Goebbels on the German Revolution

Joseph Goebbels’s article on the German Revolution, the “most bloodless in world history” – i.e. the 1933 National Socialist seizure of power

mjolnir_posterAn accusation commonly leveled against National Socialism (particularly by those on the Left, both during the inter-War era and today) is that it was a “reactionary” movement and ideology. Some of the critiques made in this regard – i.e that it sought a restoration of the Hohenzollerns – are rather silly. Others – such as it being in favor of the financial status quo, rather than being truly anti-capitalist – require a more nuanced examination and produce less clear-cut answers. Whatever the reality, the National Socialists in Germany certainly regarded themselves as a revolutionary movement and took this claim seriously. Hitler in 1923 had created dissension early on within the inter-state National Socialist movement through his insistence on armed revolution as the only legitimate means of achieving power. Even after he dropped this position following the failure of his subsequent Beer Hall Putsch, a revolutionary idealism remained within the NSDAP and increasingly came to dominate the older National Socialist parties across the border. Hitler’s newfound commitment to legality after 1923 was tactical, not ideological, borne partly from necessity and partly from a desire to build up popular support. Violence as an option was still maintained quietly in reserve, as he made clear in Mein Kampf: “…we will not shun illegal means if the oppressor also applies them.” Either way, legal or illegal, the result of the Party’s tactics was still also intended to be the same: the complete, revolutionary transformation of German society. In Hitler’s famous September 1930 speech at the ‘Ulm Reichswehr Trial’, he claimed that the NSDAP’s aim was the “spiritual revolutionizing of the German Volk” in order that the German people might “construct a completely new state” upon the Party’s attaining power. Very similar sentiments are expressed by Goebbels in a short June 1933 essay from the Nationalsozialistische Monatshefte, translated below. He paints Hitler’s ascension to the Chancellorship and the formation of the ‘National Government’ as part of a revolutionary process – the culmination of years of struggle producing “the most bloodless [revolution] in world history” (a popular Nazi claim) and, consequently, a new state driven by a revolutionary Idea which will “conquer all areas of public life in order to integrate them with and subordinate them to its spirit.” Goebbels’s article was published in the same edition of the NS-Monatshefte as this piece on the German Revolution by Röhm. The two complement each other, although Röhm’s is in some ways even more explicitly radical.

The German Revolution
Joseph Goebbels, Reichsminister
for Public Enlightement and Propaganda

NS_Swastika

First published in Nationalsozialistische Monatshefte, vol. 4, no. 39, June 1933

The conditions of that world-historical January night,1 whose course of events seized the entirety of a suffering, tormented Volk down to their utmost depths and filled them with new faith and new hope, did not come about by coincidence. Within and behind them lies the great, dynamic principle of a political movement whose countenance bears revolutionary features. A movement which – like all truly creative forces in history – is gradually outgrowing the confinement of the smallest of anonymous beginnings, is rising to the daunting tasks which it seeks to fulfill, and, refined through hard years of persecution and the terror of its opponents, is organically, inexorably, and irrevocably interposing its influence in the great matters of public life. At the end of its path, the breadth and impact of which is determined by the revolutionary drive of its adherents, lies that time when it now seizes the heavy responsibility of state authorities, the time of new powers and new men who provide the structure of the political system with that form which corresponds to its own internal legitimacy.

Revolutions are spiritual acts. They take place initially within people themselves, and then within the manifestations of art, politics, and economy. The upheaval which we can witness today first occurred within the spirit of this movement. Out of its new stylistic sensibility, its creative power, grew the legitimacy of the German Revolution. With its victory it matured to the state principle. Continue reading

Hitler Purges the ‘Salon Bolsheviks’

Adolf Hitler’s brief letter of 30 June, 1930, instructing Joseph Goebbels to “ruthlessly purge” the NSDAP of Strasserist “salon Bolsheviks”

Hitler_und_Goebbels

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,
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! Continue reading

The Little ABC of National Socialists

Joseph Goebbels’s best-selling 1925 primer on National Socialist doctrine

‘The Little ABC of National Socialists’ (Das Kleine ABC des Nationalsozialisten) – one of the most popular documents outlining the tenets of National Socialist philosophy – was written and published by Joseph Goebbels in late 1925, not more than a year after “the little Doktor” first became politically active in the national-socialist movement. Goebbels at the time of publication was not the leading figure he would later become. At this point in his life he was a mostly penniless agitator, a demagogue-in-training, an organizer in the Gau North-Rhineland who was just starting to make his name in the wider Party outside of the city of Elberfeld. ‘The Little ABC’ was one of the many factors which played a part in Goebbels’s later notoriety. The pamphlet was immensely successful; the first edition of 10,000 copies sold out rapidly, leading to praise from Hitler, and more than 75,000 had been printed and distributed by 1927. By the time Hitler was appointed Reichschancellor in 1933 it was one of the most widely-read pieces of National Socialist literature. This is in large measure due to its style of writing – a pithy question-and-answer format, with simple, straightforward language intended to make National Socialist doctrine easily accessible to young people and workers. Winning proletarians to the cause was always a central focus of Dr. Goebbels, and even the title of the work attests to that fact – it deliberately calls to mind Bukharin & Preobrazhensky’s ‘ABC of Communism’. The translation of the ‘Little ABC’ below was made by myself personally; as far as I can tell no English translation is otherwise generally available.  

