1923 November 8
This morning's issue of the Völkischer Beobachter features a large picture of Johann David Ludwig Graf Yorck von Wartenburg. Wartenburg was a Prussian Generalfeldmarschall who, during the War of the Sixth Coalition, had engineered the flipping of the Kingdom of Prussia from a French alliance to a Russian alliance. Yorck's act was a turning-point of Prussian history, but he had been forced to defy lawful orders to pull it off, and was very nearly court-martialed before the importance of what he had accomplished was appreciated. The caption below the picture asks: "Shall we find a second General Yorck in our hour of need?" The reference is certainly not lost on General Otto von Lossow, the Befehlshaber (commander) of the Reichswehr in Bavaria. Placing this picture and reference on the front cover of the Beobachter on this particular day is no accident. 1
9:00 AM: Max von Scheubner-Richter informs Johann Aigner, his valet, that the two of them will be going to hear Generalkommissar Gustav von Kahr, the strong man of Bavaria, give an address at Munich's Bürgerbräukeller that evening. Aigner finds it odd that, even though both of them have the right to wear their army uniforms, and always do when in groupings with the "patriotic organizations", they are to wear civilian clothes on this occasion. Further, they are to bring their notebooks and pistols with them. 2
10:00 AM: Rudolf Hess meets with Hitler in his apartment. While there is no record of what transpired, this is probably when Hitler instructs Hess to be at the Bürgerbräukeller that evening, about an hour before Generalkommissar von Kahr is scheduled to speak. He is to rent the small back room next to the speaker's podium, and ensure that it is secure. 3
11:30 AM: Ernst Hanfstaengl is with Alfred Rosenberg in his office at the Völkischer Beobachter:
His [Rosenberg's] desk was diagonally across the corner of the room, on it the pistol he always displayed. We could hear Hitler stomping up and down the corridor, and heels clicking as he called out, "Where is Captain Goering?" It was all very military. Then he burst into our room, pallid with excitement, trench-coat tightly belted and carrying his riding whip. We both stood up. "Swear you will not mention this to a living soul," he said in a tone of suppressed urgency. "The hour has come. Tonight we act." 4
Noon: Max Amann, the party's business manager in Munich, calls Julius Streicher in Nuremberg. Amann tells Streicher to catch the 1:45 PM express to Munich. It is "of the utmost patriotic importance" that he report to SA headquarters by 7:00 PM. 5
Anyone who had occasion to make Adolf Hitler's acquaintance knows that I am correct in saying that those who imagined they could pave a way to his personal friendship were entirely mistaken. Adolf Hitler was a little eccentric in every respect and I believe I can say that friendship between him and other men did not exist; a friendship that might have been described as intimate friendship. It was not easy to approach Adolf Hitler; and anyone who wanted to approach him could do so only by performing some manly deed.
Early Afternoon: At SA headquarters, Hitler meets with Hermann Goering, Hermann Kriebel of the Kampfbund, Dr. Friedrich Weber of Bund Oberland, Max von Scheubner-Richter, Ludendorff's stepson, Heinz Pernet, and First Lieutenant Gerhard Rossbach. Hitler, unwilling to reveal the details of his putsch plan, such as it is, orders that the principal units of the Kampfbund assemble at four hotel drinking establishments in central Munich, at 7:00 PM. From there, they are to head towards the Bürgerbräukeller, stopping on the way to receive arms from trucks placed alongside the designated routes. 7
If you ask me now . . . I may say that before 1923 Adolf Hitler did not trust me. Although I had handed over my movement to him unreservedly, he sent Goering, who later became Marshal of the Reich, some time later to Nuremberg. Goering was then a young SA leader—I think he was an SA leader—and he came to investigate matters and to determine whether I or those who denounced me were in the right. I do not mean this as an accusation, but merely as a statement of fact. Soon after that he sent a second and then a third person; in short, he did not trust me before 1923. Then came Munich and the Putsch. 6
Laboratory assistant Heinrich Himmler receives a phone call at the chemical fertilizer factory where he is employed. The twenty-three year old NSDAP member is informed that attendance at a "beer party" at the Loewenbraukeller, scheduled for that very evening, is now mandatory. He is expected to be there by 7:00 PM. 8
Similar messages are being sent and received throughout Munich and its suburbs, throughout this busy day. It seems that every patriotic organization in the city is having a beer-bash this evening. Most of these events have been scheduled in advance, and are intended to disguise the mobilization of the paramilitary formations throughout the city. Munich has a population of nearly three-quarters of a million souls, and the few scattered reports the police will receive will be considered insufficient to raise the necessary alarm. 9
3:00 PM: After meeting with various conspirators throughout the day, Hitler and his bodyguard, Ulrich Graf, a huge man with an impressive mustache, head out to Hitler's brand new, bright red Benz automobile. Telling his chauffeur that he will be right back, he crosses the street and enters the studio of his friend, photographer Heinrich Hoffmann. A few minutes later, Hoffmann and Hitler climb in, and Hitler orders the driver to take them to the Gastsätte Gärtnerplatz for tea. He does not share his putsch plans with Hoffmann. 10
Leaving the Gastsätte, Hitler tells Hofmann he wants to stop and see Hermann Esser [above], who is laid up with jaundice. Hoffmann waits outside. Esser is to be at the Loewenbraukeller at exactly 9:30 PM, Hitler tells him. His task is to announce the national revolution to a right-wing group as it occurs. Soon after Hitler rejoins Hoffmann, Goering appears, wanting to confer with his Fuehrer. After a private talk with Goering, Hitler tells Hoffmann that he has a headache, and must lay down. He has a "very important job" to do in the evening, leaving his friend in the dark as to just what he is referring to. 11
4:00 PM: Behind Hitler's back, Ludendorff meets privately with the triumvirate of Bavaria, General Gustav von Kahr, Hans Ritter von Seisser, and Captain Otto von Lossow. Ludendorff, while he does not betray the planned putsch, behaves somewhat coyly. He acts as would a man who is keeping his options open, perhaps hoping that the triumvirate will bring him into their confidence. Had that occurred, he may well have been prepared to betray Hitler's plans, but it never came to that. Kahr recorded the meeting's end:
Ludendorff replied that he, for his part, would get in touch with the North, but that the matter was very urgent, since danger was imminent . . . . The people might [initiate] the attack. Lossow asked: "What kind of people would do that? How do they see this thing? They certainly wouldn't battle with the Reichswehr. You will disappoint yourself if you believe the Reichswehr would desert its leaders and not obey their command." The conference was closed without further results. 12
