Gottfried Feder, the son of a government official, was born in Wurzburg, Germany, on 27th January, 1883. He studied engineering in Berlin and Zurich before starting his own construction company in 1908.
During the First World War Feder developed a hostility to Germany's wealthy bankers and in 1919 he published his Manifesto on Breaking the Shackles of Interest.
In 1919 Feder joined with Anton Drexler and Dietrich Eckart to form the German Workers's Party (GPW) in Munich. Adolf Hitler joined the party soon afterwards. He was only the fifty-fourth person to join the party. Hitler was immediately asked to join the executive committee and was later appointed the party's propaganda manager.
In the next few weeks Hitler brought several members of his army into the party, including one of his commanding officers, Captain Ernst Roehm. The arrival of Roehm was an important development as he had access to the army political fund and was able to transfer some of the money into the GWP.
The German Workers's Party used some of this money to advertise their meetings. Adolf Hitler was often the main speaker and it was during this period that he developed the techniques that made him into such a persuasive orator.
Hitler successfully persuaded members of the GWP should change its name to the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). In February 1920, Feder joined with Hitler and Drexler to draft what became known as the "25 Points". In the programme the party refused to accept the terms of the Versailles Treaty and called for the reunification of all German people. To reinforce their ideas on nationalism, equal rights were only to be given to German citizens. "Foreigners" and "aliens" would be denied these rights.
To appeal to the working class and socialists, the programme included several measures that would redistribute income and war profits, profit-sharing in large industries, nationalization of trusts, increases in old-age pensions and free education.
The programme was also reflected the racist views shared by party members. It appealed to the Anti-Semitism that existed in Germany at that time by stating that "Citizenship is to be determined by race; no Jew to be a German."
Feder greatly influenced the anti-capitalist aspect of the Nazi programme and insisted on phrases such as the need to "break the interest slavery of international capitalism" and the claim that Germany had become the "slave of the international stock market".
On 24th February, 1920, the NSDAP (later nicknamed the Nazi Party) held a mass rally where it announced its new programme. The rally was attended by over 2,000 people, a great improvement on the 25 people who were at Hitler's first party meeting.
Feder published his book, National and Social Bases of the German State in 1920. In 1923 Feder took part in the Beer Hall Putsch. He remained one of the leaders of the party and in 1924 was elected to the Reichstag.
Throughout the 1920s Feder was a leader of the anti-capitalist wing of the Nazi Party. He put forward his views in Das Programm der NSDAP (1931), Kampf gegen die Hochfinannz (1933) and Die Juden (1933) where he expressed his anti-semitic views.
As Feder held the important post of chairman of the party's economic council, his anti-capitalist views led to a decline in financial support from Germany's major industrialists. After pressure from figures such as Albert Voegler, Gustav Krupp, Friedrich Flick, Fritz Thyssen, Hjalmar Schacht and Emile Kirdorf, Hitler decided to move the party away Feder's left-wing economic theories.
When Adolf Hitler became chancellor in 1933 he appointed Feder as Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Economics. Feder was disappointed that he had not been given a more senior position. However, as one of the leaders of the left-wing of the Nazi Party, Hitler saw him as a threat to his leadership.
After the Night of the Long Knives where other left-wingers such as Gregor Strasser and Ernst Roehm were murdered, Feder resigned from the government. Gottfried Feder worked as a university lecturer until his death on 24th September, 1941.