History of an organisation: the two-fold founding of the NSDAP
Early conflicts within the NSDAP
The conflicts based on the interpretation of National-Socialism date back from before 1925 and started during the early days of the party. Mainly the Sudeten Germans and Austrian National-Socialists were the ones who put the emphasis on the character as a true workers party, with which they emphasized the socialist character of the movement. During these days there certainly was an important discussion about the transferring of the means of production to the working class and they supported the necessity of non-politicized trade unions as representatives of the workers interests. With the Kapp-Putch of 1920 the leftwing of the NSDAP clearly distanced themselves from the reactionary "Junkertum" and the monarchists. In the struggle for power between Adolf Hitler and Anton Drexler, in 1921, the political positions of the left wing against landlordism played a major role. Hitler from the start aimed his worldview more on the racial doctrine and rejected the social and economic revolution propagated by the leftwing. He first wanted to create a unified nation before a start could be made with social reforms.
The Janus face of National-Socialism appeared as soon as in 1923. On the party congress in Munich (in January 1923) Hitler took a firm position to benefit the private property of entrepreneurs, while in Northern Germany an alliance was formed by the anti socialist and the union hostile Deutschvölkische Freiheitspartei (DVFP). Very swiftly resistance arose against this from local NSDAP groups in
The attitude of the NSDAP on parliamentary issues was also controversial. After they wanted to broaden their own organisational basis with the purpose to use parliaments as a platform for agitation, Hitler soon changed this direction and oriented himself along the lines of the KPD: extra-parliamentary mass movement and the revolutionary minority. The way to parliaments should only take place if a real possibility presented itself that allowed to take over total control. The prohibition of the party after the November Uprising was later used by Rosenberg, who through a merger with the DVFP started the parliamentarisation of the movement. The State power had to be conquered by using its political institutions. Hitler stated this political course in his publication Mein Kampf in the summer of 1925. Otto Strasser had argued earlier in 1924 for a dual strategy. Namely a formation of National-Socialists and Deutschvölkischen, who would use parliaments while winning the working class within the main industrial centres of the Reich. With this position he followed the same course as his brother Gregor, who despite his revolutionary orientation was one of the driving forces behind the alliance with the DVFP.
The directorate of North German organisations
As a protest against the merger with Deutschvölkischen (which was considered as a reactionary party of the bourgeois class) and against the parliamentary process of the movement the North German directorate was formed in June 1924. This group held noisy attacks on the parliamentarism, the excesses of capitalism and its bourgeoisie and denounced the dilution of National-Socialism by half-hearted compromises. The Directorate included local groups from Westphalia, Pomerania,
Typical for this directorate was their scepticism about the Führer prinzip (leader idea) and their dislike of the personality cult surrounding Hitler. They however recognized the leadership of Hitler without reservations even though the
The Elberfeld group
In Elberfeld, the centre of the National-Socialists and Deutschvölkischen in the
The two-fold founding of the NSDAP
On February 16, 1925, Hitler made it clear that he intended to re-establish the NSDAP without the participation of the Deutschvölkischen. His course concerning parliament remained unclear, but his main goals were the destruction of Marxism and the spread of anti-Semitism. As soon as the following day an agreement was made with Gregor Strasser. For the second time he joined the NSDAP, but this time as an employee and not as a follower. Hitler gave him the full authority over the party’s North German fraction. On February 22, 1925 the inaugural meeting of the NSDAP took place in
"Thus, my task will precisely be to meet the most diverse temperaments, abilities and characteristics, and give them that amount of space in which they - all working in tandem - can develop for the benefit of the general interest."
With this two wings within the NSDAP crystallized themselves:
1 - The Völkischer movement of the Reich that was founded in
2 - The in North and
The spiritual leaders of this last wing derived mostly from the "Konservative Revolution" (Niekisch, Jünger, Solomon) instead of the classical leftist scene. But these spiritual activators had little to do with the actual daily politics of National Socialist Left, which focused on strengthening the nation through social justice and redistribution of incomes. The leftwing within the NSDAP must not be seen as "socialist" in the classical Marxist sense, but nevertheless they had strong socialist demands and in this context they reacted significantly more radical than the usual social-populism of the traditional NS movement. Their idea of socialism could be seen as somewhere between full nationalization and social entrepreneurship on the one hand and a share in the profits and participation by workers in companies on the other. Unlike her predecessors in the early NSDAP (until 1923) this leftwing of the party orientated itself more on concrete social-economical developments while formulating their ideas substantially more clearly. For the strength and dynamics of National-Socialism, the social-revolutionary positions were of an enormous significance. To put it drastically: the leftist National-Socialists supplied the ammunition, with which the rise of National-Socialism into a mass movement was possible.
However the two-fold foundation of the NSDAP proceeded differently than Hitler had intended. Instead of a centralized and tightly from
Bourgeoisie or working class
The National-Socialist leftwing regarded the NSDAP as the workers party for main- and manual workers and increasingly urged the formation of National-Socialist trade unions. The party leadership however continued to postpone on this issue; they first had to find a suitable leader and sufficient financial resources. Dr. Goebbels even went a step further: The NSDAP had to be transformed into a party based on the class struggle, in terms of propaganda while simultaneously the focus should be on the working class. He furthermore claimed that companies should be extensively socialized.
Gregor Strasser also took a stand for a semi-socialist organization of agriculture and a collectivist economic system. The editorial office of the "Volkischer Beobachter" however tended to a more moderate kind of shares capitalism (instead of a total socialization) and a type of share in profits for the workers. Hitler's speeches at the Hamburg National Club (industrialists) and the industrialists in the