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Economic Conditions of Germany, World War II

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Initial German Advantage

In the beginning of the Second World War, Germany seemingly had an advantage economically over its opponents, at least militarily speaking. Adolf Hitler had earlier converted a portion of Germany's economic sector to producing the armaments necessary for waging war. Germany had also begun stockpiling large amounts of raw materials necessary for creating the machine for war, as well as harvesting and exploiting its own local raw materials, such as iron ore. While Hitler had taken much of Germany's economy under state control, most allied nation economies were still controlled by the private sector, excluding the Soviet Union of course. The length of the war would test the adaptability of the economies of the many nations involved in World War II, A test that the German economy would ultimately fail. Other nations however, would pass the test, even the state controlled economy of the Soviet Union. By 1938, German armament production outweighed the British armament production yearly, five times over. In addition to the harvesting of local iron ore deposits, the Germans created programs to develop synthetic oils and rubbers.

How and Why The Allies Overcame

In the outset of the war, Britain was unprepared, and the French had taken a defensive stance. Any war would be a long war; this neatly eliminated the chance of a quick victory. France promptly used their wartime powers to take control of their economy, and Britain had previously taken steps to set up supply systems. Neither nation pooled their resources at this time, further prolonging the creation of an efficient economic machine. The Germans foolishly provided the British and French time to pool their resources and to stockpile the materials and supplies needed to wage a long war. Just as foolishly, the British and French did not take this opportunity to do so. The German Blitzkrieg shocked the world. The British and French immediately took on programs of full scale economic mobilization. Nonetheless, it would still take a few years for the British and French to catch up with Germany. The British handled the switch from a private economy to a war time economy quietly and calmly. Following the fall of France, the Battle of Britain began. The British came out of the Battle of Britain with more fighter planes than it had when the air war began. A massive expansion of military and merchant ocean-going vessels was a much more complex mission. As was the organization and formation of a massive land army. The British would ultimately create the most coordinated and organized war time economy of any of the nations at war. A boon to the British government was the willingness of its citizens to be put under rationing programs; public opinion accepted these programs before the programs were in effect. Lacking the population and raw materials of the Germans, the British could only compete by making manufacturing at the highest standards and levels. The British and Soviet nations had their women heavily involved in the manufacturing effort.

Hitler pushed Germany to wage war in the traditional way, where battle was fought and won on the field of battle with men and weaponry. The British sought to win the war economically, by undermining Germany's ability to make war. This would mainly be done by blockade and the bombing of raw material refineries and economic targets. Germany's control of the larger part of Central and Western Europe afforded



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