“Our demands are more radical than those of the Bolshevists” – The 1918 programme outline of Alfred Brunner’s German Socialist Party
As has been established so far in this series, the party which Hitler joined in September 1919 was not the first National Socialist party ever founded. It was not even the first National Socialist party on the soil of the German Reich. That honor instead goes to the German Socialist Party (Deutschsozialistische Partei, DSP), the brainchild of Düsseldorf engineer Alfred Brunner. Brunner, born 1871, had been in contact with the Austro-Hungarian National Socialists since the early days of 1904. Distraught by the consequences of Germany’s surrender and revolution, he finally decided to found his own völkisch-socialist party, and for this purpose drafted on 1 December 1918 the programme which I have translated below. Brunner’s programme outlined the foundations for a new German Socialist Party, one drawing influence from the land-reform ideals of Adolf Damaschke as well as from the philosophy of the National Socialists across the border. Brunner’s central emphasis in fact was on mass land nationalization, viewing this revolutionary socio-economic reform as the basis for eliminating capitalist power and for negating the ‘Jewish influence’ which he saw behind every social ill. Such was Brunner’s focus on social issues that he in fact considered himself “far-left”, as “more radical than the Bolshevists”, the guarantor of an idealistic, biologically-constituted “socialism of the deed” opposed to the Jewish, materialistic “pseudo-socialism” of the Marxists. Brunner was supported in his endeavors by the Germanic Order, a branch of the Thule Society who presented his programme at their 1918 Christmas conference, published it in their journal Allgemeine Ordens-Nachrichten, and provided both funding and a party newspaper (the Münchner Beobachter). The DSP was thus linked from the very beginning to the German Workers’ Party (DAP) of Drexler and Hitler, another group which owed its origins to Thule Society funding and support. For a time however the DSP was in fact the far more successful of the two parties. While the (NS)DAP initially struggled to expand outside Munich, the DSP by mid-1920 had 35 local groups throughout the country and close to 2000 members, including a strong base in Germany’s north where for many years the Hitler-Drexler party was unable to gain a foothold. What undid the DSP in the end was its decentralized organizational structure, combined with its culture of internal party democracy; lacking the dynamism and internal authority of the Hitler-Drexler party, the DSP soon lost ground to its rival and in 1922 finally disbanded and absorbed its resources and membership into the NSDAP.
Outline for the Founding of a
German Socialist Party
on a Jew-free and Capital-free Foundation
Drafted by Engineer Alfred Brunner on 1 December, 1918
Presented at the 1918 Christmas conference of the Germanic Order
To the German Volk!
World war, revolution, and turmoil lie behind us! We have waded through misery, blood and humiliation, and yet everything has remained the same; yes, things even threaten to be worse than they were before. Merely the form of government and the men in charge have changed, while capitalism and Jewry rear their heads higher than ever under democracy. As before, you, the German Volk, will be leeched dry, plundered and condemned to toil and worry. How did it come to this, and shall it remain this way forever? The cause of this failure lies in the fact that the struggle against these two powers has hitherto been conducted separately. Yet both are intimately connected.
Social-Democracy only engages in a mock-battle against capitalism, for its leaders are Jews and capitalists!
Yet the Jew-wise1 struggle in vain against Jewry, because they stand firmly on the ground of the capitalist state order; hence both fronts are bound to collapse.
The change required to finally establish real freedom for the German Volk is to form a German Socialist Party.
German-Völkisch and Socialist
Lassalle, the founder of German Social-Democracy, must as a Jew have known his racial kin [Rassegenossen] well when he said: “A popular movement has to keep its distance from capitalists and Jews where they appear as guides and leaders, and must pursue its own aims.”
The new socialist party accepts German-born men only. It stands naturally upon the ground of political transformation; democracy will not at first be tampered with, but the party does however not want a Western-style democracy with a Jewish-plutocratic apex, but instead a free Peoples’ State [Volksstaat] in which both capitalism and Jewry have been vanquished.
Pure parliamentarism, in which executive power rests solely with elected deputies, is not sufficient; instead the party calls for fundamental new laws to be decided in each case by referendum, in order to eliminate the threat of party mismanagement.
Its principal demands are of a radical type; the new party does not confine itself to sham reforms. It goes to the root of racial and social adversity.
Until now capitalism and Jewry have stood in the way of such reforms. All our parties were, more or less, consciously or unconsciously, the trainbearers of one or the other, or even of both powers. This is the reason why up to now all work was in vain and only brought forth sham reforms. The new party is not privy to such conditions, being instead quite anti-capitalist and Jew-free. It allows itself to be guided solely by the welfare of the whole, and strives for a far more even distribution of vital commodities and for the recovery and revival of the Germans, whose folk-strength [Volkskraft] has been so gravely afflicted. But new conditions should not be strived for through a fresh revolution or by an abrupt change – for this unfailingly leads to the opposite of what is intended – but instead should be achieved in a legal fashion, via the gradual dismantling of the past and the building up of the new.
