Literally this means the process of switching on to the same wavelength or bringing into line. It's often translated into English as 'coordination'. In relation to Nazi Germany, it's used to describe the process which took place in 1933-34 when the country's major institutios and organizations were either abolished or Nazified.
Before 1933 Hitler had attacked the sectional political parties as one of the main causes of Germany's disunity and weakness. After he achieved supreme power they became one of his first targets.
- Social Democratic Party outlawed
- The other parties: Nationalists, People's Party, Democratic Party and the Centre Party: not formally outlawed but were pressured into dissolving themselves.
- The Nazis then introduced a Law Against the Formation of New Parties
- Germany became a one-party state
- Nazis disbanded the trade unions in May 1933
Violence and Terror
Suppression of Germany's political left involved a great deal of violence and terror. In mid-1933 100s of Socialists and Commies were murdered by the SA often after being abducted and taken to so-called wild camps set up in disused buildings.
Hitler shut down them down and handed responsibility for neutralizing potential threats to his regime to Heinrich Himmler's SS - led to the construction in 1933 of a network of over 80 concentration camps. The camp at Dachau, near Munich, was the model on which all the others were based.
- Controlled the concentration camp network
- Controlled Germany's police forces (i.e. Gestapo)
- Carrying out what the Nazis called the final solution of the Jewish Question - the extermination of the Jews of Europe.
Gleichschaltung and Churches
- Didn't regard Christian belief as fully compatible with membership of the Volksgemeinschaft
- Feared that in a church/state conflict Christians couldn't be relied upon
- Saw the Churches as a less divisive influence than political parties - any resort to the kind of strong-arm tactics used elsewhere could cause an outcry
- Protestant Churches were persuaded in 1933 to organize themselves into a Reich Church with a Reich Bishop, Ludwig Muller at its head.
- In 1933 an agreement between the Nazis and the Vatican was reached: the Nazis promised to allow the Catholic Church to carry on its religious work without interference, and the Pope ordered German priests to stay out of politics
- He faced sig. opposition from within the Christian churches
- Gleichschaltung wasnt confined to political parties, the trade unions and the churches.
- Local gov, the civil service, the justice system, the police, education and the media were affected too - in the most case the organizations were remodelled by the Nazis rather than abolished.
- Abolition was reserved for those seen as an affront to the 'National Community'
The Night of the Long Knives, 1934
The SA began to make demands Hitler was unwilling to meet:
- The SA, nearly three million strong in 1933 wanted to merge with the much smaller German army. Since they werent trained soldiers, Hitler feared that a merger would undermine the discipline and effectiveness of Germany's armed forces.
- The SA leaders were socialistic or 'left-wing' Nazis who took the anti-capitalist elements of the party's programme seriouslu. They began to call for a second revolution - the first being the Nazi seizure of power and the destruction of the KPD and SPD. The target of this second revolution was to be big business. Hitler however was looking to involve Germany's industrial leaders in his plans to rebuild the country's military strength. He had no intention of waging war on big business.
These demands put the SA leadership on collision course w/Hitler
He struck - on 30th of June 1934 he ordered the murder of over 50 of the SA's top leaders. All the killings were carried out by the SS. Inside Germany, it did Hitler's reputation no harm at all because the SA leaders were deeply unpopular with the public bc they were greedy and corrupt. SA no longer had any power, influence or a clear role.
Propaganda and Popular Culture
How did propaganda contribute to the attempt to create Volksgemeinschaft?
Goebbles primary goal to foster a sense of unity among the German people.
- Posters and slogans promoting a sense of unity - "The community before the individual"
- Personality cult built up around Hitler - people urged to hero-worship him as the master-builder of the 'National Community'. Nazi propaganda also claimed that by sacrificing family life for the sake of his country, he exemplified the ideal of putting community before self.
- Political ritualsI or celebrations in the form of rallies, marches and parades were used to create the impression that Germany was united behind Hitler - elaborately staged celebrations or rituals were regular events.
- Nazis introduced Winter Aid Programme which better-off Germans were encouraged to give money, food and clothing to poverty-stricken national comrades. The idea was to persuade Germans that they were part of a cohesive society in which people looked out for each other.
- Goebbles believed that the written word was not as effective as film or spoken word. Extensive use of the radio and cinema.
