The Beer-hall Agitator
From Mein Kampf:
An orator receives continuous guidance from the people before whom he speaks. This helps him to correct the direction of his speech; for he can always gauge, by the faces of his hearers, how far they follow and understand him, and whether his words are producing the desired effect. 11919 November 13 Gefreiter Adolf Hitler, in civilian clothes, gives his second political speech in public, at an obscure Munich tavern called the Eberlbraukeller. Admission is 50 pfennigs. One of four speakers to speak before the crowd of nearly 130, his subject is "Brest-Litovsk or Versailles?" "We must stand up and fight for the idea that things cannot go on this way!" he proclaims. "German misery must be broken by German iron! This day must come !" 2
At the very beginning of our big meetings, I began the organization of a house guard in the form of a monitor service, which as a matter of principle included only young fellows. These were in part comrades whom I knew from military service; others were newly won party comrades who from the very outset were instructed and trained in the viewpoint that terror can only be broken by terror; that on this earth success has always gone to the courageous, determined man; that we are fighting for a mighty idea, so great and noble that it well deserves to be guarded and protected with the last drop of blood. They were imbued with the doctrine that, as long as reason was silent and violence had the last word, the best weapon of defense lay in attack; and that our monitor troop must be preceded by the reputation of not being a debating club, but a combat group determined to go to any length. 51919 November 16 Sponsored by Drexler, Hitler is welcomed into the Political Workers Circle. The minutes of the meeting note: "Introduction of Herr Hitler into the spirit of the circle, by Herr Harrer." It is decided to name Hitler as the Party's Werbeobmann (propaganda chief), giving him the task of developing a program to train speakers. A committee, which includes Hitler, Drexler, Harrer, and Feder, is empowered to write a party program. 6
I began to have connections with a very small group of German laborers that had been formed in Munich. There in the autumn of 1919, I also met Hitler. [Note: Dietrich Eckart, a fellow Thule member, will introduce them.] Well, at that time I had an earnest conversation with Hitler, and on that occasion I noticed his broad view of the entire European situation.
He said that, in his opinion, Europe was at that time in a social and political crisis, such as had not existed since the fall of the ancient Roman Empire. He said that seats of unrest were to be found everywhere in this sphere, and that he was personally striving to get a clear picture from the viewpoint of Germany's restoration to sound conditions. Thereupon, I listened to some of the first speeches by Hitler which were made at small meetings of 40 and 50 people. I believed, above all, a soldier who had been at the front, and who had done his duty silently for 4 1/2 years, had the right to speak now. At the end of 1919, I entered the Party. 13
1919 Late December The first DAP Party Headquarters is established in Munich, in the cellar room of the Sterneckerbrau tavern. Rent is 50 marks a month, initially provided by Captain Mayr from clandestine Reichswehr funds. It is a very primitive space, with no electric light, or telephone. Before long, it will be a functioning, if not particularly pretty, business office. The NSDAP will soon hire its first paid employee, Sergeant Rudolf Schussler, the Party's first business manager. Hitler will describe him as "upright and absolutely honest." 14
1920 February 24 In a speech before about 2,000 people at the Festival Hall of the Hofbrauhaus, Hitler delivers the first public reading of the "Twenty-five Points" of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP). Copies of the Points had been printed as handouts and leaflets, and large red posters had been created and distributed. Hitler insisted that the party's posters be colored red: to draw attention to them, and to infuriate the Leftists. Hitler, who is to chair the meeting instead of Drexler—for reasons unknown—arrives at 7:30 pm to a packed hall, perhaps a fifth of whom are socialist opponents. 23
Dr. Johannes Dingfelder, a favorite amongst the voelkish set, is a writer of numerous crackpot articles under the pseudonym of "Germanus Agricola". Dingfelder delivers the opening address, on "What We Are Needing" (Was uns not tut), opining that Germany's current difficulties had their origins in materialism and the decline of religion and morality. "Work alone creates value," he says. "The salvation of the Fatherland lies in order, work, and sacrifice." His remarks are generally well received, and he speaks without interruption. 24
The great hall—for at that time it seemed very big to me—was filled to overflowing. Nearly 2,000 people were present. And, above all, those people had come, whom we had always wished to reach. More than half the audience consisted of persons who seemed to be communists or independents. Our first great demonstration was destined, in their view, to come to an abrupt end.
