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German History in Documents and Images
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View of a Factory Workshop for the Production of Artillery Shells (November 13, 1940)
In 1933 the German armaments industry had already been given priority over other sectors of the economy under the general plan to "restore Germany’s capacity for self-defense." The transition to total war production did not take place until 1943, however. Up to that point, Nazi economic and armaments planning was characterized by a lack of coordination and by turf battles between rival authorities – a situation that prevented the full exploitation of the country's productive potential. Moreover, Hitler had initally opposed the full move to a complete war economy. The normal everyday life and morale of the German civilian population was not to be affected. Instead, the Nazi war plan had to adapt to the economic situation. Blitzkrieg offensives spared scarce German resources. Conquered areas and peoples were brought into the new German greater economic area [Großwirtschaftsraum]. Above all, this meant that their raw materials, foodstuffs, and machines were systematically plundered and that their labor force was exploited.