The Programme of the NSDAP

Content and context of the 1920 basic programme of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, drafted by Adolf Hitler and Anton Drexler

So far, when transcribing or translating material for this blog, my general rule has been to try and focus on texts which aren’t otherwise widely-available or well-known, at least in English. Occasionally, however, there is a need to make exceptions. Over the past couple of years I have been involved in tracking down as many National Socialist political programmes as I can find – it has always interested me that National Socialism was in fact a fairly broad movement, with a number of National Socialist parties actually existing before or alongside the more well-known NSDAP. As a result I’ve made an effort of seeking out and translating the programmes of these various groups, with one of my goals for this blog being that it should serve as a repository for these programmes and manifestos as I come across them. In order for the blog to be as complete a repository as possible, however, this does require that I also host a document which it is otherwise very easy to find online already: the 25-point “basic programme” of the NSDAP. One detriment which I have discovered in the wide availability of the NSDAP party programme, at least, is that many of the available translations seem almost deliberately inaccurate. Point 17 of the programme in particular is frequently translated rather oddly, with the party’s call for the elimination of ground-rent (“Abschaffung des Bodenzinses,” lit. “abolition of land-interest”) often incorrectly rendered as a demand for a ban on “taxes on land.” Anybody who has read Rudolf Jung’s book on NS ideology, which covers the subject of ground-rent fairly extensively, would know that this was not what National Socialists meant when discussing its abolition – they were not calling for an end to taxation on land, but for the elimination of a particular form of unearned income (ground-rent is the rent payable on ‘raw land’ to landholders; National Socialists believed it should devolve to the community, since its value was driven by the community’s “collective work”). My hope is that my translation of the programme, on this point and on others, will at least help clear up some common misunderstandings and inaccuracies. Alongside it, and in order to make this update a little more interesting to those already familiar with the 25 Points, I have included a number of other short, related documents, namely a couple of articles and a letter from the period, as well as two short excerpts from National Socialist publications (one pro-Hitler, one anti-Hitler) from the 1930s, all of which discuss the programme to varying degrees and which should help provide a little historical flavor to how it was received within the movement initially and in retrospect a decade later.

Basic Programme of the National Socialist
German Workers’ Party

NS_Swastika

The German Workers’ Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, DAP), after its founding on 5 January, 1919, was for many months a party without a programme. A set of ideological Guidelines had been drafted by Anton Drexler and read out at the DAP’s first meeting in the Fürstenfelder Hof, but this short document was regarded by early party members as inadequate, as a simple stopgap outline for the party pending the drafting of a proper, detailed programme. After Adolf Hitler joined the party in October his talents as a propagandist saw him swiftly inducted into the DAP’s leadership committee, and at a party meeting on 16 November the decision was made to set up a commission for drafting a proper programme in which Hitler (alongside Drexler, Karl Harrer, Gottfried Feder, and Dr. Paul Tafel) was to be involved. In actuality the programme which was eventually produced for the party appears to have largely been the work of Hitler and Drexler alone, composed by the two men over several “long nights together in the workers’ canteen at Burghausenerstrasse 6,” as Drexler recalled many years later. Feder is often suggested as a possible co-author, although there appears to be no direct evidence for this beyond the inclusion of some of his theories (of which Hitler and Drexler were already very familiar) within the document’s economic proposals. The new programme was first presented to the public on 24 February, 1920, at a tumultuous meeting of over 2,000 people at the Hofbräuhauskeller tavern in Munich. Hitler’s reading of the programme, point by point, above the yells and heckles of Communists and Social-Democrats dispersed among the crowd, was an event which acquired legendary status within the National Socialist movement over the following years. – Bogumil

The programme of the German Workers’ Party1 is a programme of its time. Its leaders have no intention, once the aims laid out in the programme have been achieved, of drawing up new ones solely for the purpose of facilitating the continued existence of the party by artificially increasing the discontent of the masses.

1. We demand the union of all Germans, on the basis of the self-determination of peoples, within a Greater Germany.

2. We demand equal rights for the German Volk vis-à-vis other nations, and the revocation of the peace treaties of Versailles and St. Germain.

3. We demand land and soil (colonies) in order to feed our people and to settle our surplus population.

4. Only he who is a folk-comrade can be a citizen of the state. Only those who are of German blood, regardless of creed, can be a folk-comrade. Accordingly, no Jew can be a folk-comrade.

5. Whoever is not a citizen shall only be able to live in Germany as a guest, and must be subject to legislation relating to foreigners.

6. The right to determine the leadership and laws of the state shall belong to citizens of the state alone. We demand therefore that every public office, no matter of what type, whether in Reich, province, or municipality, may only be held by citizens.

