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Otto Strasser Edit Profile

politician

One of the leaders of the revolutionary ‘socialist’ wing of the NSDAP and younger brother of Gregor Strasser.

Background

Otto was born in Windsheim on 10 September 1897.

Career

In 1926 Otto Strasser was made editor of the Berliner Arbeiterzeitung and the National Socialist Letters, also becoming propaganda chief of the North German wing of the Party. As head of the Kampfverlag (Militant Publishers) in Berlin, he controlled an important outlet for disseminating his anti-capitalist ideology, which increasingly embarrassed Hitler in his own efforts to woo and win over the industrialists.

The showdown came on 21-22 May 1930 in a confrontation between the two Nazi leaders over the issue of capitalism and socialism.

Otto Strasser refused to submit and was expelled from the Party on 4 July 1930. Six weeks later he formed the break-away Union of Revolutionary National Socialists, known as the Black Front, but it failed to win away Nazi votes from Hitler, even though Otto Strasser claimed a membership of ten thousand. Strasser and some of his followers went into exile in Prague, where they produced a fortnightly paper, Die Deutsche Revolution, which attacked Hitler’s dictatorship but continued to defend the theory of National Socialism.

His writings contained a vision of European federation as well as his own reckoning with the past and present. During his exile in Switzerland and Canada, Otto Strasser became an advocate of ‘solidarism’, a third path between capitalism and communism, which he gave a national-socialist, Christian and decentralized ‘Europeanist’ colouring.

Returning to post-war West Germany, Otto Strasser tried and failed to win public support for these ideas in the 1950s after he had recovered his German citizenship. In other respects he appeared to have learned nothing from the past, still espousing a vicious, demagogic anti-semitism in his journalistic publications. He died in Munich on 27 August 1974.

Politics

After studying law and following a brief period as a Social Democrat, Otto Strasser joined the Nazi Party in 1925 and helped build up a radical, proletarian wing of the movement in North Germany, together with his older brother and the young Goebbels. Supporting certain strikes of the Social Democratic trade unions and demanding the nationalization of industry as well as the big banks, Strasser also favoured an alliance with Bolshevik Russia and the revolutionary ‘coloured’ peoples of the East (China, India, etc.) against the 'declining' West.

He stood by the NSDAP’s original twenty-five-point programme, emphasizing its socialist content which he took seriously. This brought him on a collision course with Hitler, whom he regarded as having betrayed the original ideals of the National Socialist movement.

Views

The Strasser left wing of Nazism was no less racist and anti-semitic than its adversaries. In his ‘Fourteen Theses of the German Revolution’, Otto Strasser proclaimed that it was a German duty to develop ‘unique racial individuality’ and resist the ‘cultural predominance of alien Jewry’, which in association with ‘the supranational powers of freemasonry and political Catholicism, was either compelled by its racial make-up or driven by its wanton will to destroy the life of the German soul’. Nonetheless, as an articulate opponent of Hitler’s, Strasser published a stream of books and pamphlets during his exile attacking the political system of the Third Reich and the Fuhrer's betrayal of Nazi ideals.