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Was the Nazi Party socialist?

  1. Apr 8, 2013 #1
    The official name was the National Socialist Democratic Workers Party. However this is of no use. They certainly weren't democratic, so why should we believe they were socialist?

    The party worked in the interests of workers by imposing price controls. The controls were on retail prices, so shopkeepers had to absorb the losses. Naziism was no friend to small business.

    As to state ownership of business, the party did start an arms factory named after Hermann Goering. But generally they worked with existing private enterprise. So would that mean that they were not socialist?

    Hitler was a pragmatist and had a record of using people for his purposes until they were no longer of any use, then disposing of them. I think this is what he was doing with private industry. The party was a radical one and opposed to all other institutions -- schools, churches, even marriage -- that might lead anyone away from the parties goals. It is also a fact that the party leadership was corrupt and incompetent. There was no chance that they could manage a factory, and I suspect that the Hermann Goering factory was not a useful one. So the party worked with private industry because that was the only way to get the production they needed for the war. Once the party was able to develop members who could be trusted to run the factories then they would have been seized. So in that sense party was socialist. But if the workers were no longer useful they too would have been discarded. The country certainly wasn't going to be run for the benefit of workers. So perhaps not. It depends on the exact definition of socialism one uses, and future actions of the party that never came to be.
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  3. Apr 8, 2013 #2


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    Starting with the wiki on it, I'm sure there is plenty of discussion of the issue online:

    Hitler didn't create the name and objected to it because he didn't want it confused with Marxist socialism. It is fascist and typically considered a right wing ideology, but I subscribe to the theory that the ends of the spectrum curve and join. After all, extreme socialism also has strong, militaristic national governments. In either case, all such extremist ideologies, in practice, are manipulated/utilized for the benefit of the leaders, so definitions can be loose.
  4. Apr 8, 2013 #3


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    The German abbreviation for the Nazi party (NSDAP) translates to the National Socialist German Workers Party. There was nothing democratic about either the name of the party nor how it functioned.
  5. Apr 9, 2013 #4

    Oops, you are right. Silly me. I knew that.
  6. Apr 9, 2013 #5


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    The 25-point Program of the NSDAP

    We demand the unification of all Germans in the Greater Germany on the basis of the people's right to self-determination.

    We demand equality of rights for the German people in respect to the other nations; abrogation of the peace treaties of Versailles and St. Germain.

    We demand land and territory (colonies) for the sustenance of our people, and colonization for our surplus population.

    Only a member of the race can be a citizen. A member of the race can only be one who is of German blood, without consideration of creed. Consequently no Jew can be a member of the race.

    Whoever has no citizenship is to be able to live in Germany only as a guest, and must be under the authority of legislation for foreigners.

    The right to determine matters concerning administration and law belongs only to the citizen.

    Therefore we demand that every public office, of any sort whatsoever, whether in the Reich, the county or municipality, be filled only by citizens. We combat the corrupting parliamentary economy, office-holding only according to party inclinations without consideration of character or abilities.

    We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens. If it is impossible to sustain the total population of the State, then the members of foreign nations (non-citizens) are to be expelled from the Reich.

    Any further immigration of non-citizens is to be prevented. We demand that all non-Germans, who have immigrated to Germany since 2 August 1914, be forced immediately to leave the Reich.
    All citizens must have equal rights and obligations.

    The first obligation of every citizen must be to work both spiritually and physically. The activity of individuals is not to counteract the interests of the universality, but must have its result within the framework of the whole for the benefit of all. Consequently we demand:

    Abolition of unearned (work and labour) incomes. Breaking of debt (interest)-slavery.

    In consideration of the monstrous sacrifice in property and blood that each war demands of the people, personal enrichment through a war must be designated as a crime against the people.

    Therefore we demand the total confiscation of all war profits.

    We demand the nationalisation of all (previous) associated industries (trusts).

    We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries.

    We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare.

    We demand the creation of a healthy middle class and its conservation, immediate communalization of the great warehouses and their being leased at low cost to small firms, the utmost consideration of all small firms in contracts with the State, county or municipality.

