Content and context of the 1920 basic programme of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, drafted by Adolf Hitler and Anton Drexler
So far, when transcribing or translating material for this blog, my general rule has been to try and focus on texts which aren’t otherwise widely-available or well-known, at least in English. Occasionally, however, there is a need to make exceptions. Over the past couple of years I have been involved in tracking down as many National Socialist political programmes as I can find – it has always interested me that National Socialism was in fact a fairly broad movement, with a number of National Socialist parties actually existing before or alongside the more well-known NSDAP. As a result I’ve made an effort of seeking out and translating the programmes of these various groups, with one of my goals for this blog being that it should serve as a repository for these programmes and manifestos as I come across them. In order for the blog to be as complete a repository as possible, however, this does require that I also host a document which it is otherwise very easy to find online already: the 25-point “basic programme” of the NSDAP. One detriment which I have discovered in the wide availability of the NSDAP party programme, at least, is that many of the available translations seem almost deliberately inaccurate. Point 17 of the programme in particular is frequently translated rather oddly, with the party’s call for the elimination of ground-rent (“Abschaffung des Bodenzinses,” lit. “abolition of land-interest”) often incorrectly rendered as a demand for a ban on “taxes on land.” Anybody who has read Rudolf Jung’s book on NS ideology, which covers the subject of ground-rent fairly extensively, would know that this was not what National Socialists meant when discussing its abolition – they were not calling for an end to taxation on land, but for the elimination of a particular form of unearned income (ground-rent is the rent payable on ‘raw land’ to landholders; National Socialists believed it should devolve to the community, since its value was driven by the community’s “collective work”). My hope is that my translation of the programme, on this point and on others, will at least help clear up some common misunderstandings and inaccuracies. Alongside it, and in order to make this update a little more interesting to those already familiar with the 25 Points, I have included a number of other short, related documents, namely a couple of articles and a letter from the period, as well as two short excerpts from National Socialist publications (one pro-Hitler, one anti-Hitler) from the 1930s, all of which discuss the programme to varying degrees and which should help provide a little historical flavor to how it was received within the movement initially and in retrospect a decade later.
Basic Programme of the National Socialist
German Workers’ Party
The German Workers’ Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, DAP), after its founding on 5 January, 1919, was for many months a party without a programme. A set of ideological Guidelines had been drafted by Anton Drexler and read out at the DAP’s first meeting in the Fürstenfelder Hof, but this short document was regarded by early party members as inadequate, as a simple stopgap outline for the party pending the drafting of a proper, detailed programme. After Adolf Hitler joined the party in October his talents as a propagandist saw him swiftly inducted into the DAP’s leadership committee, and at a party meeting on 16 November the decision was made to set up a commission for drafting a proper programme in which Hitler (alongside Drexler, Karl Harrer, Gottfried Feder, and Dr. Paul Tafel) was to be involved. In actuality the programme which was eventually produced for the party appears to have largely been the work of Hitler and Drexler alone, composed by the two men over several “long nights together in the workers’ canteen at Burghausenerstrasse 6,” as Drexler recalled many years later. Feder is often suggested as a possible co-author, although there appears to be no direct evidence for this beyond the inclusion of some of his theories (of which Hitler and Drexler were already very familiar) within the document’s economic proposals. The new programme was first presented to the public on 24 February, 1920, at a tumultuous meeting of over 2,000 people at the Hofbräuhauskeller tavern in Munich. Hitler’s reading of the programme, point by point, above the yells and heckles of Communists and Social-Democrats dispersed among the crowd, was an event which acquired legendary status within the National Socialist movement over the following years. – Bogumil
The programme of the German Workers’ Party1 is a programme of its time. Its leaders have no intention, once the aims laid out in the programme have been achieved, of drawing up new ones solely for the purpose of facilitating the continued existence of the party by artificially increasing the discontent of the masses.
1. We demand the union of all Germans, on the basis of the self-determination of peoples, within a Greater Germany.
2. We demand equal rights for the German Volk vis-à-vis other nations, and the revocation of the peace treaties of Versailles and St. Germain.
3. We demand land and soil (colonies) in order to feed our people and to settle our surplus population.
4. Only he who is a folk-comrade can be a citizen of the state. Only those who are of German blood, regardless of creed, can be a folk-comrade. Accordingly, no Jew can be a folk-comrade.
