The mainstream history of the right of the 20th century was that it was antagonistic to the Soviet Union and its allies. While this is true as many Right-Wing groups all over the world sided with enemies of the Soviet Union such as the White Russian Army, National Socialist Germany, and the United States just to name a few. Many of these groups sided against the USSR for many reasons, from the USSR anti-religious campaigns and USSR espousal of global communist revolution were class, religion, traditions, and nations would be no more.
Despite these claims having some truth there was others on the right who saw that the USSR was moving away from its original radical communism and egalitarianism to a more nationalist and even conservative direction or even believed that Soviet Socialism could be used for nationalist and conservative end goals. Along with some believing that USSR was an ally to pro nationalist struggles against, imperialism, capitalism, and the West, with all these groups seeing liberalism, capitalism, and the West as a greater threat than the USSR to tradition or national self-determination. Many of these people came from a variety of different persuasions from conservatives, nationalist, fascist, and many others.
This article will not cast moral judgements on these individuals but rather show the reasons behind this pro soviet position and show the history behind these groups. This will have two parts with part 1 going over pre-Bolshevik revolution to the end of World War 2. Part 2 will go over the Cold War to Present Day. While these two article will not cover everyone it will try to cover as many as possible. It should also be understood that I am well aware of the vagueness of political terms like right or left wing as one group of the right can be almost polar opposites to another group on the right. For the sake of covering a broad range of individuals and groups in this article I will be using the term right wing in the sense that these individuals or groups are socially conservative, nationalistic, and do not follow the idea of historical progress or egalitarianism. Despite these right wingers joining forces with an ideology (Marxism) that believe these ideals but did not share these views of progress or egalitarianism. Without further delay, here is a brief history of the pro soviet right.
Even in the times of Karl Marx many nationalists and conservatives took an interest in the idea of socialism all be it was not Marxist socialism. To some people’s surprise Marx was not the one who came up with the idea of socialism in fact during his life and political career Marx had to compete against many other socialist camps and groups with many of Marx’s writings including his and his partner Fredrick Engels Communist Manifesto containing criticism of these camps.
Feudal Socialism was one of the first right wing socialist movement that started out in Britain and France in 1830s/1840s. The French group being made up of French Aristocrats called the Legitimates who were displaced by the rising industrial capitalist class, made common cause with peasant and workers who were also being displaced and working under poor conditions during the time. Young England which was the name of the British Feudal Socialist who were apart of Tory Party and came about for many similar reasons to the French Legitimates. With both groups seeking to return an agrarian and pre capitalist society. Along with having strong ties with the church and Christianity.
Marx was strongly critical of both groups, calling them backwards, being an exploiter of the people and wanting to return to a time that no longer exist. To quote from the communist manifesto.
“Owing to their historical position, it became the vocation of the aristocracies of France and England to write pamphlets against modern bourgeois society. In the French Revolution of July 1830, and in the English reform agitation[A], these aristocracies again succumbed to the hateful upstart. Thenceforth, a serious political struggle was altogether out of the question. A literary battle alone remained possible. But even in the domain of literature the old cries of the restoration period had become impossible.(1) In order to arouse sympathy, the aristocracy was obliged to lose sight, apparently, of its own interests, and to formulate their indictment against the bourgeoisie in the interest of the exploited working class alone. Thus, the aristocracy took their revenge by singing lampoons on their new masters and whispering in his ears sinister prophesies of coming catastrophe. In this way arose feudal Socialism: half lamentation, half lampoon; half an echo of the past, half menace of the future; at times, by its bitter, witty and incisive criticism, striking the bourgeoisie to the very heart’s core; but always ludicrous in its effect, through total incapacity to comprehend the march of modern history. The aristocracy, in order to rally the people to them, waved the proletarian alms-bag in front for a banner. But the people, so often as it joined them, saw on their hindquarters the old feudal coats of arms, and deserted with loud and irreverent laughter.”
Despite these strong criticism by Marx and his growing popularity in the socialist camp that made socialism more progressive and internationally orientated this did not mark the end of Right-Wing interest in Socialism or Socialist who had religious or nationalist or even reactionary sympathies. For example, American Socialist Edward Bellamy who inspired some of the first socialist groups in America called the Nationalist Clubs was deeply religious and held nationalist sympathies despite also having many progressive views of history. Russian Anarchist intellectual Mikhail Bakunin was a Pan Slavic nationalist who supported many nationalist struggles throughout Europe such as in Italy and Poland. William Morris famous English socialist writer and defender of traditional architecture and craftsmanship believed in a utopian agrarian socialist society and even made common cause with former Young England member and British Conservative Prime Minster Benjamin Disraeli who signed Morris petition to preserve St. Mark’s Basilica Cathedral in Venice Italy. The Russian Social Revolutionaries and Narodnik movement was an agrarian socialist and in the case of the Narodnik’s a religious orthodox Christian movement that had prominence all the way up to the Bolshevik revolution along with according to Russian Philosopher Alexander Dugin being a predecessor to Russian Conservative Revolution. Some of the Social Revolutionaries would go on to join the Bolsheviks.
