Was life for Germans better in 1939 than it had been in 1933?

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larrygates's profile pic

larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Historians have speculated that if Hitler had died in 1939, he would be remembered as the greatest statesmen in the history of Germany, even more so than Otto von Bismarck. Although his efforts were strident and did harm Jews and other minorities, he did manage to restore the German economy following the throes of the Great Depression. He built roads and houses for the German people, and even sponsored the production of a car all the people could drive, the so-called "people's car" (Volkswagen.) He also freed Germany from the striations of the Treaty of Versailles, restored the German speaking Sudetenland and Austria to Germany, and re-invigorated the nationalism which had been an important element of German culture. Sadly, his ambition to have Germany control all of Eastern Europe upset the balance of power, and Germany was the worst for it. However, had he stopped short of the invasion of Poland, the German people overall would have been in much better shape than they were in the economic crisis of 1933 which gave rise to the Enabling Act.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This is a complex question given that there are so many different ways that a "better" life can be defined.

Economically, Germany was clearly doing better in 1939 than in 1933.  Rates of unemployment had dropped dramatically.  Gross Domestic Product had risen every year that the Nazis were in power (though some academics would argue that this was caused only by an increase in military spending).  This would tend to indicate that life was better.

Of course, however, other aspects of life were worse.  This was particularly true for unpopular groups like the Jews.  For everyone, though, Germany was a more repressive place in 1939 than it had been in 1933.


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