The Manifesto of the Black Front

The 1931 ‘action program’ adopted by Otto Strasser’s ‘Fighting Community of Revolutionary National Socialists’ for its Black Front project

On 2nd October, 1931, followers of Otto Strasser gathered at Castle Lauenstein in Upper Franconia for the 2nd Reich Congress of the Kampfgemeinschaft Revolutionärer Nationalsozialisten (Fighting Community of Revolutionary National Socialists, KGRNS). The KGRNS was a young movement, yet had already gone through a period of tumultuous upheaval; Strasser’s dabbling in the 1930 SA revolt (the ‘Stennes-putsch’) and his subsequent machinations with Freikorps leader Kapitän Hermann Ehrhardt had created chaos within his organization, resulting in a number of humiliating splits which had bled away many of his more radical followers. The 2nd Reich Congress was thus something of a regrouping, an attempt to formalize the KGRNS’s tactical position in the wake of ideological confusion and to set a clear course for the future. One outcome of the Congress was the official declaration of the ‘Black Front’ concept, with associated manifesto. The Black Front was intended to be a political coalition, an umbrella organization (naturally led by the KGRNS) of the various national-revolutionary movements in Germany who shared a common sense of identity and mission in their anti-capitalist, anti-parliamentarian, anti-communist, and anti-Hitlerian ideals. Delegates from the UNSKD, the Wehrwolfbund, the Bund Oberland, and the Bundische Reichschaft, as well as representatives from literary journals Die Tat and Widerstand, all signed up to the Black Front concept – in theory. In reality, most cooperation under the Black Front name never went much further than the writing of newspaper articles or the occasional joint meeting. Over time the KGRNS ended up appropriating the Black Front name for itself, although the basic essence of the original Manifesto, reproduced below, remained as a core ideological guideline for the organization. 

The Manifesto of the Black Front

The action program of the

“Fighting Community of Revolutionary National Socialists”

proclaimed at the 2nd Reich Congress at Castle Lauenstein,

2nd – 4th October, 1931.

Through tremendous crises the system of liberalism dies.

The liberal economic system, capitalism, is no longer able to safeguard the food, clothing, and habitation of the German people, as evidenced by the terrible suffering of the broad masses, the unemployment of the proletariat, and the destruction of the peasantry.

The liberal social and political order, the bourgeois class state, and parliamentary democracy, can no longer fulfill that organic union and uniform deployment of the strength of the German people which removes internal instability and increases external performance to the highest possible extent, by which alone the attainment and assertion of national liberty is possible.

The liberal rationalist and materialist conception of culture has torn from the life of German man the inner focus on life’s true meaning and has instead given birth to that restlessness, senselessness, and mood of despair which inevitably leads every community to self-destruction.

*

The basic law of the capitalist economic order is the “sanctity of private property”; the basic tenet of capitalist economic policy is the integration of the international world economy, crowned by the single gold standard. So long as these pillars of the capitalist economic system stand, so long will there be no change in Germany’s current plight!

The essence of today’s class system and of parliamentary democracy is that of the people’s artificial stratification based on the power of money, creating a selective system in which profession and vocation are in conflict with each other in 97 out of a hundred cases. This unnatural stratification creates ever-increasing tensions within the organism of the people, who are forced to focus all their energy externally, thus ensuring the inevitability of the condition of the nation’s bondage.

This prevailing materialism, combined with a grotesque overestimation of the human mind and its inventions, especially in terms of technology, has disconnected the life of German man more and more from the sources of his being- from nature, from history, from fate, from God- and left it unstable, rootless, and meaningless. The dissolution of all völkish virtues, the loss of any religiosity, were the fatal consequences that eventually led to the negation of life itself.

In the knowledge of these facts, their causes and their consequences, the Black Front seeks that

total revolution

which will overthrow the present systems of economy, state, and culture, and which will erect a new order founded upon the national community, an order whose aristocracy is manifested through its own forms of economy, state, and culture.

This revolution is socialist, i.e. it denies the sanctity of private ownership of land, natural resources, and the means of production, and affirms that German form of fortitude that is equally hostile to Western capitalism as it is to Eastern Bolshevism. At the same time it demands the disentanglement of this German, socialist, peoples’ economy from the international world economic system, with the self-evident consequence of this disentanglement being its own independent currency operating within a planned German economy. The goal of this planned economy is to meet the needs of the German people; the realization of their needs requires the agarianisation of Germany, the resettlement of the population, autarchic self-sufficiency, and a state monopoly on foreign trade.

This revolution is nationalistic, i.e. it fights internally for the organic corporate state, and outwardly for national freedom for Germany. Internal reorganization is the prerequisite of the national war of liberation which will violently tear apart the chains of Versailles and the Young Plan that are now enslaving Germany. Only by attaining its national freedom will Germany be able to live in peace amongst the peoples of Europe and the world, a peace based upon respect for the nature and the nobility of these other peoples, peoples to whom nationalism in principle acknowledges the same rights to life and development that it expects for its own people. – The internal constitution of this organic German state is to be based upon the self-government of free estates [i.e. corporations], as far away from the fascist authoritarian state as it is from our present system of anonymous parliamentarism- and the only possible route towards a Greater German Reich.

This revolution is völkish, i.e. it goes back to the root and source of völkish life; it knows and affirms the fateful conditionality of our völkish, our German life, and sees in its unfolding and fulfilment the true meaning of being, the “will of God.” The revival of religiosity free of ecclesiastical dogmatism is as much a necessity to this revolution as it is a cheerful certainty, and its commitment to an idealistic world-view is a major component of its conservative nature.

