Blut und Boden

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
'Blut und Boden' refers to an ideology that focuses on ethnicity based on two factors, descent blood (of a Volk) and the land.
It celebrates the relationship of a people to the land they occupy and cultivate, and it places the highest value on the virtues of rural living.
The German expression was coined in the late 19th century, in tracts espousing racialism and nationalist romanticism.
It produced a regionalist literature, with some social criticism.

Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl
Ernst Moritz Arndt
This romantic attachment was widespread prior to the Third Reich.
Major figures in 19th-century German agrarian romanticism included Ernst Moritz Arndt and Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl, who argued that the peasantry represented the foundation of the German people and conservatism.
Ultranationalists predating the National Socialism often supported rural living as more healthy, with the 'Artaman League' sending urban children to the countryside to work in part in hopes of transforming them into 'Wehrbauern' (warrior farmers).

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
Die Artamanen-Gesellschaft
The Artamanen-Gesellschaft was a German agrarian and völkisch movement dedicated to a 'Blood and Soil' inspired ruralism. Active during the inter-war period, the League became closely linked to, and eventually absorbed by, the NSDAP. The term Artamanen had been coined before the First World War by Dr. Willibald Hentschel, a believer in racial purity, who had founded his own group, the 'Mittgart Society', in 1906. The term was a portmanteau word of 'art' and 'manen', Middle High German words meaning 'agriculture man', and indicating Hentschell's desire to see Germans move from the decadence of the city in order to return to an idyllic rural existence. The Artaman League had its roots in the overall 'Lebensreform' movement in late 19th-century and early 20th-century Germany. 
The 'Lebenreform' movement encompassed hundreds of groups throughout Germany that were involved in various experiments tied to ecology, health, fitness, vegetarianism, and naturism (Nacktkultur). Publications by right wing Lebensreformists, which sold in the tens of thousands, argued that their practices were "the means by which the German race would regenerate itself and ultimately prevail over its neighbors and the diabolical Jews who were intent on injecting putrefying agents into the nation's blood and soil". The society itself was not formed until 1923, even though Willibald's ideas were somewhat older. The Artamans were part of the 'German Youth Movement', representing its more right-wing back-to-the-land elements. Under the leadership of Georg Kenstler they advocated 'blood and soil' policies, with a strong undercurrent of Anti-Slavism. This völkisch movement believed that the decline of the Aryan race could only be halted by encouraging people to abandon city life in favor of settling in the rural areas in the east. Whilst members wished to perform agricultural labor as an alternative to military service, they also saw it as part of their duty to oppose Slavs and to remove them Germany.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
The concepts were combined in the figure of the 'Wehrbauer', or soldier-peasant. As such the League sent German youth to work on the land in Saxony and East Prussia in an attempt to prevent these areas being settled by Poles. To this end 2000 settlers were sent to Saxony in 1924 to both work on farms and serve as an anti-Slav militia. They also gave classes on importance of racial purity and the Nordic race, and the corrupting influence of city living and Jews. Like many similar right-wing youth movements in Germany the Artaman League lost impetus with the growth of the NSDAP. By 1927, 80% of its membership had become National Socialists. As such the League had disappeared by the early 1930s, with most of its membership having switched to the NSDAP. As the situation deteriorated in the late 1920s, some of the Artamans were drawn deeper into politics, opposing liberals, democrats, Free-Masons and Jews. Eventually many members of the Artaman League turned to National Socialism. 
Heinrich Himmler was an early member, and held the position of Gauführer in Bavaria. Whilst a member of the League Himmler met Richard Walther Darré, and the two struck up a close friendship, based largely on Darré's highly developed ideological notions of 'blood and soil' to which Himmler was attracted. The Artaman vision would continue to have a profound effect on Himmler who, throughout his time as Reichsführer-SS, retained his early dreams of a racially pure peasantry. Himmler was also close to his fellow member Rudolf Höss, and would later advance him in the Schutzstaffel due in part to their history in the Artaman League. The small league was dismantled and incorporated into the Hitler Jugend in October 1934 as the National Socialist youth movement gained strength.
Richard Walther Darré (see above) popularized the phrase 'Blut und Boden', writing a book called 'Neuadel aus Blut und Boden' (A New Nobility Based On Blood And Soil) in 1930, which proposed a systemic eugenics program, arguing for breeding as a cure for the many problems plaguing the state.
Darré was an influential member of the NSDAP, and a noted race theorist who assisted the party greatly in gaining support among common Germans outside the cities.