5. Whoever is not a citizen shall only be able to live in Germany as a guest, and must be subject to legislation relating to foreigners.
6. The right to determine the leadership and laws of the state shall belong to citizens of the state alone. We demand therefore that every public office, no matter of what type, whether in Reich, province, or municipality, may only be held by citizens.
We oppose the corrupting parliamentary custom of filling posts solely according to party considerations and without consideration for character or ability.
7. We demand that the state pledge itself above all to providing its citizens with possibilities for life and opportunities for employment. If it should prove impossible to feed the entire population of the state, members of foreign nations (non-citizens) are to be expelled from the Reich.
8. Any further immigration of non-Germans is to be prohibited. We demand that all non-Germans who have entered Germany since 2nd August 1914 be obliged to leave the Reich immediately.
9. All citizens must have equal rights and duties.
10. It must be the first duty of every citizen to produce, mentally or physically. The activities of the individual may not conflict with the general public interest, but must be take place within the framework of the community and for the benefit of all.
We therefore demand:
11. The abolition of incomes unearned by work and effort.
The Breaking of the Slavery of Interest.
12. In view of the immense sacrifices of property and blood which every war demands from a people, personal enrichment through war must be designated a crime against the Volk. We therefore demand the complete confiscation of all war profits.
13. We demand the nationalization of all (until now) amalgamated companies (trusts).
14. We demand profit-sharing in large enterprises.
15. We demand a generous expansion of retirement benefits.
16. We demand the creation and maintenance of a healthy middle-class. The immediate communalization of the big department stores and their leasing to small traders at a cheap rate; utmost consideration for all small traders when awarding state, provincial, or municipal contracts.
17. We demand a land reform suitable to our national requirements; the passing of a law for the expropriation of land, without compensation, for the purposes of public benefit. The abolition of ground-rent and the prohibition of all speculation in land.2
18. We demand relentless struggle against those whose activities are injurious to the common interest. Persons committing base crimes against the Volk, usurers, profiteers, etc. must be punished with death, whatever their creed or race.
19. We demand that Roman Law, which serves a materialistic world order, be substituted by a German common law.
20. In order to make it possible for every capable and hardworking German to attain higher education and to thereby move into leading positions, the state must make arrangements for a thorough-going expansion of our entire national education system. The curricula of all educational institutions are to be brought into line with the requirements of practical life. An understanding of the concept of the state (civics) must be imparted by schools very early on, at the first stages of a child’s comprehension. We demand the education of the intellectually gifted children of poor parents, regardless of estate or occupation, at the expense of the state.
21. The state must ensure the improvement of national public health through the protection of mothers and infants; through the prohibition of child labor; through the promotion of physical fitness by means of legislation providing for compulsory gymnastics and sports; and through extensive support for all organizations engaged in the physical training of youth.
22. We demand the abolition of the mercenary army and the formation of a People’s Army.
23. We demand a legal battle against deliberate political lies and their dissemination via the press. In order to facilitate the creation of a German press, we demand that:
a) All editors of and contributors to newspapers which appear in the German language must be folk-comrades.
b) Non-German newspapers require the express permission of the state to appear. They may not be printed in the German language.
c) Any non-German financial involvement in or influence over German newspapers must be prohibited by law, and we demand as the penalty for violations of this law the closure of any such newspapers, as well as the immediate expulsion from the Reich of the non-Germans involved.
Newspapers which are not conducive to the public welfare are to be banned. We demand legal prosecution against all those tendencies in art and literature which exert a corrosive influence over the life of our Volk, and demand also the closing down of any gatherings or events which contravene the foregoing demand.
24. We demand freedom for all religious denominations within the state, provided they do not jeopardize its existence nor offend against the moral and ethical sensibilities of the Germanic race.
The party, as such, advocates the viewpoint of a Positive Christianity, although without confessionally binding itself to any particular denomination. It combats the Jewish-materialist spirit within us and around us, and is convinced that a lasting recovery for our Volk can only take place from within, on the basis of the principle:
The Common Interest before Self-Interest.
25. In order to carry all of this out, we demand the creation of a strong, central authority within the Reich.
The unconditional authority of the central political parliament over the entire Reich and over its organizations in general.
