Reading

The Common Interest before Self-Interest

Read the text of a widely distributed Nazi pamphlet that outlined National Socialism's central goals and defined what it meant to be German.
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At a Glance

Reading

Language

English — US

Subject

  • History
  • The Holocaust

Six years before Hitler took power in Germany, Joseph Goebbels, the National Socialist Party’s propaganda expert, published a pamphlet that would be reprinted many times during the Nazi years. It spelled out the goals of National Socialism: 

What is the first commandment of every National Socialist?

Love Germany more than anything and your fellow Germans more than yourself!

What is the aim of the National Socialist idea of liberty?

To create the national community of all honestly creative Germans!

What is the content of that national community?

Freedom and bread for every German!

Who is a fellow German, a racial comrade?

Every honestly creative German is, provided his blood, his customs, his culture are German and provided he speaks the German tongue!

What is the basic economic principle with which National Socialism wishes to replace the present economic warfare of all against all?

The Common Interest before Self-Interest! 1

Connection Questions

  1. How does this pamphlet define what it means to be German? What do you think Goebbels meant by the phrase “national community”? What might he have meant by “honestly creative German”? 
  2. What did National Socialism offer to these “honestly creative” Germans? What did it ask of them? 
  3. Why do you think this pamphlet was repeatedly reprinted? Why would a government want to encourage the values expressed in the pamphlet? 
  4. How does this pamphlet define the relationship between the individual and society? 
  • 1Quoted in Joachim Remak, ed., The Nazi Years: A Documentary History (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1969), 39.

How to Cite This Reading

Facing History and Ourselves, "The Common Interest before Self-Interest," last updated April 28, 2022.

Using the strategies from Facing History is almost like an awakening.
— Claudia Bautista, Santa Monica, Calif