Richard Walther Darré
Richard Walther Darré (14 July 1895 – 5 September 1953), was a leading"blood and soil" ideologists, and served as 'Reichsminister für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft' from 1933 to 1942. He was an SS-Obergruppenführer and the seventh most senior officer of the SS. In 1945 Darré was the senior most SS-Obergruppenführer, with date of rank from 9 November 1934, outranked only by Heinrich Himmler and the four SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer. Darré was born in Belgrano, a Buenos Aires neighborhood, in Argentina to Richard Oscar Darré, a German with Huguenot ancestry, (born 10 March 1854, Berlin; died 20 February 1929, Wiesbaden) and the half-Swedish/half-German Emilia Berta Eleonore, née Lagergren (born 23 July 1872, Buenos Aires; died 20 July 1936, Bad Pyrmont). His father moved to Argentina in 1888 as a partner of the German international import/export wholesaler Engelbert Hardt & Co. The family lived prosperously, and educated their children privately until they were forced to return to Germany as a result of worsening international relations in the years preceding World War I. Darré gained fluency in four languages: Spanish, German, English, and French. Darré's parents sent him to Germany at age nine to attend school in Heidelberg; in 1911 he attended as an exchange pupil King's College School in Wimbledon. The rest of the family returned to Germany in 1912. Richard (as he was known in the family) then spent two years at the Oberrealschule in Gummersbach, followed in early 1914 by the Kolonialschule for resettlement in the German colonies at Witzenhausen, south of Göttingen, which awakened his interest in farming. After a single term at Witzenhausen, he volunteered for army service. He was lightly wounded a number of times while serving during World War I, but fared better than most of his contemporaries. When the war ended he returned to Witzenhausen to continue his studies. He then obtained unpaid work as a farm assistant in Pomerania: his observation of the treatment of returning German soldiers there influenced his later writings. In 1922 he moved to the University of Halle to continue his studies: here he took an agricultural degree, specializing in animal breeding. He did not complete his PhD studies until 1929, at the comparatively mature age of 34. During these years he spent some time working in East Prussia and Finland. He married twice. In 1922 he married Alma Staadt, a schoolfriend of his sister Ilse. He divorced Alma in 1927, and subsequently married Charlotte Freiin von Vittinghoff-Schell, who survived him. The first marriage produced two daughters. As a young man in Germany, Darré initially joined the Artaman League. In this organisation he began to develop the idea of the linkage between the future of the Nordic race and the soil: the tendency which became known as "Blut und Boden". The essence of the theory involved the mutual and long-term relationship between a people and the land that it occupies and cultivates. Darré's first political article (1926) discussed Internal Colonization, and argued against Germany attempting to regain the lost colonies in Africa. Most of his writing at this time, however, concentrated on technical aspects of animal breeding. He wrote his first book, 'Das Bauerntum als Lebensquell der nordischen Rasse' ('Peasantry as the life-source of the Nordic Race'), in 1928. It asserted that German farms had previously been bestowed on one son, the strongest, ensuring the best were farmers, but partible inheritance had destroyed that. Darré demanded the restoration of the ancient tradition, as well as serious efforts to restore the purity of Nordic blood, including exterminating the sick and impure.  Darré's writing is an early example of 'Green' or 'Conservationist' thinking: he advocated more natural methods of land management, placing emphasis on the conservation of forests, and demanded more open-space and air in the raising of farm animals. Those who heard and heeded Darré's arguments included Heinrich Himmler, himself one of the Artamans. Darré's work also glorified "peasant virtues" – as found in the remnants of the Nordics who lived in the country – and disparaged city living. In his two major works, he defined the German peasantry as a homogeneous racial group of Nordic antecedents, who formed the cultural and racial core of the German nation. Since the Nordic birth-rate was lower than that of other races, the Nordic race was under a long-term threat of extinction. 
Paul Schultze-Naumburg
In July 1930, after Paul Schultze-Naumburg had introduced him to Adolf Hitler, Darré joined the NSDAP and the SS. Darré's NSDAP number was 248,256 and his SS number was 6,882. Darré went on to become an active Reichsleiter, and to set up an agrarian political apparatus to recruit farmers into the party. Darré saw three main roles for this apparatus: to exploit unrest in the countryside as a weapon against the urban government; to win over the peasants as staunch National Socialist supporters; to gain a constituency of people who could be used as settlers to displace the Slavs in future conquests in the East. The German historian Klaus Hildebrand described Darré together with Himmler and Alfred Rosenberg as one of the leaders of the "agrarian" fraction within the NSDAP who championed 'anti-industrial' and 'anti-urban' "blood and soil" ideology, expansion into Eastern Europe to win 'Lebensraum', an alliance with Great Britain to defeat the Soviet Union, and staunch opposition to restoring the pre-1914 German colonial empire. The "agrarian" fraction took the view that Wilhelmine imperialism had taken Germany in the wrong direction, by colonizing lands that were unsuitable for mass colonization by German settlers, and had unwisely antagonized Britain. The lesson that the völkisch "agrarians" drew from the Second Reich was that Germany must restrict its ambitions to the continent of Europe in order to win an alliance with Britain, and land suitable for German colonization. 
Odal Rune - RuSHA Emblem
On 1 January 1932, Reichsführer-SS Himmler appointed Darré chief of the newly established SS Rasse und Siedlungshauptamt or RuSHA). Darré was given the rank of SS-Gruppenführer. The RuSHA was a department which implemented racial policies and was concerned with the racial integrity of the members of the SS. 
German National People's Party
During the 1932 presidential election, Darré engaged in a campaign against Theodor Duesterberg, the candidate of the conservative German National People's Party, who it emerged during the campaign was the grandson of a Jewish convert to Lutheranism. Duesterberg took up his dispute with Darré before the court of honor of the Former Officers of the 1st Hanoverian Field Artillery Regiment of Scharnhorst, number 10 to which Darré belonged to. The court of honor ruled in Darré's favor. In his religious views, Dárre would belong to the 'Pagan' faction within the Nazi movement, however, unlike Heinrich Himmler and Alfred Rosenberg, he has not become a figure of interest in the speculation about Nazi occultism. Darré's works were primarily concerned with the ancient and present Nordic peasantry (the ideology of 'Blood and Soil'): within this context, he made an explicit attack against Christianity. In his two main works ('Das Bauerntum als Lebensquell der Nordischen Rasse', Munich, 1927 and 'Neuadel aus Blut und Boden', Munich, 1930), Darré accused Christianity, with its "teaching of the equality of men before God," of having "deprived the Teutonic nobility of its moral foundations", the "innate sense of superiority over the nomadic tribes". In June 1933, he became Reichsminister für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft, succeeding DNVP leader Alfred Hugenberg, who had resigned. He was also named Reichsbauernführer (usually translated as Reich Peasant Leader, though the word Bauer also denotes Farmer). Darré was instrumental in founding the Reichsnährstand as part of the Gleichschaltung process. Darré campaigned for big landowners to part with some of their land to create new farms, and promoted the controversial Reichserbhofgesetz. He also converted most of the country's small farms into hereditary estates that were to be passed from father to son under the ancient laws of entailment. 
Günther Pancke
He developed a plan for "Rasse und Raum" ("race and space", or territory) which provided the ideological background for the National Socialist expansive policy on behalf of the "Drang nach Osten" ("Drive to the east") and of the "Lebensraum" ("Living space") theory expounded in Hitler's 'Mein Kampf'. Darré strongly influenced Himmler in his goal to create a German racial aristocracy based on selective breeding. In the course of the preparations for the Generalplan Ost, Himmler would later break with Darré, whom he saw as too theoretical. By September 1938, Himmler was already demanding that Darré step down as leader of the RuSHA in favour of Günther Pancke. Darré finally had to resign as Reich Minister in 1942, ostensibly on health grounds, and was succeeded by his state secretary Herbert Backe. 
Prior to their ascension to power, National Socialists called for a return from the cities to the countryside.
This agrarian sentiment allowed opposition to both the middle class and the aristocracy, and presented the farmer as a superior figure beside the 'moral swamp' of the city.
The doctrine not only called for a "back to the land" approach, and re-adoption of rural values; it held that German land was bound mystically, to German blood.
Peasants were seen as völkisch cultural heroes, who held charge of German racial stock and German history - as when a memorial of a medieval peasant uprising was the occasion for a speech by Darré praising them as force and purifier of German history.
This would also lead them to understand the natural order better, and in the end, only the man who worked the land really possessed it.
Urban culture was decried as a weakness, "asphalt culture", that only the Führer's will could eliminate - sometimes as a code for Jewish influence.

Bückeberg Reichserntedankfest

Bückeberg Reichserntedankfest

The Reichsnährstand organized lectures, films and exhibitions, in order to instruct the German farmers with regard to the völkisch concept of 'blood and soil'.
It also organized spectacular events, such as the 'Reichserntedankfest', which was held on the Bückeberg, close to the city of Hamelin.

Adolf Hitler - Bückeberg Reichserntedankfest
These celebrations took place between 1933 to 1937, when more than a million people gathered in order to celebrate the harvest festival, and listen to speech delivered by Adolf Hitler.
To manage this number of participants a special arena, the 'Reichsthingplatz' (feldplatz), designed by Albert Speer, was built.
The site was intended to be one of the symbolically most important in the Third Reich.

Bückeberg Reichserntedankfest
Adolf Hitler - Bückeberg

Goslar Reichsbauerntag

Wappen Goslar
Reichsbauerntag - Goslar
In addition to the Reichserntedankfest there was also a Reichsbauerntag held in Goslar.
By receiving the designation 'Reich Bauernstadt', the old imperial city of Goslar became the center of agriculture, and agricultural self-administration.
The Reichsbauerntag showed that the 'Reich Bauernstadt' had established a good tradition, which came to expression in the strong participation of the population in the work of the Reichsnährstand.
For the first time, the concept of Reich Bauernstadt, Goslar, as the center of 'Nordic-German' farming, of the state idea of 'blood and soil', reached far beyond the Reich borders, drawing the attention of many states and peoples throughout the world.

Walther Darré - Goslar
The Reichsbauerntag was thus not only a German gathering in a narrow sense, but rather its form and spiritual aims it was an event of international significance.
There were two primary themes that marked the Reich Farmers’ Rally in 1936:

  • an uncompromising declaration of war against Jewish world Bolshevism,
  • and an indomitable will to self-assertion and national independence.

In his opening remarks at the Goslar City Hall, Darré gave the assembled leadership corps the inspiring command: 'Agriculture to the front'.

Neues Volk

'Blut und Boden' also contributed to the völkisch ideal of a woman: a sturdy peasant, who worked the land and bore strong children, contributing to praise for athletic women tanned by outdoor work.That country women gave birth to more children than city ones also was a factor in the support.
Carl Schmitt argued that a people would develop laws appropriate to its "blood and soil" because authenticity required loyalty to the Volk over abstract universals.
'Neues Volk' displayed demographic charts to deplore the destruction of the generous Aryan families' farmland, and how the Jews were eradicating traditional German peasantry.

