Thursday, October 1, 2020

Nazi as An Alternative to "National Socialist"

 I have long suspected that the term Nazi instead of the formal translation National Socialists was to hide that Hitler's party was a variant or heresy of progressive thought.  In looking for early uses of "Nazi," I found this House Unamerican Activities Committee hearing: Investigation of Nazi and Other Propaganda. p. 517.

Question.  And that is the Nazi Party? 

Answer.  The Hitler Party.  The Nazi Party is never used in Germany.

Question.  And Nazi is the result of N. S. D. A. P.

Answer.  Nazi was just the name the Communists and Marxists gave to the Hitler men before Hitler came into power?

Question.  And wasn't it the result of N. S. D. A. P.

Answer.  No.

Question.  These are the drilling regulations?

Answer.  I mean I never heard anybody in Germany with the exception of Communists or Marxists call any Hitler men a Nazi.


  1. "Nazi" was a derogatory term used by opponents of the NSDAP. It was derived from "Ignasius" (plural "Ignasis"), which was a similarly derogatory nickname for Bavarians ("Ignatius" basically meant "rube" or "hayseed", perpetuating the stereotype that Bavarians were all unsophisticated peasants), which is of course where the National Socialists had their origins.

  2. I don't know where I saw it, but "Nazi" was supposedly the name of a rather stupid humorous character in twenties culture. It was, to the National Socialists, insulting. Like calling the Antifa "Pantifa", but with better use of the words.

    And sometime around 1970 to 1978, my grandfather told me that he was an "international socialist" in Austria-Hungary before WW1, and after the war, his half brother, the one who received all the new clothes and schoolbooks from Dad, was a National Socialist. And when he told me he told me with that emphasis.

  3. Naturally, proponents and neutrals won't use a cutesy shortening of something's name; opponents will, and the biggest organized opponents of the Nazis were their mirror counterparts, the Communists.

    So that's perfectly natural.

    (I took enough German in school to have a bit of a feel for it, and "Nazi" for "National" (pronounced like "naht-zio-nal") is exactly the sort of shorthand that one would expect to be used that way.

    Especially since it forefronts "National" as opposed to Soviet "Internationalism", which was a fine smokescreen.

    I'd be interested to know - if I ever learned, I've forgotten, and it's not the focus of most texts on them, for obvious reasons - what the Nazis called themselves in regular use; "National Socialists" or "German Worker's Party" or what.)

  4. The "Ask Historians" section of Reddit has a more detailed answer that tracks with the testimony you quoted:

  5. Before Hitler joined the Nazi Party, he was a member of the German Workers' Party. Basically the Communist Party, but that party was falling out of favor due to the Soviets.

  6. Sigivald: I have seen historians in BBC documentaries use the term National Socialist and explain that this is what they ALWAYS called themselves.