The relationship between Nazism and socialism has provoked considerable debate. The majority of historians contend that Nazism sits alongside Italian fascism on the right-wing of the political spectrum. The Nazis, they argue, were hyper-nationalists obsessed with military and state power and social control. Unlike those of Marxists, Nazi policies did not seek economic levelling, the eradication of class or private property or the redistribution of wealth.
Despite this, some conservative historians argue that Nazism is a factional offshoot or bastardised form of socialism. They point to nomenclature (“National Socialism”), Nazi control and regulation of the German economy and their vast public spending programs. This line of argument has, in recent times, been repeated by many conservative and far-right political pundits.
The following document contains Adolf Hitler‘s explanation of the Nazi form of socialism. It comes from an interview with Hitler conducted by German-American writer and Nazi sympathiser George Sylvester Viereck. The interview appeared in Liberty magazine on July 9th 1932:
“‘When I take charge of Germany, I shall end tribute abroad and Bolshevism at home.’
Adolf Hitler drained his cup as if it contained not tea but the lifeblood of Bolshevism.
‘Bolshevism’, the chief of the Brown Shirts, the Fascists of Germany continued, ‘is our greatest menace. Kill Bolshevism in Germany and you restore 70 million people to power. France owes her strength not to her armies but to the forces of Bolshevism and dissension in our midst’…
I met Hitler not in his headquarters, the Brown House in Munich, but in a private home, the dwelling of a former admiral of the German Navy. We discussed the fate of Germany over the teacups.
‘Why’, I asked Hitler, ‘do you call yourself a National Socialist, since your party program is the very anthesis of that commonly accredited to Socialism?’
‘Socialism’, he retorted, putting down his cup of tea, ‘is the science of dealing with the common weal [health or well-being]. Communism is not Socialism. Marxism is not Socialism. The Marxians have stolen the term and confused its meaning. I shall take Socialism away from the Socialists.
‘Socialism is an ancient Aryan, Germanic institution. Our German ancestors held certain lands in common. They cultivated the idea of the common weal. Marxism has no right to disguise itself as socialism. Socialism, unlike Marxism, does not repudiate private property. Unlike Marxism, it involves no negation of personality and, unlike Marxism, it is patriotic.
‘We might have called ourselves the Liberal Party. We chose to call ourselves the National Socialists. We are not internationalists. Our Socialism is national. We demand the fulfilment of the just claims of the productive classes by the State on the basis of race solidarity. To us, State and race are one…
‘What’, I continued my cross-examination, ‘are the fundamental planks of your platform?’
‘We believe in a healthy mind, in a healthy body. The body politic must be sound if the soul is to be healthy. Moral and physical health are synonymous.’
‘Mussolini’, I interjected, ‘said the same to me’. Hitler beamed.
‘The slums’, he added, ‘are responsible for nine-tenths, alcohol for one-tenth of all human depravity. No healthy man is a Marxian. Healthy men recognise the value of personality. We contend against the forces of disaster and degeneration. Bavaria is comparatively healthy because it is not completely industrialised… If we wish to save Germany, we must see to it that our farmers remain faithful to the land. To do so, they must have room to breathe and room to work.’
‘Where will you find the room to work?’
‘We must retain our colonies and expand eastward. There was a time when we could have shared world domination with England. Now we must stretch our cramped limbs only toward the east. The Baltic is necessarily a German lake.'”