'Neues Volk' was the monthly publication of the Office of Racial Policy in Nazi Germany. Founded by Walter Gross in 1933, it was a mass-market, illustrated magazine. It aimed at a wide audience, achieving a circulation of 300,000. It appeared in physicians' waiting rooms, libraries, and schools, as well as in private homes. Its subject matter was the excellence  of the Aryan race and the deficiencies of Jews, Poles, and other groups. Articles ranged from profiles of Mussolini, reports on Hitler Youth camps, and travel tips, but eugenic and racial propaganda continued throughout it. The first six issues presented solely ethnic pride, before bringing up any topic on "undesirables." In the next issue, one article presented the types of the "Criminal Jew" surrounded by images of the ideal Aryan, which generally predominated. Such articles continued, showing such things as demographic charts showing the decline of farmland (with generous Aryan families) and deploring that the Jews were eradicating traditional German peasantry. (see above) It included articles defending eugenic sterilization. Photographs of mentally incapacitated children were juxtaposed with those of healthy children. It also presented images of ideal Aryan families and condemned childless couples. By the mid-1930s, it had doubled its pages. Other articles described the conditions under which Hitler would be a child's godfather, discussed the importance of giving children Germanic names, answered racial questions from readers. During the war, it published articles about how the foreign workers were welcome but sexual relations with Germans was prohibited.
Posters for schools depicted, and deplored, the flight of people from the countryside to the city.
The German National Catechism, a pamphlet widely used in schools, also recounted how farmers lost ancestral lands and had to move to the city, with all its demoralizing effects. 
Jews in Vienna
'How has the Jew subjugated the peoples ? With money. He lent them money and made them pay interest. Thousands and thousands of Germans have been made wretched by the Jews and been reduced to poverty. Farmers whose land had been in the family for more than 100 years were driven from their land because they could not pay the interest. What happened to those farmers ? They had to move to the cities. Torn from the land to which they belonged, robbed of their labour that gave their lives purpose and meaning, they fell victim to poverty and misery. Worn down, their souls crushed, they accepted Jewish doctrines that denied the Fatherland and opposed all that was nationalistic. Their strength and ability faded. The Jew had reached his goal.
 Gottfried Feder
The program received far more ideological and propaganda support than concrete changes.
When Gottfried Feder tried to settle workers in villages about decentralized factories, generals and Junkers successfully opposed him.
Generals objected because it interfered with rearmament, and Junkers because it would prevent their exploiting their estates for the international market.
It would also require the breakup of Junker estates for independent farmers, which was not implemented.


The Reichserbhofgesetz, (see above) the 'State Hereditary Farm Law' of 1933, implemented this ideology, stating that its aim was to: "preserve the farming community as the blood-source of the German people" (Das Bauerntum als Blutquelle des deutschen Volkes erhalten).
Selected lands were declared hereditary, and could not be mortgaged or alienated, and only these farmers were entitled to call themselves Bauern or "farmer peasant", a term the National Socialists attempted to refurbish from a neutral or even pejorative to a positive term.
Regional custom was only allowed to decide whether the eldest or the youngest son was to be the heir.
In areas where no particular custom prevailed, the youngest son was to be the heir. Still, the eldest son inherited the farm in most cases during the Third Reich.
Priority was given to the patriline, so that if there were no sons, the brothers and brothers' sons of the deceased peasant had precedence over the peasant's own daughters. 
The Reichserbhofgesetz also prevented Jews from farming: "Only those of German blood may be farmers."

Hitler Youth - Land Service
The concept was a factor in the requirement of a year of land service for members of Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls.
This period of compulsory service was required after completion of a student's basic education, before he or she could engage in advanced studies or become employed. 
Although working on a farm was not the only approved form of service, it was a common one; the aim was to bring young people back from the cities, in the hope that they would then stay "on the land".
In 1942, 600,000 boys and 1.4 million girls were sent to help bringing in the harvest.
'Blood and Soil' was one of the foundations of the concept of 'Lebensraum', "living space".
By expanding eastward and transforming those lands into breadbaskets, another blockade, such as that of World War I, would not cause massive food shortages, as that one had, a factor that aided the resonance of "Blood and Soil" for the German population.
Even Alfred Rosenberg, not hostile to the Slavs as such, regarded their removal from this land, where Germans had once lived, as necessary because of the unity of blood and soil.
Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' prescribed as the unvarying aim of foreign policy the necessity of obtaining land and soil for the German people.
While discussing the question of 'Lebensraum' to the east, Hitler envisioned a Ukrainian "breadbasket", and expressed particular hostility to its "Russian" cities as hotbeds of Slavism and Communism, forbidding Germans to live in them and declaring that they should be destroyed in the war.
Even during the war itself, Hitler gave orders that Leningrad was to be razed with no consideration given for the survival and feeding of its population.
This also called for industry to die off in these regions.
The 'Wehrbauer', or soldier-peasants, who were to settle there were not to marry townswomen, but only peasant women who had not lived in towns.
This would also encourage large families.
Furthermore, this land, held by "tough peasant races" would serve as a bulwark against attack from Asia.

The Influence of 'Blut und Boden' on Art


Prior to the National Socialist take-over, two popular genres were the 'Heimat-Roman', or regional novel, and 'Schollen-Roman', or novel of the soil, which was also known as Blut-und-Boden.
This literature was vastly increased.
It also combined war literature, with the figure of the soldier-peasant, uncontaminated by the city.
These books were generally set in the nominal past, but their invocation of the passing of the seasons often gave them an air of timelessness.
"Blood and Soil" novels and theater celebrated the farmer's life and human fertility, often mystically linking them.

 'Der Giftpilz'
In the children's book 'Der Giftpilz' it was stated that the Talmud described farming as the most lowly of occupations.
It also included an account of a Jewish financier forcing a German to sell his farm as seen by a neighbor boy; deeply distressed, the boy resolved never to let a Jew into his house, for which his father praised him, on the grounds that peasants must remember that Jews will always take their land.

Fine Art

Albin Egger Lienz - Bergmäher
During the Third Reich, one of the charges put forward against certain works of art was that "Art must not be isolated from blood and soil."
Failure to meet this standard resulted in the attachment of the label, 'entartete Kunst' (degenerate art), to offending pieces.

Hans Toepper - Erbhofbauer
In National Socialist art, both landscape paintings and figures reflected Blood-and-Soil ideology.
Indeed, some National Socialist art exhibits were explicitly titled "Blood and Soil".
Artists frequently gave otherwise apolitical paintings such titles as "German Land" or "German Oak".

Rural themes were heavily favored in painting.
Landscape paintings were featured most heavily in the Großdeutschen Kunstausstellungen.
While drawing on German romantic traditions, painted landscapes were expected to be firmly based on real landscapes, the German people's 'Lebensraum', without religious overtones.

Adolf Wissel - Bauernfamilie
Peasants were also popular images, promoting a simple life in harmony with nature.
This art showed little or no sign of the mechanization of farm work.
The farmer labored by hand, with effort and struggle.
The acceptance of this art by the peasant family was also regarded as an important element.


'Blut und Boden' films likewise stressed the commonality of Germanness, and the countryside.
'Die goldene Stadt' has the heroine running away to the city, resulting in her pregnancy and abandonment; she drowns herself, and her last words beg her father to forgive her for not loving the countryside as he did.

'Ewiger Wald'
The documentary 'Ewiger Wald' (The Eternal Forest) depicted the forest as being beyond the vicissitudes of history, and the German people the same because they were rooted in the story; it depicted the forest sheltering ancient Germans, Arminius, and the Teutonic Knights, facing the peasants wars, being chopped up by war and industry, and being humiliated by occupation with black soldiers, but culminated in a neo-pagan May Day celebration.

'Ewiger Wald'  
Commissioned by Alfred Rosenberg's cultural organization Militant League for German Culture in 1934 under the working title 'Deutscher Wald–Deutsches Schicksal' (German Forest–German Destiny), the feature-length movie premiered in Munich in 1936. Intended as a cinematic proof for the shared destiny of the German woods and the German people beyond the vicissitudes of history, it portrayed a perfect symbiosis of an eternal forest and a likewise eternal people firmly rooted in it between Neolithic and National Socialist times.In accordance with Rosenberg's anti-Christian beliefs, the first section on prehistory displayed various customs and rituals of an asserted pagan forest religion like a maypole dance or funerals in treetrunk coffins. Further, it depicted the forest sheltering ancient Germanic tribes, Arminius, and the Teutonic Knights, facing the German Peasants' War, being chopped up by war and industry, and being humiliated by black soldiers from the French occupation army. The years of the Weimar Republic appeared to be disastrous for people and forest alike to legitimize the assumption of power and thus the film culminated in a National Socialist May Day celebration filmed at the Berlin Lustgarten.
In 'Die Reise nach Tilsit', the Polish seductress is an obvious product of "asphalt culture," but the virtuous German wife is a country dweller in traditional costume.

for more information on
'Blut und Boden'

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015

Deutsch Sozialismus - German Socialism

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015

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Socialism in 19th and 20th Century Germany and Austria was split, somewhat uneasily, between the practicalities of social programs, as exemplified by Bismark's 'State Socialism', and also the activities of the Marxists and Communists, and the less practical concerns of the Lebensreform movement and völkisch socialists, - and both of these areas had profound effects on the politics of the Weimar Republic that emerged from the German defeat in the Great War.
In Germany 'socialism' could legitimately encompass any socially orientated political philosophy, ranging from the internationalist extremism of the Spartacists to the liberalism of the Christian Socialists and the SPD, while also including the völkisch, racial (national) socialism of the NSDAP.