Even in the First International some of the first members were nationalist such as Mikhail Bakunin and Italian Nationalist Giuseppe Mazzini. Despite this most right-wing forms of socialism were marginal outside of Russia and despite some conservative or nationalist tendencies amongst some socialist most were still largely progressive when it came to idea of progress, free love, and nation state. Along with most forms of right-wing socialism or socialist who had some of these sympathies being moderate reformers like Otto Von Bismarck or wanting a return agrarian society. Unlike Marxism that supported society becoming industrialize and supporting revolution. The Right would not start flirting with similar ideas until the 1900s particularly with a section of French Syndicalists led by Georges Sorel.
Sorel was probably the most conservative out most of the people that have been discussed. Even being consider a conservative by some historians and philosophers like Christopher Lasch and Alexander Dugin. Sorel was militant trade unionist or syndicalist believing that general strike of workers would bring about the workers revolution and bring about a decentralize society run by trade unions. He despised parliamentarianism believing it would not lead to a syndicalist society but rather one that strengths the capitalist. At the same time Sorel believed the idea of progress that so many socialist and Marxist believed was nothing more than a capitalist concept. Believing that Grand Narratives or Myths along with heroism are true motivators of change believing that the early Christians were best example of this. Sorel was not as antagonistic to religion unlike many of the socialist of his time were and on other issues like the traditional family or small family farm as being noble things being displaced by capitalism. Sorel even held nationalistic beliefs for time after becoming disillusioned the major Trade Union in France the CGT for its reformist direction in 1909 to 1910 Sorel started a collaboration with French Catholic Monarchist and Nationalist Charles Maurras the leader of French Action. French action held many similar anti-capitalist, anti-democratic and localist beliefs. Sorel would also start writing for a Nationalist and Syndicalist magazine called L’Indépendance created by himself, Edouard Berth a follower of Sorel and Georges Valois a follower of Maurras. Both Berth and Valois would go on to create the think tank Cercle Proudhon founded in 1911. The group combined the ideas of anarchist Pierre Joseph Proudhon who held similar ideas to Sorel on economics and social issues like the family, Syndicalist Georges Sorel, and Nationalist Charles Maurras in hope of bring together nationalist, syndicalist and other anti-democratic forces to eventually overthrow of the French Republic and even referred to Republic at times with anti-Semitic remarks.
The group would be minor throughout its existences with even Sorel and Mauras being warry of the cercle and the group would disband in 1925. However, the Cercle Proudhon would leave a lasting impact on European nationalist circles such as the Italian Fascist and even the Pro Soviet German National Bolsheviks who adopted their symbol as their own. Many in Cercle Proudhon such as Edouard Berth and Georges Valois would go on to support the Bolshevik or other left-wing causes. Even their mentor Sorel would also go on support Lenin and Mussolini. Cercle Proudhon and Georges Sorel arguably marks the origins of many parts of the Pro Soviet Right such as the German National Bolsheviks and French New Right.
The Russian Revolution And The White Bleeding Red
In the Early 20th century, the Russian Empire was weak and a dying empire. Being surpassed by other nations like Britain, Japan, Germany, France, and others. Russia internally was Monarchical, semi feudal, and a agrarian nation plagued with economic poverty and political turmoil. When World War One broke out in 1914 Russia was one of the first countries to join the war against the central power. As the war drag on however as rations and morale became lower amongst the Russians eventually led to a liberal revolution in early march of 1917 then later that year in November a communist/ Marxist revolution led by Vladimir Lenin and his Bolshevik Party.
The Bolsheviks were a revolutionary group that sought to create an international workers revolution, that sought to abolish the monarchy, the church, and much more. This led to brutal reprisals against the Tsar, his family, Churches, other religious institutions and other institutions or groups that could be consider counter revolutionary. This caused all the conservatives and many nationalists to be against the Bolsheviks.
However, as the war progress into the 1920s and Bolshevik victory seemed ever more likely some amongst the White Army and White Emigres sought to change strategy towards the Bolsheviks. Adopting a more sympathetic view believing the Bolsheviks would eventually move away from its international, anti-religious and dogmatic Marxism to a more national orientated socialism that would revive Russia. Along with having strong hostilities towards the West. Two Russians a former white army and a aristocrat believe this. One group the Smenovekhovtsy or Russian National Bolsheviks being led by a former slavophile and white army soldier named Nikolay Ustryalov and another group the Eurasianist being led by a Lithuanian prince Nikolai Trubetzkoy.