The Black Front thus avows itself to a German revolution that is

economically socialist,

politically nationalist,

culturally völkisch

and it fights therefore with relentless severity against the fronts of The System, regardless of whether it is the black-white-red flag of Conservative Reaction or the black-red-gold flag of Liberal Reaction which flutters above them.  The Black Front knows that their shared opposition to these fronts of Reaction creates a kind of alliance between it and the Red Front, that front of the liberal revolution [of 1918], but it realizes that this alliance will end on the day the system is overthrown, and then the

struggle between Black and Red

will determine the future shape of Germany. 

Deeply imbued with a belief in destiny; galvanized by the sacrificial deaths of the millions of victims of the Great War, of the Freikorps, and of those lost in the post-war turmoil; the Black Front vows to lead and win this fight

so that Germany may live!

Heil Germany!

TRANSLATED FROM RICHARD SCHAPKE’S DIE SCHWARZE FRONT, (1932), WOLFGANG RICHARD LINDNER VERLAG IN LEIPZIG

4 thoughts on “The Manifesto of the Black Front

  1. Fun coincidence that more Strasser gets posted, I just finished reading ‘Gregor Strasser and the RIse of Nazism’ by Peter Stachura.

    He characterizes Otto as an opportunist and a troublemaker, whose ideology was never really that deep or thought through. In contrast, he characterizes Gregor as a much more stable man and a true workhorse for the Nazi party, but whose ideology wasn’t particularly ‘leftist’ and who in fact became much more open to alliances with the national conservatives by the end of his political career. In general Stachura seems to believe there was no real identifiable ‘Strasser bloc’ within Nazism, and that Otto basically lied about Gregor supporting him post-expulsion (Stachura does a pretty good job backing up this belief).

    Curious if you’ve read the book or have any thoughts on this characterisation of Otto and Gregor. It seems to align with most of what I’ve read.

    • Yeah, Stachura’s book is great; that and Joseph Dixon’s ‘Gregor Strasser and the Organization of the Nazi Party’ are two of the best resources on Gregor in English I’ve found. Stachura also wrote an essay on Gregor (‘Der Fall Strasser: Gregor Strasser, Hitler, and National Socialism 1930-32’) which I’d suggest you check out if you haven’t yet, it’s part of his book ‘The Shaping of the Nazi State.’

      I completely agree with Stachura’s observations – they match up with the impressions I get from other historians like Dixon, and especially from other National Socialist writers from the period like Albert Krebs and Otto Wagener. Otto Strasser imo isn’t a very sympathetic figure. His ideas are interesting, but they’re nowhere as interesting (or as practical) as Gregor’s, and the more you read the more you realize how disingenuous Otto was. His books seem to be full of distortions and self-serving lies designed to build up his own image and to paint he and Gregor as arm-in-arm fighters against Hitlerism. In reality Gregor’s perspective on Hitler was far more complex, and Gregor’s own ideas (especially by 1930) were on the more moderate – even conservative – end of the NS spectrum. The myth of “the Strasser brothers” as some collective entity with a united “Strasser wing” behind them is something I’ve been meaning to write about, when I get more time to devote to original essays. It’s a persisting idea but it doesn’t seem to have much substance to it. The various factions in the NSDAP were far more nebulous and overlapping.

      • I’ve got ‘Der Fall Strasser’ on the reading list but haven’t got around to it yet (currently working through ‘Hitler’s Voice’ which is taking me a very long time).That’s good to hear his characterizations weren’t off the mark – he really lays into Otto, but perhaps that’s forgivable given how unlikable he is. Maybe if Otto had restrained himself from lying about Gregor, his brother would managed to have make it out alive.

        That essay would be a worthy one to make if only so there’s something to link to when people on Reddit/Twitter/Etc. talk about ‘Strasserism’ as some kind of mythical force for good/evil. It’s weird how the word seems to be appearing everywhere these days but none of the people using it have bothered to learn anything about the Strassers beyond “they were those leftie Nazis, right?”

      • I’ve wondered that too. There’s that December 1932 letter of Gregor’s that Stachura quotes: “I am unable to meet you. You are highly dangerous for your friends and a tonic for your enemies. Your articles have harmed me enormously… Everything which I had brought up for discussion in respectable circles fell largely on deaf ears because you, quite wrongly, gave the impression that I was in touch undercover with you.” I can’t find the exact source at the moment, but I recall reading that this happened with others, too. While he was in exile Otto would write some article praising a recent essay or action by somebody in Germany; subsequently they would be questioned by the Gestapo. He was so focused on his own legend that he was thoughtless about how it would affect others. Even decades after the War he was still writing about Gregor as if they were in total ideological agreement, begging Gregor’s widow to let him use his brother’s ashes for propaganda purposes…

        The whole online ‘Strasserist’ thing is pretty interesting. It’s largely built on a legend, a myth, one that Otto seems to have originally been responsible for, and that clueless people have kept propagating since – that there was this united wing of leftist ‘good guys’ within the NSDAP who could have prevented all the nastiness if they’d won out. It’s a lot like Trotskyism. Partly I think it comes from people being attracted to NS on some aesthetic level, but being so habituated to the “racism is the Ultimate Sin” ideal that they gravitate to what they see as a ‘safe’ alternative. Otto and Gregor’s writings not being widely translated helps, too – ‘Strasserism’ can be whatever they want it to be. If you read what Otto & Gregor wrote you quickly realize they were far from being anti-racist crusaders.

        Also, I just acquired a copy of ‘Hitler’s Voice’, both volumes. Very difficult book to find, since it’s out of print. Great find, though, such an excellent resource.

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