1921 January 1 Adolf Hitler, the NSDAP's Werbeobmann (propaganda chief), substantially increases the volume of his party propaganda activities in 1921. In December 1920, the NSDAP had purchased the Völkischer Beobachter and made it their own newspaper. Hitler soon becomes one of the paper's most frequent contributors. He starts off this year with a piece entitled "The Nationalist Idea and the Party," writing that the roots of Germany's ills are two-fold: class strife, and "the Jews." 1
Our monitor troop was far from being adequate for this colossal hall. And I had no proper idea about the kind of procedure possible in case of an attempt to break the meeting up. At that time I thought this would be much harder for us in the Circus building than in a normal hall. Yet, as it later turned out, the truth was exactly the opposite. Actually, in this gigantic hall, it was easier to master a troop of disturbers than in small halls where you were penned in . . . .
I began to speak, and spoke about two and a half hours; and my feeling told me after the first half hour that the meeting would be a great success. Contact with all these thousands of individuals had been established. After the first hour, the applause began to interrupt me in greater and greater spontaneous outbursts, ebbing off after two hours into that solemn stillness, which I have later experienced so very often in this hall, and which will remain unforgettable to every single member of the audience. Then you could hardly hear more than the breathing of this gigantic multitude, and only when the last word had been spoken did the applause suddenly roar forth to find its release and conclusion in the Deutschland song, sung with the highest fervor.
I stayed to watch as the giant hall slowly began to empty, and for nearly twenty minutes an enormous sea of human beings forced its way through the mighty center exit. Only then did I myself, overjoyed, leave my place to go home. Photographs were made of this first meeting in the Circus Krone. They show, better than words, the magnitude of the demonstration. Bourgeois papers ran pictures and notices, but they only mentioned that there had been a 'national' demonstration, and with their usual modesty passed over the organizers in silence. 9
The president of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, Professor Max von Gruber, was an eye-witness to this meeting. He wrote:
I found it strange that those same groups who were completely enamored of democratic and socialist dreams a year or a year and a half ago, were now again enthusiastic about nationalism, and sang Deutschland ueber alles and Die Wacht am Rhein . . . . What Hitler said about the November Revolution, the war, enemies, the importance of the mother-country, were to the point . . . . What he said about shaking off the hostile yoke was quite illusory, and his economic program was childish . . . . [Hitler, if he were ever to gain power, would no doubt] create immense damage through senseless behavior. 101921 February 6 Hitler travels to Odeonsplatz to address a mass rally of "patriotic associations." His "party-political tendencies" fail to make an impact, according to one report. 11
1920 February 9 General Johannes Friedrich "Hans" von Seeckt, commander (Chef der Heeresleitung) of the Reichswehr, meets with the Truppenamt (Troop Office). The Truppenamt is, in reality, his General Staff, a body outlawed by the Versailles Treaty. Upset concerning demands by the Allies that the German government turn over some 900 German officers and civilians for war crimes trials, Seeckt tells his officers that, if the government should give in to this outrageous demand, which they are sworn by lawful Treaty to obey, the Reichswehr should openly resist with all possible means, including military action. If the Allies invade, Germany should invade Poland, establish contacts with the Soviet Union, and together declare war against France and Britain. 12
Hitler is especially displeased because the leader of the DSP, Dr. Otto Dickel, is a rival as a nationalist leader and orator. Certain NSDAP members are delighted to have this alternative to Hitler available, an "outstanding speaker with a popular touch" (volkstruemlichen und ausgezeichneten). Hitler will have nothing to do with anything likely to strengthen the hand of this threat to his supremacy in the movement. Ultimately, Drexler swallows his pride and reneges on the deal, much to the displeasure of Hitler's party opponents. To Hitler's great annoyance, however, it is arranged that further talks between the two parties should take place at a later date. 19
1921 May 4 In response to the refusal of the US to mediate the reparations issue, the government of Chancellor Konstantin Fehrenbach resigns, and Joseph Wirth of the Center Party forms a new government. Wirth proposes that Germany accept the terms of the London Ultimatum, which would commit them to pay a scaled-down 132 billion gold marks in reparations, all told. 21
1921 May 14 A clear indication that Hitler is becoming a player occurs when Bavarian Minister President Gustav Ritter von Kahr, the virtual dictator of Bavaria, invites him and a group of his Nazis—including Drexler and Rudolf Hess—to meet with him privately. Kahr considers Hitler to be little more than a propaganda agitator, but meeting Hitler is consistent with his "cell of order" (Ordnungszelle) strategy, designed to reduce political strife in Bavaria. As well, he is hoping to use figures such as Hitler against the "fulfillment policy" of Chancellor Wirth in Berlin. Though Kahr is an old school aristocrat and monarchist, he and Hitler share common ground on one very important point: the Weimar Republic must go. 23