The root cause of our misery lies in our false land legislation, in our social rights, and in our monetary system.
Accordingly, we demand:
1. Free land, since the cancerous harm afflicting the national economy, as well as the economies of home, business, and even that of the individual folk-comrade, derives from rent charges. The indebtedness of the German soil (100 billion Marks before the War) brings all social and economic evils in its wake: tenement buildings, housing distress, infant mortality, national epidemics, poverty, crime, growing mob mentality, and national disintegration.
This can be remedied by means of declaring German land as state property beyond private ownership, i.e., that the sale of land and soil from private hands to private hands is in future to be barred. Land is to lose its character as a commodity. Commodities are characterized by the fact that they are replaceable. Soil, however, is irreplaceable. Anybody who wants to or has to sell can only do so to the community. The community issues land to interested parties as Zeitpacht or Erbpacht.2 Thereupon land may no longer be used to raise capital in future. It will be declared non-mortgageable. Accordingly, personal loans will be issued, as opposed to the mortgage loans of today. All current mortgages, where it is not the case already, are to be declared non-terminable short-term direct-reduction mortgages [Tilgungshypotheken], reducing the rate of interest. In this manner German land is gradually liberated and a truly generous settlement is achieved. Even the simplest man will once again be able to live on his own plot in his own small house. The emergence of supercapitalism derives from the present free marketability and mortgageability of the soil. With free land there is no supercapitalism.
2. Replacement of modern Roman Law by German common law. Our contemporary land law is based upon Roman Law, hence all the afflictions of our public life are legal afflictions. Roman Law was introduced 400 years ago by the nobles and the high clergy; the Volk resisted it in vain, recognizing that with this foreign law the very ground beneath their feet, along with other legal rights, had been stripped away. The Peasants’ Wars, the first social uprisings, were a bloody struggle against foreign law. Time and again the peasants demanded the restoration of the old German Law.
Today once more we raise the same demand; it is on you, German Volk, to ensure that it does not again go unheeded. This issue is more important than it may appear to most; it is the linchpin of our future being and existence. Roman Law arose at a time when Rome was declining and overrun by Jews; it is anti-social, and it safeguards private gain at the expense of the community. It is a law of the cunning and the sly. On this un-German legal foundation the German is always inferior to the Jew. The facts are evidence of this. Consequently, the German Volk must be given a law which corresponds with their own nature and their own spirit, a law which is in accord with the old principle: Common interest comes before self-interest.3 The deep-seated greed, dishonesty, and immorality which are widespread in trade and commerce, the Judaization of our Volk, all are attributable to Roman Law, as is the degeneration of our economy into an extreme interest-economy which has ultimately, under the leadership of the Jewish race, brought the war and misery of recent years upon the world.
3. Nationalization of the monetary system. Our finances are in the hands of private individuals, particularly Jews and other international peoples. This is an absurdity in itself, since money is the blood of the national body of the Volk [Volkskörpers]. The state as the representative of the Volk can only really govern if it possesses power of disposal4 over money and finance. Today money too has been alienated from and deprived of its purpose of being a convenient means of exchange between labor and wages, between goods and purchase price, between producer and consumer. Money today instead serves as a means of generating more money again and yet again via banking-practices and stock-jobbing, without any real work being involved.
For the majority of our Volk, who live off their own labor, money today is still nothing more than a medium of exchange; there is no reason to let it to be debased into an unwholesome means of enrichment for a small number of rapacious capitalists and speculators at the expense of the productive Volk. Only real work should be rewarded and remunerated.
Our true savings- and credit-institutes must be nationalized banks, eliminating the obscene profits of the shareholders as well as the princely salaries of the directors and the royalties of the supervisory boards. We demand a Reich Economic Council5 to assess newly-established banks and companies in relation to the real requirements and welfare of the community. Future creditworthiness will no longer extend to things, but to people. From this it follows that, as in the past, business will be built upon the competency, reliability, and honesty of the individual, by which the requisite tranquility and organic growth will be brought to our economy.
The stock market game is to be rejected as harmful and unnecessary, and trading in stocks is to be prohibited. Our currency is to be redesigned. Perpetual interest, which is predicated upon the immoral assumption (so cunningly conceived by its inventors and defenders) of capital’s immortality, is in general to be superseded by an interest payment system which gradually depletes one’s capital. This would put an end once and for all to the interest-slavery originating out of the Orient.
These are the three key points and the three principle demands of the new party. By these means the unresolved questions of supercapitalism and Semitism will be resolved for the good of the whole.
