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

But Niekisch was not only a theoretician. He intended to be an organizer equally and, while his ideas underwent a rapid evolution, he hadn’t provided the efforts to put in place a true political organization. For the first time, in 1928, he searched before all to launch unitary initiatives in the direction of the nationalist camp. In May, the Reichstag elections revealed themselves to be very disappointing to the parties of the right, then the KPD and SPD largely reinforced their positions. In October, Niekisch tried to constitute a “circle of chiefs” bringing together the Stahlhelm, the Jungdeutscher Orden (Jungdo) of Arthur Mahraun, the Wehrwolf of Fritz Kloppe, and the Oberland League. It would have no consequences. The following year, in the autumn of 1929, he attempted to regroup the youth leagues and student’s associations in a “youth action” (Aktion Jugend) against the Young plan. The results were a bit more favorable: the 28th of February 1930, the journal Die Kommenden published an appeal signed by some 32 different organizations, an appeal for which Niekisch was the inspiration, while several manifestations against the Young plan were conducted in Germany in association with this publication, thus contributing to the extension of the right wing milieus whose word of order was “resistance.” In 1930-1931, Niekisch also had some contact with the Reichswehr, and it notably took the word before the officers of the Infantry School of Dresden.

It was even so in the Oberland League that his ideas were received with the most success. Created in Munich on October 31st 1921, it had taken over from a Freikorps of the same name, formed in April 1919, who notably fought the Polish Uprising in Silesia and acquired a national celebrity by the seizure of Annaberg (May 1921). Among them was found the Captain “Beppo” (Joseph) Römer, who was expelled in 1923 and would publicly join the Communist Party in 1932. The future writer Bodo Uhse, who would also end up joining the Communist Party, also figured among its adherents. The League recruited throughout the protestant milieu. Its journal, Das Dritte Reich – Eckart-Briefe, was lead by Gustav Sondermann, who was among the first collaborators of Widerstand. Friedrich Weber, chief of the movement, frequently invited Niekisch to speak before his followers, notably at the congress of the League in 1928. Two years later, dissent broke out among the Oberländer, having followed the decision of the Austrian sections to elect as Bundesführer the conservative Ernst Rüdiger. The 1st of February 1931, as the outcome of a reunion in Nuremberg in which Niekisch participated, the revolutionary elements of the movement decided to assert their autonomy and constituted themselves as the Oberland Comrades of the “Widerstand” Circles (Oberlandkameradschaft des Widerstandkreises). The review, Das Dritte Reich, which since April 1930, republished the content of Widerstand, but ceased to turn a profit from this.

The creation of the Widerstand Circles was anterior by some months to the schism of the Bund Oberland, but one cannot suppose that double membership was already frequent. It was in effect in 1930 that Niekisch decided to launch his proper movement. The first meeting days organized by the Circles were held in October 1930 at the castle of Lauenstein, near Probstzella (Thuringia), in the presence of about a hundred participants. An analogous meeting would take place in 1931 and 1932, with the participation of the Oberlandkameradschaft, whose center of gravity rested in Franconia. Widerstand-Bewegung first published a Rundbriefe, to which was soon added a weekly, official organ of the movement, to which Niekisch gave the name Entscheidung and which would appear for the first time on October 9th 1932. Subtitled Die Wochenzeitung für nationalrevolutionäre Politik, it consisted of six large format pages and sold 8000 copies per week. A drawing by A. Paul Weber illustrated the first page of each issue. Besides the latter and the doctor Gustav Sondermann, the two principal facilitators of the movement were the editor Joseph Drexel and the governmental councilor Karl Tröger, who both came from the Oberland League. Treasurer of the Widerstand Circles, Joseph Drexel, born on the 6th of June 1896 in Munich, was a former student of Max Weber who had served as a volunteer in the air-force during the First World War. After a term in the Freikorps, he was responsible for the Oberland Bund in Franconia. Karl Tröger, the organizer of this movement, was born on the 21st of December 1900 in Hof an der Saale. As a former Freikorps member himself, a lawyer in Bayreuth starting from 1926, he was responsible for the Bund Oberland in Fichtelgebirge and the region of Regensburg, then High Franconia, and finally North Bavaria. He then worked with financial services in Breslau.

The Widerstand Circles formed from 1930-1931 in most of the major German cities. The effective numbers are difficult to decipher: Uwe Sauermann evaluated them at around 5,000 people, with an active core of five or six hundred adherents. The circulation of Widerstand oscillated, between 3,000 and 4,500 subscribers per month. On one side, Louis Depeux estimated that the cumulative total circulation of different publications of National-Bolshevik orientation was probably from 20,000 to 25,000 subscribers. He added that “all the indexes agree to show that the National-Bolsheviks were recruited from the Protestant Middle Class, in particular from the young intellectuals and the social and professional categories working in the service of the state.”

Niekisch, in either case, multiplied his travels and gave conferences from one side of Germany to the other. His influence for the youth was certain. It was explained without doubt by the extreme radicalism of his positions, served by a formal meaning, an incisive tone, an oratory talent, which extended his reputation far beyond his immediate movement. Sebastian Haffner would not hesitate to add that “he wrote German in the style of Kleist, maybe the best German that was written in the 20th century.” However many, including his close associates, reproached him for his bad temper, his absence of flexibility, his tendency towards didacticism. His sententious spirit would follow his reputation as a “giver of lessons.” “Niekisch”, then wrote Sebastian Haffner, “was always a perspicacious and profound political thinker … and in his life, a man of heroic courage. He was never a practical politician! He lacked almost everything for that: flexibility, adaptability, an indispensable minimum of opportunism, organizational faculties, a talent for demagogy, maybe even innate ambition, that element of power and success, in short, that which constituted the necessities of all politicians. In place of that, he had an exceeding amount of intellectual integrity, a touchy pride, an opinionated nature, even stubbornness. In his eyes, blue and hard, with which he saw the essence of things and people; the candor with which he spoke, and on all occasions, with which he thought, would acquire for him few friends, and certainly not partisan crowds, but at most, enthusiastic disciples.”


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