    We demand a land reform suitable to our needs, provision of a law for the free expropriation of land for the purposes of public utility, abolition of taxes on land and prevention of all speculation in land.
    We demand struggle without consideration against those whose activity is injurious to the general interest. Common national criminals, usurers, profiteers and so forth are to be punished with death, without consideration of confession or race.

    We demand substitution of a German common law in place of the Roman Law serving a materialistic world-order.

    The state is to be responsible for a fundamental reconstruction of our whole national education program, to enable every capable and industrious German to obtain higher education and subsequently introduction into leading positions. The plans of instruction of all educational institutions are to conform with the experiences of practical life. The comprehension of the concept of the State must be striven for by the school [Staatsbuergerkunde] as early as the beginning of understanding. We demand the education at the expense of the State of outstanding intellectually gifted children of poor parents without consideration of position or profession.

    The State is to care for the elevating national health by protecting the mother and child, by outlawing child-labor, by the encouragement of physical fitness, by means of the legal establishment of a gymnastic and sport obligation, by the utmost support of all organizations concerned with the physical instruction of the young.

    We demand abolition of the mercenary troops and formation of a national army.

    We demand legal opposition to known lies and their promulgation through the press. In order to enable the provision of a German press, we demand, that: a. All writers and employees of the newspapers appearing in the German language be members of the race; b. Non-German newspapers be required to have the express permission of the State to be published. They may not be printed in the German language; c. Non-Germans are forbidden by law any financial interest in German publications, or any influence on them, and as punishment for violations the closing of such a publication as well as the immediate expulsion from the Reich of the non-German concerned. Publications which are counter to the general good are to be forbidden. We demand legal prosecution of artistic and literary forms which exert a destructive influence on our national life, and the closure of organizations opposing the above made demands.

    We demand freedom of religion for all religious denominations within the state so long as they do not endanger its existence or oppose the moral senses of the Germanic race. The Party as such advocates the standpoint of a positive Christianity without binding itself confessionally to any one denomination. It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit within and around us, and is convinced that a lasting recovery of our nation can only succeed from within on the framework: The good of the state before the good of the individual.[11]

    For the execution of all of this we demand the formation of a strong central power in the Reich. Unlimited authority of the central parliament over the whole Reich and its organizations in general. The forming of state and profession chambers for the execution of the laws made by the Reich within the various states of the confederation. The leaders of the Party promise, if necessary by sacrificing their own lives, to support by the execution of the points set forth above without consideration.
  7. Apr 10, 2013 #6
    That's certainly a socialist program. They didn't actually practice it. Perhaps they would have if they had remained in power long enough.
  8. Apr 10, 2013 #7


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    NSDAP was most definitely collectivist, and regarded state authority as the primary means to promote and defend that collectivism.
    This latter point, the centrality of state authority in enforcing collectivism distinguishes NSDAP from those types of reactionary collectivisms that regarded guilds, nobles, and the individual patriarchs as the ones to streamline the population (i.e, pre-modern forms of collectivism).

    However, NSDAP was certainly not egalitarian in mentality, neither relative to races, or how the economy ought to be regulated/administered. This is a factor that distinguishes it from at least the ideological pretense of other socialisms.
  9. Apr 10, 2013 #8

    jim hardy

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    You might find Albert Speer's memoir "Slave State" an interesting read.

    It ran like any other bureaucracy - individuals competing for position and power.

    Their goal was a "Slave State", a core of chosen people living a pastoral lifestyle supported by forced labor of their 'inferior' neighbors.
    Does socialism include 'Some pigs are more equal than others....' ?
  10. Jun 2, 2014 #9


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    They weren't socialists, and they were anti-labor. Unions were expressly forbidden in Nazi Germany. In addition, socialists were rounded up and sent to concentration camps even before the Jews. In fact, it's well worth pointing out that the Nazi's had many capitalist sympathizers in the United States. Henry Ford won the highest medal that Nazi Germany had for foreigners, and GM and Ford was instrumental in the Nazi war effort.

    Here is an article by a supporter of Socialism (Albert Einstein) on what socialism is about:

    Unfortunately, it's still taboo.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2014
  11. Jun 7, 2014 #10
    I've seen the Nazi Party's name explained as a way of bridging the left and the right, by using each side's favorite words in the party's name. Sort of like a US party called the Democratic Republican Liberal Conservative Party.

