“Free from fruitless parliamentarism and the exploitation of labour!” The 1923 provisional programme of the German Völkisch Freedom Party (DVFP)
In the notes appended to the previous article on this blog – a historical overview of the German Völkisch Freedom Party (Deutschvölkische Freiheitspartei, DVFP) by academic Stefanie Schrader – I pointed out that the DVFP, Germany’s predominant völkisch party throughout much of the 1920s, never really had an “official” political programme. The party did produce a programme circa January 1923 which was briefly disseminated to the public, but this programme was only considered a “preliminary version” and was never formally ratified by the leadership as a definitive statement of party principles. The reason behind this decision lies with the DVFP’s innate hostility to “parliamentarism” in all its forms, an attitude which it had inherited from the pre-War völkisch movement and which was not entirely uncommon within other nationalist organizations. Political programmes were associated with political parties, and political parties were the offspring of hated parliamentarism; it was controversial enough within the völkisch movement (and even within the party itself) that the DVFP had constituted itself as a registered political party and was running in elections, so the leadership’s rejection of a formal programme can thus be viewed as something of a sop to those in the völkisch camp who were uncomfortable with the accoutrements of democratic participation. Considering the DVFP instead chose to communicate its principles to the public via “Guidelines” and “Statements,” however, the content of which was scarcely much different to its unofficial draft programme (which I have translated below), the entire dispute seems like much hand-wringing over nothing to me – although it does demonstrate the mindset under which the Deutschvölkische operated, and the ways in which they tried to reconcile their hatred of parliamentary democracy with their own participation in the Weimar system. Particularly interesting is how similar the draft DVFP programme appears to that of the National Socialists, although by comparison the Völkisch programme does come across as somewhat vaguer, as less clearly-defined. The DVFP had its own National Socialist/Bolshevist wing at this stage, centered around prominent social-radical members like Count Ernst zu Reventlow and Franz Stöhr; their abandonment of the party for the NSDAP in 1927 precipitated the DVFP’s strong conservative wing making their presence much more overt, and simultaneously helped lead to a significant decline in the German Völkisch Freedom Party’s overall public influence and support.
German Völkisch Freedom Party!
German men and women! German youth!
The spiritual, political, and economic misery of the German Volk is mounting. Moral depravity and a lack of patriotism are spreading at an appalling rate. Inflation is rising unbearably. Folk-comrades will have to die of starvation, German children will be forced to waste away, unless we ourselves are able to raise the money required to satisfy the insatiable greed of our enemies.1
This is the consequence of politics in an era which Fichte2 a century ago had already termed the Age of Complete Sinfulness, an age which seeks its fulfillment in us today. This is the consequence of politics ever since Bismarck’s dismissal. This is the consequence of the 9th of November, 1918. This is the impact of the Jewish spirit and of its Marxism, which have bankrupted the entire world. This is the consequence of an undignified Policy of Fulfillment, a policy through which we are being bled to death, through which we shall become a nation of slaves, and which has earned us only contempt and abuse from abroad. Whosoever adopts a servile disposition shall eventually himself end up a servant.
Salvation, however, is impossible so long as the situation remains as it is today! On the contrary: We would have to continue our hopeless downhill slide! While hardship grows; while we are treated so unfairly, as no negro-state is even treated; while German women are fair game for the black French;3 while all of this goes on, all the political parties tear one another apart in petty, obscene struggles and quarrels over the issues of the day and in disputes over ministerial posts! Every form of generosity and will to action is paralyzed. With speeches they give the pretense of being able to make us whole.
The German Volk have finally had enough!
Without the party-theoreticians being able or willing to see it amidst their petty quarrelling, a popular movement has emerged among the German Volk under the pressure of need, a movement which arose out of rage at being exploited by foreign races and from the revulsion caused by the squabbling of the parties, a movement which is growing like an avalanche:
The Völkisch Movement!
The völkisch movement knows no party barriers, knows no differences of class and estate; it seeks to gather together everyone who is willing to finally clear away this run-down party-economy, in order to at last attain genuine social reconciliation and freedom at home.
Millions of Germans have long recognized or felt that a downtrodden Volk can never, as the existing parties believe, be uplifted solely by economic methods. No! Against this mammonistic and materialistic worldview, which is ultimately responsible for our collapse, we consciously set our own idealistic worldview; the worldview of the young generation, the worldview of German youth, the worldview of the front-line veterans who, in facing death in their experience of war, in the true spirit of the Front and in a movement of the most innermost, deepest religion, have moved beyond the spirit of caste and the snobbery of status to find the Volksgemeinschaft. We need to undergo a völkisch and moral renewal, and with it the German Volk shall emerge stronger and purer from the blazing furnace of this present misery.
Only under these conditions can economic methods have any lasting value!
It has been widely assumed that our struggle applies only to the Jews. No! Our struggle is greater! The higher aims for which we struggle are positive, are völkisch! We intend to build upon the work of Fichte and Freiherr vom Stein!4 To do this, however, we must and will also break the rule of international Jewry, as well as the resistance of all internally-contaminated circles, and, last but not least, of those who lead the Volk astray by claiming to be völkisch, when in reality they are not!
The foundation of any restoration is the will to freedom, the will to power. With ruthless honesty we must extend the hand of mutual assistance to one another, regardless of differences, in order to attain the social Volksgemeinschaft! Everything petty, everything personal, must at last disappear. In spite of the resoluteness of our fundamental rejection of the party system, under today’s parliamentary constitution we can only fight and win if we organize ourselves along party lines. As things stand, we cannot afford to renounce this weapon.
