JR'S Free Thought Pages
The Nazi Party in Germany was not Socialist
Don’t be duped by the Orwellian misnomer, National Socialism
By Johny Reb (September 9, 2009)
Reactionary Republicans, right wing talk radio hosts and many other conservatives have been calling Barack Obama a socialist and then, in the same breath, a fascist. Whoa Nelly! Since fascism is on the extreme right of the political spectrum and socialism is on the left, these people are seriously befuddled and I suggest a starting point to enlightenment might be to look up those political terms in a good dictionary.
While driving the other day I stumbled onto an AM station from Bellingham Washington (KGMI 790) and was stunned by the disgraceful right wing vitriolic nonsense that was being churned out. Later I visited the stations web site and discovered that it regularly features right wing lunatics such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glen Beck. In the short time was able to tolerate it, I heard the most odious statements by conservative propagandists that were not only confused, deluded or both, but blissfully ignorant about both history and political philosophy. Surely these people don’t believe anything they are saying, I thought. Or is it just calculated obfuscation? Sadly, it’s not at all untypical of an American culture dominated by illusion, self-aggrandizing propaganda, paranoia about anything not uniquely American, anti-intellectualism, hyper-patriotism, Christian fundamentalism and just willed ignorance. For example, Jonah Goldberg, the editor of the right wing periodical The National Review, founded by the late William F Buckley, has written a seriously confused book with the oxymoronic title Liberal Fascists in which he claims Hitler was a socialist. This claim, among many others he makes in the book, is so outrageous it doesn’t even warrant a response.
Goldberg’s book is an absurdity, perhaps even more so than the assertions by those on the wacko political right who are declaring that a conservative like Obama, whose presidential campaign was bankrolled and is now controlled, by Wall Street lobbyists, is a socialist. I’m referring to the same Obama who is continuing with the multi-trillion dollar Bush bailouts of villainous financial institutions and “stimulus packages”, never-ending imperialistic wars and the man who recently played 18 holes of golf with the CEO from UBS, the tax evasion Swiss investment bank that has been hiding and laundering money for wealthy Americans and other financial elites around the world for over a hundred years. The first clear indication that Obama is not, in fact, a socialist, is the way his administration is avoiding structural changes to the financial system. Nationalization of distressed banks is simply not in the playbook of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his team. Real socialists support nationalization of key industries such as banks that are necessary vehicles for serving the needs of its citizens and see it as a means of creating a banking system that acts like a highly regulated public utility, rather than serving the narrow interests of its investors. The banks would then cease to be sinkholes for public funds or financial versions of casinos that put profit before people and would become essential to reenergizing productive sectors of the economy. The same holds true for universal government run health care, even more so. Despite the fact that trillions of dollars of public wealth and taxpayer dollars are being transferred to bail out private corporations, Republican Mike Huckabee still felt confident in proposing that "Lenin and Stalin would love" Obama's bank bailout plan. If Osama’s continuation of the Bush bailouts is “socialist” then they are measures that are taking on a very peculiar form: that is, a welfare system that is directed at and benefits the rich lenders and their wealthy investors, not the victimized borrowers. In other words, “socialism” is evil unless it serves modern capitalism – the conservative corporate welfare state.
Not unlike FDR during the Great Depression, the current president has been assigned the unenviable task of salvaging a free for all predatory capitalist system intent on devouring itself. The question is whether he can do so without addressing the deep systemic dysfunction, corruption, cronyism and glaring inequities that have become fundamental features of American society. How can you, Mr. Obama, legitimize a democracy in which the top 1% owns more wealth than the bottom 90%? Can you sell a health-care reform package that will only continue to enrich an inefficient and costly private health insurance industry? Will you continue to favor military spending over health care, infrastructure development, a just education system and social services? All of the gibberish about Obama and socialism is a straw-man scare tactic by Republicans and free market ideologues. Americans voters have been so indoctrinated by such talk that they react like Pavlov's dogs to the word, even if it is totally hollow and inapplicable. The American voter reacts fearfully when Obama is charged with “wealth redistribution” even while the American economic system has for many years been nothing more than a conservative corporate welfare state redistributing the nation's wealth upward. Yes, you may call it socialism, but it’s an inverted socialism of wealth and privilege, a welfare system created by and for our financial elites, the big corporations and the wealthy.
