The Great Depression

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The Great Depression

Glog of the Great Depression

The Great Depression was defined as a severe economic collapse due to the crash of American stock markets, a lack of consumerism, and a declining number of investments. The industrialized nations of Europe depended heavily on American loans, and ultimately, the Great Depression pervaded internationally.

Time Line


America: 1928-1932


Germany: 1928-1932


Hitler's first speech, discussing his new methods to transform German economy.


America: 1933-1938

Germany: 1933-1938

FDR ensured America that they were in safe hands, informing them that the fear of the past would be eradicated.

Although there is no distinctive cause of the Great Depression in America, the vacillating Stock Market had a tremendous impact. Immediately, people began to withdraw their money from the banks and lose trust, leading to a rise in unemployment (25%) and decline in consumerism. Many Americans were impoverished, and flocked to soup kitchens and bread lines for satiation.

When the Great Depression hit, the German economy faced its nadir. No longer able to repay war reparations and recreate itself as a powerful empire, citizens became apathetic and began searching for a new way of life, avoiding further contributions to the failing capitalistic society. The Germans faced the same consequences as Americans: a scarcity of work and imperative sense of survival.

As President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) came into office, he constructed a plan of action to immediately combat the Depression, known as the "New Deal. The New Deal was composed of the 3 R’s: relief, recovery, and reform, with the goal of rerouting the nation from suffering. FDR engendered progress in all aspects of American life, reminding the population that fear was a hindrance, and America would endure as always. FDR created reforms such as helping to increase housing developments, which were vital in order to reduce the long-term quantity of impoverished people, and the Civilian Conservation Corps, which provided short-term jobs for more than two million young men, stimulating the economy and allowing for prosperity.

Adolf Hitler became German Chancellor in 1933, and transformed the country from its prior leadership. Hitler's goals for Germany consisted of increased Germanization and the introduction of socialism, or the public ownership of all economic resources, in order to rebuild the failing economy. The German Reichsarbeitdienst (RAD), or State Labor Service, was a mandatory service that provided young men civil and agricultural labor, essential for increasing nationalism and reducing unemployment. Additionally, Hitler believed majority of Germans should have cars in order to create a superior, opulent state, and contributed to the conception of the Volkswagen. Hitler’s reforms allowed for the supremacy he deigned, but did not eliminate all of the problems of the Great Depression, such as mass poverty and fear.

British Diplomatic ReportsSir H. Rumbold (Berlin) to Mr. A. Henderson (Received September 8)Berlin, September 5, 1930Sir,The two outstanding features of the present electoral campaign, in which twenty-four parties are participating, are the apathy of the general public and the pronounced activity of the Nationalist Socialists. The apathy of the general public may be largely ascribed to the fact that the belief is widely held that this election can produce no result and that another election will have to be held in the late autumn. To a great extent, too, the excessive attention which has been paid to foreign policy at a time when internal reforms are obviously more immediate may be attributed to the attempts of the party leaders to arouse some interest in the electorate. In the meanwhile, the activity of the National Socialists has reached such intensity as to cause serious dissensions within their own camp, as a result of which some curious developments, such as the existence of Communist cells in their ‘storm detachments,' have been brought to light.The Nationalist Socialists claim that they represent a movement and not a party. The movement is a new and vigorous one and obviously appeals to youth; and now, during the electoral campaign, its youthfulness and dissatisfied. In fact, they are often described as the party of the dissatisfied. Their electoral methods are themselves original and often ingenious. Despite their large Berlin headquarters, with its thirty-two rooms, they do not dispose of large funds. But they seem to have found some sources of supply, for they are obviously spending money in distributing large quantities of pamphlets, leaflets and placards. A cheaper and easier method and, for very young men, a more amusing one, is to splash the swastika in red paint together with the number of the party electoral list on fences, posts and pavements. They also have little rubber stamps with which they stamp their sign and number on motor buses, tube trains and other vehicles. On one occasion, when the owner of a bookstall was not looking, they succeeded in stamping their sign and number on nearly all of his newspapers and publications. Reports from other parts of the country also show that they are extremely active everywhere in devising means of attracting attention. . .The various acts of rowdyism, often resulting in bloodshed, in which National Socialists are reported from all over the country to be involved obviously offer the Communists opportunities to further their ends; and those who still hope some day to bring about a Soviet revolution in Germany must surely be pleased with the way the storm detachments of their greatest enemies are now behaving. It remains to be seen, however, what effect these serious dissensions within the party, this rowdyism and this smell of communism will have upon the better class supporters of the National Socialist movement, whose number is not insignificant; and also what effect it will have upon that nebulous group of dissatisfied people who have hitherto been attracted by the freshness and youth and vigour of the movement.Hitler's problem now seems to be how to get rid of these unruly storm detachments. He obviously can do nothing before the election, but rumours are about that he has pledged himself to certain of his financial supporters to dissolve the storm detachments immediately the election is over.Horace Rumbold

The German situation is characterized by the following:1. A high level of interest, which crushes agriculture and also industry. 2. The burden of taxation, which is so oppressive that it cannot be increased, but has nevertheless been increased, to assure the very existence of the State. 3. External or foreign debt, the service of which becomes ever more difficult by reason of the progressive decline in exports. 4. Unemployment, which is relatively more widespread than in any other country… What is particularly fatal is that an ever-growing number of young people have no possibility and no hope of finding employment and earning their livelihood. Despair and the political radicalization of the youthful section of the population are the consequences of this state of things… The former reserves of the Reichsbank are exhausted. The reserves in gold and foreign currency of which the Reichsbank can freely dispose are no more than 390 million marks… If, in the next few weeks, we are to fulfil our obligations, this will become even more insufficient… The foreign trade of Germany closed in 1931 with an surplus of some 3 billion marks…. This favourable balance has led in all countries to protective measures against German imports, with the consequence that the excess of exports rapidly diminished in 1932…Germany could not by herself arrest this development. No international decision has been taken up to now to arrest this development. The very wise initiative of President Hoover in June 1931 was inspired by the idea of giving the world a respite destined to produce a solution of the most urgent economic problems. This goal, nevertheless, has not been reached. Sufficient account has not been taken of economic reality.

