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Otto Strasser speaking in public after return to West Germany in 1956.

Strasserism (German: Strasserismus) is an ideological strand of Nazism which adheres to revolutionary nationalism and to economic antisemitism, which conditions are to be achieved with radical, mass-action and worker-based politics that are more aggressive than the politics of the Hitlerite leaders of the Nazi Party. Named after brothers Gregor and Otto Strasser, the ideology of Strasserism is a type of Third Position, right-wing politics in opposition to Communism and to Hitlerite Nazism.

In his political career, Otto Strasser led an ultranationalist faction within the Nazi Party, but resigned from the Party in 1930; he later established the Combat League of Revolutionary National Socialists (the Black Front) to rival the Nazi Party.[1] Consequent to his politics, Otto Strasser fled Germany in 1933 and returned to West Germany after the end of World War II in 1953. In the intramural politics of the Nazi Party, Strasserism had many supporters among the troops of the Sturmabteilung (SA), which led to Hitler's purging the Strasserist faction and killing their leader, Gregor Strasser, as well as Ernst Röhm, the head of the SA, during the Night of the Long Knives in July 1934.

In the 1980s, the revolutionary nationalism and the economic anti-Semitism of Strasserism reappeared in the politics of the National Front in the U.K.[2]

Strasser brothers


Gregor Strasser


Gregor Strasser (1892–1934) began his career in ultranationalist German politics by joining the Freikorps after soldiering in the First World War (1914–1918). He participated in the Kapp Putsch (13 March 1920) and formed his own völkischer Wehrverband, a “popular defense union” that Strasser later merged into the Nazi Party in 1921. Initially a loyal supporter of Hitler, as such, Strasser participated in the Beer Hall Putsch (8–9 November 1923) and held high-level offices in the Nazi Party; however, Strasser became a strong advocate of the radical wing of the Nazi Party, arguing that the nationalist revolution should act to resolve the poverty imposed upon post-war Germany and should seek the political support of the German working class.[citation needed]

After Hitler became Chancellor, Ernst Röhm, who headed the Sturmabteilung (SA), the principal paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party, called for a second, national-socialist revolution to remove the business, social, and political elites from positions of power in the government, the economy, and the politics of Germany. Strasser and Röhm's proposed revolution was opposed by the conservatives, military and Hitlerite Nazis who preferred an ordered authoritarian régime for Germany to the politically disruptive programs proposed by the Strasserist radicals of the Nazi Party.[citation needed]

Otto Strasser


Otto Strasser (1897–1974) had also been a member of the Freikorps, but he joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany and fought against the Kapp Putsch. Strasser joined the Nazi Party in 1925, where he kept promoting the importance of socialism in National Socialism. Considered more of a radical than his brother, Strasser was expelled by the Nazi Party in 1930 and set up the Black Front, his own dissident group which called for a specifically German nationalist form of socialist revolution. Strasser fled Germany in 1933 to live firstly in Czechoslovakia and then Canada before returning to West Germany in later life, all the while writing prolifically about Hitler and what he saw as his betrayal of Nazism's ideals.



The name Strasserism came to be applied to the form of Nazism associated with the Strasser brothers. Although they had been involved in the creation of the National Socialist Program of 1920, both men called on the party to commit to "breaking the shackles of finance capital".[3] This opposition to what Nazis termed Finanzkapitalismus (finance capitalism) and raffendes Kapital (which translates roughly to "money-grubbing capitalism", and was implied to mean "Jewish capitalism"), which they contrasted to producerism or what was termed "productive capitalism", was shared by Adolf Hitler, who borrowed it from Gottfried Feder.[4]

This populist form of economic antisemitism was espoused by Otto Strasser in Nationalsozialistische Briefe, published in 1925, which discussed notions of class conflict, wealth redistribution and a possible alliance with the Soviet Union. His 1930 follow-up Ministersessel oder Revolution (Cabinet Seat or Revolution) attacked Hitler's betrayal of the socialist aspect of Nazism as well as criticizing the notion of the Führerprinzip.[5] Whilst Gregor Strasser echoed many of the calls of his brother, his influence on the ideology was lower, owing to his remaining in the Nazi Party longer and to his early death. Meanwhile, Otto Strasser continued to expand his argument, calling for the break-up of large estates and the development of something akin to a guild socialism, and the related establishment of a Reich cooperative chamber to take a leading role in economic planning.[6]

