Basic Features of the National Socialist Economic System

Cambridge economist C.W. Guillebaud’s 1939 analysis of the essential features of Hitlerian economic ideology

NSDAP - Hitler-BewegungObjective analysis of National Socialism is virtually impossible nowadays. The enduring hangover of the War, the popular use of ‘Nazi’ as a pejorative divorced from its original ideological meaning, the adoption of Hitler’s image and ideas as an easy shorthand for Ultimate Evil – these have all combined to ensure that peoples’ responses to the subject are inherently emotive, and that academics who do attempt a dispassionate assessment risk suffering the potentially career-ending accusation of “sympathy”. This is not a new phenomenon; a contemporary Canadian review of the 1939 book The Economic Recovery of Germany noted that its author, Cambridge University economics lecturer C.W. Guillebaud, had recently been accused by another reviewer of being an apologist for German policies over his book’s tone of unbiased critique. But the accusation did not spell doom for Guillebaud’s public image, as it would do now. In the same year as his book’s publication Guillebaud became a government advisor on economics issues, beginning a distinguished career in the public service which included many years on the Council of the Royal Economic Society and a seat on numerous industrial dispute tribunals and wage arbitration committees, where he came to develop a reputation as a pro-labour maverick. Guillebaud’s interest in industrial relations is probably what prompted his study of the economic system in Hitler’s Germany, rather than any covert sympathy for ‘Nazism’; his other works suggest a strong interest in social policy and modern forms of industrial arbitration, both areas in which NS Germany was experimenting with new, progressive models. The chapter from Guillebaud’s book which I have excerpted below is typical of his fair, balanced approach. It describes in detail the basic features of the economic system in Germany at the time, outlining its core ideological principles as well as its strengths and weaknesses, and does so in a manner which is remarkably impartial in comparison with writing on the same subject produced by authors today. The excerpted chapter is one of the best and most concise descriptions of Hitlerian economic policy during the 1933-39 period I have come across, and the fact the author does not feel the need to browbeat the reader with the Germans’ moral shortcomings every other sentence is remarkably refreshing. 

Some Basic Features
of the National Socialist Economic System
Chapter V of  ‘The Economic Recovery of Germany’
by C.W. Guillebaud

Reichsadler

This chapter is an attempt to sum up in a few words what would appear to be the salient characteristics of the German economic system as it took shape during the years 1933 to March 1938.

State Control Over Investment, the Money Market, the Rate of Interest, and the Foreign Exchanges

By the establishment of a rigid and highly effective control over the foreign exchanges the German economy has in a large measure, though by no means completely, been rendered independent of fluctuations in the outside world. Under these conditions external changes could alter the total volume of Germany’s foreign trade, but could not cause wide divergences to occur between the value of imports and exports taken as a whole.

Down to the end of 1937 it was in fact possible to preserve a favourable balance of trade and to redeem a considerable part of the foreign debt whose existence has been, and still is, so great a handicap to Germany’s freedom of movement in her commercial relations with foreign countries. As a further result of foreign exchange control the internal monetary and price structure has been divorced from world price movements and from the influence of gold. The export of capital also can be effectively held in check.1

Inside Germany the monetary system has been based on the general principle that the effective volume of money and credit in circulation should keep pace with the growth of production and the output of goods and services. Continue reading

Why Mosley Left the Labour Government

Extracts from Oswald Mosley’s 1930 speech on his resignation from the MacDonald government, published as a British Union pamphlet