Both groups formed in 1921 and were based outside of Russia for most of their existences. The Smenovekhovsty being based in China and the Eurasainist being based throughout Europe. Despite being thousands of miles away from each other the two groups came to very similar conclusion to one another when it came to the new Soviet state and with both wanting to influence/ infiltrate the Soviet Government. They saw that the Soviet Union was taking on a more Russian or Eurasian characteristics along with going in a more national direction due to being isolated from the rest of the world. With many of them being supportive of Lenin NEP and socialism in one country as being signs of moving away from Marxist dogma. Both groups expressed the importance of geopolitics and international relations with the Eurasianist having it at the center of their political theories taking influence from German Conservative Revolutionary geopolitical theorist Karl Haushofer. The nation economic and cultural development in Eurasianist view was defined by geopolitical limits and believing the Eurasian continent should unify against the liberal powers. Both groups as well supported Soviet expansion as a new form of Russian imperialism. With Ustryalov seeing western imperialism as racist and destructive. Along with being heavily critical of Western Europeans views of Russians as being “backwards.” The Eurasianist also held a very interesting view on race seeing the Russia being made up of a three great races Slavs, Mongols, and Turks, to quote Alexander Dugin
“The ethnic question was resolved by the eurasists in a very interesting way. They have questioned the truth so far out of suspicion in the field of Slavophiles concerning the harmfulness of the invasion of the Tartars and the domination of the Mongols over Russia. Eurasists recognized the tellurocratic mission of the geopolitical expansion of the Turkish and Mongolian peoples. Genghis Khan was for them “the first of the Eurasists” and the Turks were considered as the ethnic group, or rather the Eurasian race young and full of creative and imperial powers. But it was in combination with the Slavic genius (therefore Indo-European, Aryan) that the Turkish race succeeded in establishing the Eurasian balance. The Russians, for the Eurasists, represented the particular Slavo-Turkish race endowed with two main qualities – the energy of expansion over large spaces proper to the Turks (“horizontal”) and the energy of concentration, metaphysical and “vertical”, specific to the Slavs . This racial synthesis was for the Eurasists the key to the cultural history of Russia. The race of Europe was seen by them as the old race, impotent and having the geo-political consciousness of the population of the “rimlands”, therefore incapable of the super-efforts necessary to organize the Empire, “the great autonomous space”. .
The National Bolsheviks and Eurasianist also viewed the formers white army group who continued to be antagonistic towards the Soviet Union as nothing but ponds of foreign influences and denounced their ideas of the Soviet government being Jewish or blaming Jews for the October revolution. Both were also religious and in the case of the Eurasianist had an Orthodox Priest contributor named Georges Florovsky. Despite their support for the new Soviet government the Soviet government especially Vladimir Lenin was not as supportive of Ustryalov or his group seeing them as reactionary opportunist and keeping Ustryalov out of the country.
When Joseph Stalin came to power, he allowed Ustryalov and his followers to return to Russia. Despite Stalin being the main advocate for socialism in one country and a more national orientated Soviet Union with a national anthem being made. Along with abandoning the early soviet policy of abolishing the family, and went onto to banning abortion, criminalizing homosexuality, and later laxing on anti-religious persecution in the 1940s and embracing Russian historical figures during the second world war. Stalin still mistrusted Ustryalov and arguably adopted those policies for opportunist reasons and later sent Ustryalov to a gulag in 1937 where he was executed not long afterwards on September 14th, 1937.
Eurasianist on the other hand stayed outside the Soviet Union but became depressed in 1930s over the lack of influence in their home country and being partially discredited when one of their leaders Pyotr Savitsky was found to be an agent for the Soviet government. The leader of the group Nikolai Trubetzkoy and Father George Florovsky went on to mostly write about theological matters, with Trubetzkoy being a contributor to the idea of structuralism and would write in 1938 an article critical of Hitler causing the German police to raid his house in Germany where he suffered a stroke shortly afterwards largely believed to be caused by stress from Nazi persecution. Others would go on to join the German National Socialist such as General Biskupsky, Avalov-Bermondt, Talberg, von der Golz, and Skoropadsky. Others like Pyotr Savitsky, Pytro Suvchinsky, Lev Karsavin, and George Vernadsky continued their Pro Soviet position. Suvchinsky and Karsavin form of Eurasianism being known as left wing Eurasianism for there favor toward Marxism and support for internationalism with an Orthodox and Eurasian twist to it. Believing that Russia- Eurasia was the future bastion of Universal Socialism and the universal kingdom of truth. However, this was largely rejected by most Eurasianist especially by Trubtzkoy who rejected all forms of universalism causing a split between the two in 1927.
