Fascism in Germany. Robin Blick 1975

Chapter IX: Hitler: The Formative Years

German fascism was born out of two defeats: that of German imperialism in the First World War, and the defeat – or rather betrayal – of the revolution which followed it. Without the humbling of Prussian military might, and the resulting predatory treaties forced on the German nation by the victorious Allied powers, there would have been little basis for the chauvinist resentments and smouldering desires for revenge which National Socialism exploited so skilfully in its rise to power. And had the proletariat succeeded in its initial bid to create the necessary economic basis for a socialist society in Germany, there would have been no monopolist industrialists and bankers to subsidise Hitler’s movement, and a far more favourable foundation established for undermining the hold of reactionary ideas among wide layers of the middle class and peasantry. Imperialist war and Social Democracy – these were the midwives of National Socialism. But if we are to sustain the analogy with childbirth – and to a certain extent the analogy is a serviceable one – then we must also look back through the process of gestation to that of conception and parentage.

We have already examined in detail some, though by no means all, of the political and philosophical ancestors of German fascism, while at the same time seeking the origins and class content of those reactionary schools of political economy which reappeared in a vulgarised and distorted form in the theories of the leading Nazi economist, Feder. There remains, however, the task of tracing the genesis of National Socialism through the period of its crystallisation out of the numerous and disparate ideologies and movements which begat it. This, the crucial point of transition, must be paid the closest attention since it reveals precisely that which is unique to fascism – a system of counter-revolution which seeks to destroy the working-class movement in its entirety and for all time by mobilising against it those very social layers which stand closest to the proletariat in their conditions of life. This is the service which fascism provides for monopoly capitalism, one which no other reactionary movement – let alone Social Democracy – can rival. In return for a sizeable share of the spoils, and a dominant position in the state, the leaders of fascism pledge themselves to cut out the proletarian cancer. The knife they wield is a sharp one, and sometimes the plebeian hands wielding it thrust at the wrong targets, but the overall result, as the record of big business under Mussolini, Hitler and Franco testifies, has given the monopolist bourgeoisie little to complain of.

Thus the two extremes of the process are clearly visible: firstly the traditionalist, religious, monarchist, imperialist, often anti-Semitic Right, which for all its claims to a ‘social’ policy, and disregard for the material interests of the bourgeoisie, never succeeded in rallying millions of petit-bourgeois to the good fight against the twin evils of godless proletarian socialism and internationalism. Indeed, with the possible exception of Stöcker, this was never its intention. Violence against the workers’ movement, in the eyes of the ‘old’ Right, was the prerogative of the state. The exemplar of this attitude was Bismarck’s legislation against the Social Democratic Party, which while receiving the enthusiastic backing of the main right-wing parties, was never supplemented by ‘extra-parliamentary’ activities even on the part of Social Democracy’s bitterest enemies. At the opposite pole stands the organised mass terror of the Nazis, which reached its peak in the period between their assumption of power on 30 January 1933, and the destruction of the trade unions on 2 May of the same year. In two months, Hitler achieved something the most reactionary elements of the bourgeoisie had dreamt of for more than half a century, but failed to carry through – the shattering of the German workers’ movement. And while no fully satisfactory answer will ever be given to the question of why Hitler, rather than some other equally obscure racialist bigot and fanatical anti-Marxist, was raised from the depths of petit-bourgeois anonymity to the pinnacles of political power, much about the nature of National Socialism and those who supported it can be gleaned from the story of Hitler’s early years. No less an authority on fascism than Trotsky made the point that while:

... there are naturally great objective causes which created the autocratic rule of Hitler..., only dull-witted pedants of ‘determinism’ could deny today the enormous historic role of Hitler. The arrival of Lenin in Petrograd on 3 April 1917 turned the Bolshevik Party in time and enabled the party to lead the revolution to victory. [1]

Hitler’s own account of his early years is highly interesting in that it both fills out and confirms the picture of the German – and here we must of course include German-speaking subjects of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – nationalist petit-bourgeoisie as it evolved in the last decades of the nineteenth century – the period when the major European powers entered the imperialist phase of their development. Some might find it strange that Austria, rather than Germany, was destined to provide the Third Reich with its Führer. Yet it was precisely in Austria where the national question loomed largest in the thinking of the major bourgeois parties and among their middle-class following. This state of affairs was of course the direct historical legacy of the failures of 1848. Then the road had been opened up both in Berlin and Vienna by successful plebeian revolts to unify the German-speaking people in a thorough-going democratic and revolutionary fashion. In both cases, the bourgeoisie proved unequal to the task, and the conditions were created for the dynastic restorations and consolidations which sundered the German nation for 90 years. Unity, when it was finally achieved, took the form of Hitler’s ‘Anschluss’, the complete negation of German unity as conceived and fought for by the revolutionaries of 1848. In this sense too, both Hitler and the movement he led were the malignant products of a defeated revolution. What the masses, betrayed by their leaders, failed to win for themselves ‘from below’, Hitler (and also Bismarck) distorted and perverted on behalf of the bourgeoisie ‘from above’. Despite their many differences the two dictators were both bastard offspring of 1848.

Nationalism loomed large in the childhood of Hitler just as it did with countless other offspring of the Austrian middle class. Of peasant origin, Hitler’s father served the Austro-Hungarian empire as a customs official, and by all accounts seems to have imbibed all the traditional values and attitudes associated with such a humble post in the state hierarchy. But as a German (rather than an Hungarian or Czech) his limited political and cultural universe would in all probability have revolved around Prussian Berlin rather than cosmopolitan Vienna. This was most certainly the case with his son Adolf:

Rummaging through my father’s library, I had come across a... popular edition of the Franco-German War of 1870-71. It was not long before the great heroic struggle had become my greatest inner experience... But in another respect as well, this was to assume importance for me. For the first time, though as yet in a confused form, the question was forced upon my consciousness: Was there a difference – and if so what difference – between the Germans who fought these battles and other Germans? Why hadn’t Austria taken part in this war... Are we not the same as all other Germans? [2]

Thus the young Hitler – barely into his teens – was already receiving a nationalist imprint upon his dawning social consciousness. This process was intensified at school as he relates with evident pride. His High School teachers at Linz indoctrinated their pupils with a fanatical hatred for all those whose native tongue was not German. The language question became the vehicle for the inculcation of chauvinism amongst middle-class youth, who lacked the internationalist outlook which enabled the organised working class to resist this deadly virus:

