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What date did the Germans orginally plan to go to war?

Discussion in 'Prelude to War & Poland 1939' started by ww2fan, Jun 11, 2011.

  1. ww2fan

    ww2fan Member

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    Hitler never intended for the war to start in 1939 and tried to settle a peace agreement with France and Britain(maybe a ploy for a surprise attack). In case the Germans originally had a master plan, what date did Hitler and his generals plan to start the war and what were their original master war and political plans in the future after annexing Poland(in case their was no outbreak of war in 1939).
     
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    What you may be thinking of is the timetable for German rearmament. Shortly after coming to power in 1933 Hitler called his military chiefs together and informed them in broad terms his future political/military plans. the re-occupation of the Saar-Rhineland, Austria, Sudetenland, Poland and eventually Russia. Two points sometime get lost for the casual historian, First the previous German Governments and military did much in planning and organization to make a rapid military build up possible. The second is that these same officers raised no objection to the waging of offensive war, but were quite happy to see billions of Reichsmarks spent on military allocations. War with Poland and Russia was inevetable, and with the Czech's, Britain and France highly likely.

    Hitler was delighted that he got no objections from his Gerneral's and Admiral's, also that they already had a general outline for military expansion. There was one caveat however, it would take time to produce the military that Hitler needed to fullfill his dreams. For the Heer (army) they would need till 1941 to make an orderly build-up, The Luftwaffe till about 1942, and the Navy till about 1945-48. Hitler, being the reasonable man he was, agreed to this timetable and the military men went about building the war machine that Hitler required.

    Hitler's reasonable nature lasted for perhaps a year when he began to demand that the pace of build up increase. There is speculation that in 1934 or 35 he recieved a diagnosis for Parkinsen's and that this, plus his own nature, led him to force the matter 'while he was still mentaly and physicaly' able to do so.

    Hope this was of use.
     
  3. CPL Punishment

    CPL Punishment Member

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    There was no fixed date for the commencement of war, nor even a relative date contingent of some set of political or economic conditions. Simply as a matter of central planning Hitler told his generals and admirals in 1935 that their rearmament efforts must be scaled for full realization within ten years, i.e. 1945. However, he seems to have amended his personal schedule based on timid reaction of the French to Germany's militarization of the Rhineland, and the rampant pacifist mood abroad in the West generally, as exemplified by the famous Oxford Union resolution "that this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country."

    Though his formal knowledge of the subject was practically nil Hitler was instinctively a Hegelian, a trait he shared with Karl Marx. That is to say he viewed history not in detail but in broad brushstrokes, and from those brushstrokes the incisive thinker, so goes the theory, can deduce patterns -- patterns which can predict the destiny and fate of peoples and nations. Outwardly this is an appealing proposition: Just as the stream flows to the sea though the constituent drops of water seem to follow no set path, the fates of nations play out predictably even though the fates of individuals are less fixed. Specifically in the case of Germany the pattern of history was summarized in the phrase Drang nach Osten, the drive to the East, meaning the inevitable expansion of the German peoples, language and culture eastward into lands historically occupied by the Slavs, Balts, and Asiatics, and eventually to displace those races and dispossess them of the land. In Hitler's own words "It is eastwards, only and always eastwards, that the veins of our race must expand. It is the direction which Nature herself has decreed for the expansion of the German peoples." Hitler coined another term to put his stamp indelibly on the concept: Lebensraum, living space in the East, space the Germans must have, and at the expense of the lesser races.

