Was Hitler a Socialist?

In April 1945, when Adolf Hitler died by his own hand in the rubble of Berlin, nobody was much interested in what he had once believed. War is no time for reflection, and what Hitler had done was so shattering, and so widely known through images of naked bodies piled high in mass graves, that little or no attention could readily be paid to National Socialism as an idea. Early revelations like Hermann Rauschning’s Hitler Speaks of 1939 have been validated by painstaking research, and the notes of dead Nazis like Otto Wagener have been edited, along with a full text of Goebbels’s diary.

It is now clear beyond all reasonable doubt that Hitler and his associates believed they were socialists, and that others, including democratic socialists, thought so too. Hermann Rauschning, for example, a Danzig Nazi who knew Hitler before and after his accession to power in 1933, tells how in private Hitler acknowledged his profound debt to the Marxian tradition. Hitler had a fatherland, and it was everything to him.

Yet privately, and perhaps even publicly, he conceded that National Socialism was based on Marx. The point was widely understood, and it is notable that no German socialist in the 1930s or earlier ever sought to deny Hitler’s right to call himself a socialist on grounds of racial policy. In the European century that began in the 1840s from Engels’s article of 1849 down to the death of Hitler, everyone who advocated genocide called himself a socialist, and no exception has been found.

The first reactions to National Socialism outside Germany are now largely forgotten. A wit at the British Foreign Office is said to have remarked that all the “Isms” were now “Wasms”, and the general view was that nothing more than a cynical marriage of convenience had taken place.

By the outbreak of world war in 1939 the idea that Hitler was any sort of socialist was almost wholly dead. Orwell believed that Hitler would go down in history as “the man who made the City of London laugh on the wrong side of its face” by forcing financiers to see that planning works and that an economic free-for-all does not.

At its height, Hitler’s appeal transcended party division. Hitler’s remembered talk offers a vision of a future that draws together many of the strands that once made utopian socialism irresistibly appealing to an age bred out of economic depression and cataclysmic wars; it mingles, as Victorian socialism had done before it, an intense economic radicalism with a romantic enthusiasm for a vanished age before capitalism had degraded heroism into sordid greed and threatened the traditional institutions of the family and the tribe.

Socialism, Hitler told Wagener shortly after he seized power, was not a recent invention of the human spirit, The Jew, Hitler told Wagener, was not a socialist. The one and only problem of the age, he told Wagener, was to liberate labour and replace the rule of capital over labour with the rule of labour over capital.

These are highly socialist sentiments, and if Wagener reports his master faithfully they leave no doubt about the conclusion: that Hitler was an unorthodox Marxist who knew his sources and knew just how unorthodox the way in which he handled them was.

What do you think?


source:1). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_views_of_Adolf_Hitler 2).http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/hitler-and-the-socialist-dream-1186455.htmlaccessed 25/08/17 - picture: http://www.oldmagazinearticles.com/speech-by-Hitler#.WaAyUa2ZN24accessed25/08/17

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