National Socialism - Secondary Sources
Alan Bullock - Hitler
25 Points Party Programme
What the Socialism of National Socialism actually means. About the 25 points of the Party Programme: “… all programmes to Hitler were means to an end, to be taken up or dropped as they were needed.” …
“Hitler was as much interested in the working class and the lower middle class as Anton Drexler was, but he had no more sympathy for them than he had had in Vienna: he was interested in them as material for political manipulation. Their grievances and discontents were the raw stuff of politics, a means to an end. Hitler had agreed to the Socialist clauses of the programme, because in 1920 the German working class and the lower middle classes were saturated in a radical anti-capitalism; such phrases were essential for any politician who wanted to attract their support. But they remained phrases. What Hitler himself meant by Socialism can be illustrated by a speech he made on 28 July 1922. ‘Whoever is prepared to make the national cause his own to such an extent that he knows no higher ideal than the welfare of his nation; whoever has understood our great national anthem, Deutschland, Deutschland uber Alles, to mean that nothing in the wide world surpasses in his eyes this Germany, people and land, land and people—that man is a Socialist.’
“The situation repeated itself in 1930 when Otto Strasser left the party, complaining bitterly that they had been deceived in their belief that it was a radical and Socialist movement.
“For the same reasons Hitler was not prepared to limit membership of the party to any one class. All forms of discontent were grist to his mill. … Ambition, resentment, envy, avidity for power and wealth—in every class—these were the powerful motive forces Hitler sought to harness. He was prepared to be all things to all men, because to him all men represented only one thing, a means to power” (75-6).
“… the Communists were hampered by rigid doctrinaire beliefs, while Hitler was prepared to adapt or abandon his programme to suit his audience” (160).
“If Hitler represented the will to power in the Party, and Röhm its preference for violence, Gregor Strasser represented its idealism – a brutalized idealism certainly, but a genuine desire to make a clean sweep. To Strasser National Socialism was a real political movement, not, as it was to Hitler, the instrument of his ambition. He took its programme seriously, as Hitler never had, and he was the leader of the Nazi Left-wing which, to the annoyance of Hitler’s industrialist friends, still dreamed of a German Socialism and still won votes for the Party by its anti-capitalist radicalism” (237).
Hitler’s aim was to destroy Marxism:
“I [Hitler] wanted to become the destroyer of Marxism. I am going to achieve this task” (117).
What socialism meant to Hitler:
“Hitler was as much interested in the working class and the lower middle class as Drexler, but he had no more sympathy for them than he had had in Vienna: he was interested in them as material for political manipulation. Their grievances and discontents were the raw stuff of politics, a means, but never an end. Hitler had agreed to the Socialist clauses of the programme, because in 1920 the German working class and the lower middle classes were saturated in a radical anti-capitalism; such phrases were essential for any politician who wanted to attract their support. But they remained phrases. What Hitler himself meant by Socialism can be illustrated by a speech he made on 28 July 1922. ‘Whoever is prepared to make the national cause his own to such an extent that he knows no higher ideal than the welfare of his nation; whoever has understood our great national anthem, Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles, to mean that nothing in the wide world surpasses in his eyes this Germany, people and land, land and people - that man is a Socialist.’” (See also Ernst Boepple, Adolf Hitlers Reden, p. 32.)
“The situation repeated itself in 1930 when Otto Strasser and his friends left the Party, complaining bitterly that they had been deceived in their belief that it was a radical and socialist movement” (75-6).
Hitler believed the masses only wanted “bread and circuses”:
“… the great mass of working-men want only bread and circuses. They have no understanding for ideals of any sort whatever, and we can never hope to win the workers to any large extent by an appeal to ideals. We want to make a revolution for the new dominating caste which is not moved, as you are by the ethic of pity, but is quite clear in its own mind that it has the right to dominate others because it represents a better race: this caste ruthlessly maintains and assures its dominance over the masses” (157).
Hitler was aiming for the masses:
“Hitler never forgot the principle he had underlined in Mein Kampf: go for the masses. Their neglect of this accounted, in Hitler’s eyes, for the failure of the other principal Right-wing Party, the Nationalists, to recover its old position in the country. Only the Communists could rival Hitler in this sort of agitation, but the Communists deliberately limited their appeal to one class, while Hitler aimed to unite the discontented of all classes; the Communists were hampered by rigid doctrinaire beliefs, while Hitler was prepared to adapt or abandon his programme to suit his audience” (160).
Hitler was against a planned economy:
“The Führer personally stressed time and again, during talks with me and industrial leaders to whom I had introduced him, that he was an enemy of state-economy and of so-called ‘planned economy,’ and that he considered free enterprise and competition as absolutely necessary in order to gain the highest possible production” (172).
