The Programme of the NSDAP

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

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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. Continue reading

National Socialists Before Hitler, Part VI: Drexler’s Political Awakening

“From the journal of a German Socialist worker”: selected chapters from Anton Drexler’s 1919 political testament

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In the autumn of 1918 Karl Harrer, a sports journalist for the right-leaning newspaper Münchner-Augsburger Abendzeitung, was charged by the Thule Society with forming a völkisch ‘Thule Workers’ Ring’ among the proletariat – part of a wider plan to win workers for nationalism and undermine the socialist forces then dominant within Bavarian politics. Attending a public meeting at Munich’s Wagner Hall on 2 October, Harrer was struck by a speech given by a laborer named Anton Drexler (then-head of the Munich branch of the Free Workers’ Committee for a Just Peace) calling upon bourgeois and workers to “unite!” Although Drexler’s speech was greeted with hostility by the crowd, Harrer saw in it opportunity; he approached Drexler with the offer to assist in forming a ‘Political Workers’ Circle’ to help spread their shared ideas among Drexler’s laborer contacts. Drexler, who had attempted in vain to do this himself in the past (both as a prior, dissatisfied Fatherland Party member, and via his own Free Committee), was intrigued by the offer, and so the Political Workers’ Circle was formed. By 5 January 1919 the Circle had evolved into the German Workers’ Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, DAP), an independent political organization with its own written Guidelines as its conceptual basis. To help propagandize for the new Party and to provide greater intellectual weight to its fairly sparse and unsatisfactory Guidelines, Drexler published a political pamphlet sometime between May and September 1919. Drexler’s My Political Awakening: From the Journal of a German Socialist Worker is, like Hitler’s later Mein Kampf, a mixture of personal biography and ideological worldview, providing an introduction both to Drexler as a person and to the substance of his National Socialist philosophy. Several selected chapters of Drexler’s brochure are provided below as an example, translated by myself from an original 1920 2nd edition. Although this series is called ‘National Socialists Before Hitler’, and Hitler joined the DAP on 19 October 1919, the content of the 1920 edition does still technically qualify as being “before Hitler”. Unlike the later 1923 3rd edition, which was substantially rewritten, the 2nd edition’s text is identical to that of the 1919 original, apart from the addition of a second foreword and the rather telling removal of Drexler’s original dedication to Harrer as “the founder of the German Workers’ Party”. The pamphlet’s strong focus on workers’ issues and on the inadequacies of mainstream (Marxist) socialism are very typical of early National Socialist writing, as is Drexler’s positioning of himself as a dissident voice within the broader socialist workers’ movement. 

My Political Awakening:
From the Journal of a German Socialist Worker
(Selected Chapters)
Written in 1919 by Railway Toolmaker Anton Drexler,
Founder & 2nd Chairman of the German Workers’ Party (Bavaria)

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Foreword to the First Edition

I must begin by saying that the ideas I have laid down here are purely political as well as trade-unionist in nature, and that with this document I am not presenting myself to the public as a fellow combatant in the World War; I was busy instead with my battleground on the home front. Many a workmate has told me, “it’s a pity about me that I’m in the wrong place, that I could accomplish a lot more in the circle of the socialist working-class.” Sometimes a feeling comes over me as though these people were right, as if I really have to incorporate my socialist mindset entirely into Social-Democracy. And only with severe internal struggles have I remained loyal to my National Socialism,1 for which I am now grateful to Fate. To portray the storms that surged around me on my lonesome island in the midst of the workers’ sea, to communicate the experiences that I have been able to gain in political matters to the working-classes and to every productive worker – that is the purpose of this document. No excuses should be made to my colleagues, I haven’t the slightest reason to make them, but I want to make it understandable to them that my political opinion, which is so isolated among workers, has arisen only from concern over the existence of the German worker.

Neither pettiness, nor ambition, nor the idealism of the money-purse have brought me to my political position. As a “neutral” standing outside the fence of the political parties – that is, without having previously absorbed a party catechism myself – I have studied domestic political life and activity, and not without also dedicating my primary focus to matters of foreign-policy.

