Intro: An Attempt to Achieve Autarky
The life of the citizens of Germany during the Third Reich, can be described as a life of “enticement and deprivation”. This can be seen when one looks at how consumption was discouraged by the National Socialist Party, in order to use Germany’s limited resources to establish an autarkic existence and ultimately to establish the country's independence from other nations. The main aim of the Hitler regime was to prioritize the production of weapons in anticipation of a war, and that is why the regime tried to surpress consumption in Germany.
It is crucial to first look at the economic climate that supported the rise to power of Hitler and his regime. The establishment of the National Socialist regime was only possible because Germany found itself in the middle of the Great Depression, with an unemployment rate of 34%. In order to reorganize the country, Hitler and his fellow politicians enforced policies that would create jobs, as well as expand a war-related industries.
In order to regulate consumption, the Nazi regime used three strategies. According to Berghoff in Enticement and Deprivation, “ the constant juxtaposition of enticement and deprivation generated three kinds of consumption […] First, the regime allowed increased consumption and considerable progress towards Western consumerism in a number of sectors. Second there was suppressed consumption because rearmament required reductions in the imports of consumer […] Third the regime created virtual consumption by opening up new horizons and promising unprecedented advances into modernity…"1
The ultimate goal of Germany in terms of consumption, the public was told, was to create “ideologically sound patterns of consumption”.2 This translates into all aspects of consumption, but can mainly be traced back to the categories discussed below.