Was Nazism Socialist?

Discussion in 'The Third Reich' started by von Poop, Feb 1, 2018.

  1. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I'll begin by answering my own question:
    No, it really wasn't.

    So with apologies for that bit of rhetoric, has anyone else noticed more and more online assertions that Adolf and co. were lefties?
    It seems to have come mostly from the US, fuelled by that particular type of political polarity they're so good at, being used to make rather thin political stands and deploy possibly history's biggest hate figure as a weapon.

    it makes me very uncomfortable when history is used so.
    I despise most authoritarian philosophies equally, but do appreciate there are blurred lines between then, however there are also distinct differences between fascism and authoritarian socialism.

    The Strassers (perhaps the closest to an authoritarian socialist wing) were liquidated in the night of the long knives.
    Hitler (and the party) used the words 'Socialist' & 'workers' to help with mobilising the largest section of society. He even expressed regret at socialist's inclusion in the party name. It was an entirely cynical bit of demagoguery.
    Any collectivist idea that can be interpreted from Nazism is essentially where it supports the nationalist and racist ideals.
    Adolf dismissed socialists in personal comments.
    The battle against Bolshevism became a key tenet of the party.

    So lest I ramble any more.
    Anyone have further thoughts? Useful quotes? Justification for asserting that Adolf was in fact as red as they come?

    (And as there's a danger of modern politics in this, a plea for civility is entered :unsure: )
  2. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Given I fall into a current battleground demographic, this (along with horrific 20th C referents across the broad) is certainly one of the most on trend phrases. Usually formed around the basis of reactionary/shock statement then deflected with an astonishingly weak "I'm not a historian" when challenged, with such stupidity applying to Left and Right.

    The oddest circular conversations I've had of late with right wingers broadly go as follows,


    "How so?"

    "National SOCIALIST."


    Lindele and Orwell1984 like this.
  3. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

    Then when you bring up the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea or the old German Democratic Republic, the humming and hawing starts. Or the personal attacks ;)
    Lindele likes this.
  4. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

    I don't think they all were red as they come.
    Think of the 2 Scholl students (brother and sister) in Munich and the young Liutnant in Breslau being face to face to Adolf Hitler by chance and feeling"I wanted to shoot him" (see my earlierThread Stalingrad in the German Media).
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
  5. Gibbo

    Gibbo Senior Member

    My impression is that there was a socialist element within the Nazi Party, albeit it socialism only for the racially pure. Most of its leaders, however, were killed in the Night of the Long Knives.

    The traditional right certainly thought that there was and consequently insisted that they had the finance and economic ministries when they went in to coalition with the Nazis in 1933. This suited Hitler, who wanted Nazis at the interior and justice ministries in order to control the police and judiciary but was happy to have conservatives rather than National Socialists running the economy.
    Lindele likes this.
  6. idler

    idler GeneralList

    It might be worth trying to agree what 'left wing' and 'right wing' mean first....
    Lindele likes this.
  7. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    'National Socialist Party' - I've often wondered too where the socialist bit comes in. Maybe partly because it was also the Workers Party. Supremacy of the State over the individual, and anti-capitalist.
    My view of socialism is that it's not far from communism, and knowing how Hitler hated communist Russia, it doesn't seem to make sense. One of his first targets was German communists.
    If the allegations come from the USA it makes sense because over there anyone left of Margaret Thatcher is 'red'.
    Tolbooth and Lindele like this.
  8. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    My limited thoughts*

    From mein kampf

    "The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. As soon as you sacrifice this slogan and try to be many-sided, the effect will piddle away, for the crowd can neither digest nor retain the material offered. In this way the result is weakened and in the end entirely cancelled out."

    An observation on his followers/others.So his mantra ,hit home with the facts that matter keep it short and sweet get them onside.Manipulate as required.

    Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production,[10] as well as the political theories and movements associated with them.[11] Social ownership may refer to forms of public, collective or cooperative ownership, or to citizen ownership of equity.[12] There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them,[13] though social ownership is the common element shared by its various form
    Socialism - Wikipedia.

    * Socialism =equality for all (except some are more equal than others)

    National Socialism (German: Nationalsozialismus), more commonly known as Nazism (/ˈnɑːtsi.ɪzəm, ˈnæt-/),[1] is the ideology and set of practices associated with the 20th-century German Nazi Party in Nazi Germany and of other far-right groups. Usually characterized as a form of fascism that incorporates scientific racism and antisemitism, Nazism's development was influenced by German nationalism(especially Pan-Germanism), the Völkisch movement, and the anti-Communist Freikorps paramilitary groups that emerged during the Weimar Republic after Germany's defeat in the First World War.