Allowing themselves to be enveloped in the ‘internationalism’ of the workers’ leaders and pacifists of enemy countries – this myopia on the part of  the German workers’ leaders and other party men in their assessment of enemy war aims has led Germany and the German working class to where it is today.

As the only Munich worker who was not deceived by the intentions of England and America and who therefore publicly advocated for the attainment of a ‘just peace’, I not only have the right but also feel I have the obligation within myself to apprise the public of my experiences and impressions since my ‘political awakening’, all the more so as I also became acquainted with the ‘secret powers’ that made it possible for our governments, as well as many party leaders to – for the most part unconsciously – work directly for the interests of our destroyers. Continue reading

Guidelines of the German Workers’ Party

Anton Drexler’s original party program, first published in ‘Auf gut deutsch’ on January 5, 1919

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The Guidelines of the German Workers’ Party was the original political program of the German Workers’ Party (DAP). Along with Anton Drexler’s pamphlet Mein politisches Erwache (‘My Political Awakening’) it served as the main literary statement of the Party’s aims and worldview until the adoption of the ‘Twenty-Five Point Program’ on February 24 1920, when the Party rechristened itself as the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. The exact authorship of the Guidelines is unknown, although it was almost certainly written by Drexler; whether or not Karl Harrer (the co-founder of the DAP) was also involved is unclear. What is certain is that the Guidelines were first announced on January 5 1919, and published in Dietrich Eckart’s völkisch newspaper Auf gut deutsch on the same day. In terms of content the Guidelines are briefer and less detailed than the later NSDAP program, being far more a general statement of worldview than an actual outline of specific political goals. Nonetheless, the Guidelines’ National Socialist content is obvious – völkisch nationalism, anti-Marxism, opposition to Jewish influence, and a concern with social reform. The clear emphasis on workers’ issues and on corporatist appeals (“work cooperatives”) should be noted, being typical elements of early pre-Hitlerian National Socialism. 

What is the German Workers’ Party?

The DAP is a socialist organization, composed of all folk comrades [‘Volksgenossen’] engaged in mental or physical work. It may only be guided by German leaders who put aside selfish goals and allow national needs to be the highest concern of the program.

What does the German Workers’ Party offer the worker?

The DAP seeks the ennoblement of the German worker. Skilled resident workers have the right to be considered members of the middle class. A sharp distinction between workers and proletarians should be made. An international agreement with the trade unions of other countries must stabilize wages, making it impossible for the working-class of a particular country to engage in sharp bargaining. In the future the competitive position of an individual country shall be determined not by the lowest wages but by the diligence and efficiency of its workers. In this way the causes of friction among the various countries will be avoided. Big business provides food and employment and is therefore to be protected, as long as it does not relentlessly exploit the worker making it impossible for him to lead a worthwhile life. The DAP believes that the socialization of German economic life signals the collapse of the German economy. By controllingsocialized businesses our enemies would be in the best possible position to collect efficiently the war indemnities which have been imposed on us, and to do so at the expense of the workers. Therefore the German worker should have not socialization but profit sharing. Profit sharing can be made possible by founding work cooperatives in the cities, and in the country, farm cooperatives among the agricultural workers, to protect land and soil.

Who is the DAP fighting against?

The DAP is fighting with all its strength against usury and the forcing up of prices. Against all those who create no values, who make high profits without any mental or physical work. We fight against the drones in the state; these are mostly Jews; they live a good life, they reap where they have not sown. They control and rule us with their money. For these drones Germany and her entire people were just objects of speculation; their party slogans are much the same. Talk, no action. The DAP honors the principle: he who will not work shall not eat. We fight for justice, true freedom, and happiness. No dictatorship of the proletariat! Equal justice for all. No rule of bayonets. Everyone shall feel himself to be a free German. There is no happiness in phrases and empty speeches at meetings, demonstrations, and elections. Our striving is toward the free happiness of good work, the full pot, and prospering children. Continue reading