With this political purification of our public life, the Government of the Reich will undertake a thorough moral purging of the body corporate of the nation. The entire educational system, the theater, the cinema, literature, the Press, and the wireless – all these will be used as means to this end and valued accordingly. They must all serve for the maintenance of the eternal values present in the essential character of our people. Art will always remain the expression and the reflection of the longings and the realities of an era… It is the task of art to be the expression of this determining spirit of the age. Blood and race will once more become the source of artistic intuition… Great are the tasks of the national Government in the sphere of economic life. Here all action must be governed by one law: the people do not live for business, and business does not exist for capital. But capital serves business, and business serves the people. In principle, the Government will not protect the economic interests of the German people by the circuitous method of an economic bureaucracy to be organized by the State, but by the utmost furtherance of private initiative and by the recognition of the rights of property… The salvation of the German farmer must be achieved at all costs… We are aware that the geographic position of Germany, with her lack of raw materials, does not fully allow economic self-sufficiency for the Reich. It cannot be too often emphasized that nothing is further from the thoughts of the government of the Reich than hostility to exporting. We are fully aware that we have need of the connection with the outside world, and that the marketing of German commodities in the world provides a livelihood for many millions of our fellow-countrymen. Protection of the frontiers of the Reich and thereby of the lives of our people and the existence of our business is now in the hands of the Reichswehr which, in accordance with the terms imposed upon us by the Treaty of Versailles, is to be regarded as the only really disarmed army in the world. In spite of its enforced smallness and entirely insufficient armament, the German people may regard their Reichswehr with proud satisfaction. This little instrument of our national self-defence has come into being under the most difficult conditions. The spirit imbuing it is that of our best military traditions. The German nation wishes to live in peace with the rest of the world. But it is for this very reason that the Government of the Reich will employ every means to obtain the final removal of the division of the nations of the world into two categories. The keeping open of this wound leads to distrust on the one side and hatred on the other, and thus to a general feeling of insecurity… The Government of the Reich, which regards Christianity as the unshakable foundation of the morals and moral code of the nation, attaches the greatest value to friendly relations with the Holy See [the Vatican] and is endeavouring to develop them. We feel sympathy for our brother nation in Austria in its trouble and distress. In all their doings the Government of the Reich is conscious of the connection between the destiny of all German races. Their attitude toward the other foreign Powers may be gathered from what has already been said. But even in cases where our mutual relations are encumbered with difficulties, we shall endeavour to arrive at a settlement. But in any case the basis for an understanding can never be the distinction between victor and vanquished.

Goal of all policies: Regaining political power. The whole state must be directed toward this goal (all ministries!) Domestic policy. Complete reversal of the present domestic political situation in Germany. Refusal to tolerate any attitude contrary to this aim (pacifism!). Those who can not be converted must be broken. Extermination of Marxism root and branch. Conversion of youth and of the whole people to the idea that only struggle can save us and that everything else must be subordinated to this idea. (Achieved in the millions of the Nazi movement. It will grow.) Training of youth and strengthening of the will to fight by all means. Death penalty for high treason. Tightest authoritarian state leadership. Elimination of the cancer of democracy! Foreign policy. Struggle against Versailles. Equality of rights in Geneva but useless if people do not have the will to fight. Concern for allies. The economy! The farmer must be saved! Settlement policy! Further increase of exports useless. The capacity of the world is limited, and there is over-production everywhere. Settlement offers the only possibility of again employing part of the army of unemployed. But time is needed, and radical improvement [is] not to be expected since living space too small for German people. Building up the armed forces is the most important prerequisite for achievingthe goal of regaining political power. Universal military service must be reintroduced. But beforehand the state leadership must ensure that the men subject to military service are not, even before their entry, poisoned by pacifism, Marxism, Bolshevism, or fall victim to this poison after their service. How should political power be used when it has been gained? Impossible to say at this point. Perhaps fighting for new export possibilities, perhaps – and probably better – the conquest of new living space in the east and its ruthless Germanization. Certain that only through political power and struggle the present economic conditions can be changed. The only things that can take place now – settlement – [are] stopgap measures. Armed forces most important and most socialist institution of the state. They must stay unpolitical and non-partisan. The internal struggle not their affair but that of the Nazi organizations. Differently than in Italy, no fusion of army and SA intended. Most dangerous time is during the reconstruction of the army. It will show whether or not France has statesmen; if so, they will not leave us time but will attack us. here

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Reformation Occurs

The Economic Crisis Strikes

Americans listened to music in order to create a diversion from their woe towards the Depression. One of the popular styles was "swing," a genre with upbeat rhythms and a variety of instrumentals, producing a positive atmosphere for listeners.


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