Hitler promoted “laissez-faire” capitalism – not socialism:
“As the Army officers saw in Hitler the man who promised to restore 'Germany’s military power, so the industrialists came to see in him the man who would defend their interests against the threat of Communism and the claims of the trade unions, giving a free hand to private enterprise and economic exploitation in the name of the principle of ‘creative individuality’” (199).
Gregor Strasser and his attempts to make National Socialism Marxist socialist:
“The situation repeated itself in 1930 when Otto Strasser and his friends left the Party, complaining bitterly that they had been deceived in their belief that it was a radical and socialist movement” (75-6).
“The question, how seriously Hitler took the socialist character of National Socialism, had already been raised both before and after 1923. It was to remain one of the main causes of disagreement and division within the Nazi Party up to the summer of 1934; this was well illustrated in 1930 by the final breach between Hitler and Otto Strasser” (156).
“Otto Strasser stuck to his Socialist principles, published his talks with Hitler, broke with his brother Gregor (who stayed with Hitler), and set up a Union of Revolutionary National Socialists, later known as the Black Front. The dispute over the socialist objectives of National Socialism was not yet settled – it was to reappear again and again in the next few years – but Hitler had only gained, not lost, by making clear his own attitude” (158).
“Schleicher’s closest contact in the Nazi Party at this time was Gregor Strasser. If Hitler represented the will to power in the Party, and Röhm its preference for violence, Gregor Strasser represented its idealism – a brutalized idealism certainly, but a genuine desire to make a clean sweep. To Strasser National Socialism was a real political movement, not, as it was to Hitler, the instrument of his ambition. He took its programme seriously, as Hitler never had, and he was the leader of the Nazi Left-wing which, to the annoyance of Hitler’s industrialist friends, still dreamed of a German Socialism and still won votes for the Party by its anti-capitalist radicalism. But Strasser, if he was much more to the Left than the other Party leaders, was also the head of the Party Organization, more in touch with feeling throughout the local branches than anyone else, and more impressed than any of the other leaders by the set-backs of the autumn, culminating in the loss of two million votes at the November elections. Strasser was particularly impressed by the disillusionment of the more radical elements in the Party and their tendency to drift towards the Communists” (237-38).
Hitler was against unions and equality:
“Least of all did he feel any sympathy with the attempts of the poor and the exploited to improve their position by their own efforts. Hitler’s hatred was directed not so much against the rogues, beggars, bankrupt business men, and declasse ‘gentlemen’ who were the flotsam and jetsam drifting in and out of the hostel in the Meldemannstrasse, as against the working men who belonged to organizations like the Social Democratic Party and the trade unions and who preached equality and the solidarity of the working classes. It was these, much more than the former, who threatened his claim to superiority. Solidarity was a virtue for which Hitler had no use. He passionately refused to join a trade union, or in any way to accept the status of a working man. The whole ideology of the working-class movement was alien and hateful to him. … the working men were the victims of a deliberate system for corrupting and poisoning the popular mind, organized by the Social Democratic Party’s leaders, who cynically exploited the distress of the masses for their own ends” (38).
Hitler was against the equality of individuals:
In Hitler's eyes the inequality of individuals and of races was one of the laws of Nature. This poor wretch, often half-starved, without a job, family, or home, clung obstinately to any belief that would bolster up the claim of his own superiority. He belonged by right, he felt, to the Herrenmenschen. To preach equality, was to threaten the belief which kept him going, that he was different from the labourers, the tramps, the Jews, and the Slavs with whom he rubbed shoulders in the streets. … Belief in equality between races was an even greater offence in Hitler’s eyes than belief in equality between individuals” (40-1).
Hitler got his anti-Marxism from Georg von Schönerer
“From Schönerer Hitler took his extreme German Nationalism, his anti-Socialism his anti-Semitism, his hatred of the Hapsburgs and his programme of reunion with Germany” (44).
Why Hitler needed the working classes or a “mass” movement:
“He devoted the greatest part of his political activity, Hitler noted, to the task of winning over those sections of the population whose existence was in danger” (45).
Hitler needed his party to be both nationalist and socialist:
“He was quick to adopt all available means for winning the support of long-established institutions, so as to be able to derive the greatest possible advantage for his movement from those old sources of power.
“Hitler concludes his comparison of Schonerer’s and Lueger’s leadership with these words: If the Christian Socialist Party, together with its shrewd judgement in regard to the worth of the popular masses, had only judged rightly also on the importance of the racial problem – which was properly grasped by the Pan-German movement – and if this party had been really nationalist; or if the Pan-German leaders, on the other hand, in addition to their correct judgement of the Jewish problem and of the national idea, had adopted the practical wisdom of the Christian-Socialist Party, and particularly their attitude towards Socialism – then a movement would have developed which might have successfully altered the course of German destiny.
“Here already is the idea of a party which should be both national and socialist” (46).
