Alain de Benoist’s Preface to “Hitler: A German Fate” and Other National Bolshevik Writings – Continued

In contrast, the theses of Niekisch encountered a certain measure of success from the Hofgeismar Circle, which then represented the right wing of the Young Socialist Movement (Juso), itself semi-autonomous compared to the SPD. This circle, whose constituent meeting was held on Easter 1923 with the theme “Dienst an Volk und Staat”, which looked to link the ideas of nationalism and socialism, to react against the “summary internationalism” of orthodox Marxism. It was also interested in Mitteleuropa and proposed to create a European socialist federation halfway between the capitalist West and the Bolshevik East. In its ranks, some convinced Lassallians rubbed shoulders with Conservative Revolutionaries, who were not prevented having support from a certain number of SPD directors like Gustav Dahrendorf, Hugo Sinzheimer, Gustav Radbruch, Eduard Heimann, and Herman Heller but also Theodor Haubach, Walther G. Oschilewski, Heinrich and Gustav Deist, and Otto Bach. It would constitute a sort of pool for the ideas of Niekisch.

But this support was not sufficient. At the beginning of 1926, Niekisch was forced to leave his post in the textile syndicate and expecting to be expelled from the Social Democratic Party, decided to take the lead and resign. The Hofgeismar Circle expressed solidarity with him and constituted itself as a “group with freedom of opinion.” It would break up shortly after, following divergences on the subject of the Locarno Treaties. Some months later, Niekisch left to live in Dresden, where he joined the “Old Socialist Party” (ASP), autonomously created in 1925 by 23 deputies of the Landtag of Saxony who became dissidents against the direction of the SPD. Very quickly he became the inspiration of the movement, in which he would direct for two years, starting on the 15th of July 1926, the daily journal, Der Volksstaat.

It was also in Dresden, on the 1st of July 1926, that Niekisch, created the journal that would make him the most well known, the monthly Widerstand, subtitled, Blätter für sozialistiche und nationalrevolutionäre Politik, from 1928 Zeitschrift für nationalrevolutionäre Politik. In the first edition, he affirmed what the true German politics should be, the first political reality, and on the other hand the first German reality, to tend, before all, to national independence and the reestablishment of the sovereignty of Germany. But this goal, “to regain independence and reconquer a grand position of influence in the world”, implied the identification of the principal enemy which, after Niekisch, was none other than the ideology founded on “all this web of representations: humanity, peace, equal rights, self determination, that the Western democracies used to rock the exploited classes into the illusion that everything happened with their accord and that we can finish everything with a decision of the majority.”

At the beginning, Widerstand officially presented itself as the organ of the the former members of the Hofgeismar Circle. Three of them, Otto Jacobsen, Walther G. Oschilewski, and mainly Benedikt Obermayr, would take an active, but short lived, part in the publication. In fact, from 1926 to 1927, Widerstand reached a larger audience than the old Socialist Democrat rallies with their proletarian “social nationalism.” At the turn of 1928, it would give itself a strictly national revolutionary coloration, already announcing a collaboration with August Winnig, who became co-editor starting in July of 1927.

Also a former Social Democract, August Winnig, born in 1878, leader, from 1902, of Grundstein, the organ of the masons’ syndicate, he held in November 1918 the functions of high commissar of the Reich for the Baltic countries, commissar of the Reich for Eastern and Western Prussia, and finally Oberpräsident of East Prussia. The determining role he took during the epoch of the struggle against Bolshevism brought him to support the Kapp Putsch, which led to him being expelled from the SPD in 1920. In 1924, the date in which he met Niekisch through the journal Der Firn, he was already involved with the young conservative milieu and professed a socialism of vitalist and Nietzschean inspiration. In December 1924, he wrote in the celebrated new conservative journal, the Süddeutsche Monatschefte, a text entitled “Der Glaube an das Proletariat,” first sketched out in a booklet under the same title in 1926, in which he redefined the proletariat in a typically idealist and Lassallian sense: “who is the proletariat? All who are salaried, says the economist. The oppressed and exploited classes, says the proletariat. The proletariat is a new state, I say. It is a new impulse of the Volkstum, which surges behind the old states, appearing at their sides, replacing them and completing them at the same time … At present, the proletariat perceives itself as a class … But it is more than a simple class. It is before all the party of the people, it is to be called the party of a historical and biological unity that the vital laws assert to designate the proletariat.”

To designate the universe carrying the essence of work, Winnig spoke of Arbeitertum. In this universe forms a new type of human, capable of realizing that the same menace weighing on the social situation is also that weighing on the national being. In 1926, Winnig declared that the worker must have the courage to climb “the Calvary of national liberation,” to understand that his enemy henceforth was “no longer the boss, but the international capitalist financier” and to institute himself as the sole true representative of the nation. These ideas, then developed in the book entitled Vom Proletariat zum Arbeitertum, would exercise a certain influence on the Figure of the Worker that Ernst Jünger would present in Der Arbeiter.