    This was all spelled out clearly in Mein Kampf, Hitler's autobiography and manifesto, and it was a recurring theme in all kinds of Nazi publications, films, textbooks and other propaganda. No one in Germany, nor any diplomat of any European power, could be unaware of Hitler's ultimate goal of conquest, yet he studiously avoided any commitment to timetables, or any hint of political or military preconditions that might signal when such a conquest would begin. Without specific dates or conditions the leaders of Europe could convince themselves that the doctrine of Lebensraum was nothing more than Nazi bluster, something to motivate the German working class, to soothe their yearnings and greed. They had heard similar table pounding from Mussolini and his Italian fascists, bombastic speeches about a new Roman Empire, bloodthirsty rhetoric amounting to nothing but comical posturing. Nevertheless the state cult of National Socialism was clear on the subject of Hitler as Messiah, that this Aryan millennium would be established by Hitler personally and not by one of his successors in the thousand year Reich. Therefore war must come in the Fuehrer's lifetime, especially to be expected during his relative youth. The hard core of the party, the Himmlers, the Stassers, and their ilk, knew intuitively with the annexation of Czechoslovakia in 1939 the Drang nach Osten had begun in earnest. Hitler’s opposition, staff officers like Beck and Canaris, also knew this, that the “appeasement” policy of the Western powers had the exact opposite effect that its crafters intended, that ceding the Sudetenland would trigger the avalanche, not prevent it.

    Hitler had a grand strategy to achieve his dream of an Aryan Empire. A key element of that strategy was the avoidance of the circumstances which destroyed the Reich of the Hohenzollerns, specifically a two front war against France in the West and Russia in the East. The solution was to deal decisively with the French long before the much more intense and world-historic conflict with the Russian Slavs broke out. This meant neutralizing Russia as a factor in the military calculations against the French. Hitler is sometimes dismissed as a madman or a fool, but fools and madmen do not rise to lead a people like the Germans. On the contrary, he had many undeniable talents verging on genius – a genius for motivating a mass political movement and a genius for reading the character of his enemies. Hitler read Stalin like a book and played him like a violin. By tempting Stalin with the morsel of Polish territory and a free hand in the Baltic States he was able to create the ideal situation to expunge the threat of an active front in the East, thus freeing his armies to march westward against France.

    Thus in August 1939 Hitler and Stalin concluded a treaty, outwardly a mutual pledge of nonaggression, but secretly a mutual deal to dismember Poland. And shortly thereafter the panzers rolled eastward to smash the Poles against the anvil of the Red Army. Hitler probably expected a declaration of war by the French, but he wasn't counting on it. What really surprised him was the reaction of the British, the nation and empire that he admired and courted. He was convinced that the British and the Nazi Reich could not only coexist but cooperate, especially against that Jew-ridden decadence called the United States of America. If the French had acquiesced to the conquest of Poland, had not declared war in September 1939, Hitler surely would have behaved just as he did and just when did. That is to say in the spring and summer of 1940 Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, and France would've been invaded and conquered to establish the preconditions needed for the conflagration in the East.

    As things actually transpired Hitler was faced with an undefeated enemy in the West, Great Britain and her empire. This was a particularly vexing development because Hitler had not anticipated that even after the fall of France there would remain an implacably hostile force able to re-create the fatal situation of a two front war with Germany sandwiched between enemies on the East and West simultaneously. However, Hitler was a gambler with gamblers instincts, and during the months of “phony war” with the Western Allies a situation developed in the East which titillated his gambler’s intuition and opportunism. The mighty Red Army had faltered badly against the tiny and ill-equipped citizen army of the Finns. He surmised that the years of Stalin's bloody purges had created a condition more favorable to a decisive war for Lebensraum than even in ideal case of a neutral Britain. The Bear was grievously wounded, but not yet fatally. Germany has only “to kick in the front door,” Hitler told his generals, “and the whole rotten edifice will come crashing down.” The opportunity was there before them, he thought, but it was not an enduring opportunity. Wait a year or two and the Soviet Union might yet emerge as formidable as before. It was at this point in the June of 1940 that the only real scheduling for war took place. Hitler gave his generals the remainder of the summer and the early fall to deal with Britain, but whatever the outcome the final war against Russia, Operation Barbarossa, was to commence at the first opportunity of good weather in 1941, which could be taken to mean early May.

    There is some speculation that Hitler outlined a firm schedule for war in a document called Generalplan Ost, which was a master plan for the conquest and colonization of Poland, Russia and the Baltic States. However, no definitive version of this document is known to exist.
     