As everywhere and always, in every struggle, there were, in this fight for the language in old Austria, three strata: the fighters, the lukewarm and the traitors. This sifting process began at school. For the remarkable fact about the language struggle is that its waves strike hardest perhaps in the school, since it is the seed-bed of the coming generation. It is a struggle for the soul of the child, and to the child its first appeal is addressed: ‘German boy, do not forget you are a German’, and ‘Little girl, remember that you are to become a German mother.’ [3]

Hitler also recounts how fierce were the nationalist passions aroused in his fellow pupils by such methods:

They carry on this struggle in hundreds of forms, in their own way and with their own weapons. They refuse to sing un-German songs. The more anyone tries to alienate them from German heroic grandeur, the wilder becomes their enthusiasm... their ears are amazingly sensitive to un-German teachers... Thus on a small scale they are a faithful reflection of the adults, except that often their convictions are better and more honest... It goes without saying that even then I had become a fanatical ‘German nationalist’, though the term was not identical with our present party concept. This development in me made rapid progress: by the time I was 15 I understood the difference between dynastic ‘patriotism’ and folkish [4] ‘nationalism’, and even then I was interested only in the latter. [5]

Again under the impact of his chauvinist teachers, the young Hitler came to identify his nationalist-inspired hatred for the Austro-Hungarian empire with a populist, even revolutionary political outlook, since it was directed against a government and state which were founded on the very negation of the sacred principles of nation and ‘race’:

... it was then that I became a revolutionary. For who could have studied German history under such a teacher [6] without becoming an enemy of the state which, through its ruling house, exerted so disastrous an influence on the destinies of the nation? ... Immense were the burdens which the German people were expected to bear, inconceivable their sacrifices in taxes and blood... What pained us most was the fact that this entire system was morally whitewashed by the alliance with Germany, with the result that the slow extermination of Germanism in the old monarchy was in a certain sense sanctioned by Germany itself. [7]

It is impossible, due to the probably deliberate vagueness of his narrative, to place a precise date on the moment when Hitler first began to conceive of German nationalism in this ‘volkisch’, as opposed to dynastic sense. However, the year 1904, when Hitler reached the age of 15, is as close as we can get. The year is significant in that it also witnessed the foundation of the organisation which, more than any other, can be justly considered to have spawned the Nazi Party. The ‘German Workers Party’ (DAP), despite its name, was not a creation of the proletariat, but of German-speaking artisans who were seeking means of maintaining their privileges against the supposed threats of ‘Slavic’ workers in Bohemia, where the party enjoyed its strongest influence. This is not to say that the DAP did not number industrial workers among its members and supporters – it certainly did, much to their discredit. But the prime movers in the creation of this nationalist, plebeian-oriented movement were artisans and master-craftsmen. Perhaps it is significant for a clearer understanding of Hitler’s early political development that the party was particularly strong in Linz, where there had been a considerable migration of Czech workers in the previous few years. The DAP programme and its subsequent evolution indicates how little the movement had in common with the Austrian labour movement, which was under the leadership of Social Democracy. The founding manifesto of 1904 declared the DAP to be a ‘liberal national party... fighting with all its strength against the reactionary tendencies, feudal, clerical and capitalist privileges as well as all foreign national tendencies’. It was pledged to combat ‘the untenable conditions of the society of today’ and to aiding ‘the social rise of the workers’. These contradictory elements in the programme were soon resolved. While continuing to pay lip-service to the protection of working-class interests, the nationalist basis of the party turned it in a clearly anti-socialist direction. The 1913 programme denounced what it called ‘the teachings of the Social Democratic Party Saint Marx’, which it deemed ‘wrong and of immeasurable damage to the Germandom of central Europe’. Especially distasteful was Austrian Social Democracy’s attitude of class solidarity towards the Slavic workers of the empire. It violated the DAP’s first principle of national solidarity: ‘The German employer took the cheaper Slav workers; but the red organisation refuses to give the German party veterans the protection to which they are entitled.’ This nationalistic line of argument led directly to the conclusions which we have already encountered in the writings of Feder and Hitler: that the Marxist movement ‘is led by Jews and closely allied with the big mobile [that is, ‘international finance’ – RB] capitalists’.

It is therefore hardly surprising to discover that the DAP supplied not only the name but several of the cadres for the Munich-based movement which Hitler joined towards the end of 1919. But here we are chiefly concerned with the DAP inasmuch as it serves us as a political barometer for the nationalist tensions which were developing in the period of Hitler’s formative years, and which on his own testimony convinced him of the necessity to evolve a populist racialism that would supplant the ‘anti-national’ and ‘dynastic’ patriotism of the Hapsburg monarchy and Austrian aristocracy. It is also important to bear in mind that Hitler’s nationalism initially defined itself negatively, not against the Jews, who were domiciled chiefly in Vienna, but the Slavs, whom he despised as backward and devoid of ‘culture’. Neither had the question of Marxism or the workers’ movement arisen at this early stage, since his life had thus far been spent either in his tiny Upper Austrian home town of Braunau, or the classrooms of the High School at Linz. Hitler’s move to Vienna, where he unsuccessfully sought a place at the city’s Academy of Fine Arts, soon added several new dimensions to his developing nationalist outlook:

In this period my eyes were opened to two menaces of which I had previously scarcely known the names, and whose terrible importance for the existence of the German people I certainly did not understand: Marxism and Jewry... who knows when I would have immersed myself in the doctrines and essence of Marxism if that period had not literally thrust my nose into the problem. [8]

In fact Hitler admits that his first impressions of Austrian Social Democracy, formed at long distance, were on the whole favourable:

I was profoundly pleased that it should carry on the struggle for universal suffrage and the secret ballot. For even then my intelligence told me that this must help to weaken the Hapsburg regime which I so hated. Consequently this activity of the Social Democracy was not displeasing to me. [9]

And Hitler also claims he approved of Austrian Social Democracy’s goal of ‘improving the living conditions of the worker,’ since that appeared to accord with his own predilection for a populist-flavoured nationalism. But precisely at this point, the national question, Hitler and Social Democracy parted company for ever. Their roads led along opposed class paths: ‘What most repelled me was its hostile attitude towards the struggle for the preservation of Germanism, its disgraceful courting of the Slavic “comrade"...’ [10] The manner in which Hitler made his first real contact with Social Democracy, and the indelible imprint it left on his petit-bourgeois nationalist consciousness, is vividly described in the following passage:

