Nazis Were Leftists
May 6, 2001, The New York Times published the results of
a poll of 1,000 Germans conducted between April 25th
and 26th by the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel. This
survey found that 60% of Germans feel neither guilt nor responsibility
for the Jewish Holocaust and that 80% believed that only a small
minority of Germans are actually anti-Semitic. 45% flatly said they
were fed up hearing about the crimes of National Socialism and are
tired of being judged in relation to the Holocaust. 68% of the respondents
said Germans could use a little more national pride, and while 61%
agreed with the statement that one should not always poke around
in the old wounds of the Nazi era, 85% agreed that discussions about
the Third Reich remain necessary to learn from the past.
as the AP put it, "a full 46% said Nazism had not only bad
but good sides, and 28% said Hitler would have been a great statesman
had he not instigated World War II and the Holocaust."One can
almost imagine the staff of the New York Times shaking their heads
that these Germans just won’t learn.
by the standards of the Left the measurements of the Leftish
world community who define "progress" and the inevitable
‘direction’ of history Adolf Hitler would’ve been deemed
a "great statesman" had he died before he started the
war (or had won it too). Its sometimes said that if Hitler had died
in 1938, he would’ve been the greatest German who ever lived (if
one chooses to measure greatness by the amount of land and number
of people under one man’s thumb).
those Germans who believe Nazism had a good side, namely socialism/interventionism
in the name of the common man, conclude this to be "good"
because this same interventionism is the foundational principle
of today’s social morality. In the Nazi regime was present the same
trends of political, economic and social interventionism and centralization
that are lauded by today’s social elites and are the object of all
governments and political parties before and since.
the Germans surveyed are basing this belief on the pre-war Nazi
era of 1933-1939, it would be helpful to take a closer look at this
period. In the post-war Weimar Republic in order to counterbalance
the Reichstag, the President of Germany was given broad powers he
was directly elected, could make treaties and alliances, was supreme
commander of the armed forces, and could dissolve the Reichstag
and submit any of its laws to a referendum, and under the infamous
Article 48, he had the power to suspend civil and political liberties
"in case of emergency." This was done in 1933 and remained
the basis of Hitler’s "legality" throughout the Nazi period
when he succeeded Hindenburg as president in 1934. Hitler occupied
both the Presidency and the Chancellorship and their powers were
combined into the "office" of Fuhrer. The Reichstag passed
the Enabling Act, which transfered to the Cabinet the Reichstags’
abolished the states parliaments or diets, abolished their flags
and symbols and reduced them to provincial status and mere administrative
divisions of the central government. Where are efforts like this
happening today one might ask? With the stabilization of the regime
came the sprawling tentacles of the state octopus an alphabet-soup
of executive administrative agencies 42 in all (which, by the way
as of 1992, the United States government has 52 such executive agencies).
And in addition to these 42 agencies were the regular Cabinet, the
Secret Cabinet Council, the Reich Defense Council and its many working
committees; the Ministry of Education, the Office of the Deputy
Fuhrer, the Office of the Plenipotentiary of War Economy and the
Office of the Plenipotentiary of Administration, the Office of the
Delegate for the Four Year Plan, both a Ministry of Finance and
a Ministry of Economics and so on and on and on. Where does this
1933 Germany had an estimated 6 million unemployed, and like his
contemporaries in the capitals and governments of the world and
like so many politicians today Hitler had little interest in economics
and in fact was totally ignorant of economic theory. But, although
economic centralization had to wait until political opponents and
organized opposition was suppressed or liquidated, the Nazi’s "New
Deal" began almost immediately.
instance, in October 1933, Hitler declared that "the ruin of
the German peasant will be the ruin of the German people."
New farm programs were instated along with propaganda about "Blut
and Bloden." Hitler appointed as head of the Ministry of Food
and Agriculture Walther Darre who in 1929 published a book "The
Peasantry as the Life Source of the Nordic Race." Darre wished
to "reform" the production and marketing of food and to
raise prices for farmers. Darre’s entire program was designed with
one objective in mind: to insulate the peasant farmer from the market.
