Chapter Ten:
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. 1

1919 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

Hitler rarely ever wrote out a speech word for word, preferring to work from rough notes and then tailor his remarks as the mood of the audience would dictate. Among Hitler's written cues for this speech are the following: "The Jews Liebknecht, Luxemburg, and Radek ... Who were the leaders of the bloody Soviet government in Bavaria? The Jew Moehsam, the Jew Landauer, the Jew Levine, the Jew Axelrod, also Eisner was a Jew." 3

Hitler will later proudly write that disturbances had broken out during his speech, and the culprits had been thrown down some stairs. This is Hitler's first experience with how violence can be used as dramatic punctuation for his oratory, a dynamic he will soon learn to master. 4

From Mein Kampf:

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. 5

1919 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

Thus begins the long process of building up attendance, meeting by meeting, and reinvesting any surplus funds in further building on their slow successes. Hitler, the champion of this strategy, uses all of his powers of persuasion to convince the other members of the Executive Committee to go along, and his steady success ultimately convinces them that he has a plan that works, and the energy to make things happen. As the mastermind of this winning strategy, and increasingly the biggest draw the Party has as a speaker, the others will all eventually find themselves dominated, or replaced, by the talented Austrian up-and-comer. 7

One of the first to go will be National Chairman Karl Harrer, a journalist, politician, and Thule Society member. The society had allegedly ordered Harrer to secretly found a voelkish political party, to be styled as a "political workers' union" (Politischer Arbeiterzirkel). Whatever the case, Harrer was indeed one of the original founding members of the DAP, along with Anton Drexler, Dietrich Eckart, and Gottfried Feder. 8

As leader of the Political Workers' Circle, Harrer wants to maintain the status quo, preferring that the DAP continue along as it has been, with an emphasis on the small, executive Workers' Circle as a leadership core. Hitler champions an expansive program under the direction of the Working Committee, and based on regular meetings, building up into mass rallies, and resulting in thousands of dues-paying party members, led by a single strong individual. It is this major difference of opinion, on the very direction of the Party, which will eventually bring matters to a head. But the break will not come immediately. 9

1919 November Hitler attempts his first internal power-play when he drafts a document entitled "Organization of the Munich Branch and its Standing Orders." In a full-frontal assault on the Political Workers Circle, Hitler proposes that the Executive Committee should be elected by a mass meeting of all Party members, and the Committee would then have the power to make all decisions, without ever again having to consult the membership. Further, the only check on the power of the Committee would be the Party Program, then being drafted. "Any form of control by either a higher or subsidiary body, be it a circle or a lodge" is disallowed, a provision that is clearly aimed at Harrer's Political Workers' Circle. However, the Committee does not approve Hitler's proposal. 10

1919 November 18 Testifying before a committee of investigation of the German National Assembly, Field Marshal Hindenburg propagates the "stab in the back" fable for the first time in public. Hindenburg maintains that the army had been close to victory in the field, and could still have won the war, had it not been betrayed by the civilian authorities on the home front. 11

This view attains immediate wide-spread popularity, and becomes a standard talking-point of the nationalist Right. But it is nothing more than a clever obfuscation by the wily Hindenburg. Its intent is to draw attention away from the fact that, after a failed offensive of their own design, he and Ludendorff had demanded—in a panic—that the civilian leadership achieve an "immediate" armistice with the Allies. The politicians did exactly as the military leadership had demanded, and within the desired time-frame. With this stab-in-the-back myth in hand, the army big-wigs succeed in shifting the blame away from themselves, where it is deserved, and onto "the Jews", "the Socialists", the "labor unions", etc.