I personally know Herr Hitler very well, since I speak to him almost every day, and since I'm close to him emotionally. He is an unusually decent, honest character, full of deep kindness of heart, religious, a good Catholic. He has only one aim: the well-being of his country. Therefore he is sacrificing himself unselfishly, without a penny of profit from the movement. He lives on the money he gets for speeches he sometimes makes to other groups . . . . Your Excellency can unconditionally trust Hitler. 241921 Early June Adolf Hitler, aged 31, has been leading the Munich-based NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers' Party—Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) as would a dictator, which is how he fancies himself. Many Party members consider it a natural state of affairs that Hitler should take such a role. After all, he is their best, most charismatic speaker, their most able organizer, and has the material and spiritual backing of the Reichswehr as well. These fans of Hitler are those who believe in the "strong-man" theory of political organization, an early conceptualization of the Fuehrer Principle (Fuehrerprinzip). 25
Other Party members, including Anton Drexler (above), the founder of the Party, would have preferred a more democratic approach. Drexler wanted all issues to be brought to the Executive Committee for consideration, with really big issues being settled by a popular vote at Party membership meetings. While it would be a gross over-statement to equate this dynamic to that of the conflict between Stalin and Trotsky—Drexler lacks Trotsky's fanaticism, or his righteous energy—there is nonetheless a faint but noticeable parallel. 26
His hostess is Helene Bechstein, the wife of Carl Bechstein, the founder of C. Bechstein Pianofortefabrik. Helene refers to Hitler by the pet name of Wolfchen, and improbably dreams of the day when he will wed her young daughter, Lotte. In the afternoons, the young orator receives elocution lessons at the mansion, in an attempt to take the edge off his Austrian accent and improve his delivery. 29
He wore stiff white collars and starched shirts, always dressed in a black coat and stripped trousers and was a man of some substance . . . . [Visiting him at his home, I] found that behind his staid exterior he was a crackpot inventor. There were tubes and retorts and presses all over the place and the bathroom looked like a scene out of Faust. He was apparently making some new form of bomb no bigger than a tennis ball which would blow up a house. 30Gansser took Hitler around to the various officers' clubs, introducing him to all the notables. Most of these traditional military fellows wanted little to do with the Austrian Gefreiter or his program: "They were terrified lest people should know that they had heard of it!" The only exception is Admiral Ludwig von Schroeder. Schroeder was a Prussian officer and Admiral during WW1 who was a recipient of a Pour le Mérite with Oak Leaves. Hitler described him as "a grand old bull of a man, charged with energy." 31
I myself saw [Schroeder's] marines in the Battle of the Somme, and compared with them, we were the rawest of recruits," Hitler recalled. Schroeder, "the most energetic of men, that uncompromising fanatic, accepted the whole thing [the party program] without further ado . . . . When I discover a man like Schroeder, I grab him at once. 321921 When Gottfried Feder opines that Hitler's approach is flawed, and suggests that his program is insufficiently voelkish, Anton Drexler takes Hitler's side. Drexler replies to Feder in a letter: "Each revolutionary movement must have a dictatorial head, and therefore I think that our Hitler is the most suitable for our movement, without wanting to be pushed to the background myself." 33
I found a Germany riven by faction and near destitution . . . . Even the bracing malt-laden air of Munich could not compensate for the unpainted look of the houses and the peeling facade of the great Court Theatre . . . . Almost the first political event which greeted my return was the murder of Matthias Erzberger, who had signed the 1918 Armistice, by a couple of young right-wing radicals. Counter threats, reports of separatism, putschism and terrorism filled the columns of the newspapers. The tone of the press increased daily in violence and abuse. It became evident to me that Germany, politically speaking, was a madhouse, with a thousand opinions and no saving idea . . . . I had been spared the misery of the previous decade and wanted in a confused way to help, but could find no outlet. 351921 July 9 Hitler fails to show up at a scheduled meeting with representatives from the DSP for merger negotiations, a proposal that Hitler vehemently opposes. 36
1. The Party committee resigns its offices; in the election of a new committee I demand the position of First Chairman with dictatorial authority to immediately establish an action committee which will carry out the ruthless cleansing of the foreign elements that have forced their way into the Party. The action committee consists of three members.