... at the age of 17 the word ‘Marxism’ was as yet little known to me, while ‘Social Democracy’ and socialism seemed to me identical concepts. Here again it required the fist of Fate to open my eyes to this unprecedented betrayal of the peoples. Up to that time I had known the Social Democratic Party only as an onlooker at a few mass demonstrations, without possessing even the slightest insight into the mentality of its adherents or the nature of its doctrine, but now, at one stroke, I came into contact with the products of its education and ‘philosophy’. And in a few months I obtained what might otherwise have required decades: an understanding of a pestilential whore, cloaking herself as social virtue and brotherly love, from which I hope humanity will rid this earth with the greatest dispatch... [11]

The incident to which Hitler refers is his confrontation with a group of trade union workers on a Vienna construction site: [12]

From the very beginning it was none too pleasant. My clothing was still more or less in order, my speech cultivated, and my manner reserved... Perhaps I would not have concerned myself at all with my new environment if on the third or fourth day an event had not taken place which forced me at once to take a position. I was asked to join the organisation. My knowledge of trade union organisation was at that time practically non-existent. I could not have proved that its existence was either beneficial or harmful. When I was told that I had to join, I refused. [13]

Hitler’s first sally against the fortress of trade unionism ended – unlike his last – in fiasco:

At the end of two weeks, I could no longer have joined, even if I had wanted to... no power in the world could have moved me to join an organisation whose members had meanwhile come to appear to me in so unfavourable a light... what I heard was of such a nature as to infuriate me in the extreme. These men rejected everything: the nation as an invention of the ‘capitalistic’ (how often was I forced to hear this single word!) classes; the fatherland as an instrument of the bourgeoisie for the exploitation of the working class; the authority of law as a means for oppressing the proletariat; the school as an institution for breeding slaves and slaveholders; religion as a means for stultifying the people and making them easier to exploit; morality as a symptom of stupid, sheeplike patience, etc. There was absolutely nothing which was not drawn through the mud of a terrifying depth. [14]

His every ideal challenged, refuted and spat upon, Hitler determined to fortify his own feeble arguments with a study of the enemy’s propaganda. The result was ever more heated conflicts, until Hitler was forced to leave the building site or risk being ‘thrown off the scaffolding’ by his trade union opponents. Nor was this the end of the future fascist’s one-man crusade against Marxism:

I was determined to go to work on another building in spite of my experience... The same old story began anew and ended very much the same as the first time. [15]

Small wonder that this petit-bourgeois bigot, full of delusions in his own artistic genius, puffed up with a snobbish contempt for those less educated and well-born than himself, and now driven to sully his artist’s hands in cement and brick dust, asked the question: ‘are these people human, worthy to belong to a great nation?’, and added:

... if it is answered in the affirmative the struggle for my nationality really ceases to be worth the hardship and sacrifices which the best of us have to make for the sake of such scum; and if it is answered in the negative, our nation is pitifully poor in human beings. [16]

As if this trauma was not enough, it was compounded by an even more devastating experience a short time after. Hitler’s clashes with trade union workers had made him aware of the real nature of the Austrian and international workers’ movement – its foundation on firm class lines, and its adherence – even though more often than not formally – to the principle of international working-class solidarity. Far from serving as an unwitting agent in the achievement of Pan-German goals, it now became a living and growing threat to all those values and institutions which Hitler and countless other middle-class nationalists understood by the term ‘Germanism’: ‘I pondered with anxious concern on the masses of those no longer belonging to their people, and saw them swelling to the proportions of a menacing army.’ [17]

And that was certainly a justifiable impression. Although founded some 26 years after the SPD, the Austrian Social Democratic Party expanded rapidly in the industrialised regions of the country, and most of all in Vienna. A class-based franchise, much on the lines of the Prussian system, prevented the party from securing the parliamentary representation its votes merited, [18] but even so, it was feared and hated by the movement’s monarchist, clerical and bourgeois enemies. And in the immediate prewar period, when Hitler witnessed the party’s mass activities at first hand, Austrian Social Democracy was in its most radical phase. This helps us to appreciate more fully the political import for Hitler’s subsequent development of the following event:

With what changed feeling I now gazed at the endless columns of a mass demonstration of Viennese workers that took place one day as they marched four abreast. For nearly two hours I stood there watching with bated breath the gigantic human dragon slowly winding by! [19]

Hitler now felt compelled to study the press of the movement responsible for such an awesome parade of proletarian power and solidarity. He came to the conclusion that it was possible to shatter the grip of Social Democracy on the masses only by emulating what he took to be its methods of organisation and propaganda:

I now understood the significance of the brutal demand that I read only Red papers, attend only Red meetings, read only Red books, etc. With plastic clarity I saw before my eyes the inevitable result of this doctrine of intolerance... the masses love a commander more than a petitioner and feel inwardly more satisfied by a doctrine, tolerating no other besides itself... If Social Democracy is opposed by a doctrine of greater truth, but equal brutality of methods, the latter will conquer, though this may require the bitterest struggle. [20]

And such a doctrine of necessity could not, if it sought to win a foothold in the masses till now regarded as the preserve of Social Democracy, afford to repudiate openly all the goals embraced by the workers’ movement. Stridently ‘national’ in its aims, the new anti-Marxist ideology had to steal the ‘social’ clothes of the enemy, while repudiating its class and internationalist basis and principles:

By my twentieth year I had learned to distinguish between a union as a means of defending the general social rights of the wage-earner, and obtaining better living conditions for him as an individual, and the trade union as an instrument of the party in the political class struggle. [21]

Here is the germ-cell of the ‘Labour Front’, a ‘union’ which while paying lip-service to the rights of the worker and the obligations of the employer, served as an instrument for binding the proletariat ever more tightly to the requirements of capitalist production, since the very principle of the ‘Labour Front’ denied to the worker both the right and opportunity to organise as a class independently of and against his exploiters. Labour Frontism, ‘corporatism’ and ‘national syndicalism’ – these are the very negations of trade unionism, as the workers of Germany, Italy and Spain have learned at the cost of unprecedented suffering and oppression.

