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”

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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

The Socialists Leave the NSDAP!

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

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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 Berlin edition of his newspaper 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 V: Strasser

Otto Strasser’s blueprint for a German Socialist ‘authoritarian democracy’

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The excerpt below comprises the entirety of Part Three, Chapter Three of Otto Strasser’s 1940 book Germany Tomorrow, and is  probably one of the most detailed descriptions for how a National Socialist state system would function in practice.  Germany Tomorrow is itself an expanded, English-language translation of Strasser’s earlier work Aufbau des Deutschen Sozialismus (‘Construction of German Socialism’), originally published in 1931 about a year after Otto left the NSDAP. Part Three of Germany Tomorrow, ‘The New Order’, is a mostly-complete translation of the 1936 2nd edition of Strasser’s original Aufbau, while Parts One and Two (dealing with the Hitler government, prospects for revolution, and the potential post-War situation) were new material supposedly written expressly for the book and for its English-language audience. There are some differences between the two German editions of Aufbau and its later English adaptation (most notably in its discussion of the ‘Jewish question’), but on the whole Part Three of Germany Tomorrow seems to me an accurate translation of the 1936 edition of Aufbau, hence my reproduction of it here. The type of state Strasser describes (an ‘authoritarian democracy’ which mixes both council-nationalist and corporatist concepts) is interesting, although perhaps a little unwieldy with its federalist system and its three levels of government. Some of the council features it describes are reminiscent of Rudolf Jung’s original work on National Socialist ideology, although unlike with William Joyce this is less likely to be simple coincidence. Jung kept up a correspondence with both Strasser brothers throughout their careers, so some level of influence should not be surprising – although apparently Jung’s ideological worldview generally lined up more with Gregor’s than with that of Gregor’s radical “ink-slinging kid brother”.  

THE GERMAN SOCIALIST STATE

I. MATTERS OF PRINCIPLE

In accordance with the organic conception that all institutions must be judged by the extent to which they favour organic life, we regard the State, not as something that stands above the community at large, but as nothing else than the organizational form of the people, the form that will ensure the fullest possible development of the organism known as the ‘German people’. The State is not an end in itself, but something whose aim is (or should be) so to deal with the organism of the ‘people’ (or ‘Nation’) that it may most effectively utilize all the energies that will enable the community to maintain itself as against other communities in the world.

It follows from this that the State is always determined by the peculiarities of the people. No people can take over intact the State-forms of another. When the form of the State is adapted to the peculiarities of the people of one country, our organic outlook makes it plain that this form of State cannot be perfectly adapted to the peculiarities of any other people. If, for instance, fascism is the form of State best suited to the Italian people (and the fact that the Italian people tolerates it makes this probable), then fascism cannot be the form of State best suited to the German people. The same considerations apply to the bolshevik form of State which prevails in Russia, which cannot possibly be the best form of State for the German people.

The State must originate out of the nature of the people; it should arrange the people’s life, and reduce internal friction to a minimum, for then the outwardly directed energies will grow more powerful. The athlete who trains for some great achievement, who makes his nerves and muscles cooperate without friction, and who by the regular practice of graduated exercises also cultivates the mental powers of self-confidence and will-to-victory, is the model of an organism in prime condition. A team trained for success in some particular sport, such as football, is a community whose chances of victory depend on the same presupposition – the reducing of internal friction to a minimum, in order to secure the maximum output of well-directed energy.

The conception of the State as the best possible organization of the people involves the rejection on principle of the demigod role which all dictators and would-be dictators ascribe to the State, and implies the frank avowal of the ‘people’s State’. The organic connexion between people and State which underlies the latter notion imposes upon the conservative revolutionary as a necessary deduction that the forms of the State must adapt themselves to the internal and external transformation of the people, of the popular consciousness, of the popular degree of maturity. It also follows as a matter of principle that those forms of the State are ‘good’, i.e. suitable, which are favourable to the bodily and mental health and development of the organism that is the people; even as those forms of the State are ‘bad’, i.e. unsuitable, that are unfavourable and inhibitive in these respects.

For the people is the content, the living, the organic; the State is the form, the dead, the organizational. 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