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Nazis vs. the Socialists

I received considerable flak in reaction to my recent treatment of the word socialism, specifically my claim that the Nazis were enemies of the socialists. Several people pointed out that the word Nazi was short for National Socialists and that the Nazis were socialists. (I have since added a corrective note.)

In the 1930s socialism was very popular. Everyone in the industrialized world was joining socialist parties, socialist unions especially. Several nonsocialist parties added “socialist” to the name of their party in order to build membership. We should focus on the next word in the Nazi Party’s name: Nationalist, for the Nazi party grew out of the “far-right racist völkisch German nationalist movement and the violent anti-communist Freikorps paramilitary culture”, according to Wikipedia.

The fact of the matter is that the socialists and communists were even more popular after World War II, because the Nazis were just as focused on eliminating socialists and communists as they were on eliminating the Jewish population. But the socialists and communists fought back. They entered the underground and were known as “the resistance” and the “underground” in censored US war films.

But the Europeans knew who constituted the “resistance” and “underground”, so following the war, even more people joined the Social Democrats (Marx’s party), the Christian Socialists, and even the Communist Party, soon to be known as the Eurocommunists. Just before I retired in 2000, 60 French cities had communist mayors.

So, we shouldn’t judge a party by its name any more than we should judge a book by its cover.

One Response to “Nazis vs. the Socialists”

  1. Svetopisec Says:

    Hitler was quite clear about the confusion between nazists and socialists, Mein Kampf:
    Schon die rote Farbe unserer Plakate zog sie in unsere
    Versammlungssäle. Das normale Bürgertum war ja ganz
    entsetzt darüber, daß auch wir zum Rot der Bolschewiken
    gegriffen hatten, und man sah darin eine sehr zweideutige
    Sache. Die deutschnationalen Geister flüsterten sich im stil-
    len immer wieder den Verdacht zu, daß wir im Grunde ge-
    nommen auch nur eine Spielart des Marxismus wären,
    vielleicht überhaupt nur verkappte Marxisten oder besser
    Sozialisten. Denn den Unterschied zwischen Sozialismus und
    Marxismus haben diese Köpfe bis heute noch nicht be-
    griffen. Besonders als man auch noch entdeckte, daß wir in
    unseren Versammlungen grundsätzlich keine „Damen und
    Herren“, sondern nur „Volksgenossen und –genossinnen“
    begrüßten und unter uns nur von Parteigenossen sprachen,
    da schien das marxistische Gespenst für viele unserer Gegner
    erwiesen. Wie oft haben wir uns geschüttelt vor Lachen
    über diese einfältigen bürgerlichen Angsthasen angesichts
    des geistvollen Rätselratens über unsere Herkunft, unsere
    Absichten und unser Ziel.

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