The Little ABC of National Socialists

Joseph Goebbels’s best-selling 1925 primer on National Socialist doctrine

‘The Little ABC of National Socialists’ (Das Kleine ABC des Nationalsozialisten) – one of the most popular documents outlining the tenets of National Socialist philosophy – was written and published by Joseph Goebbels in late 1925, not more than a year after “the little Doktor” first became politically active in the national-socialist movement. Goebbels at the time of publication was not the leading figure he would later become. At this point in his life he was a mostly penniless agitator, a demagogue-in-training, an organizer in the Gau North-Rhineland who was just starting to make his name in the wider Party outside of the city of Elberfeld. ‘The Little ABC’ was one of the many factors which played a part in Goebbels’s later notoriety. The pamphlet was immensely successful; the first edition of 10,000 copies sold out rapidly, leading to praise from Hitler, and more than 75,000 had been printed and distributed by 1927. By the time Hitler was appointed Reichschancellor in 1933 it was one of the most widely-read pieces of National Socialist literature. This is in large measure due to its style of writing – a pithy question-and-answer format, with simple, straightforward language intended to make National Socialist doctrine easily accessible to young people and workers. Winning proletarians to the cause was always a central focus of Dr. Goebbels, and even the title of the work attests to that fact – it deliberately calls to mind Bukharin & Preobrazhensky’s ‘ABC of Communism’. The translation of the ‘Little ABC’ below was made by myself personally; as far as I can tell no English translation is otherwise generally available.  

THE LITTLE ABC OF NATIONAL SOCIALISTS

Dr. Joseph Goebbels

For the downtrodden!

Against the exploiter!

The Common Good Comes Before Self-Interest!

What is the first commandment of every National Socialist?

Love Germany above all and love your folk-comrades [Volksgenossen] like yourself!

What is the aim of the National Socialist freedom-concept?

The people’s community [Volksgemeinschaft] of all honest, productive Germans!

What is the substance of this people’s community?

Freedom and bread for every German folk-comrade!

Who is our German folk-comrade?

Any honest productive German, so long as he is of German blood, German customs, and German culture, and speaks the German language!

Through what principle do we National Socialists want to do away with today’s economic struggle of all against all?

Common interest before self-interest!

Why National Socialist German Workers Party?

Can and should a workers’ party still be national today?

It not only can and should, it must be national today. The cause of the people is the cause of the nation, and vice versa; the might and welfare of the state are the might and welfare of the people, and thus the might and welfare of every individual!

Isn’t there a conflict between the national and social concepts?

No, on the contrary! The truly national man thinks socialist, and the true socialist is nationalist!

When am I a nationally-minded person?

I am a nationally-minded person when I have the will, and use all my power, to make my people and my Fatherland free, healthy, and strong!

When do I think as a socialist?

I think as a socialist when I recognize that the natural rights of the oppressed portion of my folk-comrades, the rights to liberty and bread, are rights that must be fought for and preserved, they are not gifts that are given freely or even imposed!

What is the difference between ‘social’ and ‘socialist’?

The phrase ‘social’ wants to grant the oppressed segments of the people the imperfect rights of fear and cowardice, grace and mercy; ‘socialism’ gives them their full right to justice and state imperative!

Why ‘Workers Party’?

Because every honest, productive German who belongs to us already, or who shall belong to us yet, is a German worker, whether of brain or fist; because the will to creative work is a fundamental feature in German man; because work does not dishonor man but honors and ennobles! Continue reading

Visions of National Socialist Democracy, Part I: Jung

Rudolf Jung’s 1922 vision of a future representative, National Socialist council-state

Over the next few weeks ARPLAN will be publishing a number of articles exploring the often difficult concept of democracy’s place within National Socialist ideology. On the face of it one might think that there is no place for democracy in National Socialism; today the Hitlerian regime and its guiding philosophy are typically presented as the archetypal antithesis of democratic values. What complicates this perception are the thoughts and words of the National Socialists themselves – on the one hand they cursed democracy, while on the other they claimed to be bringing a true, Germanic democracy to the German people. The National Socialist interpretation of democracy, like the Soviet, was characterized by a difference of interpretation – for them democracy lay not with parliaments and parties, but with more traditional forms of popular rule drawn from the Germanic past. When activists set out to write their blueprints for a possible future National Socialist state, they rarely spoke of dictatorship – and more often spoke of voting, and elections, and representative government, all shorn of the trappings of bourgeois Western parliamentarism. These visions of ‘National Socialist democracy’ are what ARPLAN will be exploring in the coming weeks. Our first vision is excerpted from Rudolf Jung’s 1922 (2nd ed.) book Der nationale Sozialismus, the earliest work of National Socialist political philosophy, which describes a future NS-state built on a kind of ‘council-nationalism.’ The text below was translated by myself from two separate chapters of Jung’s work, ‘Parliament or Council?’ (Parlament oder Räte?) and ‘The German Peoples’ State’ (Der deutsche Volkstaat). The first chapter is abridged for purposes of brevity, the second included in full.    

