American President Roosevelt and German leader Hitler faced political and economic problems during the 1930s and dealt with them in similar and dissimilar ways. Faced with severe unemployment and depression both Hitler and Roosevelt had to develop strategies to deal with these economic crises. Amongst the economic problems, Hitler and Roosevelt also faced opposition but, Hitler being a totalitarian leader and Roosevelt being democratic, their strategies to overcome them were very different. Hitler and Roosevelt had different styles of government but had similar opposition.
Because of the differing governing styles, the opposition were dealt with in very dissimilar ways. The term often used to describe Hitler’s rule is Totalitarianism. “Totalitarianism is a system of government in which power and all aspects of state affairs are in the hands of one party that tolerates no opposition” (Mason, 1996:126). Because Hitler was a totalitarian leader, this meant that opposition was minimal. If opposition presented itself, such as when the Social Democratic party led resistance groups, the Nazi police had no trouble in crushing those who opposed.
Roosevelt, on the other hand, was a Democratic leader in a liberal country. This meant that, because the people had a right to vote, other parties were opposing Roosevelt and the Democratic Party. The opposing Republican party were resisting the ideas and mechanisms Roosevelt used to assist economic problems. Many republican judges had accused Roosevelt of being extravagant with his economic strategies and destroyed his plans. People described Roosevelt as being “wishy-washy and because he seemed to have no firm opinions ‘the cork screw candidate’ ” (White, 1986: 56).
Therefore, it is clear that because Hitler was a totalitarian leader, opposition did not stand a chance yet because Roosevelt was a democratic leader, opposition was effective. With both countries in severe economic depression and with unemployment rising, they both saw the need to reinflate the economy and to create jobs for the unemployed. Although Hitler and Roosevelt faced similar economic crises, their motivations were both very different. Hitler’s main priority was to make Germany a self-sufficient country (also known as “Autarchy”) to prepare for war.
Roosevelt’s motivation was a more sincere one of which that wanted an overall well-off country. Roosevelt not only tried his very best to improve the countries economic status but he also tried desperately to bring hope back into the lives of his devastated people. His famous speeches not only tried to inform people of how they were going to be economically fit once more, but tried to put hope and joy into the average American. In one of Roosevelt’s most famous speeches, his Inauguration Speech, he stated boldly “the only thing America has to fear, is fear itself”.
It was clear that not only did Roosevelt desperately want America to be strong again, he wanted hope and optimism among his people. While Roosevelt selflessly tried to better America’s state, Hitler, on the other hand, tried in vein to boost the German economy and to make Germany self-sufficient and rearm the damaged country. Because Germany had been affected severely by World War One and the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler saw the selfish need for an almost “revenge”. “Hitler was determined to… destroy the Versailles settlement” (Lee, 1989: 36).
His main motive for boosting the economic slump was to make Germany strong enough to prepare for war in the years to come. Because of Hitler’s and Roosevelt’s differing motivations, this affected the priorities they each had. To deal with the economic crisis, Both Hitler and Roosevelt created very similar ways to boost the economy. Roosevelt, with the assistance of his trusty group of advisors (the “brain trust”), created what was known as “The New Deal”. The purpose of this plan was to create ways to aid the economic crisis.
For example, the plan for the Tennessee Valley was introduced. For many years, Tennessee Valley’s forests had been cut down and devastated by farmers. This caused floods and soon the valley was a depressed region. The New deal set out to re-plant trees, provide dams to control flooding and to manufacture fertilizers to replenish the worn soil. The New Deal also set out to solve the problem with Agriculture. Many farmers found that because produce was so high, this forced the prices down and reduced the farmer’s incomes.
The New Deal solved this problem by cutting production. Farmers were ordered to cut production and to slaughter their livestock and this would then force the prices up and their incomes would once again be restored. Hitler created a similar plan like Roosevelt, he created the Four Year-Plan. The Four-Year plan set out to speed up rearmament and to make Germany Self-sufficient. Hitler stated “There is only one interest… German armed forces must be operational within four years.
The German economy must be fit for war within four years” (Hitler in Mason, 1996:152). This was very similar to Roosevelt’s New Deal as they both were plans which helped to reinflate both Germanys and America’s devastated economy. Hitler saw the need for Autarchy because, in making Germany self-sufficient, when war was waged Germany would be no longer reliant on supplies from other countries. To do so, refineries and aluminium plants were established and synthetic material plants were developed.
Both these strategies adopted by Roosevelt and Hitler saw the economy begin to pick up and flourish. Not only did Hitler and Roosevelt set out to boost their economies, but they both saw the similar need to reduce unemployment. Roosevelt’s New Deal set out to reduce unemployment as well as aid the economic devastation. The Federal Emergency Relief Act was a programme of public works that was introduced to create jobs for the unemployed. This sent many unemployed out to build dams, roads, bridges and buildings. Also, Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Men were sent into conservation camps all over the country planting trees and building dams. This saw unemployment drop by roughly two and a half million men. Similarly, Hitler, as advised by Hjlamar Schact, also created public works. “Well over a billion marks went on public work schemes” (Hughes, 2000:37) the public works set up Motorway systems (known as Autobahnen) that created highways and sent millions into jobs. Both these strategies, put in place by both Hitler and Roosevelt saw unemployment drop by millions.
Faced with unemployment and depression Hitler and Roosevelt developed strategies to deal with the economic crisis that faced them. Hitler and Roosevelt also faced opposition but, because of the differing governing styles, Hitler being totalitarian and Roosevelt being democratic, their strategies to overcome them were very different. American President Roosevelt and German leader Hitler faced political and economic problems during the 1930s and dealt with them in similar and dissimilar ways.