This volume brings together a hitherto scattered and inaccessible body of material crucial to the understanding of the evolution of Nazi political thought. Before the publication of this volume, scholars had virtually ignored the extensive writings and programs published by leading Nazi ideologues before 1933. Barbara Miller Lane and Leila J. Rupp have collected the political writings of Nazi theorists—Dietrich Eckart, Alfred Rosenberg, Gottfried Feder, Joseph Goebbels, Gregor and Otto Strasser, Heinrich Himmler, and Richard Walther Darré—during the period before the National Socialists came to power. The Strassers are given considerable space because of their great intellectual importance within the party before 1933. In commentary by the editors, the significance of each Nazi theorist is weighed and evaluated at each stage of the history of the party.
Lane and Rupp conclude that Nazi ideology, before 1933 at least, was not a consistent whole but a doctrine in the process of rapid development to which new ideas were continually introduced. By the time the Nazis came to power, however, a group of interrelated assertions and official promises had been made to party followers and to the public. Hitler and the Third Reich had to accommodate this ideology, even when not implementing it. Hitler’s role in the development of Nazi ideology, interpreted here as a very permissive one, is thoroughly assessed. His own writings, however, have been omitted since they are readily available elsewhere.
The twenty-eight documents included in this book illustrate themes and phases in Nazi ideology which are discussed in the introduction and the detailed prefatory notes. Long selections, as often as possible full-length, are provided to allow the reader to follow the arguments. Each selection is accompanied by an introductory note and annotations which clarify its relationship to other works of the author and other writings of the period. Also included are original translations of the “Twenty-Five Points” and a number of little-known official party statements.