The National Bolshevik Resistance to Nazism – Luc Michel

“National liberation and anti-fascism cannot nor should not be opposed” – Wolfgang VENHOR

The history of the German Resistance against the Third Reich and Nazism is little known. However, a book was entirely dedicated to it by Gérard SANDOZ, under the title “These Germans Who Defied Hitler. 1933-1945,” the book was preceded a testimonial by Willy BRANDT, president of the Socialist International and a grand resistant of the Third Reich. The author began this book with the following dedication, “I dedicate this book to the memory of my great German friends who found death in the struggle against the Hitlerian beast.” The third part of this book is entitled “THOSE WHO WE MUST NOT FORGET” and includes a chapter entitled “NATIONAL BOLSHEVISM.” Gérard SANDOZ thus renders homage to the political current that, from 1932-1933, first resisted Nazism and that counted among its members the most resolute of Hitler’s adversaries, notably those who directed the famous network known under the name “RED ORCHESTRA.”

The Adventure of National-Bolshevism Begins in 1919

The adventure of National Bolshevism commenced in Hamburg. Then plunged into a full Soviet revolution following the collapse of the Second Reich in 1918. It is here that the National-Bolshevik current was embodied, directed by the two leaders of the revolution of 1918 in this city, Heinrich LAUFENBERG and Friedrich WOLFFHEIM, who outlined national communist positions. From November 6th 1918, Lauffenberg proclaimed in Hamburg “The Republic of Socialist and Great German Councils” and became president of the “Worker Council of Hamburg.” He acted there from the affirmation of radical communist positions in alliance with marked nationalist tendencies.

From 1919 to 1921, WOLFFHEIM and LAUFENBERG thus lead in Germany, within the “Third International,” a National-Bolshevik current known under the name “Hamburg National Communism” and worked concurrently with the Spartacists to constitute the “German Communist Party,” the KPD. Expelled in October 1919 from this party they immediately formed a dissident communist party, the KAPD, “the German Communist Worker Party.” Within this party, which would be represented until 1922 in “Komintern,” WOLFFHEIM and LAUFENBERG would defend the idea of creating a “German Red Army” to make war against the imperialist conquerors of Versailles. After 1922, they directed a “League of Communists.” It is noteworthy that this current developed, from the start of the 1920s, a virulent anti-Americanism.

From the KPD to the “Neo-Nationalist” Milieu: The National-Bolshevik Galaxy in the Years 1920–1930

Starting from the milieu of the 20s until the advent of National Socialism in 1933, National Bolshevism became an important component of the intellectual and political landscape of the Weimar Republic. Numerous intellectuals adopted National Bolshevik positions.

In the first rank, it is necessary to place ERNST NIEKISCH, who became the most famous and principal representative of the German National Bolshevik current. Coming from the German socialist current, one of the principal leaders of the communist revolution and the “Republic of Councils” in Munich in 1919, NIEKISCH evolved towards National Bolshevik and “neo-nationalist” positions, in particular through the journal he directed, “WIDERSTAND” (Resistance), and the circles of the same name, then a movement the “WIDERSTAND BEWEGUNG,” reorganized clandestinely after 1934. Niekisch had a preponderant influence, notably on the movements of German youth before 1934, known under the name of “BÜNDISCHE JUGEND.” The movement of “WIDERSTAND” was constituted as much by old social-democrats and syndicalists as by the numerous representatives of the German “neo-nationalist” and National Revolutionary currents in the years 1920-1930.

The KPD itself developed National Communist positions, notably to reconquer the nationalist fringe of the proletariat that had gone over to Nazism. This political line culminated in 1930 with the adoption of the program calling for “National and Social Liberation” (“Programm der nationalen und sozialen Befreiung des deutschen Volkes”), that seduced numerous National Revolutionaries.

