The Socialists Leave the NSDAP!

Otto Strasser’s July 4, 1930 announcement of his critical break with Hitler and his resignation from the NSDAP

strassmeme

On 4 July 1930 a startling headline greeted readers of the Berlin daily Der Nationale Sozialist: “The Socialists Leave the NSDAP!” The article, written by prominent Party-radical Dr. Otto Strasser and co-signed by his most loyal activist allies, outlined in detail their collective dissatisfaction with the development of NSDAP’s tactics & ideology and the reasoning behind their noisy resignation from the Party. Their conflict had been brewing almost from Strasser’s first entry into the Party in 1925. A former Social-Democrat, Otto was a maverick from the start, being a key player in the 1926 attempt to introduce a new party programme and to put limitations on Hitler’s authority, as well as an open, bitter critic of the Party’s abandonment of its ‘urban line’ strategy after the failure to win over proletarian voters in the 1928 elections. His publication of another proposed radical programme (‘The 14 Theses of the German Revolution’) on the eve of the Reichsparteitag in late July 1929 was viewed as further provocation, as were the numerous subsequent critical articles he wrote directed against Hitler or the Party’s electoral strategy. The straw that broke the camel’s back, however, was far more prosaic – Otto’s decision in March 1930 to publish a new Berlin paper, Der Nationale Sozialist, directly against Hitler’s orders and in open competition with Goebbels’s Berlin tabloid Der Angriff. An infuriated Goebbels demanded Hitler intercede, and this was the beginning of the end. After a failed attempt at rapprochement by Hitler at the Hotel Sanssouci, the Führer’s official order finally went out on June 30 demanding the remaining rebels’ expulsion. Otto hoped that his published riposte, the translated article below, would inspire all those dissatisfied with the Party to join he and his followers in their exodus from the NSDAP. He was to be sorely disappointed. About 5000 NSDAP members at maximum followed Otto into the political wilderness, the most significant recruits being several contingents of Hitler Youth and some of the more radical local organizers. No prominent Gauleiter or SA-leader threw in his lot with the rebels and even Gregor turned his back on his brother (the two would not speak again until 1933). Otto’s own Kampfzeit, his ‘years of struggle’, had now officially begun.

The Socialists Leave the NSDAP!
Dr. Otto Strasser

First published in Der Nationale Sozialist, July 4, 1930

Readers, party-comrades, friends! For months we have been following the development of the NSDAP with deep concern, and with growing apprehension have been forced to note how, more and more frequently and in ever more critical matters, the Party has violated the Idea1 of National Socialism.

On numerous issues of foreign policy, domestic policy and, above all, economic policy, the Party adopted a position that became increasingly difficult to reconcile with the 25 Points which we viewed as the exclusive programme of the Party; more difficult still was the impression of the Party’s increasing bourgeoisification, of a precedence for tactical considerations over principles, and the alarming observation of a rapidly advancing bossification2 of the Party-apparatus, which thus became more and more an end in itself for the movement and set its own interests higher than the programmatic demands of the Idea.

We conceived and still conceive of National Socialism as a consciously anti-imperialist movement, whose nationalism restricts itself to the preservation and safeguarding of the life and growth of the German nation without any tendencies towards domination over other peoples and countries. For us, therefore, the rejection of the interventionist war prosecuted against Russia by international capitalism and by Western imperialism was and is a natural demand, ensuing as much from our Idea as from the necessities of a German foreign policy. We felt therefore that the attitude of the Party-leadership, which was becoming ever more open to interventionist war, was contradictory to the Idea and detrimental to the requirements of a German foreign policy. Continue reading

Visions of National Socialist Democracy, Part VI: Rosenberg

An excerpt from Alfred Rosenberg’s 1946 political testament, describing a form of multiparty National Socialist democracy

Rosenberg

On the face of things Alfred Rosenberg might not be considered a typical example of heterodox political thought. Commonly regarded as the theoretician and ‘political philosopher’ of the Hitlerian National Socialist movement, Rosenberg was a deeply ideological man whose worldview and attitudes could be perceived as rigid even by his colleagues and contemporaries within the NSDAP – certainly the Allied authorities at Nuremberg regarded him as a hidebound fanatic, and he was charged as a war criminal. Yet Rosenberg exhibited his own independent streak at times, particularly in his position as Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories and most especially in his post-War Memoirs (published in German as Letzte Aufzeichnungen), written over the course of 1945-1946 while imprisoned as a defendant at the Nuremberg Trials. In his Memoirs Rosenberg is remarkably candid about the faults and failings of the Third Reich and the NSDAP. While he consistently defends National Socialism as a great and noble ideal, he also argues that its misuse and demoralization led Germany to ruin – whether through the excesses and overwhelming reach of the SS police state; the abuse of the justice system; the all-powerful role of the Party; and even the actions of his Führer Adolf Hitler, who Rosenberg contends was a great man undone by hubris. One of the most interesting of these sections is near the book’s conclusion, where Rosenberg criticizes the Reich’s over-authoritarian political system; argues that Hitler’s role as dictatorial Führer was originally intended only as a temporary measure; and sketches out an ideal, democratic, multiparty National Socialist system which he (rather unrealistically) seems to be suggesting would be suitable for Germany once freed from its present state of defeat and Allied occupation. This section of Rosenberg’s Memoirs is reproduced below, from the abridged Ostara Publications translation. I have made some minor revisions to the text to add several untranslated sections from the original German edition. 