We oppose the corrupting parliamentary custom of filling posts solely according to party considerations and without consideration for character or ability. Continue reading

Rudolf Jung’s “National Socialism”

The “Das Kapital” of National Socialism… kind of

Slightly over a year ago, I began work on translation of Rudolf Jung’s 1922 work National Socialism: Its Foundations, Development, and Goals, the first book which sought to offer a full, systematic exposition of the entire breadth of the National Socialist ideological worldview. I can now announce that the translation is complete – it can be downloaded directly from WordPress using this link: Jung – National Socialism – Its Foundations, Development, and Goals (2nd ed., 1922)

Alternatively, I’ve also uploaded a copy for access via the Internet Archive.

One of the first articles I ever posted on this blog was a profile of Jung, so I won’t go into too much detail about his personal background here. People who are interested in knowing more about Jung’s life can read that article, or they can read the introduction I included within the translation. The book itself is significant for a number of reasons. Primarily this is because, as mentioned, it constituted the first genuine attempt by a member of the National Socialist movement to actually set out the theoretical aspects of National Socialist doctrine on any kind of comprehensive, intellectual level. Articles or pamphlets had been written on NS ideology in the past, but nothing of the range or scope (or length) of Jung’s book. Jung’s ambition was to be the ‘Karl Marx’ of National Socialism, and his stated hope to those who knew him was that his book would serve as the movement’s Das Kapital. Some historians tend to be fairly dismissive of this aspiration, claiming that Jung’s book is intellectually shallow in comparison with Marx’s works. While it’s true that Jung’s book isn’t on the same level as Kapital (for one thing, Kapital comprises three pretty dense volumes of critique and theory – National Socialism is a pamphlet by comparison), I don’t think the dismissive attitude affected by some writers is really warranted. There are interesting historical arguments in National Socialism, some thought-provoking analyses of capitalist economics and property relations (a good chunk of the book is focused on outlining the bases of NS economic theory, particularly issues relating to land ownership), and Jung’s book is (at least in my opinion) far more readable than Marx’s. The intellectual foundations of Jung’s work are solid enough for their purpose, even if they don’t have quite the grandeur that the author may have hoped for or intended. In any event, now that the book is available in English, readers will be able to make such assessments for themselves. Continue reading

The Conversion of “Comrade” Müller

“I probably will never be a real National Socialist, but…” A 1935 example of National Socialist ‘proletarian fiction’ by Labor Front writer Walter Dach

One of the many innovations which the early socialist movement developed in the field of propaganda was the concept of ‘proletarian literature.’ Proletarian literature constituted writing directly aimed at appealing to a working-class audience and at conveying socialist ideology to them through entertainment. Usually published as a novel or as a serialized story in a workers’ newspaper, proletarian literature was written in a popular, accessible style, and would typically focus on presenting readers with characters and situations they could relate to: working-class people living working-class lives and experiencing similar joys and frustrations to their own. This format’s efficacy in terms of communicating ideological principles and talking-points was notable, and proletarian literature was one of the many forms of socialist technique which the National Socialists in Germany and Austria incorporated into their own political propaganda work. Proletarian stories were not uncommon within National Socialist publications during the movement’s ‘years of struggle’ before 1933, and they were a regular feature in Goebbels’s daily Der Angriff in particular, which was specifically targeted towards a working-class audience. Proletarian fiction continued to be employed by the NSDAP after it came into power, with the vast resources of the German Labor Front (DAF) aiding in the publishing and dissemination of labor-themed stories and novels which it was hoped would help win over the workers to the ‘New Germany’ into which many of them had been somewhat reluctantly thrust. The story excerpt below is one such example. The author, Walter Dach, was employed by the ‘Strength Through Joy’ organization (an arm of the DAF) to write National Socialist-themed proletarian literature aimed at propagating National Socialist ideals about the ‘dignity of labor’ and the ‘ideal worker’ among the German working-classes. This particular story was excerpted from a 1935 collection by Dach entitled Volksgenosse Müller II: Erzählungen der Arbeit (‘Folk-Comrade Müller II: Labor Stories’), and includes a trope common to National Socialist fiction – the simple, noble-hearted German worker (‘Comrade Müller’), whose deep-rooted love of Volk and Fatherland causes him to rise above his conditioned sympathy for Marxism or Bolshevism and to embrace Germany (as well as Hiter and National Socialism) instead. This translation is not by myself, but comes from George L. Mosse’s book Nazi Culture; I have not so far been able to find an original copy of Dach’s book, so I am unsure whether this excerpt represents the story in its entirety or is merely a fragment. 

