Hitler Purges the ‘Salon Bolsheviks’

Adolf Hitler’s brief letter of 30 June, 1930, instructing Joseph Goebbels to “ruthlessly purge” the NSDAP of Strasserist “salon Bolsheviks”

Hitler_und_Goebbels

A couple of months ago I published a translation of the infamous July 4, 1930 article by Otto Strasser announcing the departure of the ‘socialists’ from the NSDAP.  Otto’s article and his decision to withdraw himself and his supporters from the Party were the culmination of a long series of incidents stretching all the way back to Otto’s first entry into the National Socialist movement in 1925; I described these to a very brief extent in that article’s introduction. Mentioned in Otto’s article was a June 30 letter from Adolf Hitler to Gau Berlin-Brandenburg leader Joseph Goebbels, ordering the Gauleiter to effect a “ruthless purge” of all “salon Bolsheviks” (i.e. Strasserists) from local Party organizations. This short letter has now also been translated, and is provided for reading below. Hitler’s letter comprised the ‘final straw’ of the ‘Strasser crisis’, the internal Party conflict between Otto Strasser, Goebbels, and their respective factions which raged throughout the early months of 1930. In my earlier article I described how the spark which lit the conflict, which had been steadily brewing for years over personality issues and questions of doctrine & tactics, was Otto’s decision to start a newspaper that would directly compete with Goebbels’s Der Angriff. Like all good feuds, however, there are multiple potential sources of conflagration – another likely cause was the decision by Eugen Mossakowsky, one of Otto’s prominent disciples, to start publicly casting doubt on Goebbels’s claim to have been arrested and flogged by Belgian troops for participation in the Ruhrkampf in 1924. Openly accusing the ‘Little Doktor’ of dishonesty led to Mossakowsky being brought before the local USchlA (Party arbitration committee) and quickly forced to resign from the NSDAP. Thus began a process of expulsion of Strasser’s leading spokesmen from the Party, while in the background a propaganda campaign of speeches and articles was waged by the Goebbels faction (backed by the leadership) and Otto’s oppositionists against one another. Hitler’s letter marked the final end to the dispute, accusing the Strasserists of being disruptive elements with ‘Jewish-liberal-Marxist’ tendencies, and giving Goebbels full authority to start purging them wholesale from the Party. 

Adolf Hitler’s Letter to Joseph Goebbels
Regarding the 1930 ‘Strasser-Crisis’

Munich, 30th June 1930

Dr. Joseph Goebbels,
Gauleiter of Berlin,
Berlin.

For months now, as responsible leader of the NSDAP, I have been watching attempts to bring discord, confusion, and insubordination into the ranks of the movement. Under the mask of desiring to fight for socialism an attempt is being made to advocate a policy which fully corresponds with the policy of our Jewish-liberal-Marxist opponents. What is demanded by these circles is the wish of our enemies, from the Red Flag through to the Frankfurt Stock-Exchange Gazette.1 I now consider it necessary to ruthlessly and without exception eject these destructive elements from the Party.

So long as I lead the National Socialist Party it will not become a debating club for rootless literati or chaotic salon-Bolsheviks, but will remain what it is today, an organization of discipline which was not created for the doctrinaire tomfoolery of political wanderers,2 but to fight for a future Germany in which the concepts of class have been shattered and a new German Volk determine their own destiny! Continue reading

National Socialists Before Hitler, Part VI: Drexler’s Political Awakening

“From the journal of a German Socialist worker”: selected chapters from Anton Drexler’s 1919 political testament