Outside the National Bolsheviks and Eurasianist there was one other Russian Emigrate group that had some interest in the Soviet Union called the Union of Mladorossi led by Alexander Kazembek. The group was originally based in France and at first was hostile to Soviet Union taking on monarchist and fascist ideals along with allying with the Russian Fascist Party but later came to believe just like the Natioanal Bolsheviks and Eurasianist that Soviet Government was only thing defending Russia national interest and supportive of the planned economy of the Soviet Union but instead of it being headed by Stalin should be led by the Tsar. Which is very similar to Eurasianist who saw the monarchy as the ideal system. The leader of the group Kazembek would be implicated in collaboration with the Soviet secret police and would disappear afterwards with the group extremely weakened but existing all the way up to the end of the second world war taking part in the resistances against national socialist Germany.
Outside of Russian Immigrant community there was similar groups of conservative and nationalist intellectuals especially in Germany who looked to the Soviet Union as a potential ally. Germany was a defeated country in 1918 being stripped of land, economic downturn, and being influenced by foreign countries like Britain, America, and France, along with by international corporations. This made many nationalists and conservatives see Germany as a nation oppressed by foreign imperialist and sought to find allies in anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist struggle which include other colonial people and the USSR. Most of these intellectuals and group being considered a part of the German Conservative Revolution or CR especially from the National Revolutionary section of the movement. Some notable examples from CR are Ernst Niekisch, Ernst Junger, Otto Strasser, Ernst Von Salomon, Paul Eltzbacher, Arthur Moller Van Den Burck, Henrich Laufenberg, Fritz Wolffhiem and many more. Many of these people would also be described or call themselves National Bolsheviks.
This phenomenon originated 2 years before the Russian variety in 1919. Also, unlike the Russian National Bolsheviks and Eurasianist who mostly came from the Right many German Conservative Revolutionaries and National Bolsheviks came from left wing groups such as Social Democrat party or SPD, Independent Social Democrats or USPD, and Communist party or KPD. With many of them particularly Ernst Niekisch, Henrich Laufenberg, and Fritz Wolffhiem taking part in and leading the socialist and communist uprisings in 1918, helping to take control over Hamburg and Bavaria. Hamburg is where Laufenberg and Wolffhiem would start formulating there nationalist and socialist ideas among the workers and members of the military. Seeing that a nationalist and socialist revolution could unite the country and Free their country from Anglo and Capitalist domination. Hoping to form the economy around decentralized workers councils. Unfortunately for Laufenberg and Wolffhiem they would not find much support outside there section of the KDP in Hamburg with many nationalists refusing to work with them for them being communist and one case a volkish leader rejected them because of Wolffhiem being of Jewish origins. Soon they lost their councils seats to more moderate social democrats. Then Lenin just like what he did with the Russian National Bolsheviks denounced them and Karl Radek expelled them from the communist party for their decentralized council communist and nationalist ideals only for Radek to adopt many of their nationalist positions a few years later to appeal to nationalist workers and some left-wing elements of the National Socialist Party or NSADP.
While many in the Pro Soviet Right originally came from the left many of them also came from right wing groups such as nationalist paramilitary group Freikorps even taking on the task of squash some of these republics in the case of Strasser or political parties like the German National Party such as Paul Eltzbacher where the right-wing origins of German National Bolshevism begin. Like Wolffhiem and Laufenberg, Eltzbacher an economic professor of German Jewish origins saw the Treaty of Versailles as being an immense blow to German sovereignty and believe the only way to regain sovereignty was an alliance with the Soviets against the Western powers and to nationalize the economy. All be it Eltzbacher did not agree with the idea of dictatorship of proletariat and hope to avoid the violence of the Russian Revolution. Elzbacher would publish his thoughts in German National Party Newspaper on April 2nd, 1919, stating “There is only one way to end this affair. That way is Bolshevism.” Just like what happen to Laufenberg and Wolffiem he got expelled from his party and blacklisted from many conservative groups but unlike Hamburg Communist, and Conservative Revolution this is where Elzbacher story ends.
After being expelled from the KDP Laufenberg and Wolffhiem in April of 1920 would help found the German Communist Workers Party or KAPD which would be a major thorn in the side of the KDP. However, they were soon expelled again due to pressure from both KDP and Vladimir Lenin. Which caused Laufenberg to denounce Lenin and his NEP as a betrayal to the Bolshevik Revolution. Afterwards Laufenberg and Wolffhiem would only have a few small revolutionary circles associated with them, most notably Bund der Kommunisten only having around a few hundred faithful followers. Laufenberg would soon retire from politics and die in 1932. Wolffhiem would continue to participate in politics and would find some prominences again among the Conservative/ National Revolutionaries and the next generation of National Bolsheviks. Which became much more influential than the original National Bolsheviks.