The KPD attempts to assure the direction of this wave, firstly by the means of the “program of the KPD regarding the national and social liberation of the German people,” published on the 24th of August 1930, then a second time, in the spring of 1931, with its “program of aid to the peasants.” It formed, within the KPD, a “National Communist” wing around Heinz NEUMANN, who sought contacts with analogous forces on the right. Other representatives of the right, of tendencies at once nationalist and socialist, joined with the KPD, aristocrats like Ludwig RENN ( pseduonym of Arnold VIETH VON GOLSSENAU) and the count Alexander STENBOCK-FERMOR, directors of the Peasant Movement (“Landvolkbewegung”) such as Bruno VON SALOMON and Bodo UHSE, and even leaders of the Freikorps like the captain Beppo RÖMER, who distinguished himself in the assault on Annaberg, in the post-war combats in High Silesia, becoming a nationalist icon.

Other names emerge from the German National Bolshevik galaxy, like Friedrich LENZHarro SCHULZE-BOYSENArvid HARNACKKarl Otto PAETEL or Hans EBELING. All illustrated in the intellectual, military – army or intelligence spheres, resistance to the Hitlerian regime.

The First and Most Resolute of the Resistants to Hitlerism: Ernst Niekisch

From 1932, Ernst NIEKISCH published what is still considered today as the most important and most virulent anti-Hitlerian pamphlets “HITLER: EINE DEUTSCHES VERHÄNGNIS,” in French “Hitler une fatalité allemande”, (Hitler: A German Fate), illustrated with drawings by Andreas Paul WEBER. His publication provoked in response a campaign of the Nazi press against NIEKISCH. In this epoch, his journal “WIDERSTAND” is frequently cited in the magazine of the monthly press of Heinrich HIMMLER, Reichführer SS, as “one of the principal organs of the adversary.”

From 1933 and with Nazi’s arrival in power, the movement of Niekisch was persecuted, its members frequently arrested, his journal was banned in December 1934. One of his biographers, Sebastien HAFFNER, said of him that he “would spend four years in the Third Reich during which he was the last known and openly declared enemy of Hitler.” Because the old Prussian leader never quit.

Until 1937, his movement “WIDERSTAND,” reconstituted clandestinely, lead a political and intellectual network of internal opposition to the Third Reich. NIEKISCH served frequently as the agent of liaison and voyaged throughout the whole of Europe. Gérard SANDOZ illustrates the activity of this network: “Thus NIEKISCH returned many times to Switzerland, France, Holland, and Italy to make contacts there with the milieu of the German emigration, but equally with “official” representatives of these countries. With that, for certain adherents of this “national” current, it became more and more evident that the regime that had taken their country could only be, finally conquered thanks to a foreign intervention. Thus Karl TRÖGER, with DREXEL and NIEKISCH, the most active man of this group, went to Czechoslovakia illegally many times. TRÖGER also took it upon himself to report in Germany in numerous clandestine journals where the Nazi regime was denounced as the “shame of the 20th century.” When TRÖGER appeared before the Nazi judges, the prosecutor had proof that the accused had smuggled and diffused thousands of issues of 17 journals where ‘The Reich was slandered in an abominable manner”.

Niekisch, who pursed everyday his editorial activity until 1937 (a unique courage!), remained the sole openly declared and active opponent of the Nazi regime. He was finally arrested with a number of his militants the 22nd of March 1937. Imprisoned, condemned two years later by an extraordinary tribunal with 70 members of his “WIDERSTAND” circle, including DREXEL and TRÖGER, NIEKISCH miraculously emerged, near blind and paralyzed, from Nazi jails in 1945.

The old fighter still participated in the birth of the DDR and, disappointed by the evolution of the new regime, finished his life in the Federal Republic in a proud intellectual exile, never renouncing any of his ideas.

