Nationalism and Class Struggle

“The name of the path is class struggle. The goal is the nation.” The national-bolshevist perspective on class struggle, by ‘Social-Revolutionary Nationalist’ Georg Osten

Radicalization was one of the defining features of Germany’s youth movement in the late 1920s, as it was for so many other sectors of German society. The country’s ongoing economic difficulties, its continued ‘subjugation’ under foreign powers, the seemingly moribund culture of its dominant right-wing forces, and the increasing tendency of its nationalist paramilitaries and parties to participate in the political mainstream via electoral politics had all engendered a strong sense of frustration and disillusionment in many of the idealistic patriots who made up much of the youth movement. The dire circumstances brought about by the onset of the Great Depression heightened these sentiments dramatically, leading many young nationalists, already dabbling in anti-capitalist and anti-bourgeois sympathies, to the conclusion that there might actually be an element of truth to Marxist critiques of capitalism and imperialism after all. A growing sympathy and appreciation for communism developed within segments of the youth movement as a result, leading to the emergence of a new variety of left-wing nationalism and to numerous attempts at forging a common political front between the country’s national-revolutionary forces on the one hand and the Soviet-backed Communist Party of Germany (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, KPD) on the other. The organization at the forefront of this new wave of ‘national-communism’ was the Group of Social-Revolutionary Nationalists (Gruppe sozialrevolutionärer Nationalisten, GSRN), founded on Ascension Day 1930 out of an amalgamation of various youth associations and one of the few entities to openly call itself “National Bolshevist.” Those affiliated with the GSRN, who like their principal spokesman Karl Otto Paetel were almost all intellectuals of middle-class origin, actively collaborated with the KPD and its front organizations and incorporated core conceits of revolutionary Marxism into their own nationalist worldview, proselytizing for a political ideology which placed Germany’s hopes for national liberation in the hands of the proletariat and in the ideal of violent class struggle. The article translated below, by Social-Revolutionary activist Georg Osten, presents the GSRN’s perspective on the issue of the class struggle and its centrality to the group’s nationalist ambitions. Originally published in national-revolutionary journal Die Kommenden in June 1930, Osten’s article was later reproduced in the 1930 booklet Sozialrevolutionärer Nationalismus, which effectively served as the GSRN’s programme for most of its existence. 

Nationalism and Class Struggle
By Georg Osten
1930

One certainly need not agree with Karl Marx’s thesis that all history is the history of class struggles in order to be capable of acknowledging that this proposition is at least thoroughly accurate to our time. There is no denying the fact that all struggles, of both a foreign-policy and domestic-political nature, take place upon the plane of economic struggle. Just a few years ago it was almost impossible to speak of class struggle as a historically-conditioned fact in circles which call themselves national or nationalist, but the events of the past seven years have brought about a remarkable transformation. It was previously considered good form, so to speak, to depict the class struggle as a perfidious invention of Jews and Freemasons who, in some clandestine gathering, had decided upon the destruction of the unified German nation [deutschen Einheitsvolkes]. Nobody wished to acknowledge that a development had taken place here which was conditioned by the expansion of industrial production capacities within the framework of the capitalist system.1

Only in more recent years has there been a growing understanding of the era-conditioned and natural processes known as ‘class struggles’. And yet already are our friends2 once again engaged in explaining that this notion has in actuality already been surmounted today, since a propertied class in the old sense no longer exists – and after all, every director, even in the largest companies, is only an employee of anonymous capital. Undoubtedly there is some truth to this argument. But they forget that what ultimately matters here in the end are facts, that a very significant proportion of the German Volk, on account of their bourgeois (class) educational privilege and the senseless contortion of the term ‘national’ into meaning ‘property protection’, feel compelled to (even without, in the strictest sense, actually belonging to the propertied class themselves) side with the numerically small group of actual capitalists and to thereby help stabilize the concept of this class. Furthermore, something which should not be overlooked is that very large segments of the middle-class, dispossessed by inflation, earnestly desire to see pre-war conditions restored, at least in terms of the economy, and thereby hope to become small capitalists again themselves. The lion’s share of the bourgeoisie have not yet realized that a process has occurred before our eyes which, in a certain sense, can already be termed a kind of ‘expropriation of the expropriators’, although for the time being this expropriation has taken place to the benefit of High Finance as the leading international global power. Incidentally, this development was foreseen by Marx and by his associates many decades beforehand. And in this context it is not without interest to cite the words of a well-known social-reformist: “Ever more powerfully are capital and labor shaping the means of power which they mobilize in their class struggles. These struggles are becoming ever more colossal, their goals ever more extensive; more and more do they move the whole of society, with every class growing more and more interested in the results. These social struggles are increasingly becoming the focal point of public life in our time. This, and not the mitigation of class antagonisms, is the consequence of the proletariat’s surmounting of the capitalist tendency towards impoverishment via its ascendancy in victorious class struggles.” (Karl Kautsky in the Heidelberg Programme of the SPD, page 15/16.)3 Continue reading