2. Inviolable affirmation of the principle that the seat of the movement is and forever remains Munich. . . .
3. Any additional change in the name or the program is to be avoided for a period of six years. Members who are nevertheless active in this direction and for this purpose are to be excluded from the movement . . . .
I do not make these demands because I am greedy for power, but because recent events have more than ever convinced me that without iron leadership the Party—even without an external name change—would internally cease in a short time to be what it should be. 40
In view of your immense knowledge, the services you have rendered in the most honorable fashion with rare self-sacrifice to the growth of the party, and your exceptional oratorical skills, the Committee is prepared to grant you dictatorial powers. If you should choose to return to the party, they will feel extremely honored if you will accept the post of First President, which Drexler himself has already offered you over a long period of time. Drexler will remain as your coadjutor in the executive committee. If you should consider it desirable to have him completely excluded from the Movement, the next annual meeting would have to be consulted on the matter. 431921 July Some of his opponents counter-attack, hitting Hitler with an anonymous pamphlet with a print run of 3,000 copies: Adolf Hitler: Is He A Traitor? The Muenchener Post publishes the pamphlet. Hitler soon sues for libel, and is eventually awarded 600 marks. 44
When asked by members what he lives on and what his former occupation was, he always became agitated and flew into a rage ... so his conscience cannot be clear, especially since his excess in relations with women, to whom he has often referred to himself as "King of Munich," takes a great deal of money . . . . 45
A lust for power and personal ambition have caused Herr Hitler to return to his post after his six weeks' stay in Berlin, of which the purpose has not been disclosed. Hitler believes that the time has come to sow disunity and dissension in our ranks on behalf of obscure people working behind the scenes. In this way he performs the work of the Jews and their accomplices. It grows more and more clear that his purpose is simply to use the National Socialist party as a springboard for his own immoral purposes, and to seize the leadership in order to force the Party onto a different track at the psychological moment. This is most clearly shown by an ultimatum which he sent to the Party leaders a few days ago, in which he demands, among other things, that he shall have a sole and absolute dictatorship of the Party, and that the Committee, including the locksmith Anton Drexler, the founder and leader of the Party, should retire . . . . 46
And how does he fight? Like a Jew! He twists every fact . . . . National Socialists! Make up your minds about such characters! Make no mistake. Hitler is a demagogue and relies solely on his talents as a speaker. He believes himself capable of leading the German people astray, and especially of filling one up with all kinds of tales that are anything but the truth. 47
Around this time, Max Amann, a sergeant-major who had served as regimental clerk in Hitler's List Regiment during the Great War, is hired as the party's business manager. "In the summer of 1921, work in the business office had become impossible," Hitler explained. "So many people kept milling around in the narrow room that organized activity was out of the question. Everybody was in everybody else's way." Amann is just what the office needs—a strong character who commands respect—to bring order and efficiency. 57
1921 August 14 Stormtrooper leader Captain Hans Ulrich Klintzsch publishes an appeal to membership in the pages of the Völkischer Beobachter:
To Our German Youth!