The formation of chambers based upon estate and occupation for the purpose of enacting, within the individual federal states, the general legislation passed by the Reich.
The leaders of the party promise to relentlessly advocate for the implementation of the foregoing points, if necessary at the cost of their own lives.
Munich, 24th February 1920
On Behalf of the Party Committee: Anton Drexler.3
The Programme is Announced in the Press
The Völkischer Beobachter of 28th February, 1920.
The short article below constitutes the first brief, public mention of the new NSDAP programme in the German press, appearing in the Völkischer Beobachter a few days after the Hofbräuhaus meeting at which the programme had first been presented to the public. The Völkischer Beobachter at the time was not yet the official newspaper of the party; it was still an independent publication of the general völkisch movement, and if anything was most closely associated with the German Socialist Party (Deutschsozialistische Partei, DSP), an organized branch of which had been established in Munich in May, 1919 (the Munich DSP’s chairman, Max Sesselman, was actually the Beobachter’s editor at the time this article appeared). A “From the Movement” (Aus der Bewegung) column was a common feature within völkisch newspapers, which typically devoted several paragraphs per issue to brief reports informing their readers about happenings within like-minded racial-nationalist organizations. One of the most notable features of this particular article is how little Hitler and the DAP/NSDAP are actually mentioned in it, despite it being a report on an event they had organized. Most of the text is instead given over to a description of a speech given at the meeting by Dr. Johannes Dingfelder, a völkisch writer with quite a high profile in the early 1920s. The DAP leadership had been concerned that the event would not attract enough of an audience without a ‘draw’, hence why Dingfelder (who was not a party member, belonging instead to the Thule Society and to the propaganda group Deutschvölkischer Schutz- und Trutzbund) was invited to give the keynote address. Hitler spoke to the crowd after Dingfelder, reading out the new programme point by point, before the meeting ended with a short debate over Munich’s ongoing rationing issues. – Bogumil
From the Movement.
On Tuesday, 24 February 1920, the German Workers’ Party appeared in public for the first time.4 In a very well-attended meeting at the Hofbräuhaussaal, Dr. Johannes Dingfelder spoke as a guest of the German Workers’ Party on the theme: “What Is Required.” In conventional language, surveying the social confusion from the august position of doctor and philanthropist, the speaker led the listeners back to the cause of the people’s distress. – We have lost touch with the forces of nature, flouted the law of order, misjudged the laws of the universe and creation. But that is where the productive labor of man is grounded. Arbeit = Arbot – the holy Sonnengebot – which means creating ‘solar goods’, commodities of life for the ennoblement of humanity.5 We have even scorned this law, the law of motion, and indulged in self-indulgence and unearned income, mimicking the example of foreign peoples. There is also the law of love, the contempt for which finds its strongest expression in Bolshevism. To expect help from abroad, on the other hand, is cowardly and undignified. “Help yourself,” is the stipulation, which requires that we let go of internationalist delusions, think folkishly, and believe in our Volk and in their real leaders. – This was the core of the outstanding lecture, which, although it also contained uncomfortable truths, was rewarded with thunderous applause.
Hitler (German Workers’ Party) then developed some striking political points which evoked stormy applause, but which also aroused protest from the numerous “prejudiced” opponents present. The speaker provided an overview of the party programme, which in its basic features comes close to the programme of the German Socialist Party. Afterward, the following resolution was passed unanimously: More than two thousand German folk-comrades from all productive strata [Stände], gathered together in the Hofbräuhaussaal on Tuesday, 24 February 1920, protested in the strongest manner against the distribution of 40,000 quintals of wheat flour to the Jewish religious community, while no dietary bread is available for the seriously ill. – The discussion was very lively. The gathering left the impression that a movement is under way which will prevail whatever the circumstances.
