Woman as National Socialist

A 1926 defense of women’s role in political life, by Austrian National Socialist activist Rita Marholz

On 25 November 1920, in a speech before the Czechoslovakian parliament, German National Socialist Workers’ Party (Deutsche Nationalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei, DNSAP) deputy Rudolf Jung declared, in response to an accusation of sexist conduct from a political opponent: “I would therefore like to explicitly state here that it was in no way my intention, as is evident from the full meaning of my speech, to insult women in general or any of the women here, or to suggest that I do not consider them to be equal. On the contrary. The turn of phrase which I chose was intended to give credit to the lady who spoke before me, not so much as a woman, but as an orator…. This should be self-evident to anyone who knows my party’s position on the question of women.” The “party position” Jung was referring to was section (h)2. of the DNSAP programme, which explicitly demanded “legal and political equality for women and further advancement of the Marriage Law.” This position set the DNSAP somewhat apart from its younger ‘brother-party’ (the NSDAP) across the border in Munich, whose programme offered no real stance on women’s issues beyond a mention of health care for mothers, and whose political culture was more overtly militant, masculine, and ‘conservative’ in nature; although the official position of the NSDAP on women was somewhat more complex than it is often given credit for, it was undeniably less progressive in regards to the ‘Frauenfrage’ (‘woman question’) than the older National Socialist parties in Austria and the Sudetenland. The original German Workers’ Party in Austria (Deutschen Arbeiterpartei in Österreich, DAPÖ), out of which the DNSAP had been reorganized following the end of the First World War, had featured women activists among its ranks from its first beginnings in 1904, and the DNSAP regularly ran women members as candidates in elections after the introduction of women’s suffrage in 1918, with a number even going on to win and to represent the party in municipal and provincial councils. This aspect of the DNSAP’s organizational culture was one of several challenged by the ascent of Adolf Hitler and the NSDAP in the early 1920s, particularly after the older National Socialist parties in Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland officially acknowledged Hitler as the supreme Führer of the NS movement in 1922 and subsequently came under increasing pressure to accept political directives issued from the more ‘rightist’ Hitler-party in Munich. The article translated below, written by activist Rita Marholz in 1926 and published in the Deutsche Arbeiter-Presse (the central party-organ of the Austrian DNSAP), presents a favorable perspective on the idea of women as National Socialist political activists. Marholz’s article can be seen as a defense of the more ‘traditional’ National Socialist perspective towards women – characterized by support for female equality and for women’s untrammeled participation in political life – in the face of the challenge posed by rising conservative elements among the movement. It is notable also for its ‘pro-worker’ language, such as its positive references to “proletarians” and to Social-Democratic politicians, a not uncommon characteristic of DNSAP publications. 

Woman as National Socialist
By Rita Marholz

First published 2 October, 19261 in DNSAP newspaper
Deutsche Arbeiter-Presse vol. 18, no.36