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  4. Domen121

    Domen121 Member

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    It is possible that he would have invaded Western Europe yet in 1939.

    Remember that even immediately after the Polish Campaign, on October 9 1939, Hitler designated the starting date of the invasion of France as 25.11.1939. But later he decided to postpone the invasion when his generals convinced him to do so. In total Germans were postponing the starting date of the invasion of France many times.

    Among the reasons of postponing the invasion of France were casualties and usage of ammo and other materials in Poland. Especially expenditure of air bombs.

    In September 1939 Luftwaffe expended over 22,000 tons of bombs:

    100,300 bombs 10 kg
    295,350 bombs 50 kg
    16,540 bombs 250 kg
    1,709 bombs 500 kg

    The total pre-war German reserve was 69,015 tons of bombs, including:

    1,502,600 bombs 10 kg (% expended = 6,7%)
    700,000 bombs 50 kg (% expended = 42,2%)
    47,300 bombs 250 kg (% expended = 35,0%)
    9,500 bombs 500 kg (% expended = 18,0%)

    They had a good reason to assume that bombs which left after September 1939 would not be enough to "bomb down" a much-stronger-than-Poland France.
     
  5. marc780

    marc780 Member

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    Certainly by the late 1930's most of the German military leadership realized that Hitler was leading the nation into war. Naturally they had no idea of the scope and size it would ultimately be (probably not even Hitler realized for that matter) but knew (having been told by Hitler himself) that they had to prepare for war. Germany had limited resources and relied on other nations for much of them: oil from russia and rumania, iron ore from Sweden, and so on. Germany was however, unlike England their main enemy, self-sufficient in food but that was about the limit. This hindered what the Generals and admirals wanted to do to enlarge their forces.

    The lack of resources, particularly fuel, aluminum and copper, led to the deliberate decision by the Luftwaffe NOT to create a fleet of heavy bombers, to match the British and Americans - a decision which would later prove fatal. But as Goerring himself said, "The Fuehrer will not ask how big my aircraft are, he will ask HOW MANY there are."

    The leadership of the army, luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine all believed, or hoped that they would have more time to prepare then they ultimately got. They wanted Hitler to wait before starting another war. The luftwaffe planned for war by the late 1940's and the Kriegsmarine, under the talented and astute Grand Admiral Raeder, wanted to wait untl 1950 to complete his ambitious ship-building programs.

    The army's panzers were technically inferior to those fielded by the French (no German knew abut the T-34 until the army was hammering on the gates of Moscow in 1941). The luftwaffe's front-line aircraft designs were on the verge of obsolescence and a second generation of aircraft was needed to assure air superiority for any future war. The kriegsmarine was building ships fast, but the wrong type, and again used old technology, and ideas (the Germans had no aircraft carriers, one was planned and construction was started but it never reached completion). U-boat technology, in particular, was little improved over the WW1 boats.

    Hitler's amazing reply was that by the time they were ready, he would be too old to direct another war

    Maybe it's helpful to look at it all from the German perspective of the 1920's and 1930's. Germany after WW1 was a nation of 80 million, and had a collective feeling of defeat, betrayel and humiliation by the draconian Versailles treaty. Hitler, who had been an ordinary Corporal in WW1, maybe felt this more acutely then anyone. In the 1920's, times in Germany were good for a while, until the confusion of government, reparation payments and restrictions of Versailles and a poor world economic climate of the late '20s and the 1930's hit Germany, very hard. Unemployment was massive and the reichsmark was worth almost nothing, there are many tales of people hauling a wheelbarrow full of marks to the grocer just to buy a loaf of bread. Germany was in economic and social chaos, people were starving, and the communists were threatening to take over the government. Hitler, while still in the army, had joined the infant Nazi party in 1921, after being assigned by his commanding officer to go to a meeting of about 20 men, and "see what they were up to". Hitler was transformed by this meeting and slowly took power of it, gathered his talented cronies (Hess, and probably the most important one of all, Goerring) and expanded the movement due to his amazingly persuasive powers of speaking. Soon the Nazis were rising in direct opposition to the communists and both parties fought in the streets using violence, terror, propaganda and murder against each other. Hitler tried a coup' against the Hindenburg government in 1926, which failed and in which he was almost killed (Goerring was shot by police in the leg, and fled to Italy to avoid jail). The result of all this was Hitler was given a light prison sentence by an apparently sympathetic judge, of which he ultimately served only 9 months. During this time he dictated "Mein Kampf" to his crony Rudolph Hess. He also vowed to avoid violence in his next attempt to seize power and that it would be done legitimately.

