Paetel and the Programme of the Social-Revolutionary Left of the NSDAP

A revised, social-revolutionary draft programme for the NSDAP, written by Karl Otto Paetel and supporters in late 19292401 - Copy

Karl Otto Paetel is most well-known today for his 1933 National Bolshevist Manifesto. The Manifesto was written in a period when Paetel was a leader of the ‘Group of Social-Revolutionary Nationalists’ (GSRN), an organization which, inspired by the Communist Party of Germay’s (KPD) 1930 ‘national-communist’ programme and its nationalist-oriented propaganda journals like Aufbruch, centered much of its activism on encouraging nationalists to forge links with the revolutionary Left. The GSRN’s heavily pro-communist orientation in part stemmed from earlier, unsuccessful attempts by Paetel to reform the National Socialist movement. Before the GSRN was founded on Ascension Day, 1930, Paetel was involved in an informal grouping called the ‘Young Front Working Circle’. While still focused on promoting cooperation between left and right, the Young Front at the time regarded the NSDAP as being the key source for potential social-revolutionary change, directing most of its energies towards supporting the ‘left-wing’ opposition within the NSDAP and encouraging internal Party debate over its policies and direction. It was for this purpose that Paetel and other Young Front members wrote the short draft programme reproduced below. A revised version of the NSDAP’s original 25-Points (a number of the items are almost word-for-word identical), the Young Front’s draft programme is more explicitly social-revolutionary, including demands for mass nationalization, land expropriation, and a German-Soviet alliance. The programme was first distributed clandestinely at the August 1929 Nuremberg Party Congress before its formal publication in nationalist journal Das  Junge Volk on October 1st. The document, inevitably, had little real impact – in May 1926, in the wake of the Bamberg Conference, Hitler had already officially declared the 25-Points “unalterable”, and the Young Front’s programme made no headway in encouraging debate among the leadership. It did generate interest among some of the Party’s grass-roots, however, leading to stronger links with members of the NSDAP, many of whom would later go on to form the core of the GSRN. 

Social-Revolutionary Nationalism:
A Proposal for the Revision of the Programme of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP)

First published in Das Junge Volk, XI, 1st October 1929.

The NSDAP is a nationalist party. Its goal is the free German nation.

The NSDAP is a socialist party. It knows that the free German nation can arise only through the liberation of the working masses of Germany from all forms of exploitation and oppression.

The NSDAP is a workers’ party.  It professes itself to the class-struggle of the productive against parasites of all races and creeds.

The NSDAP therefore demands:

1. The integration of all Germans, on the basis of peoples’ rights to self-determination, into a Greater German Reich;

2. Equal status for the German Volk with other nations; the annulment of all the treaties, obligations, and debts of the prior capitalist government;

3. That only he who is a folk-comrade should be a citizen, – folk-comrades can only be those of German blood. Jews, Slavs, Latins [Welsche] can therefore not be German citizens; non-citizens to be classed as guests and placed under legislation governing foreigners;

4. That the right to determine the leadership and laws of the state may be conceded only to citizens; therefore, the NSDAP demands that every public office of whatever kind, whether in Reich, state, or municipality, may be occupied by citizens alone;

5. Elimination of the corrupting parliamentary state of affairs; realization of the self-government of the working Volk on the basis of enterprises, with the dismissal and destruction of the organizational apparatus of all parties; the organizational form of self-government is the Peoples’ Council-State [Volks-Rätestaat]; the council structure is organized from the bottom up through indirect elections from the council formations;

6. That the state has the obligation above all to provide for the employment opportunities and living conditions of its citizens; if it is not possible to support the total population of the Reich, the members of foreign nations (non-citizens) are to be expelled;

7. That any further immigration by non-Germans is to be prevented; the NSDAP demands that all non-Germans who have immigrated to Germany since 2nd August 1914 be compelled to immediately leave the Reich;

8. That all citizens must have equal rights and duties;

9. That the first duty of citizens must be to work mentally or physically; the activity of the individual must not infringe upon the interests of the general public, but must take place within the context of the whole and for the benefit of all; – the NSDAP therefore demands:

10. Abolition of incomes unearned by work and effort, – Breaking of interest-slavery.

11. Transfer of all the country’s economic resources into the common ownership of the nation;

12. A solution to the land question [Landfrage] tailored to national requirements; nationalization of all large- and medium-sized estates, – immediate, generous settlement of the depopulated border-areas in the East, – remission for smallholders as Reich Entails;1

13. Ruthless struggle against those who harm the common interest through their activities; criminals against the people [Volksverbrecher], usurers, racketeers, etc., are to be punished with death, regardless of creed and race.