But things happened otherwise. When the first speaker had finished I got up to speak. After a few minutes I was met with a hailstorm of interruptions, and violent encounters broke out in the body of the hall. A handful of my loyal war comrades, and some other followers, grappled with the disturbers and restored order in a little while. I was able to continue my speech. After half an hour the applause began to drown the interruptions and the hootings. Then interruptions gradually ceased, and applause took their place. When I finally came to explain the twenty-five points and laid them, point after point, before the masses gathered there, and asked them to pass their own judgment on each point, one point after another was accepted with increasing enthusiasm. When the last point was reached I had before me a hall full of people united by a new conviction, a new faith and a new will.
Nearly four hours had passed when the hall began to clear. As the masses streamed towards the exits, crammed shoulder to shoulder, shoving and pushing, I knew that a movement was now set afoot among the German people which would never pass into oblivion. A fire was enkindled from whose glowing heat the sword would be fashioned which would restore freedom to the German Siegfried and bring back life to the German nation. Beside the revival which I then foresaw, I also felt that the Goddess of Vengeance was now getting ready to redress the treason of the 9th of November, 1918. The hall was emptied. The movement was on the march. 26
Herr Hitler (NSDAP) developed some striking political ideas (entwickelte einige treffende politische Bilder), which evoked serious applause, but also roused his already-prejudiced opponents to contradiction; and he gave a survey of the party's program, which in its basic features comes close to that of the Deutsch-Sozialistische Partei. 27The Münchener Zeitung: "The committee member Hitler presented following the lecture, the program, which among other things stands for Greater Germany, opposes the Jews, and demands the breaking of interest slavery." 28
In conversation, one had the impression that he was not listening properly at all. Every now and then he would purse his lips when critical remarks were made or attempt a supercilious smile, which naturally gained him the reputation of arrogant unamiability. Undoubtedly this was doing him an injustice, as was the accusation that he wished to be a dictator of opinion. He was merely so cramped within his acquired ideas and egocentric dreams of the Baltic noble, the English lord, the scientific genius of Copernican stamp, that he had entirely lost his (in any case underdeveloped) capacity for making contact and entering into conversation with other people. 321920 February For the purpose of organizing propaganda campaigns and Party activities, Munich is divided into four districts, with Propaganda Chief Hitler picking the section leaders. Every Monday night, the four section leaders meet with Hitler at Party Headquarters for indoctrination sessions, along with other students being trained by Hitler in public propaganda speaking. The section leaders are then expected to conduct their own propaganda meetings in their various districts on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. 33
1920 March 13 The Kapp Putsch begins in the early morning, when Gen. von Luettwitz leads his troops into Berlin. They had previously been used by the government to suppress communist risings in the capital, and consisted mainly of Freikorps men. Ostensibly by coincidence, their arrival at the Brandenburg gate is witnessed by Gen. Erich Ludendorff, who was Hindenburg's Chief-of-Staff during the Great War, and Wolfgang Kapp, the founder of the wartime Fatherland Party.
Among the Freikorps are the Brigade Ehrhardt who sing their marching song as they pass:
Swastika on our helmets
Black-White-Red our band
The Brigade of Ehrhardt
Is known throughout the land
Worker, worker, what's to become of you
When the Brigade is ready to fight?
The Ehrhardt Brigade smashes all to bits
So woe, woe, woe to you, you worker son-of-a-bitch! 35
Luettwitz's troops now occupy government buildings, and install Kapp as Chancellor. While Kapp tries to form his own government, the legitimate government flees to Dresden and Stuttgart, hampered by the fact that it has no troops on whom it can rely to put down the putsch.