    Why am i typing all this, because without WW1 and the subsequent years of chaos, humiliation, and deprivation of Germany, Adolph Hitler could never have taken power. Germany in the pre WW2 days saw itself as threatened, dismembered, poverty-stricken, a third-rate power, and surrounded by old enemies (Poland and France in particular). when Hitler came to power in 1933 he promised to change all that. Hitler at first did many economic miracles, he created the autobahn system to put men to work. He threw out Versailles and started rearmament, which also created millions of jobs. Few suspected hitler's intentions at first, or if they did, they kept it to themselves as the Nazis also created a police state and established the concentration camps (Goerring was key to this, having gotten the idea from the British, from a book he had read about the Boer War of 1900).

    Thus by about 1935, through legal election and a number of plebiscites (he put his assumption of absolute power to the vote) Hitler had cleared the way to do whatever he wanted to do with a heavily industrialized and warlike nation of 80 million.

    While Hitler held absolute power, he was also surrounded by people that heavily influenced his decisions. Goerring for one, did not want war. He had fought as a pilot in world war 1 and had 20 kills to his credit. He was also the son of a diplomat, had important connections with German and Swedish industrialists, and paved the way economically for the Nazi party as he had the charisma and social skills Hitler lacked completely. Without Goerring there might never have been a Nazi party as he arranged the financing and industrial backing for all of it. Goerring was highly intelligent, egomaniacal, and most of all power-hungry. Goerring was greedy and wanted many things but war was not one of them.

    Goerring in fact blamed Von Ribbentrop (Hitler's foreign minister) for helping to maneuver Hitler into attacking Poland in the face of repeated warnings by the British and the French, with whom ribbentrop had direct contact. Goerring opposed invading Poland but Hitler became convinced the Western allies would again stand by and do nothing (thanks partly to Ribbentrop's assurances). When Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, Goerring called Ribbentrop directly and snarled derisively "Congratulations. You got your war!"

    At the urging of many of the Field Marshalls, Goerring also tried to talk Hitler out of invading Russia in 1941. Neither Hitler nor Goerring had fought on the Eastern front in WW1 but many of the Generals HAD. They knew exactly what Germany was getting into and had not been lured to the point of delusion by Germany's astounding string of victories up to that point. Goerring failed to convince Hitler, telling one of the Generals "The Fuehrer has made up his mind, and no power on earth can now change it".
     
  6. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    As there was no masterplan (no copy has been found),there also was no date to start a general war (against whom ?)
    Btw,the annexation of Poland only could happen after a war .:cool:
    The only thing one can say was,that after the M-R pact,war with Poland was inevitable .But,originally,Fall Weiss would start on 26 august,but,it was delayed till 1 september .
     
  7. Markus Becker

    Markus Becker Member

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    Exactly! The wars with Poland and the USSR were part of his plans he had outlined in "Mein Kampf" but as far as I can tell he had no intention to conquer western Europe. France was seen as a likely enemy, simply because she was allied with Poland and the CSR, the UK was even seen as a friendly neutral. He was clearly surprised and shocked when he learned about the british-french ultimatum.
     
  8. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    The alliance with Poland was only one reason, Hitler saw France as THE Hereditary enemy because of symbols like Rethonde, Versailles and Verdun for example. Without a Franco-Polish alliance, the May 1940 invasion would have happened just the same.
     