The tax concessions to the wealthy and huge corporations (two-thirds of US corporations pay no income tax), the write offs, incentives and bailouts on the backs of tax -paying working people when they fail and outrageously low capital gains taxes and much more are just a small part of the state socialist system for the wealthy. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and the richest of the Walton family have more wealth than the bottom 100 million Americans. Buffet admitted his embarrassment over the fact that following one of the many huge Bush tax concessions to the big business and the wealthy, he was in a lower income tax bracket than his maid. It’s nothing more than an obscene oligarchy run by Big Business and wealthy elites and it has been that way since 1776. A system of the rich, by the rich and for the rich was explicitly written into the US constitution by wealthy slave owners like Jefferson, Madison, Washington and Adams. Large American popular majorities tell pollsters in anonymous privacy that they support egalitarian social and political values. They back a broad range of progressive, social-democratic programs consistent with those values - universal national health care mandated by the federal government, a rollback of the military budget to meet social needs, minimum wage, labor unions, assistance for the poor, a significant reduction of corporate influence over politics, and much more. All this is conveniently ignored by the politicians, Republican and Democrat alike.
Any resemblance of the American system to genuine democracy is purely incidental.
So many people in the United States believe the misinformation, distortions and blatant lies promulgated by conservative politicians and their bootlicking corporate media, that I have hereby provided my own response to the preponderance particular egregious conservative bullshit. Not surprisingly, if you conduct a Google search with the qualifiers “National Socialism” and “Nazi”, the first hits will include US president Obama. The overpowering prevalence of insidious ignorance from our right wing corporate media and within cyberspace is mind boggling.
Our situation today is far worse than when Albert Einstein wrote the following in 1949:
“The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.”
More recently, here is Chris Hedges, author of a recent book I am presently reading called Empire of Illusion:
“The corporate forces that are looting the Treasury and have plunged us into a depression will not be contained by the two main political parties. The Democratic and Republican parties have become little more than squalid clubs of privilege and wealth, whores to money and corporate interests, hostage to a massive arms industry, and so adept at deception and self-delusion they no longer know truth from lies. We will either find our way out of this mess by embracing an uncompromising democratic socialism—one that will insist on massive government relief and work programs, the nationalization of electricity and gas companies, a universal, not-for-profit government health care program, the outlawing of hedge funds, a radical reduction of our bloated military budget and an end to imperial wars—or we will continue to be fleeced and impoverished by our bankrupt elite and shackled and chained by our surveillance state.”
“The free market and globalization, promised as the route to worldwide prosperity, have been exposed as a con game. But this does not mean our corporate masters will disappear. Totalitarianism, as George Orwell pointed out, is not so much an age of faith as an age of schizophrenia. “A society becomes totalitarian when its structure becomes flagrantly artificial,” Orwell wrote, “that is when its ruling class has lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud.” Force and fraud are all they have left. They will use both.”