The Programme Goes Abroad
Correspondence from Drexler and Hitler to
Dr. Walter Riehl, Austrian National Socialist Leader
The following text is a translation of a short letter which Anton Drexler and Adolf Hitler wrote a week after the programme’s announcement, addressed to Dr. Walter Riehl, chair of both the German National Socialist Workers’ Party (Deutsche Nationalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei, DNSAP) branch in Austria and of the Inter-State Chancellery of German National Socialists, an umbrella organization responsible for organizing the first ‘Inter-State Representatives’ Congress of the National Socialists of Greater Germany’ the previous year. Drexler and other leaders in the DAP had established a formal correspondence with the National Socialists in Austria and Czechia not long after the DAP’s initial founding, with representatives from each group exchanging news and propaganda materials to one another by post (in a September 1919 letter Riehl had provided copies of the DNSAP programme to Drexler, and had apparently encouraged him to add the term ‘National Socialist’ to his party name). The letter below has been included here because it contains a brief mention of the new NSDAP party programme, as well as a short explanation of what set it apart from the programme of the rival German Socialist Party, which had also developed close ties with the National Socialists outside of Germany. – Bogumil
Munich, 1st March, 1920
Dear Herr Dr. Riehl!
Despite us having to assume that the letter of 6th February, 1920 which you were kind enough to send to us probably ended up at the wrong address, we still have to send you an answer, at least in regards to our position on the points you touched on in the letter which we did receive and which appear to us to be particularly urgent and important to explain to you, so far as this is at all possible in the context of such a brief letter.
The enclosed programme of our party will certainly demonstrate to you that we, perhaps in contrast to the German Socialist Party, place the greatest emphasis upon the complete unification of all the German tribes, regardless of their previous national affiliation.
We cannot think of any other goal which would somehow provide us with the same inner satisfaction, if not the goal of giving the German Volk the position on this earth which they deserve by virtue of their numbers and their culture. And this goal will not seem attainable to us until the fragmentation of the German tribes has ended and our Volk are unified.
For negotiations in this area, on our part we would primarily consider Herr Adolf Hitler, who has co-signed this letter and who is a born German-Austrian himself.6 Herr Hitler is the propaganda chief for our local branch of the party.
Otherwise, we conclude by reiterating to you once again that our Fatherland is not called Prussia, nor Bavaria, nor Austria nor Saxony, but Germany.
Looking forward to your response, we sign,
A. Hitler A. Drexler
The Programme’s First Anniversary
The Völkischer Beobachter of 3rd March, 1921.
The following article was published by the Völkischer Beobachter in 1921, one of several commemorating the anniversary of the first public presentation of the official 25-point programme. The article gives a brief description of an anniversary event held by the NSDAP on 24 February, 1921, and relates in hagiographic style the events in the Hofbräuhaus the previous year and the party’s subsequent triumphs since. Particularly notable is the effusive style of the Beobachter’s reporting, especially when compared to its original article on the programme (see above) published in 1920. This sudden leap in enthusiasm was the result of the Beobachter becoming a party newspaper in the interim, with a number of leading NSDAP members pooling their resources in December 1920 in order to hurriedly acquire the debt-ridden publication before its trustees could sell it off to a rival group (Dietrich Eckart rather notoriously pledged his own house as collateral as part of the transaction, without his wife’s knowledge). The Völkischer Beobachter would remain the central organ of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party until the final dissolution of both the party and the newspaper at the end of the Second World War. – Bogumil
A Year in Public.
The 24th February saw the anniversary of the day when the then grouplet of fearless national-thinking Socialists, which had formed around the tool-maker Anton Drexler, first appeared in public at a mass meeting in the larger banqueting hall of the Hofbräuhaus. Adolf Hitler, whose knowledge of history and fabulous speaking talent was already then arousing enthusiasm and forcing thousands to a state of admiration, spoke about the programme of the German Workers’ Party. The success of the meeting at the time led to the acceptance, via a vote, of all the 25 Points, without any opposition from the thousand-strong audience, in which National Socialists represented only a tiny fraction. Hundreds of membership applications were received, and from the whole of Germany letters came pleading for propaganda material, as well as for National Socialist speakers. The road leading to the rise of the National Socialist Movement was open.
To commemorate this day a large public meeting was held in the same venue on 24 February, 1921, at which the same speaker, who in the meantime has spoken with resounding success 56 times in Munich alone to a total of approximately 100,000 people, talked about the same theme.
With reference to the events of 1920 Hitler pointed to how right the National Socialists of the time had been when they had not placed any hope in the parties existing at that time, and had proclaimed the fusion of all honest elements of all parties on the basis of beneficial cooperation designed to unify the apparent opposites of ‘national’ and ‘socialist’.