It is disputed whether Strasserism was a distinct form of Nazism. According to historian Ian Kershaw, "the leaders of the SA [which included Gregor Strasser] did not have another vision of the future of Germany or another politic to propose". The Strasserites advocated the radicalization of the Nazi regime and the toppling of the German elites, calling Hitler's rise to power a half-revolution which needed to be completed.[7]

Otto Strasser was also strongly Pan-European, even going as far as to praise Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi for his efforts advocating Pan-European unity.[8]

Among the policies of Third Reich of which Otto Strasser was most critical was the German involvement in the Spanish Civil War. He even called on both the S.S., S.A. and the Reichswehr to revolt against Hitler on the slogan of "No German blood for Spain, Hail Germany".[8]



In 1930s Finland


Finnish politician Yrjö Ruutu founded the National Socialist Union of Finland in 1932, which was one of several Finnish Nazi parties at the time. Ruutu's ideas included the nationalization of large companies and other assets vital for national interests, a self-sufficient planned economy, a parliament controlled by trade unions and the appointment of technocrats as ministers.[9] Ruutu's party remained on the fringes of Finnish politics and never gained any seats in parliament, but it is considered to have had a considerable influence on the ideology of the Academic Karelia Society and president Urho Kekkonen.[10] In 1944, all Nazi parties in Finland were dissolved as contrary to Article 21 of the Moscow Armistice, which forbade fascist parties.[11] Some former members of Ruutu's party, such as Yrjö Kilpeläinen and Unto Varjonen, became prominent figures in the right-wing faction of the post-war Social Democratic Party of Finland.[10][12] Another prominent former member, Vietti Nykänen, became the vice chairman of the Radical People's Party.[13] Member of the board of the party Heikki Waris later became Minister of Social Affairs in the Von Fieandt Cabinet in 1957.[14]

In post-war Germany

Flag of the Black Front, which is commonly used by Strasserists.

During the 1970s, the ideas of Strasserism began to be mentioned more in European far-right groups as younger members with no ties to Hitler and a stronger sense of economic antisemitism came to the fore. Strasserite thought in Germany began to emerge as a tendency within the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) during the late 1960s. These Strasserites played a leading role in securing the removal of Adolf von Thadden from the leadership and after his departure the party became stronger in condemning Hitler for what it saw as his move away from socialism in order to court business and army leaders.[15]

Although initially adopted by the NPD, Strasserism soon became associated with more peripheral extremist figures, notably Michael Kühnen, who produced a 1982 pamphlet Farewell to Hitler which included a strong endorsement of the idea. The People's Socialist Movement of Germany/Labour Party, a minor extremist movement that was outlawed in 1982, adopted the policy. Its successor movement, the Nationalist Front, did likewise, with its ten-point programme calling for an "anti-materialist cultural revolution" and an "anti-capitalist social revolution" to underline its support for the idea.[16] The Free German Workers' Party also moved towards these ideas under the leadership of Friedhelm Busse in the late 1980s.[17]

The flag of the Strasserite movement Black Front and its symbol of a crossed hammer and a sword has been used by German and other European neo-Nazis abroad as a substitute for the more infamous Nazi flag which is banned in some countries such as Germany.

In the United Kingdom


Strasserism emerged in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s and centred on the National Front (NF) publication Britain First, the main writers of which were David McCalden, Richard Lawson and Denis Pirie. Opposing the leadership of John Tyndall, they formed an alliance with John Kingsley Read and ultimately followed him into the National Party (NP).[18] The NP called for British workers to seize the right to work and offered a fairly Strasserite economic policy.[19] Nonetheless, the NP was short-lived. Due in part to Read's lack of enthusiasm for Strasserism, the main exponents of the idea drifted away.[citation needed]

The idea was reintroduced to the NF by Andrew Brons in the early 1980s when he decided to make the party's ideology clearer.[20] However, Strasserism was soon to become the province of the radicals in the Official National Front, with Richard Lawson brought in a behind-the-scenes role to help direct policy.[21] This Political Soldier wing ultimately opted for the indigenous alternative of distributism, but their strong anti-capitalist rhetoric as well as that of their International Third Position successor demonstrated influences from Strasserism. From this background emerged Troy Southgate, whose own ideology and those of related groups such as the English Nationalist Movement and National Revolutionary Faction were influenced by Strasserism.


Logo of Polish Partia Narodowych Socjalistów.