Anyone born of German blood who acknowledges these demands and observations belongs to us; but those who do not want to see, or are too simple-minded, and who thereby prop up today’s usurious system, may quietly remain with their current parties.
The victory of our ideas is certain; as always, the truth prevails over deceit and falsehood! The interest-economy will collapse, and people will unite in a natural existence in the spirit of a joyful community in love with its ancestral folkdom. Further demands, which arise logically out of the three principal demands, are:
4. The progressive transformation of our economy to such an extent that it becomes a true people’s economy.
5. The breaking up of our large estates for the purposes of settlement, based upon the yield capacity of the individual territories.
6. A fair redistribution of taxation, creating barriers to the emergence of super-capital.
7. Arrangement of our commerce in accordance with the natural perspective that goods should take the cheapest and shortest route from producer to consumer. Without eliminating honest middlemen, all superfluous intermediaries – who only manage to somehow effectuate avoidable profit mark-ups and to drive up price increases on goods – must disappear. Our vital living necessities, particularly foodstuffs, need not enrich thousands of layabouts.
8. When it comes to far-reaching fundamental laws and constitutional amendments, parliament only has an advisory role; through voting yes or no, the Volk exercise the casting vote.
9. The establishment of a Reich Economic Council, which through a broad array of perspectives sets the dimensions and goals of our entire economy. It allows itself to be guided solely by the welfare of the country. The men of this office – neither capitalists nor Jews – must have experience in practical life and must have been outstanding in their services to the community.
10. The creation of a truly independent German press. A fundamental change is required in view of the fact that 90% of our press is in Jewish-capitalist hands, is for the most part directed by Jews, and is dependent upon big Jewish advertisers. Today the press does not reflect the mood of the Volk; instead a mood is artificially created and imposed upon them in order to satisfy the selfish plans of the capitalists and Jews, without the Volk being able to recognize these plans. We demand: Only companies which are German and whose owners are German may call themselves German newspapers. Where these conditions do not apply, newspapers are to be designated as Jewish on the newspaper’s masthead.
11. A fundamental readjustment in the German stance towards the Jews. An investigation into the law and religion of the Jews. Today’s civic equality is founded upon the erroneous perception that the issue is one of a difference of religion. Today, research and proven facts leave no doubt that the Jewish question is a question of race and that it has nothing to do with religious denomination. The query is: will we German folk-comrades continue in the future to allow ourselves to be dominated politically, economically, and spiritually by an infinitesimal minority of an alien race, which is consciously aware of itself as such and which wilfully keeps itself pure-blooded and aloof through law and religion, which among the Jews are one and the same thing? This is a matter of our honor, all the more so as it is clear to even the simplest man today that the Jew’s innate greed and lust for power works a destructive effect upon every nation.
We demand: the new Germany for the German, not the Jew! 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 the representatives, leaders, or educators of the Volk. The Jewish people are permitted to send their quota of representatives to the German parliament. We count baptized Jews and Mischlings as Jews.
12. Protection of the German worker against foreign labor, which depresses the German worker’s wages and standard of living.
Generally speaking, our economy must be managed in such a fashion that we can sustain ourselves as far as possible.
Standing at the center of our entire politics, administration, and economy must no longer be the commodity, as before, but the German man. Our folkdom is our prosperity.
We do not wish to become richer and richer in wealth and worldly goods, which benefit only a few; instead we wish to be rich in contented, vigorous people, whose livelihoods are secure and who live upon their own soil. Through these principles and demands of our party, which are free of any bondage or paternalism, it is possible to finally bring down the interest-economy and the Jews, who continue to feast upon the masses and drive them to ruin. Upon implementation of our demands, as early as the first gradual dismantling of the contemporary interest-economy, a sigh of relief would go up from the German Volk. In place of the few, who have accumulated ever more riches, and the many, who have had to struggle all their lives, a more equitable distribution of all life’s resources would emerge; as opulence, snobbery, and extravagance disappear, so too would poverty and unemployment be banished, while honesty and decency would push pretense, deception, and cunning into the background. Our inflated land prices, the soaring rents, the ever-increasingly expensive cost-of-living, all the obvious consequences of the interest-economy, would subside of their own accord, while national wealth would be distributed correctly and fairly and would not, as hitherto, be clutched together in the hands of the unscrupulous. Our entire lives would be simplified, beautified, and rendered more affordable; in place of confinement, agitation, and never-ending worries, instead tranquility, contentment, and stability would once again enter into the hearts of the long-suffering German Volk.
The German Socialist Party is a party of the financially-weak layers of the Volk, i.e., of the workers, civil servants, shop-assistants, artisans, small-businessmen and peasants, the teachers, settlers, and technicians. He who sees things clearly joins us without hesitation. False Jewish-socialism and the interest-economy must be as chaff before the wind.