THE LITTLE ABC OF NATIONAL SOCIALISTS

Dr. Joseph Goebbels

For the downtrodden!

Against the exploiter!

The Common Good Comes Before Self-Interest!

What is the first commandment of every National Socialist?

Love Germany above all and love your folk-comrades [Volksgenossen] like yourself!

What is the aim of the National Socialist freedom-concept?

The people’s community [Volksgemeinschaft] of all honest, productive Germans!

What is the substance of this people’s community?

Freedom and bread for every German folk-comrade!

Who is our German folk-comrade?

Any honest productive German, so long as he is of German blood, German customs, and German culture, and speaks the German language!

Through what principle do we National Socialists want to do away with today’s economic struggle of all against all?

Common interest before self-interest!

Why National Socialist German Workers Party?

Can and should a workers’ party still be national today?

It not only can and should, it must be national today. The cause of the people is the cause of the nation, and vice versa; the might and welfare of the state are the might and welfare of the people, and thus the might and welfare of every individual!

Isn’t there a conflict between the national and social concepts?

No, on the contrary! The truly national man thinks socialist, and the true socialist is nationalist!

When am I a nationally-minded person?

I am a nationally-minded person when I have the will, and use all my power, to make my people and my Fatherland free, healthy, and strong!

When do I think as a socialist?

I think as a socialist when I recognize that the natural rights of the oppressed portion of my folk-comrades, the rights to liberty and bread, are rights that must be fought for and preserved, they are not gifts that are given freely or even imposed!

What is the difference between ‘social’ and ‘socialist’?

The term ‘social’ means granting the oppressed segments of the people the imperfect rights of fear and cowardice, grace and mercy; ‘socialism’ means giving them their full right to justice and state imperative!

Why ‘Workers Party’?

Because every honest, productive German who belongs to us already, or who shall belong to us yet, is a German worker, whether of brain or fist; because the will to creative work is a fundamental feature in German man; because work does not dishonor man but honors and ennobles! Continue reading

The ‘Strasser Program’

Too moderate, too democratic, too Marxist? The 1926 NSDAP draft program proposed (and rejected) as a replacement to the ’25 Points’

On January 5th, 1926, a meeting was convened in Hanover between members of the ‘National Socialist Working Group’, an association of prominent National Socialists from the north and west of Germany, including such figures as Goebbels, Ley, Pfeffer von Salomon, and Gregor & Otto Strasser. What united these National Socialists was their belief in National Socialism as an anticapitalist force, and their concern that the NSDAP was drifting in the wrong direction. At Hanover the group circulated a document which it was hoped would help address these issues: a new draft for a Party program that would replace the ‘outdated’ 25 Points of 1920, would more explicitly spell out the Party’s anticapitalist principles, and would more clearly describe the structure of the future NS-state. It was also felt that binding Hitler to a more concrete program would set stricter boundaries on his role as Führer. The draft program was primarily written by Gregor Strasser, based on the ideas of the Working Group, with some revisions to the text by Otto and Goebbels. It was contentious even within the Working Group, where it was criticized for being too ‘mild’ and lacking völkisch spirit, and its existence created some small turmoil within the Party. Hitler, seeing a threat to his authority, called a meeting at Bamberg on February 14th, 1926, where the draft program was soundly rejected; the 25 Points declared ‘inviolable’; and the foundations of Führerprinzip more firmly entrenched. The full text of the draft ‘Strasser program’ is reproduced below, translated by myself from the German ‘Quarterly Journal for Contemporary History’. 

National Socialism

Draft design of a comprehensive program of National Socialism

I. Introduction

(A nation is a community of fate, need, and bread!)

a.)  In brief the disorder of conditions:

  • in foreign policy
  • in domestic policy
  • in economic policy

b.)  Characterization of National Socialism as a wholly new, comprehensive view of political economy (synthesis of a politically creative nationalism and of a socialism which guarantees the support and development of the individual).  

c.)  Prerequisite for carrying out this mighty project is the national dictatorship. Fateful and causal connection between the economic emancipation of German employees and the political emancipation of the German people.

II. Foreign Policy

a.)  Borders of 1914, including colonies, and the unification of all German Central Europe in a Greater Germanic Reich (including Austria, the Sudetenland, and South Tyrol).

b.)  Tariff union with Switzerland, Hungary, Denmark, Holland, and Luxembourg.

c.)  Colonial empire in central Africa (former German colonies, the Congo, Portuguese colonies, portions of French colonies).

d.)  United States of Europe as a European league of nations with a uniform system of measurement and currency. Preparation for a tariff union with France and the other European states; otherwise, reciprocal most favored nation status.

III. Domestic Policy

A. Reich

1. Levels of office:

a.)  Reichspresident with a seven-year term (first Reichspresident the dictator), with    broad powers, comparable to the American President. His specific functions:

    • designation of the presidents of the individual regions,
    • appointment of ministers,
    • contracting of treaties, declaring of war and peace in cooperation with the ministry.

b.)  Reichsministry: led by the Reichschancellor, who heads the individual ministries and is responsible to the Reichspresident and, to a certain extent, to the Reich Chamber of Corporations.  (In the case of a two votes of no confidence, which must be a period of at least one year apart, the Cabinet must resign; likewise individual Ministers).   Continue reading