Why Hitler needed his National Socialist movement to be “mass” movement:
“To be a leader, means to be able to move masses. … The first and most important principle for political action laid down by Hitler is: Go to the masses. 'The movement must avoid everything which may lessen or weaken its power of influencing the masses . . . because of the simple fact that no great idea, no matter how sublime or exalted, can be realized in practice without the effective power which resides in the popular masses.
Since the masses have only a poor acquaintance with abstract ideas, their reactions lie more in the domain of the feelings, where the roots of their positive as well as their negative attitudes are implanted. . . . The emotional grounds of their attitude furnish the reason for their extraordinary stability. It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge. And the driving force which has brought about the most tremendous revolutions on this earth has never been a body of scientific teaching which has gained power over the masses, but always a devotion which has inspired them, and often a kind of hysteria which has urged them into action. Whoever wishes to win over the masses must know the key that will open the door to their hearts. It is not objectivity, which is a feckless attitude, but a determined will, backed up by power where necessary.
“Hitler is quite open in explaining how this is to be achieved. 'The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble. On the other hand, they quickly forget. Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare necessities and then must be expressed in a few stereotyped formulas.' Hitler had nothing but scorn for the Intellectuals who are always looking for something new. 'Only constant repetition will finally succeed in imprinting an Idea on the memory of a crowd.' For the same reason It is better to stick to a programme even when certain points In it become out of date: 'As soon as one point is removed from the sphere of dogmatic certainty, the discussion will not simply result in a new and better formulation., but may easily lead to endless debates and general confusion.'
“When you lie, tell big lies. This Is what the Jews do, working on the principle, 'which is quite true in itself, that In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily, and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big He than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters, but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. . . . The grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down.’
“Above all, never hesitate, never qualify what you say, never concede an inch to the other side, paint all your contrasts in black and white. This is the ‘very first condition which has to be fulfilled in every kind of propaganda: a systematically one-sided attitude towards every problem that has to be dealt with. . . . When they see an uncompromising onslaught against an adversary, the people have at all times taken this as proof that right is on the side of the active aggressor; but if the aggressor should go only halfway and fail to push home his success ... the people will look upon this as a sign that he Is uncertain of the justice of his own cause.'
“Vehemence, passion, fanaticism, these are ‘the great magnetic forces which alone attract the great masses; for these masses always respond to the compelling force which emanates from absolute faith in the Ideas put forward, combined with an Indomitable zest to fight for and defend them. . . . The doom of a nation can be averted only by a storm of glowing passion; but only those who are passionate themselves can arouse passion in others.'
“Hitler showed a marked preference for the spoken over the written word. 'The force which ever set in motion the great historical avalanches of religious and political movements is the magic power of the spoken word. The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force.' The employment of verbal violence, the repetition of such words as 'smash', 'force', 'ruthless', 'hatred', was deliberate. Hitler's gestures and the emotional character of his speaking, lashing himself up to a pitch of near-hysteria in which he would scream and spit out his resentment, had the same effect on an audience. Many descriptions have been given of the way in which he succeeded in communicating passion to his listeners, so that men groaned or hissed and women sobbed involuntarily, if only to relieve the tension, caught up in the spell of powerful emotions of hatred and exaltation, from which all restraint had been removed” (69-71).
Hitler had never been a socialist:
“Hitler had never been a Socialist; he was indifferent to economic questions. … Hitler told Rauschning, that Socialism meant their chance to share in the spoils.”
Hitler was anti-liberal:
“Hitler spoke of 'stamping the Nazi Weltanschauung on the German people'. For its highest duty was intolerance: 'it is only the harshest principles and an iron resolution which can unite the nation into a single body capable of resistance – and thereby able to be led successfully in politics. The main plank in the Nationalist Socialist programme,' Hitler declared in 1937, 'is to abolish the liberalistic concept of the individual and the Marxist concept of humanity and to substitute for them the Volk community, rooted in the soil and bound together by the bond of its common blood.'
“While Hitler's attitude towards liberalism was one of contempt, towards Marxism he showed an implacable hostility” (405).
Catherine Epstein - Nazi Germany
National Socialism Is an Extreme Conservative Movement
“. . . Volkish nationalists believed that both liberalism and socialism were divisive Jewish ideologies. . . . They violently opposed socialism" (6-7).
Alexandra Garbarini - Numbered Days -
Diaries and the Holocaust
Opposition Press – Communists, socialists, leftists, liberals, & Jews – were forced out of existence:
“Just when world affairs became newly meaningful, the press became the instrument of repressive regimes. The Nazi regime crushed the freedom of the press in Germany in the fall of 1933 with the passage of the Editor’s Law and the creation of the Reich Press Chamber within the Reich Chamber of Culture. These measures brought the German press under state and party control, requiring that journalists, editors, and publishers ‘regulate their work in accordance with National Socialism as a philosophy of life and as a conception of government.’ In practice, this meant that those people whose political sympathies or racial ‘pedigree’ did not conform to National Socialism —all ‘individuals who were liberal, leftist, or Jewish’—were excluded from the profession. Many periodicals were immediately forced out of existence, most conspicuously the Socialist and Communist press, and those that remained were subject to forced takeovers, consolidation, and censorship” (62).