    Nazism subscribed to theories of racial hierarchy and Social Darwinism, identifying the Germans as a part of what the Nazis regarded as an Aryan or Nordic master race.[2] It aimed to overcome social divisions and create a German homogeneous society based on racial purity which represented a people's community (Volksgemeinschaft). The Nazis aimed to unite all Germans living in historically German territory, as well as gain additional lands for German expansion under the doctrine of Lebensraum and exclude those who they deemed either community aliens or "inferior" races. The term "National Socialism" arose out of attempts to create a nationalist redefinition of "socialism", as an alternative to both international socialism and free market capitalism. Nazism rejected the Marxist concept of class conflict, opposed cosmopolitan internationalism and sought to convince all parts of the new German society to subordinate their personal interests to the "common good" and accept political interests as the main priority of economic organization
    Nazism - Wikipedia

    *He was a person who in early life found it a struggle and was never on the top rung.
    His thoughts of repression for himself and later for the German people drove him to plan and coerce others in rights for Germany
    Once the platform was set and his staunch allies were on board he sowed his seeds of hate and material grabbing.
    Whilst he may have believed his thoughts and plans were for the common good ,power corrupts and his thoughts became law.
    The larger his gang became the more extreme plans kicked in.
    As the years passed all varieties of mental and physical health issues beset him.This is all well documented elsewhere needless to say his issues were complex all mixed in to say "he was a mad man".
    The concept of driving the German people to believe his way was right was in motion, upheld by the them and for those who turned turtle soon realised the consequences.

    Nazism was Nazism a one off for the time.
    Germany for the Germans(if you fitted the racial profile)
    World domination (along with a few allies who jumped on the bandwagon)
    Removal of those who did not fit.
    canuck, Tolbooth and Lindele like this.
  9. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Always the big problem in such stuff.
    Especially as the goalposts shift. I usually find authoritarian Vs libertarian more interesting markers.

    Socialism, fascism, communism etc. can be defined to an extent, though.
    Adolf's team, unsurprisingly, fit fascist more than most, though again fascism can now be used as an accusation against extreme left & right.

    That's why I mentioned the Strassers. There was definitely an element that was more earnest about being a German workers party with distinctly socialist views in among all the other bile, but genuine proponents of it were indeed liquidated and do not represent the party as Adolf created and history knows it.
    Lindele likes this.
  10. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Which is pretty much where we are today with people being labelled as whatever without any real interest what they might actually think, believe or say. Odd that it's largely the left in the authoritarian, red sense that is using Mein Kampf as a guide...
    Lindele likes this.
  11. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Being at each others throats doesn't necessarily mean they are/were ideologically poles apart, especially if you view it as fighting for the same ground. Catholics v protestants, Islamic sects, political party infighting, nationalist socialists v international communists, the list of fratricidal fun goes on.
    Lindele likes this.
  12. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    I take your point that there is a trend to see Fascism as something of the left, rather than something of the right. The same is true of Anarchism which is being portrayed as an ideology of the Right as opposed to one of the Left (no state intervention, no taxation etc.). However, the debate isn't Left or Right, but Big State vs Little State. Left and Right might be a convenient point of expression for this debate but at it's heart the debate is about how much control and influence the State has, or should have, over the individual. A major part of this debate is coming from the US, but it is not confined to the US. It is also not coming from the traditional camps of the Democrats or Republicans but from the Libertarians, a sweeping movement that has been gaining in traction and credibilty since Ron Paul made his Presidential runs in 2008 and 2012. There was a fledgling attempt to get Libertarianism of the ground during the Clinton era, which probably had a good chance of succeeding in 1994, but which petered out when, in 1995, Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing gave the media a stick with which to beat anyone who was not part of the mainstream.

    Libertarian's are defined by their support for "maximum liberty in both personal and economic matters. They advocate a much smaller government; one that is limited to protecting individuals from coercion and violence. Libertarians tend to embrace individual responsibility, oppose government bureaucracy and taxes, promote private charity, tolerate diverse lifestyles, support the free market, and defend civil liberties." The oft-repeated cry of the Libertarian is that he "...wants State of my back and its hand out of my pocket!" (I think most of us would agree with that one though). In general they see the positive sides of the Left's advocacy of individual liberties but vehemently disagree with Socialist ideas about managed economies. They also tend to view any sizeable Government, including the US Government, as Fascistic in nature and intent on curbing individual freedoms. Rand Paul (son of Ron Paul) authored a 2012 book with the title, "Government Bullies: How Everyday Americans Are Being Harassed, Abused, and Imprisoned by the Feds."

