zaterdag 4 februari 2012

The leftwing of National-Socialism Part 3

The new National-Socialist Leftwing

With the dissolution of the AGNW a potential "Fremdkörper" disappeared from the scene. The battle for a leftwing political direction however continued, although the circumstances had changed. Even the Munich creed of "Lebensraum im Osten" was not without controversy. In particular count Reventlow, but also Dr Goebbels and Otto Strasser gave clear signals in the direction of a rapprochement with the Soviet Union. The Bamberg events were in no way meant as a domination by the Volkischer wing, which was not able to gain supreme power within the movement. Nor was there a change of sides by Dr. Goebbels, who at that time still remained an integral part of the leftwing. The leftwing in the party recovered quickly and established strong bases, partly through personal contacts, especially in the industrial regions in the West, in Saxony and Berlin. Furthermore a new publishing company - Kampf Verlag - was set up, and its publications - those of the Völkische Beobachter - eclipsed the whole of Northern Germany. Contemporaries compared the position of the Kampf Verlag dominance with that of Huge Berg's newspaper empire within the DNVP (German Nationals: the reaction). The leftwing also took advantage of the fact that Hitler tried to integrate the leading figures in the party, they also received reinforcement by influx from the national-revolutionary spectrum. The Führer tried to win his former rivals by stating that the big companies, transport, public transport and the production of finished goods would be nationalized. In addition he removed Herman Esser, who the leftwing hated, from the leadership of the propaganda committee. His place was taken by Gregor Strasser (September 1926).

The new leftwing of the National-Socialists was actually a remarkable fusion (symbiosis) of strength and weakness. It didn’t have an independent organizational unit, but from this moment on the entire NS movement was saturated by their ideas. The statement dated from May 22, 1926 regarding the full validity of the 25 points, it revealed itself to be an unexpected advantage; from now on the leftwing could use the party program in her advantage and she would be able to criticize Munich on the basis of the 25 points.

The overarching Ruhr district

On 7 March 1926, the regional party congress in Essen took the unanimous decision to the arbitrary merging of the two shires North Rhine and Westphalia. Dr. Goebbels welcomed this formation as a new phase in the struggle. The leadership was - in contrast with the party structures - a collective in which the mutual responsibilities was taken on by the triumvirate Kaufmann, Dr. Goebbels and Pfeffer. It took a bit of time until Munich endorsed this new district and its leadership. The ambitious project of a Western bloc however suffered problems as a result of the conflicts - both of political and personal level - within the triumvirate and the intrigues of the district leaders who wished to impose their own views. In June 1926 Hitler and Strasser were forced to intervene and had to ensure clear relationships. Kaufmann was appointed to Gauleiter, Goebbels and Pfeffer were assigned to other functions. Dr. Goebbels was promoted away to take on the Berlin leadership and thus the Elberfeld front was finally defeated. However it would still take years before the peace in the Rhine and Ruhr district returned; Kaufmann was incapable of stopping the course of his district leaders.

Dr. Goebbels takes over the leadership in Berlin

In the summer of 1926, Dr. Goebbels was involved in an incessant series of conflicts, not only with his former comrades at the Ruhr, but also with Gregor Strasser. The subject had been discussed since June (1926), so the formal request of the national leadership for Dr. Goebbels to take over the hopelessly divided Berlin came at exactly the right time. There is no doubt that the appointment of Dr. Goebbels was intended as a counterweight to the leftwing. His relationship towards Otto Strasser had been relatively good since their meeting in 1915 and he therefore introduced him to his new function in November 1926. Dr. Goebbels proved to be stronger than his internal rival Hauenstein (representative of the SA) and reorganized the Berliner party organization. However, since December (1926) the first tensions between Dr Goebbels and both the Strasser brothers appeared; the cause was mainly personal although it also concerned the issue of dealing with Hauenstein and to make the party of a more "new revolutionary type" (the party as a revolutionary avant-garde organisation).

The most rabid National Socialist forces soon concentrated themselves in the Berlin NSDAP and SA, to such an extend which never succeeded in the Rhine and Ruhr area. Dr. Goebbels developed his shire to be one of the most radical within the NS movement, not in the least because of his strong identification with the leftist program points. In his "goodbye letter" (beginning November 1926) Goebbels once again endorsed his social-revolutionary ideas. The aggressive and radical style of Berlin explained the weaknesses of the party doctrine and developed its own dynamics, which began to influence the other shires. More clearly than with the AGNW, the Berlin shire crystallized into a completely new movement within National-Socialism. The Munich section saw itself forced - taking into account this development - to leave its Völkisch anti-Semitic ghetto and to take on a more "modern" character.

The foundation of "Kampfverlag"

On March 1, 1926 Kampf Verlag with its seat in Berlin officially started its work. The "Nord Deutsche Beobachter" and her title pages were changed in the magazine "Der Nationale Sozialist". Gradually the 'Berliner Arbeiterzeitung'' developed into her main edition. The 'NS'' was intended as the weekly newspaper of the National-Socialist movement and served alongside the "Volkischer Beobachter" and Rosenbergs "Welt Kampf" to become the central body. Since the VB in the North and West German shires was hardly ever read, the KV magazines almost immediately acquired a monopoly on the potential readership. Direct competition with VB, however, was not originally intended (according to Otto Strasser in December 1925).

Anti-Capitalism and workers issues

In principle, there was no disagreement about the need for the formation of National-Socialist unions. However initially there was disagreement about the actual realization of such unions. The requirements (on the formation of NS unions) could count on positive acceptance by those who were representatives of class warfare and those who propagated mass action of the party and unions against the finance capital. On the background the idea to enforce Hitler to take this position also played a significant role. Gregor Strasser, Rosikat (alternate-Gauleiter of Silesia) and Dr. Goebbels demanded the overthrow of the bourgeois class ruling and the formation of an unity of the working masses against the exploitative big business (according Rosikat anyway synonymous with the majority of entrepreneurs). Dr Goebbels even went a step further and made, in May 1926, his call for a general strike against the "Dawes plan". Furthermore, the three mentioned above expressed a radicalism that's hardly to be surpassed by aggressive anti-capitalism, however it lacked concrete substance. Rosikat was well aware of this defect, because he pled for a sharper Socialist profile of the party and openly suggested that the dogma of the 25 points of the NSDAP should be open for discussion.

On the contrary, an union committee during a meeting at the party congress in Weimar (July 3, 1926) was only satisfied with the decision to support the existing Volkischer unions and to get greater influence within the Marxist unions. A trade union within the NS-movement had to be prepared (something the workers within the NSDAP had to wait for, for two years). Hitler had a unclear course about the union issue. He saw the potential of binding Volkischer workers to the movement, but on the other hand he had no interest in strengthening a mass standing above the party organization. Hitler also realized that a NS union meant a strengthening of the leftwing, moreover the direction to the union struggle would only sharpen the conflicts on the social issue within the party. A too strong orientation towards the working class would hardly have controllable effects on the social structure of the NSDAP. from that moment on Hitler declared himself against a targeted policy aimed at winning the workers, since he thought they would not be able to gain ground on the Marxists. Hitler wanted the target groups to be the classic middle class and white collar employees.

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