4:00 PM: Gottfried Feder is standing in line at the Schneider & Muenzing Bank, with a withdrawal slip. He demands that the teller close out his account, and give him all of his stock certificates as well. He raises a fuss when the bank manager explains to him that part of his portfolio has not yet been validated, but his pleas have no effect. Feder, who fancies himself a "financial expert", has good reason to want to withdraw his funds. He has a decree in his pocket, signed by Adolf Hitler, proclaiming that all bank accounts are to be frozen upon the seizure of power by Hitler's "German national government". 13
Late Afternoon: The Engineer Barracks Number One, situated on the Oberwiesenfeld, is the home of the Reichswehr's Seventh Engineer Battalion. Captain Oskar Cantzler encounters some of the soldiers, who also participate in meetings of the Bund Oberland, placing live rounds of ammunition from the barracks stores into their machine-gun belts. This is an obvious violation, and the alert Captain immediately puts a stop to it. 14
Margarethe Ludendorff is not in on the putsch, but is aware that something is in the air:
Towards evening, I saw our servant, Kurt Neubauer, hurrying out of the house in uniform. I was surprised, and called after him, "Kurt, where are you off to in such a hurry, and in uniform, too?" Without stopping, he turned round: "A meeting in the Bürgerbräukeller . . . [I am] detailed to guard the hall. I must catch the train," and he was gone. Half an hour later, shortly before the departure of the next train, I heard the clink of [my son Heinz's] spurs as went bounding downstairs. He also was going to the meeting. The only surprising thing was that, contrary to his habit, he was wearing his uniform. I wondered at that. Ludendorff was in his study. I heard him pacing restlessly up and down, instead of sitting as usual at work at his writing table. 15
6:00 PM: At dusk, an excited carpenter bursts into the English Garden Precinct station of the Munich Police department. He breathlessly explains to the desk sergeant: "I just saw a group of SA men, carrying a swastika flag, marching down Biedersteiner Strasse. They stopped off at a store, went in, and from inside I heard someone say, 'Alarm'." The report is not investigated. 16
A patrolman reports, from a call box near Nazi Party headquarters in Corneliusstrasse, "People in military uniforms have been hurrying inside, dashing out again after a few minutes, and driving off." Again, the police officer's report is not followed up. 17
7:00 PM: The Stosstrupp Adolf Hitler are decked out in uniforms that are indistinguishable from a Reichswehr uniform, but for the swastika armbands. They are assembling in the bowling alley of the Torbräu Hotel, across the street from the Sterneckerbräu, where Hitler had attended his very first party meeting. Josef Berchtold, the unit's commander, says a few words on the occasion: "Any one of you who isn't going into this thing heart and soul had better get out right now." [No one moves.] "It's our job, as shock troops, to bear the brunt of what's coming. We're going to run the government out. Hitler and Kahr are united over this; they are going to set up another one." 18
The men soon march to the intersection of St. Martin and Balan streets, to receive their arms. They have their choice of hand grenades, machine guns, and rifles, with or without bayonets. As they are not due to arrive at the Bürgerbräukeller until 8:30 PM, the stressful wait seems overlong. 19
7:15 PM: Professor Karl Alexander von Mueller, one of Hitler's first political instructors, had arrived at the Bürgerbräukeller well before Kahr was due to begin his address. He found that "the hall was packed and one had the impression that the whole event had got beyond the control of the organizers. Obviously, more people had come than was planned for. I got a seat opposite the platform . . . so that I could see the main events very clearly." 20
7:30 PM: Generalkommissar Gustav von Kahr [above] is introduced by Eugen Zentz, a tobacco merchant, with the words: "Lead us, Excellency, we will all willingly follow you anywhere." 21
8:00 PM: Adolf Hitler, the Fuehrer of the NSDAP, and his bodyguard, Ulrich Graf, arrive at Munich's Bürgerbräukeller in Hitler's Benz touring car. Alfred Rosenberg and Anton Drexler ride with them. Drexler has not been told ahead of time what is about to occur, and is somewhat indignant when Hitler informs him of his plans in the car. He will have nothing to do with it, he declares, but wishes them luck. However, he will ultimately be unable to resist participating. Rudolf Hess, Ernst 'Putzi' Hanfstaengl, Johann Aigner, Adolf Lenk, Max Amann, Scheubner-Richter, and Wilhelm Adam will join Hitler's party as events progress. 22
Because the hall has reached its peak capacity, and therefore the general public has been refused entrance, a large crowd is milling about out in front of the Bürgerbräukeller. Realizing that these loiterers could quite possibly impede access to the hall's entrance, Hitler orders the police officer in charge of the security detail to clear the area. Wilhelm Frick, who is in on the putsch, with the support of Ernst Poehner, a Nazi sympathizer who had formerly been police chief of Munich, has already instructed the police officer in charge of security in the hall to allow Hitler entrance, and in no way to interfere with his activities. Thus prepared, the officer complies with Hitler's orders, and has his 200-man police squad clear the street. Rudolf Hess, who is already there, holds the door open for his Fuehrer. 23
Hitler is wearing a trench coat, covering an ill-fitting morning coat decorated with his Iron Cross First Class. He also has his Browning pistol in his belt. Looking a bit out of place in this hall full of top-hatted big-wigs, he has obviously not come here to drink. 24
The 3,000 dignitaries are listening to Generalkommissar Gustav von Kahr speak on the subject "From the People to the Nation." Full of patriotic platitudes, the speech itself is unremarkable. Hitler, Amann, and Rosenberg, occupy a space by one of the pillars and make a show of listening, while Hitler checks his watch. They are not really here to listen to speeches either. 25
Putzi Hanfstaengl arrives soon after Hitler, and joins the group by the pillar:
Nobody seemed to notice us and we just stood there looking innocent . . . . Hitler, who had kept on his trench-coat, was chatting quietly to Amann, now and again biting a fingernail, and occasionally looking sideways at the platform, where von Kahr, von Lossow and von Seisser sat . . . . Sure enough, everyone was there, the Bavarian provincial Cabinet, leaders of society, newspaper editors, and officers . . . . Kahr was on his feet, droning away at some boring and incomprehensible speech . . . . I went over to the serving hatch and got three litre-jugs of beer. They cost a billion marks apiece. I took a good swig at one myself and handed the others to our group. Hitler took a thoughtful draught. In Munich, I thought, no one will suspect a man with his nose in a stein of beer.