My Political Testament

Only Hitler Could be Supreme Leader: Next in Line Would Have to Have Been Elected

The leadership of Hitler was the necessary result of a great national awakening, the Führer state an organically sound re-creation of the idea of the Reich.

Leadership is as different from rulership as it is from chaos. Tyrant and masses belong together just as much as do leader and follower. The two are possible only if they are paired, and are held together in a common bond of duty.

The ever greater power given Hitler was a temporary exception, permissible only after a fourteen-year-long test. This was not one of the goals of the National Socialist idea of state.

The first leader had to come into power as Hitler did. All others were to be elected to serve only for a limited period of time.

Thus it was provided, though no Wahlgremium [electoral college] was founded. Before the Ordensrat [Order Council] of sixty-one men from all walks of life, anyone could, and would have to, speak confidently and freely.

Before it every minister would have to defend his measures. It was the National Socialist plan to find a strong personality for every given task, and to give that individual all the authority he needed.

Adolf Hitler later broke this rule which he himself had made when, to all practical intents and purposes, he put the chief of police over the minister for the interior, when he allowed special appointees in ever increasing numbers to break into fields of activity that had been circumscribed by elections, and when he permitted several distinct functions to be concentrated in a single new office. Naturally, these may have been emergency measures, justified in times of revolution and war; but they should never be tolerated as permanent practices. Continue reading

Paetel and the Programme of the Social-Revolutionary Left of the NSDAP

A revised, social-revolutionary draft programme for the NSDAP, written by Karl Otto Paetel and supporters in late 19292401 - Copy

Karl Otto Paetel is most well-known today for his 1933 National Bolshevist Manifesto. The Manifesto was written in a period when Paetel was a leader of the ‘Group of Social-Revolutionary Nationalists’ (GSRN), an organization which, inspired by the Communist Party of Germay’s (KPD) 1930 ‘national-communist’ programme and its nationalist-oriented propaganda journals like Aufbruch, centered much of its activism on encouraging nationalists to forge links with the revolutionary Left. The GSRN’s heavily pro-communist orientation in part stemmed from earlier, unsuccessful attempts by Paetel to reform the National Socialist movement. Before the GSRN was founded on Ascension Day, 1930, Paetel was involved in an informal grouping called the ‘Young Front Working Circle’. While still focused on promoting cooperation between left and right, the Young Front at the time regarded the NSDAP as being the key source for potential social-revolutionary change, directing most of its energies towards supporting the ‘left-wing’ opposition within the NSDAP and encouraging internal Party debate over its policies and direction. It was for this purpose that Paetel and other Young Front members wrote the short draft programme reproduced below. A revised version of the NSDAP’s original 25-Points (a number of the items are almost word-for-word identical), the Young Front’s draft programme is more explicitly social-revolutionary, including demands for mass nationalization, land expropriation, and a German-Soviet alliance. The programme was first distributed clandestinely at the August 1929 Nuremberg Party Congress before its formal publication in nationalist journal Das  Junge Volk on October 1st. The document, inevitably, had little real impact – in May 1926, in the wake of the Bamberg Conference, Hitler had already officially declared the 25-Points “unalterable”, and the Young Front’s programme made no headway in encouraging debate among the leadership. It did generate interest among some of the Party’s grass-roots, however, leading to stronger links with members of the NSDAP, many of whom would later go on to form the core of the GSRN. 

Social-Revolutionary Nationalism:
A Proposal for the Revision of the Programme of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP)

First published in Das Junge Volk, XI, 1st October 1929.

The NSDAP is a nationalist party. Its goal is the free German nation.

The NSDAP is a socialist party. It knows that the free German nation can arise only through the liberation of the working masses of Germany from all forms of exploitation and oppression.

The NSDAP is a workers’ party.  It professes itself to the class-struggle of the productive against parasites of all races and creeds.

