A strange anomaly has been occurring over recent years across social media platforms and political websites, which involves individuals claiming the Nazi party were socialists. Indeed, these pundits would have us believe Adolf Hitler was something of a Bolshevik.
Nazi is a shortened version of the German term Nationalsozialistische, which translates as “national socialist.” The party’s full name in English is the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.
It’s the use of the word “socialist” that’s leading some alt-right commentators to claim these renowned fascists were actually left-leaning politicos.
Richard Anthony, writing in right-wing UFP News, asserts that over the last 20 years the mainstream media has moved towards the left, and that it’s been attempting to “rewrite history.” One way that it’s done this, according to Anthony, is by pushing the narrative that Nazis were on the far-right of the political spectrum.
Anthony claims the reason the media is so set on trying to deceive the public into thinking Nazis aren’t leftists, is so they can then compare Hitler’s party with today’s alt-right political movements, and therefore vilify these players as hateful racists.
However, this hard-left commandeered media must be doing a superb job, as no one of sound mind is going to believe the idea that Hitler was spruiking proletarian control of the means of production while he was addressing the crowds at Nuremberg.
More like white nationalists
The Nazi Party purposefully used the term “socialist” in order to convey that they were prioritising working class rights at a time when the empowerment of the proletariat, along with socialist and communist doctrines, were popular ideologies.
Propaganda was a crucial instrument that the Nazis applied in their politicking. Hitler was known to espouse socialist sentiments to a certain degree during his speeches with the aim of rallying the popular support of the people.
But, when Hitler took aim at the economic system of the day, along with the rule of the rich and hyperinflation, he pointed the finger at the Jewish population as the cause, not capitalist merchants. The Nazi Party leader took the basis of socialist rhetoric and replaced class with race.
A more revealing illustration of what the Nazis stood for is the use of the word “national” in the party’s full title. The Nazis were white nationalists, just like their neo-Nazi offspring. They were far more interested in promoting Aryans as superior people, than emancipating the working class.
As far right as you can get
Nazism is a fascist ideology emphasising German nationalism, with a belief in a superior Aryan master race. It also promotes antisemitism. Nazism is ultra-nationalistic, socially conservative and totalitarian. It sits squarely at the extreme hard-right of the political spectrum.
Under Nazism, there is no unification of the working class under one common cause – and certainly not across nations and creeds in revolt against capitalist rulers.
And while the Nazis were expansionist, they were all about exporting German nationalism, rather than liberating workers.
Hitler was immensely influenced by Benito Mussolini: the fascist dictator of Italy, who ruled his country for over twenty years. During his early reign, Mussolini dismantled constitutional restraints and established a police state.
A month after Hitler became German chancellor on 30 January 1933, a fire in the Reichstag – the German parliament – allowed him to obtain a decree that invoked Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, which “indefinitely suspended” many constitutionally protected civil liberties.
Both Hitler and Mussolini had no interest in the left-wing idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat. They were very much focused upon the dictatorship of the supreme leaders.
A clampdown on the left-wing
After Hitler took control of Germany, the Brownshirts and the Gestapo conducted widespread searches to track down those they considered enemies of the Nazis. Left-wing parties were banned, and members of moderate parties were threatened and assaulted.
Socialists, communists, and trade unionists were murdered. By mid-1933, the Nazi Party was the only legal political party left in Germany. All the opposition had been wiped out, and democracy was dead.
As a child, Adolf Hitler was baptised into the Catholic Church. He later became an altar boy, and at one stage even aspired to become a priest. Despite his religious beliefs, many point out that the Führer espousal of hatred was inconsistent with Christ’s messages of love and forgiveness.
The chancellor expressly invoked Christian values and beliefs in his public speeches. Hitler would often refer to himself as a “follower of Christ”, and the Nazis frequently invoked Martin Luther’s 1543 treatise “On the Jews and Their Lies” to justify their antisemitism.
When the Nazis took control of Germany, the majority of the population was Christian. The areas of the country with a large protestant population had the highest rates of support for Hitler’s party. The Catholics climbed on board once the Führer was in power.
So, it’s interesting that no mention is every made of the fact that perhaps history’s most heinous act of terror – the Holocaust, which led to the loss of an estimated 6 million Jewish lives – was carried out by a group of Christians.
Ignorance is bliss
So, given the Nazis were far from leftist comrades grasping copies of Das Kapital and aiming for a state run by the workers, it’s hard to gauge why certain parties are even trying to claim they were socialists.
These individuals might as well take on another challenge and explain how the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is an example of a free nation run by the people, and how its supreme leader Kim Jong-un is a typical example of an elected representative.
These alt-right types might also want to suggest that fellow right-wing exponents stop brandishing Nazi swastika flags, as it’s doing nothing to back up their claims.
Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He has a focus on human rights issues, encroachments on civil liberties, drug law reform, gender diversity and First Nations rights. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, he wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.