War and Economy in the Third Reich

In This Review

War and Economy in the Third Reich

By R. J. Overy
Oxford University Press, 1994
390 pp. $55.00

A collection of essays -- written over the last 20 years and appearing under a misleading title -- dealing with diverse aspects of Germany's recovery and wartime economic performance. Eliminating unemployment was Hitler's most visible success, facilitated by a slow recovery that had begun even before the Nazis came to power and by their fervent promotion of all that had to do with "motorization" -- a key interest to the author. Overy, an English historian, rejects earlier arguments that the fear of domestic crisis led Hitler to go to war; he argues the rather obvious thesis that Hitler responded to a favorable international situation. Overy also insists that the European Community's economy was fully mobilized from the beginning of the war even if economic performance significantly improved after 1942. These essays, good on individual aspects, give no clear analysis of the control and organization of the German economy. The author mentions the "defensive opportunism" of German business, which eventually included the brutal use of slave labor. The process of "Aryanization" is barely alluded to. Precise in detail -- if often based on much earlier research -- but neglecting context, the book makes one wish for a coherent work on the German economy under the Nazis.

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