We take the opportunity, given that Hitler’s remarks were generally confined to clarifying the programme of the German Workers’ Party, to respond to the wishes of many of our like-minded friends elsewhere who have asked us to print the programme of the Movement in the Völkischer Beobachter.
[Note: The article here reprints the text of the NSDAP programme in full – Bogumil]
Following Hitler’s speech, which was received with tumultuous applause, and which – as usual – also concluded with an appeal to political action, Dietrich Eckart, the enthusiastic party pioneer, had a word in order to express the thanks and praise of the thousands of members who supported the Movement to the men who were primarily responsible for the tremendous success of the last year of work, Anton Drexler, the founder and trusted leader, and A. Hitler, the ceaseless and tireless propagandist.
The Programme in Perspective: The Hitlerians
An excerpt from Ernst Graf zu Reventlow’s 1931 book,
Der Weg zum Neuen Deutschland.
The excerpt below is a translation from the 5th edition of party-member and parliamentarian Ernst Graf zu Reventlow’s book Der Weg zum Neuen Deutschland (“The Way to a New Germany”), a large, glossily-produced hardcover originally published in 1931 and intended by its author to serve as a general historical and ideological overview of the NSDAP and its objectives. The translated excerpt consists of the introductory segment of a long, 50-page chapter in which the author goes over the party programme in considerable detail, explaining each of the NSDAP’s stated goals extensively, point-by-point. This section has been included here in order to provide some brief historical perspective on the programme from a sympathetic supporter, written as it was over a decade after the programme’s first publication and only a couple of years before the party’s entry into national government. The markedly pro-Hitler tone of the excerpt is particularly interesting considering its authorship. Reventlow was associated with the NSDAP’s variegated left wing, and although a prominent member of the party before 1933 he and Hitler had little positive regard for one other. Reventlow had previously been a member of the German Völkisch Freedom Party, where he had at one point notably attempted to negotiate a ‘National Bolshevik’ line with the Communists, and after joining the NSDAP in 1927 he continued to advocate a generally radical, ‘left-leaning’ course on issues such as social policy and German-Russian relations.7 That Reventlow’s publications would adopt such an adulatory tone towards Hitler despite the author’s own personal feelings is a testament towards the level of internal discipline within the NSDAP, evidence for the seriousness with which party-members took the political ideal of ‘Führerprinzip’. – Bogumil
At a Munich gathering at the beginning of 1920 Hitler spelled out for the first time the programme which he had in the meantime drawn up, and he brought it to a unanimous, enthusiastic acceptance. Since this programme arose in tandem along with the party, i.e., in its earliest and most inconsequential beginnings, and since it has remained unaltered to this day, when the National Socialist movement has become a party of many millions, this programme is thus deserving of a comprehensive examination – not just politically, but also historically and personally – as an expression of Hitler’s nature and beliefs at the moment when he entered politics with this very programme:
“The programme of the German Workers’ Party is a programme of its time. Its leaders have no intention, once the aims laid out in the programme have been achieved, of drawing up new ones solely for the purpose of facilitating the continued existence of the party by artificially increasing the discontent of the masses.”
This was an unprecedented and unheard of idea within German party life. It was interlinked with the thoroughly pronounced fighting character of the party. The party laid out its programme and said: This programme is a programme of struggle [ein Kampfprogramm]. Our struggle, the struggle of the party, will be over once the goals set out in the programme have been achieved. The question is: why? The answer lies in the appending sentence, which says: this party is not a party of party egoism, as is common in Germany and is regarded as being perfectly natural. Instead this party declares openly and freely, thereby committing itself to the fact, that it will disband following the achievement of its stated objectives. Once these objectives have been achieved, then the conditions for which the party is fighting and for the sake of which it was formed will also have been achieved in Germany! – But there is even more implied within this short sentence, much more:
The political parties in Germany, as they have been and consistently still are, strive one like the other for power, for rulership. In the background of this general party mindset, however, lies the notion that the struggle of the parties will go on forever, that sometimes one party or party group will be ‘at the helm’, sometimes another. The Hitlerian programme evolved out of the idea that the party establishes itself for the implementation of its programme, commits itself to it with everything, down to the very last, then disappears following the programme’s realization – but continuously fights, come what may, until it is achieved. With other political parties their programmes are at best guidelines, are very often mere propaganda phrases, and are moreover – depending upon the economic situation and shifting attitudes within the party – also subject to changes, indeed sometimes very far-reaching ones. Since coming into existence, the programme of the German Workers’ Party of 1919 has, as already mentioned, not been modified in a single point, in a single word, although, of course, alongside its universally valid and to a certain sense timeless fundamental demands, it necessarily arose in part out of the circumstances of the time.