As stated, earlier Karl Radek the leader of the German Communist Party who expelled the National Bolsheviks ended up taking many of their positions in 1923 to appeal to nationalist workers and middle-class people. Even trying to appeal to people within the NSADP with some minor success. Radek held talks with German Nationalist general Eugen Freiher von Reibnitz. Radek even shared a stage with German Conservative thinker Arthur Moller van Den Bruck who in the same year published a book called Third Empire which advocated for a German Socialism based to a degree on German leader Otto Von Bismarck and German economist Frederick List economic policies and even describe Russian Bolshevism as a socialism authentic to Russia as well as being very critical of England and English Liberalism. Bruck book also discussed how young conservatives and young socialist of the time were coming to similar conclusion on liberalism which could form an alliance between the groups. The book was a major influence on many on the nationalist and pro-soviet right including Otto Strasser who work for Bruck’s intellectual journal The Gewissen , later leading the radical socialist faction of the NSADP and the anti-Hitler Black Front organization and Karl Otto Paetel the writer of the National Bolshevik Manifesto and leader of the Group of Social Revolutionary Nationalist. Radek even allowed Moller to publish articles for the communist journal along with the anti-Semitic Volkish writer Ernst Reventow.
The question soon becomes why did the communist and nationalist now start to collaborate with each other instead of earlier. The answer is simple with a declining capitalist economy and French/ Belgian troops began the occupation of the German territory known as the Ruhr. Along with a shared growing hatred of capitalism, liberalism, parliamentarism and growing sympathy of socialist and nationalist causes on both sides led to this collaboration. Radek gave nationalistic speeches and glorified Leo Schageter a member of Freikorps and NSADP who was executed by the French military for committing sabotage in the Ruhr. Ernst Revenlow and Arthur Moller Bruck would endorse Russia as a natural ally to the proletariat nation of Germany. Nationalist and communist even protested together on the occupation of Ruhr.
At this time many German political parties and political faction had nationalist or strong anti-capitalist sections within these organizations. Often many of these groups would try out compete each other on who was the real “nationalist” and real “socialist.” Despite this there was still clear differences between these groups as some especially those of conservative or nationalist backgrounds like Arthur Moller Van Den Burke or that of the NSADP favor class collaboration over class struggle unlike the KPD. Which leds to the fact that many of these socialist nationalist or conservative socialists were not influenced by Marx or Marxism largely being influenced by other writers like Fredrich List or Rudolf Jung in the case of the NSAPD. While some NSADP like Adolf Hitler and conservative revolutionaries like Oswald Spengler preached a nationalistic socialism but were anticommunist and anti-Soviet. Often getting into many street fights and attacking the other verbally in speeches especially the NSADP leader Adolf Hitler who accused the KDP of being run and controlled by Jews. The KDP was also not racial or antisemitic like the NSADP or CR Volkish Factions like Ernst Reventow.
Despite this there were still notable factions inside the CR and other nationalist circles that not only sought an alliance with the Soviets but also believe in class struggle as a tool for national liberation but at the same time did not believe in progress or egalitarianism. While also being vehemently critical of both the NSADP and KDP. This is where the National Revolutionaries like Ernst Niekisch, Karl Otto Paetel, Ernst Junger, Otto Strasser, and Ernst Von Salomon enter the picture. Who went on to influence many sections of both radical nationalist and socialist scenes. Taking part in many journals, political parties, and movements.
Ernst Niekisch could probably be consider the most influential in the group for the informing on Pro Soviet position. Niekisch was originally apart of the SPD and help to form the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic in 1919 with his friend and later cell mate Ernst Toller. A project that both Niekisch and Toller would go to jail for in 1920. Around the 1920s Niekisch express more nationalist positions inside the SPD which got him expelled in 1926. He soon founded the National Bolshevik magazine the Widerstand which was one of the most popular national revolutionary and National Bolshevik magazine that even had famous World War One German novelist Ernst Junger and his brother Fredrick Junger write for it. Niekisch would also join the Old Social Democrat Party and influenced it to go in a more nationalist direction. The party won four seats in the Saxony parliament and at its peak got over 65000 votes.
The Widerstand magazine differentiated itself from major parties like the NSADP and the German Communist KDP. For starters the Widerstand saw the NSAPD militant anti-Soviet policy as suicidal and foolish. Along with seeing Adolf Hitler National Socialism as not real socialism. The magazine was also strongly anti-imperialist seeking to ally with colonial people around the world. The magazine was also more openly hostile to Christianity seeing it as foreign Latin religion even going as far as accusing Hitler of being controlled by the Catholic Church and with the magazine being more sympathetic to German Paganism. Now while this sounds very similar to KDP position magazine had distinct differences. For starters Niekisch and the magazine did not believe in historical progress a core aspect of Marxism, nor did they believe in an egalitarian classless society rather seeing these things as grand myths that would motivate the masses but never be achieved. Niekisch also disliked the fact that Marx agreed with the capitalist process of eroding nations, ethnic identities, and traditions which Niekisch detested. Niekisch also saw class struggle as not as a process that abolishes the nation but rather revives the nation by overthrowing the old and weak ruling class, which Niekisch view the KDP was too incompetent to complete this task.