The German Youth Who Did Not Shirk Before Hitler

We have seen that the current of NIEKISCH had an important influence on the movements of the youth. Gérard SANDOZ did not forget the sacrifice and the courage of their militants whose courageous combat he this described: “Coming from the BÜNDISHE JUGEND, many of the representatives of this organization where the sympathies for the ideas of “National Bolshevism” manifested during the 30s fought the regime. Thus, Robert OELBERMANN, one of the most well known directors of this fringe of the “national” youth, was arrested in 1936 after having rallied around himself numerous youth “passing to the revolt.” He was killed, assassinated, in the concentration camp of Orianenburg. In the same manner, Rudolf PALLASV, director of the SÜDLEGION, branch of the BÜNDISCHE JUGEND, was engaged in 1937 in the clandestine struggle, accusing Hitler of having “betrayed” the German youth by using them to prepare his wars of conquest. From 1937 to 1940, PALLASV would be dragged from prison to prison. In June 1937,there would be in the city of Essen a trial held against ten directors of the BÜNDISCHE JUGEND. The principal accused, Hans BÖCKING would be condemned to twelve years in solitary. His co-defendants would be incriminated like him for “preparing actions of high treason,” and would spend many years in prisons and concentration camps.”

The “Socialist Nation” Contra Nazism

We evoke Karl Otto PAETEL who directed the movement “SOCIALISTISCHE NATION”. PAETEL is of the figures of pride of National-Bolshevism in the 30s. Editor of a “NATIONAL-BOLSHEVIK MANIFESTO” and the author of a controversial history of it after the war.

His group, “THE SOCIALIST NATION” edited a journal of the same title. Many dozens of members of this group, often youth, would spend many years in Nazi prisons or camps. PAETEL himself had launched an anti-Nazi press agency under the name of “ANTIFASCISTISCHE BRIEFE”. In 1934, he was struck with an interdiction from working and constrained to exile. He still continued to lead an anti-Nazi network abroad, passing from Czechoslovakia to France, then in Portugal and finally to the United States. In 1939, he was condemned to death in absentia and stripped of his nationality. Gérard SANDOZ did not forget the sacrifice of the youth of the its young militants imprisoned or executed. He wrote regarding them: “Many dozens of the young members of this group « Socialististische Nation » would know the same fate. They had relations with Karl Otto PAETEL, known director of the National-Bolshevik current who, as an emigre, could escape the persecutions.”

All the National-Bolshevik Leaders Engaged Against Hitler

And the other National Bolshevik leaders did not rest. Far from the salon anti-fascism of the pseudo-intellectuals, they all engaged, putting their skin on the line for their ideas.

Fritz WOLFFHEIM, of Jewish origin, the creator of Hamburg National Bolshevism, who joined the group of PAETEL, was interned. He ended his days in a concentration camp.

Friedrich LENZ participated in the anti-Nazi activites of the “Kreissau Circle” under the Third Reich.

Hans EBELING was exiled to England. There he directed a group active in many European countries, in Brussels and Amsterdam notably, under the name of GNS (Socialist Nation Group) and who published the magazine ““KAMERADSCHAFT”, organ of the opposition to the Third Reich. One of its directors Theo HESPERS was arrested in 1942 in Holland, condemned to death, he was hanged in Berlin on September 9th 1943.

The Sacrifice of the National-Communist Wing of the KPD

We have spoken of the line of “national and social liberation” of the GERMAN COMMUNIST PARTY and the rallying of National-Revolutionary militants that it had excited in 1930-1931.

They organized in the circle of “AUFBRUCH”, a National Bolshevik circle, thus named after the magazine of the same name published by Beppo RÖMER, which propagated communist ideas in the National-Revolutionary camps. NIEKISCH spoke of RÖMER as the agent of liaison between the KPD and the National-Bolshevik milieus. Beppo RÖMER had ended up joining the KPD in 1930, after having directed in the 1920s the “BUND OBERLAND”, a nationalist league. After the rise to power of the Nazis, RÖMER was arrested, tortured, and killed, after having taken part in a plot to assassinate Hitler.