Throttle the reactionary clique! Fight with every means for the maintenance of the Republic. Lay aside all petty discord. There is only one way to prevent the return of Wilhelm II: Paralyze all economic activity! No hand dare more! No proletarian dare help the military dictatorship! General strike all down the line! PROLETARIANS UNITE! DOWN WITH THE COUNTER-REVOLUTION! 38Thomas Mann writes in his diary:
In Berlin a counterrevolutionary overthrow without a struggle. Kapp proclaimed "dictator" and Lüttwitz minister of the Reichswehr. The former government has fled, the National Assembly and the Prussian Diet are dissolved . . . . Noske's troops were unwilling to fire on the advancing forces and were withdrawn . . . . I do not care for Kapp at all, but doubtless it is true that the previous government had already made too much of a mess of things. 39The aristocrat Count Harry Kessler, a liberal book publisher, writes:
Unfortunately, there seems to be no doubt about Ludendorff's participation [in the Kapp Putsch]. How shattering that . . . a man of such atrocious lack of political judgment should have been in dictatorial control of our destiny . . . . We have been the victims of political imbeciles and adventurers, not of great though unfortunate soldiers. This stunt of theirs strains our history retroactively. Ludendorff sinks to the level of an idiotic professional genius who was also a ruthless gambler. 401920 March 15 Taking advantage of the turmoil caused by the Kapp Putsch in Berlin, Gustav Ritter von Kahr, a conservative Bavarian politician with Monarchist tendencies, becomes the leader of a coalition cabinet in Munich. Among the units called up to preserve order is the 14th Alarm Company, in which young Heinrich Himmler, along with his brother and a cousin, are members. Unlike Kapp, Kahr has the support of both the army and the police, and he will succeed in turning Bavaria into a "cell of order" (Ordnungszelle), which will shelter and encourage right-wing groups that are often unwelcome elsewhere in Germany. 41
1920 March 17 The German military, pleased that they now have effective control of both Berlin and Munich, decide to send an intelligence officer to Berlin to liaison between the two military revolts. Adolf Hitler is chosen for the task and placed in a military aircraft bound for Berlin, in company with Dietrich Eckart, to meet with Kapp. But their secret mission soon becomes a silly mess when the pilot—Lieutenant Robert von Greim, with a Pour le Mérite from WW1—misses Berlin by forty-miles, landing the pair in Jüterborg, a spot with no running trains, and roads that have been barricaded by the strikers. Had the mission of the two been discovered for what it was, things would most certainly not have gone well for them. But Hitler, improbably wearing a goatee as a disguise, claims to be an accountant in the employ of Eckart, who professes to be a paper salesman, and they are finally allowed to continue their flight to Berlin. 42
They arrive in Berlin only to find that the Kapp Putsch has already collapsed. Enjoying no popular support, it had simply crumbled away when the trade unions in Berlin had called a general strike. At the chancellery, the two secret agents chance to meet up with the eccentric adventurer Trebitsch Lincoln—who had been the dictator's press officer—and he tells them that Kapp (above) had recently fled by automobile for the Tempelhof Airport on his way to exile in Sweden. 43
1) Any determined group of soldiers can terrify a city into submission,
2) but cannot then hold the city without the support of the police and in the face of a general strike.
3) Hitler becomes convinced that the road to power is open to anyone who can lead a Putsch, and subsequently rule without mercy. Hitler considers that Kapp had not been sufficiently ruthless; if he had only massacred the strikers in the streets, raided the state treasury, and proclaimed martial law, he'd have probably prevailed.