The German future stands or falls with our victory!
(Preliminary version, to be definitively settled at the spring party conference, 1923.)
- Free from the dictate of Versailles!
- Free from fruitless parliamentarism!
- Free from the domination of the Jews and from stock-market capitalism!
- Free from the exploitation of labor!
- Free from Marxism and Bolshevism, from class struggle and caste spirit!
- Recovery through völkisch-moral renewal, as the precondition for economic restoration.
- Recovery through our own power. No treacherous, ignoble hoping for mercy from the enemy or from the “Golden International!”5
- Recovery through reconciliation in a true Volksgemeinschaft of all classes [Stände] and all professions.
- Recovery through the strengthening of national pride, the heroic spirit, and the will to freedom.
Therefore We Demand:
- A strong-willed government of order.
- Rejection of the Policy of Fulfillment6 with the firm will to face all of the consequences.
- Ruthless struggle against war guilt lies, land theft, and cultural outrages committed in the occupied territories.
- General compulsory military service as the privilege of ethnic Germans (those not eligible for military service, and those not subject to military service, to pay a military tax).
- The development of German Law and its liberation from alien influences.
- The cultivation of patriotic history and a deepening of the general understanding of Germanic culture.
- Legal protection against the public abuse of German folkdom and its traditions.
- The protection of Christianity, with respect for freedom of conscience. A German school and education for German youth!
- Recognition of the complete equality of all productive workers of brain and fist, with the fiercest struggle against class conceit.
- Protection for workers against workplace terror and wage-slavery. Struggle against all the excesses of big business.
- Development of a healthy settlement policy and the improvement of agricultural production.
- Expulsion of all racially alien peoples who have immigrated or who have been naturalized since 1st August, 1914, as well as the protection of all German universities from foreign infiltration.
- Laws for the maintenance of clan and family. Jews to be placed under special legislation for foreigners; German land and soil may not be acquired by Jews and agricultural property may not be leased by them.
- Revision of stock-exchange and financial legislation; a prohibition on the accumulation of unproductive and purely speculative capital. Legal measures against the hegemony of the big banks. Regulation of the monetary-system and credit-system, with particular consideration for the cooperative concept.
- Confiscation of profits gained through usury. Introduction of severe punishments, up to the death penalty, for profiteers, usurers, and other common exploiters of our Volk, irrespective of religious affiliation or race. Creation and preservation of an independent middle-class and healthy civil service. Traders to be protected against suppression and unfair competition from department stores. Preferential assignment of public tenders and works to the crafts and trades.
- Unification of the enclosed areas of German settlement into a single Greater Germany.
Long live the new völkisch Germany, the Germany of the future!
Close the ranks, join the “German Völkisch Freedom Party,” fight against all petty disputes, recruit and found local groups down to the last German village, join forces with those abroad.
Our Way is Struggle! Our Will is Freedom! Long live Freedom!
1. Under the strictures of the Versailles Peace Treaty, Germany was not just stripped of its overseas colonies and significant segments of its territory, it was also required to render payment to the Entente powers (through both currency and exports) totaling somewhere in the vicinity of 120 billion US dollars.
2. Johann Gottlieb Fichte (b.1762 – d.1814) was a German idealist philosopher who played an influential role in popularizing the concept of German nationalism. Fichte was very popular in völkisch circles, and the National Socialists in particular saw him as an early progenitor. Rohan Butler’s The Roots of National Socialism provides a clear idea as to why: “In Der geschlossene Handelsstaat, then, Fichte argued in favour of total national autarky, a planned economy, quota systems, concealed inflation, a blocked currency, state barter agreements, artificial production of substitute materials, intensive armament, living-space, forcible unresisted occupation of territory, complete economic co-ordination of such territory, transfer of populations, and cultivated nationalism. The words are different: Lebensraum and Gleichschaltung do not appear; it is as yet not ersatz but stellvertretend, not Einmarschierung but Occupationszug. But the ideas are the same. This embryonic German socialism is national-socialism.”
3. Towards the end of the Great War, the French began drawing upon its overseas colonies in its search for more manpower which could be deployed against the German armies. African soldiers (particularly Senegalese) were transported to Europe for this purpose; they continued to be stationed in the Rhineland after the War, which according to the Treaty of Versailles was to remain under Entente occupation (by France, Belgium, and Luxembourg) until 1934. The utilization of African troops as an occupation force was perceived as a deliberate humiliation by many Germans, not just those with völkisch inclinations, and was played upon quite extensively in nationalist propaganda.
4. Alongside Fichte, Baron vom Stein (b.1757 – d.1851) was another major influence upon the philosophical direction of the volkisch and National Socialist movements. A Prussian statesman and reformer, beginning in the early 1800s Stein initiated a major reform program throughout Prussia which included the introduction of limited representative self-government on a municipal level.
6. The “Policy of Fulfillment” (Erfüllungspolitik) was a policy advocating Germany do its best to fulfill the demands of the Treaty of Versailles, and to meet all its debts as well as it was able. It was believed that this would build trust, demonstrate the unfairness of the Treaty’s terms, and so put Germany on a better footing to renegotiate its post-War obligations. The Erfüllungspolitik was primarily advocated by liberal (center-right and center-left) politicians; it was very unpopular with most socialists and nationalists.