National-Bolsheviks of the Head of “Red Orchestra”

And some went further! Thus the famous anti-Nazi intelligence network known under the name “RED ORCHESTRA” was, though Marxist historiography often dissimulates, directed by numerous National-Bolshevik militants. In the first rank of which figured Harro SHULZE-BOYSEN and Arvid HARNACK.

Gérard SANDOZ has the honesty to render homage to the sacrifice of these National-Bolshevik militants. He wrote: “If we evoke at this place this “National Bolshevik” orientation, we find some of its representatives leading the clandestine struggle against the Hitlerian regime. Take the case of SCHULZE-BOYSEN, one of the directors of “RED ORCHESTRA,” executed with his friends at the end of December 1942 for having transmitted intelligence to the Soviet espionage service. Harro SCHULZE-BOYSEN, before lending his actions to Communism, had exactly evolved in these milieus that dreamed of uniting in the same movement all those who had the hope of realizing the symbiosis between the “revolutionaries of all creeds,” meaning in its own terms, “between the revolutionaries coming from the right and those inspired by Marxism.” Before the war, Arvid HARNACK directed with Friedrich LENZ the magazine and the group “VORKAMPFER.”

The National-Revolutionaries Also Resisted the Third Reich

We cannot invoke the resistance against the Third Reich without speaking equally of the “National-Revolutionaries,” “die Nationalrevolutionäre”, moreover very close to the National-Bolshevik current with which they collaborated, furthermore certain authors treated National-Bolshevism as “the paroxysm of the National Revolutionary current” in Germany in the 20s and 30s. Thus these currents equally reprised the uneven and inexact vocabulary of the “Conservative Revolution,” after a highly debatable thesis of their principal historiographer, doctor Armin MOHLER, who had long studied this current that wanted to surpass the right and the left. He summarizes that “in the “National Revolutionaries,” we perceive the echo of the surprise that caused such an usual mix: the erasure of the distinction, once strict, between the “right” and the “left,” an erasure already expressed in the general notion of “Conservative Revolution.” In the schemes of intellectual usage until then, the “right” was always charged with representing the national elite, such that social reform or social revolution was unique domain of the “left.” But, in our period, where the representatives of the national elite equally assume the keywords of the social revolution … It’s this explosive principle that contains the neologism of “National Revolutionary” … The National-Revolutionary movements have pulverized the left-right scheme and left the field open to other fronts.”

Opposed to Nazism, numerous National-Revolutionary militants were resistants under the Third Reich and we find numerous recollections of their names and the memory of their actions in the book of Gérard SANDOZ we have already mentioned.

The leader of the National-Revolutionary milieus was the famous German writer Ernst JÜNGER, who, with is brother Friedrich Georg, was the spearhead of this movement and notably the founder of “neo-nationalism.”

Under the Third Reich, Ernst JÜNGER retired to a prideful solitude, marked by symbolic gestures of refusal of the orientation of the Third Reich, notably the unrestrained anti-Bolshevism that the Hitlerian regime manifested. Doctor MOHLER summarizes it “even after the 30th of January 1933, contacts between Soviet Russia and the representatives of the traditional right and the “Conservative Revolution” were maintained for a certain time. Carl SCHMITT or Ernst JÜNGER, for example ostensibly attended receptions at the Russian Embassy in Berlin under the Third Reich.

Ernst Jünger and the “Interior Opposition” to the Third Reich

From 1932, JÜNGER who collaborated with the National Bolsheviks NIEKISCH and PAETEL, stood as a resolute adversary of Nazism. The publication of his work “THE WORKER,” qualified as National-Bolshevik by Niekisch, aroused violent critiques from the Nazi party, one of these journals stated that JÜNGER and his works were approaching the “zone of bullets in the head.”