Socialism: conceptual clarity
Not just Jonah Goldberg, but many conservatives consider Hitler a socialist. Huh? It would seem the belief is based entirely on the fact that he adopted the name of a party that predated his political career, The National Socialist Party. I honestly can’t think of what else would motivate such a bizarre belief since they evidently assume this without any inquiry into the Nazi party’s platform and philosophy. The view is simply not based in reality. First, the name of something is not the same as the thing itself. Second, socialism entails worker ownership and control of the means of production and in the Third Reich this did not occur in any way whatsoever. In Nazi Germany, individual private capitalists owned the means of production and they flourished and profited immensely under the Third Reich, despite the fact that they were under the watchful eye and direction of the Nazi Party and its State apparatus. History has shown us that capitalism actually operates more efficiently and profitably under socio-economic systems that are not democratic; where the inconveniences of labor regulations and environmental standards are non-existent. Why after all would the American government prefer puppet dictators in their corporate client states throughout the Third World? True socialism does not advocate such economic dictatorship – by definition it can only be deemed egalitarian and unequivocally democratic. Hitler's other political beliefs place him invariably on the far right, advocating racism over racial tolerance, eugenics over freedom of reproduction, merit over equality, competition over cooperation, power politics and militarism over pacifism, dictatorship over democracy, capitalism over socialism, realism over idealism, nationalism over internationalism, exclusiveness over inclusiveness, Hitler’s own perversion of common sense over theory or science, pragmatism and expediency over principle and friendly relations with a compliant Church. Hitler was, after all, a self-proclaimed Catholic, even though he, like Napoleon and many other tyrannical demagogues, valued the Churches, not out of piety, but as a useful complicit partner in keeping the masses faithful, patriotic and docile.
In short, Hitler's political philosophy belongs on the extreme right.
Most conservatives are attracted to authoritarianism, religion and patriotism; also believing in a strong military, supporting most wars, regardless of their legitimacy. If you carry these beliefs far enough to right politically, you will ultimately arrive at Hitler's warring nationalistic fascism. These associations have long been something of an embarrassment to conservatives and to deflect such criticism, conservatives have recently launched a counter-attack, wrongly claiming that Hitler was a socialist.
Socialism in fact, has never been tried in its pure form at the national level anywhere in the world. This may surprise some people - after all, wasn't the Soviet Union socialist? The answer is decidedly no. Discounting raw power, the primary ethical issue for any political ideology is who deserves what and why - and who will ultimately get to own the wealth of a country and control the means the production. This includes factories, farmlands, machinery and all means of wealth production. Since the advent of nation states, there have been primarily three approaches to this question. The first was an aristocracy or monarchy, in which a ruling oligarchy owned all the land and productive wealth, with peasants, workers and serfs relegated to forced servility on the landowner’s property in return for a paltry poverty stricken existence. The second is capitalism, which attempted to dispense with the ruling elites and allow for a much broader range of private individuals to own the means of production. But the outcome in almost every case differed precious little from a feudalistic plutocracy. In the capitalist system, right from its infancy, ownership was limited to those who were already wealthy landowners and could thereby afford to purchase productive wealth; nearly all workers, lacking capital, were excluded. The third (and untried) approach is socialism, where everyone who does the work owns and controls the means of production, by means of a democratic process. As one can see in these three systems, there is a continuum or spectrum, ranging from a few people owning productive wealth at one end, to everyone owning it at the other.
So what was the case in Nazi Germany and what was the origin and nature of the National Socialist Party? The idea that workers controlled the means of production in Nazi Germany is at best a cruel joke. The National Socialist Party had nothing to do with socialism and was in reality an oligarchy of powerful aristocrats, capitalists and Hitler hatchet men like Albert Speer and Joseph Goebbels. But as leader of the Party, Adolf Hitler reorganized the party, encouraging the assimilation of other radical right-wing groups from within the despondent working classes. Gangs of unemployed demobilized soldiers were recruited under the command of a former army officer, Ernst Roehm, to form the Storm Troops (Sturmabteilung--SA), Hitler's private army. Under Hitler's leadership, the National Socialists joined with others on the right in denouncing the Weimar Republic and the "November criminals" who had signed