8:25 PM: Graf receives word from a messenger, and makes his way to Hitler; the trucks they are expecting are assembling outside. 26
8:34 PM: As more than 100 of his elite storm troopers burst through the doors of the hall, led by Goering and Berchtold, Hitler takes a long, dramatic slug of his beer, and throws the stein crashing to the floor. He jumps up on a table, pulls his revolver from his belt, fires two shots into the ceiling, and bellows, "Silence!" The storm troopers quickly set up machine guns covering the crowd as Hitler and some of his thugs push their way to the front of the room and onto the stage. 27
Admiral Paul von Hintze, who had been Foreign Minister of Germany in the last stages of the Great War, later testified: "Hitler [was] dressed in a morning coat, that most difficult of all garments to wear, let alone a badly cut morning coat, and let alone a man with as bad a figure as Hitler, with his short legs and his long torso. When I saw him jump up on the table in that ridiculous costume I thought, 'The poor little waiter!' " 28
Of all those in the hall, Kahr's perspective is singular:
I had been speaking for approximately a half an hour when, suddenly, shouting and commotion arose at the entrance to the hall. At first I believed it was the Communists. I saw a narrow path emerging through the crowd. A man wearing a dark suit and carrying a pistol was in the lead; I had the impression that he was pointing the pistol at me. Flanking him were men armed with pistols. The leader stopped a few steps in front of me, lowered his pistol, and began to speak. Only then did I recognize that the man was Hitler. 29
Every statement a bold-faced lie, Hitler addresses the crowd: "The National Revolution has begun! Six hundred armed men are occupying this hall. No one may leave. The barracks of the Reichswehr and the police have joined the swastika flag! The Bavarian Government is deposed! The Reich government is deposed! . . . . The army and the police are marching on the city under the swastika banner . . . . The new German Government is Hitler, Ludendorff, Poehner! Hoch!" 30
Major Hunglinger, a police aide to Seisser, approaches Hitler with his hand in his pocket. Thinking he has a gun, the suspicious putschist points his Browning at the man's head and demands that he remove his hand from his pocket. He does as he is told, and the pocket is found to be empty. 31
8:45 PM: Brandishing his pistol, Hitler orders that everyone on the stage be arrested. "His Excellency von Kahr, his Excellency von Lossow and Colonel von Seisser, I must ask these gentlemen to go with me. I guarantee their safety." They are taken at gunpoint to the adjoining room that had been secured earlier by Hess. Poehner joins them, and Hitler announces that Ludendorff himself will soon be arriving. Ludendorff will take over the Reichswehr, Hitler tells them, while he himself will be head of state. He offers Lossow the post of Minister of War, and Seisser the ministry of Police. Somehow, Poehner and Kahr are to have some sort of dictatorial powers as well. 32
The three arrested men stall when Hitler asks them to sign documents accepting their new "offices", asking questions and raising objections. Lossow, who despises Hitler, whispers to Kahr: "Komedie spielen!" ("Let us play out this comedy!"). 33
Frustrated at the lack of cooperation, Hitler waves his Browning in their faces: "I know that you gentlemen find this step difficult, but the step must be taken. I shall have to make it easier for you to get set for the leap. Each of you must assume your allotted position; whoever fails to do so has forfeited his right to exist. You must fight with me, triumph with me—or die with me. If things go wrong, I have four bullets in my pistol; three for my collaborators should they desert me, and the last bullet for myself." Putting the gun to his head he declares: "If I am not victorious by tomorrow afternoon, I am a dead man." 34
"You can have me shot or shoot me yourself," Kahr replied defiantly, "or just lock me up. A life more or less makes no difference." 35
Seisser reproaches Hitler for having gone back on his word: "Herr Hitler, you promised on your honor that you would not embark on a putsch against the police." 36
Hitler lamely replies: "Yes I did. Forgive me, I have to do it for the sake of the Fatherland." 37
When Kahr protests that, as a monarchist, he cannot go along with a national putsch, Poehner responds: "I, too, am a monarchist, and that is exactly why I am taking part." 38
8:40 PM: Ernst Roehm is at the Loewenbraukeller, listening to a speech by Hermann Esser. While Esser had originally been ordered to announce Hitler's revolution at exactly 9:30 PM, his orders have changed. He is now speaking before the crowd while Roehm waits for word. At 8:40 PM, a call comes in from the Bürgerbräukeller indicating that the time has arrived. Roehm interrupts Esser's oration and loudly proclaims that Kahr has been deposed and the national revolution is occurring as they speak. The listeners spontaneously erupt in a volcano of pent-up passion. After long minutes of celebration, Roehm captures their attention long enough to suggest that they all form up outside in the street and march as one to the Bürgerbräukeller, to show their support. 39
As they begin their march, a runner from Hitler finds Roehm, and hands him new orders from Hitler. After reading his orders, Roehm splits his forces. He sends the Bund Oberland units on to the Bürgerbräukeller, and orders a group of storm troopers to gather up a cache of weapons from the basement of the St. Annaplatz monastery. Roehm leads the remainder of the force—among which is young Heinrich Himmler—to General von Lossow's headquarters at the War Ministry on the Schoenfeldstrasse. The "conquest" of the War Ministry quickly succeeds without a shot being fired. The building is secured with a barrier of barbed wire, guarded by Himmler and his comrades. 40
9:00 PM: Margarethe Ludendorff will later write:
About nine that evening [my husband] came into my room and said: "I have to go into the town. I shall shortly be fetched by a car. My presence is required at a national assembly." Soon after this a motor dashed up at a tearing speed and stopped in front of the house. The horn sounded. Ludendorff left the house and stepped inside, and the next moment it had gone. It had all happened as though in a dream, and events had marched with such speed that I had not even recognized my son at the steering-wheel of the car. It was long past midnight, and neither my husband, my son, nor our servant had returned. I waited until half-past three and then went to bed. Next morning I heard that none of the three had come home. 41
9:00 PM: The 3,000 souls in the Bürgerbräukeller are becoming anxious. Hermann Goering jumps up on the stage: "You all have your beer!. Keep drinking! You have nothing to worry about!" 42
Hitler reappears on the stage, pistol in hand. He fires yet another shot into the ceiling and demands quiet: "If you don't keep quiet, I'll have another machine-gun put in the gallery!"
History Professor von Mueller:
The ten minutes must have been just passed when Hitler returned, alone. He had not succeeded, as he had promised, in winning over the others. What would he say? A dangerous wave of excitement rolled up to him as he again climbed the podium. It did not subside as he began to speak. I still see clearly how he drew the Browning from his rear pocket and now himself fired a shot into the ceiling. "If you don't calm down," he shouted furiously, "I will order a machine gun placed in the balcony!" What followed then was an oratorical masterpiece, which would have been to any actor's credit. He began quietly, in a completely matter-of-fact way. 43
Hitler appeals to the audience:
The Bavarian Ministry is removed. I propose that a Bavarian government shall be formed consisting of a Regent and a Prime Minister invested with dictatorial powers. I propose Herr von Kahr as Regent and Herr Poehner as Prime Minister. The government of the November Criminals and the Reich President are declared to be removed. A new national government will be nominated this very day, here in Munich. A German National Army will be formed immediately . . . .
