RAPID GROWTH OF THE MOVEMENT compelled us in 1922 to take
a position on a question which even today is not entirely
our attempts to study those methods which could most easily
open up to the movement the way to the hearts of the masses,
we always encountered the objection that the worker could
never be entirely with us because the defense of his interests
in the purely occupational and economic field lay in the
hands of our enemies and their organizations.
objection, of course, had much to be said for it. It was
a matter of general belief that the worker who was active
in a factory could not even exist unless he became a member
of a union. Not only that his occupational interests seemed
protected by this alone, but his position in the factory
for any length of time was conceivable only as a union member.
The majority of the workers were organized in trade unions.
These, on the whole, had fought out the wage struggles and
concluded the agreements which assured the worker of a certain
income. Without doubt the results of these struggles benefited
all the workers in the factory, and inevitably conflicts
of conscience arose, especially for the decent man, if he
pocketed the wage which the unions had won him, but remained
aloof from the struggle.
was hard to speak of these problems with the average bourgeois
employer. They neither had (or perhaps wanted to have) any
understanding for the material side of the question nor
for the moral side. Finally, their own supposed economic
interests argue from the start against any organizational
grouping of the workers under them, and for this reason
alone most of them can hardly form an unprejudiced judgment.
Here, as so often, it is therefore necessary to turn to
outsiders who do not succumb to the temptation of not seeing
the forest for the trees. These, with good will, will much
more easily achieve understanding for a matter which in
any event is among the most important of our present and
the first volume I have expressed myself with regard to
the nature and purpose, and the necessity, of trade unions.
There I espoused the viewpoint that, as long as no change
in the attitude of employer to worker is brought about either
by state measures (which for the most part, however, are
fruitless) or by a universal new education, there remains
nothing for the worker to do but stand on his rights as
an equal contracting party and defend his own interests
in economic life. I further emphasized that safeguarding
his interests in this way was entirely compatible with a
whole national community if it can prevent social injustices
which must subsequently bring about excessive damage to
the entire community of a people. I further declared that
this necessity must be considered to prevail as long as
there exist among employers men who, left to themselves,
not only have no feeling for social duties, but not even
for the most primitive human rights; and from this I drew
the inference that, once such a self-defense is regarded
as necessary, its form can reasonably exist only in a grouping
of workers on a trade-union basis.
in the year 1922 nothing changed in this general conception
of mine. But now it was necessary to seek a clear and definite
formulation of our attitude toward these problems. It was
not acceptable to content ourselves in future with mere
knowledge; it was necessary to draw practical inferences
required the answer to the following questions:
Are trade unions necessary?
Should the NSDAP itself engage in trade-union activity
or direct its members to such activity in any form?
What must be the nature of a National Socialist trade
union? What are our tasks and aims?
How shall we arrive at such unions?
believe that I have adequately answered the first question.
As things stand today, the trade unions in my opinion cannot
be dispensed with. On the contrary, they are among the most
important institutions of the nation's economic life. Their
significance lies not only in the social and political field,
but even more in the general field of national politics.
A people whose broad masses, through a sound trade-union
movement, obtain the satisfaction of their living requirements
and at the same time an education, will be tremendously
strengthened in its power of resistance in the struggle
all, the trade unions are necessary as foundation stones
of the future economic parliament or chambers of estates.
second question, too, is easy to answer. If the trade-union
movement is important, it is clear that National Socialism
must take a position on it, not only from the purely theoretical,
but from the practical viewpoint as well. Yet, to be sure,
the how of it is harder to clarify.
