Monday, July 03, 2006

Hysterical revisionist

One of the things that the reich-wingers do, when you accuse them of fascist tendencies, is say "No we're not, you are! Because Nazi Germany was socialist!".

Just for those out there who confuse Nazism with socialism: I am one of those historians of the period who did read Albert Speer's memoirs. For those of you who don't know, Speer was the last armaments minister of Nazi Germany. When he became minister in 1942, Germany's war industries were similar to the way the current U.S. war industries operate -- i.e., they were private businesses selling arms to the government via lowest bidder. Speers' accomplishment was in substantially regulating the operations of these businesses, directing other businesses to switch to war production, and putting them all on a war footing, to the point where German production of munitions increased every year until the final collapse in 1945. This was similar to FDR's War Production Board.

Needless to say, if Nazi Germany had been socialist, Speers' job wouldn't have been necessary because these industries would have already been nationalized and could have simply been told "switch", the way that happened in the Soviet Union that allowed the much smaller economy of the Soviet Union to out-produce Nazi Germany over the course of the war. The reality was that the German government was rather uneasy about even heavily regulating the large industrialists who had brought it to power -- Speer recounts that he had a very hard time convincing Hitler that it was necessary to go on a full war footing. Hitler was convinced that if he did so, the industrialists would remove him from power. But the disasters of 1942 and the need to equip new armies to replace those destroyed got Speer all the authority he needed.

So to call Nazism "socialist" is ridiculous. Even Hitler's own armaments minister never made such a statement. In truth, as with in the United States during WWII, businesses were heavily regulated by the central government and told what arms to produce -- but the businesses remained in private hands. And until 1942, Germany's economy wasn't even that heavily regulated -- it wasn't until Speer put the German economy on a war footing in 1942 that even the slightest hint of socialism arrived.

So who should I believe -- Hitler's arms minister, or a bunch of right wing historical revisionists? Hmm...

- Badtux the History Penguin


  1. Did you read this too? Arms of Krupp 1587-1968

    I thought it was interesting.

  2. Another good retort is, "So was Albert Einstein. Gonna tell me he wore leaderhozen, too?!?"

    Shuts 'em down fast.


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