    National (right) Socialist (left) German (right) Workers (left)
  12. Jun 8, 2014 #11
    Nope. It's just a myth.

    Facism has some things in common with socialism as both ideologies are collectivist in nature. So in both you have mixed economies, socialized health care and so on - social structures in place to take care of your own.

    However, the difference is in the type of collective these two ideologies take care of. In fascism,it's the ethnic national group. In socialism, it's about taking care of everybody. In essence, fascism is ultra-nationalist and extremely anti-egalitarian, while socialism is internationalist and very egalitarian. These are fundamental differences that make the ideologies wildly different.

    I also don't buy Russ Watter's claim about socialism being extreme: Unless we're talking about communism, ordinary socialism is a proven concept that works very well in Europe. There's nothing extreme or dangerous about it; IMO it's common sense. Socialism mixes well with democracy (and authoritarianism).
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2014
  13. Jun 9, 2014 #12
    Are we discussing here:
    -declared ideology?

    If declared ideology - then they even used "socialist" in their name.
    If practice - then the Soviet Union presented very high dose of Russian nationalism, including genocide of undesirable ethnic groups (like Holodomor) or mass deportation based on ethnic origin.

    Anyway, within "the race" Nazism was quite egalitarian with really good welfare state by standards of its era; sure it had to be financed by looting conquered countries. One of reasons why Germany had so high morale during WW2, was that in contrast to WW1 German cared much more about wellbeing of masses.
  14. Jun 10, 2014 #13
    There is a very interesting book available free online whose title I unfortunately forget. It was interviews with ten ordinary low-level Nazi in a town in Germany shortly after the war, asked why they joined the party. Their views were that they didn't like democracy because the legislature was dominated by the rich and ordinary people weren't getting anything. Industrialists who had gotten rich off of WWI were particularly despised. The people had gotten a better deal in the days of the Kaiser, who could and sometimes did decree a benefit for the people. They didn't want to go back to the Kaiser though. What they wanted was a government for the benefit of ordinary laborers. This is what they meant by socialism. They didn't like Communism because it was under the leadership of the USSR. They wanted a German nationalistic socialism. Hence the National Socialist German Workers Party.

    The party imposed wage and price controls. Shops had to sell certain items at a loss and had to resort to subterfuges to stay in business. Their party literature regularly denounced profits and business, so I would say that it was basically anti-business.

    So, why did the Nazis get so much support from business and even royalty? The main reason was that Hitler was a both a pragmatist and a very convincing liar. The Nazis were a bunch of drunks and thugs and could not run an industry. They tried with the Herman Goering factory, which was hopelessly corrupt. The hated war profiteers were needed to support the war. I'm sure that after the war was won the plan was to get rid of them. The Nazis wanted total control and in the long run no other power center was to be tolerated. The Nazis also lied to royalty, telling them they would be reinstated. Goebbels aide de camp was a Bavarian prince. There was absolutely no chance that this promise would be fulfilled. it was a lie that royalty wanted to believe. Another example was the Catholic church. The Church is protected in the party platform, but Hitler said he would deal with them after the war.

    When you read about them it was a truly totalitarian state. Hitler even wanted to do away with the institution of marriage to further his eugenics program. Ordinary Nazis thought his eugenics kooky, laughable, and refused to carry out his program of euthanasia.

    Fascism was an Italian concept and I haven't studied it.
  15. Jun 12, 2014 #14


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    As the late Lady Thatcher reportedly said, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money [to spend]."


    Or, to put it another way,

    "Socialism always starts with the same promises, and ends with the same failures. And yet it’s always presented as something shiny and new!" - Glenn Reynolds

    Socialism always works for a while, but even in Europe, the cracks are starting to show and grow. That's what the periodic European financial crises are about: the southern European countries want to spend way beyond their means, and they expect the northern countries to work hard and pay the bills, generating all sorts of recrimination and resentment between the two camps. Throw in a dash of declining fertility rates, which means fewer young people entering the labor force, and an increase in the elderly population retiring and receiving benefits from the state, like a pension and health care, and you have a rather interesting stew bubbling on the stove.