National Socialist movement, which envisions the National
Socialist folkish state as the aim of its activity, cannot
doubt that all future institutions of this state some day
to be must grow out of the movement itself. It is the greatest
error to believe that suddenly, once we have power, we can
undertake a definite reorganization out of the void, unless
we previously possess a certain basic stock of men who above
all have been educated with regard to loyalty. Here, too,
the principle applies that more important than the outward
form, which can be created mechanically and very quickly,
remains the spirit which fills such a form. For instance,
it is quite possible dictatorially to graft the leader principle
on a state organism by command. But it will only be alive
if it has gradually taken shape from smallest beginnings
in a development of its own, and, by the constant selection
which life's hard reality incessantly performs, has obtained
in the course of many years the leader material necessary
for the execution of this principle.
so we must not imagine that we can suddenly pull the plans
for a new state form out of a briefcase into the light of
day and 'introduce' them by decree from above. Such a thing
can be attempted, but the result will surely be incapable
of survival, in most cases a stillborn child. This reminds
me of the beginning of the Weimar régime and the attempt
to present the German people with not only a new régime,
but a new flag which had no inner bond with the experience
of our people in the last half century.
National Socialist state must beware of such experiments.
It can, when the time comes, only grow out of an organization
that has long existed. This organization must possess National
Socialist life innate within itself, in order to finally
create a living National Socialist state.
already emphasized, the germ cells for the economic chambers
will have to reside in bodies representing the most varied
occupations, hence above all in the trade unions. And if
this future body representing the estates and the central
economic parliament are to constitute a National Socialist
institution, these important germ cells must also embody
a National Socialist attitude and conception. The institutions
of the movement are to be transferred to the state, but
the state cannot suddenly conjure up the required institutions
from the void, unless they are to remain utterly lifeless
this highest standpoint alone, the National Socialist movement
must recognize the necessity of a trade-union activity of
must, furthermore, do so because a truly National Socialist
education of employers as well as workers, in the sense
of an integration of both into the common framework of the
national community, does not come about through theoretical
instruction, proclamations, or remonstrances, but through
the struggle of daily life. In it and through it the movement
must educate the various great economic groups and bring
them closer to one another on the main issues. Without such
preliminary work, all hope that a true national community
will some day arise remains pure illusion. Only the great
philosophical ideal for which the movement fights can slowly
form that universal style which will some day make the new
era seem really solidly founded within, and not just outwardly
so the movement must not only take an affirmative attitude
toward the idea of the trade union as such, but it must
by practical participation impart to the multitudes of its
members and supporters the necessary education for the coming
National Socialist state.
answer to the third question follows from what has
previously been said.
National Socialist trade union is no organ of class struggle,
but an organ for representing occupational interests. The
National Socialist state knows no 'classes,' but politically
speaking only citizens with absolutely equal rights and
accordingly equal general duties, and, alongside of these,
state subjects who in the political sense are absolutely
trade union in the National Socialist sense does not have
the function of grouping certain people within a national
body and thus gradually transforming them into a class,
to take up the fight against other similarly organized formations.
We can absolutely not impute this function to the trade
union as such; it became so only in the moment when the
trade union became the instrument of Marxist struggle. Not
the trade union is characterized by class struggle; Marxism
has made it an instrument for the Marxist class struggle.
Marxism created the economic weapon which the international
world Jew uses for shattering the economic base of the free,
independent national states, for the destruction of their
national industry and their national commerce and, accordingly,
the enslavement of free peoples in the service of supra-state
world finance Jewry.
the face of this, the National Socialist trade union must,
by organizationally embracing certain groups of participants
in the national economic process, increase the security
of the national economy itself and intensify its strength
by the corrective elimination of all those abuses which
in their ultimate consequences have a destructive effect
on the national body, injure the vital force of the national
community, and hence also of the state, and last but not
least redound to the wrack and ruin of the economy itself.
for the National Socialist union the strike is not a means
for shattering and shaking national production, but for
enhancing it and making it run smoothly by combating all
those abuses which, due to their unsocial character, interfere
with the efficiency of the economy and hence the existence
of the totality. For the efficiency of the individual always
stands in a casual connection with the general legal and
social position that he occupies in the economic process
and with his understanding, resulting from this alone, of
the necessity that this process thrive for his own advantage.
National Socialist worker must know that the prosperity
of the national economy means his own material happiness.
National Socialist employer must know that the happiness
and contentment of his workers is the premise for the existence
and development of his own economic greatness.
Socialist workers and National Socialist employers are both
servants and guardians of the national community as a whole.
