The ‘Strasser Program’

Too moderate, too democratic, too Marxist? The 1926 NSDAP draft program proposed (and rejected) as a replacement to the ’25 Points’

On January 5th, 1926, a meeting was convened in Hanover between members of the ‘National Socialist Working Group’, an association of prominent National Socialists from the north and west of Germany, including such figures as Goebbels, Ley, Pfeffer von Salomon, and Gregor & Otto Strasser. What united these National Socialists was their belief in National Socialism as an anticapitalist force, and their concern that the NSDAP was drifting in the wrong direction. At Hanover the group circulated a document which it was hoped would help address these issues: a new draft for a Party program that would replace the ‘outdated’ 25 Points of 1920, would more explicitly spell out the Party’s anticapitalist principles, and would more clearly describe the structure of the future NS-state. It was also felt that binding Hitler to a more concrete program would set stricter boundaries on his role as Führer. The draft program was primarily written by Gregor Strasser, based on the ideas of the Working Group, with some revisions to the text by Otto and Goebbels. It was contentious even within the Working Group, where it was criticized for being too ‘mild’ and lacking völkisch spirit, and its existence created some small turmoil within the Party. Hitler, seeing a threat to his authority, called a meeting at Bamberg on February 14th, 1926, where the draft program was soundly rejected; the 25 Points declared ‘inviolable’; and the foundations of Führerprinzip more firmly entrenched. The full text of the draft ‘Strasser program’ is reproduced below, translated by myself from the German ‘Quarterly Journal for Contemporary History’. 

National Socialism

Draft design of a comprehensive program of National Socialism

I. Introduction

(A nation is a community of fate, need, and bread!)

a.)  In brief the disorder of conditions:

  • in foreign policy
  • in domestic policy
  • in economic policy

b.)  Characterization of National Socialism as a wholly new, comprehensive view of political economy (synthesis of a politically creative nationalism and of a socialism which guarantees the support and development of the individual).  

c.)  Prerequisite for carrying out this mighty project is the national dictatorship. Fateful and causal connection between the economic emancipation of German employees and the political emancipation of the German people.

II. Foreign Policy

a.)  Borders of 1914, including colonies, and the unification of all German Central Europe in a Greater Germanic Reich (including Austria, the Sudetenland, and South Tyrol).

b.)  Tariff union with Switzerland, Hungary, Denmark, Holland, and Luxembourg.

c.)  Colonial empire in central Africa (former German colonies, the Congo, Portuguese colonies, portions of French colonies).

d.)  United States of Europe as a European league of nations with a uniform system of measurement and currency. Preparation for a tariff union with France and the other European states; otherwise, reciprocal most favored nation status.

III. Domestic Policy

A. Reich

1. Levels of office:

a.)  Reichspresident with a seven-year term (first Reichspresident the dictator), with    broad powers, comparable to the American President. His specific functions:

    • designation of the presidents of the individual regions,
    • appointment of ministers,
    • contracting of treaties, declaring of war and peace in cooperation with the ministry.

b.)  Reichsministry: led by the Reichschancellor, who heads the individual ministries and is responsible to the Reichspresident and, to a certain extent, to the Reich Chamber of Corporations.  (In the case of a two votes of no confidence, which must be a period of at least one year apart, the Cabinet must resign; likewise individual Ministers).  

c.)  National Council, consists of the (12-14) presidents of the individual regions and the Presidium of the Reich Chamber of Corporations (the five chairmen of the occupational chambers) under the chairmanship of the Reichspresident. Ministers only have an advisory role.  

d.)  Reich Chamber of Corporations: consists of representatives of the individual Reich occupational chambers (see IV.E.2) numbering 100; in addition 10 members named by the Reichspresident (representatives of the universities, of the Christian denominations, and otherwise outstanding individuals). Representatives elected as in the individual Reich occupational chambers under a general secret ballot for a period of 5 years. The Reich Chamber of Corporations has right to information, right of interpolation, and right of initiative. All bills must be submitted to it. If a law is rejected (a simple majority is always sufficient) the government can still put the law into force, but it must, if after a year it is again rejected, withdraw it. Immunity granted.