The Nazi arrival in power was the occasion of multiple vexations for JÜNGER, whose house was searched many times by the Gestapo. Moreover, one of these searches found an echo in the press. The “NEUESTE NACHRICHTEN” of Danzig (“free city” not yet submitted to the Nazi order) thus wrote, the 12th of April 1933: “We came instantly only to learn that a search was in effect, following a complaint, at the house of the national writer Ernst JÜNGER, officer of the Great War, winner of the Pour le Mérite cross, author of many books on war (whose STORMS OF STEEL, was known as a great success) and who, in his last work of a sociological and philosophical character, THE WORKER, proclaimed collectivist concepts. No compromising material was discovered on the occasion of this search.” The last issue of PAETEL’S “SOZIALISTICHE NATION”, whose interdiction was to follow, remarked ironically: “They found nothing, except … the decoration “Pour le Mérite.””

Despite this intimidation, JÜNGER would leave no doubt: he had nothing to do with the intentions to participate in the political culture of the Third Reich, not any more than he had participated with it under Weimar. His refusal to be admitted to the Prussian Academy of Literature and the succinct response that he made of the radio station of Leipzig remain famous. JÜNGER simply didn’t want to be left alone. The 14th of June 1934, when the concentration camps were already filled with the adversaries of the new regime, he wrote with insolence to the “VÖLKISCHER BEOBACHTER”, the official daily of the Nazi Party: “In the supplement “Junge Mannschaft” of VÖLKISCHER BEOBACHTER”, on the 6-7 of May 1934 there was reproduced an extract of the “ADVENTUROUS HEART.” This citation was done without indicating the source, the impression could be given to the reader that I am one of the collaborators of your journal. That is not the case, especially because, for many years, I no longer express myself in the press. In the circumstances, I underline my incomprehension: on one side, the official press attributes to me the role of “collaborator,” on the other a communique in the equally official press forbids me from publishing the text of my letter of November 18th 1933 to the Academy of Literature. I absolutely do not wish to see myself cited in these journals, but I do not want to allow the least uncertainty as to the nature of my political sentiments.”

We equally find the influence of the National-Revolutionaries and the “Conservative Revolution” in the other circles of the anti-Hitlerian resistance, of which the most celebrated between them is the “Kreissau Circle,” where the principal authors of the coup against HITLER of July 20th 1944 came from.

In 1944, Ernst JÜNGER published his roman à clefs entitled “ON THE MARBLE CLIFFS” which as Gérard SANDOZ recalled, “published in Hitlerian Germany, could only suggest to the attentive reader the release of a critical look on his environment” The publication of this novel earned him an official demand for prosecution from the leadership of the Nazi Party, one of whose heads, the Reichleiter BOUHLER would declare to Hitler that “it is necessary to immediate crack down against JÜNGER.” Only the glorious military past of JÜNGER from 1914-1918 spared him this persecution. Mobilized in the German Army, JÜNGER was close to the resistants who executed in Paris a part of the operations of the July 20th 1944 coup.

The Influence of the National-Revolutionary Movement on the “Kreissau Circle”

We cannot speak of the Anti-Hitlerian resistance without inevitably covering the “Kreissau Circle,” from the name of this little village in Silesia where a certain number of militants of the “CONSERVATIVE REVOLUTION” come from, such as the count Helmuth James VON MOLKTE, one of the great names of the Prussian state, and the VON STAUFFENBERG brothers as well as many others, who would direct a network of anti-Nazi resistance that would prepare and execute the assassination attempt of the 20th July 1944 and the aborted anti-Hitler putsch that followed. Among the members of the “KREISSAU CIRCLE”, are the great names of the anti-Nazi resistance who would sacrifice their lives in the struggle against Hitlerism, such as YORCK VON WARTENBURG, executed the 8th of August 144 or still the ambassador VON HASSEL.

