Hermann Goering and the Four Year Plans
Hermann Goering had fought in the First World War as a fighter pilot. In this role he had excelled, claiming 21 confirmed kills. Goering had been born into a wealthy family and was part of the ‘old school’ aristocracy. An early member of the Nazi Party, Goering participated in the Munich Putsch. In the Putsch, Goering was seriously wounded. He was able to escape capture though and spent several years in exile.
Upon his return to German in 1927, Goering rejoined the Nazi Party. His aristocratic background and his noteriety as a fighter ace from the First World War soon came into use. Goering was able to make use of his contacts to make links between the Nazi Party and ‘Big Business’. These links gained vital financial support for the Nazi’s in the 1928 and 1932 elections.
Goering held numerous positions within the party and the State. This particular page concentrates on his work on the Four Year Plans. Other areas will be covered in separate postings in due course.
Goering assumed control of the Four Year Plans upg on the resignation of Hjalmar Schacht. His aim was simple: prepare Germany for war. In 1937 the Herman Goering Works was established. This was a massive amalgamation of Industrial units. Some 700000 people were employed by this state controlled Industrial body.
Under Goering the Four Year Plan was highly focussed upon readying the nation for war. Production of Iron and Steel had already been improved under Schacht’s leadership. This trend continued between 1936 and the outbreak of war. Likewise, Engineering and Chemical production continued to increase. It is a matter of debate as to whether this was simply due to prevailing economic conditions, or due to Nazi methodology in these industries.
Goering was also keen on the idea of Autarky. Prime products were targetted by Goering. Rubber, Iron Ore and Oil were three raw materials that were crucial to the aims of a self sufficient war economy. Yet non of them were produced in abundance in Germany in 1935/6. Iron Ore, for example, was of a low quality when extracted from German mines. This meant that a significant proportion of the material had to be imported: cheifly from Sweden, where the Iron content of Iron Ore was much higher than it’s German equivalent. Goerin established The Hermann Goering Iron Ore and Foundry company to try and alleviate this problem. The targets that were set for the company were quite frankly, ridiculous. From an output of under 1million tonnes of Iron Ore a year, the mines were targetted to extract some 24 million tonnes per annum by 1944. Clearly this target was ambitious to say the least. It was not met. Though by 1942 production had increased by over 400% which in most countries and Industrial environments would be considered to be quite an achievement in its own right. It is noted that similar targets for other products were not met, though Michael Freeman, in his Atlas of Nazi Germany, does note that this is in part due to increased availability of materials from conquered / annexed territory from 1938 onwards. These territories reduced the need for expansion within Germany’s original borders.
Was the Four Year Plan a success?
Yes and No. In terms of targets, the plan was clearly a failure. However the targets were a little unrealistic. The plans never realised the dream of a self sufficient state. However, until the tide of war changed in favour of the Allies, output was meeting demand.
Was Goering an effective economist?
Not particularly. Goering was a highly intelligent man and he used his position for his own good: he made a fortune from the Industries he managed. He almost certainly had his fingers in too many pies – not many politicians in World history have coped with anywhere near as many roles as Goering tried to manage!