2. Administration:

Division of the entire Reich territory into 12-14 regions according to their particular historical and tribal traditions, with concomitant consideration of economic and religious affiliations. 

a.)  Complete unification of:

i) Army and Navy, 

ii) Justice,

iii) Transport (under conversion however into operational enterprises of post, water, and railways)

b.)  Only uniform policies for finance (section IV.)

Only uniform policies for cultural affairs (section V.)

B. Present Individual States:

Are divided or merged according to III.A.2. into new regions while retaining historical names. 

1. Levels of office:

a.)  Regional presidents: appointed by the Reichspresident for a period of 5 years and are accountable solely to him. A regional president is entitled within this period to appeal to the National Council against his decommissioning or dismissal. In a certain sense he is also responsible to his region’s Regional Chamber of Corporations, which can withdraw its confidence. If this no confidence is expressed in two separate votes, at least one year apart, the President must be recalled without right of appeal to the National Council. – He is head of government of the region, which has no ministries, but rather a kind of regional presidium.

b.) Regional Chamber of Corporations: consisting of 50 representatives of the region’s occupational chambers; also five representatives appointed by the regional president, analogous to III.A.b. – Electoral procedures are the same as with the Reich Chamber of Corporations; electoral term of three years. Likewise has right to information, right of interpolation, and right of initiative, but only in the scope of the duties assigned to the regional governments.   

2. Administration:

Essentially the sole executive agency of the Reich. Respective activities according to A.2.B. within the framework of the Reich directives on:

a.)  Finance (s. IV.)

b.)  Cultural affairs (s. V.).

C. Electoral System

1. Reichspresident: National Council and Reich Chamber of Corporations each elect 5 candidates – the two groups of candidates need not be different from one another; the two bodies vote separately on the entire list. If a candidate receives more than half the votes in both bodies, he is elected; likewise if a candidate receives at least one third of  the votes from the Reich Chamber of Corporations. If these conditions do not occur, then there will be selective ballots between the candidates with the most votes until a candidate emerges victorious. (Conclave)   

2. Election procedure of the different chambers:

a.)  Reich Chamber of Corporations, see III.A.1d.

b.)  Regional Chamber of Corporations, see III.B.1b.

c.)  Occupational chambers (Reich occupational chambers, regional occupational chambers, district occupational chambers), see IV.E.4-8.

IV. Economic Policy

A. Agricultural policy.

1.)  Land and soil are the property of the nation! (Buildings count as assets. Assets remain private property.)

2.)  Present-day properties, up to a size of 1,000 Morgen (productivity level I [Bonität I]), may remain as hereditary holdings as long as there is a male heir in the family who is able and willing to carry on the hereditary obligations.

3.)  Holdings larger than 1,000 Morgen are to be divided into small holdings of 50 to 200 Morgen, after each man of German nationality who has been an agricultural labourer on the property has been compensated with 2 Morgen. – Generous land consolidation.

4.)  State Domains [i.e. ‘crown land’] are not to be divided, and instead are to be set up as model farms managed by administrators under the control of the Regional Chambers, not leased!  

5.)  The newly-created small holdings can only be leased as entails on behalf of the Reich.  

6.)  No hereditary holdings can be sold or borrowed against.

7.)  Lease amounts are to be assessed by the District Chamber of Agriculture, the Regional Chamber of Agriculture, and the Reich Chamber of Agriculture; they are to be set by the Reich Ministry of Agriculture and as a rule shall be payable in kind.

8.)  Regional governments may only lend out newly-established or vacated holdings to trained farmers recommended by the District Chamber of Agriculture. Likewise, the regional government is entitled, at the recommendation of the District Chamber of Agriculture, to withdraw the entail if there is poor management or self-inflicted leasing debts; the affected party may appeal to the Reich Ministry of Agriculture which, after consulting the Regional Chamber of Agriculture and the Reich Chamber of Agriculture, makes a final ruling.

9.)  Mortgages are to be granted only by state loan offices set up in each region by its   Regional Chamber of Agriculture. Maximum lending rates are to be determined by regional governments based on the proposals of their Regional Chamber of Agriculture.

10.)  Agricultural laborers: If, after the division of the large holdings, farm laborers are still needed for the remaining large holdings (this includes farm laborers on State Domains), they will be bonded to the soil by a lease-free granting of 2 Morgen of good local land for the duration of their employment in that same district.

