November 08, 2004

Economic History Seminar: The Nazi Economy

An interesting critique of Peter Temin's assessment that the Nazi economy was "socialist." Christoph Buchheim convincingly demonstrates that price signals rather than rationing still played a primary role in the economy of the Third Reich well past the start of the war. So I have to agree that "socialist" doesn't really describe it.

But then what does describe it? I certainly wouldn't call it a "market economy"...

Christoph Buchheim, Universitat Mannheim: "The Role of Private Property in the Industry of the Third Reich."

Posted by DeLong at November 8, 2004 06:42 PM | TrackBack

His bullet points point to "crony capitalism" as being an accurate description, but I haven't finished the entire paper (work day).

Posted by: Ken Houghton at November 9, 2004 11:57 AM

How about "fascism"?

Posted by: steven kyle at November 9, 2004 12:18 PM


Posted by: ogmb at November 9, 2004 12:42 PM

Centrally-directed capitalism?

Although you really need to work the cartelism in there somewhere.

['The s-word is questionable content? Wild.']

Posted by: ash at November 9, 2004 12:45 PM

"contra-autarky" just isn't mellifluous enough.

Posted by: Ken Houghton at November 9, 2004 01:18 PM

Somewhere in storage, I have a copy of a book called "You Can't do Business with Hitler." I found it in a used bookstore maybe 10 years ago. It was writen by the US trade representative to Germany just before the war, it was copyrighted in 1940 or early 1941. It was an economic argument for going to war with the 3rd reich.

"Crony Capitalism" is absolutely the best description of their economic policy.

Sample 1: you want to export items to the 3rd reich. You could not receive cash and repatriate the cash, you were compelled to purchase (and therefore import) more reich-goods than the value of the items you exported to the reich.

Sample 2: you need some government approval for something (your papers please!). The official is demanding a bribe for such approval (whether its for an import license, or just because you are there). What do you do?
A - Pay it
B - Complain to his superior.
If you do B, then you are going to be in more trouble, since the superior will want a larger cut of the bribe. And in any event, very few Americans would think to do C, which would be the Nazi solution: assasinate the official demanding a bribe.

Among other things, it *did* describe concentration camps. Every time it described the camps, I would flip to the copyright page to reaffirm that it was written before the war, not after, since so many people claim that they knew nothing about the camps till after the war.

Posted by: Peter at November 9, 2004 02:10 PM

I seem to be in a minority, but I consider this a very interesting question. It seems obvious that GM and Ford had large market-shares in Germany. What were the dynamics of foreign penetration, domestic German industry, and the Nazi state? Seems to me there are a lot of interesting questions in this period.

Would have appreciated a hot link, unles, of course, the article cited is in German........

Posted by: serial catowner at November 10, 2004 07:52 AM

A lot of interesting questions indeed. If we want to keep something like the Nazis from happening again, we have to understand just exactly what they did, and why and how.

Too much postwar analysis of Nazi Germany is Saturday- morning- cartoon morality ("the Nazis did it because they were EEEEEEVIL") and tail- covering.

Posted by: lightning at November 10, 2004 10:16 AM


Here is the radio script version --

Posted by: kharris at November 10, 2004 11:12 AM

Kharris, sorry that is NOT the book I was referring to.

is the one. 115 of them being offered at

Posted by: Peter at November 10, 2004 01:33 PM

information on oklahoma

Posted by: information on oklahoma at November 10, 2004 08:26 PM

A capitalist planned economy.

Posted by: David Weman at November 10, 2004 11:14 PM

The word in french is "corporatism".

Posted by: alexandre delaigue at November 11, 2004 09:03 AM

Here is the link to the paper:

Posted by: Jim Collins at November 11, 2004 09:41 AM

Here is the link to the paper:

Posted by: Jim Collins at November 11, 2004 09:43 AM

Here is the link to the paper:

Posted by: Jim Collins at November 11, 2004 09:56 AM

Here is the link to the paper:

Posted by: Jim Collins at November 11, 2004 09:58 AM