14. Replacement of Roman (private) law, which serves the materialist-capitalist world-order, by German (common) law.

15. Expansion of our national education-system; free tuition in all schools;

16. State provision for the improvement of public health; free medical assistance;

17. Abolition of the mercenary army and the formation of a peoples’ army;2

18. Legal struggle against conscious political lies and their dissemination through the press;

19. Freedom for all religious denominations, so long as they do not jeopardize the existence of the Peoples’ Council Republic [Volks-Räte-Republik] or violate the moral faculties and feelings of the Nordic race; the NSDAP combats the Jewish-materialist spirit in all its manifestations, and is convinced that a lasting recovery of our Volk can only take place from within, in accordance with the old German principle of law: common interest before self-interest.

The NSDAP is aware that the ideas laid down in these guiding principles cannot be fulfilled without a fundamental rearrangement of the existing balance of power. Since total control over the entire economic resources of Germany today is in the hands of the institutions of international finance capital, the national revolution is itself targeted directly against that international finance capital. It follows from this that any revolution carried out in Germany will immediately call into action all the instruments of power of the League of Nations and America against the German Workers’ and Peasants’ State.

The first task of National Socialist foreign policy is, therefore, the organization of revolutionary defense against the imperialist powers, alliance with the Soviet Union, and support for those revolutionary movements in all the countries of the world which are directed against international finance capital.

Social-Revolutionary Left of the NSDAP


Translator’s Notes

1. ‘Reich Entails’ – In German Reichserblehen. An ‘entail’ was a form of property-ownership established in the feudal era. Declaring a piece of land an ‘entail’ placed significant restrictions upon its sale or inheritance, essentially ensuring that ownership was kept solely within the hands of a specific family group. Anticapitalist elements of the New Nationalist movement in interwar Germany and Austria typically looked to pre-capitalist, feudal organizational systems for inspiration; as a consequence, the idea of resurrecting entails in various forms was a popular one. The proposal as mentioned here by Paetel was common among the ‘left’ factions of the NSDAP and in National Bolshevik & fascist-corporatist groups: that large and small farms & estates should be nationalized, while the smallholdings of peasants should be declared Reich Entails and legally prohibited from being sold or otherwise taken out of the peasant family’s ownership. The National Socialist government actually ended up implementing a version of this policy with its Reich Entailed Farm Law [Reichserbhofgesetz] of 29 September, 1933.

2. This demand, like several others, is taken word for word from the original  1920 25-Point NSDAP Programme. The ‘mercenary army’ [Söldnertruppe] referred to is the Reichswehr, so-called because they were derisively regarded as being “paid by the Republic”. While many individuals within the Reichswehr were respected by the National Socialists, as an institution it was seen as imperfect, a mercenary force of paid soldiers serving the respective whims of changing governments rather than the needs of ‘eternal Germany’. Against the Reichswehr the NSDAP proposed instead a ‘Volksheer’, sometimes translated as ‘national army’, although ‘peoples’ army’ or ‘popular army’ is probably more evocative of its real meaning. The Volksheer would not consist of paid, professional soldiers, but would mobilize the entire population through conscription, something forbidden in the Treaty of Versailles.


Translated from Karl Otto Paetel’s Nationalbolschewismus und nationalrevolutionäre Bewegungen in Deutschland (1965), Verlag S. Bublies

6 thoughts on “Paetel and the Programme of the Social-Revolutionary Left of the NSDAP

  1. Extremely interesting translation, and once again your introduction and notes are invaluable. Thank you.

    “Replacement of Roman (private) law, which serves the materialist-capitalist world-order, by German (common) law.”

    Any English language source for fleshing this idea out? Was this an NSDAP notion, or was it popular elsewhere, perhaps across the volkisch, National Revolutionary, perhaps even the Young Conservative scenes? I don’t imagine Carl Schmitt, rooted in Catholic legal thinking, was too enamored with it, but maybe I’m wrong.