The NSDAP therefore demands:

1. The integration of all Germans, on the basis of peoples’ rights to self-determination, into a Greater German Reich;

2. Equal status for the German Volk with other nations; the annulment of all the treaties, obligations, and debts of the prior capitalist government;

3. That only he who is a folk-comrade should be a citizen, – folk-comrades can only be those of German blood. Jews, Slavs, Latins [Welsche] can therefore not be German citizens; non-citizens to be classed as guests and placed under legislation governing foreigners;

4. That the right to determine the leadership and laws of the state may be conceded only to citizens; therefore, the NSDAP demands that every public office of whatever kind, whether in Reich, state, or municipality, may be occupied by citizens alone;

5. Elimination of the corrupting parliamentary state of affairs; realization of the self-government of the working Volk on the basis of enterprises, with the dismissal and destruction of the organizational apparatus of all parties; the organizational form of self-government is the Peoples’ Council-State [Volks-Rätestaat]; the council structure is organized from the bottom up through indirect elections from the council formations; Continue reading

Gregor Strasser’s ‘Thoughts About the Tasks of the Future’

Gregor Strasser’s article of June 15, 1926, outlining his thoughts on culture, socialism, and the state

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My original plan for the remainder of this month was to continue with the ‘Visions of National Socialist Democracy’ series, as well as to post a historical excerpt about the revolutionary peasant movement of Weimar Germany – the  Landvolkbewegung. Unfortunately, however, life has got in the way; between personal commitments and completing the Paetel translation, I’m not sure I’ll have the time for that content until June. Rather than leave the site dead for the remaining two weeks or so while I finish work on the National Bolshevist Manifesto, I decided instead to post something that I already had lying around – the following article by Gregor Strasser, first published in 1926. Thoughts About the Tasks of the Future may not be new to some people, as bits and pieces of it have been floating around parts of the internet for a while, although usually in an unsatisfactory form (one website I saw hosted a good chunk of the essay, though had bizarrely replaced every instance of the word ‘socialism’ with ‘corporatism’). It is most famous for the “We are socialists, we are enemies, mortal enemies, of the present capitalist economic system” quote, which frequently appears online in center-right/boomer memes, usually misattributed to Hitler, and almost always employed as a rhetorical weapon to ‘prove’ that the liberal left are equivalent to National Socialists. The article is a lot more than that quote, obviously – written by Strasser on his sickbed (he had been in a serious car accident in early March, making him bedridden for months) not long after the failure at Bamberg, it was intended to serve as a comprehensive statement of his personal beliefs. Some of the opinions or policies Strasser supports in this article would shift by the early ’30s, but for the most part it remains a valuable insight into his general worldview – both his anti-materialist sentiments and his Prussian-inspired view of man’s relationship with the state would, for instance, essentially remain unchanged until his death.  

Lying on a sickbed for a few weeks and months does have its good side. So much that in the trivialities of everyday life does not get a hearing now has the chance to rise slowly from the unconscious to the conscious mind where it is tested and is winged by imagination, so that it acquires form and gains life. In general, people often make the mistake of assuming that practical action – the incessant preoccupation with daily necessities – is not founded in the mind. They therefore like to set up an invidious comparison between the thinker and the doer! It is true that the currents of the mind and the soul do not become conscious when one is resolutely grappling with the tasks of the day and trying, by freshly setting to work, to solve all questions in a practical way!

So it is comfort ever now and then to have the leisure to look beyond the tasks of the day and of the near future and to plumb the depths of the questions toward whose solution we are resolutely dedicating our life’s work. When would this be better than during the many lonely hours of the sickbed, when the hands of the clock seem to stand still and the night never to end – until it becomes finally, finally morning again! This new dawn, the fact that again and again dawn comes, is the deep consolation, is the blessed certainty which makes the night of the present bearable for us – and even if the hours, years, never seem to end – the dawn does come, my friends, and the sun comes, the light!

Such thoughts of the lonely nights, thoughts about the National Socialist tasks of the future – I will briefly survey them here – such thoughts have surely occurred to most of our friends in similar hours and in a similar way – thoughts which at the moment are not yet the subject of our work, but whose undercurrents are flowing, whose blood runs through our work.

I. The Spirit of the Economy

We are Socialists, we are enemies, mortal enemies of the present capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, with its injustice in wages, with its immoral evaluation of individuals according to wealth and money instead of responsibility and achievement, and we are determined under all circumstances to abolish this system! And with my inclination to practical action it seems obvious to me that we have to put a better, more just, more moral system in its place, one which, as it were, has arms and legs and better arms and legs than the present one!

Continue reading