1919 December A member of the Thule Society, Alfred Rosenberg, a 27-year-old Baltic German who had moved to Munich in November 1918, joins the DAP. Even though he is only of "mediocre intelligence," he will go on to become one of the major ideological "intellectuals" of the Party. At the first Nuremberg Trial, he will be found guilty of war crimes and hanged. 12

Alfred Rosenberg:

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

National Chairman Karl Harrer is hardly a fellow with sufficient ability to stand up to Hitler, whom he considers a "megalomaniac." Soon after the Party Headquarters is established, Harrer resigns in frustration and disgust. 15

1920 January 7 Adolf Hitler causes quite a disturbance when he crashes a 7,000-strong mass meeting of the Deutschvolkischer Schutz und Trutzbund (German Nationalist Protection and Defiance Federation), and adds a bit of impromptu oratory to the "discussion." This bit of political, anti-Semitic theater—designed to provoke a response, and performed at a rally of the largest and most influential anti-Semitic federation in post-war Germany—draws some press and some new followers. The beer-hall orator continues to master the tricks of a political agitator, by trial and error. 16

1920 January The DAP now has 190 dues-paying members, at 50 pfennigs a month. Their average age is 31, and only four of the members are unskilled laborers. There are 56 skilled workers, mostly machinists; twenty-two are soldiers, and twelve are university students. There are nineteen women on the Party rolls, but their occupations, if any, are not recorded. 17

1920 February 4 The Allied Powers deliver a note to the German delegation demanding that almost 900 German soldiers be surrendered to the Allies for war crimes trials, as stipulated in the Versailles Treaty. These include the Kaiser, Hindenburg, Ludendorff, von Tirpitz, and Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, plus hundreds of civilians. The delegation initially refuses to accept the note. Eventually, sixteen Germans will be tried, and six of them convicted. 18

1920 February 9 "The Program of the National Socialist Workers' Party," aka "The Twenty-five Point Program," conceived and written by Hitler and Drexler, attains its final draft form. Drexler will later write: "Following all the basic points already written down by me, Adolf Hitler composed with me—and with no one else—the 25 theses of National Socialism, in long nights in the workers' canteen at Burghausenerstrasse 6 . . . . We cracked our brains over it, I can tell you!" 19

Simultaneously with the completion of this final draft of the party platform, Hitler officially becomes the chief propaganda officer, the leading strategist, and the de facto leader of the DAP. 20

1920 February 20 The DAP (German Workers' Party) changes its name to Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei—National Socialist German Workers Party—NSDAP for short. 21

The Party plans a major rollout to go along with the new name, and a 300 mark gift from a Frau Dornberg allows them to scrape together the 700 marks needed to rent the Festival Hall (Festaal) of the Hofbrauhaus, a large, fine venue. 22

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

[For the full text of the Twenty-five Points, Click here.]

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

Hitler takes the floor and, after a series of opening remarks, reads out all Twenty-five Points, slowly and methodically, proclaiming that each and every point will one day become the law of the land. When he has finished, he returns to attacking the Jews once more, which excites the crowd into a "fearful uproar" (Ungeheuer Tumult) that doesn't fade until Hitler has finished and the next speaker has begun his oration. There are eight speakers in all, including Hitler. Approximately 100 rowdy communists and independent socialists pour into the streets when the meeting is over, but limit their display to cursing nationalism, Hindenburg, and Ludendorff, in turn. 25

Here is how Hitler described this event, from Mein Kampf:

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

According to some other eye-witnesses, Hitler's account is somewhat embellished. Here is how the story is told in its entirety, in the next day's Beobachter:

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. 27

The 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

A Munich Police informant is also in the audience, and his report describes Hitler beginning by attacking the government in Berlin for the high inflation that resulted in continuing hunger for the people. To a man, Hitler's fellow Bavarians despise the government in Berlin, and with reason, as totally corrupt and ineffective; loud applause therefore ensues. After tearing into the Jews, Hitler follows with shots at all the political parties, one at a time. By this point in the speech, Hitler has angered some in the audience, while others enthusiastically take his side. "There was often so much tumult," the police reporter records, "that I believed that at any moment they would all be fighting." 29