In the circle of Kreissau, these men, from the “Conservative Revolution” and close to the National-Revolutionary milieus, came to shake hands with the former directors of the social-democrats, syndicalists, and members of the KPD. Gérard SANDOZ summarizes the incontestable links of these men with the Conservative Revolution: “It is clear from the many documents prepared by the plotters that the majority of them considered the National-Socialist regime not as a regression from parliamentary style democracy, but as the particularly atrocious manifestation of the “decline” or “decadence” of the modern world. For them – they often said it – National Socialism was the exact reflection of a “mass” society, in any case the opposite of a conservative society guided by an “elite” which corresponded to their ideal. And that’s what appears as the relation between the struggle that the majority of these men tied to the plot lead against the Weimar Republic in the name of “Conservative Revolution” and their attitude regarding National-Socialism. We recall that GOERDELER, Ulrich Von HASSEL, Ludwig BECK et Von STAUFFENBERG themselves detested the first German republic, this fragile democracy born the day after the military defeat. For them, a “Conservative Revolution” should precisely surmount the misfortunes that struck Germany.” Moreover SANDOZ summarizes what the themes of this “Conservative Revolution” were: “Its theoreticians, among them Ernst JÜNGER, had all throughout the existence of the Weimar Republic urged the rule of an “elite of capable men” (elite of Fäligen) in opposition to the reign of “mediocrities.” A man like Edgar JUNG, old collaborator of Von PAPEN and later, associated with the conspiracy, had even dedicated a book to this problem whose title was precisely “The Reign of Mediocrities.” This book was directed against the representatives of the Weimar Republic. But, in his eyes, the men of National-Socialism were as much a part of this class of mediocrities in the sense where they represented “the society of the masses,” contrary to that of the “elite.” Without a doubt this vague and flexible precept was part of the intellectual baggage of the main plotters of July 20th.

And the proclamations of the coup of the 20th of July 1944 moreover left no doubt of their adherence to the “nationalism of liberation” that was proposed in the National-Revolutionary milieus. Thus, the putschist generals BECK and WITZLEBEN, in an “Appeal to the Wehrmacht,” written on the eve of July 20th, stated: “We do not desire that other peoples be reduced to slavery. The liberty of our fathers has conquered in the course of a last century for Germany … we should accord it also to all the other peoples. It is on this basis alone that it will be possible to fill in the abyss that was dug by a politics without restraint and drunk on power.

Count Stauffenberg Was One of Us!

Coming to the colonel Klaus Von STAUFFENBERG and his brother Berthold, both of whom were executed after July 20th 1944. SANDOZ situates unambiguously the membership of Count VON STAUFFENBERG in the National-Revolutionary milieus. Speaking of Ernst JÜNGER, he said that he was an an “equally appreciated by Von STAUFFENBERG.”

SANDOZ speaks regarding STAUFFENBERG that the ideas of “revolution,” “nation,” and “socialism” were the “incarnation of his hopes” and he added that “the director of the conspiracy was, in this manner, a “revolutionary”. His brother, Berthold, would say to the Gestapo, “Put in practice by the regime, the essential ideas of National-Socialism were transformed into their opposites. The little men who exercised an uncontrolled power have replace the predestined leaders at the top.”

We understand better why official historiography has passed in silence over this aspect of the July 20th 1944 plot.

The PCN Continues the Combat of the German Resistance

It’s this anti-Hitlerian heritage that our party, the PCN, which embodies today the National-Bolshevik and National-Revolutionary tradition and heritage, undertakes its struggle against the extreme right, neo-Nazi and neo-liberal, that we call the “blue-brown extreme right.” Our political current has a lesson to teach everyone. And today, as our predecessors of yesterday, in the struggle against the filthy beast, it is in the first and most effective rank.

The German National-Bolsheviks of the 20s and 30s paid the price in blood. They struggled, they fought for their ideas, for their dignity, for the liberty and independence of their nation, for the socialist values in which they believed and that we share. Their combat is today inseparable from ours.

Luc MICHEL, President – PCN.

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