‘The chaotic nature of the Nazi Government structure explains the failures in German war production during the Second World War’. Discuss. There is ample evidence that Germany’s war production levels increased during the Second World War in 1942, when ammunition, tanks and total arms increased by significant percentages due to Albert Speer relaxing constraints on businesses, and increasing the number of workers. However, one cannot not deny that the chaotic nature of the Nazi Government structure undermined war production excessively, due to the fact the German economy was not fully mobilised for war.
It is also evident that the shortage of raw materials and labour affected the economy massively, furthermore with the SS remaining loyal to themselves; murdering six million Jews instead of seeking labour. The key factor of the failures in German war production is that the Nazi state was too chaotic and remained loyal to their ideology rather than to the war effort, with too many agencies competing for any consistent policy to be formulated; thus slackening war production.
Certainly, the chaotic nature of the Nazi Government is the most significant factor of Germany’s failed war production. Hitler planned to start the war in 1942, 3 years later than when it officially started, additionally he didn’t plan when and how he was going to attack the USSR. The actual mobilisation of the German economy was marred by inefficiency and poor co-ordination. Additionally, Nazi leadership was shocking, as the pressures resulting from the premature outbreak of war created problems, due to many agencies’ projects encouraged being ready for 1943.
As a result, all the agencies continued to function in their own way, and not together which created conflict. Thus, the Nazi economy was characterised by shortages, duplicates and waste; with Britain spending half as much and producing 50% more. Therefore, with all the Nazi agencies working on their own to impress Hitler, and not together, there was no clear plan in how to increase war production, just ways in which to electrify the Fuhrer and not total war.
Additionally, Gauleiter also had different aims than the state, and aimed to Germanise and not develop the war economy, which also lead to mass shortages in labour and raw materials. Indeed, the SS played a huge role in limiting Germany’s war production. The SS were in charge of all the occupied concentration camps, and towards the end of the war they were in charge of 150 firms exploiting slave labour to extract raw materials and manufacture textiles, armaments, and household goods. Additionally, the SS never exploited occupied countries’ economy, thus did not use their industries successfully.
Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the SS clashed with Speer; due to the fact concentration camp factories were inefficient, as Speer preferred using paid labour in occupied countries. In conjunction with this point, labour in the concentration camps contained horrific conditions, thus workers could not work efficiently in the camps to produce the amounts anticipated. Therefore, if the SS exploited occupied countries’ economies, then they would have been able to use paid labour, resulting in the workers working harder to the war effort; thus producing more raw materials vital to the war effort.
In addition, the SS were in the process of exterminating 6 million Jews, wasting ammunition, raw materials, and supplies on them keeping them in concentration camps. One cannot contradict on the fact that Nazi ideology limited Germany’s war production. The Nazis viewed the war as a ‘radical war’, in which the superior Aryans would triumph over the Slavs and inferior groups and they aimed to make the whole of Europe become ‘Jew Free’. The Nazis had utilised the Great Depression to gain support, promising ‘bread and work’.
As a result, Hitler always believed that he needed to give the people bread and butter at the same time as supporting a war economy; thus Hitler wanted to keep up with the production of consumer goods. By doing this concentrating on consumer goods as opposed to total war production vastly slowed down the production of armaments, ammunition, and many more materials essential to the war effort. These nationalistic beliefs also undermined labour, as conscription of women was ideologically based, with the Nazi view of women revolving around ‘Kinder, Kuche, and Kirche’ (children, kitchen, church).
Consequently, due to such nationalist views and remaining loyal to Nazi ideology, war production could not increase due to a huge shortage in labour, with women persisting to be viewed as the stereotypical housewife, thus if women were conscripted to the labour force, war production would have been of vast improvements. Additionally, the Jewish race could have been used as a labour force to the war effort, instead of being held captive at concentration camps waiting to be murdered.
However, putting a side Nazi ideology, it is said that Albert Speer nearly worked a miracle, by employing women and making concentration camps as labour camps; so there was some success in the war economy. Finally, because of the catastrophic nature of the Nazi Government, labour and raw materials were extremely short, thus resorted to total war as an attempt to quickly increase war production. Natural resources such as iron, coal, oil and many more needed to be produced at tolerable standards that were needed for a sustained war effort.
In order to fight a major war, Germany needed the annex of other nations’ resources, which initially failed due to the failure of military Blitzkreig in 1942. Additionally, these shortages of raw materials were due to the lack of labour in Germany, as women’s labour declined from 14. 6 million, to 14. 1 million. However, women’s labour peaked to 14. 9 million in 1944, due to the actions of Speer, who employed more women in arms factories; which did however increase Germany’s war production. Speer’s actions were effective during total war, in the process of rationalisation when he made huge improvements in the economy.
So yes, during total war and rationalisation, Germany’s war production was looking positive, but due to the small production of raw materials and a shortage of workers, Germany could not produce enough to make a real significance in the war effort. Undeniably, Germany did see some success in war production due to the actions of Albert Speer, having such a good relationship with Hitler; he was able to relax constraints on businesses that were made to fit the Nazis’ wishes. Thus, this encouraged his programme of ‘industrial self-responsibility’ to provide mass production in Germany; which inevitably succeeded.
Nevertheless, there is no denying the reality that it was primarily the chaotic nature of the government that caused failure within Germany’s war production. Due to Nazi ideology, there was no intense loyalty to the war effort shown by any agencies, as they all acted to impress Hitler, thus did not work together stalling war production massively. In conjunction with this, the chaotic nature of the Nazi government deeply effected labour, with a shortage of female workers. Finally, as a result, raw materials were significantly behind, thus there was no proper sustained war effort.