"We are socialists, we are enemies of today's capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions." --Adolf Hitler, Quoted in John Toland, "Adolf Hitler", p224.
Put into Google Hitler and socialist, and you're bound to come up with various websites with the above quote. Because of the way in which it get's used, i regard it as hitler's "There is no such thing as society" moment. What i mean is, A quote which is Always taken out of context to further a false point.
So what is the context you may ask? I provide the answer below.
It was to only try and wean some of the working class support over to him that he made references like he did to socialism. And that never really worked, the Nazis always had the least support from the working class. In that particular section of the book Toland is discussing Hitler's use of propaganda and his oratory style. He starts out by stating that the Berlin Nazi party (or Gau) was in disarray at this time and Goebbels was sent to straighten out the situation. He found that "The thousand party members under his jurisdiction were opposed on the streets by overwhelming numbers of Communists and Social Democrats." The course of action they decided on was to do everything they could to pick fights and to basically 'Red Bait' the Leftists in order to enflame violence, and to use propaganda to confuse the masses to try and weaken the real Left. "Goebbles decided it was now time to broaden the base of membership and to do that he had to attract the attention of the jaded public, "Berlin needs its sensations as a fish needs water", he (Goebbels) wrote" (ibid p223) So the best way they decided to inflame the situation was for violent action "SA troops deliberately sought out physical combat with the Reds," (Ibid p224) and for Hitler to give a speech on May Day. And not only that, but to give speeches in meeting halls that were taken over from the Communists. ""Making noise" he (Hitler) once said, "is an effective means of opposition"" (Ibid p224) And that is the true light that the quote must be taken as, making noise to provoke. False propaganda meant to inflame. Fights were started and the Newspapers proclaimed that there was this little known party, as it was not very large in Berlin at the time, fighting the Communists and Socialists. "The publicity was meant to be derogatory but in the next few days 2600 applications for membership were received," (Ibid p224) So this all served their purpose. And Toland, immediately after using the quote, and in the very next sentence of the same paragraph states, "This was followed by a long dissertation on Lebensraum, in Hitler's continuing effort to pound this concept into the membership. Sixty-two million Germans he said, were crowded into an area only 450,000 kilometers square. "This is a ridiculous figure when one considers the size of other nations in the world today." There were two solutions: either decrease he population by "chasing our best human material out of Germany" or "bring the soil into consonance with the population, even if it must be done by war. This is the natural way which Providence has prescribed." (Ibid p225)
Notice a couple of things here, first that he only uses one line calling himself a socialist and this is meant to inflame the Socialists and the rest of the Left, just get publicity and to confuse those that may not know the reality behind their party. The latter of which Hitler makes clear in his detailed policy of Lebensraum which has nothing to do with socialism. So not only does he merely state without any justification that he is a socialist, he makes it clear that his policy is not a socialist one but a racial and colonial one. So Hitler does not at all expound on the socialist statement, but he goes into detail on Lebensraum, which makes it clear that there is no real socialism behind his 'socialist' statement but there is to his expansionary and racist policies. "Again and again he hammered at race and the fact that Germany's future lay in the conquest of eastern territories. Over and over he preached his pseudo-Darwinist sermon of nature's way: conquest of the weak by the strong." (Ibid p226) As an honest reading of Toland would indicate; something that those that use this quote like Ray has obviously not done, but had probably only acquired it from a cheap Web search, probably from a Heritage institute or Glen Beck site; The mentioning of 'Socialist' was only propaganda. It is part of a larger section by Toland treating that subject and the attempt by the Nazi to develop support while weakening the other parties. Except for the racial policy and expansion, Hitler, when the party was first building its support, would say anything, no matter how disingenuous, to try and be attractive to every segment of the political society.
"The Nazis continued to be a catch-all party of social protest, with particularly strong support from the middle classes, and the relatively weak support from in the traditional industrial working class" Richard J Evans, "The Coming of the Third Reich" p295