Dissecting Why The Economic Policies of Mao Zedong and Adolf Hitler Failed

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Words: 1086 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: Mar 14, 2019

Words: 1086|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Mar 14, 2019

With reference to two leaders from different regions, to what extent do you agree that their economic policies failed?

Both Mao Zedong and Hitler were dictators of a single-party state. After coming to power, both created economic policies to achieve their aims. Hitler’s main was to make Germany a self-sufficient country that can be ready to go to the war with Europe, whereas Mao’s aims was to bring China’s economy on industrial and urban level. Despite the difference between their aims, both leaders’ economic policies failed to a great extent as the number of damage and people died outweighed the amount of the production and efficiency increase.

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While it can be argued that the Mao’s economic policy was a success, it’s only partially true because by rejecting modern technology in favor of mass effort, Mao had made the targets for communal production for the Great Leap Forward unattainable. Besides the targets being too high, peasants were also disoriented by the disruption in their way of life and couldn’t adapt to the system as they didn’t know how to farm on the large communal scale, which caused the production rate to fall drastically. For example, historian Frank Dikötter says, “Mao circulated reports in the village … saying that everyone was getting enough food and up half a kilo a day was made in model province Henan.” This means that Mao was aware that peasants didn’t know how to achieve these production targets, however, he didn’t lower them, instead he pretended that the targets were met and didn’t reduce the strain on the workers who didn’t produce enough food to eat. This shows that Mao’s economic policies failed to a great extent as his oblivion to the drawbacks of the idea of communes led to a severe production drop. For example, in 1960 the grain production was 143.5 million tonnes compared to 200 in 1958 and in 1961 the gross output value of agriculture was 94.1 compared to 127.8 in 1958. Frank Dikötter says that “By 1960, the situation in the countryside had become so desperate that the farmers ate the cotton seeds,” which means that people were dying from starvation. This supports the fact that the Great Leap Forward created a major production drop which led to the greatest famine in Chinese history in 1958-62, where 50 million people died from starvation. Despite the negative consequences of Mao’s economic policy, there were some advantages as well. For example, initially grain production rose, by 1952 production was 10% higher than in 1936 and meat production rose from 3.4 million tonnes in 1956 to 4.3 million tonnes in 1958. However, these slightly positive changes can’t outweigh the fact that the death rate caused by the Great Leap Forward was so great that Mao had to temporary give the power to Deng and Liu to deal with famine as he was scared to lose his position as a leader of China. Overall, this shows that Mao’s economic policies failed to a great extent.

A widely accepted argument has been that the Nazis economic policy was a success, which is accurate because within 18 months of Hitler coming to power unemployment fell from 6 million to 2.5 million. Moreover, Wehrwirtschaft during 1936-39 included a policy of Four Year Plan and Autarky, which made Germany much more self-sufficient in goods such as oil, aluminium, rubber, nitrogen, explosives, steel, iron ore, coal, grain, potatoes vegetables, meat and fats. For example, in 1938 the consumer goods were 116 calculated to an index of 100 and in 1936 the industrial goods were 144 compared to 1933 where consumer goods were 80 and industrial goods were 56. Similarly, in 1928 the average wage rate of German industrial workers were 125 (calculated to an index of 100 in 1936) whereas in 1938 it was only 106. However, while it can be argued that the Nazis economic policy was a success, it’s only partially true because Although industrial production increased, none of the targets of the Four Year Plan were actually achieved and autarky was extremely expensive and inefficient. In most of the cases, the increase in the resources was due to invading Austria and Czechoslovakia, not due to the improved economy of the Third Reich. This shows that the Autarky failed to make Germany self-sufficient enough to go to the war as in 1940 the German economy was unable to replace the planes lost in the Battle of Britain and in 1941, when Germany invaded Russia, one third of the troops were inadequately equipped. Also, historian Ian Kershaw thinks that the Autarky actually “overheated the German economy causing it to become unbalanced and unhealthy so that they became short of raw materials and foreign currency. Only the war saved them from an economic collapse.” As a result, this shows that the economic policy was actually a major failure as it forced the country to go to the war too early in order to avoid an economic crisis and that caused the Nazis to lose the World War Two. This can be supported by the fact that by the winter of 1941, the Third Reich was in the middle of the economic crisis as there was a great shortage of weapons and labour. As a consequence, despite the positive changes in employment and the production, Autarky still failed to achieve the main aim of Hitler’s economic policies as it was one of the causes for Germans to lose the WW2.

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As a conclusion, it can be said that both leaders’ economic policies failed to a great extent as they didn’t achieve the main aims of the policies. In Mao’s case, he wanted the Great Leap Forward to increase the production level of the country, but instead this economic policy created the biggest famine in the Chinese history which forced him to give the temporary power to Deng and Liu out the fear that the people won’t want to see him as the leader anymore. Similarly, Hitler wanted the Four Year Plan and the Autarky to make Germany sufficient enough to fight in the war, but instead these economic policies forced him to go to the war too early while the country wasn’t prepared enough and created an economic crisis during the war, which was one of the factors for losing the WW2. Despite some positive changes that the economic policies brought, the damage and the death rate caused by them outweighed the advantages, hence making the leaders’ economic policies failures.

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Dissecting Why The Economic Policies Of Mao Zedong And Adolf Hitler Failed. (2019, March 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from
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Dissecting Why The Economic Policies Of Mao Zedong And Adolf Hitler Failed. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 May 2024].
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