The Conversion of “Comrade” Müller
Walter Dach

“I must leave again right away,” Müller said quickly, after he had swept up his boys, all three of them, in the circle of his mighty arms, the while shouting “Loafers! Vagabonds!” and, in accordance with a long-established custom, carried them out of the kitchen and threw them onto the beds. The youngest, a six-year-old, enjoyed it most, but all three roared and bellowed like lions.

“Must you go out again?” Müller’s wife asked with a touch of apprehension. She knew that something was gnawing at him and boiling inside him. He was a regular fanatic in everything he did, and on occasion he easily became thoughtless. The cause of Labor seemed definitely lost; it had been drilled into him for a generation, so that he had to believe it now. But what wholly confused him was that he had no evidence for it. “Hitler is a slave of the bourgeoisie!” they had shouted for many years at political meetings. And now they saw how captains of industry and banker-princes had to ask this Hitler for favors.

“And they will certainly take him in!” Müller had tried to tell himself.

They want to. Could be. But will he permit himself to be taken in? That is the question. Frau Müller had never been particularly interested in politics. But this much she understood (in fact, she felt it): Hitler wants the best for the worker; one can trust him. He has himself stood on a scaffold as a simple worker, and he knows what’s in the poor man’s heart.

“He will forget, just like all the other big shots we’ve had before,” grumbled Müller.

“I don’t believe that,” said his wife. “The man lives so simply, you can see that by his clothes. Of course, time will tell. By the way, there’s a letter from the Association of the Saarlanders… about the plebiscite.”1 Continue reading

Capitalist Power and German Socialism

The völkisch-radical German Socialist Party on capitalism, right-wingers, and the power of money

The German Socialist Party (Deutschsozialistische Partei, DSP) is largely forgotten now, but for a brief period in history it was the pre-eminent National Socialist party within the German Republic. The party’s guiding light was Düsseldorf engineer Alfred Brunner, a Thule Society member with a determination to found a völkisch-socialist movement which could rescue Germany from its post-War mire. In December 1918 Brunner’s draft programme outline for such a movement was published. Völkisch activists consequently heeded Brunner’s call and began founding their own independent German Socialist working-groups and party cells, and by 1919 there were German Socialist organizations in Düsseldorf, Kiel, Frankfurt, Dresden, Nuremberg, and Munich. Although ideologically extremely similar to the NSDAP (something recognized by both groups), the DSP’s organizational beginnings made it a very different party from the outset. Because of the way it had been founded, the DSP early on had a much broader base than the NSDAP, which did not establish a chapter outside Munich until April 1920. By contrast, by the time the DSP held its first official convention to bring all the independent German Socialist groups under one national organization (also in April 1920), there numbered about 35 German Socialist local chapters across Germany with a combined total of around 2,000 members. Although this appeared impressive in comparison to the NSDAP, the DSP did not actually have the resources to manage a national party and many of the local groups were heavily under-resourced, resulting in gradual stagnation and inactivity. This hindered the DSP’s central tactical focus on electioneering and parliamentary work; unlike the still-revolutionary NSDAP, the DSP sought a “legal” dismantling of the existing system through “reformist-evolutionary” methods. A side-effect of this parliamentary orientation was that the DSP put far more emphasis on issuing programmatic resolutions and debating policy proposals than it did on active organization and propaganda. Although this approach ultimately proved ineffective and harmed the party’s dynamism, it did result in the publication of a number of distinctive theoretical documents, such as the short leaflet translated below. This leaflet, titled “Capitalist Power” (Kapitalistische Macht), is undated, but if I had to guess I would say that it was probably released in 1920 for the June Reichstag election (the DSP received a mere ~7,000 votes nationwide, or 0.03%). It is an interesting little document, with its anti-capitalist rhetoric and its strong attacks on the “right,” and helps to illustrate why DSP members considered themselves the “left-wing” of the völkisch movement.

Capitalist Power
An undated flyer from the German Socialist Party

In our publications we often discuss the power of capitalism – which we understand above all to mean the overriding predominance of loan-capitalism – as against working capital,1 which we German Socialists acknowledge, in a controlled and restricted form, within an economy built upon a purely German foundation.

But that even this form of capital, under today’s conditions, holds a power which detracts from Rightness and Truth, is shown by the modern parties of the right who, on the basis of an intrinsically and thoroughly capitalist programme, are able to bind hundreds of thousands of people to themselves, people who are suffering as a result of capitalism and the capital of today.

And that they can do this is purely because both these parties2 possess enough money to enable the press and their public speakers to socially disguise their programmes and to strike an anti-Semitic tone, a tone which becomes all the livelier the closer they draw to the elections.

In doing so, these parties do not possess a single, fundamental, sweeping demand which would bring about an alleviation of the social situation and a liberation from the pressure of capitalism! Continue reading