Jump to content

Otto Strasser

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Otto Strasser
Strasser delivering a speech soon after his return to West Germany following World War II
Personal details
Otto Johann Maximilian Strasser

(1897-09-10)10 September 1897
Bad Windsheim, Bavaria, German Empire
Died27 August 1974(1974-08-27) (aged 76)
Munich, Bavaria, West Germany
Political partySocial Democratic Party (1917–1920)
Völkischer Block (1922–1925)
Nazi Party (1925–1930)
Black Front (1930–1934)
German Social Union (1956–1962)
RelativesGregor Strasser (brother)
Alma materHumboldt University of Berlin
OccupationPhilosopher, editor, politician
Military service
Allegiance German Empire
Branch/service Freikorps
Years of service1914–1918
Battles/warsWorld War I

Otto Johann Maximilian Strasser (also German: Straßer, see ß; 10 September 1897 – 27 August 1974) was a German politician and an early member of the Nazi Party. Otto Strasser, together with his brother Gregor Strasser, was a leading member of the party's more radical wing, whose ideology became known as Strasserism, and broke from the party due to disputes with the dominant Hitlerite faction. He formed the Black Front, a group intended to split the Nazi Party and take it from the grasp of Hitler. During his exile and World War II, this group also functioned as a secret opposition group.


Early life and WWI[edit]

Born at Bad Windsheim, Strasser was the son of a Catholic judicial officer who lived in the Upper Bavarian market town of Geisenfeld. Strasser took an active part in World War I (1914–1918). On 2 August 1914, he joined the Bavarian Army as a volunteer. He rose through the ranks to lieutenant and was twice wounded.[1]

Freikorps and SPD (1919–20)[edit]

He returned to Germany in 1919, where he served in the Freikorps that in May 1919 put down the Bavarian Soviet Republic, which was organized on the principles of workers' councils. About this time, he joined the then-Marxist Social Democratic Party.[citation needed]

In 1920, he participated in the opposition to the Kapp Putsch. Still, he grew increasingly alienated from his party's reformist stance, particularly when it put down a workers' uprising in the Ruhr, and he left the party later that year.[2]

Nazi Party (1925–30)[edit]

In 1925, he joined the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP), in which his brother, Gregor, had been a member for several years and worked for its newspaper as a journalist, ultimately taking it over with his brother. He focused particularly on the socialist elements of the party's program and led the party's faction in northern Germany together with his brother and Joseph Goebbels. His faction advocated support for ideologically Nazi unions,[2] profit-sharing[3] and – despite acknowledged differences – closer ties with the Soviet Union.[2]

Despite disagreements with Hitler, the Strassers did not represent a radical wing opposed to the party mainstream.[4] Gottfried Feder was more radical and held great favour at the time. The Strassers were extremely influential within the party, but the Strasserist programme was defeated at the Bamberg Conference of 1926.[3] Otto Strasser, along with Gregor, continued as a leading Left Nazi within the party until he seceded from the NSDAP in 1930 following an aggressive attack led by Joseph Goebbels at a General Assembly on June 30, resulting in his expulsion from the meeting.[3][5]

Nazi dissident in Germany (1930–33)[edit]

On July 1, Strasser telegraphed Hitler requesting an explanation for Goebbels' actions. None would come. Strasser then seceded from the National Socialists and set up his own party, the Black Front, composed of like-minded former NSDAP members, to split the Nazi Party. His party proved unable to counter Hitler's rise to power in 1933, and Strasser spent the years of the Nazi era in exile. The Strasserists were annihilated during the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, during which Gregor Strasser was killed. This left Hitler as the undisputed party leader and was able to pacify the industrialists and military elite by ridding the party of the influence of people like Gregor Strasser and Ernst Röhm.[5]

Exile (1933–55)[edit]

In addition to the Black Front, Strasser at this time[when?] headed the Free German Movement outside Germany; this group (founded in 1941) sought to enlist the aid of Germans throughout the world in bringing about the downfall of Hitler and his vision of Nazism.

Strasser fled[when?] first to Austria, then to Czechoslovakia (Prague), Switzerland, and France. In 1940 he went to Bermuda by way of Portugal, leaving a wife and two children behind in Switzerland. In 1941, he emigrated to Canada, where he became the famed "Prisoner of Ottawa".[6] Goebbels denounced Strasser as the Nazis' "Public Enemy Number One" and a price of $500,000 was set on his head. He settled for a time in Montreal. In 1942, he lived for a time in Clarence, Nova Scotia, on a farm owned by a German-Czech, Adolph Schmidt, then moved to nearby Paradise, where he lived for more than a decade in a rented apartment above a general store. As an influential and uncondemned former Nazi Party member still faithful to many doctrines of Nazism, he was initially prevented from returning to West Germany after the war, first by the Allied powers and then by the West German government.[citation needed]