Lebensreform and Socialism

Lebensreform ("life reform") was a social (although not always an overtly political) movement in late 19th-century and early 20th-century Germany and Austria that propagated a 'back-to-nature' lifestyle, emphasizing among others health food/raw food/organic food, nudism, sexual liberation, (including an acceptance of homosexuality and lesbianism), alternative medicine, and religious reform, and at the same time often included abstention from alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and vaccines.
Important Lebensreform proponents were Sebastian Kneipp, Louis Kuhne, Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach, Fidus (Hugo Höppener), Gusto Graeser, and Adolf Just.
The Lebensreform movement in Germany originally was a diverse movement.
There were hundreds of groups across Germany dedicated to some or all of the concepts associated with Lebensreform: ecology and organic farming, vegetarianism, naturalism (Nacktkultur), and abstinence from alcohol and tobacco.
Dozens of magazines, books, and pamphlets were published on these topics.
Many of these groups were socialist, - some, however, were apolitical, and some were nationalist, or rather völkisch in outlook, but also addressed socialist issues.

Parsifal by Fidus
One outstanding prophet of Lebensreform was the painter Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach (1861-1913), pacifist and Tolstoyan anarchist who founded the community Himmelhof near Vienna.
Among his disciples were three painters: Fidus, Frantischek Kupka and Gusto Graeser.

Fidus was the pseudonym used by German illustrator, painter and publisher Hugo Reinhold Karl Johann Höppener (October 8, 1868 – February 23, 1948). In 1892 he worked as an illustrator on the magazine 'Sphinx'. His work appeared frequently in 'Jugend' (Youth) and other illustrated magazines. He created many ornamental drawings for book decoration, as well as ex-libris, posters and designs. He also contributed to the early homosexual magazine Der Eigene, published by Adolf Brand.

Gusto Graeser
Hermann Hesse
Gusto Graeser, thinker and poet, greatly influenced the German Youth Movement and such writers as Hermann Hesse and Gerhart Hauptmann.
He was the model for the master figures in the books of Hermann Hesse.
Other Lebensreform groups involved in völkisch Romanticism gradually became part of the ideology of the 1930s, known as 'blut und boden' - (blood and soil).
As early as 1907, Richard Ungewitter published a pamphlet called 'Nacktheit und Kultur' (Nudity and Culture) (which sold 100,000 copies), arguing that the practices he recommended would be "the means by which the German race would regenerate itself and ultimately prevail over its neighbors and the diabolical Jews, who were intent on injecting putrefying agents into the nation's blood and soil".

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
Artaman League
Heinrich Himmler
Those promoting völkisch Lebensreform ideology eventually became popular among Third Reich officials and their supporters, including Heinrich Himmler and Rudolph Höss, who belonged to the farming organization known as the 'Artaman League'.
When other groups were being banned or disbanded due to political conflict during the 1930s, the völkisch nationalist ideology became connected with National Socialism.

The Artamanen-Gesellschaft - Artaman League - was a German agrarian and völkisch movement dedicated to a 'Blood and Soil' inspired ruralism. Active during the inter-war period, the League became closely linked to, and eventually absorbed by, the NSDAP (see below). The Artaman League had its roots in the overall Lebensreform movement in late 19th-century and early 20th-century Germany and Austria (see above). 

Artaman League
The Lebenreform movement encompassed hundreds of groups throughout Germany that were involved in various experiments tied to ecology, health, fitness, vegetarianism, and naturism (Nacktkultur). These groups held positions across the political spectrum. The völkisch groups ultimately gained a following among the NSDAP members and their supporters. Publications by völkisch Lebensreformists, which sold in the tens of thousands, argued that their farming practices were "the means by which the German race would regenerate itself and ultimately prevail over its neighbours and the Jews who were intent on destroying the nation's blood and soil".

Hans Sùren
The völkisch physician Artur Fedor Fuchs began the 'League for Free Body Culture' (FKK), giving public lectures on the healing powers of the sun in the "Nordic sky", which "alone strengthened and healed the warrior nation".
Ancient forest living, and habits presumed to have been followed by the ancient tribes of Germany, were beneficial to regenerating the Aryan people, according to Fuchs' philosophy.
Hans Sùren, a prominent former military officer, published 'Der Mensch und die Sonne' - (Man and the Sun - 1924), which sold 240,000 copies; by 1941 it was reissued in 68 editions.
Sùren promoted the Aryan master race concept of the physically strong, who would be the "salvation" of the German people.
Both socialist and völkisch groups were espoused by German youth, and associated with such groups was the 'Wandervogel' movement, which was a precursor to the Hitlerjugend.

Bismarck's Social Legislation 

Otto von Bismarck
'State Socialism' was a term introduced to describe Otto von Bismarck's social welfare policies.
The term was actually coined by Bismarck's liberal opposition but later accepted by Bismarck.
They refer to a set of social programs implemented between 1884 to 1889 as remedial measures to appease the working class and detract support for socialism and the Social Democratic Party of Germany following earlier attempts to achieve the same objective through Bismarck's anti-socialist laws.
The Prussian welfare state was developed by the German academic Sozialpolitiker (Social Policy Supporter) group, and intellectually associated with the historical school of economics.
Despite being labeled "socialist" by his opponents, however, Otto Von Bismarck's social legislation sought to preserve the existing economic order and state in Germany.
This was in stark contrast to 'true' socialists, who sought to subvert the power of the existing state and eventually replace the capitalist order with a socialist economy.
The 1880s were a period when Germany started on its long road towards the welfare state.
The Social Democratic, National Liberal and Centre Parties were all involved in the beginnings of social legislation, but it was Bismarck who established the first practical aspects of this program.
The program of the Social Democrats included all of the programs that Bismarck eventually implemented, but also included programs designed to preempt the programs championed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

Berlin Reichstag
Bismarck's idea was to implement the minimum aspects of these programs that were acceptable to the German government, without any of the overtly socialistic aspects. Bismarck opened debate on the subject on 17 November 1881 in the 'Imperial Message to the Reichstag', using the term 'practical Christianity' to describe his program - thus avoiding any mention of Socialism.
However, in 1881 Bismarck had also referred to this program as 'Staatssozialismus', when he made the following accurate prediction to a colleague: "It is possible that all our politics will come to nothing when I am dead but state socialism will drub[force] itself in. (Der Staatssozialismus paukt sich durch.)"
Bismarck's program centered squarely on insurance programs, designed to increase productivity, and focus the political attentions of German workers on supporting the Junker government.
The program included Health insurance, accident insurance (workman's compensation); disability insurance; and an old-age retirement Pension, none of which were then in existence to any great degree.
Based on Bismarck's message, the Reichstag filed three bills designed to deal with the concept of Accident insurance, and one for Health Insurance.
Retirement pensions and disability insurance were placed on the back burner for the time being.
The first bill that had success was the Health Insurance bill, which was passed in 1883. 
The program was considered the least important from Bismarck's point of view, and the least politically troublesome.
The program was established to provide health care for the largest segment of the German workers.
The health service was established on a local basis, with the cost divided between employers and the employed.
The employers contributed one-third, the workers the rest.
The minimum payments for medical treatment and sick pay for up to 13 weeks were legally fixed.
The individual local health bureaus were administered by a committee elected by the members of each bureau, and this move had the unintended effect of establishing a majority representation for the workers on account of their large financial contribution. 
This worked to the advantage of the Social Democrats who, through heavy worker membership, achieved their first small foothold in public administration.
Bismarck's government had to submit three draft bills relating to Accident Insurance before it could get one passed by the Reichstag in 1884.
Bismarck had originally proposed that the Federal Government should pay a portion of the accident insurance contribution, to show the willingness of the German government to lessen the hardship experienced by the German workers as a means of weaning them away from the various left-wing parties, most importantly the Social Democrats.
The National Liberals took this program to be an expression of State Socialism, which they were strongly against.
The Centre Party was afraid of the expansion of federal power at the expense of states' rights.
As a result, the only way the program could be passed at all was for the entire expense to be underwritten by the employers.
To facilitate this, Bismarck arranged for the administration of this program to be placed in the hands of “Der Arbeitgeberverband in den beruflichen Korporationen”, “the organization of employers in occupational corporations”.
This organization established central and bureaucratic insurance offices on the federal, and in some cases the state, level to perform the actual administration.
The program kicked in to replace the health insurance program as of the 14th week.
It paid for medical treatment, and a Pension of up to two-thirds of earned wages if the worker was fully disabled.
This program was expanded in 1886 to include agricultural workers.
The old-age pension program, financed by a tax on workers, was designed to provide a pension annuity for workers who reached the age of 70.
At the time, the life expectancy for the average Prussian was 45, although this reflects the high infant mortality of the era, and retired workers could expect to live until 70 years.
Unlike accident insurance and health insurance, this program covered industrial, agrarian, artisans and servants from the start.
Also, unlike the other two programs, the principle that the federal government should contribute a portion of the underwriting cost, with the other two portions prorated accordingly, was accepted without question.
The disability insurance program was intended to be used by those permanently disabled. 
This time, the state supervised the programs directly.


