulties involved in trade with certain European countries and the United States. At the same time, the Germans were making a strong effort to develop their trade with Southeastern Europe, even though this region could meet only a relatively small part of their needs.

Taking Germany's imports as a basis for calculating the degree of her dependence on outside sources of supply, we find that for the first six months of 1939 (after April 1 these figures included Austria and Sudetenland) they were valued at about 2,750,000,000 marks. Of this amount foodstuffs accounted for a little over 1,056,000,000 marks; the remainder consisted of industrial products, predominantly raw materials and semi-manufactures. Among the industrial raw materials -- of particular interest to us here -- we must distinguish between those used for satisfying the consumption needs of the population, of only secondary importance in the Nazi economy, and those intended primarily for industries essential to war. Thus, the fact that cotton came almost entirely from territories now practically inaccessible to Germany is not particularly important, since for some years a large part of her gradually curtailed demand for textile

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