the Treaty of Versailles. The postwar economic slump won the party a following among unemployed ex-soldiers and the lower middle class in addition to disgruntled small farmers and businessmen. It attracted these working class groups despite the fact that private investors, business people and large corporations owned and controlled the means of production with the Nazi "Charter of Labor" granting employers complete power over their workers. Sound familiar? [It differs only in degree to what has been happening in recent decades in our own country and throughout the so-called capitalist western democracies and alarmingly resembles the Bush administration cabal of the past eight years] Moreover, Hitler’s Charter of Labor alarmingly resembles what happened in British Columbia under neo-conservative ideologue Gordon Campbell’s labor/union bashing Bill 29 [later declared as a violation of the Canadian Bill of Rights by the Federal Supreme Court, costing the Canadian taxpayers $350,000,000] and established the employer as the "leader of the enterprise," and read: "The leader of the enterprise makes the decisions for the employees and laborers in all matters concerning the enterprise." (1) The employer, however, was subject to the frequent direction of the ruling Nazi elite, but nevertheless profits for huge German companies soared during this period. After the Nazis took power in 1933, they quickly established a highly controlled war economy under the direction of Dr. Hjalmar Schacht. Like all war economies, it flourished, making Germany the second nation to recover fully from the Great Depression, in 1936. [The first nation was Sweden, in 1934. Following Keynesian-like policies, the Swedish government spent its way out of the Depression, proving that state economic policies can be successful without resorting to dictatorship or gratuitous imperialistic wars]
In times of desperation, voters are primed for extreme solutions, and Hitler, like all skilled demagogues, cleverly exploited the situation. Skilled Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels launched an intensive media campaign that ceaselessly expounded a few simple notions until even the most obtuse voter knew Hitler's basic program. The party's program was broad and general enough to appeal to many unemployed people, farmers, white-collar workers and members of the middle class who had been harmed by the Depression or had lost status since the end of World War I and pliable young people eager to dedicate themselves to grandiose nationalist ideals. If voters were not drawn to some aspects of the party platform, they might be attracted to others. Like other right-wing groups, the party blamed the Treaty of Versailles and harsh reparations for the developing crisis. During his drive to power, Hitler exploited this social unrest by promising workers he would increase their living standards and strengthen their labor unions. But these were empty promises; privately, he was reassuring wealthy German businessmen that he would crack down on labor once he achieved absolute power. Historian William Shirer describes the Nazi's dual strategy:
"The party had to play both sides of the tracks. It had to allow [Nazi officials] Strasser, Goebbels and the crank Feder to beguile the masses with the cry that the National Socialists were truly 'socialists' and against the money barons. On the other hand, money to keep the party going had to be wheedled out of those who had an ample supply of it." (2)
Nazi propaganda attacked the Weimar political regime, the "November criminals," Marxists, internationalists, free thinkers, homosexuals and Jews. Besides promising a solution to the economic crisis, the Nazi Party offered the German people a sense of national pride and the promise of restored order. Will people fall for these ruses again? People can’t learn from a history of which they are ignorant, so of course they will.
Socialism has been proposed in many forms but what happened in Germany under the Third Reich was not in the least way one of them. The most common variant is social democracy, whereby workers vote for their supervisors, as well as their industry representatives to regional or national congresses. Another proposed form is anarcho-syndicalism (or libertarian socialism) espoused by Noam Chomsky and other leftist anarchists, where those who do the actual work own the means of production and the companies that would operate on a free market system, without any state hierarchy or interference. An anarchist experiment such as this worked well in the Barcelona region of Spain during the chaos of early stages of the Spanish Civil War. The anarchist partisans who fought Franco fascists even voted for their officers, dispensing with mindless rituals such as saluting their “superiors.” The primary feature of socialism is worker ownership of production. Many nations and political parties have called themselves "socialist," but none have actually experimented with genuine socialism in any of its variants and most efforts to do so such as in Russia and Cuba, for example, have been obstructed by the capitalist countries that feared any real power by the working classes. If Karl Marx was alive to see what happened in China under Mao or the Soviet Union under Stalin, he would be appalled and disgusted, as would Jesus if he observed modern organized Christianity.