- Only those who were in sympathy with the Nazis were allowed to join the Chamber of Culture. Non-members couldn't get their work published or performed
More on Popular Culture
Sold the Volksgemeinschaft idea to the working classes through the KdF movement. It was part of the German Labour Front (the organization that replaced trade unions) The role of the KdF was to fill a gap left in the lives of the working-class families by the liquidation of the Social Democratic and Communist parties. Before 1933 these parties had offered their supporters a wide range of leisure and cultural opportunities - after 1933 this provision was made by the KdF
However, it didn't restrict itself to replacing Social Democratic or Communist arrangements with Nazi ones. It came up with initiatives of its own which were more ambitious than anything which had existed before 1933. Became heavily involved in the tourism business, sponsoring cheap travel and providing opportunites for travel abroad on KdF cruise ships. Behind these seemingly harmless schemes there were political motives: the Nazis hoped that travel inside Germany would help to break down people's regional loyalties and that foreign travel would convince the working classes that in the Volksgemeinschaft they would have opportunities which were previously available only to the rich.
Why were Jews excluded from the 'National Communit
The Jews, according to the Nazis, were a race, not a religious group, and were bent on world domination.
Jews, claimed the Nazis, would resort to any means to further their objectives. These included using Communism as a front to hide behind. Hitler was convinced that Russian Communism was controlled by Jews. He believed in the existence of a Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy to take over the world. Another Nazi allegation was that Jews had conspired to win control of Germany's financial institutions.
Nazis believed that Germany's Jews, acting in the interests of world Jewry, had done all that they could to bring about the country's defeat in the 1914-18 war.
These claims were used to justify persection, terroriation and ultimately genocide.
Germany's Jewish Community
- In 1933 only 0.7% of Germany's population was Jewish. Germany's Jews were not only a small minority but a diminishing one as well: numbers were falling as a result of low birth rates and the increasing frequency of marriages between Jews and non-Jews
- Jews didn't dominate German business life as the Nazis alleged. They were, if anything, under-represented in the upper reaches of industry and finance. The occupations in which Germany's Jews were most likely to be found were the middle-class professions: medicine, law, teaching and journalism - and some branches of commerce, particularly retail
- Germany's Jews were an assimilated community. Its members saw no incompatibility between their faith and their nationality. Sig. the leading Jewish organisation in Germany in the early 20th century was called the Union of German Citizens of Jewish Faith
- In the 1914-1918 war 100,000 of Germany's half-million Jewish community served in the army: 12,000 of them died in action
Persecution of Germany's Jews 1933-39
- Earliest Nazi moves against Germany's Jews were vicious but uncoordinated.
- In Spring 1933 local SA units, acting largely on their own initiative, went on the rampage: beating up Jews and destroying their property.
- Hitler ordered a one-day boycott of Jewish shops on 1 April 1933
- 7 April 1933 - government issued its first anti-Jewish decree, the hastily drafted Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service
- This ordered the dismissal of all non-Aryan civil servants - Hindenburg intervened on behalf of Jewish war veterans: Jews who had fought in the trenches were allowed to keep their jobs.
- 1934 saw a pause in attacks but in 1935 Hitler returned to the attack. He was prompted to do so by demands for a more aggressive anti-Jewish policy from the SA, still smarting from the murder of its leaders on the 'Night of the Long Knives'
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- Announced two new anti-Jewish laws at the annual Nazi party rally at Nuremberg
- The Reich Citizenship Law: deprived Jews of German citizenship and turned them into aliens in their own country
- The Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honour: outlawed marriage between Jews and non-Jews and made sexual relations between them outside marriage a criminal offense.
- These laws were put together in a mere two days and were imprecise. Contained no defenition of who counted as a Jew.
- The Supplementary Decree to the Reich Citizenship Law: clarify that a Jew was defined as someone with 3 or 4 Jewish grandparents.
- People with one or two Jewish grandparents were labelled Hybrids
- Hybrids w/one jewish grandparent largely escaped persection but those with two didn't
- The Supplementary Decree to the Reich Citizenship Law: clarify that a Jew was defined as someone with 3 or 4 Jewish grandparents.
- Since the Olympic Games rolled around, anti-Semitic activity was scaled down. All signs of anti-Semitic activity were removed.
- Himmler (head of SS) - Germany should be made Jew-free by terrorising Jews into leaving the country
- Goering - favored a policy of Aryanisation - stripping the Jews of their property, selling it to non-Jews and investing the proceeds in economic development
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9 November 1938 - Goebbles launched the pogrom (organized, often government-encouraged mob attacks on minority populations) which became known as Kristallnacht.
