Kraft Durch Freude

            The Nazis began a programme known as “Kraft durch Freude” or “Strength Through Joy.” This was essentially a compensation for the stagnation of living standards by enhancing Germans’ quality of life. This allowed loyal workers and their families to holiday in one of the Nazi Holiday Camps or take a cruise to the Norwegian fjords or the Mediterranean at heavily subsidised prices. The scheme also subsidised theatres and sports facilities. This was, of course, a clever move, as it gained support from the general public, as well as encouraging hard work and loyalty. Dr Ferdinand Porsche was also ordered to design a “People’s Car” in 1935. The first production models were created in 1938 and Germans were encouraged to save five marks a week to eventually get a car. However, few cars were ever actually distributed and they were never made in great enough numbers to do any more than assuage any doubts that the Nazis were not working for the ordinary German. Historians Jeremy Noakes and Geoffrey Pridham explained another advantage of the scheme, saying it “keeps the masses from becoming preoccupied with a depressing situation. Hitler has acquired domestic political credit with the car savers until the delivery of the car. For... while they are saving up for a particular commodity, people are willing to make quite a lot of sacrifices.” This meant that people attributed their slightly lower living standards to the savings they took out of their wages, rather than the lower wages instated by the Nazis. It was, in essence, a successful distraction.

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