Merry Christmas for 2022!

And a Happy New Year from ARPLAN

For Christmas this year ARPLAN presents two brief articles from 1930s Germany, each exploring the celebration of Christmas from a Germanic, völkisch-socialist perspective. The first is a 1935 piece by Jakob Wilhelm Hauer, an academic Indologist and religious expert and the leader of the ‘neopagan’ German Faith Movement (Deutsche Glaubenbewegung, DGB). The second is an earlier, 1930 essay by Alfons Hitzler, a former brewer and industrial worker and the NSDAP Kreisleiter for Plauen, Saxony. In each article the author describes certain ceremonial aspects of the German celebration of Christmas – the Christmas tree, the lighting of candles, the veneration of the ‘child of light’ – with quiet reverence, tying them back not so much to the Christian religious doctrine which they ostensibly represent, but rather to key facets of the Germanic racial tradition and the “German soul.” Despite their authorship, neither article is overtly anti-Christian in tone. Hauer’s DGB was a federation of various paganist and Nordicist organizations, ‘German-believing’ communities (deutschgläubige Gemeinden), and ‘freethinking’ Protestant groups, with their overarching concern being that certain key features of Christian theology and religious practice (most particularly that of the figure of Christ) be divested of their ‘Eastern-Semitic’ character and reincorporated instead into a new faith tradition more suitable to German blood, spirit, and soul; this aspect of the Faith Movement worldview is reflected in the conclusion of Hauer’s article, where the author promises the “deepening” of the celebration of Christmas rather than “the naked renunciation of Christian tradition.” Alfons Hitzler is a somewhat more obscure figure than Hauer, and although his article is more overt in its defense of mainstream Christianity (he specifically criticizes the “anti-Christian preaching” of Social-Democracy), Hitzler did have “Gottgläubige” inclinations – a term used in National Socialist and völkisch circles to describe those who rejected Germany’s established religious denominations without rejecting a general belief in God, Christ, or in some other form of ‘higher power’. Like Hauer, Hitzler also seems to advocate a Christmas celebration oriented around the German Volk rather than any higher concern for humanity’s salvation, a position which places him among the ranks of the more religiously radical segments of the NSDAP. I hope that readers enjoy these articles, and that you all enjoy a safe and happy Christmas season.

Christmas – Yulefest
By Jakob Wilhelm Hauer
Published 21 December, 1935 in
völkisch newspaper
Reichswart,1 vol. 16, no.51

Christmas – Yulefest has a special place in the cycle of the year. Yule-solstice, that ancient Indo-Germanic celebration of the victory of light, of the birth of the young sun-god and the new year, requires a ceremony outdoors in the forest or on a quiet hill, where the deep winter night surrounds us or where the soul expands under the tree of light that is the starry sky. It makes sense to decorate with lights a fir tree, one perhaps covered deeply in snow, as a worldly-human response to the shimmering of the eternal stars. Currents of cosmic connectedness pervade our soul. And when we see the solstice fires flaring up over upon the neighboring heights, greeting ours throughout the night, we know that we are one with all of those celebrating among the Volk, and with those kindled hearts who have borne the light of the High Spirit and the love for Volk and German territory through the millennia of our Teutonic-German history. The German youth movement has discovered anew such a ‘Christmas’ [‘Weihnacht’] and has learned these celebrations out of a sense of deep emotion for such realities. These celebrations are among the most treasured memories of our lives. Today they should be the common property of all those who set out to search for something new. But such celebrations outdoors are only for the young, and for a few steadfast old ones. Continue reading