Mosley_Punch_CartoonThe text I have transcribed below is taken from a British Union pamphlet titled Why Mosley Left the Labour Government, published sometime around 1938 (the actual pamphlet is undated, but an advert in it for Mosley’s Tomorrow We Live provides some hint as to the time of origin). The pamphlet actually consists of extracts of the speech Sir Oswald gave on 28 May, 1930, explaining his decision to resign from the MacDonald Labour government over the way his efforts to deliver policy recommendations on resolving the unemployment crisis (something he had been given responsibility for, as a Minister without portfolio) had been frustrated by his superiors and scuppered by the hesitancy of his own government. I debated with myself over whether to post the entire speech or just the truncated version in the pamphlet (the speech can be read in full on Hansard); in most circumstances I prefer to post the entirety of an article or speech where possible, as I dislike having content filtered for me by someone else’s conception of which parts they consider “important”. In this instance, however, because the entire speech can already be read for free if one has the energy to navigate the Hansard website, I decided that just posting the pamphlet version was enough. For one thing, it shows which sections of the speech British Union still found relevant enough to reproduce 8+ years after the event, something that is interesting in itself (Mosley’s worldview from Tory to Fabian to Fascist to Pan-European remained remarkably consistent). The speech when first delivered was met by wild cheering from the House of Commons, was hailed by newspapers as a “triumph”, and made Mosley a hero not only among the Labour backbenchers but with the younger generation even in the Liberal and Conservative parties. Under the circumstances it is perhaps understandable why Mosley tried to use the momentum of this growing notoriety as the springboard for a new political movement and career – his New Party (later to evolve into the BUF) would be founded in February 1931, with a reworked version of the memorandum Mosley had produced while in government as its programme.  

SIR OSWALD MOSLEY’S RESIGNATION SPEECH
on Relinquishing his Office in the Labour GovernmentLion_Unicorn

These extracts from Mosley’s famous speech contain the whole of his economic proposals. As all these suggestions are embodied in British Union policy to-day, this document entirely refutes the widely circulated charge of inconsistency against him. Administrative and financial details alone have been omitted, as these are now largely out of date, owing to changed circumstances. 

The complete text can be read in Hansard, Vol. 239, cols. 1348 to 1372

House of Commons, May 28th, 1930

Sir OSWALD MOSLEY: In the earlier stages of this debate to-day, to which I will return with the leave of the Committee, we have had from the Prime Minister an exposition of Government policy, and also some of the customary exchanges of debate from two great masters of that art. I do not propose to indulge in any form of dialectics, because I believe the purpose which this Committee desires can best be served if, as directly as possible, I proceed to the actual facts of the great administrative and economic issues which are involved.

The Prime Minister, in his speech, pointed out that a fact which none can deny, that world conditions have been vastly aggravated since the arrival in power of the present Government, and that no one can suggest that the Government are responsible for those conditions. None can deny that fact, but this I do submit, that the more serious the situation the greater the necessity for action by Government.

We must, above all, beware, as the world situation degenerates, that we do not make that situation an excuse for doing less rather than a spur for doing more. That is the only comment on the general situation that I would permit myself before coming to the actual issues involved.

General surveys of unemployment I have always distrusted, because they are liable to degenerate into generalities which lead us nowhere. If we are to discuss this matter with any relation to realities, we must master the actual, hard details of the administrative problem, and to that problem I desire immediately to proceed. Continue reading

‘The Commercial Absurdity of Financial Democracy’

Chapter V of William Joyce’s book on British National Socialism, ‘Twilight Over England’

Das_ist_England

William Joyce, ex-Propaganda Director of the British Union of Fascists and leader of the tiny National Socialist League, is more infamously known by his sobriquet ‘Lord Haw Haw’, a name given him by the British public in response to the jeering propaganda broadcasts he made to the United Kingdom on behalf of the German government during World War II. In 1939 Joyce, anticipating internment by the British government, fled to Germany with his wife, the Reich offering them asylum in exchange for English-language propaganda work. It was in 1940 that Joyce’s book ‘Twilight Over England’ was first published in both German and English. Intended in part for distribution to British prisoners-of-war, it is a striking book. Its cynical, informal, self-effacing tone is typical of Joyce’s writing and speaking style, and helps both disarm the reader’s defenses while seeking to inflame their sense of injustice. The book serves as an overview of UK history, politics, and economics from a National Socialist perspective, critiquing all three in service of the lambasting of the British government for its hypocrisy regarding Germany’s foreign policy and treatment of minority ethnic groups. The foundation of the book is Joyce’s passion for economic reform and issues of social justice – the book is redolent with the evisceration of Britain for its treatment of its poor, its disenfranchised, and its laboring industrial and agricultural workers. In chapters such as the fifth, ‘Finance’, which is reproduced in full below, Joyce contrasts the deficiencies of British capitalism with what he regards as the more socially conscious ideals of National Socialist economic ideology. 

