The first propaganda pamphlet of the (National Socialist) German Workers’ Party, written by Anton Drexler in February 1920
General poverty was the main condition under which the Munich-based German Workers’ Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, DAP) operated during its early months of existence. When Hitler first joined the DAP he was shocked to find (as he related in Mein Kampf) that the party had “nothing, no programme, no leaflet, no printed matter at all, no membership cards, not even a miserable rubber stamp, only obvious good faith and good intentions.” The organization’s entire treasury amounted to barely more than a small handful of marks, with the sum total of these funds kept by members within a cigar box. That the party managed to expand its membership throughout the second half of 1919 and to acquire some actual resources was largely the result of Hitler’s own drive and organization, particularly the pressure he placed upon the DAP’s leaders to undertake the risk of holding public meetings at which the party could raise funds by charging entrance fees. So successful was Hitler’s choice of strategy that, in late December 1919, the German Workers’ Party was able to afford to rent its first party office, a back room in the Sterneckerbräu tavern. Furthermore, the DAP was finally able to look towards diversifying its propaganda strategy by putting out printed material, something which had previously been beyond its means in light of the high cost of paper in Germany’s unstable, rationing-afflicted, post-War economy. February 1920 thus saw not only the appearance of the German Workers’ Party’s new party programme, but also the printing and distribution of its first-ever propaganda document, translated below. This four-page pamphlet was authored by Anton Drexler, then First Chairman of the party, and focused on outlining to readers the miserable conditions under which the new German Republic was supposedly laboring, with the blame for these afflictions laid by the author firmly at the feet of both the ‘false socialism’ of the Marxists and the financial rule of global (“Jewish”) capitalism. Naturally enough Drexler’s document depicts the National Socialist German Workers’ Party as being (in contrast to the Social-Democrats) the way back to prosperity, the only real guarantor of an “honest and true socialism” capable of genuinely saving the working-class and of restoring German greatness. As the first-ever propaganda work published by the DAP/NSDAP the document bears some notable historical significance, even if the style of its writing and presentation is a little prosaic in comparison with the more sophisticated material put out by the National Socialists in later years. Drexler’s authorship of the pamphlet is also somewhat curious in light of the fact that Hitler was the party’s Werbeobmann (propaganda chief) at this point. Possibly it was felt that the honor of producing such a publication should be reserved for the party’s original founder and current leader, even if Drexler’s talent for writing tended to be more workmanlike than gifted overall.
Why Did the German Workers’ Party Have to Come About?
What Does it Want?
Anton Drexler, February 1920
The German Volk have suffered terribly as a consequence of World War, revolution, and fratricidal conflict. Those men who, after the storms of November, grandstanded under the finest promises as being the only people capable of saving Germany, have now governed us to death. All ties of order, justice, and custom have been broken. The freedom which was promised to us manifests itself instead in an unprecedented proliferation of common criminality, such as privileged usurers and the exploiters of our people [Volksausbeuter]. The old order collapsed – and now destruction grins, while no new life blossoms among the ruins! It must be stated clearly: “It was not a change of systems that occurred in the late autumn days of 1918, but rather the old system’s coronation. Before the German Revolution, the capitalist constitution ruled behind the scenes; with the Revolution it replaced every objectionable person with its cronies, and continued to misrule us until, through hardship, hunger, and misery, we became the willing slaves of world capitalism – whose representatives are also situated within Germany.”
1.35% foreign races = a 79% share in government.
98.67% ethnic Germans1 = a 21% share in the government of their own native land.
These numbers say it all!
German industrial- and working-capital amounted to twelve billion [Marks]. Whereas loan- and stock-market-capital totaled 250 billion.
But only working-capital was combated, which – in the form of tools, machines, ships, and every kind of manufacturing equipment – was the working Volk’s meal ticket.
Loan-capital, on the other hand, which weighs down upon our own land and soil, upon our buildings, houses, and tenements, was not only not combated – it was actually promoted. The representatives and agents of capitalism set themselves at the head of the combat troops which they themselves had organized against capitalism, and they steered the struggle against the working-capital which stood in their way. The working Volk are bound up with working-capital for better or for worse, and this capital must – while preventing any exploitation of the labor force – be protected.
By contrast, stock-market-capital and loan-capital, which grow without effort through the labor of others; which expand immeasurably via eternal interest and compound-interest, under the burden of which all their host societies are languishing today; and which strive for nothing less than the trustification of the entire human workforce (through the elimination of any form of middle-class existence) – these must be fought with every available means.
The world was intended be brought to such a state that four or five hundred great bankers would be in a position to say: “If we keep our purse strings closed, then the gears of the world stand still.”
World war, revolution, democratization, Jewish communism, and Bolshevism were and are the means for bringing about this state of affairs. The Kaiser, the parties, and the people’s representatives were all too oblivious in overlooking the causes behind world events of the past 5 years. Those sounding a warning, of which there were many, were not heard, neither from above nor from below, and only in this way were unscrupulous leaders able to succeed in whipping up the blind masses to their ruin.
