The ‘Secret Memorandum’ was issued by Adolf Hitler in August 1936. The memorandum went out only to a few senior Nazi leaders and its contents – information about the Four-Year Plan – were formally announced to the party faithful in September 1936 at the party rally in Nuremberg.
The Secret Memorandum stated that:
“The world has been moving with ever-increasing speed towards a new conflict, the most extreme solution of which is Bolshevism. I therefore draw up the following programme for a final provision of our vital needs:
1. Parallel with the military and political rearmament and mobilisation of our nation must go its economic rearmament and mobilisation. In future the interests of individual gentlemen can no longer play any part in these matters. There is only one interest, the interest of the nation; only one view, the bringing of Germany to the point of political and economic self-sufficiency.
2. Foreign exchange must be saved in all those areas where our needs can be satisfied by German production.
3. German fuel production must now be stepped up with the utmost speed and brought to final completion within eighteen months.
4. The mass production of synthetic rubber must also be organised and achieved with the same urgency. From now on there must be no talk of processes not being fully determined and other such excuses. This has nothing whatever to do with the Ministry of Economics. Either we possess today a private industry, in which case its job is to rack its brains about methods of production; or we believe that it is the government’s job to determine methods of production, and in that case we have no further need of private industry.
5. If we really are obliged to build up our domestic economy on autarkic lines, which we are, then the price of raw materials individually considered no longer plays a decisive part.
It is further necessary to increase German iron production to the utmost limits. The job of the Ministry of Economics is simply to set the national economic tasks; private industry has to fulfil them. But if private industry thinks itself capable of doing this, then the National Socialist State will know how to resolve the problem on its own. Nearly four precious years have gone by now. There has been time enough in four years to find out what we cannot do. Now we have to carry out what we can do.
I have thus set the following tasks:
1. The German armed forces must be operational with four years.
2. The German economy must be fit for war within four years.