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War and Economy in the Third Reich$
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R. J. Overy

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198202905

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198202905.001.0001

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Guns or Butter? Living Standards, Finance, and Labour in Germany, 1939–1942

Guns or Butter? Living Standards, Finance, and Labour in Germany, 1939–1942

(p.258) (p.259) 9 Guns or Butter? Living Standards, Finance, and Labour in Germany, 1939–1942
War and Economy in the Third Reich

R. J. Overy

Oxford University Press

At the end of World War II the United States Strategic Bombing Survey uncovered what appeared to be a remarkable contradiction. Germany, the country of totalitarian politics and massive rearmament, had apparently mobilised its economy to a very limited extent in the early stages of the conflict, and to a much smaller extent than its enemies, particularly Britain. Rolf Wagenführ of the Statistische Reichsamt published a manuscript on the German war economy which provided much material not only for the Bombing Survey, but for much subsequent historical writing. Wagenführ claimed that the characteristic feature of the German economy in 1939 and 1940 was ‘business as usual’ in the ‘peace-like war economy’. Evidence of the low level of actual armaments output in Germany before 1942, coupled with the knowledge of how much Germany was capable of producing at the end of the war, confirmed this view. This chapter focuses on living standards, finance, and labour in Germany from 1939 to 1942.

Keywords:   Rolf Wagenführ, Statistische Reichsamt, Germany, World War II, economy, living standards, finance, labour

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