Scotty Hendricks - "What Fascism Really Is -
and What It Isn't"
“Fascists claim that their movement offers the end of class conflict in society along with adequate reward for the productive members of the nation. Fascists reject Marxism and international socialism, but do favor a strong state role in the economy. Syndicalism and Corporatism are strong elements in fascist economics. Self described socialists are noted haters of fascism in all forms. For their part, Fascists in Italy banned trade unions; the Nazis sent social democrats to concentration camps.”
Article Source URL:
Sebastian Haffner -
The Meaning of Hitler
"... the Italian Fascists pinned to their banners the restoration of a ‘corporate state’, i.e. a stratified state, which is one of several reasons why Hitler’s National Socialism and Mussolini’s Fascism should not be jumbled up together. The National Socialists only changed the socialist vocabulary; what used to be called the ‘classless society’ was called by them the ‘national community’" (40).
"Nothing is more misleading than to call Hitler a Fascist. Fascism is upper-class rule, buttressed by artificially manufactured mass enthusiasm. Certainly Hitler roused masses to enthusiasm, but never in order to buttress an upper class. He was not a class politician, and his National Socialism was anything but Fascism" (56).
Ishay Landa -
Interview with NILS SCHNIEDERJANN
"Were the Nazis policies actually socialist?"
"No, obviously they weren’t socialist. It’s true that the Nazis occasionally used the term affirmatively. Some people cynically latch onto that as evidence: 'They were socialists because they called themselves socialists!' But they were strongly anti-socialist in any real sense of the term."
"Then why did they use the word 'socialism' at all?"
"We have to understand the context in which they applied the term. In our own days, right-wing politicians no longer use the term. Why? Because socialism is no longer so popular. But back then, anti-communists faced the challenge of gaining access to socialist strongholds and convincing as many working-class voters as possible. So, they had to present their policies as agreeing with the interests of the working class. The trick was to benefit from the popularity of socialism, which was widely seen as the force of the future, but at the same time to distance themselves as much as possible from its substance."
"If the Nazis called themselves socialists only for strategic reasons, what did their economic policies actually look like?"
"They were strongly capitalist. The Nazis placed great emphasis on private property and free competition. It’s true that they intervened in the free market, but it was also a time of a systemic failure of capitalism on a global scale. Almost all states intervened in the market at the
time, and they did so to save the capitalist system from itself. This has nothing to do with socialist sentiment: it was pro-capitalist. In a way, there’s a parallel there with the way big banks were bailed out by governments after the 2008 financial crisis broke out. That, of course, did not reflect socialist intentions in any way, either. It was merely an attempt to stabilize the system a little bit."
Jacobin, "The Nazis Weren’t Socialists — They Were Hypercapitalists," 2023.
SAMUEL L. PERRY -
Why Trump & His Supporters Keep Calling Democrats 'Fascists'
"... Yet most reputable historians and political scientists would nonetheless classify fascists and Nazis as exemplars of the extreme far-right who were often murderously opposed to groups like socialists and communists and other members of the ideological left.
"... Selective readings of history, emphasizing, for example, that Nazis were the “National Socialist” party, or that Mussolini was first a radical socialist before he became Italy’s “Duce,” can lend themselves to associating both with leftism. Others have noted their ambiguous (even hostile) relationship with Christianity place fascism and Nazism more in the leftist camp. Both points underscore the fact that these groups are more complicated than the simple left-right ideological spectrum would capture.
Samuel L. Perry, "Why Trump & His Supporters Keep Calling Democrats 'Fascists'," TIME, 2023.
Jason Stanley -
"Movie at the Ellipse:
A Study in Fascist Propaganda"
"... the ideology of Nazism, that Jews were controlling the apparatus of the state, both as important party politicians in the Social Democratic Party, and as operators behind the scenes of the press and other institutions.
"In Nazi ideology, Jews are represented by an unholy alliance between Jewish capitalists and Jewish communists. The goal of the Jewish plot is to destroy national states, replacing them by a world government run by Jews. This diabolical Jewish plot involves destroying the character of individual nations, by flooding them with immigrants, and empowering minority populations. Hitler describes the German loss in World War I aspart of this plan, a “stab in the back” of the German people by Jewish traitors seeking the ruin of the nation. In Nazi ideology, liberal democracy is represented as a corruption, a mask for this takeover by a global elite.
"... Nazi ideology is a species of fascism in which this global elite are Jews."