The high degree of personal freedom that is granted them
in their activity can be explained by the fact that, as
experience shows, the efficiency of the individual is increased
much more by far-reaching freedom than by compulsion from
above, and, furthermore, it is calculated to prevent the
natural process of selection, which advances the most efficient,
capable, and industrious from being thwarted.
the National Socialist union, therefore, the strike is an
instrument which may and actually must be applied only so
long as a National Socialist folkish state does not exist.
This state, to be sure must, in place of the mass struggle
of the two great groups - employers and workers - (which
in its consequences always injures the national community
as a whole by diminishing production) assume the legal care
and the legal protection of all. Upon the economic chambers
themselves it will be incumbent to keep the national economy
functioning and eliminate the deficiencies and errors which
damage it. The things for which millions fight and struggle
today must in time be settled in the chambers of estates
and the central economic parliament. Then employers
and workers will not rage against one another in struggles
over pay and wage scales, damaging the economic existence
of both, but solve these problems jointly in a higher instance,
which must above all constantly envision the welfare of
the people as a whole and of the state, in gleaming letters.
too, as everywhere, the iron principle must prevail that
first comes the fatherland and then the party.
function of the National Socialist union is the education
and preparation for this aim itself, which is: All working
together for the preservation and safeguarding of our people
and our state, in accordance with the abilities and strength
innate in the individual and trained by the national community.
fourth question: How do we arrive at such unions?
seemed at the time by far the hardest to answer.
is in general easier to found an institution on new soil
than in an old territory that already possesses a similar
institution. In a town where no store of a certain type
is present, it is easy to establish such a store. It is
harder when a similar enterprise already is present, and
hardest of all when the conditions are such that only one
alone can prosper. For here the founders face the task of
not only introducing their own business, but they must,
in order to exist, destroy the one that has previously existed
in the town.
National Socialist union side by side with other unions
is senseless. For it, too, must feel itself permeated
by its philosophical task and the resultant obligation to
be intolerant of other similar, let alone hostile, formations
and to emphasize the exclusive necessity of its own ego.
Here, too, there is no understanding and no compromise with
related efforts, but only the maintenance of our absolute
were two ways of arriving at such a development:
We could found a trade union and then gradually take
up the struggle against the international Marxist unions;
or we could
penetrate the Marxist unions and try to fill them with
the new spirit; in other words, transform them into
instruments of the new ideology.
the first method there were the following objections: Our
financial difficulties at that time were still very considerable,
the means that stood at our disposal were quite insignificant.
The gradually and increasingly spreading inflation made
the situation even more difficult, since in those years
one could hardly have spoken of any tangible benefit to
the member from the trade union. The individual worker,
viewed from his own standpoint, had no ground at that time
to pay dues to the union. Even the already existing Marxist
unions were on the point of collapse until suddenly, through
Herr Cuno's brilliant Ruhr action, the millions fell into
their lap. This so-called 'national' chancellor may be designated
as the savior of the Marxist unions.
that time we could not count on such financial possibilities;
and it could allure no one to enter a new union which, owing
to its financial impotence, could not have offered him the
least benefit. On the other hand, I must sharply oppose
creating such an organization as a soft spot for more or
less great minds to take refuge in.
in all, the question of personalities played one of the
most important parts. At that time I had not a single personality
whom I would have held capable of solving this gigantic
task. Anyone who at that time would really have shattered
the Marxist unions, and in place of this institution of
destructive class struggle, helped the National Socialist
trade-union idea to victory, was among the very great men
of our people, and his bust would some day have had to be
dedicated to posterity in the Valhalla at Regensburg.
I did not know of any head that would have fitted such a
is absolutely wrong to be diverted from this view by the
fact that the international trade unions themselves have
only average minds at their disposal. This in reality means
nothing at all; for at the time when they were founded,
there was nothing else. Today the National Socialist movement
must combat a colossal gigantic organization which has long
been in existence, and which is developed down to the slightest
detail. The conqueror must always be more astute than the
defender if he wants to subdue him. The Marxist trade-union
fortress can today be administered by ordinary bosses; but
it will only be stormed by the wild energy and shining ability
of an outstanding great man on the other side. If such a
man is not found, it is useless to argue with Fate and even
more useless to attempt forcing the matter with inadequate
we must apply the maxim that in life it is sometimes better
to let a thing lie for the present than to begin it badly
or by halves for want of suitable forces.
was also another consideration which should not be designated
as demagogic. I had at that time and still possess today
the unshakable conviction that it is dangerous to tie up
a great politico-philosophical struggle with economic matters
at too early a time. This is particularly true with our
German people. For here, in such a case, the economic struggle
will at once withdraw the energy from the political struggle.
