Foreign Trade in German Economy

March 9, 1939

Report Outline
Nazi Emphasis on Promotion of Exports
Germany's Dependence on Foreign Trade
Nazi Devices for Expanding Export Trade
Limited Success of German Trade Offensive
Special Focus

Nazi Emphasis on Promotion of Exports

In September, 1936, Germany launched a Four-Year Plan which was heralded by the more radical National Socialists as a vehicle for attainment of autarchy, or economic self-sufficiency, to be achieved by intensification of efforts already being made to expand agricultural production and to develop substitutes for foreign raw materials. Although the Reich has made considerable progress in those directions, it has not been able to free itself of dependence on other countries for a part of its food and raw-material supply. A year after initiation of the Four-Year Plan, Hitler cautioned that “we have neither the desire nor the intention to become hermits——politically or economically.” Before the Reichstag, January 30, 1939, he conceded that “conditions today make it quite impossible for Germany to withdraw from world trade.” The German nation, he declared, must export or die.

As a matter of fact, the National Socialist regime, despite the Four-Year Plan, has at no time relaxed its efforts to increase German exports, since it has been necessary to import raw materials essential for its manufacturing industries and for prosecution of its rearmament program. The necessity of maintaining this trade has led to imposition of ever more stringent controls on foreign commerce and to adoption of methods inimical to the free play of international competitive forces. Attempts of other nations to combat German inroads on markets which they have hitherto enjoyed were deprecated by Hitler in his recent Reichstag speech.

We have to export [he said] in order to buy foodstuffs, and moreover, as these exports require raw materials, and of which we do not possess, we are forced to export still more in order to assure ourselves of these extra raw materials.…

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Nov. 25, 1944  Transfers of Populations
Nov. 01, 1940  Economic Controls in Nazi Germany
Mar. 09, 1939  Foreign Trade in German Economy
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Apr. 30, 1924  The German National Elections
Bilateral and Regional Trade
Exports and Imports
Regional Political Affairs: Europe