Visions of National Socialist Democracy, Part III: Hitler

Adolf Hitler’s statements on representative government in a future National Socialist state

Nobody would describe Adolf Hitler as a ‘democrat.’ Like most National Socialists, Hitler was contemptuous of parliamentarism and the ‘majority principle’, but he took things a step or two further. Before Hitler, the National Socialist movement in Central Europe was, despite its ideological opposition to liberal-democracy, largely democratic. The various National Socialist parties were organized on the basis of internal democracy, with elected leaders and policies decided through majority vote, and they were all committed to a policy of reformism – working to achieve a National Socialist state via piecemeal reform through the machinery of parliament. Hitler’s accession to the leadership of the trans-national NS movement ushered in radical changes in this area, gradually eroding internal party democracy in favor of Führerprinzip and leading, for a time, to a strictly anti-parliamentary, anti-democratic tactical line. Hitler, with his veneration of strict discipline and strong, centralized leadership, was undoubtedly on the more authoritarian end of the National Socialist political spectrum. Nonetheless, elements of democratic idealism still appear within his speeches and writings. Reproduced below are a number of extracts from several sources which demonstrate that Hitler, despite his authoritarian inclinations, still saw a place for parliaments and voting in a future National Socialist state.    

Mein Kampf

Hitler’s Mein Kampf provides us with one of the only comprehensive descriptions of his personal view of a future National Socialist state structure. It clearly represents a more ‘dictatorial’ vision of National Socialism than those of Jung or Feder, in that under its provisions elected representatives would have no  voting powers but would instead serve solely in an advisory capacity to the national Führer. What makes these excerpts especially interesting are their corporatist aspects – clearly at this early date (Mein Kampf was published in 1925) Hitler was still influenced by the strong corporatist inclinations within the National Socialist movement. Later he was to largely abandon corporatist ideas, making the system described in the following two chapter extracts somewhat obsolete. Nonetheless, the text below is revealing in how it demonstrates Hitler’s beliefs on the ideal balance between authoritarian and democratic tendencies in politics, beliefs which would remain largely unchanged throughout his life. –Bogumil  

Vol. II, Ch. 4: Personality and the Conception of the Völkisch State

…The best state constitution and state form is that which, with the most unquestioned certainty, raises the best minds in the national community to leading position and leading influence.

But, as in economic life, the able men cannot be appointed from above, but must struggle through for themselves, and just as here the endless schooling, ranging from the smallest business to the largest enterprise, occurs spontaneously, with life alone giving the examinations, obviously political minds cannot be ‘discovered.’ Extraordinary geniuses permit of no consideration for normal mankind.

From the smallest community cell to the highest leadership of the entire Reich, the state must have the personality principle anchored in its organisation.

There must be no majority decisions, but only responsible persons, and the word ‘council’ must be restored to its original meaning. Surely every man will have advisers by his side, but the decision will be made by one man.

The principle which made the Prussian army in its time into the most wonderful instrument of the German people must some day, in a transferred sense, become the principle of the construction of our whole state conception: authority of every leader downward and responsibility upward. Continue reading

Monthly Fragebogen: Röhm’s Rise and Fall

Röhm triumphant, and Röhm in ruins – nationalist writer Ernst von Salomon’s experience of the rise and fall of the SA Chief-of-Staff

 Two of the most interesting sections of Ernst von Salomon’s novel Der Fragebogen recount the author’s experiences with SA Chief-of-Staff Ernst Röhm. von Salomon met Röhm at least a couple of times in his life, and associated with a number of people who were close to the Brownshirt leader; von Salomon’s Freikorps membership and his role in the Fememord of Walter Rathenau seems to have created a mutual sense of soldierly respect between the two men, even if they were not close. In the first section of Der Fragebogen reproduced below, von Salomon recounts his chance encounter with Röhm on a train shortly after the National Socialist Machtergreifung (the ‘seizure of power’). Röhm’s depiction there, triumphant and celebratory, is in stark contrast to von Salomon’s more distant depiction of him in the second excerpt. That section of the novel consists of von Salomon’s account of Röhm’s fall, his murder during the Blood Purge of ’34. In this second, longer extract, von Salomon first recounts the shock and horror he experienced at Röhm’s demise, particularly while listening to Hitler’s infamous radio address on the subject. The author then transitions into a description of a meeting with Dr. Walter Luetgebrune, with the Herr Doktor providing his own insights into Röhm’s fall and the reality behind the ‘Night of the Long Knives.’ Luetgebrune, a völkisch-nationalist lawyer who legally defended numerous members of the National Socialist, Landvolk, and national-revolutionary movements, was an intimate of Röhm’s and the chief legal adviser to the SA and SS; he was himself arrested and imprisoned on suspicion of involvement in the ‘Röhm Putsch.’

