One major problem that we face when looking at Unemployment as an issue in Weimar Germany is that the figures are well, they’re handy for reliability of sources questions… See the slideshow below. All 4 graphs show the same information: the percentage of German workers who were unemployed at any given time. Noticed the problem yet?
Whilst trends are fairly similar, the actual percentages on any given date can vary quite a lot.
Why do they vary so much?
The Facing History website offers an explanation:
The figures below are those of annual avarage unemployment, except for 1932, where some precise end-of-the-month figures are available, and the two dates that coincide with the Reichstag elections are given.1
Unemployment in Germany, 1924-1932 1924 1928 1930 July 31, 1932 October 31, 1932 978,000 1,368,000 3,076,000 5,392,000 5,109,000
So accurate figures for dates are only available for two particular dates – the footnote marker is to their reference, Saitzow, Die Arbeitslosigkeit, 148-149, and Statisches Jahrbuch (1933).
Compare this with another site that is considered to be reliable, trustworthy and useful in the classroom. The statistics on the Historylearningsite are:
|September 1928||650,000 unemployed|
|September 1929||1,320,000 unemployed|
|September 1930||3,000,000 unemployed|
|September 1931||4,350,000 unemployed|
|September 1932||5,102,000 unemployed|
|January 1933||6,100,000 unemployed|
Now theres a poser. Two sites that are run by people who check their facts before posting… and the figures are different! There is of course an explanation for this. As noted before the accuracy of statistics for this period of German history is hard to determine. If a graph of these two sets of figures were to be drawn, the lines would not really stray too far apart from one another. Indeed combined, they illustrate quite nicely the rate at which unemployment was rising.