B. Industrial policy.

1.)  All businesses which on a stated day in the past employed twenty or more employees are to be converted into joint stock companies.

2.)  The Reich Ministry of Economics divides industries into 2 groups:

a.)  Essential industries (key industries, armaments industries, banks, chemical and electrical industries).

b.)  Nonessential industries (finished goods industries, export industries, and all others).

3.)  For all joint stock companies, ownership of 51 percent of those in group 2.a will be turned over to the general public; 49 percent of those in group 2.b. Ownership will  be transferred to the general public in the following distributions:

Group 2.a.: Reich 30%, Workforce 10%, Region 6%, District 5%.

Group 2.b.: Reich 30%, Workforce 10%, Region 5%, District 4%.

4.)  The employees in each of these industrial enterprises are to be grouped in a works-union [Werksgemeinschaft] which will receive 10 percent of the stock of the company.

If an employee leaves, he loses his usufruct.

5.)  The administration and management will remain completely in private hands, according to the general rules of the company. The ownership structure will be  reflected by the board of directors, where the chairman of the Reich-stock as a rule is also either the chairman or the deputy-chairman of the board of directors.

6.)  The Reich Ministry of Economics is responsible for all stock owned by the Reich; special economic agencies for those owned by the regions. State-owned stock may, by convention, be represented either by the Reich or the regions, but not by other entities. 

C. Trade and small business policy.

1.)  Those businesses or individuals who employ fewer than 20 are to be grouped by law in compulsory guilds.

2.)  Taxation of these self-governing bodies will take the form of a lump sum which the guilds themselves will divide and levy on their individual members.

3.)  The amount of the lump sum is to be fixed by the regional governments, calculated using Reich guidelines and the old tax records. Objections can be made through the relevant occupational chambers to the Reich Ministry of Finance, which has final say. 

4.)  Of the proceeds from this lump sum tax, 4/7 falls to the Reich, 2/7 to the Region, 1/7 to the District.  

5.)  Freelance professions to be taxed by self-assessment. Taxation amounts to be based on Reich guidelines and managed by regional governments. The distribution of the resulting tax income is as with IV.C.4.: 4/7 to the Reich, 2/7 to the Region, 1/7 to the District.

D. Financial policy. (Basic principle: Direct taxation of the source of profit within the productive process)

1.)  Matrix is the financial participation of the Reich, the states and the localities in the whole of industry (see B.3).

2.)  In addition there are the lease revenues from the agricultural holdings leased out in the form of entails.

3.)  There will also be the lump sum payments from the taxation of the trade guilds. (see IV.C.2-3) Distribution rate: Reich 4/7, Region 2/7, District 1/7.

4.)  Individual declarations according to IV.C.5. Distribution rate: Reich 4/7, Region 2/7, District 1/7.

5.)  Luxury taxes: (as straight Reich taxes!)

a.) Beverage taxes (beer, wine, brandy, sparkling wine).

b.) Tobacco taxes.

c.) Automobile taxes (special tax for road use).

6.)  Tariffs. (High protective tariffs – revenue exclusively to the Reich.)

7.)  Inheritance taxes (excluding direct descendants and antecedents); distribution rates Reich 4/7, Region 2/7, District 1/7.

8.)  All other taxes abolished. 

9.)  Financial administration at 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7 to be the domain of the Reich; 3 & 4 the domain of the regional government.  

10.)  All tax laws are to be approved by the Reich Chamber of Corporations or the Regional Chamber of Corporations respectively (see the rights of the Corporate Chambers).     

E. Structure and character of the corporations.

1.)  The various principle occupational groups are to be combined in District, Region, and Reich chambers. (For example, the occupational chamber of agriculture: the electorate decides in direct election on the composition of the District Chamber of Agriculture and the Regional Chamber of Agriculture, while the Ministry of the Interior decides on that of the Reich Chamber of Agriculture in accordance with the distribution of the regional occupational chambers)

2.)  The following chambers are to be formed:

a.)  Chamber of Agriculture

b.)  Chamber of Industry and Trade

c.)  Chamber of Labor

d.)  Chamber of Civil Servants and Employees

e.)  Chamber of the Free Professions

3.)  Each member of the relevant occupation who is in possession of German citizenship, civil rights, and is of 21 years of age, will be eligible to vote. They will be eligible to stand for election at 25 years old under the same conditions. Elections are conducted secretly according to proportional representation.  