Röhm’s Rise (‘Der Fragebogen’, Section B):

…I went back to Berlin, not in order to watch the glory of the National-Socialist seizure of power, but because I wanted to talk to Rowohlt about my book, The Cadets. I’d been working at it all the time I was in Vienna. I had to, I had to give myself the counter-weight of Prussia. I’ve no idea how I ever managed to get it done. I’d sit over my manuscript in the evening, and outside the musicians would sing their sad songs… about how there’d be a Vienna and we’d be dead, there’d be girls and we’d be dead… and when I stopped writing towards dawn I could be sure that outside somebody would be singing about how one day it’ll all be over and about tombs and coffins… I had to have The Cadets as an antidote to the whole macabre atmosphere down there.

I went to Berlin by way of Munich, where I had to change trains. On Munich station I acquired a powerful escort of brown-shirts, headed by Ernst Röhm. He was going to Berlin, so I went with him. Röhm recognised me, though we had not met since August, 1922, shortly before I went to gaol.

“Where have you come from?” he asked, while his clanking escort gazed at me respectfully.

“France, Spain and Austria,” I replied smartly. He took me into his compartment and I admired the handsome overcoat he was wearing, and his brown silk shirt, and his perfectly tailored breeches.

“Yes,’ he said with satisfaction, “the days are over when we had to run about dressed like scarecrows.”

Röhm and his people were drunk with the assurance of victory. Later they became drunk on something else. Bottle after bottle was respectfully passed into the compartment with the remark: “For the chief of staff.” We knocked the necks off them and drank.

“You’ll be joining us, of course!” Röhm said. Continue reading

The Manifesto of the Black Front

The 1931 ‘action program’ adopted by Otto Strasser’s ‘Fighting Community of Revolutionary National Socialists’ for its Black Front project

On 2nd October, 1931, followers of Otto Strasser gathered at Castle Lauenstein in Upper Franconia for the 2nd Reich Congress of the Kampfgemeinschaft Revolutionärer Nationalsozialisten (Fighting Community of Revolutionary National Socialists, KGRNS). The KGRNS was a young movement, yet had already gone through a period of tumultuous upheaval; Strasser’s dabbling in the 1930 SA revolt (the ‘Stennes-putsch’) and his subsequent machinations with Freikorps leader Kapitän Hermann Ehrhardt had created chaos within his organization, resulting in a number of humiliating splits which had bled away many of his more radical followers. The 2nd Reich Congress was thus something of a regrouping, an attempt to formalize the KGRNS’s tactical position in the wake of ideological confusion and to set a clear course for the future. One outcome of the Congress was the official declaration of the ‘Black Front’ concept, with associated manifesto. The Black Front was intended to be a political coalition, an umbrella organization (naturally led by the KGRNS) of the various national-revolutionary movements in Germany who shared a common sense of identity and mission in their anti-capitalist, anti-parliamentarian, anti-communist, and anti-Hitlerian ideals. Delegates from the UNSKD, the Wehrwolfbund, the Bund Oberland, and the Bundische Reichschaft, as well as representatives from literary journals Die Tat and Widerstand, all signed up to the Black Front concept – in theory. In reality, most cooperation under the Black Front name never went much further than the writing of newspaper articles or the occasional joint meeting. Over time the KGRNS ended up appropriating the Black Front name for itself, although the basic essence of the original Manifesto, reproduced below, remained as a core ideological guideline for the organization. 

The Manifesto of the Black Front

The action program of the

“Fighting Community of Revolutionary National Socialists”

proclaimed at the 2nd Reich Congress at Castle Lauenstein,

2nd – 4th October, 1931.

Through tremendous crises the system of liberalism dies.