First published in the Allgemeine Ordens-Nachrichten, No. 15 (December), Winter 1918/1919
1. ‘Jew-wise’ – in German, ‘Judenkenner’, literally ‘Jew-knower’. This term appears occasionally in völkisch writing, usually to refer to anti-Semitic intellectuals who were considered ‘experts’ on Judaism and the ‘Jewish question’. Julius Streicher was occasionally referred to as such in advertisements for Der Stürmer, for example, and Streicher also irregularly published an anti-Semitic periodical with the name ‘Der Judenkenner’ targeted at a younger audience. Brunner’s use of the term here is intended to denote the established völkisch movement, which for many post-War nationalist radicals was regarded as still being stuck in the 19th century, as too conservative and too ideologically unwilling to properly combat capitalism or parliamentary-democracy. Hitler in Mein Kampf describes such men as “völkisch dreamers” who “live in the past.” The early years of the National Socialist movement involved a struggle to drag these ‘pioneers’ into the new radicalism demanded of a modern, 20th century movement, as per the memoirs of Gauleiter Albert Krebs: “These were men from the bottom ranks of the middle class; they acted on the basis of emotional drives originating in pre-World War I attitudes. For them National Socialism was not something new but rather a continuation of the old anti-Semitic and national-social parties and groups. Their political methods were also those of the pre-war period. It was only slowly and with much internal resistance that they accustomed themselves to strict organization, prompt payment of dues, and constant, driving propaganda and recruitment work…”
2. An ‘Erbpacht’ was a form of pre-capitalist land ownership in which a feudal lord split his fief into plots and leased them to peasant families on a hereditary basis. According to the terms of the Erbpacht, peasants could use the land as they saw fit (‘right of use’) and pass it on to their children indefinitely, so long as they continued to repay the feudal owner through tribute or obligation (whether in goods, labor, cash, or some combination). However, the land had to be passed on to members of their own family – peasants did not have the right of ownership required to sell the land to others or to distribute it through inheritance to anyone outside their own clan. A ‘Zeitpacht’ was a more commercialized arrangement, in that it involved land being divided and distributed by a feudal lord to peasants, but only on a temporary fixed-term basis. Under a Zeitpacht it was more common for peasants to repay their lease in currency, meaning they had to run their farms on an inherently more commercial basis. The suggestion being made by Brunner here is that the German state use mass land nationalization to eliminate mortgages, private rents, and other forms of exploitation, then lease the land out for private use on a hereditary or temporary basis inspired by earlier, pre-capitalist feudal models. Reviving elements of feudalism as a means of undoing the iniquities of capitalism was a common demand among National Socialist, völkisch, and conservative-revolutionary groups at the time.
3. ‘Common interest comes before self-interest’ – in German, ‘Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz’. This slogan was reportedly coined by National Socialist theoretician Rudolf Jung during the War. It soon became a central tenet of National Socialism, with the same level of significance in NS theory as “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” holds in Marxism. The slogan distinguishes National Socialism from Marxism in that it recognizes the necessity of self-interest, but subordinates it in every circumstance to the interests of Volk and nation. ‘Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz’ can be found in the programmes of the DNSAP, DSP, and NSDAP, as well as in many National Socialist publications and propaganda.
4. ‘Power of disposal’ – in German, ‘Verfügungsmacht’. This is a legal term – if one has power of disposal over property, it means it is theirs to dispose of (i.e. control, buy, sell, exchange) at their pleasure.
5. ‘Reich Economic Council‘ – in German, Reichswirtschaftsrat. The concept of having a chamber or council in the government structure made up of representatives of different classes of employment. The Reich Economic Council was a corporatist idea with its roots in the old estates system; it had initially been realized in a more limited form in the Volkswirtschaftsrat (Peoples’ Economic Council) established by Bismarck in 1880, which had a purely advisory function and whose members were appointed by the government and commercial bodies rather than elected. The Volkswirtschaftsrat was dissolved in 1887 due to the Reichstag refusing it funding, and the desire to resurrect it in a genuinely representative form remained popular among both nationalists and socialists – the Left saw in it the means of providing the proletariat a voice, while the Right felt that its corporatist essence would circumvent the political divisions created by the party system. The Reichswirtschaftsrat was eventually realized by the social-democrats after adoption of the Weimar Constitution in August 1920. Article 165 of the Constitution provided the constitutional basis for the formation of an Economic Council, although it was only considered provisional in nature (it underwent at least one major reform, with intentions that it be restructured further at some point in the future) and its purely consultative role disappointed advocates on all sides. Radical Marxists in particular saw it as a deliberate bastardization of the old revolutionary council-system it had replaced, intended to provide a sop to workers without offering genuine representation.