Professor von Mueller:
I propose that, until accounts have been finally settled with the November Criminals, the direction of policy in the National Government be taken over by me. Ludendorff will take over the leadership of the German National Army. Lossow will be German Reichswehr Minister; Seisser, Reich Police Minister. The task of the provisional National Government is to organize the march on that sinful Babel, Berlin, and save the German people. I will now put the question before you: out there are three men, Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser. The decision to act has cost them severe inner struggle. Are you in agreement with this solution to the German question? You can see that what guides us is not self interest, not egotism. Rather, we wish to take up the cudgels for our German fatherland, at the eleventh hour. We want to rebuild Germany as a federation, in which Bavaria shall receive her rightful due. Tomorrow will see either a National Government in Germany, or us dead! 44
I cannot remember in my entire life such a change in the attitude of a crowd in a few minutes, almost a few seconds. There were certainly many who were not converted yet. But the mood of the majority had abruptly changed. Hitler had turned them inside out, as one turns a glove inside out, with a few sentences. It had almost something of hocus-pocus, or magic about it. Loud approval roared forth; no further opposition was to be heard. 45
Sitting beside Professor von Mueller is racialist Max von Gruber of Munich University. This professor of "racial hygiene" is not concentrating his attention on the reaction of the audience, as is his colleague, but on the speaker himself. He later described his thoughts, under oath, after this first view of fellow racialist Adolf Hitler: "For the first time I saw Hitler at close quarters. Face and head: bad race, mongrel. Low, receding forehead, ugly nose, broad cheekbones, small eyes, dark hair; facial expression, not of a man commanding with full self-control, but betraying insane excitement. Finally, an expression of blissful egotism." 46
Hitler has his audience just where he wants them, and they express their enthusiastic approval as one. Kahr, Seisser, and von Lossow can hear the crowd's reaction to Hitler's exhortations, and appear shaken. When Hitler returns, triumphant in the fact that popular opinion in the hall supports his putsch, the three captives continue to resist Hitler's melodramatic admonitions. Hitler is getting nowhere by himself. 47
Lossow, Seisser, and Kahr jump to their feet and click their heels together when Erich Ludendorff arrives abruptly, walking stiffly into the room, tall and erect in a brown hunting jacket and felt hat. Hitler is well satisfied at the timing of this move, and relaxes noticeably in Ludendorff's presence. If they will not listen to him, surely they will listen to Ludendorff. 48
"I am just as surprised as you are, "Ludendorff proclaims solemnly, "but the step has been taken; it is a question of the Fatherland and the great national and racial cause, and I can only advise you, go with us and do the same. We can no longer turn back; our action is already inscribed on the pages of world history." Lossow and Seisser are both in awe of the famous Generalquartiermeister, and profess to be as anxious to follow Ludendorff's orders as they were to resist Hitler's. 49
"Your Excellency's wishes are my orders." Kahr replies, though he will later deny it. 50
General von Lossow [above] will write:
It took longer to persuade Herr Kahr. Hitler, Weber, and Pohner were involved here. Seisser and I were also commanded to join in the effort to persuade him. We did not give them an answer. I stood leaning against a table which was in the room. The reason for Kahr's hesitation was perfectly evident to me. From the start, he was as resolute as Seisser and I [were], but he tried to find the precise wording in which to couch a declaration of consent in the most neutral and vague terms. 51
It is Hitler who convinces Kahr, ostensibly, to join the putsch: "If Your Excellency permits, I will drive out to see His Majesty (the Bavarian Crown Prince Rupprecht) at once, and inform him that the German people have arisen, and made good the injustice done to His Majesty's late lamented father." The most that Kahr will say in agreement is: "I am prepared to assume the leadership of Bavaria as the viceroy of the monarchy." They all, in turn, solemnly take Ludendorff's proffered hand. 52
Rudolf Hess reads out orders from Hitler to the crowd: "The gentlemen whose names I am about to read are to go immediately to the main entrance of the hall." He reads out the names of Minister-President von Knilling, Interior Minister Schweyer, Minister of Agriculture Johann Wutzlhofer, and six others. All the hostages—except Justice Minister Guertner, who is caught trying to run away—comply without any fuss. They are taken away under armed guard and held in an upstairs room. This move puts the lie to the assumption, by some, that the putsch is benign in its intent. It is just the same old banana republic putsch nonsense, some mutter. The taking of high-level hostages causes the mood in the hall to shift negatively once again. 53
Munich Police Inspector Philipp Kiefer, alarmed at the events in the hall, manages to slip out. He makes his way to the Weissenburger Platz precinct station, grabs a telephone, and calls Munich police headquarters at Ettstrasse. The line is busy. After repeated attempts, his call gets through, but he is told that no one can speak to him now. He will be called back. Eventually, Wilhelm Frick, a Nazi ally whose job it is to suppress police response to the putsch, calls him back from headquarters. Surely there is nothing to worry about, he assures the concerned inspector. After all, the chief of the Blue Police (military police), Karl Mantel, is present at the Bürgerbräukeller. An able man, Mantel should be able to handle things. Frick advises Kiefer to stay put, do nothing, and wait for orders. This is the same order Frick will give to all concerned police officers who call headquarters for instructions on this busy evening. 54
9:30 PM: Ludendorff, Hitler, Kahr, Seisser, von Lossow, and Poehner take the stage. They all speak to the crowd in turn. Ludendorff: "Deeply moved by the majesty of this moment and taken by surprise, I place myself of my own accord at the disposal of the German National government." Kahr, the monarchist, promises only that "In this hour of the Fatherland's greatest need, I have decided to accept the burden of steering Bavaria's destiny as governor on behalf of the Wittelsbach monarchy, destroyed five years ago by impious hands." More than a few eye-witnesses will later testify that this statement of Kahr's drew the loudest and longest applause of the evening. When the applause finally fades, Kahr goes on: "As governor, representing the monarchy smashed by wanton criminal hands five years ago, I do this with a heavy heart and, I hope, for the benefit of our beloved Bavarian homeland and our great German Fatherland." 55
I am going to fulfill the vow I made to myself five years ago, when I was a blind cripple in the military hospital: to know neither rest nor peace until the November criminals had been overthrown, until on the ruins of the wretched Germany of today there should have arisen, once more, a Germany of power and greatness, of freedom and splendor . . . . The task of the provisional National Government is to organize the march on Berlin, that sink of iniquity. Tomorrow, Germany will see a National Government—or we shall be dead! 56
Hitler visits the "arrested" officials. He has come to "apologize for the inconvenience." Schweyer, the minister of the interior, is one of those being held. It was to him that Hitler had "solemnly sworn" that he would never make a putsch. Schweyer confronts Hitler: "I want to tell you something, Herr Hitler. Your promises do not mean very much. Let me ask whether you remember what you promised when you were in my office last year? Do you remember what you said then?" Hitler walks away, making no reply. He orders that Hess take the hostages to the suburban villa of publisher Julius Lehmann, a more comfortable and less accessible location. 57
Throughout the evening, messengers have been keeping Hitler informed on the progress of the putsch on its various fronts. The Stosstruppe Hitler, his own bodyguard, had successfully "arrested" all the officers of the Münchner Post, the Social Democratic paper, and destroyed its presses. At that very moment, another publisher is printing street posters, signed by Ludendorff, proclaiming the new provisional German National Government. And Ernst Roehm had seized the War Ministry on the Schoenfeldstrasse and reinforced it with barbed wire and machine guns. 58
10:30 PM: A messenger arrives with bad news; the attack on the two Reichswehr barracks—one of engineers, another of infantry—is at a stalemate. Even worse, 250 Bund Oberlanders have been captured by the engineers, and it is requested that Hitler personally intercede. Hitler orders that the crowd in the hall, as well as Kahr, Seisser, and von Lossow, remain at the Bürgerbräukeller under Ludendorff's authority. He expects them all to be there when he returns, in order to plan the march on Berlin. However, he can only express a desire that Ludendorff pursue a particular course. Being the junior partner, he is in no position to give the famous war hero direct orders to that effect. He runs off and hopes for the best. 59
11:30 PM: First word of the putsch reaches Berlin, though it will remain unverified for many hours. Press reports, cabled world-wide, are filled with stories of the take-over in Bavaria, many posted by eye-witnesses. Kahr's speech had been delivered before an international audience, including, among others, Dorothy Thompson, celebrity journalist and wife of the novelist Sinclair Lewis. Larry Rue, of The New York Times, cabled from Munich:
Adolf Hitler overthrew Premier von Knilling of Bavaria tonight in collusion with Dictator von Kahr . . . . France, acting individually but apparently as a preliminary to an Allied move to the same effect, has instructed its ambassador at Berlin to inform everyone interested, including Chancellor Stresemann, that it will not tolerate a military dictatorship as . . .&such an action . . . would lead to a repudiation of the Treaty of Versailles and the beginning of a war of revenge. 60
11:30 PM: After Hitler's exit, all order eventually breaks down at the Bürgerbräukeller. The crowd begins to leave, though not without first having to undergo an exercise in "identity controls". Sixty to seventy Jews are detained, roughed up by the Kampfbund men, and locked up in the various rooms of the Bürgerbräukeller. In this manner, the Bürgerbräukeller becomes the first ever Nazi detention center. 61
Kahr, Seisser, and von Lossow beg leave to attend to important business. Ludendorff is not inclined to hold them against their will. After all, they are German officers and their word is not to be questioned. He gives them his blessing to go off and "occupy their posts". 62
The Munich city commandant, Major General Jakob von Danner, gets word of the events at the Bürgerbräukeller while resting at home. He makes it down to his office, which is located three blocks from the captured War Ministry, and vents to another officer: "Let me tell you something, captain, Lossow cuts a sorry figure of a man. He has been meddling in politics and vacillating for months. But the least he could have done in the Bürgerbräukeller was to stand up to that little Gefreiter and tell him, flatly, 'No.' " 63
Danner calls General von Seeckt [above] in Berlin for instructions. Seeckt orders him to inform von Lossow that he had best put down the putsch immediately. If he does not, von Seeckt will do so himself. Danner begins calling for out-of-town reinforcements, with mixed results. He tells all those he reaches that orders from Lossow are not to be trusted, as he is suspected of being in favor of the putsch. After contacting five garrisons in as many cities, one, in Ingolstadt, tells him they are in sympathy with the putsch. The other four he orders to send him troops, unaware that revolts are planned to break out in those cities as well. 64
While von Danner is still on the phone, General Lossow arrives, explaining that his ministry is occupied, and so he has come to the city commandant's office. Referring to the pledge he had made at the Bürgerbräukeller, Danner inquires: "Excellency, surely that was all bluff?" There is no record of Lossow's reply. All four men go into a separate room to confer. When Lossow emerges, he declares that agreements reached at gun point are invalid. He is NOT involved in the putsch. But no one is to contact Hitler or Ludendorff. They are to continue to believe that the putsch is still on. 65
Hitler arrives on the scene at the Engineers' barracks. He offers to parley. His offers are refused. He threatens to blast them into nothing with big guns. But they call his bluff; he has no big guns. Returning to the Bürgerbräukeller with Scheubner-Richter, he finds that Kahr, Seisser, and von Lossow have escaped his grasp. Hitler keeps his irritation with Ludendorff to himself, for the moment. It is not possible to rectify the situation, so why bring it up to the sensitive and high-strung fellow during this rush of events. Hitler is well aware that Ludendorff will not allow anyone to suggest that a German officer would ever betray his word, under any circumstance. 66
Hermann Kriebel informs Ludendorff and Hitler that a newly formed force from the Infantry School is waiting in formation on Rosenheimer Strasse. Gerhard Rossbach, the famed Freikorps leader, is the unit's commander, and he would be honored if the two of them would take their salute as they march by. This is just the sort of ceremony neither man can resist, and they momentarily become agreeable companions. They find the 350 elite troops, and a marching band, under a string of street lights stretching down toward the Ludwig Bridge. Hitler steps forward and delivers a very short address. The troops march by and continue on to their evening's objective, Kahr's headquarters. When the ceremony is completed, Ludendorff, Weber, and Kriebel head back to the War Ministry. 67
Franz Matt, Bavaria's minister of culture, is no admirer of Kahr's political machinations and schemes. He had declined to attend Kahr's speech, choosing instead to spend the evening in the company of Cardinal von Faulhaber and Bishop Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII. Thus, he is one of the few cabinet-level members of the government not to have been taken hostage by Hitler's SA. Since hearing of the happenings at the hall, Matt has been calling all the other cabinet ministers, and bringing them together in the home of a lady friend, in an attempt at collective security. When Matt calls Kahr's office, he is quite surprised when the Generalkommissar himself answers the phone. 68
After leaving the Bürgerbräukeller, Kahr had gone directly to his office on the Staatskommissariat. When Matt reaches him by phone, Kahr is still in a state that resembles shock. "What does Hitler want?" Matt asks. "The famous march on Berlin," Kahr wearily replies. Matt finishes his conversation with Kahr, and decides that the Generalkommissar is not to be relied upon. He resolves to move the remaining cabinet officers to Regensburg, sixty-five miles to the north, and to form a loyal Bavarian government from the remaining ministers. 69
As he hangs up on Matt, Kahr is informed that Wilhelm Frick and Ernst Poehner are there to see him. He leaves them waiting for thirty minutes, apparently deciding what to do. When he does finally meet with them, he gives every indication that he is diligently working toward a successful putsch, and is doing all that Hitler had requested of him. Satisfied, the two leave through one door just as Seisser arrives through another 70
Just before midnight, Hitler and Ludendorff make their way to the War Ministry to meet with Roehm, Kriebel, and Weber. Roehm later reports: "When I congratulated him on his success, he embraced me and said it was the most beautiful day of his life; he was beaming with happiness and joy. 'Now a better time will come,' he said. 'We all want to work night and day for the great goal: saving Germany from suffering and disgrace'." They are all, however, quite concerned that no contact has been made with either Kahr or von Lossow since they departed the Bürgerbräukeller. They send messengers but cannot locate the missing principals. 71
Midnight: The Nazis take advantage of the turmoil to settle some old scores, a pattern they will repeat numerous times in the future. Jews all over Munich are attacked on the streets, and the homes and apartments of countless Jews are vandalized. Many of these home invasions are "planned" by finding names in the phone book that sound Jewish and beating down their doors. The victims are robbed, beaten, and humiliated. It is a very long night indeed for Munich's Jews. 72
Social Democrats are on the Nazi hit lists as well. Engelbert Vallner, a school teacher and Social Democrat, had once defied a group of SA man at a local coffee shop. In petty revenge, he is dragged from his house this night and spirited away to the Bürgerbräukeller, where he is viciously abused, beaten with truncheons, and kicked until unconscious. 73
Erhard Auer, the editor of the Muenchener Post, and a leader of the Social Democrats, is spending the night at the home of his friend, Wilhelm Hoegner. He is not aware of the putsch, nor does he know that the offices of his newspaper have been trashed, and his presses destroyed. Worse still, a Stosstrupp detachment of fifteen SA men, commanded by a Hitler bodyguard and chauffeur, Emil Maurice, break into his home and confront his fifty-five year old wife, Sophie. Frau Auer will write:
One of the first ones to enter the apartment was a tall, dark-haired man [Emil Maurice, above] who pointed a pistol at my face and asked, "Where is your husband?" When I explained that he had gone away, I was asked when he had been here last and where he might be. I said I did not know.
So as not to come away empty handed, they take Auer's son-in-law, Dr. Karl Luber, hostage. Maurice: "You'll do until we find your father-in-law." Luber is incarcerated at the Bürgerbräukeller, where most of the Nazis' hostages are concentrated. 74
"Now we are the rulers and the government," he said. "If you won't tell us where your husband is but we find him anyway, you are done for." Just then my daughter Emilie Luber and her husband came out of their bedroom, and as the man said this to me, he gave me such a hard shove to the breast that I stumbled backward through their open door and would have fallen on the floor had I not been able to catch myself on their bed. Then he locked me into their room . . . .
When [Maurice] went into the room of my daughter Sophie Fangler, she asked him not to make too much noise, so as not to wake her baby; but he said that was not his concern. He asked her where the child's father was and whether she had any weapons. He wanted to open a sideboard in that room, to which the lock happened to be broken. So he took his rifle and smashed the doors with the stock, to satisfy himself, apparently, that there were only dishes inside it. With the rifle he also knocked a brass tray from the sideboard to the floor. Then he went through her wardrobe, threw out the clothes and laundry, and trampled on them. He tore off the bedding and smashed with his rifle butt into a suitcase containing more dishes. When my daughter asked him not to do this, he said, "Keep your mouth shut."