Fellow Party members! . . . The NSDAP has formed a Gymnastics and Sports Section within its organization. It is intended that it should join together our young party members so that as an iron unit they can place their strength at the disposal of the entire movement as a battering ram. It is to be the symbol of defense of a free people. It should serve as the protective shield for the work of spreading the message that the leaders wish to accomplish. 59
1921 August 16-17 All party members in Munich are assembled in two large groups for the purpose of ideological indoctrination. These courses soon become regularly scheduled events. Hermann Esser leads one group, while Oskar Koerner, a toy-store owner and close associate of Hitler, instructs the other. Anton Drexler, so recently the loser in a power struggle with the young Austrian, assists Koerner in his lectures. Drexler does not want to be left out of the party he created, and has resigned himself to the reality that Hitler is better able to lead. Drexler hopes that, at the very least, he can serve some useful role as an instructor. 60
It was Matthias Erzberger who had been picked by Prince Max von Baden to negotiate with the Allies in the Forest of Compiègne, and to sign the armistice ending WWI. After the signing, he had made a few remarks, famously telling Foch that "The German people, who stood steadfast against a world of enemies for fifty months, will preserve their freedom and unity, no matter how great the external pressure. A nation of seventy millions can suffer, but it cannot die." It was Foch who had refused Erzberger's outstretched hand, and is supposed to have replied, "Très bien." The German Right has never forgiven Erzberger for negotiating the Armistice, and typically express their displeasure through violence this day. 62
We must urge our people not to let their fate be bartered away by some ambitious scoundrels, but rather to show this parliamentary rabble, through street demonstrations if necessary, that the people . . . are not a herd of sheep. If it should be necessary, then these Berlin Asians and their depraved followers must be pitted against the German skull and the Bavarian fist. 691921 September 20 Hitler is arrested by the Munich police, and spends the night in jail. 70
1921 October 20 The League of Nations makes the final decision on Upper Silesia. They award Germany most of the land, but 80% of the region's most valuable factories and coal mines are given to Poland. Cities such as Katowice and Konigshutte find themselves part of Poland, even though most of the population is German. The League of Nations solution solves nothing, ultimately, and unrest in the region will continue. 78
Hitler explained that he could not be made responsible for all these things; in the case of the smashing of the windows at the premises of the Muenchener Post, it was, as far as he had learned, an act of revenge on the part of former members of the Freikorps Oberland. He had not approved the last parade with the flag after the end of the gathering in the Krone, but had instead condemned it and taken it as an occasion to dismiss from the party some who had participated in it. He promised to do everything to stop such riots before they began. 811921 October 25 The night after his interrogation, Hitler speaks to a group of sixty SA in the Restaurant Adelmann. "My Young Friends," he said: "We must not get into trouble with the police . . . . Privately, they like us because they, too, hate the Jews. We mustn't, therefore, call them servants of the Jews . . . otherwise, it might come to the point that the Sturmabteilung will be banned by the police. Should this happen, all our work would be in vain . . . . I understand you, your blood runs faster . . . . but you must restrain yourselves." 82
Among the SA thugs in Hitler's employ this night are Emil Maurice, who is charged with forming flying columns to throw at the communists. Maurice is an original member of the earliest incarnation of the SA. Already a member of Hitler's entourage, he will one day become his Fuehrer's official chauffeur. 83
I had the doors to the large hall closed and then ordered the forty-five or forty-six men to line up. I made it clear to the lads that today, probably for the first time, they would have to show themselves loyal to the movement through thick and thin, and that not a man of us must leave the hall unless we were carried out dead; I myself would remain in the hall, and I did not believe that a single one of them would desert me; but if I should see anyone playing the coward, I myself would personally tear off his arm-band and take away his insignia. Then I called upon them to advance immediately at the slightest attempt to break up the meeting, and to bear in mind that the best defense lies in your own offensive. The answer was a threefold "Heil!" that sounded rougher and hoarser than usual . . . .
How many of them I only came really to know on that day; at the head: my good Maurice, my present private secretary Hess, and many others, who, even though gravely injured themselves, attacked again and again as long as their legs would hold them. For twenty minutes the hellish tumult lasted, but then our enemies, who must have numbered seven or eight hundred men, had for the most part been beaten out of the hall and chased down the stairs by my men, numbering not even fifty. Only in the left rear corner of the hall, a big group stood its ground and offered embittered resistance. Then suddenly two shots were fired from the hall entrance toward the platform, and wild shooting started. Your heart almost rejoiced at such a revival of old war experiences . . . .