    Libertarians trace their philosophy back to the founding principle of America and trace an intellectual path from Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, through writers such as Henry Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and all the way down to the 20th Century where the novels of Ayn Rand popularized Libertarianism and Robert Nozick's "Anarchy, State, and Utopia", 'single-handedly established the legitimacy of libertarianism as a political theory in the world of academia'. So you can see why the US is the centre of this debate and why it is probably the only place left where there is a real debate going on (both underground and in the mainstream media) about what it means to be Left or Right and what it means to be Libertarian. In the US the Left seek to demonise Libertarians as being extreme Right-Wing, or Far Right, and whilst Liberatarians do find, for the moment, a convenient home in the Republican party, they are at pains to point out that they are neither. That they take their lead from John Locke and Thomas Paine, and even Maletesa and Proudhon and the Austrian School Economist Von Mises. That they espouse Free Market economies, Small State, Low Taxation, non-intervention in the affairs of other countries, small Military (defensive rather than offensive), and point out that huge Military expenditure is a symptom of a Fascist state. In light of this you can see why Libertarians see themselves on a straight line with some of the concepts of Anarchism. Incidentally, The First seasons of "Sons of Anarchy" showed the MC as being based on Libertarian principles, undermined by greed and violence. Indeed the Messiah of this Libertarianism was the father of the principal character, Jax Teller, and he was slain by the Judases within for their own immoral gain. His son then walks through the desert and attempts to resist the temptation of the Devils around him. In the end he sacrifices himself to save those he loves. Has a familiar ring to it I suppose but I wonder how many people in the UK saw, or understood, those sub-texts in the TV drama. Certainly, very many more Americans did and a Google search of Sons of Ananrcy and Philosophy will show just how much they did!

    It is because of the onslaught against Libertarians that they have begun to fight back and start to draw uncomfortable parallels with the modern US state and the Fascist states of the early 20th Century. This is the basis of correlations with Fascism and Socialism. With this they are not only attacking the Democrats but also the Republicans who they view as being as one and the same. If there were no parallels then the arguments would not really hold much water but that's where we need to stop and ask, 'do they have a point?' The basis of all Historical enquiry is to keep an open mind and to avoid, at all costs, a value judgement. That said I don't think that anyone would deny that Fascist states, such as existed in Germany, Spain and Italy, were Totalitarian in nature, nor that Soviet Russia was a Totalitarian State. But that wasn't the only correlation between the ideologies, there was also the tendency of both towards a State-managed Economies. The Fascists may have paid lip service to the idea of the means of production remaining, nominally, in private hands, but they also insisted that the State would play a substanial role in Production and in Allocation Decisions (i.e. where and what would be produced). It's not enough to say that the Nazi's lifted the Germany economy by putting Germany on a war-footing you also have to look at what was happening at the macro and micro economic level. It should also be noted that as late as 1940 Hitler was still making speeches in the Reichstag condeming Capitalism! There's also the rejection of the classical Liberal advocacy of Individual rights in favour of some form of collectivist mindset. Where the Socialist appealed to an International brotherhood of the Proletariat, the Fascist exhorted citizens to support the state and this is no better illustrated than in Germany with the extreme national bias, Eugenics, Hitler Youth and even Volkswagen's (the people's car -- the idea being that the state would provide a good standard of living, a home and a car for every family). In effect you are talking about the difference between International Socialism and National Socialsm and the question has to be asked, "is this how the Fascists saw themselves?" And it is a relevant question to ask, because Historical discourse does not move forward without asking questions. Where other's decry 'Revisionism' I merely see nothing taken for granted, questions being asked and shibboleths challenged.

    So, in my opinion, it is right to ask if Fascism, or Nazism, is akin to Socialism, to deny the question even before you've studied the undelying reasons for asking it belies a value judgement that has no place in historical inquiry. Besides, Socialism, Fascism, Anarchism and Nationalism all grew out of the same socio-economic conditions of the late 19th Century, it would be foolish to assume that they had nothing in common.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
    Tolbooth and Lindele like this.
  13. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    Perhaps the concept of socialism varies depending on the cultural background of each country. I'm no expert on German history, but know that in the early 20th century it was a relatively new country, still very much influenced by earlier traditions of each independent state and the concept of the 'volk':
    Opinion | Return of the German Volk
    Plus the early 30s drastic economic downturn .
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
    Lindele likes this.
  14. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Perhaps we should call it hitlerism
  15. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Yes and no--or no and yes. A little bit. Partly.