NS_Swastika

Women in political life! It sounds new, and yet it really isn’t. Only the historically illiterate or disinterested person who reads nothing and who never thinks holds the view that such a thing in our day would be an innovation. Even if women were not always in the foreground of political events, they have nonetheless often had considerable direct and indirect influence upon leading minds in politics, upon statesmen, kings, and high-ranking military officials. From the Greek Aspasia and the Byzantine Empresses, to the great English Queen and the Russian Tsarinas; from the mighty Marquise Pompadour and the Prussian Queen who went to plead with the Corsican conqueror for the oppressed Fatherland, to the national and municipal councilwomen of today; the one and the same path leads to the same exact goal: the exercise of political power, political influence, and political ambition. Yet motives were just as varied as methods and fields of activity. Elizabeth of England reigned as a true regent, borne along in all constitutional decisions by the spirit of her father, Henry VIII – i.e. by an audaciously masculine spirit – while the scepter of Catherine de’ Medici was guided by cruelty and bloodlust, especially towards her principal enemies, the Huguenots. Maria Theresa governed, which means she established reforms, waged wars with her royal neighbor, and involved herself in all of the important affairs of state alongside her chancellor and councillors. The Tsarina forged alliances; Queen Louise stood at the head of the German war party, wishing to see Prussia’s freedom secured by defending it with the sword. The refined but scheming spirit of the Pompadour wove the threads of French politics, though not for the benefit of the Bourbons and the French Volk, and it remains open to discussion how great her indirect share in the ensuing atrocities of the Revolution may have been, for as the mistress of the royal libertine she dominated him in the most unfavorable manner, both personally and politically; moreover, she squandered a great deal of money on her external people. Countess Dubarry, the “best friend” of Louis XV, unfortunately arrived too late… By contrast, the influence of the noble hetaira2 Aspasia on that renowned statesman of ancient Greece, Pericles, was the most advantageous imaginable. Thaïs, the lover of Alexander of Macedonia, appears to have influenced him in a heroic fashion. Antiquity recognizes both these female figures as heroines of the spirit, appropriate to the greatness of the ancient world. All of these women, as with men, practiced politics from different perspectives, dependent upon the circumstances necessitated by their country at the time. But for many, personal vanity and the pursuit of power played the greatest part in the influence which they enjoyed in political life, particularly when it came to imposing their opinions upon an influential statesman or king. Whether consort or courtesan – feminine beauty and devilry triumphed in particular cases, often enough to the ruin of a nation, a royal family, an individual man, etc. Empress Eugenie of France and Carlota of Mexico constitute striking world-historical examples of what one should not do in politics, in order not to invoke catastrophes of monstrous proportions. – A thirst for power and excessive ambition, these evil mainsprings of their actions led to a bitter end, including for themselves. Continue reading

Learning to Love the Third Reich

“Reich unity after three hundred years!” A 1933 article by trade-union leader Franz Joseph Furtwängler, extolling the achievements and possibilities of the Hitler government

In the endless debate over whether or not National Socialism can be considered a form of “real socialism,” the common narrative about the fate of Germany’s trade-unions in 1933 is frequently cited as evidence to the contrary. On 1 May 1933, the narrative goes, May Day was celebrated as a paid national holiday for the first time, with labour unions voluntarily participating in nationwide festivities; the very next day, however, the Hitler government’s true face was revealed, and the SA and police were sent out to forcibly crush the unions and throw their members into prison. While on a general level this narrative is essentially correct, it is also oversimplified: only certain unions were targeted on 2 May, only specific functionaries were taken into “protective custody,” union assets and memberships were expropriated (for incorporation into the German Labour Front) rather than the entire labour apparatus being “crushed” or dismantled, etc. What is most commonly omitted from the narrative is the fact that those trade-unions targeted (the ‘free’ or Social-Democratic unions) had already been actively collaborating with the Hitler government for some time. This was especially true of the General German Trade-Union Federation (Allgemeiner Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, ADGB), which with a membership of 4 million and a paid staff of 200,000 constituted the largest and most significant trade-union organization in Germany. Although linked to the Social-Democratic Party (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, SPD) by a variety of formal and informal ties, the ADGB was technically independent of the SPD and had been since 1919, possessing its own internal culture – heavily dominated by Social-Democracy’s reformist (right-leaning) tendency – and with a segment of its leadership even comprising a key faction within Social-Democracy’s neorevisionist (nationalist or ‘far right’) wing. Influenced by these qualities, as well as by Social-Democracy’s declining political influence and the increasing likelihood of a right-wing authoritarian government, the ADGB in 1932 had begun to further distance itself from the SPD and to establish surreptitious negotiations with the Papen and Schleicher governments, hoping in this way to protect its members and the rights won for them since 1918. These negotiations continued even after Hitler took power, with the ADGB leadership going so far as to declare itself “at the service of the new state” and actively involving itself in deliberations over the charter for a corporatist social structure. This conciliatory attitude was reflected in official trade-union publications like Die Arbeit and the Gewerkschafts-Zeitung, which adopted an increasingly nationalistic tone as 1933 wore on. The article translated below provides a rather striking example of this shift in attitude. Written by Franz Joseph Furtwängler, a member of the ADGB’s executive leadership, it is openly and remarkably adulatory towards the Hitler regime, with Furtwängler applauding the political order brought to Germany (including the dismantling of the party-system!) by the  NSDAP and offering the plaintive hope that the government would prove equally successful in the socio-economic sphere, while still recognizing the value and importance of the trade-union movement. Furtwängler, incidentally, was to be one of those arrested on 2 May, and would later involve himself in resistance activities; whether the NS government could have retained his loyalty and support by way of different actions is an interesting hypothetical.

