Myths/Nazis were socialists

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Myth: Nazis were socialists.


Attacking socialism by attempting to link it with Naziism is a popular talking-point on the Right; this at least is an admission that Nazi ideology is bad, despite their own embracing of many of its tenets (racism / white superiority, nationalism, xenophobia).


Calling oneself something does not make it so. The Nazis were no more "socialist" than the USSR was a "republic" or East Germany was "democratic"; adding "socialism" to the Party name was basically a marketing ploy. (See also: misnomers)

Socialism is about ensuring that everyone receives adequate basic care (at a minimum) regardless of ability or "value to society". Nazis, however, were very keen on extinguishing those they saw as "lesser", and outright mass-killed members of numerous groups whom they considered to be somehow "inferior".

The term "National Socialist" was only added to the name of the far-right German Workers' Party in 1920 in hopes that workers would find the party more appealing, but there's no evidence that the party ever followed socialist ideals to any substantial extent.


The National Socialist Program of 1941, sometimes called the "Nazi manifesto" or the "25-point program", did include a number of points rooted in socialism, designed to appeal to the workers they sought to recruit:

  • the "abolition of unearned (work and labour) incomes", by which they apparently meant rents rather than welfare
  • the general elimination of wealth-based privilege
  • elimination of war profiteering
  • elimination of land taxes
  • nationalization of all business
  • laws to allow seizing property for the common good
    • Hitler later added that this was "directed primarily against the Jewish land-speculation companies", however.
  • expansion of old-age welfare
  • "creation of a healthy middle class"

...and other stances in line with socialism, except for the anti-Jewish sentiments underlying many of them.

However, Hitler never had any real intention of following through on these promises. Historian Karl Dietrich Bracher writes that to Hitler the program was

...little more than an effective, persuasive propaganda weapon for mobilizing and manipulating the masses. Once it had brought him to power, it became pure decoration: 'unalterable,' yet unrealized in its demands for nationalization and expropriation, for land reform and 'breaking the shackles of finance capital.'


Further Reading