Outburst of violence and destruction - at least 90 Jews were killed: hundreds more beaten up, 200 synagogues destroyed by fire and nearly 8,000 Jewish businesses were smashed and looted.
The 1938 program was followed by a rash of new anti-Semitic laws, notably The Decree Excluding Jews from German Economic Life which prevented Jews from running businesses, and decrees exclusing Jews from many public places.
Collective fine of one billion marks was levied on the Jewish community as a punishment for the Paris murder and 30,000 Jewish men were rounded up and sent to concentration camps.
How coherent were Nazi anti-Jewish policies before
The position of Germany's Jews deteriorated unsystematically and chaotically.
There was no settled policy. Initiative followed initiative in bewildering fashion. At one time or another these initiatives included the boycotting of Jewish retailers, discriminatory laws, forced emigration, disposession and in 1938, physical attack. In the later 1930s there was also competition between rival approaches with Himmler and Goering battling for control of Jewish policy
Initiatives sometimes cut across each other (Goering, for example, was furious with Goebbles after Kristallnacht because he couldn't strip Jews of their property if it had been destroyed
The intensity of persecution varied - Germany's Jews came under savage attack in 1933, 35, 38, 39
1939-41 the context of Nazi Jewish policy changed in two important ways:
- Germany was now at war. As a result of the invasions of Poland and Russia, the Nazis had at their mercy over five mllion Jews who had not previously been at risk
- In occupied Poland and Russia the Nazis could operate out of public view. In Germany in the 1930s their actions were observable by foreign diplomats and journaists and known to everyone
In these circumstances, Nazi policy moved first towards mass murder and then towards systematic genocide:
- September 1939 - SS followed German armies into Poland. Eliminate resisters. By the end of 1939: 50,000 Polish vicilians butchered - many, but not all, of them Jews
- Poland's jews were herded into ghettoes as an interim measure while the Nazi leadership pondered their fate. A million jews died as a result of malnutrition and disease
- Summer 1941 - followed German armies into Soviet Russia - Jews specifically targetted. Over a million Jews died mostly by shooting.
- Mid-1941: decided the Jews should be rounded up and taken to extermination camps
- 35,000 were excluded from the Volksgemeinschaft + Stereotyped as work shy and criminal
- Many sent to concentration camps + 1935 Nuremberg Laws applied to them
- Persecution intensified following the establishment in 1936 of the Reich Central Office to Combat the Gypsy Nuisance --> Persecution gave way to genocide
- German Roma and Sinti were deported to extermination camps in Poland
- 220,000 - 500,000 killed
- 'Genetically defective' - source of weakness - based on theories of eugenics movement
- Nazis saw the mentally ill and physically disabled as a burden on society
- Hitler believes in the sterilisation of the genetically defective
- The Law for the Prevention of Herditarily Diseased Offspring - compulsory sterilisation of the seriously mentally ill, epileptics, people born blind or deaf, those born with severe physical deformities and alcoholics.
- Sterilisation: 400,000 people / Euthanasia: 70,000 killed
- HOMOSEXUALS: Excluded from society for being "deviants" - 50,000 German men arrested for homosexual offences and 15,000 ended up in concentration camps
How successful were N in creating a Volksgemeinsch
The project was a hugely ambitious undertaking. Breaking down the barriers of class, religion and region required changes of a fundamental kind in the mind-set of millions of Germans people. Turning middle-aged and elderly people who had supported the Communists or Social Democrats throughout their lives into enthusiastic Nazis was a near-impossible task. In some ways it had its successes
- Undoubtedly appealed to middle-class Germans wearied by the divisions of the 1920s
- Lot of evidence which suggests that working-class Germans appreciated the leisure opportunities made available by the 'Strength through Joy' organisation.
- Appreciative too of the increased holiday entitlements they received in the Nazi era and of Nazi attempts to improve factory conditions. Very poorest benefited from Winter Aid, Nazi-organized charitable enterprise
- Hitler enjoyed high levels of personal popularity throughout the 1930s. Goebbles' depiction of the Fuhrer in Nazi propaganda as a selfless leader of a unified nation paid dividends
- Little active resistance to Nazi rule in the 1930s. Active resistance in these years added up to little more than attempts by the Communists and Social Democrats to keep going as underground organisations, protests by some church leaders on specific issues and the emergence of a handful of dissident youth groups.