Niekisch would also join ARPLAN a group that studied the Soviet Planned economy which attracted many different political persuasions to the group. Niekisch would also visit the Soviet Union in 1930 and Ernst Junger would hang around the Russian Embassy with Political theorist Carl Schmitt.
Before Niekisch trip to the Soviet Union in 1930, we need to go back one year in 1929. This was not only a big year for national revolutionaries, or for Germany but the world as the economic great depression hits costing people their jobs and livelihoods and reviving interest in radical politics, giving everyone a chance for power. This also leads us to the final German National Bolshevik thinker Karl Otto Paetel.
Karl Otto Paetel was not involved in political or revolutionary politics for years unlike Ernst Niekisch, Fritz Wolffhiem or many of the other people already mention were. In fact, Paetel was simply a college student at Fredrick Wilhelm University in 1928. However, Paetel always had nationalist sympathies and ended up protesting with other students and youths outside the French Embassy. He soon was arrested with many others and was stuff between a communist youth and national socialist student. This is where Paetel National Bolsheviks ideas started to take form. Paetel was soon kicked out of university and started to write for numerous publications and was also part of nationalistic youth movement the Deutsche Freischar. He soon came under the influence of Ernst Niekisch, Ernst Junger and other national revolutionaries which made his writings more radically socialist calling for nationalization and land redistribution. This ended up forcing Paetel to leave the Deutsche Freischar. Paetel would go on to join the Young Front Working Circle a group dedicated to collaboration between right and left radicals. This was soon reorganized into the Group of Social Revolutionary Front or the GSRN in May of 1930 led by Paetel and even had Fritz Wolffhiem join the group. The group would first try to appeal to the Nationalist Socialists and push them in a more socialist and pro-soviet direction even trying to appeal to their antisemitism, but they only achieved some success on the grass roots level from those members who were disenfranchised with Hitler and his moderation on economic issues. Then soon went over to KDP who just released another nationalist and anti-imperialist program. GSRN would soon try to rally nationalist to the KDP and took part in protest with the KDP. Even adopting KPD anti-fascist position and getting in brawls with NSADP. Just like the NSADP the GSRN would become disenfranchised believing the KDP was not sincerely nationalist.
There are two other movements that formed in 1929 and 1930 one was the Black Front, and the other was the Rural Movements with having similarities with national revolutionaries. The Black Front led by Otto Strasser was a split off from NSADP in 1930 due to Hitler not supporting the recent strikes in the country along with abandoning of the more radical socialist and anti-imperialist elements within the NSADP. Even before Strasser declaration of breaking away from the NSADP and even before Strasser joined the party Hitler and Strasser never liked each other constantly fighting over the direction of were NSADP and the Nationalist cause should go. Black Front despite calling itself a National Socialist organization moderated on the antisemitism evening working with many jews such as Kurt Hiller and Helmut Hirsch. Strasser also called for a temporary alliance with the communist to overthrow the Weimar Republic and the Treaty of Versailles. Otto Strasser also supported India independence from Britain and saw the British as a bigger threat than the Soviet Union. Strasser took influence from many Conservative Revolutionaries such as Oswald Spengler and Arthur Moller Van Den Bruck. Strasser even adopted many Conservative Revolution symbols and ideas, arguably being closer to CR than Hitler National Socialism.
This immediately attracted the interest of Karl Otto Paetel and other National Bolsheviks/ National Revolutionaries, but Paetel soon became disinterested yet again because Strasser did not like Marxism materialism and internationalism, which Paetel disputed. Strasser was also a Christian which influenced his politics along with being an agrarian socialist. While Paetel was Pagan, in favor of industrialization and class struggle while Strasser in long run hoped for class collaboration once liberal and international capitalist were overthrown. Despite Strasser and Paetel disagreements Strasser and Black Front played an important role in 1930s to combat the NSADP inciting SA Stern Revolt along with getting in street fights with NSAPD and trying form alliance with other anti-Hitler Nationalist and Socialist groups.
While the National Revolutionaries and The Black Front may have had their quarrels with one another. They all agreed however to support the Rural Movement. The Rural Movement was a collection of small farmers who began to protest the government over the economic situation and the Treaty of Versailles. The Farmers would refuse to pay taxes, protested, and even rioted at times. This immediately attracted the National Revolutionaries and Black Front who saw potential in the movement. Some even in the National Revolutionary Camp such as Ernst von Salomon’s and brother Bruno took part in the movement and ran a magazine in support of the cause called Landvolk and committed bombing against government buildings, the last one being very unpopular with the wider movement. Ernst Niekisch was also had sympathies for movement, giving speeches and writings positively about the group.
