In 1935 Hitler appointed Hjalmar Schacht as Plenipotentiary for War Economy, in charge of preparing the economy for war. Reconstruction and rearmament were financed through Mefo bills, printing money, and seizing the assets of people arrested as enemies of the State, including Jews. Unemployment fell substantially, from six million in 1932 to one million in 1936.
Hitler oversaw one of the largest infrastructure improvement campaigns in German history, leading to the construction of dams, autobahns, railroads, and other civil works. Wages were slightly reduced in the pre–World War II years over those of the Weimar Republic, while the cost of living increased by 25%.
Hitler's government sponsored architecture on an immense scale. Albert Speer, instrumental in implementing Hitler's classicist reinterpretation of German culture, was placed in charge of the proposed architectural renovations of Berlin. In 1936 Hitler opened the summer Olympic games in Berlin.
Rearmament and new alliances. Main articles: Axis powers, Tripartite Pact, and German re-armament.
In a meeting with German military leaders on 3 February 1933, Hitler spoke of "conquest for Lebensraum in the East and its ruthless Germanisation" as his ultimate foreign policy objectives. In March, Prince Bernhard Wilhelm von Bülow, secretary at the Auswärtiges Amt (Foreign Office), issued a major statement of German foreign policy aims: Anschluss with Austria, the restoration of Germany's national borders of 1914, rejection of Part V of the Treaty of Versailles, the return of the former German colonies in Africa, and a German zone of influence in Eastern Europe. Hitler found Bülow's goals to be too modest. In his speeches of this period, he stressed the peaceful goals of his policies and willingness to work within international agreements. At the first meeting of his Cabinet in 1933, Hitler prioritised military spending over unemployment relief.
On 25 October 1936 an Axis was declared between Italy and Germany who withdrew from the League of Nations and the World Disarmament Conference in October 1933. In March 1935 Hitler announced an expansion of the German army to 600,000 members—six times the number stipulated in Part V of the Versailles treaty—including development of an Air Force (Luftwaffe) and increasing the size of the Navy (Kriegsmarine). Britain, France, Italy, and the League of Nations condemned these plans as violations of the Versailles treaty. The Anglo-German Naval Agreement (AGNA) of 18 June 1935 allowed German tonnage to increase to 35% of that of the British navy.
Hitler called the signing of the AGNA "the happiest day of his life" as he believed the agreement marked the beginning of the Anglo-German alliance he had predicted in Mein Kampf. France and Italy were not consulted before the signing, directly undermining the League of Nations and putting the Treaty of Versailles on the path towards irrelevance.
Hitler with Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Heinrich Himmler, and Reinhard Heydrich in Vienna, 1938. Germany reoccupied the demilitarised zone in the Rhineland in March 1936, in violation the Versailles treaty. Hitler sent troops to Spain to support General Franco after receiving an appeal for help in July 1936. At the same time, Hitler continued his efforts to create an Anglo-German alliance. In response to a growing economic crisis caused by his rearmament efforts, Hitler issued a memorandum ordering Hermann Göring to carry out a Four Year Plan to have Germany ready for war within the next four years.
The "Four-Year Plan Memorandum" of August 1936 laid out an imminent all-out struggle between "Judeo-Bolshevism" and German national socialism, which in Hitler's view required a committed effort of rearmament regardless of the economic costs.