https://voxeu.org/system/files/epublication/The_Economics_of_the_Second_World_War_Seventy_Five_Years_On_.pdf Adam Tooze wrote that, in 1940, in ‘Belgium, the Netherlands and above all France [...] economic activity collapsed, never to recover’. Nonetheless, he estimated, occupied Europe paid 25% of Berlin’s war costs, which raises the question of how this was achieved (Tooze 2007: 28, 420). An even higher figure comes from Götz Aly (2005: 166ff, 326), who concluded that the occupied countries paid 70% of Hitler’s war. While Aly’s work is more aligned with left-wing journalism focusing on German war guilt than with scholarly literature, his point is correct that, whenever Germany conquered a country, Berlin immediately started to exploit its economy. Germany had to do this, being a middle-sized country at war with the world’s major powers. Already in 1939, when it attacked Poland, Germany was in desperate need of labour. The army claimed ever more men. Between 1939 and 1944, the German civil workforce decreased from 39 to 29 million (Herbert 1992: 165–180, Overy 1994: 50–51). To keep the war going, this loss had to be compensated at the expense of occupied Europe. Seizing stocks of labour, materials, and machinery was easy but destroyed the occupied economy. Everywhere in occupied Europe, one aspect of occupation policy was a ‘hunt for labour’ (Klemann and Kudryashev 2014: 128-154). Young men, and sometimes young women, were ordered to report to the railway station to be sent to Germany for work. Because many went into hiding, people of that age group were subsequently rounded up with increasing arbitrariness and violence from cinemas, football matches, and the streets. Meanwhile, production fell. The alternative was to seize a share of the occupied economy’s flow of output; this was less destructive but more difficult (Klemann 2008). Companies produced in return for payment, while Germany, a debtor country, paid only with IOUs of dubious value. Because the war began half a decade earlier than was expected by Hermann Göring, overseer of the Four-Year Plan, the methods of exploitation of conquered territorywere improvised. Army officers, Berlin potentates, party ideologists, and occupation authorities all made their own policies. Order was introduced only in 1942 when Albert Speer became minister of munitions. Speer was hated by Nazi Party insiders, who undermined his policies by gaining Hitler’s support for hunting labour (Klemann and Kudryashov 2012: 31-32). The economic outcomes for occupied Europe reflected this complex mix of factors.
Dat in Duitsland directe belastingen niet door het Rijk, maar door de Länder werden geheven, dwong dat Rijk om de oorlog vanaf 1914 goeddeels te financieren door middel van leningen en geldschepping. Belastingverhoging vereiste een constitutionele omwenteling, wat middenin een oorlog haast ondoenlijk was. Daardoor kwam Berlijn al snel in de schulden terecht, niet in de laatste plaats bij de Rijksbank. Hierdoor nam ook de bankbiljettencirculatie toe. In Berlijn werd gehoopt dat het de vijand voor die schulden op kon laten draaien. Soortgelijke ideeën leefden in Parijs. Daar was de wijze waarop Frankrijk na de oorlog van 1870-71 uitgeknepen was nog niet vergeten. Bovendien was de oorlog goeddeels op Franse bodem uitgevochten. Vandaar dat George Clemenceau zich tijdens de vredesonderhandelingen zou laten ontvallen: Le Boche paiera! Nederland en Duitsland waren financieel al nauw verweven. Hier staat de vraag centraal wat voor gevolgen de wereldoorlog en de naoorlogse Duitse financiële chaos hadden voor die verwevenheid.
For countries like Belgium or the Netherlands it was impossible to formulate a foreign policy that guaranteed freedom and independence during the interwar period. It was also impossible to realise an independent monetary or trade policy. The economic problem of such highly developed, small countries was that their economies were dependent of trade with number of countries, which during these years became members, sometimes the centre of separated economic blocks. Participating in one of these blocks would not only be disastrous for the relations with vital partners outside it, but also would threaten the political independence.