    Or you can ask the Japanese: they have tried an eclectic mix of international capitalism in their export markets, while maintaining a rather socialist domestic policy for the folks in the Home Islands. There too, adverse population demographics threaten to bring the whole structure collapsing down. Young Japanese adults are not making more Japanese children, in spite of incentives offered by the government, while the over 65 population increases every day. The Japanese economy has never rebounded from the stock market crash of the early '90s and it may never fully recover.

    Socialism may mix well with democracy and authoritarianism, but experience has shown that socialist democracies tend to shift toward the authoritarian end of the political spectrum over time when democratic policies are no longer sufficient to keep the socialist machinery functioning. Post-war Europe started as a collection of little socialist laboratories, but when stagnation set in, the EU was introduced to fix things, with all of its mandates and directives coming out of Brussels.
  16. Jun 12, 2014 #15

    jim hardy

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    Benign dictatorship is the best form of government. Difficulty is keeping him benign.

    Machiavelli is reviled because he spoke of "The Masses" as a largely unwashed and illiterate lot. Well, back in 1513 there was probably some truth to that.
    His "The Prince" would be decent advice for a benign dictator.

    The trouble with socialism is some animals become "more equal than others" by self appointment. At least with a representative republic we can periodically "Throw The Bums Out".

    hmm, i kinda like that idea for a bumpersticker - a whisk broom, with logo TTBO.
  17. Jun 12, 2014 #16
    It was a combination of both

    To start off, I think this quote from Hitler is a good reference point to start from when asking this question.

    "The main plank in the National Socialist program is to abolish the liberal concept of the individual and the Marxist concept of the humanity, and to substitute for them the Volk community, rooted in the soil and united by the bond of its common blood.” 1937

    It objected to ideas that came out of the French revolution regarding liberty and individual rights. It also rejected Marxism, because it 'binded' workers around the world together (regardless of race or religion) and this contradicted what the Nazi's wanted to do with Europe. It also rejected extreme capitalism, because it valued money over the national interest. An illustration of this is the motto that was on German coins at the time which read "Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz" or translated to ""Public need before private greed".

    During the time of Fascism, it was seen as a 'third way'. Capitalism had failed Germany and Italy( and later on during the Wall st crash, other Western countries too) and communism was viewed as a threat to Europe.

    To make a quick list of two issues that I would put Nazism down for in the left/right wing spectrum....

    left: 1.)Nazism was fundamentally a collective ideology. 2.)Government involvement in the economy. ( Very similar to FDR's reforms) so therefor not for completefree markets.

    Right. 1.) Extreme nationalism and emphasized the countries' history and myths 2.) Viewed communism as a danger to national cohesion.

    Another interesting point to make that I think will make the answer to this question 'click' all of a sudden for you is this. Hitler regarded economics as something that was secondary to changing the 'will' of the people. Economics was something to be used as a means to an end. ( The end being Nazi philosophy dominating Europe) So therefor Hitler was very pragmatic with his economic policies, sometimes relying on Government programs while other times small and big business would play its part.

    So therefor you ask yourself, where do these non-economic tenants reside in the left/right paradigm ? ( Extreme nationalism, strong military, pre-emptive strikes against other countries) Where do you personally place extreme nationalism ? Left or Right ?

    To conclude, the answer is NO, because socialism is based on collecting people through class and seeing the world as a class war and Nazi Germany didn't meet this criteria. left/right politics is just a guide and shouldn't be taken too seriously. It is not an exact science.

    In my opinion, of course.
  18. Jun 12, 2014 #17


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    Benign dictatorship is the best form of government, as long as I get to be the dictator.
  19. Jun 13, 2014 #18
    I would translate that as "Use for the collective goes before use for the self," since benutzen means "to use."
  20. Jun 14, 2014 #19
    In 1934 "The night of the long knives" happened. In short Hitler had, amongst others, the leaders of the Socialist wing of the nazi party murdered.