Parliament or Council?

…How was it in 1918? Absolutism – it was said at that time – must disappear, democracy should take its place. The very fact that one could not find a German word to describe what was desired indicated that the goal was quite unclear and hazy. In essence, only the autocracy of individuals, which was severely restricted by constitutional institutions, was replaced (and sometimes only apparently so) by the much more ruthless rule by large parties. The scepters rolled into the dust; the money bag took their place, replacing the dynastic power struggles between houses – which now and then had to be reconciled with the welfare of the state – with the much more ruthless rule of large parties. The urge to feed at the trough brings about the most impossible alliances between parties, each of which does not trust the other, each seeking advantage over the other. It does not matter if the state whose leadership is entrusted to them disintegrates, so long as the party’s fortunes prosper…

…All sorts of means are employed to try and heal this [parliamentary] malignancy, such as impossible party alliances here, unity parties there. But it is incurable. Rather, the system must be changed from the ground up. Today’s parliamentarism, with its one-chamber system, urgently requires a supplement by the old German system of representation by estate, which is more representative of the nature of our people. Of course, it will not be able to look like it once did, because the estates are partly transformed, partly completely lost. For example, no one today would be able to explain the term Bürgertum [‘bourgeoisie’] correctly. But there are occupational groups that can give us a suitable foundation for a system of estate representation whose modern form of expression is the council system – by which however we do not mean the Russian caricature [i.e. the Soviet], the concept of a council dictatorship being untenable, as is any dictatorship, i.e. tyranny. But the concept of the council itself is good, and it will be realized in the most multifarious forms in state, intellectual, and economic life! One must only beware here of one-sidedness and overestimation. There is no panacea; every illness requires different remedies. Manifold is life, and colorful and manifold are therefore also its edicts.  Continue reading

Monthly Fragebogen: The National Socialist political breakthrough

While visiting friends in the Wurtemburg countryside, nationalist writer Ernst von Salomon is treated to a grass-roots view of the NSDAP’s 1930 electoral triumph

In this month’s excerpt from his post-WWII best-seller Der Fragebogen, conservative-revolutionary writer Ernst von Salomon recounts his experience in Wurtemberg of the infamous German Reichstag elections of September 1930. In the previous elections of 1928 the National Socialists had won a mere 12 seats; the sudden explosive growth of the NSDAP to 107 seats a mere two years later was a triumphal shock for both the Party and for Germany, representing the dramatic political changes which had beset the country over such a short expanse of time, particularly since the onset of the Great Depression in October 1929. von Salomon’s description of the peasant regions of Swabia provide a lively account of this transformed German countryside in this period: a countryside which “was, beyond any question of doubt, National-Socialist”; a countryside where elderly women, Church-goers, and peasant girls had already begun using the ‘Hitler-greeting’ in recognition of their shared adoption of völkisch-socialist values. The political landslide of 1930, in von Salomon’s account, is thus unsurprising, a reflection of the successful permeation and normalization of National Socialist ideology into day-to-day German life at the local level.

It was during the summer of 1930, when Berlin was first beginning to feel the effects of what happened on October 23rd, 1929, that I went for a few weeks to Calw, a small, South German town in Wurtemberg, to visit the painter Rudolf Schlichter. I had read thoroughly the works of Hermann Hesse, who was also born in Calw, and the exactness of his descriptions allowed me to recognise many details of the place with great delight. The most fortunate province of Germany, solid, hard-working, industrious, middle-class Wurtemberg, was reflected in the good city of Calw as in a convex glass. The little district capital, situated in the smiling valley of the Nagold, struck me as a very picture of comely arrangement. A little industry, a certain amount of wood trade, all happily mingled together and backed by an industrious farming community, a solid Catholic minority living side by side with a quantity of Protestant sects, good roads and railways to the most delightful parts of the Black Forest and the Swabian Alps, to Pforzheim in Baden and the provincial capital, Stuttgart, all this combined to give the district capital its own specific character. If anywhere, then surely here the economic and social life drew its sustenance from a soil that would be fruitful to all seed save only that which aspired aggressively to drastic change. Here every man could, with energy and care, look after his own affairs. And when, in the evenings, the local dignitaries sat over a good, neighbourly bottle of wine, these worthies did not allow political differences of opinion to interfere with personal friendships, while their mutual interdependence in matters of trade and their frequent blood relationships both served as strong deterrents to fanaticism of any sort.

On the market place was a first-class delicatessen shop, which saw to it that the products of distant lands as well as those of an active home industry found their way into the kitchens of the Calw households. Its proprietor was to be seen at all times, enveloped in a spotlessly white coat, standing among his sacks of raisins and his prettily coloured boxes of dried fruit. In his spotlessly clean shop his ruddy, healthy face radiated confidence and politeness, while his pleasant smile promised all comers that here they could expect good, reliable service. I praised his shop heartily, and he said, in his strong Wurtemberg accent:

“You know, I worked like a black to get this business going…” and he said: “You know, I still need another ten thousand marks to get out of debt…” Continue reading