The Programme in Perspective: The Renegades
An excerpt from Herbert Blank’s 1931 anti-Hitler work,
Adolf Hitler – Wilhelm III.
The short excerpt below is translated from a 1931 booklet by Herbert Blank, titled Adolf Hitler – Wilhelm III. Blank was one of Otto Strasser’s principle followers, with the booklet appearing under the pseudonym ‘Weigand von Miltenberg’, one of several pen-names employed by the author. Blank’s booklet is an anti-Hitler polemic, in which the NSDAP’s Führer and chairman is depicted as a self-interested egoist, a man in the process of betraying and perverting the principles of National Socialism in pursuit of his own ambitious drive for power and prestige (hence the title alluding to the idea of Hitler as a new Kaiser). Although this translated excerpt does not deal with the NSDAP programme in great detail, it does still demonstrate a typical attitude towards the document within the ‘renegade’ factions of National Socialism. Some renegades regarded the programme as an essentially correct document, and saw the faults within the NSDAP as stemming either from Hitler’s actions or from those of the party bureaucracy – not from the organization’s basic tenets. Others, like Blank, viewed the programme as a flawed work (“a confused jumble of principles and tactical demands,” as Blank puts it), but one that was still of revolutionary import and still a potential source of much good regardless. Blank in particular highlights point 13 of the party programme, the call for mass nationalization of trusts; for Blank the party’s radical economic demands were what set it apart from other self-proclaimed ‘radical’ or ‘revolutionary’ groups within the nationalist camp, and what made it a genuine potential threat to the German bourgeoisie. – Bogumil
A Confused, Patchwork Jumble.
Hitler chronicles the beginnings of his party in his memoirs. It was an audacious and arduous beginning. After months of work, four new supporters joined the original circle of seven men.8 The first public meeting had 111 attendees, which caused the ‘National Socialist German Workers’ Party’ to go into paroxysms of joy. Amid debts and setbacks, progress was now being made. On 24 February, 1920, the first large mass assembly took place, attended by 2,000 people, and the banqueting hall of the Munich Hofbräuhaus heard for the first time the 25 points of this new movement’s programme.
This programme will remain memorable. It is a patchwork of the worst kind, a confused jumble of principles and tactical demands over which patented constitutional architects may shake their heads. Unclear, loosely defined. Old and new all mixed up together.
But behind it lies a new world. The green shoots of Verdun9 found their first seedbed in this programme. Each of its 25 points embodies, inherent in their vagueness, all possibilities. And point no. 13 above all gave the programme that character which will have such momentous consequences for the future:
“We demand the nationalization of all (until now) amalgamated companies (trusts).”10
This separated it from all the bourgeois parties of the post-War era. Anti-Semitism and völkisch renewal were eventually also cultivated among the German Nationals (even if only in its Völkisch Committee).11 But nobody else took up this point no. 13. It, bound together with the völkisch idea, promised a new era, and threatened the German bourgeoisie with death. Here all bridges were broken. One should take heed of this point no. 13, and to the fact that Hitler gave this programme a codicil:
“The leaders of the party promise to relentlessly advocate for the implementation of the foregoing points, if necessary at the cost of their own lives.”
1. It is interesting to note that, in the body of the programme’s text, the name “German Workers’ Party” is used – not “National Socialist German Workers’ Party.” The new name for the party apparently dates from roughly the same period as the 25-point programme’s first appearance, but its usage was very inconsistent at first – it almost seems as though, for many members in the early years of of 1920-21, the term “National Socialist” was intended to serve mainly as a descriptive qualifier for the German Workers’ Party, not as a formal part of the actual party name. During this period one often still sees the party referred to as Deutsche Arbeiterpartei even in official party documents, not just in articles in the völkisch press.