Third Position groups, whose inspiration is generally more Italian in derivation, have often looked to Strasserism, owing to their strong opposition to capitalism based on economic antisemitic grounds. This was noted in France, where the student group Groupe Union Défense and the more recent Renouveau français both extolled Strasserite economic platforms.[22]

Attempts to reinterpret Nazism as having a left-wing base have also been heavily influenced by this school of thought, notably through the work of Povl Riis-Knudsen, who produced the Strasser-influenced work National Socialism: A Left-Wing Movement in 1984.[23]

In the United States, Tom Metzger, a white supremacist, had some affiliation to Strasserism, having been influenced by Kühnen's pamphlet.[24] Also in the United States, Matthew Heimbach of the former Traditionalist Worker Party identifies as a Strasserist.[25] Heimbach often engages primarily in anti-capitalist rhetoric during public speeches instead of overt antisemitism, anti-Masonry or anti-communist rhetoric. Heimbach was expelled from the National Socialist Movement due to his economic views being seen by the group as too left-wing.[26] Heimbach stated that the NSM "essentially want it to remain a politically impotent white supremacist gang".[27]

See also



  1. ^ Kedar, Asaf (2010). National Socialism Before Nazism: Friedrich Naumann and Theodor Fritsch, 1890-1914. University of California, Berkeley. p. 169.
  2. ^ Sykes, Alan (2005). The Radical Right in Britain: Social Imperialism to the BNP. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0333599242 p. 124.
  3. ^ C. T. Husbands, 'Militant Neo-Nazism in the Federal Republic of Germany' in L. Cheles, R. Ferguson & M. Vaughan, Neo-Fascism in Europe, 1992, p. 98.
  4. ^ Ian Kershaw, Hitler: A Profile in Power, first chapter (London, 1991, rev. 2001).
  5. ^ Karl Dietrich Bracher, The German Dictatorship, 1973, pp. 230–231.
  6. ^ Nolte, Ernst (1969). Three Faces of Fascism: Action Française, Italian fascism, National Socialism. New York: Mentor. pp. 425–426.
  7. ^ Ian Kershaw, 1991, chapter III, first section.
  8. ^ a b Strasser, Otto (1940). Germany Tomorrow. London: Jonathan Cape Thirty Bedford Square. p. 100.
  9. ^ "Pohtiva - Suomen Kansallissosialistisen Liiton yleisohjelma". www.fsd.tuni.fi. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  10. ^ a b Soikkanen, Timo (14 June 2002). "Ruutu, Yrjö (1887–1956)". Suomen kansallisbiografia.
  11. ^ Mikko Uola: "Suomi sitoutuu hajottamaan...": Järjestöjen lakkauttaminen vuoden 1944 välirauhansopimuksen 21. artiklan perusteella, s. 262–271. Helsinki: Suomen Historiallinen Seura, 1999. ISBN 951-710-119-8.
  12. ^ Ekberg, Henrik (1991). Führerns trogna följeslagare. Den finländska nazismen 1932–1944. Schildts. pp. 95–99. ISBN 951-50-0522-1.
  13. ^ Uola, Mikko (1997). Ernesti Hentunen – tasavallan hovinarri. Turun Yliopiston poliittisen historian tutkimuksia 7 (in Finnish). Turku: Turun yliopiston poliittisen historian laitos. ISBN 951-29-1024-1. ISSN 1238-9420.
  14. ^ Autio, Veli-Matti (toim.): Professorimatrikkeli 1918–1996 Professorsmatrikel, s. 598–599. Helsinki: Helsingin yliopisto, 1997. ISBN 951-45-7818-X.
  15. ^ R. Eatwell, Fascism: A History, 2003, p. 283.
  16. ^ C. T. Husbands, "Militant Neo-Nazism in the Federal Republic of Germany" in L. Cheles, R. Ferguson, M. Vaughan, Neo-Fascism in Europe, 1992, pp. 99–100.
  17. ^ C. T. Husbands, "Militant Neo-Nazism in the Federal Republic of Germany" in L. Cheles, R. Ferguson, M. Vaughan, Neo-Fascism in Europe, 1992, p. 97.
  18. ^ N. Copsey, Contemporary British Fascism: The British National Party and the Quest for Legitimacy, 2004, pp. 17–18.
  19. ^ M. Walker, The National Front, 1977, p. 194.
  20. ^ N. Copsey, Contemporary British Fascism: The British National Party and the Quest for Legitimacy, 2004, pp. 33–34.
  21. ^ G. Gable, 'The Far Right in Contemporary Britain' in L. Cheles, R. Ferguson & M. Vaughan, Neo-Fascism in Europe, 1992, p. 97.
  22. ^ R. Griffin, The Nature of Fascism, 1993, p. 166.
  23. ^ P. Riis-Knudsen Archived 2009-01-05 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ M. A. Lee, The Beast Reawakens, 1997, p. 257.
  25. ^ Fischer, Ford (2 December 2018). "Matthew Heimbach Expelled from National Socialist Movement, Source Says". News2Share.
  26. ^ "Matthew Heimbach Kicked out of National Socialist Movement for Being a 'Communist'". Idavox. 3 December 2018.
  27. ^ "Neo-Nazi group's new leader, a black activist, has vowed to end it". CBS News. 1 March 2019.