Christlich–soziale Partei -  (CSP)

The Christian Social Party  (CSP) was a right-wing political party in the German Empire, founded in 1878 by Adolf Stoecker as the Christlichsoziale Arbeiterpartei (Christian Social Workers' Party).
The party combined a strong Christian and conservative programme with progressive ideas on labor, and tried to provide an alternative for disillusioned Social Democrat voters.
It also focused on the "Jewish question", with a distinct antisemitic attitude.

Adolf Stoecker
In December 1877 Stoecker, domestic chaplain at the court of Emperor Wilhelm I, and board member of the Evangelical Church of the Prussian Union, together with the economist Adolph Wagner had founded the Central Association for Social Reform (Zentralverein für Sozialreform), dealing with injustice and poverty after the Industrial Revolution.
The organization was meant to counter the rise of the presumably revolutionary Social Democratic Party and to answer the urging social question on the basis of Protestant religion and monarchism.
It was constituted as a laborers' party on 1 February 1878.
The program of the CSP included: Founding of mandatory specialized cooperatives Settlement of the apprenticeship system Commercial arbitration Social insurance: mandatory widows and orphans, disability and pension funds Eight-hour day Factory Acts Restoring laws against usury Progressive income and inheritance taxes.
In turn, Social Democrats like Johann Most led a large conjugation in protesting against the party and its "christianity", while the reformist approach repelled social conservative voters.
In the 1878 elections, the party obtained less than 1% of the vote, failing to enter the Reichstag.
Upon their defeat, the CSP gave up its stance as a workers' party and concentrated on petit-bourgeois sections of the electorate.
Although antisemitism was only a minor theme in the early stages of the party, the antisemitic message was carried by the so-called 'Berlin Movement' (Berliner Bewegung) of the 1880s, which gathered considerable support.
The party linked anti-capitalism with hatred toward Jews, denoting both big business and social liberal or socialist movements as "judaized", fulfilling the plans of the "world Jewry" to exterminate the German people (which according to the CSP did not include Jews).
The party never gained mass support, but Adolf Stoecker was able to obtain a seat in the Reichstag after an electoral coalition with the Conservative Party (DKP).
In the parliament, he acted as a DKP "far–right", advocating the abolition of universal suffrage and intriguing against the policies of Otto von Bismarck until the chancellor's resignation in 1890.
Stoecker was even able to include some antisemitic remarks in the DKP's 1892 party manifesto, however, when the Conservatives became worried with the over-tones in his messages (although they were more targeted at Reform Judaism than orthodox Judaism), the Christian Socialists were forced from the coalition in 1896.

Friedrich Naumann
A left-wing group around Friedrich Naumann split off to found the National-Social Association.

Friedrich Naumann (25 March 1860 – 24 August 1919) was a German liberal politician and Protestant parish pastor. In 1894 he founded the weekly magazine 'Die Hilfe' ("The Help") to address the social question from a non-marxist middle class point of view. In 1896 he also founded the National-Social Association, in an attempt to provide a social liberal alternative to the Social Democrats, that could address the growing social rift between rich industrialists and the poor working class. 

The final demise of the Christian Social Party came in the early 1900s.
Adolf Stoecker died in 1909 and in November 1918, most members of the CSP, under lead of Reichstag member Reinhard Mumm (who succeeded Stoecker in representing the Arnsberg constituency), stepped over to the German National People's Party (Deutschnationale Volkspartei, DNVP) in 1918.

Alfred Hugenberg
The group separated itself again, emerging as the Christian Social People's Service (Christlich-Soziale Volksdienst) in 1929 after the business magnate Alfred Hugenberg had become DNVP chairman.
The Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germanya (German: Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, abbreviated as SDAP) was a Marxist socialist political party in the North German Confederation during the period of unification.
Founded in Eisenach in 1869, the SDAP endured through the early years of the German Empire.
Often termed the Eisenachers, the SDAP was one of the first political organizations established among the nascent German labor unions of the nineteenth century.
It officially existed under the name SDAP for only six years (1869–1875), but through name changes and political partnerships its lineage can be traced to the present-day Social Democratic Party of Germany.


The Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands

The  Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands - Communist Party of Germany (KPD) was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933.
In the 1920s it was called the "Spartacists", since it was formed from the Spartacus League.
Rosa Luxemburg
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands - Emblem
Founded in the aftermath of the First World War by socialists opposed to the war, led by Rosa Luxemburg, after her death the party became gradually ever more committed to Leninism and later Stalinism.

Róza Luksemburg; 5 March 1871 – 15 January 1919) was a revolutionary socialist who was neither German or Austrian, but rather a Polish Jew, who later became a naturalized German citizen.  She was born to a Jewish family in Zamość on 5 March 1871, in Russian-controlled Congress Poland. She was the fifth and youngest child of timber trader Eliasz Luxemburg and Line Löwenstein. She was, successively, a member of the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL), the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD), and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD).

During the Weimar Republic period, the KPD usually polled between 10 and 15 per cent of the vote, and was represented in the Reichstag and in state parliaments.
The party directed most of its attacks on the Social Democratic Party of Germany, which it considered its main opponent.
Banned in the Third Reich one day after Adolf Hitler emerged triumphant in the German elections in 1933, the KPD maintained an underground organization, but suffered heavy losses.
Before the First World War the Social Democratic Party (SPD) was the largest party in Germany, and the world's most successful socialist party.
Although still officially claiming to be a Marxist party, by 1914 it had become in practice a reformist party.
In 1914 the SPD members of the Reichstag voted in favor of the war.

Karl Liebknecht
Extreme left-wing members of the party, led by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, strongly opposed the war, and the SPD soon suffered a split, with the leftists forming the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD), and the more radical Spartacist League.

Karl Liebknecht (August 13, 1871 - January 15, 1919) was a communist Jew and lawyer from Germany.
Liebknecht's father was Wilhelm Liebknecht, who helped form the Social Democratic Party of Germany in 1891. His mother was Natalia Reh, a Jewess. In 1912 Karl was elected into Reichstag on the left-wing ballot SDP. He was also against Germany's involvement in the First World War and in the end of 1914 he had joined up with other Communists, Rosa Luxemburg, Leo Jogiches, Paul Levi, Ernest Meyer, Franz Mehring and Clara Zetkin and formed the Socialist Newspaper, Spartacus League.

In November 1918, revolution broke out across Germany.
The extreme leftists, led by Rosa Luxemburg and the Spartacist League, formed the KPD at a founding congress held in Berlin in 30 December 1918 – 1 January 1919 in the reception hall of the City Council.
Under the leadership of Liebknecht and Luxemburg, the KPD was committed to a violent revolution in Germany, and during 1919 and 1920 attempts to seize control of the government continued.