Thanks to Winnig, the ideas expressed by Niekisch in Widerstand would rapidly touch the young conservative and new nationalist milieus, and thus also certain paramilitary groupings issuing from the Freikorps, like the League Oberland, then directed by the veterinarian Friedrich Weber, son in law of the völkisch editor J.F. Lehmann. But Winnig was also in close contact with the “Bündisch” milieu, which constituted a sort of core for the Youth Movement (Jugend-bewegung.) Towards 1925, the Bündisch youth organizations (the Eagles and the Falcons, the Artaman, the Beggars, Freischar Schill etc.) united close to 600,000 members, divided into many certain groups. Though a minority in the Jugend-bewegung, which counted some four million youth, this current presented some original characteristics, which justified the importance observers accorded them. “This characteristic,” wrote Louis Depeux, “is precisely the Bund, the league as a type inspired by a very pure ideology of the right. The Bund has the vigor of a communitarian link, as opposed to the anarchic individualism of the old Wandervogel. It’s this emphasis that it puts on the group, and permits us to speak of a ‘Bündisch socialism,’ but also on hierarchy, the selection of members and the free designation of leaders: finally its the self-education of an elite destined to direct and serve Germany in a cultural revolution.” Moved by a jugendbewegt spirit very hostile to the world of adults, the Bündische outwardly manifested a bright spirit of independence, at the same time professing a demanding nationalism, affirming a communitarian socialism and a resolute anti-capitalism. Many of them found themselves in the Resistance during the Third Reich. But also, their ranks provided the leaders of most National Bolshevik groups, like Karl Otto Paetel, Werner Lass, Hans Ebeling, and Eberhard Koebel, called “tusk,” who joind the Communist Party in 1932.

At the same time, Niekisch also met Ernst Jünger, whose influence was also equally large on the Bündisch milieu. In 1930, Ernst Jünger would become the co-editor with Werner Lass of the “überbündisch” weekly, Die Kommenden, founded in 1925 and very quickly diffused through most Bündisch groups. It was in the autumn of 1927 that Niekisch and Jünger met for the first time. The contact was decisive, and the close links that were established between the two men were to quickly manifest themselves by active collaboration. Jünger would publish 18 articles in Widerstand between April 4th, 1927 and the 8th of September 1933. At the same time Niekisch became close to the brother of Ernst Jünger, Friedrich Georg, and with his circle: Richard Schapke, who was the future leader of Die Kommenden, the anti-Christian ideologue Friedrich Hielscher, and through contact with Jünger by the intermediary of Winnig, Franz Schauwecker, etc. Contrary to what is sometimes written, Jünger would never be a National Bolshevik, but he provided the National Bolsheviks with some of the essential elements of their conceptual cadre. And it was under the influence of Jünger, “the man of vision”, Niekisch said, that the editors of Widerstand would radicalize their ideas on the nation and extol a “new aristocracy” inspired by a Jüngerian “heroic realism.”

From 1928 to 1930, a period corresponding to what Uwe Sauermann called the Widerstandsgesinnung, Niekisch, converted to nationalism, expressed essentially in a cadre with a national-revolutionary orientation. In parallel, the team of the magazine expanded. Among the collaborators of Widerstand figured Joseph Drexel, Gustav Sondermann, Franz Schauwecker, then Alfred Baeumler, Hjalmar Kutzdermann and the Jünger brothers, Albrecht Erich Günther, Arnolt Bronnen, Otto Nickel and Hans Bäcker. In the circle of Niekisch, one could find the old pastor Otto Petras, the philosopher Hugo Fischer, and anthropologists like Karl Saller and Friedrich Merckenschlager. The magazine then benefited from the exceptional graphic talent of the designer A. Paul Weber, whose incisive and mordant engravings appeared in Widerstand beginning in January 1929, who also made many portraits of Niekisch. Weber also illustrated most of the public offerings by the publishing house Niekisch created in January 1928, Widerstand-Verlag. He would become co-editor of Widerstand in January 1930.

The first of May 1929, Niekisch left Dresden and returned to live in Berlin, the city where he would spend the rest of his life, with the exception of his years in prison. On year earlier, in the legislative elections of May 1928, the ASP suffered a serious electoral defeat, and in November, their 3rd Congress rejected the project of the program presented by Niekisch. He departed from the “old socialists,” cutting the final link that attached him to the international left, and henceforth dedicated all his efforts to the magazine Widerstand and to the circles he had constituted around it.

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