More on Volksgemeinschaft
Active resistance was limited mainly bc of fear of the Nazi secret police forces. But the lack of active resistance does not mean that all Germans were enthusiastic, supporters of Nazi rule. Some showed their distaste for Nazism by engaging in acts of minor dissent, such as refusing to give the Heil Hitler! salute. Others who disliked Nazism shut themselves off from politics and public life and withdrew entirely into private and family life. Known as "inner emigration" Ultimately it was a failure because...
- German society did not become more equal in any real sense in the 1930s. Differences of wealth and power remained. Nazis didn't pretend otherwise. They said it wasnt about people being equal but about them being equally valued. This left them vulnerable to the charge that the changes they made were purely cosmetic
- Nazis failed to integrate the working classes into the National Community. Class-based attitudes certainly didnt disappear.
- Historical research suggests that religious affiliations and regional identities remained strong in 1930s Germany
- Nazi attempts to foster a sense of unity by scapegoating and persecuting Jews and minorities appear to have been largely unsuccessful.
Building the Future: Women
Weimar constitution gave women the right to vote for the first time. Enabled women to become members of the Reichstag. Percentage of female members was much higher than the number of female MPs in Britain in the same period. No. of women in paid employment rose sharply in the early 1920s, filling the gaps left by 4 mill men who had been killed or disabled in the war. More social freedom in matters such as dress and going out.
Nazis didnt hide their contempt for the new woman of the 20s - they argued that the key role of women was not to make a contribution in the world of paid work but to serve their country by devoting themseles to child-bearing and child-rearing. Claimed the roles of men and women were different and therefore complemented each other and were equally important. However, German women were being denied opportunities and those beyond their child-bearing years were regarded as expendable.
Encouraging child-bearing and glorifying parenthood. Big families were out of fashion and the Nazis' aim was to reverse this trend and to persuade Germans to have more children.
- Financial incentives - Marriage Loan Scheme introduced in 1933 up to 1000 marks which was payable if the woman agreed to give up her job when the marriage took place. The amount of money to be repaid was then reduced by one quarter for each child the couple produced
- Massive prop. campaign to glorify motherhood - honors system that rewarded women who produced large numbers of children.
- 1927 law legalized abortion if the life of the mother was in danger. Nazis scrapped this law in 1933 making it impossible for genetically fit women to get a legal abortion. They also closed birth control clinics and relaxed the divorce laws to encourage remarriage and second families
- Deutsches Frauenwerk offered training courses in the skills of motherhood. Millions attended
Impact of Nazi policies towards women
Efforts to raise Germany's birth rate had only limited success. It inc. by a little but remained well below pre-1914 levels. It probably had more to do with the improving economic climate than with the Nazis; pronatalist policies.
Also, persuading women to leave paid work was unsuccessful too - the percentage of women engaged in paid work actually rose slightly. Women found it hard, however, to win promotion to supervisory and management positions.
In the later 1930s, the regime did an about-turn and introduced compulsory military service and the expansion of the armed forces left gaps in the industrial workforce which needed to be filled. Women were now told that it was their duty to serve the nation by working in its factories rather than by staying at home and looking after their children.
Education in Nazi Germany
Nazis had two main educational priorities: turn younger people into committed Nazis and to prepare young men for military service. A lesser priority was to prepare girls to fulfill their duties as wives and mothers. No place for the idea that education should be about the development of such qualities as independence of mind and a capacity for critical thought. Nazis regarded academic study of this kind as worthless.
Dismissed teachers who were Jewish or seen as politically unreliable. Subjects that gained at the expense of subjects like maths, physics, chem and foreign languages were biology, history and physical education.
Biology and history were used for indoctrination: the process of getting someone to believe something so completely that nothing will shake that belief and PE was important because it prepared boys for the military and the girls for motherhood.
Falling levels of literacy and numeracy - Elite schools to prepare students for leadership roles in the civil service and the army.
- By 1936 it had 4 million members. In 1936 the Law on the Hitler Youth was passed, making membership of the Hitler Youth more or less compulsory. They did a lot of physical exercise, hiking, athletics and gymnastics. Boys did a lot of military training and map reading while girls received training in nursing, child care and household management.
- Quite a lot of evidence which suggests that in the early years of Nazi rule the Hitler Youth was popular among many young Germans
- Towards the end of the 1930s young people's enthusiasm for the Hitler Youth seems to have waned. Little variation in the programme of activities. Boredom set in. Political education lectures and parade-ground drill appear to have been especially unpopular. No of absentees increased.