Reich Unity After Three Hundred Years!
By F.J. Furtwängler
1
First published 22 April, 1933 in trade-union journal
Gewerkschafts-Zeitung vol. 43, no.16

I.

The fundamental, profound, and – we hope – pioneering beginnings of a transformation in the body politic and in the structure of the Reich have emerged in recent weeks.

Let us recall how, at the end of the previous year, under the general interregnum of Chancellor von Schleicher, tentative efforts were made to find organically grown and consolidated forces for the shaping of state and economy, for resolving our intolerable situation, outside of the traditional party-factions conditioned by the circumstances of the Bismarckian Reich.2 Let us also recall the universal opposition of the [parliamentary] factional prelates, one of whom, the prominent Herr Ludwig Kaas,3 cast a witty remark among the electoral throng at the time about “ideological parties”4 being absolutely beneficial to the German character and hence needing to be preserved, because the trading license of their “worldview” offered the guarantee, so to speak, that they would solve contemporary problems for the benefit of the German Volk.

In fact, for years the parliamentary parties have prolonged life for themselves by forgoing their exercise of power in favor of the government’s expansive manipulation of the emergency clauses of the constitution, and finally by taking advantage of Communist ‘blocking majorities’ in parliament, irrespective of their ‘worldview’ – something utterly unthinkable in countries with an organic rather than a mechanical democracy. At the same time, the power and authority of the Reich President inevitably expanded until, in the eyes of the people, he acquired the image of an elective Kaiser.

Officially, of course, we remained “upon the grounds of the constitution,” so that by the end only the less erudite among the Volk felt the changing times in their bones, so to speak, much like a rheumatic feels the change in the weather, while the responsible ideological political administrations were neither conscious of the change nor understood what needed to be done. Continue reading

Fascists At Work

Speeches and skirmishes: a night’s work for an average British Blackshirt, as recounted by BUF journalist William ‘Lucifer’ Allen

To be a fascist in interwar Britain could be hazardous. Unity Mitford was once assaulted by a crowd of communists in Hyde Park after she stopped to listen to a public speech; incensed over the swastika badge affixed to her lapel, they attempted to beat her and throw her into the Serpentine. Jeffrey Hamm (who became Mosley’s personal secretary and a Union Movement leader after WWII) was likewise once almost killed by a mob when he came across a communist demonstration and, perhaps rather unwisely, began asking pointed public questions of the speaker. Fascists courageous enough to speak or march in public would frequently find themselves the target of bricks, bottles, paving stones, and knives, and more than a few ended up in hospital or worse. The contention from fascists themselves, as well as from some historians, is that the majority of ‘fascist violence’ was actually instigated by anti-fascist activists, rather than directly perpetrated by groups like the British Union of Fascists (BUF) against others unprovoked. Violence was not an unknown feature of left-wing politics in the UK at the time, with the BUF’s uniformed military culture arguably arising (at least in part) in response to it; Mosely’s pre-fascist movement, the New Party (an offshoot of Independent Labour), had from its very first meeting been subjected to violent disruptions by socialist demonstrators incensed over Mosley’s alleged betrayal of the Labour Party, inspiring the perception among Nupa leaders (many of whom later ended up in the BUF) that “the good old English fist” was an essential element for political survival. Regardless of who was or was not most at fault for skirmishes between fascists and their opponents, there is evidence enough that fascists could also give as good as they got at times. BUF divisions like the infamous ‘I’ Squad are alleged to have deliberately instigated punch-ups at fascist rallies on several occasions, and there are even stories of BUF members smashing up meetings of rival organizations like Arnold Leese’s Imperial Fascist League. The sense of camaraderie and mission inherent in being part of a uniformed organization beset by enemies on all sides certainly seems to have attracted many adventurous young men to the fascist ranks, perhaps almost as much as the BUF creed of patriotism and a future Corporate State. All of these elements can be seen bound up in the article below, originally published in an August 1933 edition of BUF newspaper The Blackshirt. Written by BUF writer William Allen under the pen-name ‘Lucifer’, the article provides an account of a BUF meeting and street-fight from a pro-fascist perspective, demonstrating to its readers quite how dangerous an average night’s ‘work’ could be for a Blackshirt activist and how much risk there was inherent in proselytizing for the cause of a corporatist British Empire. Despite the author’s stated intentions otherwise, that sense of risk and adventure does also come across as being somewhat part of the appeal, a source of excitement and pride for those looking to save Britain and to box the nose of the “Communist menace” in the process.