1920 April 1 Hitler moves out of the List Regiment Barracks and takes up residence in a single room on the second floor of a run-down house opposite a fruit shop, at 41 Thierschstrasse, with creaking stairs, and a faded Madonna standing in a niche near the front door. It is located just round the corner from the main office of the Völkischer Beobachter. 49
A visitor to Hitler's residence recounts:
He lived there like a down-at-heels clerk. He had one room and the use of a quite large entrance hall as a subtenant of a woman named Reichert . . . . The room itself was tiny. I doubt if it was nine feet wide. The bed was too wide for its corner and the head projected over the single narrow window. The floor was covered with cheap, worn linoleum with a couple of threadbare rugs, and on the wall opposite there was a makeshift bookshelf, apart from a chair and rough table, the only other piece of furniture in the room . . . . Hitler used to walk around in carpet slippers, frequently with no collar to his shirt, and wearing suspenders. There were quite a lot of illustrations and drawings hanging on the wall. 50Frau Reichert will have this to say about her new tenant:
He is such a nice man, but he has most extraordinary moods. Sometimes weeks go by when he seems to be skulking and does not say a word to us. He looks through us as if we were not there. He always pays his rent punctually in advance, but he is a real bohemian type.Except for a short stay at Landsberg Prison in 1924, this will be Hitler's official residence until 1929. 51 
From Mein Kampf:
I was obliged to reject without exception the numerous designs which poured in from the circles of the young movement, and which for the most part had drawn the swastika into the old flag. I myself—as Leader—did not want to come out publicly at once with my own design, since after all it was possible that another should produce one just as good, or perhaps even better. Actually, a dentist from Starnberg did deliver a design that was not bad at all, and, incidentally, was quite close to my own, having only the one fault that a swastika with curved legs was composed into a white disk. I myself, meanwhile, after innumerable attempts, had laid down a final form; a flag with a red background, a white disk, and a black swastika in the middle. After long trials I also found a definite proportion between the size of the flag and the size of the white disk, as well as the shape and thickness of the swastika. And this remained final.
Along the same lines, arm-bands were immediately ordered for the monitor detachments, a red band, likewise with the white disk and black swastika. The party insignia was also designed along the same lines: a white disk on a red field, with the swastika in the middle. A Munich goldsmith by the name of Füss furnished the first usable design, which was kept. In midsummer of 1920, the new flag came before the public for the first time. It was excellently suited to our new movement. It was young and new, like the movement itself. No one had seen it before; it had the effect of a burning torch. We ourselves experienced an almost childlike joy when a faithful woman party comrade for the first time executed the design and delivered the flag. Only a few months later, we had half a dozen of them in Munich; and the monitor troop, which was growing bigger and bigger, especially contributed to spreading the new symbol of the movement.
And a symbol it really is! Not only that the unique colors, which all of us so passionately love and which once won so much honor for the German people, attest our veneration for the past; they were also the best embodiment of the movement's will. As National Socialists, we see our program in our flag. In red we see the social idea of the movement; in white, the nationalistic idea; in the swastika, the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man, and, by the same token, the victory of the idea of creative work, which as such always has been and always will be anti-Semitic. 62
He [Hitler] was at that time simply the grandiose popular speaker without precedent; and, for me, incomparable. I was strongly impressed straight away. It was totally different from what was otherwise to be heard in meetings. His method was completely clear and simple. He took the overwhelmingly dominant topic of the day, the Versailles Diktat, and posed the question of all questions: What now German people? What's the true situation? What alone is now possible? He spoke for over two-and-a-half hours, often interrupted by frantic torrents of applause; and one could have listened to him for much, much longer. Everything came from the heart, and he struck a chord with all of us . . . .
He uttered what was in the consciousness of all those present, and linked general experiences to clear understanding, and [to] the common wishes of those who were suffering and looking for a program. In the matter itself, he was certainly not original . . but he was the one called to act as spokesman of the people . . . .
The language he used was expressive, direct, coarse, earthy—that used and understood by most of his audience—his sentences short and punchy . . . . He concealed nothing . . . of the horror, the distress, the despair facing Germany. But not only that. He showed a way, the only way left to all ruined peoples in history, that of the grim new beginning from the most profound depths through courage, faith, readiness for action, hard work, and devotion to a great, shining, common goal . . . .
