Hitler was a Left-Winger
It is always assumed Adolf Hitler was a right-wing dictator. But who says so? Most of the main characteristics of his regime were left-wing in nature. In an extract from an on-going project, Tim Newark exposes the right-wing myth created around Hitler and the left-wing historians who have perpetuated it.
Now you’ve heard it all before in a million middle-class salad-munching dinner parties.
“When you offer a child the choice of a piece of meat, an apple or a cake, it’s never the meat they choose. There’s an ancestral instinct there.”
“When I used to eat meat, I used to sweat a lot. I’d drink four pints of beer and six bottles of water in one session and still lose nine pounds. Now I’m a vegetarian—a mouthful of water is all I need.”
Then there’s an interesting twist.
“My dog’s vegetarian. She likes eating herbs. She’ll eat them when she’s not feeling well. It’s amazing how wise animals are.”
The conversation drifts to politics.
“Capitalism—it’s got a fundamental fault—it only ever considers private interests.
“It’s only a planned economy that can make intelligent use of everyone’s strengths.”
As the wine takes over, the plans get bigger.
“A revolution has three main objectives. First, it’s got to break down all class barriers, so everyone has got the opportunity to get on. Second, it’s about creating a decent standard of living so the poorest have a good life. Third, the benefits of society must become common property.”
Then the abuse begins.
“So America has the best, biggest, most efficient everything and yet you read a book and they’ve got the brains of a chicken. You can’t argue with them. They say look at our standard of living. Then you see pictures of unemployed Americans living in shelters built out of old petrol cans.”
Finally, there’s the extract strategy.
“I tell you what I’d really like to do. Just wander about Italy as an unknown painter.”
All good left-wing stuff then. You could hear those lines today, yesterday, a hundred years ago. Actually, and you probably guessed this, they are all chunks of conversation coming from the mouth of that renowned Austrian vegetarian Adolf Hitler. And words not said in his idealistic youth but in his murderous maturity during the darkest hours of the Second World War. All these fragments were recorded faithfully by Martin Bormann, who had a Nazi official take notes of his master’s conversation over lunch and dinner from 1941 to 1943. They are published now under the tile of Hitler’s Table-Talk.But hang-on, you say. Hitler’s no left-winger. He’s a right-winger.
Well, that’s where we’ve all been labouring under a misconception for decades—a myth that’s been perpetrated by some of the most distinguished left-wing historians. Understandably so, because if you were left-wing you wouldn’t want Hitler on your side, would you?
So what makes me think Hitler is a left-winger? Well, the big clue is in the title of his party—National Socialist. When Hitler was in his early 30s and wanted to get into politics, he joined the German Workers Party. A year later, in 1920, he changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and that’s the way it stayed throughout the 1930s and 40s. Towards the end of his life, he was still proud of the socialist beginnings of his party.
“At that time,” he recalled in 1941, over dinner, with SS leader Heinrich Himmler as his special guest,“90 per cent of my party was left-wing. I needed men who could fight.” He wanted to make the conservative middle-class frightened. “The bourgeois could only be terrified as they witnessed the coming of this new society.”
The Nazi flag symbolised this.
“In the red we see the social ideal of the movement,” he wrote in his manifesto Mein Kampf, “in the white the national idea.” Aha, you say! That’s the difference. The Nazis were National Socialists and that’s completely different to the other “honourable” socialists and communists who fought his thugs on the streets.
Well, yes and no. Certainly, Hitler saw his party opposed to the Communists and other left-wingers, who favoured an internationalist ideology, but that doesn’t suddenly put him on the exact opposite side of the political rainbow, stacked up with conservatives and monarchists and Catholics. He opposed all those elements of society.
What it does do is put him in competition with the Communists and other non-nationalist Socialists who he loathed violently. In the 1920s in Weimar Germany, it was a fight to the death between these various left-wing elements—including the Nazis—that led to the rise of Hitler.
It was during this period that Hitler took inspiration from that other right-wing—I mean left-wing—political leader Benito Mussolini. Now Mussolini really was a red-hot socialist. His Dad was one and he was passionate about it until 1914. The First World War altered his political views in one major way. Before then the internationalist party line was that no war was good and the correct left-winger should stay neutral. Mussolini thought this was absurd and that Italy had to side with the Allies against Germany and Austria. For that, he was thrown out of the party.
After the war, Mussolini became a fervent patriot, wanting to rebuild the Roman Empire in Italy, but his ideas on how to run the country were purely from the left.
When Mussolini took over power in Italy in 1922, he brought in a Corporate State. That is, a country run from the top down, organised and planned. The individual must sacrifice his own freedoms for the good of the state. Selfish capitalism was given the heave-ho and a National Council of Corporations brought an end to class warfare. It regulated wages, hours of work, and conditions of work. A Charter of Labour in 1927 introduced an annual paid vacation, a range of social services, free vocational education, and higher rates of pay for night workers. High national tariffs reduced the impact of foreign competition and there were massive public building projects designed to reduce the unemployed. And this guy isn’t left-wing?
[this is a short extract from a longer essay exploring the left-wing ideology of Hitler, Nazism and Fascism, and the left-wing historians who have turned him into a right-wing monster]