The real nature and object of Hitler’s ‘national trade unionism’ is not immediately apparent from his comments on the trade union question in Mein Kampf. For example, he says:

... to call the trade union movement in itself unpatriotic is nonsense and untrue to boot. Rather the contrary is true. If trade union activity strives and succeeds in bettering the lot of a class which is one of the basic supports of the nation, its work is not only not anti-patriotic or seditious, but ‘national’ in the truest sense of the word. For in this way it helps to create the social premises without which a general national education is unthinkable. It wins the highest merit by eliminating social cankers, attacking intellectual as well as physical infections, and thus helping to contribute to the general health of the body politic. Consequently, the question of their necessity is really superfluous. [22]

And this remained the public position of the Nazis on trade unionism right up to, and even after, their seizure of power. [23]

Herein lies one of the greatest dangers that fascism poses to the workers’ movement; it seeks to trap the less politically aware worker, or even those more radical elements disenchanted with the trade union, reformist (or Stalinist) bureaucracy who have yet to find their way to a viable revolutionary alternative leadership. Fascism does so by presenting its ‘left’ face, its ‘social’ programme, playing down or even at times neglecting entirely the ‘national’ and consequently more clearly discernible bourgeois aspects of its policies. How the Nazis accomplished this manoeuvre so essential for their success, and yet so fraught with the constant risk of alienating either the bourgeois or plebeian supporters of fascism, will be discussed at some length in later chapters. Here we are concerned primarily with the origin and evolution of this strategic and tactical conception, which Hitler first began to formulate in his prewar years spent first in Vienna and then Munich. If we study more closely what Hitler has to say about the nature of his projected ‘social’ policy, it begins to reveal, despite all his anti-bourgeois invective and cloudiness of language, a pro-capitalist orientation of a special and, indeed, unique variety. Firstly, Hitler undertakes his criticism of bourgeois policies which prevailed in pre-1914 Austria and Germany on the foundations of the defence of private property, a position he was to uphold both theoretically and with the utmost physical force to the end of his life. [24] Thus we find the main target of his barbs to be not the magnates of heavy industry, whom, as we have already seen, Hitler regarded as the custodians of ‘national’ capital, but what he termed the ‘political bourgeoisie’ – that section of the bourgeoisie which has the task of formulating and carrying out policies on behalf of the entire class. The nature of Hitler’s attack on the ‘political bourgeoisie’ raises some critical points of theory pertaining to the nature of the state and the contradictory and unstable relationships which evolve between a class and its leadership. In one of their earliest major works – The German Ideology – Marx and Engels traced the origin of the ‘political bourgeoisie’ to the economic principle of the division of labour which:

... manifests itself also in the ruling class as the division of mental and material labour so that inside this class one part appears as the thinkers of the class (its active, conceptive ideologists, who make the perfecting of the illusion of the class about itself their chief source of livelihood) while the others’ attitude to these ideas is more passive and receptive, because they are in reality the active members of this class and have less time to make up illusions and ideas about themselves. Within this class this cleavage can even develop into a certain opposition and hostility between the two parts, which, however, in the case of a practical collision, in which the class itself is endangered, automatically comes to nothing. [25]

Written between 1845 and 1846, this work, like the Communist Manifesto, contains generalised formulations that subsequent historical events and class battles were to fill out with a richer and more complex content. Thus in Marx’s classic historical works, The Class Struggles in France (1850) and The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1851-52) we find their author tracing in the finest detail and complexity the fluctuating interplay of class, parties, leaders and the state as they respond not only to the imperatives of current economic and social pressures, but ideologies, programmes, illusions and prejudices inherited from the past. And in writing his study of the rise to power of Napoleon’s nephew, Marx also seized the opportunity it presented to enrich earlier generalisations made with Engels about the nature of the bourgeois state and bourgeois politicians. The period between the revolution of February 1848 and the coup d'état of Louis Bonaparte on 2 December 1851 proved that there was nothing ‘automatic’ about the way the productive section of the bourgeoisie resolved its differences with the politicians and journalists who ostensibly represented its interests. Indeed, the rule of both Bonapartes [26] proved that in order to defend its economic right to exploit the proletariat, the French bourgeoisie had to surrender many of its cherished political rights, and in so doing throw to the wolves its literary and political representatives, who could obviously only function and flourish under a regime which recognised parliamentary democracy and the freedom of the press. What Marx has to say on this subject not only pertains to the form of rule known as Bonapartism, but to fascism, which, in a far more thoroughgoing and ruthless manner, also sets itself the goal of saving and defending the bourgeoisie from economic expropriation by the proletariat by expropriating it politically:

The aristocracy of finance... condemned the parliamentary struggle of the party of Order with the executive power as a disturbance of order, and celebrated every victory of the President over its ostensible representatives as a victory of order... The industrial bourgeoisie, too, in its fanaticism for order, was angered by the squabbles of the parliamentary party of Order with the executive power... the struggle to maintain its public interests, its own class interests, its political power, only troubled and upset it as it was a disturbance of private business... Still more unequivocally than in its falling out with its parliamentary representatives the bourgeoisie displayed its wrath against its literary representatives, its own press. The sentences to ruinous fines and shameless terms of imprisonment, on the verdicts of bourgeois juries, for every attack of bourgeois journalists on Bonaparte’s usurpationist desires, for every attempt of the press to defend the political rights of the bourgeoisie against the executive power, astonished not merely France, but all Europe. While the parliamentary party of Order... declared the political rule of the bourgeoisie to be incompatible with the safety and existence of the bourgeoisie... the extra-parliamentary of the bourgeoisie, on the other hand, by its servility towards the President, by its vilification of parliament, by its brutal maltreatment of its own press, invited Bonaparte to suppress and annihilate its speaking and writing section, its politicians and its literati, its platform and its press, in order that it might then be able to pursue its private affairs with full confidence in the protection of a strong and unrestricted government. It declared unequivocally that it longed to get rid of its own political rule in order to get rid of the troubles and dangers of ruling... Thus the industrial bourgeoisie applauds with servile bravos the coup d'état of 2 December, the annihilation of parliament, the downfall of its own rule... As the executive authority which has made itself an independent power, Bonaparte feels it to be his mission to safeguard ‘bourgeois order’. But the strength of this bourgeois order lies in the middle class [bourgeoise]. He looks on himself, therefore, as the representative of the middle class and issues decrees in this sense. Nevertheless, he is somebody solely due to the fact that he has broken the political power of this middle class and daily breaks it anew. Consequently, he looks on himself as the adversary of the political and literary power of the middle class. [27]

And so we are brought back to the young Hitler, who without doubt saw himself, even in his Vienna days, as a future vanquisher of bourgeois politicians and ‘literati’, even though the methods he would employ differed in many ways from those of Louis Bonaparte. [28] He had nothing but scorn for what he considered to be their pusillanimous reluctance to wage a war of extermination against Marxism:

Before two years [in Vienna] had passed, the theory as well as the technical methods of Social Democracy were clear to me. I understood the infamous spiritual terror which this movement exerts, particularly in the bourgeoisie, which is neither morally nor mentally equal to such attacks... [Its tactics]... will lead to success with almost mathematical certainty unless the opposing side learns to combat poison gas with poison gas. It is our duty to inform all weaklings that this is a question of to be or not to be... Terror at the place of employment, in the factory, in the meeting hall, and on the occasion of mass demonstrations will always be successful unless opposed by equal terror. [29]