During his exile, he wrote articles on Nazi Germany and its leadership for several British, American, and Canadian newspapers, including the New Statesman, and a series for the Montreal Gazette, which was ghostwritten by then-Gazette reporter and later politician Donald C. MacDonald.[citation needed]

In 1950, East Germany invited Strasser to become a member of the National Front. Still, he declined, hoping that he would be permitted to return to Bavaria, which had been under US occupation until 1949.[7] In his view, West Germany constituted an American colony and East Germany a Russian colony.[8]

Return to Germany and later career (1955–74)[edit]

Strasser eventually gained West German citizenship, returned to Germany on 16 March 1955,[9] and settled in Munich.

He attempted to create a new "nationalist and socialist"-oriented party in 1956, the German Social Union (German: Deutsch-Soziale Union), but his organization was unable to attract any support. Strasser continued to advocate for his vision of Nazism until he died in Munich in 1974.[10]

Stance on Nazi anti-Semitism[edit]

Otto Strasser claimed that he was a dissenting Nazi regarding racial policies.[11] Throughout his life, he claimed to have actively opposed such policies within the Nazi movement, for example, by organizing the removal[when?] of Julius Streicher from the German Völkisch Freedom Party.[12][need quotation to verify]


  • Strasser, Otto (1921). Entwicklung und Bedeutung der deutschen Zuckerrübensamenzucht (in German). p. 92. OCLC 216126812. Dissertation Würzburg.
  • Blank, Herbert; Buchrucker, Bruno Ernst; Schultze-Pfaelzer, Gerhard; Strasser, Otto (1931). Wir suchen Deutschland. Ein freier Disput über die Zeitkrisis zwischen Gerhard Schultze-Pfaelzer und Otto Strasser, Major Buchrucker, Herbert Blank (in German). p. 195. OCLC 560330578.
  • Strasser, Otto; von Miltenberg, Weigand (1932). Aufbau des deutschen Sozialismus. Bücher der Zielgebung (in German) (1-5 ed.). Leipzig: Wolfgang Richard Lindner Verlag (W. R. Lindner). p. 101. OCLC 72217664.
    • Strasser, Otto (1936). Aufbau des deutschen Sozialismus als Anlage d. histor. Gespräch Hitlers mit Dr. Straßer [Anlaß d. Trennung] [Construction of German Socialism] (in German) (2nd ed.). Prag: Grunov. p. 152. OCLC 245703335.
  • Geismeier, Michael (1933). Gregor Straßer (Gregor Strasser). Männer und Mächte (in German). Leipzig: R. Kittler. p. 94. OCLC 163008925. Michael Geismeier is a pseudonym of Otto Strasser.
  • Strasser, Otto (1935). Die deutsche Bartholomäusnacht (in German). Zürich: Reso. p. 241. OCLC 3047552.
  • Strasser, Otto (1936). Europäische Föderation. Kulturpolitische Schriften, Heft 6 (in German). Zürich: Reso-Verlag AG. p. 32. OCLC 40811575.
  • Strasser, Otto (1937). Wohin treibt Hitler? Darstellung der Lage und Entwicklung des Hitlersystems in den Jahren 1935 und 1936 [Whither Hitler?] (in German). Prague: Verlag Heinrich Grunov. p. 82. OCLC 1395066622.
  • Strasser, Otto (1937). Hitler tritt auf der Stelle. Die dritte Front, H. 6 (in German). Prague: Grunov. p. 32. OCLC 72770670.
  • Strasser, Otto (1937). Kommt es zum Krieg?. Die dritte Front, H. 3 (in German). Prague: Grunov. p. 15. OCLC 72770672.
  • Strasser, Otto (1939). Europa von Morgen : das Ziel Masaryks (in German). Zürich: Weltwoche Verlag. p. 284. OCLC 6821708.
  • Strasser, Otto (1940). Hitler and I. Translated by Mosbacher, Eric; David, Gwenda. London: Jonathan Cape. p. 240. OCLC 503756997. Other versions: Hitler et moi, and Hitler und Ich. Asmus-Bücher, Band 9. Johannes-Asmus-Verlag, Konstanz 1948, 263 pages. Also 1940, Boston: MA, Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • Strasser, Otto (1941). Germany Tomorrow (4th ed.). London: Jonathan Cape. p. 254. OCLC 312705331.
  • Strasser, Otto (1941). A History in My Time [Erlebte Weltgeschichte.] Translated by Reed, Douglas. London: Jonathan Cape. p. 262. OCLC 752976049.
  • Strasser, Otto (1942). The Gangsters Around Hitler with a topical postscript "Nazi gangsters in South America". A hurricane book. London: Allen. p. 63. OCLC 72650037.
  • Reed, Douglas; Strasser, Otto (1953). The Prisoner of Ottawa: Otto Strasser. London: Jonathan Cape. OCLC 504698230.
  • Strasser, Otto (1965). Der Faschismus. Geschichte und Gefahr. Politische Studien, Beiheft 3 (in German). München: Günter Olzog Verlag. p. 109. OCLC 901064063.
