Following the marvelous development of economic activity over the past decades, communications and transportation in Germany were greatly improved; and this improvement in turn gave more impetus to trade. The improvement did not consist only in the number of communication routes that were put in excellent condition, but also in the facilities that were made possible for traffic by the choice of the most suitable means of transport and by the reduction in fares. Communications take place by means of ordinary roads, railways, rivers and lakes.
Navigation maritime and ports. – Railway communications and inland navigation in the last decades before the war had undoubtedly received a very large boost from maritime navigation. Of all the states in the world, Germany had reached the second place in maritime navigation, being overtaken by England alone. Won in the war, it lost 91.8% of its total tonnage and was left with only coastal shipping. Most of the maritime traffic is carried out on the North Sea, where the number of ships is 4 times greater than in the Baltic and the tonnage 7 times greater.
The trade in the German Baltic ports mainly includes Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Soviet Union and partly also Great Britain, with which the port of Hull Lübeck has regular relations. The eastern ports (Rostock, Szczecin with Swinemünde, Königsberg with Pillau) have very similar commercial relations, as are the economic characteristics of the hinterland. On the other hand, the western ports (Kiel and especially Lübeck) are much closer to the industrial zone of western Germany. The Baltic is not of great importance for German traffic. It is a Mediterranean sea without convenient communication with the open sea and is separated from the interior by the sparsely populated lagoon shelves, through which only the Oder opens a passage to the politically German territory. And this territory has a predominantly agrarian physiognomy and its economic development is less than in the western part of Germany. Furthermore, winter freezing makes the Baltic ports inactive for some time (Travemünde 12 days on average, Swinemünde 20 days, Szczecin 61 days). The conditions of the North Sea are very different from maritime navigation. It is in free communication with the Atlantic and the natural routes of the Germanic Lowland marked by rivers, directed from S. to N. and from SW. to the NE., make its coast the outlet of a vast and active hinterland. But as the southern coast of the North Sea is bordered by an area of to the NE., make its coast the outlet of a vast and active hinterland. But as the southern coast of the North Sea is bordered by an area of to the NE., make its coast the outlet of a vast and active hinterland. But as the southern coast of the North Sea is bordered by an area of Watten (v. Friesland, Friesian, islands that make it impossible for large ships to approach, the maritime shipping ports could not be constituted except in estuaries within which the tide penetrates. And those ports (Hamburg and Cuxhaven, Bremen and Bremerhaven, Wilhelmshaven, Emden) as natural outlets of an industrial hinterland, assumed global importance.
Since production differs from one region of Germany to another and the density of population also differs from one region to another, exchanges are necessary, made easy by a magnificent network of communications. And Germany itself forms the largest consumer market for its production. But since there are no statistics on internal trade, it is impossible to know precisely its scope and its objects; no doubt it is very sizeable and imports several billion gold marks annually. The many cities are the centers of this trade. Instead we have numerical data on external trade. Germany’s external trade, languishing after the World War, has recovered and has already almost reached pre-1914 figures. Centrally located, Germany has commercial relations not only with its immediate neighbors, but also with many overseas countries, especially with those of the two Americas. In particular, it is noteworthy that, after the war, despite the efforts made by the United States and Great Britain to seize the markets of South America, trade relations with Germany continued.
According to ehuzhou.net, the trade balance of Germany closed in deficit even before the war, but then the difference was exuberantly covered by the interests of capital employed abroad, by the proceeds of navigation and maritime insurance and other income. And the balance of payments was active. Capital abroad was lost in the war and liabilities increased considerably also due to the obligation imposed on Germany to deliver goods for reparation to the victorious states. In a few years, however, especially in 1926 and 1930, exports exceeded imports. In imports, raw products for industry and food prevail. The most important countries that supply these goods are the United States of America, Great Britain, Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, and Argentina. The main object of export is the products of the weaving, metallurgy and chemical industries. The biggest buyers are Great Britain, Austria, the United States, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
The statistics of the last decade clearly show an increase in liabilities in foreign trade and at the same time it can be seen that Germany is dependent on foreign countries for raw materials and food products. These goods are the 3 / 4 of imports. On the other hand the high account in which is held the German industry in the world is demonstrated by the fact that it forms the 3 / 4 of the value of exports. The decrease in imports of food and raw materials is a clear sign of impoverishment which forces the population to limitations and renunciations.
The measures in use are those of the metric system; up to 1884 decimal served well as other measures: Scheffel 50 lt., Schoppen 1 / 2 lt., Pfund 1 / 2 kg. (For coins, see Finance).
The following mirror gives (in millions of marks) the value of Germany’s imports and exports for 1913, 1929 and 1930.
In imports, in 1930, the United States (for 1306.8 million marks), Great Britain (639), Holland (560.8), France were at the top for the value of the imported goods. (518.7); in exports were at the top: Holland (1205.8), Great Britain (1218.9), France (1148.6), the United States (685.2), Switzerland (627.6), Belgium (600.6), France (518.7).