The liberal economic system, capitalism, is no longer able to safeguard the food, clothing, and habitation of the German people, as evidenced by the terrible suffering of the broad masses, the unemployment of the proletariat, and the destruction of the peasantry.

The liberal social and political order, the bourgeois class state, and parliamentary democracy, can no longer fulfill that organic union and uniform deployment of the strength of the German people which removes internal instability and increases external performance to the highest possible extent, by which alone the attainment and assertion of national liberty is possible.

The liberal rationalist and materialist conception of culture has torn from the life of German man the inner focus on life’s true meaning and has instead given birth to that restlessness, senselessness, and mood of despair which inevitably leads every community to self-destruction.

*

The basic law of the capitalist economic order is the “sanctity of private property”; the basic tenet of capitalist economic policy is the integration of the international world economy, crowned by the single gold standard. So long as these pillars of the capitalist economic system stand, so long will there be no change in Germany’s current plight!

The essence of today’s class system and of parliamentary democracy is that of the people’s artificial stratification based on the power of money, creating a selective system in which profession and vocation are in conflict with each other in 97 out of a hundred cases. This unnatural stratification creates ever-increasing tensions within the organism of the people, who are forced to focus all their energy externally, thus ensuring the inevitability of the condition of the nation’s bondage. Continue reading

Father Coughlin and the Power of Money

Reverend Charles E. Coughlin’s 1934 lecture on money, credit, and the corrupting power of the banks

The following is a transcript of a lecture first delivered by Reverend Charles E. Coughlin on December 30th, 1934, titled ‘Money is No Mystery.’ Coughlin in many ways was a pioneering figure in American history – one of the first true mass media figures, he laid the foundations for modern talk radio and demonstrated the enormous power of mass broadcast media. Father Coughlin’s radio program, operated out of his parish in Michigan, was at its height listened to by roughly 22% of the American population – possibly the largest audience any single figure has ever had in all history. Coughlin also headed a political movement, founded in 1934, named the National Union of Social Justice; through the NUSJ, his radio program, and his journal Social Justice, Coughlin propagated a massively popular, populist set of ideas consisting of a mixture of isolationism, American nationalism, anti-capitalism, anti-communism, and Christian values. Much of Coughlin’s appeal came from his often vicious critique of the American capitalist system, such critiques proving especially popular during the midst of the Depression and the controversial policies being pursued President Franklin Roosevelt. Coughlin saw in American capitalism, and particularly in its banking structure and treatment of money, many of the root causes of modern society’s ills. The lecture below is a typical example of Coughlin’s denunciation of the destructive financial system of the United States.

I

Since the year 1929 America has been in a state of transition. Slowly but certainly with every other civilized nation we have been passing from the age of modern capitalism into a new era of communism, of Fascism, of socialism or of Hitlerism. We, in America, have one choice, namely, to follow the course of one of these or else to construct a new system founded upon social justice. Still, withal, those who prospered most and produced least under the old system are battling fiercely to maintain their privileges and their functions of legislation.

Certainly, during this coming year and the years immediately following, we will witness the total dissolution of modern capitalism. It is advisedly that I use the adjective “modern,” because capitalism, as we knew it in the past twenty or thirty years, differed almost substantially from the capitalism which was originally conceived. Today it is more renowned for its vices than for its virtues.

Those who are fighting so relentlessly to preserve its poverty-breeding corpse refuse to face the pressing problem of squaring production with distribution. They are those who, during the coming years, will continue to oppose the restoration to Congress of its right to coin and regulate the value of money. They still believe that all wealth should be identified with gold: That is the basic thought behind the gold standard. They still believe that the debts of the farmer, of the merchant, of the municipality, of the state which were incurred through the operation of an insane credit inflation, of manufactured bookkeeping money, should be paid back to them in honest currency which does not exist.

They still labor under the delusion that the factory worker is so ignorant that he is willing to starve or, at least, recede to a lower standard of living, despite the plenitude of capital wealth which surrounds him – factories, fields, mines, forests – all of which are idle, because the banker controls the coinage of money and issues it on the same basis as he did before we underwent an unreal, psychological revaluation of our gold.

They still believe that the American people will become accustomed to bread lines, to forced idleness and to cut wages. Continue reading