Doubtless the parties worked towards reconstruction with the best of intentions. But they were powerless against those whose watchwords are ‘annihilation’ and ‘destruction’. Those parties dedicated to the preservation of the people and the state, themselves riddled with elements engaged in a mock-battle against the annihilators, did not deem it necessary to weed out their own foreign elements. As with all parties, the entire parliament is also permeated with elected representatives for whom personal ambition and good business deals through politics take precedence above the common good of their voters. (Erzberger!)2 No wonder that such people are used as the dogsbodies of powerful big capitalists, when the materialist spirit, which rages among peoples [Völkern] like a plague, continuously drags new victims to the altar of the god Mammon.
The capitalist world order, materialism, and Mammonism are the sources. Salvation can only come when we have freed ourselves from them, in every respect.
Which of the existing parties has honestly made the effort to combat Mammonism in its most pernicious forms – loan-capital and usury-capital?
The Social-Democrats or Spartakists? No!!!
Both were – perhaps unwittingly – developed into the best mainstays of bank-capital and large loan-capital, into their protection force.
The Centre or the Democrats?
Among their ranks are people in influential positions who have a very strong interest in bank- and loan-capital, and therefore no serious struggle can be expected here, either.
There is only one way to break the might of the money powers: that is with a party of all people who live by the work of their hands, as well as by their intellect; a party of producers, free from great-capitalist and non-German elements among its leadership and its membership, independent of any pressures of monetary power.
Germany’s salvation, humanity’s liberation from the yoke of the princes of Mammon, lie in a popular movement originating from below and from within. This movement’s leaders must be truly selfless people with an inclination towards self-denial, people for whom the common good of the Volk is paramount above all. Only such leaders will be able to heal the Volk of the materialist plague and to lead them back to decency and morality, for we see the ultimate causes of our collapse, of our present-day misery, as lying purely within the degeneration and the deficiency of these particular characteristics.
We demand a strict law against conscious political lies in writing and in speech. Political lies stirred up nations against one other, inciting them to the point of madness. This plague of lies claimed millions of victims, and produced millions more cripples.
And once again, their point of origin was international stock-market- and loan-capital.
The English doctrine that “Germans can only be defeated by Germans” could only be put into practical effect via extensive propagandist lies on the part of the foreign press – aided, to a large degree, by the domestic press. The moment that this propaganda began, Germans ceased to understand each other, our sense of common identity was lost. We were able to witness how our internationalized countrymen exhibited more sympathy for members of enemy nations than they did for their own brothers, insofar as these were merely National Socialists. Not only the Volk, but also their leaders, forgot that that which has been advised to us by hate-filled enemies can never serve German interests. We saw how newspapers of an internationalist or a financial orientation, through their ruthless struggle against Germans, trampled our concerns underfoot, thereby aiding our enemies in their campaign of annihilation. Unfortunately, this state of affairs still persists today. “We know that Independent3 newspapers were established in occupied territories with money from the French,” declared Minister Heine in the Prussian Landtag.
What could induce the French to found USP-newspapers with French money? Love for the Germans, or fervent hatred against the “Boche”? What motivates those Germans who accept such funds? Is it their love for and confidence in the French, or is it their ardent hatred against everything German?
So this is how things have turned out for us?
In that case, away with all internationalist sentimentalism, inasmuch as it is honestly meant. But to the gallows with all those who consciously carry out the business of the international money-princes.
If we do not help ourselves, then nobody will help us. That is why we have to be, and want to be, National Socialists.
We are fed up with allowing socialism to be used as a smokescreen for the pursuit of financial rule. We do not wish to allow the working-class to continue to be misused as the covert protection squad of stock-market-capital and loan-capital, of Jewry and Jesuitism.
We want an honest and true socialism!
We have recognized that the constant demands upon the workers, and the constant preservation of their discontent, in actuality mean nothing more than: keeping the fire under the proletarian-cauldron permanently alight, in order that the cauldron is always boiling and the workers are always kept ready for revolt. For: What would have been more natural for mighty Social-Democracy than for it to prevent the unprecedented price increases which the stock-exchange has effected via the overproliferation of the Volk? Nothing, truly nothing would have been more natural! Social-Democracy, before and after the Revolution, had even more of an opportunity at hand to ensure the contentedness of the working-class. Instead, the firebrand was cast among the socialist workers, dividing them into two camps after the outbreak of war, and then into three after the Revolution;4 the branches were then allowed to engage in the business of agitation, because the central office could see that the hour of its ascension to power was at hand, and because it knew that rulers in the garb of agitators would leave a very poor impression.
The unwitting workers and soldiers who had allowed themselves to be exploited for the Revolution, who alone were owed fine posts and positions, were meted out very poor wages.
Three to four times more earnings than before, but also a five to fifteenfold increase in the price of vital commodities – these are the most conspicuous accomplishments of the glorious Jewish Revolution; furthermore, a system of corruption and party-cronyism is spreading.