Once people have won the conviction that by thrift they
can acquire a little house, they will dedicate themselves
only to this task and will have no more time to spare for
the political struggle against those who are planning to
take away their saved-up pennies some day in one way or
another. Instead of fighting in the political struggle for
the insight and conviction they have won, they give themselves
up entirely to their idea of 'settlement,' and in the end
as a rule find themselves holding the bag.
National Socialist movement today stands at the beginning
of its struggle. In large part it has still to form and
complete its philosophical picture. It must fight with all
the fiber of its energy for the accomplishment of its great
ideas, and success is thinkable only if all its strength
goes completely into the service of this fight.
what an extent concern with purely economic problems can
paralyze active fighting strength, we can see at this very
moment in a classical example:
revolution of November, 1918, was not made by trade unions,
but was accomplished against them. And the German bourgeoisie
is carrying on no political struggle for the German future
because it believes this future to be sufficiently guaranteed
by the constructive work in the economic sphere.
should learn from such experiences; for it would be no different
with us. The more we muster the entire strength of our movement
for the political struggle, the sooner may we count on success
all along the line; but the more we prematurely burden
ourselves with trade-union, settlement, and similar problems,
the smaller will be the benefit for our cause taken as a
whole. For important as these matters may be, their fulfillment
will only occur on a large scale, when we are in a position
to put the state power into the service of these ideas.
Until then, these problems would paralyze the movement all
the more, the sooner it concerned itself with them and the
more its philosophical will was limited by them.
Then it might easily come about that trade-union motives
would guide the movement instead of the philosophy forcing
the trade union into its channels.
benefit for the movement as well as our people can only
arise from a trade-union movement, if philosophically this
movement is already so strongly filled with our National
Socialist ideas that it no longer runs the risk of falling
into Marxist tracks. For a trade-union movement which sees
its mission only in competition with the Marxist unions
would be worse than none at all.
It must declare war on the Marxist union, not only as an
organization, but above all as an idea. In
the Marxist union it must strike down the herald of the
class struggle and the class idea and in its stead must
become the protector of the occupational interests of German
these criteria then argued and still argue against
the foundation of our own trade unions, unless suddenly
a man should appear who is obviously chosen by Fate
for the solution of this very question.
so there were only two other possibilities: either to recommend
that our own party comrades leave the unions, or that they
remain in them and work as destructively as possible.
general I recommended this latter way.
in the year 1922-23 this could be done without difficulty;
for the financial benefit which during the inflation period
accrued to the trade union from our members in their ranks,
who due to the youth of our movement were not yet very numerous,
was practically nil. But the damage to it was very great,
for the National Socialist supporters were its sharpest
critics and thus its inner disrupters.
that time I totally rejected all experiments which contained
the seeds of failure to begin with. I would have viewed
it as a crime to take so and so much of a worker's meager
earnings for an institution of whose benefit to its members
I was at heart not convinced.
one fine day a new political party disappears, it is scarcely
ever a loss but almost always a benefit, and no one has
any right to moan about it; for what the individual gives
to a political movement, he gives à fonds perdu.
But anyone who pays money into a union has a right to the
fulfillment of the promised return services. If this is
not taken into account, the leaders of such a union are
swindlers, or at least frivolous characters who must be
called to account.
in 1922 we acted according to this view. Others thought
they knew better and founded trade unions. They attacked
our lack of unions as the most visible sign of our mistaken
and limited views. But it was not long before these organizations
themselves vanished, so that the final result was the same
as with us. Only with the one difference, that we had deceived
neither ourselves nor others.