- Minority of young Germans became rebellious - Swing Kids and Edelweiss Pirates. They ambushed Hitler Youth patrols and beat up members. Some had their heads shaved to humiliate them, others were sent to concentration camps.
- Evidence suggests the relentless emphasis in schools and in the Hitler Youth on the need to be tough and hard had its effect.
How successful were N policies towards women + kid
Nazi policies towards women and the young aimed not only to influence the ways in which individuals behave but also the ways in which they thought. Success here was difficult to achieve. Abolishing or Nazifying institutions was straightforward by comparison. Nazi policies towards women largely failed to achieve the desired results. Their policies towards the young may have had more success but certainly did not trun all young Germans into enthusiastic Nazis.
Eliminating Unemployment 1933-36
Schacht was appointed chief of Germany's national bank in 1933 and Minister of Economics 1934. 5 million unemployed b4 Hitler's Chancellorship. Over the next 5 years unemployment fell more quickly in Germany than in any other industrialised country in the world. How was it brought down:
- Consumer spending and investment by companies began to pick up. Natural economic recovery (not the result of government policies) Unemployment total would have come down to some extent even if Hitler's government had done nothing.
- Substantial investment in a programme of public works. Construction of several thousand km of motorway-style roads. Nazi prop. claimed that building the roads made an important contribution to the reduction of unemployment but lower-profile job creation schemes like land reclamation, road repairs and house building employed a lot more workers than the building of the roads.
- Gov began to rearm. Large orders for warplanes, tanks, trucks and munitions. Airfields were rebuilt and barracks constructed. Treaty which had imposed severe restrictions on Germany's armed forces, was ignored. Schacht kept military spending off the gov's published accounts by paying arms manufacturers not w/money but with mefo bills. Mefo bills: secret government credit notes which manufacturers could cash at the national bank.
More on Eliminating Unemployment
- Statistics were doctored in a no. of ways.
- Jews who were dismissed from their jobs were not counted as unemployed. Nor were women who gave up their jobs under the 1933 Marriage Loan Scheme.
- A sizeable number of young people were taken off the unemployment register in 1935 when it was decreed that all 19-25 year olds had to do six months' unpaid work in the newly formed Reich Labour Service.
- In the same year Hitler went public on German rearmament and introduced compulsory military service.
- Compulsory military service contributed to a reduction in the jobless total though clearly this was not the main reason for its reintroduction.
Schacht's New Plan
Sucked huge quantities of imported raw materials into Germany at a time when the country's exporters were struggling due to the taxes on imports, or tariffs, which many countries introduced in the 1930s to protect their industries from foreign competitions
This left Germany with a sizeable trade deficit.
Trade deficit: if the value of what the country imports exceeds the value of what it exports. A prolonged trade deficit means that a country goes into debt, something which can have damaging economic effects.
Schacht's response was the so-called New Plan of 1934 under which no one could import goods into Germany w/out permission from the Ministry of Economics.
The New Plan solved the immediate problem but it was bad news for ordinary Germans - meant fewer food imports and food shortages.
Did Germany experience an economic miracle?
In the mid-1930s Nazi propaganda heaped praise on Hitler for conquering unemployment
Many Germans appear to have believed that this praise was deserved.
Post-1933 saw a Hitler-inspired economic miracle based on the job-creation schemes - schemes of a kind that Bruning and others had been too timid and unimaginative to introduce.
Nazi job-creation schemes brought down unemployment but the fall in the number of jobless owed a lot more to natural recovery and to secret rearmament than it did to public-works programmes.
Nor did ordinary people see many signs of an economic miracle in their day-to-day lives. The return to full employment did not lead to big improvements in standards of living.
Workers in Nazi Germany were badly paid, heavily taxed and were made to work increasingly long hours. Not as well off as they had been in the 1920s.
Hitler achieved many intial goals - the Communists and Social Democrats had been crushed. German institutions had been Nazified and the Battle for Work had been won. In these circumstances Hitler's thoughts turned to the project most important to him - waging war.
Launched the Four-Year Plan at the 1936 Nuremberg Rally
Recognized that increasing the size and firepower of Germany's armed forces was only one of the challenges involved in preparing for war. Just as important was the need to ensure that G couldnt be starved of vital resources by its enemies. Here, Hitler was mindful of the impact of the British naval blockade on Germany in the war. Core aim was therefore to make Germany economically self-sufficient. Technical term used to describe a state of economic self-sufficiency is autarky.