Two years later, Hitler will recall this meeting with much hyperbole, in an article for the Beobachter. He writes that at the conclusion of the meeting he had experienced the feeling that, at that moment, "a wolf had been born, destined to hurl itself on the herds of seducers and deceivers of the people." 30

1920 February 25 Alfred Rosenberg, who had joined the Party in December of 1919, begins publishing The Secret Protocols of the Elders of Zion in serial installments in the Völkischer Beobachter. Rosenberg, who has no idea that The Protocols are a hoax perpetrated by the late Russian Tsar's secret police, had brought a Russian language copy of the book with him to Germany. Rosenberg is one of the first to translate the book into German, and the German public--including a certain far-right Munich politician--becomes aware of it for the first time. Hitler consumes the Protocols, claiming that the book "incomparably" demonstrates "to what an extent the whole existence of this people is based on a continuous lie."

Rosenberg accompanies these serial installments with an extensive commentary that will soon appear collected in pamphlet form. Two other books from Rosenberg's busy pen will soon be available: The Track of the Jews Through the Ages, and Immorality in the Talmud. Hitler is so impressed by these achievements that he quickly takes Rosenberg into the core leadership of the Party. 31

A former National Socialist had this to say of Rosenberg:

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. 32

1920 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 3 The Independent Socialist newspaper Der Kampf labels the NSDAP "the handymen of the Prussian aristocrats and militarists." 34

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.

1920 March 13 In response to the Kapp Putsch, the Social Democrat members of the German government call for a general strike: 37

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! 38

Thomas 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. 39

The 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. 40

1920 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

Eckart and Hitler are appalled. No wonder the Kapp Putsch had failed; Trebitsch Lincoln, a Jew, had been its press officer! "Come on. Adolf," Eckart tells his companion, "We have no further business here." Hitler's report to the Party notes: "When I saw and spoke to the press chief of the Kapp government, I knew this could be no national revolution and that it had to remain unsuccessful, for the press chief was a Jew." 44

On the way out of the city, Hitler notices that the Freikorps Ehrhardt troops have painted swastikas on their helmets (See: May 20 1920). 45

Flying back to Berlin, Hitler ponders what he has learned on this little adventure:

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.

The idea of leading his own Putsch—first on Munich, to conquer Bavaria, and then on to Berlin, to take over all of Germany—is one that Hitler will actively contemplate, almost to the point of obsession, in the coming years. 46

1920 March 31 Adolf Hitler is officially discharged from the 41 Rifle Regiment of the Reichswehr. For the last time, he initials his pay book, and receives 50 marks. As a severance benefit, he is given a pair of shoes, socks, a shirt, pants, a cap, coat, and a jacket as well. Captain Mayr will continue to provide support to the up-and-coming politician in the coming years, according to his autobiography, and there is no reason to doubt his account. 48

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. 50

Frau 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 []

1920 April 3-7 Twenty-one Reichswehr and Freikorps units, including some that had supported the Putsch just days before, march into the Ruhr under General Baron Oskar von Watter and savagely suppress the uprising. A member of the Freikorps von Epp writes home to his parents in Wishcherhöfen: "Anyone who falls into our hands first gets the rifle butt and then is finished off with a bullet. We even shot ten nurses on sight because they were carrying pistols. We shot those little ladies with pleasure—how they cried and pleaded with us to save their lives. Nothing doing! Anybody with a gun is our enemy." 52

1920 April 6 Speaking of the Jews at a public meeting, Hitler declares, to great applause: "We don't want to encourage a pogrom, but we are very much determined to get the evil at its roots and to exterminate it completely . . . . In order to reach our goal we have to use every means, even if we must work with the Devil!" 53

1920 April 6 In response to the turmoil in Germany, the French occupy the cities of Darmstadt, Hanau, and Frankfort, outside the Ruhr. France announces that the troops will leave only when all German soldiers have left the demilitarized Ruhr. By April 17, after having shot to death seven German youths who had protested when a French flag had been raised, the French troops will be withdrawn. 54