    • My apologies for only just approving your comment, for some reason it was caught up in the WordPress spam filter.

      This was actually a very common demand among völkisch groups. The idea was that, pre-capitalism, ‘German law’ existed as the basis of the legal code and had a racial source – it arose directly from the Volk, was flexible according to their demands, and transmitted through them to the state or leader who executed their will. The imposition of ‘Roman’ law, which swept in with liberalism & capitalism and was seen as materalistic and Jewish (or at the very least not based on blood, since it grew out of the multinational, cosmopolitan Roman Empire), put the state above the Volk, making the law inflexible, alien, and abstract. Roman law was seen as deriving from reason, not of soul – law springing from impartial, mechanical forces above, capable of being manipulated by self-interested jurists; it did not derive from the lived needs of the Volk.

      An example would be the idea of a man being tried for murder because he shot someone who was robbing his home – in völkisch eyes this was a byproduct of Roman law, which exercised itself blindly according to the strict letter of the law as written down, regardless of the reality of actual justice. Under völkisch German law a man would be acquitted of a deed like this. The issue of course came in trying to revise and implement a new legal code based on an idea this flexible – Hans Frank, who was responsible (along with others) for this task, found it extremely difficult. I’m not sure what Schmitt’s actual view of it was, but I suspect you might be right that he would have been unimpressed. I’ve actually been gathering materials for an essay on this topic so I’ll see if I can put something on Schmitt’s perspective in there.

  2. It’s unfortunate that they still called the Jewish spirit “materialist”. Probably stems from the Marxist misuse of the term. Wasn’t Judeo-Christianity of the degenerate Roman empire precisely idealist? Isn’t the idea of equality of people and folks idealist? Isn’t capitalism idealist in its pursuits of money and happiness?

    Materialism is not just the material relations. Materialism also entails blood relations. The divinity and primacy of matter. Not its denigration at the hands of the supposed spirit.

  3. I have one question though. unless I’m not remembering correctly in the National Bolshevik Manifesto it never stated anything on ethnic minorities inside Germany. So my question is did Peatel views on the matter change or was he being pragmatic here or would he just refer people to this article on his opinion on the subject?

    • I had to re-check Paetel’s Manifesto, as it’s been a while since I looked at it. There is this footnote on page 66:

      In socialist Germany the Jews will face the decision to emigrate or to productively integrate themselves as a ‘national minority’ into the process of national construction (settlers, artisans). In völkisch-cultural life, like all minorities, their influence will be weak, represented only be a few men who have demonstrated their pre-eminence… In the political arena, like all minorities, they will have the right to vote in and stand for elections to the legislative organs, but not the right to stand for the executive. Rather, they will only be delegable to council meetings in their own cultural representative bodies.

      That actually wasn’t a particularly uncommon attitude within the NSDAP or other völkisch circles – you see the same or similar proposals in the writings of other nationalists. For example, the programme of the German Socialist Party (which merged into the NSDAP in 1922) states:

      The Jews are a thoroughly foreign race; they should enjoy the protection of the state, its benefits, but should no longer have the right to be representatives, leaders, or educators of the Volk. The Jewish people are permitted to send their quota of representatives to the German parliament. For Jews, we count Mischlings as well as those baptized as Jews.

      Regardless, I wouldn’t take this draft programme as a definitive statement of Paetel’s views, for a few reasons:

        1. It was written in 1929, very early on – Paetel’s Manifesto was written 4 years later.
        2. It was written in a time when Paetel and his associates still believed the NSDAP was the best vehicle for achieving a social-revolutionary Germany – the Party just needed an ideological ‘push’ in the right direction, which is what they hoped this draft programme would do (and it didn’t, obviously).

      So, yes, I think some of the stuff in this draft programme is pragmatic – it’s Paetel trying to win over elements of the NSDAP to his own ideas by restructuring the existing NSDAP programme into a more social-revolutionary orientation. It’s much more a propaganda piece, rather than a definitive statement of Paetel’s beliefs.

      • Thank you for well indepth response. I should of read the foot notes. Thanks for everything you do really enjoy your work.

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