Violent Revolution in Germany
Germany's Social Democratic government, which had come to power after the fall of the Monarchy, was vehemently opposed to the KPD's idea of socialism.
With the new regime terrified of a Bolshevik Revolution in Germany, Defense Minister Gustav Noske formed a series of anti-communist paramilitary groups, dubbed "Freikorps", out of demobilized World War I veterans.
During the failed so-called 'Spartacist Uprising' in Berlin of January 1919, Liebknecht and Luxemburg, who had not initiated the uprising but joined once it had begun, were captured by the Freikorps and executed as enemies of the republic.
The Party split a few months later into two factions, the KPD and the Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD).
Following the assassination of Leo Jogiches, Paul Levi became the KPD leader.
Other prominent members included Clara Zetkin, Paul Frölich, Hugo Eberlein, Franz Mehring, August Thalheimer, and Ernst Meyer.
Levi led the party away from the policy of immediate revolution, in an effort to win over SPD and USPD voters and trade union officials.
These efforts were rewarded when a substantial section of the USPD joined the KPD, making it a mass party for the first time.
Through the 1920s the KPD was racked by internal conflict between more and less radical factions, partly reflecting the power struggles between Zinoviev and Stalin in Moscow. 
Germany was seen as being of central importance to the struggle for socialism, and the failure of the German revolution was a major setback.
Eventually Levi was expelled in 1921 by the Comintern for "indiscipline."
Further leadership changes took place in the 1920s.
Supporters of the Left or Right Opposition to the Stalin-controlled Comintern leadership were expelled; of these, Heinrich Brandler, August Thalheimer and Paul Frölich set up a splinter Communist Party Opposition.

The KPD and the Weimar Years

In 1923 a new KPD leadership more favorable to the USSR was elected.

Ernst Thälmann
This leadership, headed by Ernst Thälmann, abandoned the goal of immediate revolution, and from 1924 onwards contested Reichstag elections, with some success.
During the years of the Weimar Republic the KPD was the largest communist party in Europe, and was seen as the "leading party" of the communist movement outside the Soviet Union.
It maintained a solid electoral performance, usually polling more than 10% of the vote, and gaining 100 deputies in the November 1932 elections.
In the presidential election of the same year, Thälmann took 13.2% of the vote, compared to Hitler's 30.1%.
Critics of the KPD accused it of having pursued a sectarian policy – e.g. the Social Democratic Party criticized the KPD's thesis of "social fascism" (which addressed the SPD as the Communist's main enemy).
This scuttled any possibility of a united front with the SPD against the rising power of the NSDAP.
These allegations were repudiated by supporters of the KPD: the right-wing leadership of the SPD rejected the proposals of the KPD to unite for the defeat of fascism.
The SPD leaders were accused of having countered KPD efforts to form a united front of the working class.
For instance, after Papen's government carried out a coup d'état in Prussia, the KPD called for a general strike, and turned to the SPD leadership for joint struggle - but the SPD leaders again refused to cooperate with the KPD.

The KPD During the Third Reich

Ernst Thälmann leading a Communist March
Soon after the appointment of Hitler as Chancellor, the Reichstag was set on fire and a Dutch communist, Marinus van der Lubbe was found near the building.
The National Socialists publicly blamed the fire on communist agitators in general, although in a German court in 1933, it was decided that van der Lubbe had acted alone, as he claimed to have done.
After the fire, the 'Reichstag Fire Decree' was passed, under the pretext of snuffing out "Communist state-endangering acts of violence."
Its actual effect, however, was to suspend most civil liberties.
The KPD was banned shortly afterward.
The 'Enabling Act', which legally gave Hitler dictatorial control of Germany, was passed by a Reichstag session held after all communist deputies had been arrested and jailed.
The KPD was efficiently suppressed by the National Socialist Government.
Thousands of Communists were imprisoned in concentration camps, including Thälmann and the party's leader in the Reichstag, Ernst Torgler.
The most senior KPD leaders to escape were Wilhelm Pieck and Walter Ulbricht, who went into exile in the Soviet Union.
The KPD attempted to maintained an underground organisation in Germany throughout the period of the Third Reich, but the loss of many core members severely weakened the Party's infrastructure.
Interestingly,  number of senior KPD leaders in exile in Russia were caught up in Joseph Stalin's Great Purge of 1937–38, and executed, among them Eberlein, Heinz Neumann, Hermann Remmele, Fritz Schulte and Hermann Schubert, or sent to the gulag, like Margarete Buber-Neumann.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

Still others, like Gustav von Wangenheim and Erich Mielke, denounced their fellow exiles to the NKVD.
Willi Münzenberg, the KPD's propaganda chief, was murdered in mysterious circumstances in France in 1940.
The NKVD is believed to have been responsible.

The Народный комиссариат внутренних дел - (Narodnyy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del - People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs), abbreviated NKVD (НКВД) was a law enforcement agency of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the All Union Communist Party. It was closely associated with the Soviet secret police, which at times was part of the agency, and is known for its political repression during the era of Joseph Stalin.

Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands

The Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands (Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany) abbreviated as SDAP) was a Marxist socialist political party in the North German Confederation during the period of unification.
Founded in Eisenach in 1869, the SDAP endured through the early years of the German Empire.
Often termed the 'Eisenachers', the SDAP was one of the first political organizations established among the nascent German labor unions of the nineteenth century.
It officially existed under the name SDAP for only six years (1869–1875), but through name changes and political partnerships its lineage can be traced to the present-day Social Democratic Party of Germany.
The SDAP was one of the earliest organizations to arise from German workers' unionizing activity, but it was not the first.
At the group's founding in 1869, the fast-growing working class of the Industrial Revolution had already established several notable associations for workers' advocacy.
Chief among these were Leopold Sonnemann's Verband Deutscher Arbeiterverein, or VDAV - Assembly of German Worker Associations - and Ferdinand Lassalle's  (Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein, or ADAV General German Workers' Association.
The largest group by far was the VDAV.
Through the 1860s it remained mostly apolitical, dedicated to pocketbook matters and fully integrated with the paradigms of liberal economic interests.
The VDAV did its best to ignore the political agitation of Lassalle's much smaller but more active ADAV.
The Lassalleans were seen as insufficiently committed to basic economic matters: much of their political appeal was based on what socialists considered to be an alarming militancy in support of German nationalism and the question of Groß-Deutschland (Greater Germany), and they displayed a discomfiting closeness to the militaristic Kingdom of Prussia.
Eventually, however, the sundry turmoil created by the wars of German unification helped politicize large elements of the previously unmoved VDAV.
Some followed Sonnemann to the new, moderately socialist German People's Party, founded in 1868, while others were ready to abandon the VDAV structure altogether and establish a more radical political party.
Meeting in the city of Eisenach in Saxony, the VDAV activists founded the Social Democratic Workers' Party (SDAP) on 7–9 August 1869.
The Eisenachers, as they came to be called, were under the leadership of Wilhelm Liebknecht and August Bebel.
The political theorist Karl Marx had significant personal influence upon the newly formed party, being a friend and mentor to both Bebel and Liebknecht.
Marx and Friedrich Engels steered the party toward more Marxian socialism, and welcomed them (as far as German law would allow) into their International Workingmen's Association (IWA).
The SDAP was typically deemed "Marxist" by most observers, although this term was somewhat amorphous during Marx's own lifetime.