Following the Russian Revolution, the United States, Great Britain and France sent tens of thousands of troops to incite a civil war, supporting the brutal tyrannical monarchy of the Romanoff’s as against the Marxist revolutionaries. What ended up happening in Russia as a result of this chaos was a totalitarian collectivist state under the psychopathic Stalin. The people were not in control of the economy as under socialism, but became its slaves, just as they were under the Romanoff dynasty in Russia before the revolution – as was the case in most Western countries under capitalism at the time. One can read any novel by Charles Dickens or Victor Hugo for a synopsis. Some of us at least, notwithstanding the huge volume of American propaganda, know what happened in Cuba after Castro’s overthrow of the puppet US dictator Batista. When Castro decided to give the countries assets and natural resources back to the people by nationalizing the American corporations that controlled them, a vicious campaign of economic embargoes, numerous assassination attempts on Castro and failed invasions of Cuba ensued. The country never recovered economically from these policies and the vicious economic embargoes, supported by many other capitalist countries that were allies of the United States, continue to this day.
During the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), the Western capitalist countries abandoned the newly formed democratic Republic in Spain that eventually had to fight on their own against the fascist Franco who was supported militarily by both Mussolini and Hitler. Hitler used Spain as a testing ground for his blitzkrieg tactics during the Second World War. Some historians have argued that Hitler could have been stopped right in Spain. But the capitalist countries feared the many disparate leftist and anarchist groups who fought on the side of the Republic in Spain against the brutal monarchist Catholic fascist Franco than they did the fascist triad of Franco, Mussolini and Hitler. The Republic lost the brutal and vicious civil war and Franco, who became Spain’s fuehrer was recognized diplomatically by the United States and other Western countries that exploited Spain for military bases during the Cold War. Franco was absolute dictator of a fascist monarchical theocratic Spain until his death in 1975, purging the country of leftists, trade unionists, atheists and free thinking intellectuals by executions, imprisonment and slave labor. A movement is afoot right now in Spain by the descendents of those who fought with the Republic. They are attempting to determine what happened to their family members, murdered by Franco’s fascist thugs during his 35 year reign of terror. Many have been discovered in mass roadside graves, victims of Franco’s fanatical Catholicism and cruelty.
The reality is that the Nazi Party in Germany from 1933 to 1945 was a fascist party generally described as being at the extreme or far right of the left-right political continuum. This consensus is almost universal in all good dictionaries and books on political science and political philosophy, in particular those uniquely devoted to an analysis of fascism. Three good ones are The Anatomy of Fascism by Robert O. Paxton, A History of Fascism by Stanley G. Payne and for a quick read on the subject I highly recommend Fascism: A Very Short Introduction by Oxford University Press. While the party incorporated elements from both left (primarily structural) and right-wing politics, the Nazis formed almost all of their alliances on the right. In the three scholarly books cited, there is universal agreement on this point.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines fascism as “a philosophy or system of dictatorial government of the extreme Right typically through the merger of state and corporate leadership usually tied to an ideology of belligerent nationalism.” Pay attention to the expressions “state and corporate” and especially “extreme right”. Any attempt to conflate liberalism or socialism with fascism demonstrates total ignorance of where it located on the political continuum since it’s universally accepted that Conservatism is to the right of centre on the scale whereas Liberalism is to the left.
It has been argued by some psychologists and sociologists that one’s susceptibility to authoritarianism and fascism is traceable to forms of strict religious upbringing, particularly the German Protestant variety. Studies conducted following the Nuremberg Trials after the Second World War have confirmed that every one of the convicted defendants were from families in which there was a strict religious upbringing. Moreover, in recent years it has been found that 60% of German terrorists have been the children of Protestant ministers. It would seem that people who have been raised in such austere doctrinaire environments lack intellectual autonomy and will adapt to any form of authority that claims to be legitimate and has the power to make the claim stick. As Wilhelm Reich has said, the average mind is wired for fascism - for authoritarianism, for dominance, for power. “The mind attaches itself to power, it respects power, it defers to power greater than its own; it uses power on individuals' minds that are weaker than its own.” If that's true, then it would seem that it’s very much easier for the right to win an election in our so-called democracies than it is for the left, because it has so little way to go to tap into the worst instincts of all of us. This is particularly true I suspect in times of despondency, cultural dysfunction and economic hardship that we see all around us today.