  • Strasser, Otto (1969). Mein Kampf : [eine politische Autobiografie]. Streit-Zeit-Bücher, Band 3 (in German). Frankfurt am Main: Heinrich Heine Verlag. p. 234. OCLC 165470359.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Strasser, Otto. Germany Tomorrow. Jonathan Cape Ltd, 1940, p. 11. p. 12.
  2. ^ a b c Rupp, Leila J.; Lane, Barbara Miller (1978). "Introduction – Nazi Ideology: Some Unfinished Business". Nazi ideology before 1933. Austin: University of Texas Press. pp. XX.
  3. ^ a b c Rupp, Leila J.; Lane, Barbara Miller (1978). "Introduction – Nazi Ideology: Some Unfinished Business". Nazi ideology before 1933. Austin: University of Texas Press. pp. XVI.
  4. ^ Rupp, Leila J.; Lane, Barbara Miller (1978). "Introduction – Nazi Ideology: Some Unfinished Business". Nazi ideology before 1933. Austin: University of Texas Press. pp. XVII. If their writings are looked at as a whole, however, it would appear that Otto, not Gregor, was the disciple, and that far from being a disappointed dissident, Gregor successfully introduced more new ideas into the mainstream of Nazi thought than anyone else. Gregor wrote more than any other Nazi leader except Rosenberg and had one of the most fertile minds of all the Nazi writers. Nor was he a radical; he was, if anything, more conservative than Feder. Apart from the complications Otto's memoirs have created in interpreting Gregor Strasser's thoughts, there are several other reasons why he has often been regarded as a dissident and disappointed radical. The first is Hitler's rejection in February I926 of the draft program by Goebbels and Strasser. Goebbels' descriptions in his diaries of this event are highly emotional and portray it as a major defeat. The second reason is Gregor's organizational role in the party-his efforts to strengthen the party in the northern cities and his proposals to form Nazi trade unions. Finally, as Propagandaleiter, Strasser is known to have laid great stress on the frequent use of the term "socialism" in Nazi propaganda. Hitler's rejection of the draft program at the Bamberg conference has often been misinterpreted. He did not explicitly reject the content of the Strasser-Goebbels draft; instead, he convinced the assembled party leaders that it was inappropriate to formulate a new major program at that time. It was Goebbels who was disappointed – not Strasser. Gregor went on to write many more programs, major and minor; at least one of the major ones — the full-employment program of I932 — was wholly endorsed by the party, and it is quite probable that he also had a significant part in drafting the agricultural program of I930.
  5. ^ a b Pool, James. Who Financed Hitler: The Secret Funding of Hitler's Rise to Power. p. 244.
  6. ^ The Prisoner of Ottawa: Otto Strasser, by Douglas Reed, Cape, London, 1953
  7. ^ "Strasser Asked To Join East German Reds". The Manitoba Ensign. 8 April 1950. p. 2. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  8. ^ Mahoney, William (19 March 1955). "Otto Strasser returns with 'new' platform". Stars and Stripes. Archived from the original on 18 January 2021. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  9. ^ Elzer, Herbert (2012). "Bonn oder Paradise? Die Bundesregierung, der SPD-Parteivorstand und die umstrittene Rückkehr des NS-Dissidenten Otto Straßer aus Kanada (1948–1952)" [Bonn or Paradise? The Federal Government, the SPD party leadership and the controversial return of the National-Socialist dissident Otto Strasser from Canada]. Jahrbuch Extremismus & Demokratie (in German). 24. Baden-Baden: Nomos: 72–101.
  10. ^ "Otto Strasser, 76, Theoretician Who Broke With Hitler, Is Dead". The New York Times. 28 August 1974. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 12 October 2020. MUNICH, West Germany, Aug. 27 (AP)—Otto Strasser, a prominent Nazi spokesman who broke with Hitler over party ideology, died today in Munich. He was 76 years old.
  11. ^ Silverglate, Jesse (1965). The Ideology of Otto Strasser. University of Wisconsin – Madison. p. 56. Retrieved 19 February 2023. Strasser's most vitriolic attack on Hitlerite antiSemitism appeared in the [1935] article 'Genug – Ein Wort zur Judenfrage.'
  12. ^ Strasser, Otto. Germany Tomorrow. Jonathan Cape LTD, 1940, pp. 73–78.

External links[edit]