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Hitler’s Confidential Memo on Autarky (August 1936)

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Germany's economic position.

Just as the political movement among our people knows only one goal – to make good the claim to life of our people and Reich, that is to say to secure all the spiritual and other prerequisites for the self-assertion of our people – so too the economy has but this one purpose. The people do not live for the economy or for economic or financial theories; on the contrary, finance and economy, economic leaders and theories must all exclusively serve this struggle for self-assertion in which our people are engaged.

Germany’s economic position is, however, in the briefest outline, as follows:

1) We are overpopulated and cannot feed ourselves from our own resources.

2) When our nation has 6 or 7 million unemployed, the food situation improves because these people are deficient in purchasing power. It naturally makes a difference whether 6 million people have 40 Marks a month to spend or 100 marks. It should not be overlooked that a third of all who earn their living is involved, that is to say that, taken as a proportion of the total population, through the National Socialist economic policy about 20 million people have been afforded an increase in their former standard of living of, on an average, from at most 50 Marks a month to at least 100–120 Marks. This means an increased and understandable run on the foodstuffs market.

3) But if this rise in employment fails to take place, then a higher percentage of the people must gradually be deducted from the body of our nation, as having become valueless through undernourishment. It is, therefore, in spite of our difficult food situation, the highest commandment of our economic policy to see to it that, by incorporating all Germans into the economic process, the precondition for normal consumption is created.

4) In so far as this consumption applies to articles of general use, it is possible to satisfy it to a large extent by increasing production. In so far as this consumption falls upon the foodstuffs market, it is not possible to satisfy it from the domestic German economy. For, although numerous branches of production can be increased without more ado, the yield of our agricultural production can undergo no further substantial increase. It is equally impossible for us at present to manufacture artificially certain raw materials which we lack in Germany, or to find other substitutes for them.

5) It is, however, wholly pointless to keep on noting these facts, i.e., stating that we lack foodstuffs or raw materials; what is decisive is to take those measures which can bring about a final solution for the future and a temporary easing for the transitional period.

6) The final solution lies in extending living space of our people and/or the sources of its raw materials and foodstuffs. It is the task of the political leadership one day to solve this problem.

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