He placed before the protection of the Almighty, in the most serious and solemn exhortation, the salvation of the honor of the German soldier and worker, as his life task . . . . When he finished, the applause would not die down . . . . From this evening onwards, though not a party member, I was convinced that if one man could do it, Hitler alone would be capable of mastering Germany. 69
Hitler had caught the casual camaraderie of the trenches, and without stooping to slang, except for special effects, managed to talk like a member of the audience. In describing the difficulties of the housewife without enough money to buy the food her family needed in the Viktualien Market he would produce just the phrases she would have used herself, if she had been able to formulate them . . . . He had this priceless gift of expressing exactly their thoughts. He also had the good sense, or instinct, to appeal to the women in the audience . . . . Many a time I see him face a hall plentifully sprinkled with opponents ready to heckle and interrupt, and in search for his first body of support, make a remark about food shortages or domestic difficulties or the sound instinct of his women listeners, which would produce the first bravos. And time and again these came from women. That would break the ice. 71
1920 July 21 In the Gemlich Letter, Hitler had not once linked Jews with Marxism-Bolshevism-Communism, something he does this day for the first time at a public meeting. In fact, he had ignored Bolshevism altogether in his Gemlich piece, and only twice previous to this occasion had he mentioned Bolshevism at all (in April and June of 1920). Forthwith and forever, he will rarely say Bolshevism without the word "Jew" being in close attendance. Hitler will make steady use of this favorite rhetorical construct, from this day forward, except for a short space of time between 1939 and 1941. It will be found in the Political Testament he will sign on his dying day, nearly 25-years in the future. 72
It is sad that the great misfortune that has struck us was necessary in order to show our people that, first and foremost, personal interests must be put aside, that the class distinction between proletariat and non-proletariat must cease, and that there must at last be a distinction between fellow Germans who work honestly, and the drones and scoundrels.Now, for the first time ever, Adolf Hitler publicly declares that the Jews are not merely "drones and scoundrels," but a terminal viral infection on the body of the Volk, as well as all mankind. This is another basic tenet of his antisemitism, and he will lecture along these lines countless times during the coming decades:
For us it is a problem that decides whether our people become internally healthy again, that decides whether the Jewish spirit will really disappear. Don't think that you can battle a disease without killing the virus, without annihilating the bacillus, and don't think that you can combat racial tuberculosis without seeing to it that the people are freed from the causative virus which causes racial tuberculosis. The impact of Jewry will never pass away, and the poisoning of the people will not end, as long as the causal agent, the Jew, the virus, is not removed from our midst. 741920 August 9 One of the Czech delegates to the Salzburg conference, Dr. Alexander Schilling from Moravia, gives a lecture at a NSDAP meeting at the Festaal of the Hofbrauhaus on "The Germans in Czechoslovakia." The president of the Bavarian League (Bayernbund), Otto Ballerstedt, rises to speak during the discussion period after Schilling's talk, demanding that Bavaria secede from Germany and join Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, in a Danubian Confederation.
The lecturer Hitler explained how things stood before us before the war and how they are now. On usurers and profiteers, that all belong on the gallows. Further on the mercenary army. He said it probably wouldn't harm the young fellows any if they had to enlist again, for that hadn't harmed anybody, for nobody knows any more that the young ought to keep their mouths shut in the presence of their elders, for everywhere the young lack discipline . . . . Then he went through all the points in the program, at which he received a lot of applause. The hall was very full. A man who called Herr Hitler an idiot was calmly kicked out. 791920 September 14 Captain Karl Mayr, in charge of Section I b/P of army intelligence, posts a letter to Sweden addressed to the exiled putschist, Wolfgang Kapp:
The national workers' party must provide the basis for the strong assault-force (Stosstrupp) that we are hoping for. The program is still somewhat clumsy and also perhaps incomplete. We'll have to supplement it. Only one thing is certain: that under this banner we've already won a good number of supporters. Since July of last year I've been looking . . . to strengthen the movement . . . .
I've set up very capable young people. A Herr Hitler, for example, has become a motive force, a popular speaker of the first rank. In the Munich branch we have over 2,000 members, compared with under 100 in the summer of 1919. 80
1920 December 25 The first issue of the Völkischer Beobachter since the Nazi take-over hits the newsstands.
Our public meeting activity, which increased more and more in 1920, finally led to the point where we held as many as two meetings in some weeks. People crowded in front of our posters, the largest halls of the city were always filled, and tens of thousands of misled Marxists found the way back to their national community, to become warriors for a free German Reich to come. The Munich public had come to know us. People spoke of us, the word 'National Socialist' became familiar to many, and already meant a program. The host of adherents, and even of members, began to grow uninterruptedly, so that in the winter of 1920-21 we could already be regarded as a strong party in Munich. Aside from the Marxist parties, there was in those days no party—above all no national party—which could boast of such mass demonstrations as ours. 87End of Chapter.
Written by Walther Johann von Löpp
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European History and Jewish Studies
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