Anton_Drexler

In the autumn of 1918 Karl Harrer, a sports journalist for the right-leaning newspaper Münchner-Augsburger Abendzeitung, was charged by the Thule Society with forming a völkisch ‘Thule Workers’ Ring’ among the proletariat – part of a wider plan to win workers for nationalism and undermine the socialist forces then dominant within Bavarian politics. Attending a public meeting at Munich’s Wagner Hall on 2 October, Harrer was struck by a speech given by a laborer named Anton Drexler (then-head of the Munich branch of the Free Workers’ Committee for a Just Peace) calling upon bourgeois and workers to “unite!” Although Drexler’s speech was greeted with hostility by the crowd, Harrer saw in it opportunity; he approached Drexler with the offer to assist in forming a ‘Political Workers’ Circle’ to help spread their shared ideas among Drexler’s laborer contacts. Drexler, who had attempted in vain to do this himself in the past (both as a prior, dissatisfied Fatherland Party member, and via his own Free Committee), was intrigued by the offer, and so the Political Workers’ Circle was formed. By 5 January 1919 the Circle had evolved into the German Workers’ Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, DAP), an independent political organization with its own written Guidelines as its conceptual basis. To help propagandize for the new Party and to provide greater intellectual weight to its fairly sparse and unsatisfactory Guidelines, Drexler published a political pamphlet sometime between May and September 1919. Drexler’s My Political Awakening: From the Journal of a German Socialist Worker is, like Hitler’s later Mein Kampf, a mixture of personal biography and ideological worldview, providing an introduction both to Drexler as a person and to the substance of his National Socialist philosophy. Several selected chapters of Drexler’s brochure are provided below as an example, translated by myself from an original 1920 2nd edition. Although this series is called ‘National Socialists Before Hitler’, and Hitler joined the DAP on 19 October 1919, the content of the 1920 edition does still technically qualify as being “before Hitler”. Unlike the later 1923 3rd edition, which was substantially rewritten, the 2nd edition’s text is identical to that of the 1919 original, apart from the addition of a second foreword and the rather telling removal of Drexler’s original dedication to Harrer as “the founder of the German Workers’ Party”. The pamphlet’s strong focus on workers’ issues and on the inadequacies of mainstream (Marxist) socialism are very typical of early National Socialist writing, as is Drexler’s positioning of himself as a dissident voice within the broader socialist workers’ movement. 

My Political Awakening:
From the Journal of a German Socialist Worker
(Selected Chapters)
Written in 1919 by Railway Toolmaker Anton Drexler,
Founder & 2nd Chairman of the German Workers’ Party (Bavaria)

NS_Swastika

Foreword to the First Edition

I must begin by saying that the ideas I have laid down here are purely political as well as trade-unionist in nature, and that with this document I am not presenting myself to the public as a fellow combatant in the World War; I was busy instead with my battleground on the home front. Many a workmate has told me, “it’s a pity about me that I’m in the wrong place, that I could accomplish a lot more in the circle of the socialist working-class.” Sometimes a feeling comes over me as though these people were right, as if I really have to incorporate my socialist mindset entirely into Social-Democracy. And only with severe internal struggles have I remained loyal to my National Socialism,1 for which I am now grateful to Fate. To portray the storms that surged around me on my lonesome island in the midst of the workers’ sea, to communicate the experiences that I have been able to gain in political matters to the working-classes and to every productive worker – that is the purpose of this document. No excuses should be made to my colleagues, I haven’t the slightest reason to make them, but I want to make it understandable to them that my political opinion, which is so isolated among workers, has arisen only from concern over the existence of the German worker.

Neither pettiness, nor ambition, nor the idealism of the money-purse have brought me to my political position. As a “neutral” standing outside the fence of the political parties – that is, without having previously absorbed a party catechism myself – I have studied domestic political life and activity, and not without also dedicating my primary focus to matters of foreign-policy.

Allowing themselves to be enveloped in the ‘internationalism’ of the workers’ leaders and pacifists of enemy countries – this myopia on the part of  the German workers’ leaders and other party men in their assessment of enemy war aims has led Germany and the German working class to where it is today.

As the only Munich worker who was not deceived by the intentions of England and America and who therefore publicly advocated for the attainment of a ‘just peace’, I not only have the right but also feel I have the obligation within myself to apprise the public of my experiences and impressions since my ‘political awakening’, all the more so as I also became acquainted with the ‘secret powers’ that made it possible for our governments, as well as many party leaders to – for the most part unconsciously – work directly for the interests of our destroyers. Continue reading

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