Karl Marx
The party was described as such largely because of its IWA membership, and Liebknecht's close personal relationship with the Jewish economist Karl Marx.
The true nature of 'Eisenacher Marxism' was closer to democratic socialism than the Communist parties of later decades.
The party platform called for a 'freier Volkstaat' (free people's state), which could align private cooperatives with state organizations.
The party primarily supported trade unionism as the utility by which workers could prosper "in the context of capitalism".
The party press was a key element of the SDAP's political strategy, and the party's newspaper – first called 'Demokratisches Wochenblatt' (Democratic Weekly Paper), later 'Der Volksstaat' (The People's State) – was edited by Liebknecht himself.
The paper was published in Leipzig from 2 October 1869 to 23 September 1876.
The party did not yet have its own printers, but Liebknecht was ambitious in his efforts to promote its publications on a wide scale as educational tools for workers.
Although most issues of 'Der Volksstaat' were largely composed of incendiary writing about the German political situation, Liebknecht attempted as much as possible to include essays on political theory, transcripts of academic lectures, and even some popular fiction.
Despite their differences, the SDAP and Lassalle's ADAV shared a largely identical interpretation of socialism.
The similarity was great enough to mean that they were both routinely monitored and considered equally suspicious by the authorities.
The two parties were both vying for the same audience among the working class, and they were doing so simultaneously, with several more moderate liberal organizations.
The key distinction among all the groups' positions was their level of commitment to the right to strike.
The competition between moderate and radical factions reached a boiling point when SDAP and Lassalle's ADAV finally merged to form a united front.
In a convention at Gotha in 1875, the new fusion party was renamed the Sozialistiche Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, or SAPD - (Socialist Workers' Party of Germany).
The resultant Gotha Program was a mixture of socialist and liberal capitalist ideas. Though it largely satisfied the conventioneers, the new policies were denounced by Karl Marx himself in the scathing essay 'Critique of the Gotha Program' (1875).
Despite its relatively moderate stance, the SAPD organization was deemed subversive and officially banned by the German Empire under the Anti-Socialist Laws of 1878.
Under proscription, however, the party's members continued to successfully organize.
After the ban was lifted in 1890, they rechristened themselves as the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, or SPD - (Social Democratic Party of Germany), and surged at the polls.
By the elections of 1912, the SPD – direct descendant of the small SDAP – had become the largest party in Germany.

Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

The Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein - General German Workers' Association - (ADAV), founded in 1863, and the Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, (SDAP), founded in 1869, merged in 1875, under the name Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, (SAPD).
From 1878 to 1890, any grouping or meeting that aimed at spreading socialist principles was banned under the Anti-Socialist Laws, but the party still gained support in elections. 
In 1890, when the ban was lifted and it could again present electoral lists, the party adopted its current name.
In the years leading up to World War I, the party remained ideologically radical in official principle, although many party officials tended to be moderate in everyday politics.
By 1912, the party claimed the most votes of any German party.
Despite the agreement of the Second International to oppose the First World War, the SPD voted in favor of war in 1914.
In response to this and the Bolshevik Revolution, members of the left and of the far-left of the SPD formed alternative parties, first the 'Spartacus League', then the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany and later the Communist Party of Germany (see above).
After 1918 the SPD played an important role in the political system of the Weimar Republic, although it took part in coalition governments only in few years (1918–1921, 1923, 1928–1930).
Adolf Hitler prohibited the party in 1933 under the Enabling Act - party officials were imprisoned, or went into exile.
In exile, the party used the name 'Sopade'.

Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands - (SAPD)

The Socialist Workers' Party of Germany (German: Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, SAPD) was a centrist Marxist political party in Germany.
It was formed by a left-wing party with around 20,000 members which split off from the SPD in the autumn of 1931.
In 1931, the remnants of USPD merged into the party, and in 1932 some Communist Party dissenters joined the group too, as well as a part from the Communist Party Opposition. 
Nevertheless, its membership remained small.
From 1933, the group's members worked illegally against National Socialism.
In 1934, the youth of SAPD took part in the foundation of the International Bureau of Revolutionary Youth Organizations.
The congress, which was held in the Netherlands, was broken up by Dutch police.
Several SAPD delegates were handed over to German authorities.
The congress then re-convened in Lille.

Unabhängige Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands- (USPD)

The  Unabhängige Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands - (USPD) - Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany - was a short-lived political party in Germany during the German Empire and the Weimar Republic.
The organization was established in 1917 as the result of a split of left wing members of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) (see above).
The organization attempted to chart a centrist course between electorally oriented revisionism on the one hand and Bolshevism on the other.
The organization was terminated in 1931 through merger with the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany (SAPD).
On December 21, 1915, several SPD members in the Reichstag, the German parliament, voted against the authorization of further credits to finance World War I, an incident that emphasized existing tensions between the party's leadership and the left-wing pacifists surrounding Hugo Haase, and ultimately led to the expulsion of the group from the SPD on March 24, 1916.
To be able to continue their parliamentary work, the group formed the Sozialdemokratische Arbeitsgemeinschaft (SAG, "Social Democratic Working Group"); concerns from the SPD leadership and Friedrich Ebert that the SAG was intent on dividing the SPD then led to the expulsion of the SAG members from the SPD on January 18, 1917. 
Three months later, on April 6, 1917, the USPD was founded at a conference in Gotha, with Hugo Haase as the party's first chairman; the Spartakusbund also merged into the newly founded party, but retained relative autonomy.
To avoid confusion, the existing SPD was typically called MSPD (Mehrheits-SPD, "majority-SPD") from then on.

Friedrich Ebert
Following the Januarstreik in January 1918, a strike demanding an end to the war and better food provisioning that was organized by revolutionaries affiliated with the USPD and officially supported by the party, the USPD quickly rose to about 120,000 members; despite harsh criticism of the SPD for becoming part of the government of the newly formed German republic during the Oktoberreform, the USPD reached a settlement with the SPD as the 'Novemberrevolution' began, and even became part of the government in the form of the Rat der Volksbeauftragten ("council of people's deputies"), which was formed on November 10, 1918 and mutually led by Friedrich Ebert and Hugo Haase following the German Revolution.

Friedrich Ebert (4 February 1871 – 28 February 1925) was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the first President of Germany from 1919 until his death in office in 1925. Ebert was elected leader of the SPD on the death of August Bebel, and the SPD later became deeply divided because Ebert led it to support war loans for World War I. A moderate social democrat, Ebert was in favor of the Burgfrieden, in which domestic political squabbles were put aside and all forces in society were expected to support the war effort. He tried to isolate those in the party opposed to the war but could not prevent a split.

The agreement did not last long, though, for on December 29, 1918, Haase, Wilhelm Dittmann and Emil Barth left the council again to protest the SPD's actions during the soldier mutiny in Berlin on November 23, 1918.
At the same time, the Spartakusbund, led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht (see above), separated from the USPD again as well to merge with other left wing groups and form the KPD (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands - "Communist Party of Germany" - see above).
During the elections for the national assembly on January 19, 1919, from which the SPD emerged as the strongest party with 37.9% of the votes, the USPD only managed to attract 7.6%; nevertheless, the party's strong support for the introduction of a system of councils (Räterepublik) instead of a parliamentary democracy attracted many former SPD members, and in spring 1920, the USPD had grown to more than 750,000 members, managing to increase their share of votes to 17.9% during the parliamentary elections on June 6, 1920 and becoming one of the largest fractions in the new Reichstag, second only to the SPD (21.7%).
In 1920, four delegates from the USPD attended the 2nd World Congress of the Comintern, Ernst Däumig, Arthur Crispien, Walter Stoecker and Wilhelm Dittmann, to discuss participating in the Comintern.
Whilst Däumig and Stoecker agreed with the International's 21 conditions of entry, Crispien and Dittmann opposed them, leading to a controversial debate over joining the Comintern to break out in the USPD; many members felt that the necessary requirements for joining would lead to a loss of the party's independence and a perceived "dictate from Moscow", while others, especially younger members such as Ernst Thälmann, argued that only the joining of the Comintern would allow the party to implement its socialist ideals. 
Ultimately, the proposition to join the Comintern was approved at a party convention in Halle in October 1920 by 237 votes to 156, with various international speakers including Julius Martov, Jean Longuet and Grigory Zinoviev.

Григо́рий Евсе́евич Зино́вьев
Grigory Yevseevich Zinoviev - Григо́рий Евсе́евич Зино́вьев, (September 23 [O.S. September 11] 1883 – August 25, 1936), born Ovsei-Gershon Aronovich Radomyslsky, known also under the name Hirsch Apfelbaum (Овсей-Гершен Аронович Радомысльский, and Апфельбаум), was a Jewish Bolshevik revolutionary and a Soviet Communist politician. He was one of the seven members of the first Politburo, founded in 1917 in order to manage the Bolshevik Revolution: Lenin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotsky, Stalin, Sokolnikov and Bubnov. Zinoviev was the longtime head of the Communist International, and the architect of several failed attempts to transform Germany into a communist country during the early 1920s.