1920 April 17-November 19 Hitler will speak at sixteen weekly or twice-weekly intervals during this time, all attended by a Munich police reporter, who files regular reports. Gone are the days when Hitler stands before mere hundreds; he is now regularly addressing audiences of 1,500 to 2,000 people, with a crowd average of 1,800, according to the most conservative of the police estimates. By the end of 1920, Hitler will have spoken at over thirty mass meetings, and at countless smaller gatherings. Party membership, at 190 in January 1920, will be up to 2,000 by the end of the year, and 3,300 by August 1921. 55

With the price of admission to meetings now at one mark, funds are filling the Party coffers for a change, and each increase in cash is reinvested in driving up the attendance at public meetings, as well as recruiting dues-paying members. The party goes beyond mimeographed notices, and spends many marks on advertisements in the Muenchener Boebachter for their ever-growing meetings. Steady progress is achieved due to the full-time efforts of an unknown and uneducated enlisted man, secretly bankrolled by army intelligence. 56

1920 April 27 For the first time in public, Hitler proclaims "We need a dictator who is a genius, if we want to rise again . . . . As soon as we assume power, then we will work like buffaloes." He doesn't say whether or not he has someone specific in mind for the job of genius-dictator. 57

1920 May 10 Rudolf Hess, a decorated combat veteran who is a member of the Thule Society, as well as Ernst Röhm's Iron Fist, attends a Monday night meeting of the NSDAP, in the Sprechabend at the Sterneckerbrau. Hitler, the featured speaker, gives forth on the topic "The Worker and The Jews." Hess, who had been shot in the leg on May 1, 1919 while a member of a Freikorps unit battling for control of Munich, is hypnotized by Hitler's oratory. 58

Hess's 20-year-old girlfriend and future wife, Ilse Pröhl, describes Hess when he returned from hearing Hitler: "He was like a new man, lively, radiant, no longer gloomy, not despondent. Something completely new, something stirring must have happened to him." 59

1920 May 11 An enthusiastic Rudolf Hess drags his girlfriend off to see Hitler speak, at the Festival Hall of the Hofbrauhaus, on the topic "What We Want." Hitler puts the blame for the Ruhr troubles, the French occupation of Frankfort, etc., on "international Jewish high finance and the docile press." The Jewish Question cannot be avoided; it must be solved. There can only be one course of action." To rising, sustained applause, Hitler screams out his last lines: "The day will come, when it will come true. The people rise up, the storm breaks loose!" 60

1920 May 20 Hitler establishes the swastika as the official symbol of the Nazi Party, in flag, arm-band, and badge form. 61

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

1920 June Captain Mayr arranges the funds for the printing of 3,000 brochures, attacking the Versailles Treaty. They will be used as propaganda handouts by Hitler's NSDAP. 63

1920 June 25 The Independent Socialists' Munich newspaper Der Kampf reports that, the previous evening, Hitler had spoken to a predominantly "middle class" audience, which greeted him with "fantastic jubilation" that was minutenlang (one or more minutes in duration). "Demand after demand for the murder of the Jews followed, and each time there had to be a pause because the bourgeois mob needed to respond to every such crudity by sustained shouting." 64

1920 July 1 Rudolf Hess joins the NSDAP. 65

1920 July 5-16 A meeting of the Supreme Council of the five Entente powers, the Spa Conference, takes place in the city of Spa, Belgium. The German government, alleging that a "threat of revolution" hangs over the land, proposes that the implementation of the Treaty of Versailles reparations payments be postponed. Germany eventually agrees to deliver 2 million tons of coal a month, and the Allies pledge to give Germany credit for purchases of food and medicine. Because France and Great Britain cannot agree on all points, the conference at Spa merely fixes a quota for each country entitled by the treaty to receive reparations, but does not determine how much Germany owes in the aggregate. When word of these negotiations hits the German press, public outrage over the "Diktat" is renewed. 66

1920 July 7 Hitler speaks before his largest crowd yet, 2,400, on "The Shameful Peace of Versailles." "Stormily greeted," Hitler starts out by attacking as "crawling and obsequious" those who have an opinion that differs with his on the Spa issue. The German government must "learn that for us, there cannot be any answer at Spa: never—at any time!" All Germans should refuse to pay their taxes in order to "put an end to all this rotten business."