“With respect to the mendacious interpretations on the part of our opponents of Point 17 of the programme of the NSDAP, the following statement is necessary: Since the NSDAP stands in favor of private property, it naturally follows that the words ‘expropriation without compensation’ refer only to the creation of possible legal remedies for the confiscation, if necessary, of land which has been acquired in an illegal manner or which is not being managed in consideration for the public welfare. Accordingly, this is directed in the main against Jewish companies which speculate in land.”
Copies of the programme produced after April 1928 would often contain this amendment appended to the end of the document.
3. After Hitler was elected chairman (“with dictatorial powers”) of the NSDAP on 29 July, 1921, future copies of the party programme were amended to replace Drexler’s name with his own. Reference to the Party Committee was also omitted; instead, newer reproductions of the programme’s text simply ended with the words: “Signed: Adolf Hitler.”
4. This is something of an odd assertion, as DAP members had spoken for their party at a number of public events throughout 1919, all of which the Beobachter had reported on. One of these, a rally of 100 people in the Hofbräuhauskeller on 16 October, was the first public event at which Hitler spoke as a politician, and the Beobachter’s reporting on the event in its 22 October edition also constituted Hitler’s first mention in the German press:
“Herr Hitler of the DAP discussed in passionate language the need for unity against the common enemy of nations, and in particular gave reasons for supporting a German press, in order that the Volk may discover what the Jewish papers are concealing.”
Probably what is meant here is that this was the first public meeting organized specifically by the DAP/NSDAP, rather than just a general völkisch rally at which their delegates had appeared alongside others.
5. This sentence is basically untranslatable without additional contextual explanation. Much of this paragraph is intended to serve as a brief summation of the main points of Dingfelder’s speech. This particular sentence deals with some formulations of Dingfelder’s which the audience would have recognized as being originally derived from a very well-known 1918 work by anti-Semitic writer Franz Schrönghamer-Heimdal, Das kommende Reich (The Coming Reich). Schrönghamer’s book at one point includes some völkisch word-play, relating the German word for ‘work’ (Arbeit, something held in high esteem by völkisch writers) to Aryan solar worship:
“What then is work [Arbeit]? As it stands, one does not note the origin of this little word… The common people do not say ‘Arbeit‘ but rather pronounce it ‘Arbot‘. ‘Ar‘, however, means the sun, and ‘bot‘ signifies a commandment [Gebot = German word for commandment]. Therefore, ‘Arbeit‘ means the commandment of the sun [Sonnengebot].”
Schrönghamer’s formulation itself draws some influence from Austrian völkisch occultist Guido von List, who wrote that the word ‘Ar‘ was a Germanic word meaning “the sun, the primal fire, the Aryans, and the eagle.” Dingfelder, after citing this semantic formulation, then goes on to link it to the idea of ‘solar goods’ (Sonnengüter), a word with clear phonetic links to the German word ‘Sonnenlehen‘ (‘sun-fief’), originally used to describe common property in a community, owned by nobody – because it was a fiefdom given over to the Sun, i.e., to God. Essentially, this is an extremely roundabout way of saying that work is a holy act producing “solar goods,” i.e. conditions for the ultimate benefit and “ennoblement” of all. The audience, steeped in völkisch intellectual culture, would have had the ideological framework to immediately understand Dingfelder’s point, as well as its summation as given here by the Völkischer Beobachter.
6. This sentence refers to the upcoming 2nd ‘Inter-State Representatives’ Congress of the National Socialists of Greater Germany’, scheduled to be held in Salzburg, Austria over 7-8 August, 1920 – neither the DAP/NSDAP nor the DSP had sent representatives to the previous Inter-State Congress, held in Vienna in December. There was some disagreement within the National Socialist movement at the time over the best approach to adopt in regards to the unification of the German-speaking territories. In a previous letter Riehl had suggested to Drexler that the DAP/NSDAP should pursue the path of Bavarian separatism, seeking to break the region away from the Weimar Republic in order to unite it with Austria. Hitler was opposed to this kind of separatist strategy, and desired to make this point to representatives of the broader NS movement at the upcoming Inter-State Congress. This short letter thus effectively constitutes Hitler’s introduction to the National Socialists outside Germany, and served as his nomination to act as a delegate for the NSDAP at the upcoming Congress.