The USPD split up in the process, with both groups seeing themselves as the rightful USPD and the other one as being outcast.
On December 4, 1920, the left wing of the USPD, with about 400,000 members, merged into the KPD, forming the VKPD (Vereinigte Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, "United Communist Party of Germany"), while the other half of the party, with about 340,000 members and including three quarters of the 81 Reichstag members, continued under the name USPD; led by Georg Ledebour and Arthur Crispien, they advocated a parliamentary democracy.
The USPD was instrumental in the creation of the 2½ International in 1921.
Over time, the political differences between SPD and USPD dwindled, and following the assassination of foreign minister Walther Rathenau by right wing extremists in June 1922, the two parties' fractions in the Reichstag formed a common working group on July 14, 1922; two months later, on September 24, the parties officially merged again after a joint party convention in Nürnberg, adopting the name 'Vereinigte Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands' (VSPD, "United Social Democratic Party of Germany"), which was shortened again to SPD in 1924.
The USPD was continued as an independent party by Georg Ledebour and Theodor Liebknecht, who refused to work with the SPD, but it never attained any significance again and merged into the Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschland (SAPD, Socialist Workers' Party of Germany) in 1931.
The party got 20,275 votes in the 1928 Reichstag election, but won no seats.

Völkisch Socialism

It is easy to forget that the liberals and Communists did not have a monopoly on Socialism.
Unfortunately, because of the misguided stereotyping, that divides ideologies into those of the 'left' and the 'right', we can fail to see the legitimate socialist credentials of parties such as the NSDAP, or for that matter, the nationalist and racist credentials of parties such as the Communist Party of Russia.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
One of the main appeals to the average citizen of some parties of the 'so-called' right in the Weimar republic was their promise of 'social equality' as represented by the concept of the 'Volksgemeinschaft' - people's community.

Volksgemeinschaft is a German expression meaning "people's community". This expression originally became popular during World War I as Germans rallied in support of the war, and it appealed to the idea of breaking down elitism and uniting people across class divides to achieve a national purpose. At first it was used in both democratic and populist politics in Germany, but later it was adopted by the National Socialist Party, and eventually became associated solely with them.

The Deutschsozialistische Partei 

Rudolf von Sebottendorf
 © Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
The Deutschsozialistische Partei (DSP) - German Socialist Party was a German far-right, nationalist party during the early years of the Weimar Republic.
Founded in 1918, its declared aim was an ideology that would combine both völkisch and socialist elements, however, the party never became a mass movement, and after it was dissolved in 1922, many of its members joined the similar National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) instead.

The DSP was heavily influenced by the occult Thule-Gesellschaft, led by Rudolf von Sebottendorf as well as publications of engineer Alfred Brunner, who aimed to create a party that would be both nationalist, socialist and attractive to the German proletariat. The DSP aimed to win the allegiance of the German proletariat away from communism, which had become highly influential following the German Revolution of 1918–1919.

Julius Streicher
This made the DSP similar to the Deutsch Arbeiterpartei (German Workers' Party) DAP  (see below) - in and around Munich, which later became the NSDAP.
A merger of the two parties failed however.
In 1920, the party (which had originally only existed in Nürnberg and around Franconia) was founded for the entire German state and contested in the Reichstag elections.
Yet, the party proved unpopular with only about 7,000 votes.
This led Julius Streicher, an important party official, to ally with the so-called Völkische Werkgemeinschaft (Peoples' Workers Party) in the summer of 1921.
Yet, the DSP continued to lose members and popularity.
In late 1922, the German Socialist Party was officially dissolved, many functionaries followed Streicher to the NSDAP.

Deutsche Arbeiterpartei

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
Deutsche Arbeiterpartei
The Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, DAP - German Workers' Party - was the short-lived predecessor of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, NSDAP).
The DAP was founded in Munich in the hotel "Fürstenfelder Hof" on January 5, 1919 by Anton Drexler.
It developed out of the Freier Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten Frieden (Free Workers' Committee for a Good Peace) league, a branch of which Drexler had founded in 1918.
Thereafter in 1918, Karl Harrer (a journalist and member of the occult Thule-Gesellschaft - 'Thule Society'), convinced Drexler and several others to form the Politischer Arbeiterzirkel (Political Workers' Circle).
The members met periodically for discussions with themes of nationalism and racism - mainly directed against the Jews.

Karl Harrer
Anton Drexler
Drexler was encouraged to form the DAP in December 1918 by his mentor, Dr. Paul Tafel.
Tafel was a leader of the Alldeutscher Verband (Pan-Germanist Union), a director of the Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg, and a member of the Thule-Gesellschaft.
Drexler's wish was for a political party which was both in touch with the masses and nationalist.
In January 1919 with the DAP founding, Drexler was elected chairman and Harrer was made "Reich Chairman", an honorary title.
On May 17, only ten members were present at the meeting; a later meeting in August only noted 38 members attending.

Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei

The Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei - (National Socialist German Workers' Party - abbreviated NSDAP), was a political party in Germany active between 1920 and 1945.
Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party (DAP), (see above), existed from 1919 to 1920.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei
The party emerged from the German nationalist and populist Freikorps paramilitary culture, which fought against the communist uprisings in post-World War I Germany.

Freikorps ("Free Corps") were German volunteer units that existed from the 18th to the early 20th centuries, In German-speaking countries the first so-called Freikorps "free regiments" (Freie Regimenter) were formed in the 18th century from native volunteers. These sometimes exotically equipped units served as infantry and cavalry or, more rarely, as artillery. Sometimes in just company strength, sometimes in formations up to several thousand strong, there were also various mixed formations or legions. The Prussian von Kleist Freikorps included infantry, Jäger, dragoons and hussars. In the early 20th century, Freikorps were raised to fight against the Communist opponents of the German Republic, and are widely seen as a "precursor to National Socialism".

Arthur Moeller van den Bruck of the Conservative Revolutionary movement coined the term 'drittes Reich' (Third Reich), and advocated an ideology combining the nationalism of the 'right' and the socialism of the 'left' (see above).
Oswald Spengler's conception of a "Prussian Socialism" also strongly influenced the NSDAP.

Preußentum und Sozialismus
Oswald  Spengler
Oswald Arnold Gottfried Spengler (29 May 1880 – 8 May 1936) was a German historian and philosopher of history whose interests included mathematics, science, and art. He is best known for his book 'Der Untergang des Abendlandes' (The Decline of the West), published in 1918 and 1922, covering all of world history. Spengler's civilization model postulates that any civilization is a super-organism with a limited lifespan. He wrote extensively throughout World War I, and the interwar period, and supported German hegemony in Europe. His other writings made little impact outside Germany. In 1920 Spengler produced 'Preußentum und Sozialismus' (Prussiandom and Socialism), which argued for an organic, nationalist brand of socialism and authoritarianism. Some members of the NSDAP, including Joseph Goebbels, saw Spengler as an intellectual precursor.

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Der Untergang des Abendlandes
The party was initially created as a means to draw workers away from what was seen, by some, as anti-German, Jewish led Communism, and into völkisch nationalism.
Initially, National Socialist political strategy focused on anti-big business, anti-bourgeois, and anti-capitalist policies, although such aspects were later downplayed in order to gain the support of industrial entities, and in the 1930s the party's focus shifted to anti-Semitic and anti-Marxist themes.
National Socialists, however, rejected the  misleading 'left/right' political spectrum, and were neither “rightist” nor “leftist,” favoring policies similar to those put forth by both so-called “liberals” and so-called “conservatives” on many issues.
National-Socialism in Germany could not be confined to a philosophical “pigeonhole” because the revolutionary vision of the NSDAP transcended the false stereotypes inherent in the “traditional” political spectrum.
The term "National Socialism" arose out of attempts to create a nationalist redefinition of "socialism", as an alternative to both internationalist Marxist socialism and free market capitalism.
The National Socialists sought to achieve this by a "people's community" (Volksgemeinschaft - see above), with the aim of uniting all Germans as national comrades, whilst excluding those deemed either to be community aliens or of a foreign race (Fremdvölkische).
The NSDAP rejected the Marxist concept of he so-called 'class struggle', opposed ideas of international solidarity, sought to resolve internal class struggle in Germany, while it identified Germany as a basically proletarian nation fighting against plutocratic nations.
In addition, the National Socialists argued that capitalism damages nations due to international finance, the economic dominance of big business, and Jewish influences.

to be continued