What also gave the National Revolutionaries and the wider Conservative Revolution a chance was that NSAPD at the time did not have popular support amongst the farmers as historian Armin Mohler points out. However the Conservative Revolution failed to capitalize on this as many prominent leaders like Claus Hiem and Ernst Von Salomon were arrested do to the bombing campaign that also made the group lose support. Which gave NSAPD more sway over the farming population. The National Revolutionaries were also divided on who should the support go to for the election of 1930. Niekisch supported Claus Hiem one of the rural leaders arrested and if Hiem won he would be freed from prison. Others like Bruno Von Salomon went over to the Communist Party. Other like Otto Strasser and Karl Otto Paetel refused to take part in electoral politics out of principle of being anti parliamentarian. However, none of these attempts succeeded and Rural Movement continued to decline but Niekisch carried much influence in the movement all the way up to 1933. This was the last chance German Conservative Revolution had to become a popular movement or overthrow the Weimar Government.
Despite their best efforts to combat Hitler and the NSADP they were still unable to defeat the NSADP. Whatever Black Front, National Revolutionaries and wider Conservative Revolutionary movement could do to undermine NSAPD, Hitler and NSAPD could do five times better by disrupting Black Front and CR meeting. Even at one-point NSAPD had men ambush Otto Strasser but were unable to kill him. In 1933 right before Hitler was elected Karl Otto Paetel would publish the last major work of German National Bolshevism the National Bolshevik Manifesto which goes into Paetel views more in-depth. Not long after Hitler came to power with many in CR going underground with Otto Strasser Black Front being immediately banned and Paetel manifesto being suppressed. Paetel would also help to form first resistance circles soon afterwards
Not long after in 1934 the Night of Long Knives happen effectively wiping out any opposition from within the NSADP. Along with killing some members of Conservative Revolution such as Edgar Jung. Then the banning of all other parties such as KDP afterwards. Otto Strasser and Karl Otto Paetel would flee the country with those remaining starting resistance groups inside the country, While Strasser would try organizing resistance outside the country. Strasser would set up a radio station outside of Germany border with Czechoslovakia to reach into Germany spreading anti-Hitler messages and even tried to send an infiltrator into the country to attack NSADP HQ Nuremberg but was caught and executed and Strasser radio station was soon sabotage and with most of the Black Front dismantled in 1937 Strasser would flee to Canada. Still having contact with some German resistance groups and still trying to organize with no successes. Not much is known about Paetel life after he fled Germany but what is known is that he moved to America. It should be noted that the KPD leader Karl Radek also fled the country to the Soviet Union in 1923 after a failed communist uprising in Hamburg Germany. Radek would side with Trotsky Left Opposition and would be killed for it in may of 1939.
While Strasser and Paetel were lucky to escape Germany many of their supporters and friends were not so lucky with many of them ending in concentration camps arguably being some of the first victims of the Hitler Government. Notable examples being Fritz Wolffhiem who would die in Revensbruck concentration camp. Another example being the leader of national communist faction of the KDP Beppo Romer who would be tortured to death after being in a plot to assassinate Hitler. The brother of Otto Strasser Gregor who led with his bother the radical socialist section within the NSADP would be killed in the Night of the Long Knives. Ernst Niekisch would go to a concentration camp too but would survive but severely blind. Before Niekisch went to a concentration camp he would go to Italy in 1935 to try to get the support from Italian leader Benito Mussolini and would meet German Ambassador to Italy Ulrich Von Hassel with both agreeing that Hitlers strong Anti-Soviet position would be at the destruction of Germany however only Ulrich would end up taking action against Hitler during the July 20th Plot. While it may sound odd that Niekisch went to Mussolini of all people it should be noted at the time Italian German relations were extremely tense due to National Socialists in Austria supported by Germany who tried to overthrow the Austrian government which was an ally of Italy. While Niekisch and Mussolini agreed to meet again and found many common agreements. Niekisch would soon be arrested in Germany in 1937 and his magazine Widerstand shut down in 1934 a few year earlier. Mussolini due to seeing the French and British as bigger threat to Italian power than Germany would end up siding with Hitler during World War 2.
Despite the Anti-Communism of NSADP German Government they did seek a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union for a time. With one one of the few Pro Soviet nationalist left in the NSADP Joachim Von Ribbentrop leading the negations even meeting with Joseph Stalin. Both Germany and Soviet Union invaded Poland at the same time in 1939 which marks the beginning of the Second World War. This alliance collapsed when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in 1940. Ribbentrop was completely against this move even passing a note over to Soviet diplomat to give to Stalin stating his disapproval and believing it would lead to Germany demises .