When Day is Done:
Fascists Start Work
William ‘Lucifer’ Allen
From ‘The Blackshirt’, 5 August, 1933

Business is over for the day and the office has begun the usual animated discussion of the best way of spending the evening. The cashier is hurrying off for a game of golf, the book-keeper is going to play tennis, the shipping clerk is taking his girl to the cinema, and the office boy is licking stamps at record speed to be in time for “the dogs.” Only young Brown, with the Fascist badge pinned to the lapel of his jacket, does not seem interested in the great problem of how best to amuse oneself. He is methodically packing up his things and getting ready to report for duty.

In a few minutes he is saluting the sentry at H.Q.; changes quickly into his black shirt and is snatching a meal down in the canteen before the evening’s duties begin. Before long an officer comes clattering down the stairs calling for volunteers to steward a meeting, and Brown, bolting down the rest of his sandwiches, hurries upstairs to join the others in one of the vans. To-night it is the old open Morris van, which has been through more trouble and has seen more fighting than any one member in the movement.

Nobody knows how often the driver’s windows have been broken, dents of stones and gashes of sticks and other weapons scar her sides, there is not much paint left on her; but we all love the old Morris, and some day there will be an honoured place for her in the permanent Fascist Exhibition.

A Mixed Reception

To-night she is pushing her ugly nose through the West End, and the Blackshirts aboard are getting rather a mixed reception from the crowded pavements. Here and there are dark glowering faces, hostile eyes, muttering voices. Here it is that our paper sellers have been brutally attacked and injured. Continue reading

National Socialists Against Capitalism

“Down with the slavery of capitalism!” Articles by Gregor Strasser, Rudolf Jung, Otto Strasser, Joseph Goebbels, and Alfred Krebs on the “malignant, materialist spirit of capitalism”

The question of National Socialism’s exact relationship with socialism is a contentious one. It is also a longstanding one. In 1911, Austrian Social-Democrat Julius Deutsch was already asserting that the “deutschsozial” ideology professed by the Austro-Hungarian German Workers’ Party was merely a propagandistic smokescreen covering strikebreaking, embezzlement, and clandestine funding from “the dirtiest, most exploitative” employers. Deutsch’s arguments are still commonplace today, in one form or another – the assertion that any socialistic elements in National Socialism (right down to the name) were simply part of a premeditated rhetorical trick used to fool gullible workers into serving reactionary interests has changed little over the past century, with actions such as the NSDAP’s treatment of Germany’s unions in 1933 or its privatization of certain industries put forward as evidence for National Socialism’s underlying capitalist nature. By contrast, there are others who like to claim as close a relationship between Marxism and ‘Nazism’ as possible, alleging that the latter grew directly out of the former and that the two share the same basic ideological precepts – usually these allegations come from conservatives, presented as part of an attempt to tar the modern Left with the brush of Hitler and the Holocaust. The position of many National Socialists themselves was that their movement comprised a legitimate (indeed the most legitimate) branch of Germany’s historical socialist tradition, representing the most vital aspect of the broader ‘national wing’ of German socialism. NS theoretician Rudolf Jung makes this argument directly in his ideological work Der nationale Sozialismus when he observes that, “Marxists constantly maintain that there is only one form of socialism, the Marxist, and that everything else is mere fraud and deception… [but] socialism has always existed, both before Marxism and alongside it… [Marxists] represent only one of socialism’s orientations, the avowedly Jewish one.” National Socialism’s origins in the Austrian labor movement, its professed commitment to far-reaching economic reform (profit-sharing, land reform, nationalization of trusts, greater economic equality), its hostility towards the traditional Right, and its seemingly earnest efforts to appeal to the German worker were all taken at face value by many within the movement, viewed as evidence that they were affiliated with a revolutionary ideal which stood against the capitalist system and which sought to establish in its place a new form of truly German Socialism. The five articles translated below comprise a general cross-section of views from representatives of the ‘left wing’ of the National Socialist movement, with each article representing an attempt by its author to address the issue of capitalism from a National Socialist perspective: to describe its deficiencies, identify its driving forces, and to present the National Socialist economic worldview as an authentic and distinct alternative. Theoretical argumentation of this type was not at all uncommon within National Socialist propaganda and publications, which placed a great deal of emphasis on trying to outline a coherent anticapitalist economic doctrine. Whether or not such formulations are convincing ultimately depends upon one’s own personal beliefs and biases, but there is little doubt that the sentiments expressed here were taken very seriously by many within the NSDAP, who professed to be fighting for a Germany which was to be equally as socialist as it was nationalist.

