As one of my left leaning friends said,
But [Hitler] was no Socialist, and anyone who takes his word for it that he was a Socialist, shame on you.
And shame on you, I replied, for refusing to acknowledge the plain facts:
1. For years and years the Nazis ran on a platform indistinguishable from any other socialist party (see below).
2. When they took power they followed through on many of those policies.
3. The Nazis controlled the German economy, including taking control of the Board of Directors of large corporations "for the benefit of the people" essentially stripping the company owners and stockholders of their rights to control their own property.
4. They put in place an extensive social welfare system.
5. Through command control of the economy they forced an end to unemployment and made many other changes to increase overall prosperity.
6. Just as the Communists in Russia did, they refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of any labor organization outside of the state, thereby bringing an end to strikes and other such impediments to their policy. Just as the Communist Party in the Soviet Union was the only true voice of the proletariate, against which no opposition was tolerated, the Reich was the embodiment of the will of the German people, and nothing was allowed to impede that will, not corporate interests or union interests or the press or anything. As has been the case in every other leftist totalitarian state, dissention was dealt with harshly.
Many have said that Hitler only took on the coloration of socialism in order to win power and discarded those policies once he had it. But in fact he actually made good on many of his promises. Besides that, the same accusation could be made about every other major leftist regime in the 20th century since they started off with promises of a socialist utopia and always seemed to end up with somthing quite different.
The Nazis stated goal was to bring forth a nation-state as the locus and embodiment of the people's collective will, geared to serve the interests of the German people. Their success toward that end is probably the main reason for continued support by most German people right up to the end.
The Third Reich was not democratic. It was controlled by strongmen. As has been the case with every other leftist totalitarian state.
The Third Reich was viruently anti-Semetic, as was most of the rest of Europe, as was Soviet Russia.
The contortions that left leaning historians go through to draw a sharp line between the Reich and "real" socialist states get to be quite amusing.
Many, but not all, socialist ideologies oppose the idea of nations altogether, which they see as artificial divisions that support the status quo and oppression. The Nazis were not internationalists, and if you weren't German you couldn't be in the club. But that distinction has little to do with whether or not they are socialists since the definition of socialism doesn't include the presence or absence of an internationalist outlook.
Leftists today want to distance themselves from all of the failed socialist states of the past, insisting that socialism as practiced then has nothing to do with their current ideology. So all the millions and millions of citizens of socialist states killed by those states do not accrue to their balance sheet. But there is no real difference between the ideologies of the leaders of Soviet Russia, or Cambodia, or Communist China and the American left of today. They can pretend a difference only by being willfully blind to the past.
The Policy Manifesto of the National Socialist German Workers Party, written by Adolf Hitler, 1920:
All citizens of the State shall be equal as regards rights and duties.
The first duty of every citizen must be to work mentally or physically. The activities of the individual may not clash with the interests of the whole, but must proceed within the frame of the community and be for the general good.
Therefore we demand:
That all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished.
Since every war imposes on the people fearful sacrifices in life and property, all personal profit arising from the war must be regarded as a crime against the people. We therefore demand the total confiscation of all war profits whether in assets or material.
We demand the nationalization of businesses which have been organized into cartels.
We demand that all the profits from wholesale trade shall be shared out.
We demand extensive development of provision for old age.
We demand the creation and maintenance of a healthy middle-class, the immediate communalization of department stores which will be rented cheaply to small businessmen, and that preference shall be given to small businessmen for provision of supplies needed by the State, the provinces and municipalities.
We demand a land reform in accordance with our national requirements, and the enactment of a law to confiscate from the owners without compensation any land needed for the common purpose. The abolition of ground rents, and the prohibition of all speculation in land.