This article is based upon the books, “Richtstellungen zur Zeitgeschichte” (Corrections to History og our Time) published by Grabert Verlag, D-72066 Tübingen, Postfach 1629, Germany
Since the start of 1930 and strengthened by the Nuremberg International Trial, and then by historians from Communist Eastern Europe, it has been alleged that German big industry helped NSDAP and Hitler to a quick rise before taking over power in 1933, also that Hitler was bought by these industrial powers. In a 1932 photo montage by Johann Herzfeld Hitler is shown in a Hitler-greeting with an open hand and behind him stands a far greater man, clearly a member of capitalism with a bundle of 1000-Mark bills, which he lays in Hitler’s hand. The montage has a text: “The reason for the Hitler-greeting – million stand behind me. Small man asks for large contributions.” 
During the various process following the Nuremberg International Trial, Telford Taylor, the American counsel for the prosecution claimed, “Without the cooperation of the German industry the Nazi party and Hitler could not have risen to power in Germany, and the Third Reich would never have started World War II.” 
According to the Historian Rainer F. Schmidt from the University of Würzburg and an article he wrote about the financing of the party there are no proofs of big industry being behind Hitler and his party. Schmidt shows in his article how the party was financed in all years up to 1933 by ordinary men and women of all classes.
Firstly, between 1918 and 1923 the party, NSDAP, got financial support from friends and acquaintances of Hitler. The party also received some support from America, Henry Ford who was the man behind the production of cars, was the most known. A few middle large companies helped with economic advice and finance. “Large money spending did not have any influence on the growth of NSDAP in this early time,” because the party was too socialistic. The director of one of the largest mining company, Paul Relisch said openly: “We have no intention to aid our own destruction.” 
The party, very early, started to ask their own supporters and sympathizers to pay contributions. This was very successful and brought large sums to the party funding. “The generosity and national feeling and eagerness among the first followers brought in all the money the party needed. Even poor people contributed as much as they could” 
Secondly, after the party was re-established in 1925 the real breakthrough came after the election to the Reichstag (German parliament) in 1930, Dr Schmidt shows that after June 1926, “Hitler, for 18 months tried to make big industry interested in the party but failed, he tried to give “the party a look as the defence against the socialistic break-down of the industry. Not even an industry friendly towards the party program helped him to get big industry interested in supporting the party”.  The Janus-face of NSDAP was the reason why big industry did not support the party”:
To meet their economic needs the party turned to their members and groups in the many towns, cities and villages to get financial support. They started what today would be called “merchandising.” To organise this they had a “Reichszeugmeister” ( country master of fixing) who’s job it was to find businessmen interested in getting their products sold where ever the party held meetings. For small businesses national contracts were written ensuring both the party and the business profit for every product sold. There was a safety razor called “Stürmer”, margarine called “Kampf” even a cigarette called “Sturm.” These products were sold in LARGE quantities and secured money not only for the central party organisation, but as well for the many local party organisations. In addition to the income from entrance fees to party meetings the total income for the year 1930 was 1.7 million Marks.
The finance help from members as gifts and local party-groups collection brought 3 million Marks for August 1930 . Product sales for the following quarter year brought.3 million Marks. With this money NSDAP started the campaign for the September 1930 election, an election that gave them the largest win any political group in Germany have had since 1870. 
Thirdly, in the autumn of 1930 the party had become a real power factor in German political life and a force to be reckoned with. This changed the party’s relation to big industry. A help in this was from Heinrich Brüning, who’s politics was not pro-industry. (Brüning was leader of the Centre Party during the Weimar Republic. Brüning was Chancellor of the Weimar Republic from 1930 to 1932.) Brüning’s negative look on big industry brought some financial help from big-industry, but far less then what the other right-wing parties, DNVP, Deutschnationale Volkspartei) and DVP (Deutsche Volkspartei) got, including small contributions from the industry. German industry contributed to the two elections (Reichstagwahl) in 1932 less then what they contributed to Hindenburg’s election campaign against Hitler, where Hindenburg got 12 million Marks.
For the years between 1930 and 1932 contributions “from big industry was only fractions of what other right wing parties got.”  Before the election the main source of income came from the members and what they purchased for friendly small companies.
Schmidt concludes his investigation this way: “There can not be any doubt that big industry did not contributed to Hitler’s rise to power. After the November election in (1932) Hitler’s contact to big industry, Wilhelm Keppler, travelled through the industrial area of Rhein and Ruhr to get signatures from the industries that supported Hitler. The result was deceptive. Of the nineteen signatures very few came from big industry.” 
A conclusion of Schmidt’s investigation of the last years leading up to 1933 is that “the financial support of NSDAP from German big industries in the years 1931/32 before the party came to power was absent.” 
Important for understanding the time in which NSDAP was in power, and which today is suppressed by politicians and historians, Schmidt clearly learned that the national social voters were not bought, for they were convinced national socialists.” When Hitler said: “I have the power of millions behind me!” He clearly meant millions of convinced national socialists and NOT millionaires. 
Adolf Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf:
“The dedication of every National Socialist is demonstrated first of all by his readiness to work and by his diligence and ability in accomplishing the work entrusted to him by the racial community.”
- 1. Fotomontage von Johann Herzfeld für Titelblatt der “Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung” vom 16 Oktober 1932, auch in Roland März, Herzgeld montiert, 1930-1932, Leipzig 1993, S 174
- 2. Quoted. In Eberhard Czechon, “Wer verhalf Hitler zur Macht? Zum Anteil deutschen Industrie an der Zerstörung der Weimar Republik”, Köln 1978 S 13ff
- 3. Reiner F. Schmidt: “Millionen stehen hinter mir” – Der wahre Sinn des Hitlergrußes. Zur Finanzierung der NSDAP vor 1933,” in Historische Mitteilungen der Ranke Gesellschaft” Bd 16, 2003 S 140 – 154. Die Fotomontage wird auf Seite 140 wiedergegeben.
- 4. Ebenda S 147
- 5. Ebenda
- 6. Ebenda
- 7. Ebenda S. 148
- 8. Ebenda S. 149
- 9. Ebenda S. 151
- 10. Ebenda S. 152
- 11. Ebenda S. 154
- 12. Ebenda
Author: Dr Rolf Kosick
Edited by: Randulf Johan Hansen and k0nsl