National Socialism across borders: the programme and proceedings of the 2nd Inter-State Representatives’ Conference of the National Socialists of Greater Germany, held in Salzburg, Austria over 7-8 August 1920
In 1904 the German Workers’ Party in Austria (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei in Österreich, DAPÖ) was founded in Trautenau, Bohemia, by representatives from Austria-Hungary’s various ethnic-German trade-unions and workers’ associations. In May 1918, as part of a general post-War restructuring, the members of the DAPÖ voted to adopt a new name for their organization: the German National Socialist Workers’ Party (Deutsche Nationalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei, DNSAP). When in November 1918 the Treaty of St. Germain awarded the territories of the Sudetenland to Czechoslovakia and Austrian Silesia to Poland, the DNSAP consequently found itself divided into three separate national branches; in an effort to keep the party unified and coordinated under these new circumstances, the first ‘Inter-State Representatives’ Conference of the National Socialists of Greater Germany’ was held by the DNSAP in December 1919 in Vienna, with delegates attending from party branches across Austria, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. The following year the 2nd Inter-State Congress was held in Salzburg, Austria, over 7-8 August, with this meeting in particular proving to be a significant event in the early history of National Socialism. The DNSAP in 1919 had established contact with two nascent political parties in the German Republic: the German Socialist Party (Deutschsozialistische Partei, DSP), most active in northern Germany, and the Munich-based National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, NSDAP). Although neither group had attended the first Inter-State Congress, both were acknowledged by the DNSAP as National Socialist “brother-parties” and both dispatched formal delegations to the 2nd Congress in Salzburg, where unity was the central topic of conversation. Delegates at Salzburg voted to establish an ‘Inter-State Chancellery’ in Vienna to act as a liaison organization between them, and it was further agreed that the five brother-parties would unite as constituent parts of a single cross-border association, the National Socialist Party of the German Volk (Nationalsozialistischen Partei des deutschen Volkes, NSPDV), in which they would maintain their own programmes and independence while being subordinated to the broader programme of the NSPDV – the eventual aim being formal unification as a single party in a united Greater Germany. To that end, DSP and NSDAP delegates also agreed to divide Germany into respective ‘spheres of influence’ as a prelude to their own unification at the DSP’s upcoming party conference. Although made with great enthusiasm and pursued vigorously by National Socialists in their relations with one another over the next few years, these decisions ultimately proved ineffective. A young and still largely unknown delegate at Salzburg named Adolf Hitler would, through his eventual ascension to the NSDAP leadership, ultimately be their undoing, jettisoning the concepts of consensus-based leadership and merger-as-equals in favor of subordination to the NSDAP and centralized diktat from Munich. The five documents translated below, consisting of articles and reports by National Socialists describing the discussions at Salzburg and the programme of the NSPDV, provide an insight into this early period of ‘inter-state’ National Socialism, when the movement had a more democratic caste and when its leading figures were labor activists from Austria and the Sudetenland, rather than Hitler and his supporters.
The Salzburg Conference in Overview
The Deutsche Arbeiter-Presse of 14 August, 1920.
The article below first appeared in the Deutsche Arbeiter-Presse, the central party-organ of the Austrian DNSAP, on 14 August 1920. It provides a thorough synopsis of the events of the Salzburg Conference, its various attendees, and the topics discussed and voted upon by the conference’s delegates, and thus serves as an excellent introductory overview of the conference and of its significance to the early National Socialist movement. Although the article is unsigned, it is nonetheless probable that Dr. Walter Riehl, the chairman of the Austrian DNSAP at the time, was responsible for its authorship – Riehl was also the editor of the Deutsche Arbeiter-Presse and so would have been behind many of the newspaper’s editorials and unsigned pieces. Furthermore, the article was translated from Dr. Alexander Schilling’s biography of Dr. Walter Riehl (Dr. Walter Riehl und die Geschichte des Nationalsozialismus, 1933), which reproduces a significant number of Riehl’s articles from the course of his long political career. (Schilling, incidentally, was also a longstanding National Socialist, and he attended the Salzburg Conference as a delegate for the DNSAP branch in Bielitz, Poland). The article is particularly notable for its mentions of Hitler, probably the first references to the future Führer within the National Socialist press outside Germany. – Bogumil
The Greater German Representatives’ Conference of all National Socialists in Salzburg.
It cannot be denied that we awaited today’s conference, to which völkisch-socialists from across the Reich were invited for the first time, with great trepidation. To our great joy, to the jubilant enthusiasm of the old National Socialists from the German Sudetenland and of we German-Austrians, the conference not only brought us the reconciliation of two larger groups within the German Reich which had previously stood in opposition to one another (the German Socialist Party – headquartered in Hanover; and the National Socialist German Workers’ Party – headquartered in Munich),1 but also the long-awaited goal, the merger of our groups and of the new Reich-German groups to form the
National Socialist Party of Greater Germany.2
The conference enjoyed excellent attendance, not only from the German-Austrians, who by exercising their full rights of representation sent 180 representatives from all local groups, including almost every member of the party-leadership – party-chairman and Landtag deputy Dr. Riehl;3 the Salzburg Landtag deputies Prodinger4 and Wagner;5 Ertl, the chairman of the Trade-Union of German Railwaymen;6 Gattermayer, chairman of the Trade-Union Council;7 Schulz, vice-chairman of the German Postal Workers’ Union;8 Legmann, director of the district DHV;9 Heiduk, chairman of the Reich Association of German Working Youth and paymaster of the national party-leadership10 – but also representatives from abroad. This time, the German National Socialists of Czechoslovakia sent not only our revered theoretician, Prague parliamentary deputy Ing. Rudolf Jung,11 as at previous conferences, but also the first chairman of the National Socialists of Czechoslovakia, deputy Hans Knirsch,12 editor Dr. Schilling,13 and the chairman of the German-Bohemian provincial party-leadership, Galle,14 as well as Bornemann from Znaim,15 all of whom were sorely missed at the last conference. For the German Socialist Party (headquartered in Hanover), Ing. Brunner (Düsseldorf)16 and Dr. Runge (Leipzig)17 appeared, as well as five other representatives of this tendency, which is located chiefly in the north of Germany. Exceptionally numerous were the delegates from the second group, which has sought its adherents primarily in Bavaria, Württemberg, and Baden: the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. This was represented by its first chairman, the metalworker Drexler from Munich, and by its outstanding popular Munich agitator, Adolf Hitler. Altogether the Inter-State Conference was attended by 235 authorized representatives. About a hundred external guests turned out, among them a member of the German National Assembly, National Councillor Geisler from Berlin,18 and a representative of the Greater German Freedom Party in Berlin,19 as well as representatives from Reich-German newspapers and from German newspapers in the successor states20 and in German-Austria.