How accurate is it to call the SA the left wing of the Nazi Party?
Who or what is the SA?
I’m referring to the Sturmabteilung
The Wikipedia article calls it a far-right group.
The Sturmabteilung wasn’t an inherently left-wing organisation; its basic purpose was street-fighting and strong-arming. But, in so far as left-wing ideas found expression in Naziism, they were most likely to be expressed in the SA. Its membership was large and - ahem - not especially politically sophisticated, but radicals who were attracted by the sozialismus in nazionalsozialismus were not scarce in the SA, and some of them hoped to see a socialist revolution follow the national revolution - seizure and breakup of large landed estates, nationalisation of industries, etc. The SA recruited heavily among workers and the unemployed, and was happy to recruit former Communist supporters into the SA, so there was an audience there for such ideas. But, as far as the Nazi leadership were concerned, none of this was on the cards.
Some in the SA leadership wanted to merge with and absorb the regular German army to form a “people’s army”; the SA was much the larger organisation and would have dominated the merged entity but, of course, compared with the regular army lacked training, discipline, expertise and virtually every other quality desirable in an army. The leadership of the regular army were appalled at the idea. The Nazi leadership wished to placate and co-opt the regular army so the SA position was an embarrassment to them.
Hence, the Night of the Long Knives, the purge of its leadership, and the subsequent downsizing and eventual marginalisation of the SA.
Calling them the “left wing of the Nazi party” might be a bit misleading; they weren’t really a wing of the party; more a subordinate organisation within the party that never had much representation at senior party levels. But it was the organisation in which left-wing ideas were most likely to be expressed, and to find an audience.
Moving to Politics and Elections.
Thank you UDS.
I guess it’s possible to be left-wing in a reactionary group. I have passages in books where the SA is referred to as a left-wing branch of the NADAP with no reference of its members.
Sorry I forgot to add the word ‘read’ in ‘ I have read passages in books. . ‘
Seeing that those evil thugs were largely the force behind the “Crystalnacht”; the start of the Holocaust. I find calling them “left wing” of anything somewhat far fetched.
Anyone involved in the Nazi party was a far right wing authoritarian racist reactionary. A Nazi by definition. To use terms like “left wing” to describe any of them reeks of an agenda with swastika’s doodled in the margins.
Well, it’s quite possible to be left-wing and an evil thug; just ask Joe Stalin.
But we need to keep an eye on the timeline here. The SA was purged of any left-wing leaders and tendencies in the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, and refocussed on its core mission of, well, mindless thuggery in the service of the party. It was dramatically reduced in size, and then further reduced with the reintroduction of conscription in 1935, which mean that many of its members were called up.
Kristallnacht didn’t happen until 1938, by which time the SA was a significantly smaller organisation, firmly under the political direction of the Nazi party which was not even the tiniest bit left-wing. The SA provided much of the muscle for Kristallnacht but the operation was under the control of the SS, by then a separate and much more prestigious and influential party organisation.
My point is that it is misleading to use terms for a “normal” political spectrum to describe parts of a totalitarian regime.
At the very least it is a gross oversimplification. “Right” to “Left” is not as “Nazi” to “Communist”.
The Nazis had more in common with the Communists than with the (right wing) leaders of democracies (like Churchill) of that era. Just as Stalin has more in common with Putin than with Gorbatsjov.
“Left” to “Right” as we commonly use it only makes sense in a narrow band of political ideas (western democracies).
It is not very useful to talk about countries that are not inside that narrow band.
Is someone in China who is arguing for more liberal tax laws for companies left or right? The question doesn’t make sense because it is outside the frame.
Especially give the number of times I’ve been assured that Naziism is a left wing ideology . . . unlike the good fascists!
I’ve recently been reading the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and one thing the author makes clear, it’s that the original, publicly announced “philosophy” of the Nazi party was all over the place, with quite a few items that are clearly socialist in their intent, as discussed above. But what he also makes clear is that those parts were largely an embarrassment to Hitler, but one he needed to keep, in order to keep certain elements of the party in line, and Hitler had no problem just lying his ass off about it in order to keep that control.
In fact, that’s what the author identifies as Hitler’s greatest realization about politics: that he could just lie in order to get what he wanted. So anyone trying to point to any part of the Nazi platform in the early days as support for what Hitler or the Nazis “really believed” is playing a fool’s game, because lots of it were just outright lies.
When you need the help of the public to be put into power, tell that public what it wants to hear. Even easier back in the day to tell different audiences different, or even opposite, things.
Once you are in power and don’t need the public’s help anymore, simply do what you want to do. Both to them and using them.
The first phase agenda and the second phase agenda are all but unrelated.
Somehow there are very few reports of SA members not performing their “duties” on Kristalnacht, suggesting most had a pretty good idea of what this whole “Nazi” thing was all about.
It’s more accurate to call the SA the proletariat wing of the NSDAP. Just because a group is of the working class does not necessarily put them at the left end of any political spectrum.
Why are we asking him? Did he know a lot of left-wing evil thugs? I suppose probably some of the folks he stabbed in the back could probably be described that way…
Best post of thread.