Hitler, inevitably, brings the Jews into the tirade in such a way that the crowd begins to shout out, calling for Human Rights for the Jews. "Human Rights!" Hitler fires back. "The Jew should look for them where he ought to go, where he belongs, in his own state of Palestine." The Munich police reporter records that this was met with "fervent applause" and "turmoil, verging on attacks." 67

Nineteen-year-old Hans Frank, a member of the Thule Society and former Epp Freikorps member, who will become Hitler's strong-man in Poland during WW2, sees Hitler speak for the first time. Frank had attended other political meetings and rallies, but none quite like this one. 68

While awaiting execution in 1946 for War Crimes, Frank will write this account:

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

1920 July 15 The evening before the last day of the Spa Conference, Hitler addresses a crowd of 1,200 at the Hofbrauhaus, proclaiming that "the hour of vengeance tolls." When Frau Sara Moser, a Jewish woman, opines: "The peace treaty must be honestly fulfilled," during a discussion period, the crowd becomes ugly: "She is sick! Take her to Eglfing (a mental hospital)! The ambulance is right outside!" The police reporter notes: "[Moser] cannot be heard over the noise; chairman cuts her off in order to restore order."

When Hitler says, "The present government cannot bring about peace and order," the crowd responds, chanting "Bring it down!"

To bring the meeting to an end, Hitler makes a plea for new members: "The National Socialist Workers' Party is the only party. Join it. Then internal peace will come to our land. We cannot fulfill the peace treaty, and if we try, the German people will only sink lower and lower. It is not possible, just not possible." 70

An eye-witness to this, and many other of Hitler's orations, records:

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

1920 August 7-8 Hitler travels to Salzburg, in his country of origin, Austria, along with fellow-delegate Anton Drexler. The two are attending a Pan-German conference, representing their new party, which now has a membership of 725. Drexler has in mind that the work of the conference should be to create a single unified völkish party run from Berlin, with democratic elections and parliamentary debate as the preferred process to determine policy. 73

However, it is Hitler who is scheduled to speak at the gathering, and he is not prepared to subordinate his Munich-based party to Berlin. But on the political unity of all German-speaking people, he and Drexler do agree. Hitler opens with: "Fellow Germans! I am thoroughly ashamed that the same movement which began in German-Austria in 1904 is only now catching hold in Germany after so many years." This is a reference to the Austrian National Socialist Workers Party (DNSAP) of Walter Riehl. On the recent war, he states:

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. 74

1920 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.

This is the very same issue that had prompted Hitler to take the floor during the first Party meeting he ever attended, and he does so again on this occasion, proclaiming: "Better to have a Greater Germany under the Bolsheviks than a Southern German State dependent upon the Czechs and the French!" The crowd erupts in turmoil, and the besieged Ballerstedt is beaten bloody and tossed out the door. This is not the last Hitler will see of the troublesome fellow. 75

1920 August 11 Implementing a protocol approved at the Spa Conference, the National Disarmament Law takes effect. This law orders all civil guards units to disband, a sensible consideration, as most of the Freikorps veterans had gone into this sort of unit when their own regiments were dissolved, and the civil guards might eventually attempt a Freikorps-style take-over, similar to the Kapp Putsch. Bavaria refuses to disband its 267,000-strong Civil Guard, and stages a "Bavarian Shooting Match," in defiance of the Reichstag. Never since Bismarck had unified Germany, had a German state refused to comply with an order of the central government. 76