While there was those who got caught early on like Niekisch and Wolffhiem there was those who wouldn’t be caught until the 1940s or not even caught at all. Ernst Junger and his brother Friedrich would have their houses raid from time to time by the German police but never arrested. Ernst Junger would even take part on July 20th plot of 1944 to assassinate Hitler and drew up for peace proposal to allies and to maintain Germany sovereignty which did not happen due the plot failing. Ernst Junger also helped Jews such as Sophie Ravoux hide her true ethnic identity and warned the French Resistance of immediate deportation of Jews in France were he was stationed at.
Ernst Von Salomon another conservative revolutionary did many similar things as Junger such as hiding his Jewish wife from the German Authorities and was in contact with Red Orchestra a resistance group that transmitted information to the Soviet Union on German Military activity. The group was a communist organization but had many connections with nationalist and conservative resistance circles. One of the Red Orchestra leaders a Luftwaffe officer Harro Boysen was a part of Otto Strasser Black Front in the early 1930s. However Red Orchestra would be discovered by the German authorities in 1942 and Boysen would be executed the same year. Another leader of Red Orchestra Marxist economist Arvid Harnack was the founder of ARPLAN a group that studied the Soviet Planned economy which had Ernst Niekisch and Ernst Junger in it. Harnack would also be executed in 1942.
The July 20th Plotter as stated earlier had many connections with people like Ernst Junger and Ernst Niekisch. Along with holding many similar nationalist and socialist beliefs. Sharing Niekisch belief that Hitler foreign policy and war strategy would be the death of Germany. Some notable names being ambassador Ulrich Von Hassel, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, German Army Officer Klaus Von Stauffenberg and his brother Berthold. The group would try to kill Hitler with a bomb then throw a coup but would fail with many of plotter being executed. This would be the last major attempt to overthrow Hitler by the Conservative Revolution and the Pro Soviet Right. Only less than a year later in April of 1945 Hitler would commit suicide and Germany would surrender soon after. However, this was no victory for pro soviet nationalist and conservative causes in Germany as their country would be broken up into East and West Germany and many of them were blacklisted such as Otto Strasser by Western controlled government who was not allowed to return West Germany until the 1950s but was offered a position in East Germany, but Strasser declined. Some like Ernst Von Salomon and his wife would even be abused and beaten in an American prison. Joachmin von Ribbentrop would be hanged for being apart of German government and for war crimes. Other like Ernst Niekisch would go on to live in East Germany being completely disillusion with his old ideas. Karl Otto Paetel would write and give lectures about the National Bolsheviks of Germany in America, but political activity stopped. Ernst Junger would remain a controversial but a popular writer but would abandon his pro soviet positions being skeptical of all large-scale organizations and even being denounced by the East German Government. Salomon would write about his political activities, but political activity would stop. While this may sound like the Pro Soviet Right was all but destroyed this would hardly be case for long as Cold War would start to heat up. Along with many of the new communist governments taking on the nationalist positions that Niekisch and Paetel would hope for them to take on.
Part 2 coming soon.
Pre Bolshevik-Revolution Right Wing Interest in Socialism 1800s to 1917
The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Fredrick Engles
Conservatism Against Itself by Christopher Lasch
Reflections on Violence by Georges Sorel
illusion of Progress by Georges Sorel
The True and Only Heaven Progress and Its Critics by Christopher Lasch
Cercle Proudhon Archive
The Russian Revolution and The White Bleeding Red
The Russian Conservative Revolution by Alexander Dugin
Left-Wing Eurasianism and Postcolonial Theory by Nikolay Smirnov
THE CONCEPT OF THE STATE by Nikolay Ustryalov
Nikolay Ustryalov on The End of the Russian Civil War
N.V. Ustryalov letter to Pyotr.P. Suvchinsky (1926)
German Conservative Revolution
The Conservative Revolution in Germany 1918 to 1932 by Armin Mohler and Karlheinz Weissmann
Ernst Junger our prophet of anarchy by Aris Roussinos
The Third Empire by Author Moller Van Den Bruck
The National Bolshevik Manifesto by Karl Otto Paetel
National Bolshevism in Weimar Germany; Alliance of political extremes against democracy by Abraham Ascher and Guenter Lewy
Class Struggle by Ernst Niekisch
Technology The Devourer of Man by Ernst Niekisch
German National Bolshevism from 1918 to 1932 by Karl O. Paetel
The National Bolshevik Resistance to Nazism by Luc Michel
The Fathers of German “National Communism”: Heinrich Laufenberg and Fritz Wolffheim – Rébellion
The Socialists Leave the NSDAP! By Otto Strasser
The Manifesto of the Black Front by Otto Strasser
Socialist Transformation by Fritz Weth
Ernst Jünger and National Bolshevism by Louis Dupeux
Walter Lass and Karl-Otto Paetel, Two German National-Bolsheviks – Edouard Rix – Réfléchir & Agir – Summer
ERNST NIEKISCH AND MUSSOLINIhttps://thesyndicalistpapers.home.blog/2022/05/20/717/