About twenty-five minutes had passed; the hall looked almost as if a shell had struck it. Many of my supporters were being bandaged; others had to be driven away, but we had remained masters of the situation. Hermann Esser, who had assumed the chair this evening, declared: 'The meeting goes on. The speaker has the floor.' And then I spoke again. After we ourselves had closed the meeting, an excited police lieutenant came dashing in, and, wildly swinging his arms, he cackled into the hall: 'The meeting is dismissed.' Involuntarily I had to laugh at this late-comer, real police pompousness. The smaller they are, the bigger they have to try and look, at least. That night, we had really learned a good deal and our enemies never again forgot the lesson they for their part had received. 85
The place was pretty well full. We womenfolk were told to get well up in front: it would be safest there, far from the doors. I was too excited really to be frightened. It was plain that there'd be some trouble: half the people in the place belonged to the Reds. I found a table right in front.
Then they came and set another near it, and . . . Herr Esser got up on it to open the meeting. As soon as he jumped down again, Herr Hitler took his place. They greeted him with a few boos and yells, but after a bit he gripped even the enemy and was speaking without interruption . . . .
A beer pot went crash! That was the signal for things to begin. Three, four, five heavy stone pots flew by within an inch of the speaker's head and next instant his young guards sprang forward shouting to us women to "duck down!"
We ducked sharp enough! The row was ear splitting. Never heard anything like it in your life! Pandemonium had broken out . . . .
One heard nothing but yells, crashing beer mugs, stamping and struggling, the overturning of heavy oaken tables, and the smashing up of wooden chairs . . . .
Hitler stuck to his post. Never got off that table! He made no effort to shield himself at all. He was the target of it all, it's a sheer miracle how he never got hit. Them murderous heavy mugs was flying at his head all the time. I know because I got a sharp look round just between whiles: there he stuck, quiet as a statue, waiting for those boys of his to get the tumult under . . . .
The boys with the arm-bands saw their jackets torn half off their backs, and their faces all patched and dabbled with blood. Anyhow, they did get the Reds outside somehow . . . . The room was simply wrecked. There was over four hundred smashed beer mugs lying about everywhere, and piles of broken chairs. 86
"I was born in Braunau am Inn on April 20, 1889, the son of the post office official Alois Hitler."
What stands out immediately is that Alois Hitler was not a postal employee, but a customs officer and border guard. Why would Hitler lie that his father worked for the post office when he knew that it was not so? Robert Payne opined that, by this method, Hitler was able to make it difficult for anyone to dig up any information on his father. Anyone looking through old postal employee files would find the search to be a dead end, and Hitler's past would remain obscure that much longer. A search of the files at the customs office would be too likely to actually yield a fact or two, something that Hitler would not make it easy to do. 89
In 1912, following my profession [architect, he claims], I went to live permanently in Munich. In the course of 4 years, from the age of 20 to 24, I became more and more preoccupied with politics, not so much in the way of attending meetings as in the way of fundamental studies of political economy and of all the available anti-Semitic literature.Here, Hitler, for the first time, implies that his anti-Semitism had its start in Vienna. He does not, however, go so far as to say that he had become an anti-Semite during this time, as he would in Mein Kampf.
"In June, 1919, I joined the German Workers' Party, which consisted at this time of seven members..."
For the first time, Hitler propagates the myth that he had been the 7th person to join the DAP. Hitler had, in fact, been given membership card #555. But the numbering had started at 500, making Hitler the 55th fellow to join, not the 7th. It has been suggested that perhaps Hitler changed the number because he was the 7th member of the Executive Committee, but this is not what he tells the unknown Doctor, is it? It seems odd that Hitler would have clouded this unimportant issue with this unnecessary inconsistency, and it is difficult to fully make sense of it.
Written by Walther Johann von Löpp
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European History and Jewish Studies
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