  9. ww2fan

    ww2fan Member

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    What I meant was if the war didn't spread in the same outbreak as in 1939 and was isolated at Poland.
     
  10. scipio

    scipio Member

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    In Mein Kampf, Hitler laid out quite clearly what the objective was - the defeat of the Jewish\Bolshevik Soviet State to give Lebensraum in the East.


    He was also clear that he thought the big mistake made by the Kaiser was the Naval race with Britain. Just seems to me that his investment in Surface Vessels and Submarines was an insurance policy. He aslo guaranteed to his Generals that there would be no Two Front War.


    So his only argument with the Allies was with France in Alsace\Lorraine - pretty minor compared to Russia.

    If he had a date in mind it was along the lines of - it must be against Russia before she recovers from the 1937 Purge. Both he and Stalin expected a final showdown at some point. Stalin thought that he had bought a respite until 1942 but Hitler defeated the Allies too quickly and surprised Stalin by attacking a year or more too early for Stalin.

    So being the gambler (but not reckless) he was, Hitler covered his back with the Nazi\Soviet deal on Poland. If the Allies acquiesced, and it certainly seems genuine when he rounded on Ribbentrop for getting him into a fight with France\Britain, then he was in perfect position to take on Russia after absorbing Poland. The Allies would not have gone to war to support Stalin - Hitler gets a one front War.

    If the dice fell the other way (which they did) then he still gets a one front War but with the British and French.

    So I think he was expecting a War on one or other fronts sometime in 1940.
     
  11. harolds

    harolds Member

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    One factor alluded to by Belasar, but not given much consideration here was Hitler's deteriorating mental condition. Whether it was due to Parkinsons Disease or syphilis or perhaps a combination of factors will never be known. However, his mental decline was much evident by 1942 since Halder mentioned it in his diary, saying that after 1942 Hitler never made a rational decision. We know that these conditions effect people long before they are manifestly evident. One has to wonder if his decision to go to war earlier was a result of a mind becoming unhinged.
     
  12. scipio

    scipio Member

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    .

    Hitler had not changed his tune since 1925 - he was always unhinged. He, like most "mad " dictators, never made a secret of his aims. It is just the rest of the "sane" world which tries to judge his\their actions against reasonable norms and discounts at their peril his\their mad ravings. Here is a note of a meeting on the Eve of WW2 when Danzig was his latest "reasonable" complaint.


    • 11August 1939, obersalzberg


    Leagueof Nations High Commissioner in Danzig, Swiss diplomat CarlBurckhardt, has an audience with Hitler, 'the most profoundlyfeminine man' he has ever encountered. Burckhardt has also never metbefore 'any human being capable of generating so terrific acondensation of envy, vituperation and malice' as Hitler does. TheFuehrer tells Burckhardt that 'the Polish army already has the markof death stamped on its countenance'.


    ThenHitler, with astonishing frankness, tells the Swiss that everythinghe is undertaking is funda­mentally aimed at Russia, just as hewrote in MeinKampf backin 1925. If Britain and France are so stupid as not to recognisethis, he tells the Swiss diplomat, then he will be forced to joinwith Russia in order to annihilate them. Then, he will turn on Russiaand gain the Lebensraum(livingspace), so vital for the German race.


    Backhome in Basle, Burckhardt reports the conversation to British andFrench diplomats. He fails, however, to mention Hitler's remarksabout Russia because he believes 'a German-Soviet pact was simply tooabsurd to contemplate'.
     
  13. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Personally I see that Hitler saw no other alternative but war to settle the score in Europe.I believe this is what he said in Mein Kampf and simply continued this policy all the way as he was able to capture power in Germany in 1933. Almost all the steel went into making guns and ammo, and the army was being formed in rapid succession to battle readiness. Did he have a major plan? Perhaps not, but it was to be war as soon as possible for Mr Hitler. After the Munich negotations Hitler said he would not let any other idiots stop him from his war. That means he was ready for sure for war in summer-autumn 1938. Also the German economy would not have stood the massive amounts of money being put into the Army for long anymore, so Hitler was also financially forced to war or Germany would collapse. By invading countries he got money and factories etc which allowed him to continue the politics of destruction.
     