4.)  The number of representatives is to be 30 in the district occupational chambers, 50 in the regional occupational chambers, and 100 in the Reich occupational chambers. 

5.)   From these occupational chambers one mixed chamber is to be chosen for each district, each region, and for the entire Reich: the Chamber of Corporations of District X, the Regional Chamber of Corporations, and the Reich Chamber of Corporations. (So the 5 occupational chambers of each district, the 5 occupational chambers of the region, and each region’s 5 occupational chambers in the Reich Chamber).      

6.)   The number of representatives to be elected for the corporate chambers is set at:

    • 30 for the District Chambers,
    • 50 for each Regional Chamber of Corporations,
    • 100 for the Reich Chamber of Corporations,

For each Regional Chamber, 5 of their 50 members are appointed by the Regional President rather than elected; for the Reich Chamber, 10 members are selected by the Reichspresident. 

7.)   The distribution of the number of representatives to the individual occupational chambers is determined by the underlying economic conditions and the number of persons entitled to vote within the various occupational categories, the official number set in the regions by the Reich Ministry of the Interior and in the districts by their regional government. It must never be the case that one occupational chamber makes up more than half the members of a Chamber of Corporations. 

8.)  Tasks of the Chamber of Corporations: (see III.A.d & III.B.1b) The tasks of the district chambers are of an administrative nature. Principal task is the observation and control of the effect of legal measures on economic life; the advising of officials, as well as the right to investigate complaints about the assessment of taxes, and to be the intercessor for all administrative complaints. Of particular importance are the agricultural occupational chambers. (see IV.A.7-8)

F. Division of production. (Basic principle: shortest possible path between producer and consumer, with extensive elimination of free trade)

1.)  Agriculture.

a.)  Compulsory combination of the farmers into local cooperatives, and of these cooperatives into district cooperatives under the supervision of the Chamber of Agriculture.  

b.)  Prohibition of free sale of agricultural products, sale only to the cooperative.

c.)  Combination of members of the finishing trades (butchers, millers, bakers, etc.) in compulsory guilds (see C.1).

d.)  Conclusion of direct delivery contracts between these producers’ cooperatives and the guilds or large direct consumers’ cooperatives.

e.)  All such delivery contracts are to be authorized within the locality by the municipal authority, within the district by the district authority, within regions by the regional government. In cases of controversy, they are to be transferred to the District Chamber of Corporations or the Regional Chamber of Corporations.

f.)  Purchase contracts with entities outside the district may only be made through the region’s central cooperative.

2.)  Industry:

It is the task of the Reich Ministry of Economics to combine similar enterprises into cartel organisations, but without using general legal compulsion. Continuous supervision of the modernity of the technical situation, with the possibility of closing down unprofitable enterprises, is also the responsibility of the Reich Ministry of Economics, because of joint ownership by the state.

V. Cultural Policy

1. Jewish Question.

a.)  All Jews who immigrated after August 1, 1914, are to be expelled within six months.

b.)  All individuals who have accepted the Mosaic religion (at any time) since January 18, 1871, and all former citizens descended from such individuals, are to be declared foreigners (Palestinians). In mixed ancestry the father is decisive.

c.)  Palestinians, like other foreigners, enjoy the protection of the law, but are to be treated in all respects according to German immigration law. (In particular, they are neither eligible to vote, nor to stand for election. Foreigners cannot become civil servants.)

d.)  For foreign students a numerus clausus [i.e. set quota] is to be introduced. Section V.2.d. does not apply to them.  

2. Church and school.

a.)  Protection and encouragement of the two Christian faiths by the state.

b.)  Denominational and nondenominational schools may coexist, but it will be enforced that there is at least one nondenominational school in each locality. The exact relationship between the two types of schools, as between those of schools of the two Christian denominations to one other, is to be a matter for the regional government and to be determined by their proportion of students.

c.)  Logical school structure: common eight-grade elementary school, annual promotion after completion of four classes (from the first school year on) to qualifying pupils in middle school. Schools of two types: Gymnasium and Oberrealschule, or their preliminary forms, the Progymnasium and Realschule (with elimination of the Realgymnasium and the deutschen Schule). Schools to teach English instead of Greek, and Spanish instead of French.  Protection and encouragement of the two Christian faiths by the state. After six years of Realschule or Progymnasium follows:

    • Ascension to Gymnasium or Oberrealschule (3 years), or
    • Teacher training college (3 years),
    • Commercial college (3 years),
    • Agricultural college (3 years),
    • Vocational school (3 years).