Most dictionary definitions (I provided one earlier) and books on political philosophy agree that fascism is the conjoining of industry, capital and government into one constituent to facilitate the plunder of state resources from an often unwilling or ambivalent public. Democracy is condensed into the corporate state where business, labor, and government are conflated, with labor relegated to an inert subordinate, having lost its right to collective bargaining and the right to strike. One of the first acts by both Hitler and Mussolini was to declare unions and collective bargaining illegal and purge the country of socialists and communists. An organization called the "Labor Front" replaced the old trade unions, but it was an instrument of the Nazi party and did not represent workers. According to the law that created it, "Its task is to see that every individual should be able… to perform the maximum of work." Workers would indeed greatly boost their productivity under Nazi rule. But they also became exploited. Between 1932 and 1936, worker’s wages fell, from 20.4 to 19.5 cents an hour for skilled labor, and from 16.1 to 13 cents an hour for unskilled labor. (3) Yet workers did not protest. This was partly because the Nazis had restored order to the economy, but an even bigger reason was that the Nazis would have cracked down on any protest. Surely no one with even a rudimentary understanding of political philosophy can call this system socialism.
Fascism, corporatism and religion
No less an authority than Mussolini stated that "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power." And, finally, a characterization from the Communist Georgi Dimitrov, who was exonerated in court on the Nazi charge of conspiring to start the Reichstag fire in 1933: “Fascism is the open terrorist rule of the most reactionary, chauvinist, militarist sectors of finance capital or the financial oligarchy.” Lawrence Britt has written a piece in Free Inquiry Magazine that has subsequently been widely distributed throughout the internet called “Fascism anyone” and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the fundamental characteristics of fascism. As I have mentioned earlier, there are also some good scholarly books on the topic such as the recent Fascism: A Very Short Introduction, published by respected Oxford University Press. Umberto Ecco in a 1997 book, Five Moral Pieces, outlined the dispositional traits of someone attracted to fascism which included anti-intellectualism, intolerance of ambiguity and dissent, the need for action as against conciliation, preference for false dichotomies or bifurcations (it’s either us or them), rejection of pacifism, paternalism, and rigid unyielding authoritarian world views and moral codes. Ironically these traits quite aptly describe either of the two dominant monotheisms of Islam and Christianity.
Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul writes that the primary objectives of the corporatist movement in Germany, Italy and France during the 1920s, those who went on to become part of the fascist movement, were “to shift power directly to economic and social interest groups, to push entrepreneurial initiative in areas normally reserved for public bodies,” and to “obliterate the boundaries between public and private interest – that is, challenge the idea of the public interest.” It sounds forbiddingly current, does it not? It’s alarmingly like the free for all rapacious mafia capitalism in which the value of everything and everyone is determined by the market and everything is up for sale. It’s a system of unmitigated greed and plunder aided and abetted by corrupt politicians, a sycophantic corporate media and fraudulent democracy, a system now rendered lifeless by our financial power elites who have imploded the global economy and launched us into a global depression.
“Islamofascism” is a neologism invoked by the Bush administration to describe Islamic fanatics following 9-11. Religious fundamentalism, including the Christian variety, does have many characteristics in common with fascism and ironically “fascism” is a word that has been used to describe the Bush administration itself – the perpetrators of union bashing and other assaults on working people, unfettered militarism and corporatism, insidious unjustifiable wiretaps, the Patriot Act, suspension of Habeas Corpus for detainees at Guantanamo, violations of international law, the United Nations Charter and the Nuremberg Tribunal, torture of military prisoners, secret prisons, the highest incarceration rate in prisons of any country in the world, extraordinary rendition, preemptive unjustified attacks on defenseless countries and overthrowing non-compliant governments abroad who won’t yield to the US corporations plundering their resources. Now that’s a comparison with some validity.
