Nazi pork and popularity: How Hitler’s roads won German hearts and minds
Hans-Joachim Voth, Nico Voigtländer 22 May 2014
The Hitler government built the world’s first nationwide motorway network. We examine the impact of road-building on the popularity of the Nazi regime. Using shifts in electoral support between 1933 and 1934, we conclude that ‘pork-barrel’ spending worked in reducing opposition to the regime – wherever the new roads ran, fewer Germans voted against the government in elections and plebiscites. At least part of the regime’s popularity after 1934 can be explained by the popularity of the Autobahn.
‘At least he built the Autobahn’. Many Germans remember this phrase from conversations with parents and grandparents pointing to how the Nazi regime could receive such widespread support. The regime’s overwhelming popularity at home was essential for its policies, from the aggressive pursuit of war abroad to genocide.
Economic history Politics and economics
Germany, Adolf Hitler, Nazis, autobahn, pork-barrel spending