Schacht alarmed by the plan. Thought Hitler was going too far too fast. Wanted the pace of rearmament to be slowed. Hitler brushed his objections aside. Schact's influence waned. He resigned as Minister of Economics in 1937 though he remained a member of the government.
Responsibility for implementing this was given to Goering. Had no real expertise in economics but was ambitious, forceful and determined
How did Goering try to bring about economic self-s
Early 20th century Germany was reliant on foreign imports in two main ways: had to bring in some of the food it consumed and its industries depended heavily on imported raw materials. Goering therfore aimed to reduce the need for imports of food and raw materials by:
- Attempts to encourage German farmers to grow more food. Given grants to bring new land under cultivation
- Industries required wherever possible to use raw materials available locally. Low-grade home-produced iron ore was used in preference to higher-quality imported ores.
- Huge amount of investment in efforts to develop artificial substitutes for natural products. In German these synthetic products were called ersatz goods, meaning artificial or replacement goods. Biggest 4-year-plan project of all involved building plants to derive motor fuel from coal. Plenty of coal but no oil + heavy investment in ersatz rubber
- Extensive program of labour retaining was started to ensure Germany didnt run short of workers with essential skills
Goering and Big Business
Goering expected major German companies to co-operate with him. If they did so they were allowed to make big profits. Most notorious example of a company which was only too willing to co-operate with the Nazis was I.G. Farben the chemicals giant. It later supplied the Nazi regime with the poison gas used to kill prisoners at Auschwitz and other extermination camps.
When big companies failed to co-operate with him, Goering by-passed them and set up state-run industrial facilities. In 1937 the Ruhr iron and steel companies refused to invest in expensive new blast furnaces capable of using low-grade German iron ore. Goering's response was to build a state-owned steelworks called the Hermann Goering Works.
By 1940 the Goering Works had developed into a giant industrial coroporation employing 600,000 people. It branched out from steel making into other activities such as coal mining and armaments manufacture.
How successful was the Four-Year Plan?
Hitler didnt expect the plan to make Germany self-sufficient in all respects bc he knew it wasnt possible. He accepted that Germany was incapable of feeding itself and he claimed that Germany needed living space in eastern Europe.
Germany might've been able to grow more of its own food had the Nazi regime not focused on other priorities. Agriculture often had to make way for preparations for war: agricultural laborers were drafted into jobs in armaments factories and land was given over to the armed forces for barracks, camps and airfields. + Many agricultural labourers left the land to seek better-paid jobs in the cities.
1.4 million workers left the land between 1933-39. This movement away from the land owed something to the Nazis' attempts to reorganise German agriculture. In 1933 the Nazis passed the Reich Entailed Farm Law. This aimed to preserve medium-sized German farms by ensuring that they were passed on to a single heir and to split up among several heirs. One result of the Farm Law was that children who were not heirs had no incentive to remain on the land.
German steel production inc. in the late 1930s but the contribution made to the increase by home-produced iron ore was less than was expected
More on success?
Attempts to produce synthetic materials had mixed success. In 1939 production of synthetic motor fuel was well below the planned level. Synthetic rubber, by contrast, was a success story, with production more or less reaching the targets lad down in the plan
Four-Year plan played havoc w/Germany's finances. The gov ran huge budget deficits in the late 1930s. Germany lived beyond its means.
Budget deficits: if spending by the government is higher than the government's income from taxation. When a gov runs a budget deficit it has to cover it by borrowing money.
In 1939 Germany was still importing more than one-third of its raw materials requirements
Overall, the 4-Year-Plan was only partly successful
Was Germany ready for war in 1939?
By 1939 Germany had an army of nearly four million men and an air force of 3000 warplanes. Its military strength had grown out of all recognition since 1933. Germany's army leaders nevertheless doubted whether the country was ready for war. One of their concerns was equipment.
The rearmament drive had been hampered by shortages of labour and raw materials. There had also been mismanagement. The result was that the army had not by 1939 been provided with all of the supplies it was expecting. Stocks of ammunition were low and much of the army was still reliant on horse-drawn transport.
The other main concern of the army leaders was the possibility of a long war against several enemies. They didn't believe that Germany had the underlying economic strength needed to fight a war similar to that of 1914-18. Germany's main weakness was the lack of guaranteed supplies of essential raw materials. The worst problem was oil.
Hitler reacted with impatience to the worries expressed by his army's chiefs in the late 1930s. In 1938 he sacked Germany's two leading generals and took personal command of Germany's armed forces. Events, however, were to prove his generals right.