The Second Danger: A Warning from the Fatherland Front

Fatherland Front propaganda writer Dr. Edwin Rollett’s “wake-up call” to Austrians on the “second danger” to their homeland: National Socialism

On 19 June, 1933, the ‘National Socialist German Workers’ Party – Hitler-Movement’ (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei – Hitlerbewegung, NSDAP-HB) was banned by the Austrian state. This measure was hardly a bolt from the blue – the Hitlerians had long been strident, aggressive enemies of Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss’s own Christian-Social Party, and the threat they posed to the Chancellor’s government was compounded not only by their penchant for violent radicalism and their stated goal of undoing Austria’s sovereignty, but also by the fact that they were being  supported in their endeavors by the resources of Adolf Hitler’s administration across the German-Austrian border. Attempts had been made to entice the Austrian National Socialists into joining Dollfuss’s government prior to the ban, and attempts to do so would be made again afterwards – but for the most part the Hitlerians remained enemies of the Austrian state, with their enmity soon giving way to an escalating wave of underground activism and terror attacks which led, in July 1934, to a failed putsch and to Dollfuss’s inadvertent murder. Prior to his assassination, Dollfuss had begun the process of shoring up the position of his ‘patriotic’ government, not only by banning certain parties (including the Social-Democrats and the Communists), but also by laying the foundations for an emerging ‘Austro-Fascist’ state through the promulgation of a new, corporatist constitution, and through the founding of a mass movement which would serve as a unifying vehicle for cohesive political rule: the Fatherland Front (Väterlandische Front). The Front was more a coalition of various different right-wing forces than it was a totalitarian mass party, and as such its ideology and direction were not always clear. To help the Front clarify its positions to the Austrian masses a propaganda bureau had been established alongside it: the Österreichischer Heimatdienst. One of the key concerns of the Heimatdienst was combating the influence and propaganda of the National Socialists, who – as the most prominent remaining advocates of Anschluss – still held a considerable degree of popularity among Austria’s population in spite of their ban. The pamphlet translated below, The Second Danger: A Wake-Up Call to All Austrians, was written by Christian-Social journalist and literary critic Edwin Rollett for the Heimatdienst sometime between 1933 and 1936 (the actual pamphlet is undated; most online sources give the publication date as 1936, but a few place it as early as 1933). Emphasizing National Socialism’s hypocrisy and ‘Marxist’-style radicalism in particular, The Second Danger provides a fairly typical example of the kinds of arguments which the Austro-Fascists employed in their efforts to dissuade the Austrian public from abandoning their Austrian homeland to the cause of the National Socialists. Along with the translation, the layout of the pamphlet has been reproduced here as closely as possible, including the accompanying illustrations and the publisher’s ‘dramatic’ spacing choices.   

THE SECOND DANGER:
A WAKE-UP CALL TO ALL AUSTRIANS
An undated propaganda pamphlet by Dr. Edwin Rollett
Published by the Heimatdienst, propaganda bureau of the Fatherland Front

The Old Enemy and the New Danger.

Austria is presently in the process of liberating itself, with tremendous effort, from the murderous grip of Marxism.

Already we can feel the enemy’s muscle tension subsiding and the bonds loosening. Already we are breathing more freely and are readying one last, mighty release of strength which will free us forever from the wrecker of our homeland.

Yet the secular adversary of Western culture, the sworn enemy of social order and genuine liberty, still exists, the two-headed dragon is not yet lying dead upon the ground; it is still spitting poison and bile from its wide-flung jaws, is still menacingly raising its paws for a treacherous blow – and already we are being threatened from behind by a new danger.

This second great danger for our Austrian homeland is called:

National Socialism!

In its homeland, in the German Reich, National Socialism has undoubtedly accomplished a historic mission. Albeit with means and methods which we Austrians are not entirely sympathetic to, for they are far too reminiscent of the means and methods of the firm of Lenin, Stalin, & Co. Continue reading

Extending a Hand to West Germany’s ‘Little Nazis’

An open letter by members of the DDR’s National-Democratic Party of Germany to former officers, soldiers, and NSDAP members in West Germany