Further reading

  • Bolton, Kerry Raymond (2017). "Otto Strasser's 'Europe'". In Southgate, Troy (ed.). Eye of the Storm. The Conservative Revolutionaries of 1920s, 1930s and 1940s Germany. London, UK: Black Front Press. pp. 7–31.
  • Reed, Douglas (1940). Nemesis: The Story of Otto Strasser.
  • Reed, Douglas (1953). The Prisoner of Ottawa: Otto Strasser.
  • Hafeneger, Benno [in German] (1989-01-18). "Wiederherstellung der europäischen Weltgeltung: Die Europäisierung und Vernetzung der extremen Rechten schreitet zügig voran: 17 Abgeordnete im Europaparlament / Kontakte, Treffen und gemeinsame Herausgabe von Zeitschriften / Ein missionarischer Euro-Chauvinismus tritt in den Vordergrund" [Restoration of Europe's world standing: The Europeanization and networking of the extreme right is progressing rapidly: 17 members of the European Parliament / Contacts, meetings and joint publication of magazines / A missionary Euro-chauvinism comes to the foreground]. Die Tageszeitung (in German). Archived from the original on 2022-04-22. Retrieved 2022-04-22. Über die "Eurorechte" hinaus gibt es Verbindungen zwischen militanz- und gewaltorientrierten, nationalrevolutionären Gruppen wie dem "Movimento des Accao National" (Bewegung der Nationalen Aktion) (MAN) in Portugal, die, angelehnt an der auch als "Strasserismus" bezeichneten italienischen "terza Positione" nationalrevolutionär orientiert ist. Die MAN hat Kontakte zu "Troisieme Voie" (Frankreich), zur "National Front" (Großbritannien) und spanischen Nationalrevolutionären "Basista Nacional Revolucionario Espanol". Im neonazistischen Organisationsbereich gibt es die "Europäische Bewegung", bei der über das sogenannte "Führerthing" NS-Aktivisten aus der Bundesrepublik, Frankreich, Belgien, Dänemark und den Niederlanden Verbindungen haben. An dem von Belgien ausgehenden "Euroring" sind darüber hinaus Neonazis aus Großbritannien beteiligt. Ein für August 1988 geplanter "Euroring"-Kongreß wurde verboten.
  • Priester, Karin [in German] (2010-11-01). "Fließende Grenzen zwischen Rechtsextremismus und Rechtspopulismus in Europa?" [Flowing borders between right-wing extremism and right-wing populism in Europe?]. Extremismus [Extremism] (PDF). Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte [de] (APuZ), addon to weekly journal Das Parlament [de] (in German). Vol. 2010. Bonn, Germany: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung. pp. 33–39 [34]. ISSN 0479-611X. No. 44. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-10-07. Retrieved 2022-04-02. p. 34: Der Unterschied zwischen [Rechtsextremismus] und Rechtspopulismus liegt vor allem auf ideologischem Gebiet: [Rechtsextremismus] vertritt eine holistische Ideologie, in deren Zentrum die ethnisch-kulturell homogene Volksgemeinschaft steht. Daraus folgt eine antipluralistische, antiliberale Staats- und Gesellschaftskonzeption, die unterhalb dieser Ebene Spielraum für verschiedene Richtungen lässt, für völkische nationalsozialistische Traditionalisten, Deutschnationale beziehungsweise die "klassische" Rechte in anderen Ländern und Nationalrevolutionäre. Diese sind zwar eine Minderheit im [Rechtsextremismus], aber europaweit unter verschiedenen Bezeichnungen (Strasserismus, Solidarismus, Dritte Position) vernetzt.