Midnight: Chancellor Stresemann calls together an emergency cabinet meeting. The cabinet decides to impose press censorship, and use any means at their disposal to put down the putsch. Orders are issued to all Reichswehr offices in Bavaria, to the effect that Hitler and Ludendorff are considered traitors, and authorizing the use of force against their men. All financial transactions in Bavaria are frozen, and all passenger train services are suspended. 75
President Ebert asks General von Seeckt, "Tell us, please, General, whom does the Reichswehr obey? Does it obey the laws and government, or the mutineers?" Von Seeckt replies, "The Reichswehr obeys me, Herr Reichspresident!" 76
General von Seeckt is granted emergency powers under Article 48 of the constitution. Seeckt immediately issues a proclamation: "Unauthorized interference with the order of the Reich and its states will be energetically suppressed by the Reichswehr under my command, no matter from what side this attack may come." 77
1923 November 9
Just after midnight, Rossbach's Infantry School units arrive at Kahr's headquarters. A cannon is unloaded from a truck, and pointed towards the front entrance, while two machine guns are placed on either side. Rossbach gives the command to fix bayonets, and marches his soldiers, shoulder to shoulder, towards the police troops guarding the east side of the building. The commander of the police troops, Lieutenant Colonel Otto Muxel, runs up, yelling that all sides must not shoot. Rossbach's troops begin to waver. Rossbach and Muxel begin to discuss the matter.
Colonel von Seisser walks haughtily out of the building and confronts Rossbach: "There is no need for you where the state police are on guard. March off."
"I cannot, Excellency," Rossbach replies. "I have specific orders from General Ludendorff to take over guard here, by force if necessary."
Seisser, whose troops are outnumbered, turns on his heels and marches back into the building with these final words: "You heard what I said. March your men away immediately or I will give orders to shoot."
A runner arrives from Ludendorff. The building is to be taken regardless of the cost. Officers from both sides are discussing the situation, many with some compromise or another in mind. Rossbach will have none of it: "What? Still negotiating here? You know General Ludendorff's orders. Why the hesitation? Order your men to fire."
Lieutenant Colonel Muxel suggests that three Infantry School cadets—one of whom is a friend of his son—go inside and negotiate a compromise. Some cadets agree, but with the stipulation that if their comrades do not return within ten minutes, they would storm the building. Others refuse. The Bund Oberland commander, Dr. Weber, unilaterally decides the issue: "Companies withdraw," he barks. The cadets cross the river, and head back to the Bürgerbräukeller. 78
Hitler confers with Julius Streicher at the Bürgerbräukeller. Claiming that he must have his hands free to concentrate on being "chancellor," Hitler composes and signs a document placing the NSDAP in Streicher's hands. The date on the document is wrong; Streicher will testify at the Nuremberg Trial that the correct date is the 9th.
For the Committee of the National Socialist German Workers' Party.
Munich, 8 Nov. 1923.
Comrade Julius Streicher:
In order to be equal to the great tasks of preventing the country from ruin I must put the Party organization into your hands, Comrade Streicher.
Everything for Germany.
Your Adolf Hitler.
A "clarification" is added:
I, Adolf Hitler, place the position of Party Chairman into the hands of the leader of the Franconian movement, Julius Streicher.
Done this 8th day of November, 1923, in Munich.
Adolf Hitler 79
After midnight, when most of them had left him, I appeared before him and told him that the public must be told now when the next great day would come. He looked at me intently and said, "Will you do it?" I said, "I will do it." . . . . Then, after midnight, he wrote on a piece of paper, "Streicher will be responsible for the entire organization." . . . I publicly conducted the propaganda, until an hour before the march to the Feldherrnhalle. 80
1:00 AM: Kahr and Seisser climb into a police vehicle, sent by Lossow to retrieve them. They are driven to the barracks of the Nineteenth Infantry. Lossow has organized a communications center at this impromptu command post, and is busily directing the loyal government's response to the putsch. In this manner, the triumvirate is reunited. 81
In the orderly room of the communications section of the Nineteenth Infantry Regiment, von Kahr prepares a proclamation denouncing the "repulsive act of terror" by "deceitful elements" endeavoring to make a putsch at gunpoint: "The deception and perfidy of ambitious comrades have converted a demonstration in the interests of national reawakening, into a scene of disgusting violence. The declarations extracted from me, General von Lossow, and Colonel von Seisser, at the point of a pistol, are null and void. Had this senseless and aimless attempt at overthrow succeeded, it would have plunged Germany, and Bavaria with it, into the abyss . . . . The guilty will be ruthlessly prosecuted and punished, and I hereby declare the National Socialist German Workers' Party, the Oberland League, and the Reichskriegsflagge Society disbanded and prohibited." 82
2:55 AM: With the exception of the Münchner Post, Hitler had failed to include any communication facilities in his putsch planning. This oversight allows von Lossow to order all radio stations to broadcast the following announcement:
"Generalkommissar von Kahr, Colonel von Seisser, and General von Lossow repudiate the Hitler putsch. Expressions of support extracted at gunpoint are invalid. Caution is urged against the use of the above names. VON LOSSOW" 83
3:00 AM: Throughout this confusing night, Colonel Banzer has been following the orders of Wilhelm Frick. Banzer is under the impression that Kahr, von Lossow, and Seisser are supporting the putsch, and that Frick is the new police chief. Frick is taking a nap in a back room, when Captain Karl Wild, another state police officer, calls headquarters. Wild orders Banzer to arrest Frick immediately, by direct order of Kahr and Seisser. Frick soon awakes, and suggests to Banzer that he go home and get some sleep.
Colonel Banzer: "Well, Herr Frick, I do have one more thing to do and also some information for you. You are under arrest."
Frick: "On whose orders?"
Colonel Banzer: "The government's."
Frick: "But which government, Colonel?"