On 26 February, 1948, the Soviet Military Administration in occupied Germany issued “Order No. 35,” officially declaring an end to denazification proceedings within the Soviet zone of occupation. Less than a month later, preparatory work began under the supervision of the Soviet authorities for the establishment of a new, sanctioned political party, one which would organize Germany’s “nationally-minded” forces in support of pro-Soviet, ‘anti-fascist’ objectives: the National-Democratic Party of Germany (National-Demokratische Partei Deutschlands, NDPD). The NDPD was officially founded on 16 July 1948, and though its first chairman, Lothar Bolz, was a longtime communist, most of its founding committee and subsequent membership were made up of former Wehrmacht officers and professional soldiers, as well as ex-members of the NSDAP (‘little Nazis’, i.e. low- or mid-ranking Parteigenossen) and similar nationalist organizations. The programme eventually adopted for the party established its ideology as a form of ‘national-socialism’ shorn of the racial, militarist, and anti-Marxist qualities which had typified the worldview of the NSDAP. Instead of war, the NDPD extolled peace, and instead of elitism, it extolled democracy and anti-fascism; at the same time, nonetheless, it also openly encouraged nationalist sentiments among its membership, promoting a view of German history and culture in which certain battles and engagements of the past were venerated (the anti-Napoleonic ‘Wars of Liberation’, the 1848 revolution), and in which East Germans were encouraged to rally in patriotic defense of their “socialist Fatherland” and its Eastern Bloc “brother nations” and against the military, cultural, and financial power of the United States. The efforts of the NDPD were not just directed at winning over the “national bourgeoisie” within the Soviet zone of occupation; from the very beginning it was also hoped that the party would prove a useful vehicle of outreach to the “radical, right-wing” forces in West Germany, serving as an example of the enlightened, forgiving attitude of Soviet and German Communist authorities towards those formerly in the ‘fascist’ camp, while also providing a useful platform of communication by which pro-Soviet sympathies could be transferred to nationalists in the West. To that end, at the NDPD’s second party conference in Leipzig in June 1950, prominent members of the party were tasked with drafting an open letter to all former Wehrmacht officers, professional soldiers, and members of the NSDAP in West Germany, calling on them to unite with their brothers in the East, to clasp hands and to stand together for “collective peace” and against war and rearmament. Signed by 22 party-members (16 of whom held posts within the party), the open letter became a key propaganda tool for the NDPD in subsequent months, with members being tasked to disseminate the letter throughout both East and West and to encourage the discussion of its content. A translation of the open letter, made from the official published transcript of 1950 NDPD conference proceedings, is provided below; the statements and remarks by delegates immediately preceding and following the reading of the letter have been included to help provide additional context. 

Proceedings from the 2nd Party Conference
of the National-Democratic Party of Germany
The Proclamation of the NDPD’s
“Open Letter to Former Soldiers,
Officers, and Members of the NSDAP”  
From the stenographic transcript of the NDPD’s Leipzig Conference of 15-17 June, 1950

GÜNTHER LUDWIG – BERLIN:1

My dear party colleagues!

I have requested the floor once again in order to inform you of the following. You know that our party has campaigned and continues to campaign for equal rights for all Germans of goodwill ever since it was founded, that it makes no distinction with regards to former members of the NSDAP and former officers and professional soldiers, and that it is only natural that even today there are a fair number of all of these to be found among our delegates. As one such example, I am a former career soldier. I spoke to you as such yesterday. I was a colonel, and I also fought in Stalingrad and was a witness to the combat there, as you have heard. Under the impact of yesterday’s events, we – that is, a large number of former officers and former members of the NSDAP – met together and decided to send an open letter to West Germany. Permit me, then, to read to you this open letter:

OPEN LETTER
TO ALL FORMER MEMBERS OF THE NSDAP,
OFFICERS, AND PROFESSIONAL SOLDIERS
IN WEST GERMANY

We Germans – regardless of what we are and what we were and wherever we may reside today, whether in the West or in the East of our homeland – are all driven by a deep concern: We see borders dividing our homeland, we recognize that even our capital Berlin is split into pieces. West Germany has become the object of the deliberations and conferences of foreign generals and bankers, which leads us to fear that a new war is being prepared.

We all know what war is. We know it all too well. Our wives and our children also experienced the last one; the bombing campaign was primarily directed against residential areas. In their ruins was the end.

We Germans, irrespective of where we live, long for a peaceful life; we worry over peace, we fear for the lives of our wives and children. We know that a new war will ruin forever the efforts of our Volk to attain a new prosperity. Continue reading