    In response to the 25 points, in your own link right above it, it states that Hitler only mentions it once in Mein Kampf when he calls it "the so called program of the movement". I dont know about in German, but in English that means he doesnt agree with it.
  21. Jun 16, 2014 #20
    Nope,they are left wing party but they r not socialist
  22. Jun 18, 2014 #21
    Third Reich was definitely a leftist thought process. These planks affirm the leftist nature of said 3rd Reich:

    Nationalization of heavy industries.
    Division of profit among workers.
    Firearms controlled by central govt.
    Private and religious schools prohibited, compulsory public school attendance with federal mandated secular curriculum.
    National interest placed above private profit motive.

    Anybody who calls the 3rd Reich "rightist" is obviously misinformed. Just for the record, rightism & leftism do not join. There is a difference. Rightism promotes less govt, more individual initiative, profit motive, property rights, private ownership of firearms, free choice of secular or religious schools, religious liberty, states rights in spheres not specifically assigned to federal jurisdiction by Constitution, free market economics, individual responsibility, and so on. If rightism is taken to the extreme, the result is no govt at all, or anarchy. This is a very bad thing, but it differs from leftism in its extreme. The extreme left is totalitarianism, also very bad.

    Both right and left should not be carried to extreme, but they are not joined at any point. Rightism and leftism are different, and when rightism is practiced by citizens who are motivated, independent, moral, compassionate, and just, small govt results in great human happiness.

    When people don't care about helping others or themselves, the govt steps in and bankruptcy is where it ends. Socialism is a transitional phase from civilized culture to anarchy and poverty. Socialism never worked anywhere. Europe has never had the standard of living like that of the US. If subsistence is all one aspires for, then they may like socialism. But if one wishes to thrive, prosper, and achieve great things, the best environment to achieve that is a capitalist culture.

    Capitalism and socialism pros & cons are not even a legitimate debate. Capitalism is better period. Nobody with objectivity would even question the superiority of capitalism. Those who favor socialism are disenchanted with capitalism results. The socialist wishes to play God and decide who succeeds and who fails. Capitalism reminds the socialist would be rulers, that they are not in charge. Socialists hate more than anything, the fact that some people they do not like end up succeeding. It kills them.

  23. Jun 18, 2014 #22


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    The Nazi party was a well documented and highly authoritarian right wing movement.

    you can read more about that here:

    Tell that to Albert Einstein.

    Quite frankly, you strike me as a person who views everything through some kind of ideological lens.
  24. Jun 20, 2014 #23
    The concepts of left and right wing are vague catchalls that everyone defines differently. I find it more productive to discuss specific issues.
  25. Jun 20, 2014 #24
    Yes, I think left and right wing labels are pseudo-intellectual. Firstly, socialism, whatever that is, apparently can be called left or right. In either case, it's a bunch of pesky rules imposed on an otherwise free people.
    I don't like the -ism in Capitalism. It suggests that it is some technical social plan by some theorist. No, instead it is one of the oldest things. It is the natural state of affairs, neither left or right, anarchic.

    The content of National Socialism isn't as important as when National Socialism became Hitlerism. It's easy to understand from here. The policy was to destroy by death everything that Hitler didn't like. There would be perpetual enemies and perpetual war. War was healthy because of the Darwin's selection process to improve the race. Eventually 9 ft. mega-Aryans would rule the Earth. This was perhaps a hallucination he gathered as a WWI soldier. He was of course a crank, he liked swastikas, and I don't know the name of his condition was that made him so militant and determined.
  26. Jun 21, 2014 #25

    jim hardy

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    There's an interesting book called "I Was Hitler's Doctor" by Kurt Kreuger (probably a pseudonym) who claims to have treated Hitler for about fifteen years, 1919 to 1934. He describes Hitler as the product of a traumatic childhood with domineering abusive father and an overprotective mother; a fear and rage filled puer aeternus.
    Kreuger fled to New York because Hitler was killing everybody who "had any goods on him".

    I stumbled across a 1941 copy in a thrift store:

    and it's been reprinted:

    Opinion as to its authenticity vary. Nonetheless it is an interesting one to read.

    See also Upton Sinclair's review at

    EDIT maybe i shoulda put this in "What are you reading" thread a couple years ago. But the question came up in this one...
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