Otto Strasser’s “New Europe,” Part 1
Part 1 of 2
“But all his life and works show that here is a good German who is a good European.” — Douglas Reed.While the various conceptions of European unity expounded by Francis Parker Yockey, Sir Oswald Mosley, Julius Evola, and even relatively obscure thinkers such as Jean Thiriart are comparatively well known, the European Idea was also a fundamental component of the “German Socialism” of Otto Strasser (1897–1974), a fact that is little known, at least among English-speaking advocates of European revival. This might be because of the lingering sympathies for Hitlerism that are stronger among English-speaking nationalists than among those in the European Motherland, which lead many to view Otto Strasser and his brother Gregor as quintessential traitors. This paper examines the ideas of European Federation in Otto Strasser’s thinking going back as early as 1931.
Otto Strasser’s Road to “German Socialism”
Otto Strasser joined up for the First World War as a lad of 16 and saw front-line action, being awarded the Iron Cross Second Class and coming out of the experience as an artillery lieutenant. The camaraderie among officers (he detested the NCOs for their callousness toward the ranks) was a seminal influence on his political thinking. Otto’s ideas crystallized in the trenches, into what his zealous English advocate, Douglas Reed, called an “anti-international Socialism,” a Socialism wedded to Nationalism: “Socialism on a patriotic basis… not militarism with the word Socialist tacked on to it to dupe the masses . . .” But Strasser was far from being any type of crypto-Marxist, and his entire ideology of “German Socialism,” thoroughly imbued with the Western ethos, has no more in common with Marxism than it does with Capitalism. It is the social ethos that guided Europe’s High Culture for centuries, prior to the emergence of capitalism and the bourgeoisie, and the mirror image of Marxism.
Otto’s first taste of politics came while he was a war invalid getting about on two sticks, when he confronted the Communist agitator Kurt Eisner at a public meeting. It was in the revolutionary tumult of post-war Germany that both Otto and Gregor Strasser resumed their battle for Germany, this time as members of the Free Corps, war veterans formed to fight the Bolsheviks, and both joined von Epp’s march on Munich against the Soviets.
During a brief sojourn with the Socialist Party, Otto sought in vain a “German Socialism” that was not synonymous with statism and merely sought to expropriate capitalism from the bourgeoisie in the name of the proletariat, without overthrowing the spirit of capitalism. It was a characteristic of the labor movement that was cogently described by the German philosopher-historian Oswald Spengler, who had a seminal influence on Otto’s thinking.
Otto had already met Hitler in 1920, at the prompting of Gregor, but was unimpressed. Hitler for his part derided Otto as an “intellectual crank.” Otto’s attitude towards the National Socialist Party changed with the 1923 Putsch . He regarded this as evidence of a break by Hitler with militarists and capitalists, and as showing evidence of being genuinely revolutionary and “Socialist.” He was also impressed by Gen. Ludendorff’s statement that the Putsch had shown that collaboration with reactionaries was not possible. With Hitler in jail and Gregor running the entire party, Otto succumbed to his bother’s further urgent appeals and joined the NSDAP in 1925.
The following five years, which ended with Otto leaving the NSDAP in 1930, were ones of division within the party between the “German Socialism” of the Strassers and what they regarded as the compromises of Hitler. Gregor stayed with the party and maintained his North German stronghold with party luminaries such as Goebbels, Victor Lutze, Kerrl and Bernard Rust, et al . backing him, while Robert Ley was the lone exception. These North German party leaders demanded the creation of a separate party led by the Strassers.
The rivalry within the party was such that the newspaper vendors of the Strasser and Hitler factions fought each other in the streets, while Goebbels was built up by Hitler as the means of subverting the Strasser position, with the diminutive journalist being commander of the Berlin SA.
Nonetheless, it was the Strasser organization that continued to grow in the North. The final showdown came in 1930 when the Strasser organization declared its support for the Saxon metalworkers’ strike. Hitler, threatened with the discontinuation of funds from the Employers’ Federation, ordered the party to oppose the strike. Otto was uncompromising, while Gregor sought to stay within the party in the belief that it could be reformed.
Gregor, even with the possibility of forming a Government with himself as Vice Chancellor, could never bring himself to break with Hitler. He remained loyal. He preferred to decline any role for himself than to have Hitler left out, as demanded by General Schleicher and trades union leader Leipert. When nonetheless accused of treachery by Hitler, Gregor resigned his offices in the party, quit politics, and was rewarded with death during the Party purge of 1934.