The Slave-Market of Capitalism
By Gregor Strasser
First published 23 August, 1926

NS_Swastika

This article was translated from the 2nd edition of Gregor Strasser’s book Kampf um Deutschland (1932), a collection of speeches and essays by Strasser which he felt best demonstrated “the directness and the uncompromising nature of our struggle.” Strasser gives no indication in his book where this article originally appeared, but considering its intended audience (workers) and its largely polemical style, a likely answer would be his newspaper Der nationale Sozialist or one of its regional editions, which were intended for a more ‘general’ readership than were some of the NSDAP’s theoretical publications. It represents probably the most overtly propagandistic of the five articles included here, luridly describing the symptoms of capitalism without offering much in-depth analysis. – Bogumil

“Long live freedom! Long live Germany! Long live the accomplishments of the Revolution!” Are you familiar with these cries, German worker? Do you not recognize them from your newspapers, which – particularly in these days of so-called “constitutional celebration”1 – print them in the largest type, in order that they might rouse you and rally you like the sound of fanfare?

Yes indeed, in the comfortable chambers of the Jewish gentlemen editors, in the large rooms of your trade-union bigwigs – there is the environment right for dispensing such slogans, there is it so easy to speak of democracy and freedom, and there are the accomplishments of the Revolution demonstrated so vividly by the occupants.

Yet I wish to show you another picture, a picture which most of you already know, which you are aware of through shameful experience, which you know from fearful apprehension: the objective evidence of unemployment! – There they stand in their hundreds and thousands, German women and men in wretched, tattered garments, pale, haggard, hungry, torpid, hateful, tormented; they stand in winding queues, hour after hour, only to hear the bleak answer “No” from across a cold counter before taking delivery of a paltry handout, too little to live on and too much to starve on. There they stand, members of every age group, of every profession, in every stage of physical and mental distress, and want for nothing but work, nothing but a meagre income in order to be able to buy bread for themselves and for their children at home, want for nothing but employment in order to be able to rid themselves of the ghastly soul- and body-crushing hardship of months and years of forced inactivity – ah, they are so tired, so deathly tired, so weary and worn down to the bone, that they no longer even think at all of finding a high wage, a comfortable occupation; they no longer even think of themselves as human beings, as whole, complete human beings who have an inalienable right to live and to let their children live, to have happiness and sunshine and to bestow happiness and sunshine upon their children; instead they want for nothing but work, nothing but meagre earnings and to finally attain employment again – something which they cannot find! This is a slave-market a thousand times worse than those markets of antiquity, of barbarism, for there every slave found work, every slave had bread and clothing and lodging for himself and for his family, he was an object of value for his master – but here he can keel over without anyone giving a damn for him, here his family can starve and live in holes in the ground – and all of this in the name of freedom, all of this in the name of democracy, all of this under the flag of the accomplishments of the Revolution!! Continue reading