  14. Oktam

    Oktam Member

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    He didn't expect for the UK and France to declare war as a reaction to his war declaration on Poland. It wasn't in his plan to start a grand scale conflict in Europe anywhere during the thirties. He planned a war of such a scale to occur somewhere in the middle forties. Erich Raeder, the Grand Admiral of the German Navy of that time, said the following as a reaction to the joint war declaration: "Today the war against France and England broke out, the war which according to the Führer's previous assertions, we had no need to expect before about 1944." By 1939, Germany didn't yet achieve the projected armament level they thought was needed to successfully counter the UK and France.

    Did Hitler even had interest in economics? He left that business to his colleagues, who didn't appear to be concerned with long term effect of corporativist economics (I am not well informed about the economic policies during the National Socialist years, so if I am wrong, let someone correct me).
     
  15. VolksGrenadier44

    VolksGrenadier44 Member

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    However, before the invasion of France Hitler knew if France and Britian did Declare War then they would be a little clueless and panicy which was most definatly the case.

    As for Hitler taking an interest in economics: I was watching the Hitory channel and I saw an eddition of a show titled: "Trashopolis" and they were doing a special on Berlin. The most part they spoke about during the war and it seems as though Hitler did show a lot of care about the Eco-status of his country.

    Videos - History Television

     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    For a really detailed answer to this check out Wages of Destruction
     
  17. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Here is an interesting take on Hitler’s interest in the economy, and the men he put in control of it.


    Undoubtedly the balance between the main rivaling institutions changed during the Third Reich: Hitler's control of the military and the economy increased; the independence of the state apparatus and the economy diminished as the SS (the organization most closely associated with Hitler's aims) assumed nearly total control toward the end. The army was placed under Hitler's command in 1941 but (due to its essential role in the war) preserved a little more independence than other institutions.

    Altogether, we should not see the four power blocs of the functionalists as too static. Although the economy and the army enjoyed some independence for much of the Third Reich, their status and interests changed in the twelve years of the Nazi regime. The economy was first left alone in order to complete the recovery from the devastating crisis. We have seen how Hitler courted big business and repressed the SA with its partly socialist demands. Until 1936 rearmament was limited and subordinated to the health of the national economy. Businessmen could largely do what they considered most profitable and faced almost no state invention (except for the removal of Jews and, indirectly, strong incentives for rearmament).

    After 1936 rearmament and state control intensified. The government drafted a four-year plan that should prepare Germany for war by 1940 (neither the industrialists nor the public, however, were informed that readiness for war should be realized so quickly). The plan's insistence on autarky and rapid rearmament sometimes contradicted industrialist interest, and the pace of war preparation raised concerns about the future of the economy. The economics minister consequently stepped down. Despite occasional tensions, however, business relations to the government remained good, and the Nazis still tried to placate the entrepreneurs' concerns. With party-directed educational and leisure programs (Strength through Joy), the regime reconciled the workers with low wages and long hours.

    The pace of war preparation in 1936-39, however, might have overheated the economy, created an irresponsible deficit, and threatened a new economic crisis. Some historians believe an aggressive war of conquest was necessary in 1939 to make up for excessive military spending. During the war, government control over the economy intensified, but until 1941 the Blitzkrieg concept mandated only limited changes. Only in 1942-44 did the government intervene more directly in the economy to support a more intensive struggle that could not be tackled by Blitzkrieg methods. But even in this period, dominated by Hitler's armament minister Albert Speer, the economy did not fall under complete Nazi control, and businessmen could still largely influence the government regulations. In the face of defeat in 1944-45, the regime tried to implement total control but failed in the midst of chaos, bombings, and general breakdown. It remains remarkable, however, that the most intensive phase of military production started so late and culminated only in 1944.


    Goto:


    E.5. The Functioning of the Nazi Regime: State and Society
     

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