Otto however had no illusions about Hitler and had formed the Union of Revolutionary National Socialists, or Black Front, on the premise that war and ruin would provide the organization with the opportunity to overthrow Hitler. Support was more widespread than might now be discerned. The Black Front had the backing of the Young German Order, revolutionary peasants in Schleswig-Holstein, National Socialists in Silesia,  and Captain Stennes of the North German SA. Many Black Front supporters were interned after 1933, Reed stating that the number amounted in 1940 to between six and seven hundred.
Otto Strasser, despite his loyalty as a front-fighter to Germany’s World War I legacy, was not a militarist or an imperialist. His “German Socialism” eschewed any notion of “ Lebensraum .” Even further from Hitlerism, Otto’s National Socialism did not endorse a biological and hierarchical view of race as the foundation of his ideology, as will be discussed later. His ideal was European Federation, while preserving and enhancing the ancient nations and ethnicities of Europe.
A complete program for the reorganization of Germany, including Germany’s relationship with Europe within the context of a European Federation, and a joint European colonial project, were enunciated in Otto Strasser’s book Germany Tomorrow published in 1940, which incorporated as the third part of the book Strasser’s 1931 manifesto, The Structure of German Socialism . Reed commented that Germany Tomorrow “is addressed not only to Germans, but to all ‘Good Europeans.’”
Strasser wrote in this connection that his book was “intended to provide the foundations for such a testing-time, penned by one who is convinced that German national security and European collaboration, far from being mutually exclusive, tend to favour one another.” “European collaboration” was one of a trinity of the basic precepts of the Black Front, along with “national freedom and social justice.” “The Aims and Methods of the Black Front,” a very brief outline, stated as the cornerstone of a future German foreign policy that “every kind of imperialism” would be repudiated, and that “a European federation” would be the “basis of national freedom and the popular development of all nations and minorities.” The three predicates referred to previously served “as groundworks and provisos of The Rebirth of the West.” Hence, his conception was not only beyond Germany, but even beyond Europe and implied the entirety of “The West” as a spiritual-cultural identity.
As early as 1936 Otto had written of the rebirth of Western Civilization as being his raison d’être :
It is increasingly evident that the Federation of the Peoples of Europe is the vital precondition for the spiritual recovery of the European nations and for the preservation of the civilization and culture of the West. . . . For this and nothing else is the meaning and content of the German Revolution: The resurrection of the West!This “New Europe” would be a “league of free nations.” Strasser saw this as the culmination of a long held dream among European thinkers. Indeed the concept of “Europe” is a yearning with a long pedigree. In describing the Battle of Poitiers against the Arabs in AD 732 the Chronicle of Isidore of Spain refers to the Christian armies of Charles Martel as the “Europeans.” The empire of Charlemagne (AD 768–814) is named “Europe” by the contemporary chroniclers. In 755 the priest Cathwulf praised Charlemagne as ruling over “the glory of the empire of Europe.” In 799 Angilbert, Charlemagne’s son-in-law and the Court poet, described the Emperor as “the father of Europe” – “Rex, pater Europae.” The “Kingdom of Charles” was called “Europa” in the Annals of Fuld .
While Strasser laments the “torrents of blood” that have been spilt to achieve European unity, this is because the impetus came from the desire of one nation or ruler to lead, rather than the belief in “equal standing as members of one family, as voluntary constituents of a European Federation.” Yet in referring encouragingly to the “admirable efforts [of] “notable persons,” stating that “Aristide Briand and Count Coudenhove-Kalergi should be especially mentioned,”
Strasser badly errs. Both these individuals represent a conception of Europe more ruinous — because it strikes at the very soul of Europe — than even those who drowned Europe in blood. Briand and Kalergi advocated an Anti-Europe , the origins of the present “European Union,” conceived in the Lodges of Masonry, based on secular-humanism, universalism, and the rule of commerce, and pushed by US interests — both Masonic and plutocratic — according to the “Europe” of their designs.
Contra Strasser’s naiveté, the “European Union” of today, with its Masonic and commercial origins, is not the “New Europe” that he envisaged. The two Europes are antithetical, and at best the present regime might be regarded as a transition, in a dialectical sense, from which “New Europe” might arise. A present-day seminal thinker of the “European New Right” forcefully points out that “The present European Union is a prostrate project, a bastard, devoid of identity . . .”