Heinrich Himmler's 14th Alarm Company is among those units that are disbanded, so he immediately joins the paramilitary Einwohnerwehr, where he is issued 1 steel helmet, 2 ammunition pouches, and 1 haversack, appropriated from the stores of the Reichswehr's 21 Rifle Brigade. He will not be active for long, as he will move to Fridolfing to take up farming, in September. 77

1920 August 13 While Hitler hardly ever speaks at length without mentioning "the Jews," tonight's appearance at the Festaal of the Hofbrauhaus is his only speech of the year that is devoted to that single topic. Probably meant to be a basic policy statement, "Why Are We Anti Semites?" is interrupted by enthusiastic cheering, 58 times during the two-hour long oration. 78

1920 August 28 From a Munich police reporters account of a NSDAP meeting:

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. 79

1920 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 Early October Hitler speaks at a rally at Innsbruck, the first stop on a two-week tour of Austria. He is campaigning for Nazi candidates running for office in the upcoming October 16 Austrian elections. The Innsbrucker Nachrichten reports: "His [Hitler's] party is firmly determined to solve the Jewish Question with well-known German thoroughness. The National Socialists . . . support with all their energy the joining of all Germans in one state territory and will not give up until this goal is reached." 81

1920 October 16 Captain Ernst Julius Günther Röhm, a German officer in the Bavarian Army, who had marched with Colonel von Epp's Bayerisches Freikorps when it had overturned the Red Republic in Munich, sees Hitler speak at a NSDAP meeting. While Captain Mayr had already introduced Röhm and Hitler the previous autumn—at a meeting of Röhm's "Iron Fist" club for radical nationalist officers—this is Röhm's first appearance at a NSDAP meeting. Roehm, a promiscuous homosexual, will join the Party within days. 82

Hitler and Roehm will grow quite close, and by the end of 1920, Roehm will have replaced Mayr as the liaison between the Reichswehr and Hitler. Captain Roehm has been active in arming the various Freikorps formations, and has first-hand knowledge of secret warehouses stocked with usable WWI weaponry: items that were supposed to have been destroyed in accordance with the terms of Versailles. He will introduce Hitler to key contacts, the leaders and backers of various patriotic associations, and to new sources of funding. Röhm soon becomes one of Hitler's most influential backers, and will call him a friend as well. 83

1920 December 17 At 2 o'clock a.m. in a panic, Hitler, Hermann Esser—who will become the Nazi party's first chief of propaganda—and Oskar Koerner, the deputy party-chairman, appear on Anton Drexler's doorstep. Bavarian separatists are making a bid to purchase the nearly bankrupt Völkischer Beobachter, a newspaper that, for many months, Hitler and his colleagues have discussed acquiring. The group decides that Drexler will see Eckart, first thing in the morning, and convince him to pressure his well-to-do contacts into providing capital for the purchase of the paper. 84

Having awakened a none-too-pleased Eckart from a deep sleep, Drexler sets off with him to see General von Epp. The General provides 60,000 marks from Reichswehr funds, when Eckart puts his house and property up for collateral. 30,000 marks are quickly acquired from other sources, and Drexler, whose income is 35 marks a week, takes over the remaining debt of 113,000 marks. By late afternoon, the Beobachter is theirs. 85

1920 December 25 The first issue of the Völkischer Beobachter since the Nazi take-over hits the newsstands.

On the Editorial page: "The National Socialist German Worker' Party has, with greatest sacrifice, taken over the Völkischer Beobachter in order to develop it into a relentless weapon for Germanism against all hostile, un-German efforts."

The first Nazi Christmas message, on the front page of the Völkischer Beobachter: "Buy your Christmas presents at German stores, but not from Jews or from Jewish stores." 86

From Mein Kampf:

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. 87

End of Chapter.

Next: Drumming.

Written by Walther Johann von Löpp
Copyright 2011-2013 All Rights Reserved
Edited by Levi Bookin — Copy Editor
European History and Jewish Studies

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