Colonel Banzer: "Excellency von Kahr's. I am arresting you on the orders and in the name of the General State Commissioner." 84
Ernst Poehner, who has been "appointed" Prime Minister of Bavaria by Hitler, is with Scheubner-Richter at Reichswehr headquarters. It is for this reason that state police officer Colonel Josef Banzer's men have been unable to locate the putschist. The moment after Banzer hears that Poehner is not at his residence, the wanted man walks in the front door. Hitler had sent him to "take over police headquarters", and had offered him a battalion of Oberlanders with which to accomplish the task, but Poehner had refused the troops. As a former police chief, he did not anticipate that he would encounter any difficulties. Hitler instructs him to send out patrols through the streets calling on the citizens to "Put out your flags!" The intent is one of propaganda. The streets of Munich, covered with swastika flags, would be a visible sign of public support for the putsch. 85
Poehner certainly does not expect to be arrested on sight. He recalled the moment:
Colonel Banzer . . . answered my question as to whether he had seen Frick, by saying he had orders from the Generalstaatskommissar to arrest me. That hit me like a hammer! I asked, "Who ordered that? The Generalstaatskommissar personally?" he answered, "Yes, the order came to police headquarters from the Generalstaatskommissar." 86
4:00 AM: In Berlin, Lieutenant von Selchow, an aide to General von Seeckt, receives the first reliable information on the putsch. Contacting the Reichswehr commander in Stuttgart, von Selchow learns that Lossow is at the head of the Seventh Division in Munich, and is moving to put down the putsch. 87
Kahr orders all Munich papers not to publish their morning editions, but it is far too late. Most morning newspapers will hit the stands as usual, bearing news of the putsch. 88
Police forces take up posts on the west side of the bridges across the Isar river. In response, Hitler orders Kampfbund units to occupy the east side. Neither side attempts to impede traffic, which continues to flow both ways. 89
4:40 AM: A most unexpected event occurs: the triumvirate orders the arrest of Generalfeldmarschall Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff, a hero of the Great War, and one of the most beloved and respected men in Germany. 90
5:00 AM: Earlier, Ludendorff, at the War Ministry, had sent an emissary to the deputy commandant of the Infantry School, Lieutenant Colonel Ludwig Leupold. Leupold was asked to meet with Ludendorff at Reichswehr headquarters at 5:00 AM, and he arrives just a few minutes late, finding Ludendorff together with Hitler. Ludendorff bitterly complains that Lossow has been keeping him waiting since 11:00 PM. Leupold later testified that he replied:
"I can explain that. He will not come . . . " Now [Ludendorff] stated that Lossow having been "forced" was out of the question; that as long as he had been [at the beer hall], no force had been used. I replied that I heard in conversations with General Hemmer regarding Seisser and Lossow that pistols were used quite a lot. Ludendorff replied that he did not know anything about it; nothing had happened in his presence." . . .
Hitler and Ludendorff leave Roehm in charge at the War Ministry, and make their way to the Bürgerbräukeller. On the way, Hitler stops at his apartment to change into a dark double-breasted suit, upon which he pins his Iron Cross First Class. 92
[I told Ludendorff that] I had been told that [the triumvirate] were not supporting the affair, and that troops had been sent to Munich. At that, Ludendorff asked with great surprise, "What does [Lossow] want with that?" Then I said: "I do not know either; I think he wants to restore order."
Now Ludendorff concluded that I was to ask Lossow once again about his views; that I was to tell him Ludendorff was counting on his word of honor; and that I should ask him to come there. The use of force would be out of the question. The National Movement was progressing beautifully and, if he were to oppose it, the entire Movement would be finished.
I told him I did not believe Lossow would change his mind, since orders had already gone out to the troops.
[Then Hitler told me] "You know that I am an idealist," and went on to say that for four years he had done nothing but devote himself to the voelkish cause . . . . If they destroy my work, for which I have lived these four years, then I am also determined to fight for my cause. You know I am not a coward. I have the most enthusiastic people. I wish to impress that upon Lossow. I have expressed my regrets [for the manner in which Lossow's statement of support for the Putsch had been obtained]—but I do not believe a violent conflict will occur." Furthermore, he said, "If the gentlemen are going to destroy my work, they no longer have a reason for existence." I was to give them this message. I then took my leave and said I would return if I was ordered to do so. 91
Dawn: On the front page of this cold and snowy morning's Völkischer Beobachter:
Announcement: THE FIRST DECREES OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT
6:00 AM: Gregor Strasser, at the head of a column of trucks, arrives in Munich with 150 SA men from the Lower Bavarian Regiment. SA man Paul Goebel, riding in the cab of the lead truck, is puzzled. He sees a city displaying all the usual signs of normalcy. "What kind of revolution is this," he says? "People are going to work as usual. Something's wrong. "We'll see," is Strasser's only reply. 94
For the judgment of those criminals who are a threat to the existence of the people and the state, a national state tribunal is herewith formed, to act as the highest court of the land.
The judgments of these courts are: guilty or not guilty.
Not guilty means dismissal; guilty means death.
Verdicts are rendered three hours after appearance.
There is no appeal.
The competence of the national state tribunals will be specially regulated. 93
When Strasser reaches the Bürgerbräukeller, he reports to Goering, who fills him in on the situation: "Those fellows [the triumvirate] didn't come over to our side after all. They broke their word to the Fuehrer, but the people are with us. We're going to try the whole thing over again." Strasser is ordered to deploy his men at the Wittelsbach Bridge on the Isar. 95
7:00 AM: The stress of the still-unfolding events now manifests itself in a bout of mutual recrimination; Hitler and Ludendorff begin to argue. Hitler is upset with Ludendorff for having allowed the triumvirate to leave the Bürgerbräukeller the night before. Ludendorff is furious that Hitler had used armed force to intimidate the three gentlemen. Both are convinced that it is the other who is at fault for the present unsatisfactory state of affairs. 96
Hitler talks with Julius Streicher, telling him that it is time that he, Esser, and his fellow propaganda speakers, take to the streets. He instructs him to have crowds gather in strategic locations to show support for the putsch. 97
7:30 AM: Max Josef Neunzert, of Roehm's Reichskriegsflagge, is a personal friend of Crown Prince Rupprecht. Hitler sends him off to plead his case for the putsch to Rupprecht. It is an errand of futility. Rupprecht considers the putsch a "mad act." Not only that, but Rupprecht's advisor, Count von Soden, had been "arrested" by the putschists. Rupprecht had demanded that the putsch be put down many hours previously, when he had first received word.
Hitler should have known better than to appeal to the Crown Prince for help. Perhaps the fact that he himself had taken an oath to—and had served for four years under—Crown Prince Rupprecht, has given him some desperate hope that the favor would now be returned. But Rupprecht despises the anti-Catholic Ludendorff, and nothing he has heard of this Hitler fellow has met with his approval. The events now occurring have only confirmed his well-considered opinions. There will be no assistance gained from this initiative. 98
7:40 AM: Lossow orders two Reichswehr units to surround Roehm's forces at the War Ministry, and to demand their surrender. However, these units will not be in position for a good four hours. 99
8:00 AM: Near the Bayerischer Hof Hotel is a printing plant owned by the Parcus Brothers. The Jewish firm's only customer is the Bavarian Government, and its only product is banknotes. Their goal for this night is to print fourteen quadrillion marks, which is equal to about $22,200 in American dollars. 100
SA runners have been visiting all of the various beer halls, full of on-duty putschist troops, looking for bank employees in the ranks. Thirty-two of them are rounded up and trucked across the Isar River to the Parcus Brothers' plant. Led by the commander of the First SA Battalion, Karl Beggel, they enter the plant as though they own the place. Beggel is armed with a piece of paper, signed by Adolf Hitler, authorizing the bearer to requisition the evening's print run. Both the plant manager, and a Reichsbank officer who is present, go about the transaction according to normal routine. Beggel signs a receipt. The requisitioned marks will be used to pay for various expenses. 101
Putzi Hanfstaengl, after a quick nap at his residence, arrives at the Bürgerbräukeller:
They were no longer in the small room on the ground floor where Ludendorff had so misguidedly accepted his fellow general's word of honor, but had moved to a larger private room upstairs. The old Quartermaster General was sitting stony-faced and frightening in his unperturbed calm, sipping away at red wine, the only sustenance the conspirators had enjoyed. The air was thick with cigar and cigarette smoke. In the anteroom, there was a little orchestra platform and on it, in a pile about five feet high, thousands of million and billion mark notes, in neat bankers' bundles . . . .