Europe and the United States
However, Strasser, instinctively or intuitively, proposed a Europe that is contrary to the concept promulgated by the Masonic-US-commercial interests, including those of Coundenhove-Kalergi and Briand. He eschewed “Paneuropa” in favor of “a European Federation,” based on “the provisos of interconnexion, equality of rights, and voluntariness…”
By the 1950s he observed the US design for Europe vis-à-vis the USSR, and unequivocally rejected it. Writing in Mosley’s journal, The European , Strasser repudiated the “ultimatum” to Europe by US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, that Europe must unite to serve US interests against Russia, with the unveiled threat that if Europe does not proceed according to US plans then Europe would be left to her own devices.
Alluding to Dulles’ statement at the 1953 NATO Conference in Paris, Strasser regarded the US plan for Europe as one that would eliminate the ancient peoples of the Continent and reduce them to a “melting pot.” If Europe complied, however, the dollars would keep flowing, and Europe could even have the blessing of US atomic bombs stationed to face off against Russia.
The primary demand was for the “unification of France and Germany,” in Dulles’ words. Strasser’s reply was that if it had not been for the “interference of outside forces” in both world wars, particularly from the USA, the conflicts would not have spread, and that it is unfitting for the USA to lecture Europe on the requirements of peace while using the Russian threat as the means for imposing its agenda. To Strasser, Dulles’ “threat” that America would “remain aloof from inter-European affairs” should Europe refuse to comply with US demands, “is ravishing music to the ears of every true European.”
The actual carrying out of such a welcome threat would do more to relieve the present world tension than the pumping of American atomic weapons into West Germany and the indefinite retention of American air, land and sea forces strewn all over Europe.
Strasser also thought it an “insult” to state that Europe needed American protection against Russia, when President Roosevelt had not long ago handed “half the Continent” to the USSR, and that Europe was very capable of defending herself without the USA. Strasser considered American “lying chatter” about “saving “ Europe and her civilization as “embarrassing to hear,” and that if Europe is really that “decadent” then no amount of US money or weapons will save her: “A tree drained of its inner vitality cannot be helped by propping up its dead branches.”
However, Strasser believed that Europe is still full of vitality, and the basis of her health is her “national and cultural differences” which America’s demand for “integration” would obliterate. Such diversity gives “shape and colour . . . to the soul of Europe!!” He regarded America’s call for European unity on US terms as “idiotic demagoguery.” Europe is what she is by virtue of the distinctiveness of Spaniards, Italians, Frenchmen, Germans, Poles, et al ., and should resist becoming “one great hodgepodge unit” for the sake of more efficient production or to become a more profitable enterprise for the World Bank.
Mosley did not concur. In “A Reply to Dr Strasser,” he stated that while Strasser sought to maintain separate nations, he sought “Europe a Nation.” Sir Oswald regarded that as the main difference between Strasser and himself. However, another vital question was that of their divergent attitudes toward the role of the United States in Europe. To Mosley, America had to remain the protector of Europe against Russia. Rather than an American withdrawal being, in Strasser’s terms, “ravishing music” to Europe, Mosley conjured up the image of a “ravishing” Russia over the Continent.
The crux of the issue for Mosley was that: “At present we live under America; without America we should live under Russia. The difference is that under America Europe still lives, and under Russia Europe would be dead . . .” Mosley believed, contrary to Strasser, that Europe could unite “under cover” of the USA, and while ridiculing Strasser’s notion that Russia would permit Europe to regain her strength, believed that on the other hand the USA would permit Europe to unite on such a basis that she would become “much too powerful to be governed from Wall Street.”
It was Mosley who was naïve in regard to the character of the United States and its pathological impact upon the soul of Europe. This is something that both Thiriart and Yockey came to realize. They saw American influence as so destructive as to consider an alliance with Russia, and in Yockey’s case at least, even the occupation of Europe by Russia was preferable to US hegemony. Yockey reassessing the world situation as early as 1952 and wrote precisely on the issue that was debated by Strasser and Mosley several years later:
The talk of “defense against Bolshevism” belongs now to yesterday, as does the nonsense of talking of “the defense of Europe” at a period when every inch of European soil is dominated by the deadly enemies of Europe, those who seek its political-cultural-historical extinction at all costs.
It was fatuous enough to ask Europe to fight for America, it was silly enough to ask it to “defend itself against Bolshevism”. . . . Is there one European — just one — who would respond to this war-aim? But today, openly, without any possible disguise, this is the raison d’être of the coalition against Russia . . .