This is part three of my comments on Richard Evan’s awesome work, The Third Reich In Power. I’m focusing on the economic info in the book, looking at it from the point of view so hated by Hitler and by all govts, Austrian Economics, the one true economics. [Here are links to Part One and Part Two].
One of the themes of Austrian Economics is that all govts are inherently incompetent, even at doing the things they so want to get right. The reason? They are rarely punished for failure. A business that does not please the customers will lose money. But a govt that does anything poorly can just shrug it off and move on.
So we can expect to see huge flops in the way the Nazis did things, just like with any other govt run concerns. Indeed, since the Nazis had even less to fear from its citizens than other govts, because of their terrorist reign, one would expect them to fail even worse than other govts.
And Richard Evans brings us the data. What did Hitler want more than anything? A powerful military machine. Evans tells us that he twisted the whole German economy to serve only that purpose. Speaking in 1933, Hilter told his men:
The next 5 years in Germany must be devoted to the rearmament of the German people. Every publicly supported job creation scheme must be judged by the criterion of whether it is necessary from the point of view of the rearmament of the German people. This principle must always and everywhere stand in the foreground.
Well, may as well being with the infrastructure, right? Get the roads in the best possible shape to serve the war machine. Hitler wanted to cover roofed over with reinforced concrete to protect them against enemy attacks from the air. The tanks and troop carriers would zoom down those highways straight to the front.
Devil’s Advocate: I’m sure that evil Hitler managed to get it done. I mean, his underlings must have been terrified they would get shot if they messed up. Those roads must have been military marvels.
Smiling Dave: Actually, they were one of the minor reasons he lost the war. As Evans tells us, the roads were totally useless for military purposes:
In the end, the routes they followed were too far from any possible front lines in a war, and the road surface was too thin to carry tanks and heavy military equipment. Their gleaming white surfaces were to provide enemy aircraft with such an easy means of orientation that they had to be covered in camouflage paint during the war.
Hitler: Dumbkoffs! You had one job!