    Nazism, like Fascism generally, represented a combination of the integral, racialized, militant nationalism of the late 19th century with certain features of the Socialist movement (tight organization, all sorts of mass mobilization tactics, propaganda, etc). It was Hitler's genius to take the two most powerful political forces in the Germany of his day and blend them into something new. Hitler took the rather snotty nationalism of the junker class and the right wing intellectuals and turned into something for the man in the street--especially the stupid man in the street, whose psychology he knew so well. Socialism preached a mythology of the emergent proletariat as the Chosen People, while Hitler proclaimed the Germans as God's favorites. The SPD and KPD built class-conscious communities where everything was politicized, and the Nazis did the same. Fascism generally is often more about style than content, and Hitler (like Mussolini) did copy much of the style and rhetoric of the Socialism of his time. Nazism proclaimed racial brotherhood across classes to be superior to class feeling, but there was also a fair amount of class resentment among some Nazis, including Hitler himself. The idea that the working class is intrinsically pure and immune to right wing temptation is false; Nazism was strongest among the middle class and the peasantry but it did better among the working class than some like to admit, though most of its working class supporters were among the smaller and newer industries and smaller and newer centers. Hitler hated the aristocracy and took a bloody revenge on it after July 20th. This sort of lumpen right-wing populism can be found here too among some of the Trumpites; much as they hate liberals they hate educated upper class conservatives like Buckley and George Will even more. Economics bored Hitler and much to the disappointment of Strasser and others he never took the specifically socialist elements in the Nazi 'platform' seriously. On the other hand, with some conspicuous exceptions (Thyssen, etc) German industry was not that enthusiastic about Hitler before he came to power. After 1933 industry continued to make money but it became increasingly clear that industry was at Hitler's orders like everything else in the country and industrialists became more and more unhappy with the regime as they were "coordinated" and their freedom was curtailed. Germany under the Nazis never had a fully socialized, planned economy like that of Russia, so in that sense you could say it wasn't Socialist; but Hitler's Socialism was about racial brotherhood, mass organization and politicization, not economics. As he put it himself once, "we are socializing the people."
    Lindele, Tolbooth and TriciaF like this.
  16. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

    to me, Hitler was both clever and ruthless/criminal. In a way a Super Salesman, selling a motor bike to an old, poor 100 year old lady. payable in 10 years. Sorry all salesmen (I was one myself) and sorry all keen motor bike riders > 100 years.
    CL1 likes this.
  17. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Not that I’m into political posts but I would like to add my two penny’s worth.

    I’m I wrong to get annoyed when it’s stated that events such as WW2, the Holocust and the like we’re initiated by the Nazis, surely Nazism was none other than a political party. Am I wrong to think that these terrible event were initiated by the Germans and as such it should be so stated?
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
    Lindele likes this.
  18. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

    I totally agree. The debate in the polish parliment in these days, I find more than strange. Auschwitz was in the occupied terretories of Poland in 1942 and the same place with a polish name is still there. If someone says "Auschwitz is in Poland". To me is not wrong. To construct any guild on the polish site is absurd. Even if some polish forced labour was helping with the rails, does not change anything.
    Peter Clare likes this.
  19. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Depends, doesn't it? We've touched on this before in some other thread Peter, I'm sure.
    Depends on how accurate a context needs to be. Not all Nazis were German, not all Germans were Nazis and Hitler was Austrian after all. Using them as interchangeable terms might be fine for the most part but in my opinion it lets some off the hook entirely merely by their nationality and not by their inclination, sympathies or deeds. It certainly doesn't define the era as well as it might.

    Likewise when the term Nazi Germany is used, I think of a 'greater Germany', not the area we associate with the country today. However I find that more accurate / useful as a term, although others might have a different take on that.

    As for the topic - Was Nazism socialist? No of course not. The recent deliberate attempts at 'confusion' should fool no one but unfortunately they do. Speaks volumes as to the propensity to prefer puerile name-calling over debate about serious issues as well as the willingness of so many to be deflected so easily by conspiracy-type exaggeration.
    Lindele likes this.
  20. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    There's a quote in here BBC radio, Iplayer now etc.: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02dcqf2

    Around 7 mins in, that the red in the Nazi flag was meant to represent the "social aspects of the Nazi party". Anti-social however might have also been equally apt. Socialism means different things to different people. Whilst for some there is no such thing as society, for others it is...

    1. 1. the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community.
    2. an organization or club formed for a particular purpose or activity.

    Reclaiming the Swastika
    The Documentary
    For most people in the West, the swastika remains inextricably linked to the atrocities committed by the Nazis in the last century. But there have been calls to reclaim the symbol from its Nazi links and restore its origin as an ancient symbol signalling good luck.

    So can these two views ever be reconciled? Mukti Jain Campion examines the symbol's long and surprising pre-Nazi history and discovers how the Nazi adoption of it is based on a mistaken interpretation of ancient Indian texts.

    She talks to historians, visits the world's oldest identified swastika in Ukraine, meets a tattoo artist in Copenhagen with a mission to revive the ancient symbol and hears what the swastika means today to a 93-year-old Jewish holocaust survivor.

Share This Page