With his reference to social democratic or trade union ‘terror at the place of employment, [and] in the factory,’ Hitler ranges himself quite openly on the side of the bourgeoisie – not its political or literary wing, but the industrial, whom the former by their political ineptitude or cowardice, were abandoning to the Marxist-led masses. And even when, out of demagogic considerations, he finds it expedient to criticise the lack of a ‘social’ attitude on the part of the employers, he still manages to divert his polemic away from the real culprits towards the same ‘political bourgeoisie’:

Since on innumerable occasions the bourgeoisie has in the clumsiest and most immoral way opposed demands which were justified from the universal point of view... even the most self-respecting worker was driven out of the trade union organisation into [Marxist] political activity. Millions of workers... started out as enemies of the SPD in their innermost soul, but their resistance was overcome in a way which was sometimes utterly insane; that is, when the bourgeois parties adopted a hostile attitude toward every demand of a social character... [30] Never can our political bourgeoisie make good its sins in this direction, for by resisting all attempts to do away with social abuses, they sowed hatred and seemed to justify even the assertions of the mortal enemies of the entire nation, to the effect that only the SPD represented the interests of working people. Thus... they created the moral basis for the actual existence of the trade unions, the organisation which has always been the most effective pander to the [Marxist] political party... Proportionally as the political bourgeoisie did not understand... the importance of trade union organisation, and resisted it, the Social Democrats took possession of the contested movement. Thus, far-sightedly it created a firm foundation which on several critical occasions has stood up when all other support failed. [31]

So the main – in fact it would seem only – blame for the rise of a Marxist-influenced trade union movement lay with the bourgeois political parties, the so-called ‘political bourgeoisie’. The actual beneficiaries and instigators of this harsh industrial regime – big employers of the Krupp – Stumm – Kirdorf variety – were completely overlooked. And well they might be, for it was here that Hitler sought to win support for his policy of all-out struggle against the workers’ movement, a strategy he was in the process of formulating when he wrote these lines. To return to Hitler’s early opinions on ‘political’ trade unionism, his Vienna experiences convinced him that under the leadership of the Austrian Social Democrats, it:

... had no use except as a battering ram in the class struggle. Its purpose was to cause the collapse of the whole arduously constructed economic edifice by persistent blows, thus, the more easily, after removing its economic foundations, to prepare the same lot for the edifice of the state. [32]

And here too, Hitler was critical of the bourgeoisie’s political representatives:

The bourgeois camp was indignant at this obvious insincerity of Social Democratic tactics, but did not draw from it the slightest inference with regard to their own conduct... Instead of attacking and seizing the enemy’s position, the bourgeoisie preferred to let themselves be pressed to the wall and finally had recourse to utterly inadequate makeshifts, which remained ineffectual because they came too late, and moreover were easy to reject because they were too insignificant... like a menacing storm-cloud, the ‘free trade union’ hung even then [that is, before 1914] over the political horizon and the existence of the individual. It was one of the most frightful instruments of terror against the security and independence of the national economy, the solidity of the state, and personal freedom. [33]

And when Hitler refers to ‘national economy’ and ‘personal freedom’ it is perfectly clear that he has the economy and freedom of the bourgeoisie in mind, for it was against this class that the ‘frightful instruments of terror’ were exclusively directed. If Hitler also felt threatened by the power of the organised working class – and he most certainly did, as his own testimony proves – then that was because, anti-bourgeois rhetoric notwithstanding, he identified himself with and tied his fortunes to the destiny of this same class, Hitler’s anti-Semitism likewise flows from his essentially bourgeois world outlook, and in fact can be shown to have its immediate origins not in any family or local tradition, but in his pathological hatred of Marxism.

Hitler’s account of how he became an anti-Semite shows that far from opposing Marxism for its ‘Jewish’ origins, he came to despise the Jews because of their disproportionate role in the Austrian Social Democratic movement. Hitler’s racialism was a direct product of his ingrained fear of the organised proletariat:

Only a knowledge of the Jews provides the key with which to comprehend the inner, and consequently real, aims of Social Democracy. The erroneous conceptions of the aim and meaning of this party fall from our eyes like veils, once we come to know this people, and from the fog and mist of social phrases rises the leering grimace of Marxism. [34]

That Hitler’s anti-Marxism preceded his anti-Semitism chronologically as well as mentally is clear from his own testimony. If we are to believe Hitler, his father was not in the least anti-Semitic. Indeed, ‘in the course of his life he had arrived at more or less cosmopolitan views which, despite his pronounced national sentiments, not only remained intact, but also influenced me to some extent’. [35] Neither did the ‘Jewish question’ come up with any force at the high school in Linz. There, Hitler even found himself instinctively defending Jews on the rare occasions when a fellow pupil made an anti-Semitic comment:

There were few Jews in Linz. In the course of the centuries their outward appearance had become Europeanised and had taken on a human look [sic!], in fact, I even took them for Germans. The absurdity of this idea did not dawn on me because I saw no distinguishing feature but the strange religion. The fact that they had, as I believed, been persecuted on this account sometimes almost turned my distaste at unfavourable remarks about them into horror. Thus far I did not so much as suspect the existence of an organised opposition to the Jews. [36]

Nationalist prejudices at Linz were, as we have already noted, directed almost exclusively at the Czechs. It was only when Hitler arrived in Vienna that the veil began to fall from his eyes. And even then, the future scourge of European Jewry was slow to learn. The trouble was that despite their ‘sub-human’ character, the Jews looked just like anyone else:

Notwithstanding that Vienna in those days counted nearly 200 000 Jews among its two million inhabitants, I did not see them... the Jew was still characterised for me by nothing but his religion, and therefore, on grounds of human tolerance, I maintained the tone, particularly that of the Viennese anti-Semitic press, seemed to me unworthy of the cultural tradition of a great nation. I was oppressed by the memory of certain occurrences in the Middle Ages, which I should not have liked to see repeated [sic!]. [37]

Only when Hitler began to concern himself with Viennese political life did anti-Semitism begin to intrude into his thinking. Hostile to the liberal-democratic press, which cared little for Hitler’s nationalist aspirations, and already deeply disturbed by the power of the even more avowedly ‘anti-national’ workers’ movement, he then made what he considered to be a world-shattering discovery:

What had to be reckoned heavily against the Jews in my eyes was when I became acquainted with their activity in the press, art, literature and the theatre... It sufficed to look at a billboard, to study the names behind the horrible trash they advertised, to make you hard for a long time to come. This was pestilence, spiritual pestilence, worse than the Black Death of olden times, and the people was being infected with it... The fact that nine-tenths of all literary filth, artistic trash, and theatrical idiocy can be set to the account of a people, constituting hardly one hundredth of all the country’s inhabitants, could simply not be talked away: it was the plain truth. [38]

So the struggle against the bourgeoisie’s ‘literati’ was to be waged with more discrimination than was the case under the rule of the two Bonapartes. And here there was a certain parallel with the bogus war National Socialism was later to wage against ‘capital,’ personified by the same ubiquitous – and highly convenient – Jew. But it was only when Hitler looked long and hard at the press of his greatest enemy – the workers’ movement – that he became a confirmed anti-Semite:

... when I learned to look for the Jew in all branches of cultural and artistic life and in its various manifestations, I suddenly encountered him in a place where I would have least expected to find him. When I recognised the Jew as the leader of the Social Democracy, the scales dropped from my eyes, a long soul struggle had reached its conclusion. [39]

In other words, it required a supposed Jewish control over the affairs of Social Democracy before Hitler finally accepted as true the allegations made in anti-Semitic papers and pamphlets that the Jews were the ringleaders in a vast conspiracy to destroy the German nation:

I gradually became aware that the Social Democratic press was directed predominantly by Jews; yet I did not attribute any special significance to this circumstance, since conditions were exactly the same in the other papers. Yet one fact seemed conspicuous: there was not one paper with Jews working on it which could have been regarded as truly national... I swallowed with disgust and tried to read this type of Marxist press production, but my revulsion became so unlimited in so doing that I endeavoured to become more closely acquainted with the men who manufactured these compendiums of knavery. From the publisher down, they were all Jews. [40]

Now the struggle against Jewry could be fought without any reservations. The Jew was the leader of the proletariat, a revolutionary. From members of parliament to:

... trade union secretaries, the heads of organisations or street agitators... the party with whose petty representatives I had been carrying on the most violent struggle for months was, as to leadership, almost exclusively in the hands of a foreign people... to my deep and joyful satisfaction I had at last come to the conclusion that the Jew was no German. [41]

Neither were original ‘discoveries’. We have already noted how from its inception the German labour movement was branded by its Junker and bourgeois enemies as a foreign creation, usually French. Neither were the Jews regarded by the ‘best’ circles as true Germans. They were excluded from membership of professional associations, student societies, and barred from holding commissions in the armed forces. Here Hitler was treading on well-worn ground. But standing on the shoulders – or rather another part of the anatomies – of the German and Austrian reactionaries, Hitler unified these two conceptions to forge an ideology which while utterly devoid of any scientific or historical foundation proved itself to be an immensely potent force in rallying the middle class and demoralised unorganised sections of the working class against the labour movement. This was a crucial ‘nodal point’ in Hitler’s transition from a run-of-the-mill petit-bourgeois nationalist into a fully-fledged counter-revolutionary leader:

For me this was the time of the greatest spiritual upheaval I have ever had to go through. I had ceased to be a weak-kneed cosmopolitan and become an anti-Semite. Just once more – and this was the last time – fearful, oppressive thoughts came to me in profound anguish... Have we an objective right to struggle for our self-preservation or is this justified only subjectively within ourselves?

And again it was Hitler’s attitude to Marxism that tipped the scales:

As I delved more deeply into the teachings of Marxism and thus in tranquil clarity submitted the deeds of the Jewish people to contemplation, Fate itself gave me its answer. The Jewish doctrine of Marxism rejects the aristocratic principle of Nature and replaces the eternal privilege of power and strength by the mass of numbers and their dead weight. Thus, it denies the value of personality in man, contests the significance of nationality and race, and thereby withdraws from humanity the premise of its existence and culture... If, with the help of his Marxist creed, the Jew is victorious over the other peoples of the world, his crown will be the funeral wreath of humanity... Eternal Nature inexorably avenges the infringement of her commands. Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord. [42]

The main source of Hitler’s ‘information’ on the Jewish question appears to have been the Christian Social Party of the Viennese Mayor, Dr Karl Lüger. Here too, Hitler’s conversion from opponent to supporter was protracted:

When I arrived in Vienna... the man and the movement seemed ‘reactionary’ in my eyes. My common sense of justice, however, forced me to change this judgement in proportion as I had occasion to become acquainted with the man and his work; and slowly my fair judgement turned to unconcealed admiration... How many of my basic principles were upset by this change in my attitude toward the Christian Social movement! My views with regard to anti-Semitism thus succumbed to the passage of time, and this was my greatest transformation of all! [43]

But Hitler learned more than gutter anti-Semitism from Lüger’s party. For the first time, he saw in its activities and propaganda techniques the possibility of constructing a movement capable of fighting and defeating the Marxists on their own terrain. For in distinct contrast with the Austrian Pan-German movement under the leadership of Georg von Schönerer [44] (a movement whose nationalist goals Hitler shared) it did not disdain ‘popular’ slogans and tactics to win support for its reactionary policies. Where Hitler differed with Lüger was over the latter’s futile struggle to preserve the nationally non-viable Austrian monarchy, instead of which he should have been, in Hitler’s judgement, directing all his energies towards the unification of the two German-speaking states. What Hitler learned from Lüger’s skilfully directed and pitched propaganda was nevertheless crucial in the subsequent development of Nazi political strategy:

Dr Lüger was the opposite of Schönerer. His thorough knowledge of men enabled him to judge the possible forces correctly, at the same time preserving him from underestimating existing institutions, and perhaps for this very reason taught him to make use of these institutions as instruments for the achievement of his purposes. He understood only too well that the political fighting power of the upper bourgeoisie at the present time was but slight and inadequate for achieving the victory of a great movement. He therefore laid the greatest stress in his political activity on winning over the classes whose existence was threatened and therefore tended to spur rather than paralyse the will to fight. Likewise he was inclined to make use of all existing institutions in his favour, drawing from these old sources of power the greatest possible profit for his own movement. Thus he adjusted his new party primarily to the middle class menaced with destruction, and thereby assured himself of a following that was difficult to shake... [45]

Depicted here are two of the most vital components of Nazi strategy – the exploitation of existing political institutions in order to seize power (and then destroy them!) and the creation of a mass movement of reaction recruited largely from the ranks of the petit-bourgeoisie. Hitler also found Lüger’s strategy confirmed by his own experiences in Vienna, since he moved in Bohemian circles frequented by many like himself who had failed to establish themselves as stable members of the petit-bourgeoisie, and yet who feared the drop into the despised proletariat as a fate worse than death:

The environment of my youth consisted of petit-bourgeois circles, hence of a world having very little relation to the purely manual worker... the cleft between this class, which in an economic sense is by no means so brilliantly situated, and the manual worker, is often deeper than we imagine. The reason for this hostility... lies in the fear of a social group, which has but recently raised itself above the level of the manual worker, that it will sink back into the old despised class, or at least become identified with it. To this, in many cases, we must add the repugnant memory of the cultural poverty of this lower class, the frequent vulgarity of its social intercourse; the petit-bourgeois’ own position in society, however insignificant it may be, makes any contact with this outgrown stage of life and culture intolerable. [46]

Precisely. And Hitler was able to make this sober and astute analysis of the anti-proletarian prejudices of the lower middle class not simply because he shared them in full measure, rather because he sought to transform them into a political doctrine which later became the means for welding this class into a compact counter-revolutionary force. From his Vienna experiences he gleaned one fundamental political truth – that in the age of mass movements and revolutions, those seeking to counter the proletarian movement could not hope to succeed by addressing appeals to the ruling powers that be. This was the great flaw in the Austrian Pan-German movement:

Theoretically speaking, all the Pan-German’s thoughts were correct, but since he [Schönerer] lacked the force and astuteness to transmit his theoretical knowledge to the masses – that is, to put it in a form suited to the receptivity of the broad masses, which is and remains exceedingly limited – all his knowledge was visionary wisdom, and could never become practical reality... he saw only to a limited extent the extraordinary limitation of the will to fight in so-called ‘bourgeois’ circles, due... to their economic position which makes the individual fear to lose too much and thereby holds him in check. And yet... a philosophy can hope for victory only if the broad masses adhere to the new doctrine and declare their readiness to undertake the necessary struggle... Since Schönerer and his followers addressed themselves principally to bourgeois circles, the result was bound to be very feeble and tame. [47]

And it is at this point that Hitler returns to the by now familiar theme of the political failings of the German bourgeoisie. Again, his criticism can in no way be equated with his venomous attacks on Marxism, [48] even though fascist demagogy usually tries to maintain the utterly false impression that it pursues a middle course between the two great class camps:

Though some people fail to suspect it, the German bourgeoisie, especially in its upper circles, is pacific to the point of positive self-abnegation, where internal affairs of the nation or state are concerned... in times of good government such an attitude makes these classes extremely valuable to the state; but in times of an inferior regime it is positively ruinous, to make possible the waging of any really serious struggle, the Pan-German movement should have above all dedicated itself to winning the masses. [49]

But it could not have done so even if its leaders saw the necessity of such a policy, for like nearly all nationalist politicians of the period, they were totally unsuited to employing the type of wild rabble-rousing and social demagogy needed to set such a movement in motion. Their entire social ‘breeding’ and political outlook and training inhibited them from attempting what would have been a complete volte face in their ways of deciding political questions. Hence the need for a new type of politician, a ‘man of the people’, able to speak the language of the dispossessed and the frustrated, the bitter, the prejudiced and the confused, and yet holding fast to basic bourgeois principles such as the defence of private property, religion (albeit of a non-denominational variety) and, of course, the ‘nation’. While adopting the long-term strategic goals of the imperialists as his own, the fascist ‘plebeian’ fights for them in his own way, and yields nothing to the ‘political’ bourgeoisie in questions of tactics and methods. Herein lies the basis and origin of the many clashes and even open ruptures which flared up between National Socialism and the German ruling class, not only in the period of Hitler’s rise from obscurity to power, but even afterwards. That is why Hitler’s ‘Vienna period’ was perhaps the most crucial of his entire life insofar as it gave a definitive contour to his political outlook and aims, and began to indicate ways and means of fulfilling them:

I had set foot in this town while still half a boy and I left it for Munich in the spring of 1912 as a man grown quiet and grave. In it I obtained the foundations for a philosophy in general and a political view in particular which later I only needed to supplement in details, but which never left me... I do not know what my attitude toward the Jews, Social Democracy or rather Marxism as a whole, the social question, etc, would be today if at such an early time the pressure of destiny – and my own study – had not built up a basic stock of personal opinions with me. [50]

‘... the pressure of destiny...’ An apt phrase for the conjuncture and penetration of the many cultural, religious, political, economic and social forces in the person of the young Hitler, forces which began to mould him for his role as the executioner of the German – and international – workers’ movement. But there was nothing pre-ordained about this process. As the penniless and unknown Hitler made his way from Vienna to the Bavarian city that was to serve as the fortress of his movement, the German Social Democratic Party was emerging triumphantly from its greatest-ever election victory – 4.25 million votes and a Reichstag delegation of 110 deputies. It was not Hitler’s ‘fist of fate’ that enabled him, 21 years on, to lay low this ostensibly invincible Goliath. It was the supine cowardice, vacillations and theoretical decay of its own leadership. This, more than any other single factor, put flesh and blood around the skeleton of Hitler’s early political ideas, and transformed the fifth child of an insignificant customs official in an equally insignificant Austrian border town into the dictator of continental Europe. These events became significant for Germany and mankind more by virtue of what others failed to do, than by what Hitler did. But if it is true that fascism is the punishment exacted by history on the proletariat for its failure to carry through the social revolution, then it is necessary to study in some detail the make-up of the jailers, torturers and executioners who carry out the sentence. In this sense, the evolution of Hitler’s political ideas is highly instructive, and it is a theme to which we shall return more than once.


1. LD Trotsky: ‘The Class, the Party, the Leadership’ (20 August 1940), The Spanish Revolution (1931-1939) (New York, 1973), p 361.

2. A Hitler, Mein Kampf (London, 1943), pp 6-7.

3. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 12.

4. This is the usual English translation of the German ‘volkisch’ which is in reality a far more complex term, conveying a populist flavoured racialism rather than orthodox nationalism.

5. Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp 12-13.

6. Dr Leopold Pötsch, Hitler’s history teacher at the Linz ‘Realschule’.

7. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 15.

8. Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp 21-37.

9. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 37.

10. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 38.

11. Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp 38-39.

12. It seems that Hitler had been compelled, in the course of his Bohemian existence in the Austrian capital, to supplement his meagre resources by manual labour.

13. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 39.

14. Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp 39-40.

15. Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp 40-41.

16. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 41.

17. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 41.

18. In 1896, the Austrian constitution divided voters into five groups: aristocrats, the bourgeoisie (manufacturers, merchants and bankers), town and city tax payers, workers and peasants. The voters in the last two groups, which comprised the overwhelming majority of the population, elected 13 fewer representatives than the numerically insignificant aristocracy!

19. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 41.

20. Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp 42-43.

21. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 46.

22. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 46.

23. ‘It is a lie, when the SPD asserts that Hitler is going to smash the trade unions.’ (Nazi Election Leaflet, No 33, Hamburg, 1932) ‘Not that we want to destroy the trade unions. Workers! Your institutions are sacred to us National Socialists, they are not to be touched. Workers! I give you my word, not only shall we preserve everything that exists, but we are going to extend the protection and the rights of the workers.’ (The Day of National Labour, Proclamation on 1 May 1933) The very next day the ‘sacred’ unions were abolished!

24. The record on this all-important question speaks for itself. Apart from the already-quoted reference to the rights of private property in Mein Kampf, we have the following equally unequivocal statements on the same subject made at various stages in Hitler’s career: ‘In contrast to men like Hermann Esser, Hitler never permitted himself to be caught up in such [socialist] demagogy. He declared that as long as private property was recognised as one of the foundations of national life, he would not yield, irrespective of how bad the rulers of various states had been. The NSDAP adopted this point of view.’ (Memoirs of Alfred Rosenberg (Chicago and New York, 1949), p 204) Rosenberg was here relating Hitler’s attitude to the referendum organised by the SPD and KPD to secure the expropriation without compensation of the former German princes. At a meeting called in Bamberg on 14 February 1926 to determine Nazi policy towards the referendum, Hitler came out strongly against the party ‘radicals’ headed by the Strasser brothers and Goebbels, who were for backing the referendum in order to hold and extend Nazi influence amongst the workers: ‘Nationalisation, or socialisation... is nothing but dilettantism, not to say Bolshevism... I have never said that all enterprises should be socialised. On the contrary, I have maintained that we might socialise enterprises prejudicial to the nation. Unless they were so guilty, I should consider it a crime to destroy essential elements in our economic life... there is only one economic system, and that is responsibility and authority on the part of directors and executives... That is how it has been for thousands of years, and that is how it will always be.’ (O Strasser, quoting Hitler, Hitler and I (Boston, 1940), pp 11-113) This extract is taken from Strasser’s account of his two meetings with Hitler on 21 and 22 May 1930, which led to his defection from the Nazis on the grounds that Hitler was ‘sold to the capitalists’. ‘Private property cannot be maintained in the age of democracy, it is conceivable only if the people have a sound idea of authority and personality... All the worldly goods which we possess we owe to the struggle of the chosen... It is an impossibility that part of the people recognises private ownership while another part denies it. Such a struggle splits the people. The struggle lasts until one side emerges victor.’ These remarks, startling both for their frankness and perspicacity, were made to a secret meeting of industrialists and bankers at the Reichstag President’s residence on 20 February 1933. Hitler was appealing for financial and political support from big business in the elections scheduled for 5 March (Nuremberg Document D-203)I absolutely insist on protecting private property. It is natural and salutary that the individual should be inspired by the wish to devote a part of the income from his work to the building up and expanding of a family estate. Suppose the estate consists of a factory. I regard it as axiomatic that this factory will be better run by one of the members of the family than it would by a state functionary... In this sense, we must encourage private initiative.’ (Hitler’s Secret Conversations (New York, 1953), p 294, being a day-by-day record of Hitler’s wartime ‘conversations’ – in reality monologues – with his most intimate party colleagues.) ‘The creative force not only shapes but also takes what it shapes under its wing and directs it. That is what we generally mean by such phrases as private capital or private property... Therefore the future will not belong, as the Communist holds, to the Communist ideal of equality, but on the contrary, the farther humanity moves along the road of evolution, the more individualised achievements will be... The basis for all real higher development, indeed for the future development of all mankind, will therefore be found in the encouragement of private initiative.’ (Hitler’s speech to 100 arms manufacturers, 26 June 1944, quoted in A Speer, Inside the Third Reich (London, 1970), pp 359-60) Yet we still find historians prepared to take Hitler’s ‘anti-capitalism’ seriously!

25. K Marx and F Engels, The German Ideology (Moscow, 1964), p 61.

26. It is not strictly accurate to say that Marx and Engels had never considered this problem before 1848. In The Holy Family (1844), they noted how Napoleon, while understanding that the ‘modern state’ was ‘based on the unhampered development of bourgeois society, on the free movement of private interest’, and undertaking to ‘recognise and protect that basis’, nevertheless ‘regarded the state as an end in itself and civil life only as its treasurer and his subordinate which must have no will of its own... If he despotically oppressed the liberalism of bourgeois society he showed no more pity for its essential material interests, trade and industry, whenever they conflicted with his political interests. His scorn of industrial business men was the complement to his scorn of ideologists.’ (K Marx and F Engels, The Holy Family (Moscow, 1956), p 166)

27. K Marx, ‘The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte’, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1962), pp 318-41.

28. However they shared Bonaparte’s use of corrupted plebeian elements – his so-called Society of 10 December, whose members occupations Marx listed as ‘vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, swindlers, mountebanks, lazzaroni, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, procurers, brothel-keepers, porters, literati, organ-grinders, rag-pickers, knife-grinders, tinkers, beggars – in short, the whole indefinite disintegrated mass thrown hither and thither, which the French term la boheme’.

29. Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp 43-44.

30. The Hitler regime’s reactions to these same demands will he discussed in Chapter XXVI, ‘Capital and Labour in the Third Reich’.

31. Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp 45-48.

32. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 46.

33. Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp 49-50.

34. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 51.

35. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 51.

36. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 52.

37. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 51.

38. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 52.

39. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 60.

40. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 61.

41. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 61.

42. Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp 64-65.

43. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 55.

44. Like Hitler, Schönerer depicted the Jews as fomenters of revolution: ‘There is no place where we do not see them in league with the forces of rebellion... Our racial anti-Semitism is not the result of religious intolerance. Rather, it is the indisputable evidence of a nation’s new strength and self-confidence, the firm display of national feeling... every loyal son of his nation must see in anti-Semitism the greatest national progress of this century...’ (Speech to the Austrian Parliament, April 1887)

45. Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp 99-100.

46. Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp 22-23.

47. Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp 99-101.

48. Thus one of many examples runs: ‘No more than a hyena abandons carrion does a Marxist abandon treason... If at the beginning of the War and during the War twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew corrupters of the people had been held under poison gas... the sacrifice of millions at the front would not have been in vain... On the day when Marxism is smashed in Germany, her fetters will in truth be broken for ever.’ (Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp 679-82) As far as poison gas was concerned, Hitler was to achieve his aim more than four hundred fold in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

49. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 101.

50. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p 125.