Acceptance at teacher training college additionally only possible after attending a three-class preparatory school immediately after completing secondary schooling. Students may be accepted at university or vocational school after graduation from the Gymnasium or Oberrealschule.

d.)  Attendance free at all schools, including the university; many study materials also free.

3. Press.

a.)  Besides the previous Reichsanzeiger [the official state newspaper of the German Reich], an official Reichsnewsletter will appear; the same in every region and in each district. Local officials may issue them also.

b.)  Official announcements will be permitted to appear only in these official newspapers.

c.)  Other private or self-supporting newspapers are free to appear.

d.)  Owners and editors must be citizens of the German Reich.

e.)  All articles must be signed by the author. (No immunity for members of parliament.)

4. Justice.

Far-reaching reform with conscious return to Germanic legal perceptions (man, not things, the focal point). Basic principle is: few laws, but good ones, strictly enforced.

VI. Miscellaneous

1. Currency.

Two kinds of currency:

a.)  Domestic currency to be the Arbeitsmark.

b.)  Foreign currency to be the Goldmark, serving as the single currency of the Central European Customs Union. If possible also to serve as single currency of the United States of Europe.

2. Wages.

Desirable to accomplish a large proportion of payment in kind.

a.)  This is particularly the case with civil servants, who are to receive uniformly, across all categories, a basic salary of foodstuffs (cards) that must be accepted at each store and which can also either be used for tax payments or redeemed by the state. Monetary payments for civil servants only as a surcharge- here then is appropriate tariffing.

b.)  Increasing the number of heads in one’s family (marriage, children) will automatically increase one’s basic salary, half the normal basic salary for children up until their time of leaving school. (Social compensation)

c.)  A similar remuneration system should also be sought for all other workers, for which purpose the presence of the Reich Ministry of Economics on the supervisory boards of industry is to be employed.

3. Insurance.

In principle, takeover of 51% of insurance companies by general public as with IV.B.3.

a.)  Obligatory old-age insurance: in the event of incapacity to work, the official basic salary in kind (food ration cards) and one third of the cash wages of group 1 civil servants are to be granted against corresponding pay deductions. Voluntary supplements for raising the cash bonus are possible.  

b.)  Voluntary life-insurance, accident-insurance, and other insurances to be available with the most state support possible. 

4. Civil service.

Civil servants will maintain their privileges, including the right to a civil service pension. (full basic salary, and one third of the cash wage of the relevant service category) Only: closer financial administration, administration of justice. (Not against previous traffic officials transferred into an employment relationship.)

VII. Conclusion

(Drawing together and reanalysis of the problems)

1.)  On the problem in foreign policy: the organic arrangement and the powerful racial unification of the German nation in a greater German Empire; this greater German Empire as the instigator of a central European customs union and as the dominant force in the United States of Europe.

2.)  On the domestic problem: the division of authority between centralism and federalism with the introduction of an organically structured system of corporations in the place of an artificial parliamentarianism.

3.)  On the economic problem: the reconciliation of the rights of the general public with the personal egoism which is rooted in human nature.

a.)  In agriculture through realization of the idea of hereditary tenure.

b.)  In industry through far-reaching transfer of the ownership of the means of production to the general public; in both cases with maintenance of private enterprise and with regard for the sense of property.

This powerful synthesis of chaotic, competitive political and economic forces, their utilization for the nation and for humanity, is Germany’s predestined historical task.

TRANSLATED FROM REINHARD KÜHL’S ZUR PROGRAMMATIK DER NATIONALSOZIALISTISCHEN LINKEN: DAS STRASSER-PROGRAMM VON 1925/26, VIERTELJAHRSHEFTE FÜR ZEITGESCHICHTE (QUARTERLY JOURNAL FOR CONTEMPORARY HISTORY), VOL. 14 (1966), ISSUE 3

 

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