By: Christian Haag
March 14 2023
Socialists and the left were some of the Nazis' most prominent enemies. The Nazis implemented numerous policies to reduce their influence.
In the wake of Gary Lineker's comments on Twitter about the U.K. government's new asylum policy, claims made by social media personalities are circulating on Tiktok and Facebook that revives an old erroneous argument that the Nazi party was left-wing or socialist due to the name "national socialist." However, the claim is historically inaccurate and lacks essential context.
Socialists and the left wing were among the most prominent enemies of the Nazi party. During their reign in Germany, the Nazis implemented several policies to reduce the influence of powers believed to be associated with socialists, Marxists, and communism.
Logically contacted Swedish historian Mikael Nilsson, author of Hitler Redux and an expert on false claims about Sweden during the Second World War, who told us, "Nazism was completely anti-Marxist, and socialism had a different meaning for the Nazis. 'Socialism' in national socialism regarded the social question rather than economics as to how the problems of society were to be solved. The answer was to unite the people in nationalism. As such, 'the social question' was more or less identical to 'the Jewish question,' meaning that if the Jews disappeared, every problem would be solved. "
After Hitler came to power in 1933, communists, socialists, democrats, and Jews were purged from German civil services, and trade unions - synonymous with the left and labor movements - were outlawed.
These groups became the first target for arrest and imprisonment once the Nazis came to power. Members of the German Communist party and Social Democratic party were sent to the Dachau concentration camp, built to house political prisoners. There was a left-wing flank within the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), but in 1934, Hitler ordered a purge of the last socialist elements during the Night of the Long Knives.
The main aim of this purge was to eliminate the Sturmabteilung (SA). Its leader, Ernst Röhm, and several hundred SA members were killed. The night also saw the death of Gregor Strasser, who advocated for a socialist policy set in nationalist and racist discourse.
In his biography of Hitler, A Study in Tyranny, Alan Bulloch writes that as a young adult in Vienna, Hitler despised traditional left-wing politics, such as unions or labor rights. He found the ideology of the working classes to be foreign and objectionable and that working-class men were victims of a deliberate system meant to corrupt and poison "The Volksgeist" (National Spirit).
Hitler believed that the Jews were behind the system, and that the socialists were believed to be used to weaken and destroy nations through social strife and class struggle and by promoting internationalist, humanitarian, pacifist, and materialist ideals. Vilified with the term "Jewish World Conspiracy," the Jews became the main enemy of Hitler and later the NSDAP. Joachim C Fest emphasizes the point further, writing in the biography Hitler that Hitler declared that the aim of the NSDAP "is very brief: Annihilation and extermination of the Marxist world view."
This idea originates in the antisemitic conspiracy theory "Jewish Bolshevism" - the belief that communism was a Jewish plot and a global conspiracy to destroy western civilization. The perception of the "Judeo-Bolshevik threat" was a crucial element in Nazi German politics and the motivation for invading Soviet Russia and has been debunked repeatedly, writes Paul Hanebrink in his book, A Specter Haunting Europe - The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism. This, in turn, is the precursor of the modern antisemitic Zionist Occupation Government conspiracy theory, which claims that Jews control the governments and politics of the West.
There is no historical proof that the Nazis were left-wing or socialist in its modern understanding. The left and socialists were some of the Nazis foremost enemies and were believed to have been in league with Jews under the Jewish-Bolshevism conspiracy theory. We have therefore marked this claim as false.