Adolf Hitler’s brief letter of 30 June, 1930, instructing Joseph Goebbels to “ruthlessly purge” the NSDAP of Strasserist “salon Bolsheviks”
A couple of months ago I published a translation of the infamous July 4, 1930 article by Otto Strasser announcing the departure of the ‘socialists’ from the NSDAP. Otto’s article and his decision to withdraw himself and his supporters from the Party were the culmination of a long series of incidents stretching all the way back to Otto’s first entry into the National Socialist movement in 1925; I described these to a very brief extent in that article’s introduction. Mentioned in Otto’s article was a June 30 letter from Adolf Hitler to Gau Berlin-Brandenburg leader Joseph Goebbels, ordering the Gauleiter to effect a “ruthless purge” of all “salon Bolsheviks” (i.e. Strasserists) from local Party organizations. This short letter has now also been translated, and is provided for reading below. Hitler’s letter comprised the ‘final straw’ of the ‘Strasser crisis’, the internal Party conflict between Otto Strasser, Goebbels, and their respective factions which raged throughout the early months of 1930. In my earlier article I described how the spark which lit the conflict, which had been steadily brewing for years over personality issues and questions of doctrine & tactics, was Otto’s decision to start a newspaper that would directly compete with Goebbels’s Der Angriff. Like all good feuds, however, there are multiple potential sources of conflagration – another likely cause was the decision by Eugen Mossakowsky, one of Otto’s prominent disciples, to start publicly casting doubt on Goebbels’s claim to have been arrested and flogged by Belgian troops for participation in the Ruhrkampf in 1924. Openly accusing the ‘Little Doktor’ of dishonesty led to Mossakowsky being brought before the local USchlA (Party arbitration committee) and quickly forced to resign from the NSDAP. Thus began a process of expulsion of Strasser’s leading spokesmen from the Party, while in the background a propaganda campaign of speeches and articles was waged by the Goebbels faction (backed by the leadership) and Otto’s oppositionists against one another. Hitler’s letter marked the final end to the dispute, accusing the Strasserists of being disruptive elements with ‘Jewish-liberal-Marxist’ tendencies, and giving Goebbels full authority to start purging them wholesale from the Party.
Adolf Hitler’s Letter to Joseph Goebbels
Regarding the 1930 ‘Strasser-Crisis’
Munich, 30th June 1930
Dr. Joseph Goebbels,
Gauleiter of Berlin,
For months now, as responsible leader of the NSDAP, I have been watching attempts to bring discord, confusion, and insubordination into the ranks of the movement. Under the mask of desiring to fight for socialism an attempt is being made to advocate a policy which fully corresponds with the policy of our Jewish-liberal-Marxist opponents. What is demanded by these circles is the wish of our enemies, from the Red Flag through to the Frankfurt Stock-Exchange Gazette.1 I now consider it necessary to ruthlessly and without exception eject these destructive elements from the Party.
So long as I lead the National Socialist Party it will not become a debating club for rootless literati or chaotic salon-Bolsheviks, but will remain what it is today, an organization of discipline which was not created for the doctrinaire tomfoolery of political wanderers,2 but to fight for a future Germany in which the concepts of class have been shattered and a new German Volk determine their own destiny!
Years ago, dear Doctor Goebbels, I placed you in the most difficult position in the Reich. Today I must now ask you, in pursuit of your task in this position, to carry out the most ruthless purge of the Party of all those elements in Berlin. I have instructed the Reich Committee for Investigation3 to assist you in this task by every means possible. Comport yourself ruthlessly and harshly. I would like to express my thanks and my appreciation to you in advance for carrying out this work. You have the entire organization of the movement behind you, the entire leadership staff [Führerstab], the entire SA and SS, every representative of the Party in the public corporations, and against you half a dozen professional troublemakers and scribblers!
So, take action! The Reich Party Leadership [Reichsparteiführung] will for their part do everything necessary to enforce your will and to foster compliance with your directives.
With German greetings!
Regards, Adolf Hitler
1st Party Chairman
First published in Der Angriff, 3rd June 1930
1. The Red Flag [Rote Fahne] was the official national newspaper of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). Originally founded on November 9, 1918, by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, it served as the central organ of the Spartacus League before being carried over to the KPD after one evolved into the other. The Frankfurt Stock-Market Gazette [Frankfurter Börsenzeitung] was founded in 1867 and became the most prominent newspaper reporting on financial issues: the stock exchange, trade, industry, agriculture, viticulture, etc. Its editorial position was regarded as promoting the interests of the stock-exchange and ‘High Finance’.
2. ‘Wanderers’ – The word Hitler uses here is ‘Wandervögel’, which translates literally as ‘birds of passage’ or ‘migratory birds’. The term in this context has a double-meaning beyond Hitler simply dismissing the Party-opposition as “political wanderers”. The ‘Wandervogel’ was the name given to a group of scouting organizations which emerged in a grass-roots fashion in the late 1800s, developed by the German youth as part of their growing desire (often nationalist in source) to get back in touch with the natural world and with their Heimat (homeland). After WWI the Wandervogel evolved into the Bündische Jugend, youth groups and scouting organizations which often had a more explicitly political orientation and more disciplined organization; many leaders in the NSDAP and other nationalist groups came out of the Wandervogel and Bündische Youth. By using the word ‘Wandervögel’ Hitler is not just implying that the Strasserists are ‘wanderers’ who are essentially only in the NSDAP to push their own views and sow dissension (a common accusation leveled at Otto); he is also comparing them to political boy-scouts, children play-acting with uniforms and flags and childish, utopian ideals.
3. ‘Reich Committee for Investigation’ – written by Hitler here as ‘Reichs-Untersuchungs- Ausschuß’. The formal name for this Party office was ‘Reich Untersuchung und Schlichtungs-Ausschuß’, or ‘Reich Committee for Investigation and Settlement (RUSchlA). The RUSchla was founded by Hitler in 1926 to settle internal disputes within the Party, with its headquarters based in Munich with the rest of the Parteileitung. It operated on multiple levels to match the Party’s own organizational apparatus – the RUSchlA served as the highest body, working at the Reich (national) level, while local and district USchlA helped arbitrate lower-level disputes. In December 1933 legislation was passed establishing the legal unity of the state apparatus with the NSDAP, so the RUSchlA/USchlA were reformed into ‘Party Courts’ which worked alongside the existing courts as a separate branch of the legal system.