Germany Population and Economy 1939

By | January 21, 2022

Population. – The number of residents of the regions and cities of Germany has undergone considerable variations, in addition to war warnings, due to the fact that all the Germans in Poland have been forced to move across the new border; a similar transfer was also made from Czechoslovakia (see History). Overall, it is estimated (August 1947) that over 10 million individuals of German language and origin, including those from Hungary, Romania and Austria, have flowed into the current limits of Germany. On the other hand, we must take into account. of the losses caused by the war, estimated at about 6 million men. The figures are still uncertain, as many Germans are still being held in captivity.

Economic situation. – At the end of the Second World War, Germany found itself in a very precarious economic situation. The main problems to be solved were: demilitarization, the payment of reparations, the dissolution of the industrial cartels, the accommodation of refugees and prisoners.

It is foreseeable that Germany, from the point of view of food in general and cereals in particular, will continue to be deficient for a long time to come. In 1939, a highly industrialized West Germany with a high population density was opposed to an East Germany, scarce in raw materials and mainly agricultural. Now there is a greater imbalance, because the territories sold were mainly agricultural (except for Silesia) and also less densely populated, with the possibility of supplying the industrial districts of the west with food. The Russians changed the entire socio-economic system of the Germany they occupied. Following the agrarian reform, the lands of the large owners (over 3,000,000 ha.) Were expropriated and distributed to the peasants, forming about 500,000 plots of 6 ha. the one.

In the last years before the Second World War, Germany had a considerable fishing activity and possessed a steam flotilla, which fished 600-750,000 t annually. of fish.

In the field of solid fuels, it lost the Silesian basin, which had become entirely Polish, while for oil some wells were put into operation in Witze, Nienhagen and Obert, with refineries in Misburg in Hanover. But far greater was the production of gasoline with the hydrogenation systems of coal and lignite. Also noteworthy was the production of artificial rubber during the war years.

At first, the destruction of German heavy industry and the transformation of Germany into a predominantly agricultural country was deliberated, but then the Western Allies allowed a partial restoration of the factories.

The 1946 plan, drawn up by the Allied Control Council in Berlin, divided German industries into 3 categories:

1) prohibited industries, whose plants must be destroyed or removed for repairs. This category covers armaments, naval and aviation industries, synthetic gasoline and petroleum processing, synthetic rubber, certain types of machines, heavy tools, heavy tractors, primary aluminum, military chemicals and gas, radio and telecommunications equipment;

2) limited industries, including, on the one hand, the production sector of capital goods (steel, light metals, fertilizers, electrotechnical machines and tools, trucks, tractors, optical instruments, dyes), on the other, the sector producing consumer goods (cars, chemicals, textiles, paper, footwear). Steel production from a pre-war high of 15-20 million tonnes. it had to be limited to 5-6, a limit which in August 1947 it was believed to be able to progressively raise up to 10.5 million.

3) free industries, including furniture, timber, glassware, ceramics, bicycles (including motorized ones), building construction materials and goods not included in the two previous categories. No limitation was established for the production of coal and potash and an agreement of April 21, 1947 fixed the rates of export and domestic consumption of coal. A further step towards greater exploitation of the coal and metallurgical resources of West Germany took place following the London conference (1948), which also provided for German participation in the Marshall Plan (ERP).

Production and trade. – The German economy in the post-war period was characterized, especially in the industrial field, by a difficult and tiring recovery, hampered, as well as by war destruction, by the limitations imposed by the Allies, by the difficulty of supplying raw materials and by withdrawals by way of repairs. The program drawn up by the allied control council in March 1946 foresaw a reduction in the average production level of the four areas to about 55% of that of 1938, equal to about 70-75% of that of 1936. Subsequently in London (August 1947) the representatives of the US and England, present those of France, raised this limit for the Anglo-American zone, to 90-95% of that of 1936.

However, the current industrial production of Germany is still far below these limits. Thus for the Anglo-American zone it appears that production had reached an average level of 50% in May 1948 compared to that of 1936. For the Russian zone, for which data on the production level are lacking, it is necessary to remember the reorganization of industrial production on the basis of “Soviet joint-stock companies”, which have absorbed, according to German estimates, plants for about 2.7 billion RM., out of a value of about 10 billion of the entire industrial complex in the area. It is about 200 large German factories, grouped into 11 trusts.

In the agricultural sector, production decreased by about 40-45% compared to the period 1935-37. About half of this decrease is due to the loss of the provinces to the east of the Oder-Neisse line and for the other half to the lack of crops in the four areas, mainly due to the scarcity of seeds and agricultural machinery.

As far as foreign trade is concerned, the program drawn up by the Allied council in March 1946 foresaw that, in 1949, German exports and imports would individually amount to RM3 billion. (4.2 billion imports; 4.7 billion exports in 1936) and established that a portion of the export revenue, not exceeding RM1.5 billion, was used to pay for imports of food, fodder and feed. From subsequent evaluations these figures proved to be completely insufficient. According to American experts, the total German need for food imports would amount to 7-8 billion RM. at pre-war prices; exports should therefore reach RM 10 or 11 billion.

According to, German foreign trade is currently almost entirely in the hands of the allied authorities. In the Anglo-American zone the Joint Export and Import Agency provides it, in the French one the Officomex, and in the Russian one the Soviet administration directly. According to American data, imports from the Anglo-American zone amounted to $ 660 million in 1947 and exports to $ 225 million. For the French area it appears instead that in the first half of 1947 imports were 54.85 million and exports of 46.83 million dollars. For the Russian area there is a lack of data on foreign trade; however, this area too, like the others, has stipulated important agreements with the major European countries, aimed at developing commercial relations.

Germany Population and Economy 1939