7. I discussed Reventlow’s involvement in the Communist Party of Germany’s attempt to pursue a ‘National Bolshevist’ line in one of the first articles I wrote for this blog. For more information on the German Völkisch Freedom Party (Deutschvölkische Freiheitspartei, DVFP) see a general overview here, and a translation of the DVFP’s 1923 provisional programme here.
8. This is an interesting sentence, since it seems to indicate that Hitlerian myth-making had penetrated even the worldview of supposedly anti-Hitlerian National Socialists like Blank. It was part of Hitler’s myth-making as Führer that the DAP had only six members before he joined, and that it was purely his work and talent which took the group from a minute circle of nobodies to a powerful, popular mass movement. Hitler’s claim (set out definitively in Mein Kampf) became part of the legendarium of the NSDAP, accepted as fact within subsequent party histories and even by some Strasserists who otherwise despised the Führer. Although it is entirely likely that the DAP would have faded away without Hitler (or, more probably, been absorbed by the DSP or DVFP), it is untrue that the party’s original membership was as small as he liked to claim. The exact size of the early DAP is unknown, in part because the party’s early record-keeping was rather haphazard, and partly also because the leadership had a habit of inflating membership numbers to make the DAP appear more vigorous than it actually was. Hitler’s original membership number was 555, although the party certainly did not have five hundred members when he joined; the general membership size of the DAP by October, the date Hitler first applied for entry into the party, is usually estimated as lying somewhere between 40 and 100. Where the supposed membership number 7 originates from is the leadership committee of the DAP, which itself overlapped with the Politischer Arbeiterzirkel (“Political Workers’ Circle”), a small discussion group founded by Drexler which preceded the DAP and which continued to exist alongside (and within) it for some time afterwards. Hitler became the seventh member of the leadership committee on 16 November, 1919.
9. “The green shoots of Verdun” is a phrase used several times by Blank within his booklet. He means by it the revolutionary ideals and potentialities which were taking root in Germany as a consequence of the impact of the First World War upon a generation of young Germans.
10. Alongside point 13 of the programme, Strasserists also tended to be particularly passionate about point 14 (the call for profit-sharing) and point 17 (the demand for land reform and mass land expropriation/nationalization). The NSDAP’s alleged “betrayal” of its programme’s socialist demands is discussed by Otto Strasser in his article The Socialists Leave the NSDAP!, written after he and his core followers quit the party in July 1930 under pressure from Hitler and the leadership:
For us, socialism means an economy based on the real needs of the nation, the participation of the totality of producers in the ownership, management, and profits of the entire economy of this nation, i.e. thus breaking the ownership monopoly of the contemporary capitalist system and, above all, breaking the management monopoly which is today tied to tenure. We therefore felt that, in contrast to the 25 Points, the increasingly muddled formulation of our socialist will and the multiple mitigations made to the programme’s socialist demands (e.g. to Point 17) were an offense against the spirit and programme of National Socialism, when for years we have vigorously emphasized its socialist demands.
11. The “Völkisch Committee” was, as is suggested here, an internal body operating within the structure of the bourgeois-nationalist German National People’s Party (Deutschnationale Volkspartei, DNVP). The Committee’s origins lay in a period of internal party division occurring within the ranks of the DNVP in late 1922. The DNVP was, at its outset, a broad-based organization whose membership ranged from traditionalist conservatives, to monarchist nationalists, to National Liberals, to Christian Socialists, to Pan-Germans, and even to a radical wing of strident racial-nationalists. Tensions between these various factions had been particularly exacerbated in 1922 following a number of assassinations of high-profile political figures by nationalist terrorists; public blame for the killings was commonly levelled at the rhetoric of the DNVP’s parliamentarians, with the resulting controversy fostering animosity between the party’s moderate and völkisch wings. At the DNVP Party Conference held in Görlitz in October, 1922, the party attempted to ameliorate this division by establishing a ‘National Völkisch Committee’ to clarify the German National position on the ‘Jewish question’ and on other issues of völkisch policy. The Committee ultimately proved unable to prevent a split in the party, and in December 1922 a significant segment of the DNVP’s völkisch wing broke away to form the German Völkisch Freedom Party. Despite this failure the Völkisch Committee remained an influential internal pressure group, helping to draft the party’s official position on Jewish membership and guiding its principles in a more racialist direction over the following years.