We are not opponents of the Free State,5 but even less are we the friends of a monarchy resting upon a capitalist system. We are, however, the greatest enemies of this Revolution, whose “unconscious, true, and practical concept” (according to Rathenau) was: “The displacement of feudal hegemony by the capitalist bourgeoisie, under the state form of (Jewish) plutocratic-constitutional government.” (Financial rule.)6
That is the Free State, in which “directed” proletarians dictate to us. These dictators have been identified and exposed!
Could there be any way out of this state of affairs, other than to found a new party which embodies German Socialism? Or can the dictatorship of the proletariat rescue us? For instance, where does the money for Spartakism and Bolshevism come from? We’ll tell you. From large Jewish banks and major companies, at home and abroad! You wish for proof? Bleichröder, Warburg, Löwe, and many others.7 Do capitalists promote their own interests, or the interests of those who support themselves through honest labor?
There is your answer!
We have travelled the path which our conscience has dictated. The path is rocky, that we know, but it leads to the long-awaited goal. We promise you no mountains of gold from which you might fill your pockets – mountains which, when you actually approach them, then cause you to sink to the ground with exhaustion and disillusionment, because the gleaming mountains which were shown to you from afar were merely rotten, luminous piles of wood. We say to you: the worker can only do well in a state which is itself doing well, a state which is blossoming and thriving and which the workers, the Volk, are committed to protect. That is why we wish to be National Socialists. Anyone who does not work physically or mentally, from and to a certain age, has no right to a share in the nation’s vital commodities! Any life which is led unemployed, at the expense of others (the life of a parasite), must be rendered impossible.
The goals have been set. Point for point they are stubbornly pursued, without giving an inch. The guidelines have been drawn up by workers, real workers who sacrifice themselves in a selfless manner and who, because there is no other way, dedicate themselves with all of their real-idealism, even with their lives, to the relentless implementation of the programme.
The National-Socialist German Workers’ Party was founded on January 5th, 1919.8 Underfunded, inasmuch as every capitalist keeps well clear of it, we have had to scrape by on our own. We have turned down sundry supporters on account of their unseemliness. By holding meetings and collecting small donations, only today are we able to present ourselves to the public with printed material. It has been a difficult journey so far. Now it is up to you, you intellectual and manual workers, you producers, not to allow this pure movement – which arose from recognition of the immense betrayal of the workers, out of misery and hardship – to waste away like the German spirit.
Help us to rise once again!
We dedicate our lives to our programme’s implementation. You, however, need do nothing more than lend us your intellectual and moral support by helping to disseminate our ideas.
‘Common interest before self-interest’ shall be our watchword!
Fatherland, and the welfare of the Volk, above party!
2. Matthias Erzberger (b.1875 – d.1921) was a Centre Party politician and one of the signatories to the German armistice agreement at the end of the First World War. Nationalists painted Erzberger as one of the primary “November Criminals” responsible for the German “stab in the back,” and his name (Erzbergerei, i.e., “Erzbergerism”) became commonly associated with everything hated about the Weimar Republic. On 26 August, 1921, Erzberger was murdered by members of Organization Consul (a völkisch-nationalist terrorist organization with strong links to the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt) while hiking in the Black Forest.
3. “Independents” – meant here is the Independent Social-Democratic Party of Germany (Unabhängige Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, USPD or USP). The USPD had splintered from the Social-Democratic Party (SPD) in 1917, with an expelled minority faction of anti-war Social-Democrats founding the USPD as its own separate, independent party.
5. “Free State” – aka “Freistaat” in German. Freistaat is a German word for “republic.” It seems to be used here instead of the alternative word Republik to indicate that while the author may be opposed to the “November Republic,” he is not necessarily opposed to the concept of a republican state system.
6. This quote is from Walther Rathenau’s book Der Kaiser, published by S. Fischer Verlag in 1919. Rathenau was a Jewish-German industrialist who had been responsible for managing raw material supply chains during the Great War. He was also a Democratic Party politician and, like Erzberger, was deeply hated by many in the nationalist camp. Also like Erzberger, Rathenau was assassinated by members of Organization Consul, killed in 1922 while being driven to his offices in the Foreign Ministry.
7. The Bleichröder and Warburg families were Jewish-German banking dynasties. The Löwe (sometimes spelled “Loewe”) family was also Jewish, although its members were mainly involved in industry rather than banking – specifically, the manufacture of armaments.
8. Party propaganda and histories in later years tended to make a clearer distinction between the German Workers’ Party and the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. The German Workers’ Party was originally founded by Anton Drexler and Karl Harrer on 5 January, 1919, at the Fürstenfelder Hof tavern in Munich. By contrast, 24 February 1920 (the date of the new party programme’s proclamation) would, as time went on, end up being celebrated as the founding date of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, with the DAP and NSDAP being painted as separate (if historically interrelated) organizations. In reality the line of continuation between the two was fairly direct, with changes in the internal culture and party-structure established by the early DAP only occurring gradually in the NSDAP over the course of 1920-1923.