Origins of National Socialism
The Nazi Party was transformed out of the National Socialist German Workers Party that had existed since 1919, so it was not Hitler’s invention. The notion of combining the concepts of "national" and "social" became popular in Germany before World War I. In 1919 an anti-Semitic right-wing political party called the German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) was founded in Munich; this party adopted the combined "national-social" ideology. In 1920 the party added "National Socialist" to its name and thus became the National Socialist German Workers' Party, NSDAP or Nazi Party. A year later Adolf Hitler, a man who started out as a public speaker for the party, became its undisputed leader. Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933 by Paul Von Hindenburg but after gaining absolute power Hitler maintained the in-name-only façade of the National Socialist label for a very short time until it was no longer necessary to maintain the myth of a people’s democracy and quickly established his totalitarian fascist state. The Enabling Act, termed for four years, gave the government the power to enact laws without parliamentary approval, to enact foreign treaties abroad and even to make changes to the Constitution. The Nazis did not keep their promises to their political allies, banning all other parties just as they had banned the communists and socialists. Following this, the Nazi government banned the formation of new parties on 14 July 1933, turning Germany into a single-party state. Hitler kept the Reichstag as a rubber stamp parliament while the German Parliament or Reichsrat, though never abolished, was stripped of any effective power. The legislative bodies of the German states soon followed in the same manner, with the German federal government taking over most state and local legislative powers. Hitler, a professed Catholic himself, used the Catholic Church to dissolve the Centre Party. On 23 March 1933 he had called Churches "most important factors" for the maintenance of German well-being. In regard to the Catholic Church, he proposed a concordat between Germany and the Vatican that was signed in July. In regard to the Protestant Churches, he also signed concordats and used church elections to push the Nazi-inspired "German Christians" to power.
His first acts upon gaining power were to declare trade unions and the communist party illegal and proceeded to eliminate all undesirables from the country that included Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, left wing intellectuals, atheists, anarchists, social democrats and anyone else deemed a threat to his fascist regime. This was sufficient to dispel any illusion about his regime being in any way “socialist.” National Socialism was no more relevant in defining the Third Reich than the pretentious democratic sounding misnomers such as The People’s Republic of China, People’s Republic of Korea, German Democratic Republic and Democratic Republic of the Congo that represent or represented some of the most nefarious brutal dictatorships in the world. The list is long.
An obvious philosophical and conceptual point is that the name of a thing is not necessarily synonymous with the thing itself. The Nazi party-appropriated-term "socialism," like "democracy" in the examples cited above, was an Orwellian term used to appeal to German workers for political support during the tentative early years of Hitler's ascent to power. The claim that the name National Socialism implies or has something to do with genuine socialism has little meaning among educated scholars, but the argument has some social resonance among "layman majorities" who tend to be less able to discern (or have less access to) factual claims and materials related to history and economics - easy to sway with polemic doublethink rhetoric, even if the claim has little substance or merit. Apart from the occasional use of empty pro-worker political rhetoric, Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party had in no way any inclination towards true socialism, in the sense of democratic socialism that it's used today. Within the context of Hitler's unified, "racially-pure" Germany, Hitler instituted and supported social programs that on their surface were socialist in structure only. For example, his youth programs, education and indoctrination programs, reproduction programs, all borrowed some of their architecture from existing "socialist" ideas, but instead of holding to the democratic spirit of socialist ideals, he simply borrowed what was popular to serve his quest for power. Whatever appeals Nazism made to the German worker, family, culture, and society —while in a very general sense were socialist —they were simply components in the totalitarian rule of an extreme right wing fascist party. The claim that socialism and Nazism are one in the same is a blatant variant of an informal logical fallacy often called the red herring or ignoratio elenchi fallacy - for example, the same could be said of the United States military industrial complex and Conservative Corporate Welfare State, which operate with socialist/communist-like safeguards and protections, though deemed part of a capitalist system. This is no mystery to the conservative elites who run the plutocracy/corporate welfare state but the illusions are widely promoted to the masses as part of a sham and façade free market capitalist system and accompanying ideology.