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“What’s in a Name”? Beefsteak Nazi; what exactly is it?

Written by John (the other John).

If you read any academic books, documentaries, or watch any news story, you will learn that the brownshirts (braunhemden) were the far-right paramilitary militia for the Nazis in the 1920’s and 1930’s. They modeled their outfit from the blackshirts of the far-right Italian Fascist Party. I was intrigued to learn more about this group of people who seem to be very evil due to their love of violence. But there was one variable that seemed contradictory, that the official name of the political Party was the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP; which in English is the National Socialist German Workers Party). I had already known the official Party name, but why would far-right brownshirts be members of an apparent Left-wing National Socialist Party? So I did further research on the brownshirts.

With my research, I learned of an interesting term that explained much to me about these people. The brownshirts were known back then (as opposed to revisionist history today) as “beefsteak Nazi”. I was curious of this nickname, so my research showed that they were given this nickname because many of the brownshirts were either Communists or Socialists. That did not seem correct, so I researched other sources to verify the veracity of that statement, and in fact, those other sources verified that that was accurate; brownshirts were Communist/Socialist loyalists. Hence the nickname “beefsteak Nazi”, because these people wore brown on the outside (their shirts) and they were red in the inside (Communists).

I never learned that in University, nor will it ever be taught there.

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