To this end Darre issued the Hereditary Farm Law in 1933, which
had the purpose of preventing forclosure on or the sale of farmland at the expense of the peasant farmers liberty. This "law"
established that only Aryan Germans who could prove the purity of
their bloodline back to 1800 could own a farm. All farms up to 308
acres were declared hereditary estates they could not be sold,
divided, mortgaged or foreclosed on for debt. With the death of
its present owner it would pass to his nearest male relative, who
in turn was obligated to provide an income and education for his
relatives. The peasant farmer was called a "bauer" or
peasant, an "honored title" that he forfeited if he broke
the "peasant honor code," that is, if he stopped farming.
compliment this the Reich Food Estate was established to regulate
the conditions and production of the farmers. Its vast bureacracy
enforced regulations that touched all areas of the farmers life
and his food production, processing and marketing, and was headed
by Darre himself as "Reich Peasant Leader." The Reich
Food Estate had two goals: to jack up agricultural prices and to
make Germany "self-sufficient in food." Darre arbitrarily
fixed the prices of agricultural products: within the first two
years of the regime, wholesale prices rose 20 percent, and for cattle,
vegetables and dairy products the rise was even steeper. But the
farming sector is not exempt; the additional costs of these artificial
prices were passed on to all consumers. Where is there a country
in the world where public opinion doesn’t support farm subsidies
and regulatory controls?
its first year the regime concentrated on a program of government
grants of loan credit and stimulus bills for public works, such
as road building and forrestation, and "targeted tax cuts"
to enterprises that increased capital expenditure and increased
their number of employees. But from 1934 onward, the implementation
of the Wehrwirtschaft, or war economy, became the model, to which
business and labor were subordinated and which was designed to function
not just in time of war, but in the period before war began. The
economy of total war was based on rearmament the construction and
maintenance of an enormous war machine, to which all of society
was subordinated. To do this the regime resorted to inflation. Hjalmar
Schacht, the Minister of Economics, printed Reichmarks, manipulated
their official exchange value so that at one time it was estimated
by contemporary economists to have 237 different official values,
arranged barter deals with foreign governments, and invented financial
instruments which were issued by the central bank and "guaranteed"
by the government, and which were kept "off-budget" to
pay for rearmament. German banks were required to accept them and
they were discounted by the central bank. The Minister of Finance
explained to Hitler that these were merely a way of "printing
money." In 1936, Goering’s Four Year Plan was inaugurated and
which made Goering, almost as ignorant about economics as Hitler,
Germany’s economic dictator. In the drive for a total war economy,
protectionism was decreed and autarchy the desire the so-called
"Battle of Production." Consumer imports were nearly eliminated,
price and wage controls were enacted, vast state projects were built
to manufacture raw materials. The bureacratization of the economy
necessarily followed suit. Walther Funk, who replaced Walther Schacht
as Minister of Economics in 1937, admitted that "official communications
now make up more than one half of a German Manufacturer’s entire
correspondence" and that "Germany’s export trade involves
40,000 separate transactions daily; yet for a single transaction
as many as forty different forms must be filled out." Are there
any doctors and physicians reading this who find it sounds familiar?
and entrepreneurs were smothered by red tape, told by the state
what they could produce and how much and at what price, burdened
by taxation and forced to make "special contributions"
to the party. Corporations below a capitalization of $40,000 were
dissolved and the founding of any below a capitalization of $2,000,000
was forbidden, which wiped out a fifth of all German businesses.
The cartelization of industry which began before the Nazi regime was made compulsory and the Ministry of Economics was empowered
to form new compulsory cartels or to force firms to join existing
ones. The maze of business and trade associations created to lobby
the Weimar Republic for various considerations in the law, now under
the Nazis were nationalized and made compulsory for all businesses.
The Reich Economic Chamber was established on top of all these associations
and consisted of seven national economic groups, twenty-three economic
chambers, seventy chambers of handicrafts and one hundred chambers
of industry and commerce. From these bureacracies, and the numerous
offices and agencies of the Ministry of Economics and the Office
of the Four Year Plan rained down a flood of decrees and laws, which
in turn created for businesses the need on the one hand for lawyers
and a legal department to understand these rules, and on the other,
for a systematic regime of bribing officials.
in february 1935 all employment came under the exclusive control
of government employment offices which determined who would work
where and for how much. And on June 22, 1938, the Office of the
Four Year Plan instituted guaranteed employment by conscripting
labor. Every German worker was assigned a position from which he
could not be released by the employer, nor could he switch jobs,
without permission of the government employment office. Worker absenteeism
was met with fines or imprisonment. All in the name of job security.
