In conclusion, the Nazi economy was and still is an extremely controversial subject with regards to its role in the success and failure of the Nazi state. It’s successes are listed as below:
1. Allowed people to survive in more comfortable conditions than during the Great Depression.
2. Succeeded in re-militarising Germany for its initial wars against Czechoslovakia, Poland and France.
However, there were major issues that plagued the Nazi state since its inception that caused major failures in its economy:
1. The people were not ‘better off’ in the sense that their lives were much improved; rather, they were simply better off by not having to live in Depression conditions, and not lives superior as compared to when in the Weimar republic. For example, the purchasing power and real wages of people remained at 1928 levels and not higher throughout the years of Nazi government.
2. The critical failure of the Nazi party was the constant and often drastic changes made to economic policy. While Schacht’s New Plan was headed in the ‘right’ direction per se (stabilisation, reduction of unemployment, trade), the Four Year Plan overturned some of the improvements that the New Plan had made, such as the ideologically-driven measure of limiting contact with ‘inferior’ states in Eastern Europe and drafting of many potentially workers into the military.
Following this, Hitler launched Germany into war even before the aims of the Four Year Plan were realised, and many of the public works and automobile projects were slowed down significantly as Great Britain and France declared war on Germany, promising a long, drawn out war. With synthetics production not even out of research stage, Germany suffered just as much from blockade as it did in World War One.
While the transition into a full-time war economy definitely helped Germany survive longer than it should have when its army was defeated at Stalingrad, it was a case of ‘too little, too late’. Other nations’ economies were fully militarised by the start of World War Two in 1939, whereas’ Germany’s change came only in 1942.
With regards to its original aims of improving the lives of the people and re-militarising Germany, it can be said that the lives of the people were bettered to some extent; however, this improvement was all but halted by the outbreak of war. The militarising of Germany was successful in that it allowed Germany to conduct successful military operations to begin with, but failed to sustain it for long-term war, never mind total war.
As such, it can be said that Nazi economic policy failed in both aims and attempts to achieve those aims. However, it should be noted that the failure cannot be attributed to any single policy, but rather the constant changing of policies by the Nazi party, which did not give any of them the chance to fully develop or succeed in the long run.