In the last chapter, some account, however sketchy, was given of the deplorable economic condition into which the majority of British men and women had sunk in recent times. It must not be forgotten, however, that there was a rich and contented minority. Whereas the state of the masses of the people was unworthy of any civilized nation, above all unworthy of a nation which had such resources as England, there was in the land a ruling class which was probably more prosperous than any similar class in the world. Attached to this sacred caste was an “upper-middle-class” stratum which certainly had no good reason to complain. There were, in fact, two Englands, each ignorant of the other’s existence. If nine or ten people were crowded into a little damp basement in Hoxton Market, there were 550 persons in Britain whose personal wealth had passed the million mark.

The plain fact of the matter is that Jewish Law ruled in England. Those who merely produced wealth were the lowest caste. The path to splendour was the path of exchange. To make the soil yield up a few more turnips was to attract the highly suspicious attention of Government servants. To sit on the fattest rump that good living could provide and wait for foreign dividends to come in was the qualification for national approval and membership of the Order of Sacred Beasts. The soundest advice that a business-man could give to his son, unless destined for the Guards, would be: “Produce nothing, my boy — not even children. Buy something in the way of shares, if you can, and wait till you find some bloody fool who will pay you more than you gave for them. Also, join the Craft. Above all, do nothing extraordinary. Otherwise people won’t trust your judgement.” Continue reading

Work and Bread!

Presented by Gregor Strasser as a speech to the German Reichstag, May 10, 1932.
Arbeit_Freiheit_Brot

Gregor Strasser, who joined the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) sometime between 1921 and 1922, was one of the most significant, talented members of the Party. Considered second only to Hitler, he had a string of accomplishments to his name: he became SA Leader for Lower Bavaria in March 1923; Gauleiter of Lower Bavaria in March 1925; Reichspropagandaleitung [national Propaganda Leader] in September 1926; and Reichsorganisationsleiter [national Organisation Leader] in January 1928. Strasser additionally became a member of the Bavarian Landtag in April 1924, and was elected to the Reichstag as representative for Westphalia North in December 1924 (a seat he held until stepping down in March 1933).  Strasser was in addition one of the NSDAP’s most important spokesmen on economic issues, working closely with Dr. Otto Wagener, chairman of the NSDAP’s Economic Policy Department, and with Walther Funk, member of the Party’s Reich Economic Council. It was in this context that the following speech was made on May 10, 1932. Although never officially endorsed by Hitler, it was republished and distributed by the Party in article and pamphlet form and became the basis for the ‘Emergency Economic Programme’ propagated by the NSDAP as its statement of economic principles prior to the Reichstag elections of July 1932. The ‘Work and Bread!’ speech is regarded as perhaps Strasser’s most important – in it he clearly sets forth a vision of National Socialist anticapitalism, advocating autarchy, a full-employment program, and heavy government intervention in the economy. The speech received some acclamation at the time, generating interest from trade union leaders and being publicly praised by Chancellor Brüning. 

Emergency Decrees are the Only Recourse of the Present System!

The last time I spoke here in October 1930 I settled our accounts with the System, and on the basis of our electoral victory of September 1930 I announced the basic domestic and foreign policy principles of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. Since that time nothing has changed, nothing at all. The only new thing we have experienced since that time is the weapon of emergency decrees, which on the one hand reveal emergency and on the other hand decree emergency. But otherwise no new and above all no redeeming idea has emerged from the whole political development since that time. I see the reason for this in the fact that Germany’s ruling men have limited themselves to concentrating their entire political effort on the suppression and the exclusion from power of the national and social forces present in National Socialism; also in the fact that the government, like the debates in the German Reichstag on the few days in which it met, has always recognised but a single theme: the fight against us, and no longer a fight for the interests of the German people.

The entire energy of the government during the last election campaign, the whole manner of its propaganda with all its resources for influencing the people, was devoted to slandering us before the whole people and before the world. No mention was made of what the government had achieved itself in the interim.

The Reich Chancellor’s recent statement that a National Socialist takeover of the government would automatically entail chaos, inflation, and civil war is from the political standpoint the more dangerous because here in the Reichstag there is surely no one who doubts that the solution to the great German problems can never be attempted or found against our opposition or without our help.

The Rise of National Socialism

Despite the unprecedented resistance of all the people involved in the Brüning system and of all the men in government, the elections of recent times have brought about the incessant and irresistible rise of the movement. I think it is time for German officialdom to take off its party-shaded glasses and take a close look at where this rise comes from. Continue reading