A popular Nazi slogan at the time was "the Common Interest
before Self!" Does all this sound familiar in any "western
in his foreward to the 1936 German language edition of his General
Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, John Maynard Keynes wrote:
"The theory of aggregate production, which is the point of
the following book, nevertheless can be much easier adapted to the
conditions of a totalitarian state than the theory of production
and distribution put forth under conditions of free competition
and a large degree of laissez-faire."
life too, was centralized by the Reich. Under the organization "Strength
through Joy" the leisure time of the people was regimented.
Recreational life everything from chess and soccer clubs to bird
watching to adult education, to the theatre, opera, and music concerts no organized social, sport or recreational group was allowed to
function without the oversight of the state. Besides the social
costs of not trusting in people to be able to look after themselves,
there were the enormous costs of this vast bureacracy that policed
the private activites of the citizens.
traditions were attacked and eliminated, private firearms were outlawed
and confiscated, and the amalgamation of the various Christian Churches
and the elimination of Christian symbols from public places and
schools was attempted. Education too came under central control
under the Reich Minister of Education, which designed the curriculum,
rewrote textbooks, and licensed teachers.
but not least, and perhaps the Nazis’ true unspoken legacy, is their
doctrine of collective guilt which is now so fashionable to deploy
not only against the Germans themselves, but also against Catholics
and against both Palestinians and Jews alike, and against Muslims
and so many others. And which is the basis for the claim of reparations
for black slavery, and has been most recently used against the Serbs
as well as the Chinese. Collective guilt has returned as central
state policy in relation to official victim groups and their alleged
victimizers and has become the central feature of political ethics
Stiebler, president and co-founder of the Liberale Akademie Berlin,
a German libertarian think-tank, commented on today’s Germany: "...
everyone assumes that all political questions are to be settled
within political circles. Even the idea of providing private solutions
to a problem is virtually unknown." He traces this to "the
Enlightenment [which in Germany] was not so much an era when the
idea of liberty was advanced but rather a time of Enlightened Absolutism.
The idea was that we should have a brilliant leader and a highly
educated bureaucratic class that would govern society with no egoistic
intentions. This thinking, which survives to this day, eventually
led to the political economy of the Third Reich."
Germany, Britain, France, and the United States, amongst so many
others, we still hear the same old calls for protectionism, for
national development and "national policies," for price
controls and wage and farm subsidies, greater central control over
and funding for education, wealth redistributionism schemes and
moral justifications, and the resolute maintenance of a war economy
in peacetime. We see that what all these so-called progressive causes
lead to is social waste, grief and mounting anger.
von Mises reminded us in Human Action, and he would know, was that
the Nazis used "Jewish" as a synonym for "capitalist."
What these 46% of Germans who said that Nazism had not only bad
but good sides and indeed vast majorities in all nations don’t
see is that it is these very same so-called good policies which
put "people before profits" that inevitabily result in
the drive to war and total control. The latter necessitates the
former as the inevitable proposed remedy for economic decline and
is unfortunate that the 85% of Germans who believe that it is necessary
to learn from the past have not learned the true lessons. But what
is even more tragic is that citizens of the countries that conquered
the National Socialist German Workers "paradise" have
also not learned those lessons from the past and are advocating
the same Nazi ideas that lead to and will lead to so much evil:
conscription, militarism and war, increasing centralization and
government control of the economy and the private lives of all citizens,
belligerent nationalism, ethnic demagoguery, foreign adventurism
Young [send him mail]
is studying computer science in Ontario, Canada. His articles have
appeared in Ideas on Liberty, Mises.org, LewRockwell.com, The
Free Market and Pravda (Yes...THAT Pravda). Note: an earlier
version of this article appeared in the September 2001 issue of
The Free Market.