In the last decades, a number of economists came to the conclusion that ‘…large-scale regions are more significant economic units than nation-states.’ In other words, there is no reason to believe that the economic geography is just a mirror of political structures and that political and economic borders are falling together. In the USA, where such ideas developed, these theories are reason to ask where clusters of economic activity concentrate or where regions can be traced that could be defined as core-regions. In Europe, where political units are relatively small compared to the American continental-wide scale, the question should be asked whether the economic activities within a state shape a national economy or are part of a larger, transnational economic region. Especially in periods of free trade and monetary stability there are little reasons to believe that an economic region will remain within national borders. To the contrary: national borders and differences in regulation will result in price differences and can stimulate cross-border economic activity and economic integration. From the late 19th century, the most important industrial centre of Germany, the Ruhr-Rhine-area, was dependent for its supply with foodstuffs and iron-ore, later also of oil and oil-products and for the transport to its overseas markets of coal on the Dutch port of Rotterdam. At the same time the port, Rhine shipping, transport and trading services, just as all kinds of linked industries, and with that a substantial part of the Dutch economy, became dependent on its close connection with the German hinterland. In the Dutch case, this results in the question whether the economy was and is not so open and so intertwined with those of the neighbouring country that it hardly makes sense to analyse it independently. Was there a Dutch national economy, or was the economic activity within the Netherlands at least in certain periods, part of a larger, transnational economic region? In Germany it is found that until 1914, the economic contacts between diverse German regions among each other were not closer than such relations with neighbouring foreign regions. In other words, at least in periods of liberal economic relations and monetary stability there neither was a Dutch, nor a German national economy. From an economic perspective regions were more important than nationion states.
Is Rotterdam verslaafd aan de haven? Een historisch minicollege over een eeuw economische verwevenheid van stad en haven. Door Hein Klemann, hoogleraar sociale en economische geschiedenis. Zie: https://youtu.be/67yw9BArYtk
It seems so simple. From the 1850s, Germany became the dominant industrial power and the Ruhr-area the most important industrial centre of the continent. From a Dutch perspective this area along the Rhine and its subsidiaries is just across the border. Near Rotterdam the Rhine flows into the sea, and for that reason this became the biggest port of Europe, from 1962 even of the world. In fact it was not simple at all. In the 1840s, when industrialization started, all over Germany railways were built, linking the Ruhr with all parts of Europe. As railways formed a new network, they were built without taking existing connections into account. For centuries, the Dutch exploited a monopoly on transport between the sea and western Germany. After its 1813 restoration, the country tried to revitalize this and tax the track between Cologne and the sea. As a result, in Germany the Dutch were hated. According to 19th century German nationalists some cattle breeders, fishermen and traders misused the Reich’s 16th century weakness to become independent and exploit the rest of Germany. Therefore, the Netherlands was German and should be part of it again. According to the economist Friedrich List ‘Holland is by its geographical position, for its trading and industrial relationships and by descent and language of its inhabitants, a German, in times of national discord from Germany separated province; without its reincorporation into the German Confederation Germany is comparable to a house whose doors belongs to a stranger.’ In the post-Napoleonic period, it was considered a problem in the principal Rhineland trading centre, Cologne, that the Dutch continued to control and exploit the track to the sea. Hence, in 1843 it was celebrated as a triumph when a railway to Antwerp was opened, creating the option to evade the Dutch. Railways to German ports quickly followed. However, at the end of the century the Rhine and its estuary were the most important links between the Germany’s industrial centres and their overseas connections again. Here the question will be what role the Dutch and the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) played in the recovery of barging and what consequences this had.
Im Mittelpunkt dieses Bandes stehen die deutsch-niederländischen Wirtschaftsbeziehungen vom 19. Jahrhundert bis zur Gegenwart. Auf deren stürmisches Wachstum im späten 19. Jahrhundert folgten in der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts mehrere krisen- und kriegsbedingte Rückschläge. Nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg erreichten sie ein im internationalen Vergleich beispielloses Ausmaß. Sowohl aus niederländischer als auch deutscher Perspektive spricht vieles dafür, die Wirtschaftsgeschichte beider Länder in ihrer Reziprozität zu erforschen.Neben historisch-chronologischen Übersichten zu den Wirtschaftsbeziehungen setzen die Beiträge thematische Schwerpunkte, unter anderem zur Bedeutung des Rotterdamer Hafens für beide Länder und zur Geschichte des niederländisch-britischen Multinationals Unilever in Deutschland. 192 pp. Deutsch.