9:30 AM: Hanfstaengl manages to transport a group of foreign journalists to the Bürgerbräukeller to interview Hitler and Ludendorff. The Chicago Tribune's Larry Rue wrote that the command post in the Bürgerbräukeller was "reminiscent of the early days of a war. Rations and equipment were being issued . . . youths were drilling in the garden and various courtyards. Recruits were being enlisted. The utmost optimism and enthusiasm prevailed. Rows of lorries were drawn up which moved off at intervals with troops, munitions, or supplies. All thought that the movement was a success.
Evidently, none of the money was intended for the civilian brass band, which Brueckner, Hitler's adjutant, had rustled up from somewhere. By this time there were about eight hundred uniformed men in and around the hall, all somewhat dispirited. It was an unlikely day for a putsch, cold with flurries of snow, and most of the S.A. and Kampfbund men were in thin cotton shirts, and had had nothing to eat since the night before. Anyway, this morose and resentful brass band was produced, but the men demanded breakfast, and their wages in advance, neither of which they received. Brueckner bawled them out, sent them up onto the platform and ordered them to play. We could hear them tootling away without any life in the music, even making a hash of Hitler's favorite Badenweiler march . . . .
Hitler said he was relying on me to keep him informed about the general feeling in Munich and I spent most of the morning traveling by car between the Bürgerbräukeller and the Beobachter. I had to find some version to satisfy the suspicious foreign correspondents, who were more or less encamped at the newspaper, and the best I could do was to suggest that a few personal differences had arisen between the leaders of the conspiracy, and that all would soon be settled. Rosenberg was under no illusions. "It is no good, the whole thing has failed," he said despairingly. 102
A New York Times correspondent wrote that Hitler, "obviously overwrought and dead tired," did not match expectations. Hitler "scarcely seemed to fill the part—this little man in an old waterproof coat with a revolver at his hip, unshaven and with disordered hair, and so hoarse that he could scarcely speak." Ludendorff was "anxious and preoccupied [as] he talked with Hitler and some other political advisers." Ludendorff said to the journalists: "My government is eager to have the approval of the United States and of England." 103
Hitler's friend and unofficial photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann, heads out early this cold, snowy morning, camera in hand. "Early in the morning on that memorable 9th November," he wrote, "I was out with my camera. It was a dull day, and the light was very poor from the photographer's point of view." Riding his bike to the War Ministry, he snaps a shot [above] of the Reichskriegsflagge units, standing guard out front. About ten yards from the wall of the building stood Heinrich Himmler, standing behind a barbed-wire entanglement, holding his Reichskriegsflagge banner. 104
At the Marienplatz, Hoffmann encounters a group of excited citizens, crowded around the base of St. Mary's Pillar. Mounted upon the monument is Julius Streicher, his passionate oratory falling on ears willing to hear:
Do you want to know what this new government will do? I will tell you what it is going to do. It will hang the Jewish profiteers from the lampposts. It will close the stock exchanges, those dirty Jewish dens of exploitation, and it will nationalize the banks! . . . . The new government will also give you bread. Adolf Hitler, our great leader, has already put behind bars those men who have robbed and plundered us . . . .
10:30 AM: Across from Streicher's monumental soap box on the Marienplatz stands Munich's Rathaus, the New City Hall. The Stosstrupp Adolf Hitler now storms the building, as recalled by their commander, Josef Berchtold:
It is a sign that the time of shame is over, that the time of freedom has begun. In the future there will be only two parties in Germany. You have your choice between them. One is the party of the poor, the hungry, the people, the other that of the usurers. The party of Christian Germans against that of the Jewish bloodsuckers. To which do you want to belong? Those who side with the Jews should go; those who want to be German should come to us. The flag of black-red-and-gold will no longer exist, and those who wear its colors of shame will be shot. Those who refuse to cooperate will be hanged, and those who join us shall look forward to a glorious German future. 105
I was aware that a session [of the City Council] was in progress. I flung open the doors and, cocking my revolver, informed the assembled Councilors . . . that they must consider themselves under arrest. Alarmed and startled, they sprang to their feet . . . . We shepherded them from the chamber and the building, and down the wide flight of steps without. Here the rest of my men took charge. Each member, accompanied by two troopers, was assisted into a truck. Meanwhile enormous crowds had gathered on the Marienplatz who greeted the appearance of the Councilors with jeers and insults. As a matter of fact it was we Storm Troops who had to defend them from the onslaught of the people. Otherwise actual fatalities might have occurred. It was quite a job getting them safely loaded into the lorries. So we went on to the Burgerbrau and locked up the whole lot. 106
Twenty-four year old Hans Frank, and ten of his fellow Kampfbund comrades, are setting up a machine gun at the Museum Bridge. As a group of Munich working men passes by, they taunt the young putchists. One of them called out: " Does your Mommy know you're playing with such dangerous things right on the open street?" 107
11:00 AM: Ernst Roehm gets word that his position at the War Ministry is about to come under attack. He has two hundred men in arms, and deploys them as best he can. He will later write:
I ordered the occupation of the designated places and expressly forbade all leaders to open fire on the Reichswehr. I spoke to the leaders: "The Reichswehr is nationalist-minded and will one day fight the freedom fight shoulder to shoulder with us." I reserved for myself alone the right to give the order to fire; a secure and speedy communication with all detachments was guaranteed by a reserve force of messengers. 108
Within minutes, an overwhelming military force surrounds the War Ministry, firing guns loaded with blanks to run off the large number of civilian gawkers in the streets. The besieging force is made up of two infantry and three artillery battalions, a trench mortar company, a battalion of engineers, eight armored cars, and "almost the entire Landespolizei (state police) of Munich, augmented by eight companies from elsewhere."
A number of regular Reichswehr officers enter the building to parley with Roehm, who takes them very seriously. Lieutenant Colonel Hans Georg Hofmann, the Ingolstadt garrison commander, had allowed his men to sleep through the night, in order to give the putsch a chance to succeed. The other officer is Major General Franz Ritter von Epp. Both of these men are in sympathy with the putsch. Both claim to be—and are—acting in Roehm's best interests, and that of the other putschists. Telling Roehm of the dictatorial powers granted to von Seeckt, they convince him that, in this manner, the goal of installing a right-wing regime in Bavaria has actually been achieved. With the forces of the putsch so terribly outnumbered, any further resistance would be counter-productive. They convince him that the best course is to end things now, before Reichswehr is forced to fire on Reichswehr. Such a thing would benefit none but the Social Democrats and the Jews. Roehm sees the logic of the situation, and negotiates a two-hour truce. 109
11:00 AM: Around two or three thousand troops are mustered at the Bürgerbräukeller, all of them from the now-outlawed groups: the NSDAP, the Reichskriegsflagge, and the Oberland Bund. All the rifles have bayonets attached, but two thousand of their guns lack firing pins, something that will not be discovered until after the fact. 110
11:30 AM: After some exchange of opinions on exactly what to do, Ludendorff decides the issue: "Wir marschieren!" (We shall march!). As Hitler remembered it:
We would go to the city to win the people to our side, to see how public opinion would react, and then to see how Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser would react to public opinion. After all, those gentlemen would hardly be foolish enough to use machine guns against a general uprising of the people. That's how the march into the city was decided on. 111
11:45 AM: Roehm is taken to meet with the commandant of the Munich garrison, General von Danner. Just after Roehm's departure, two shots ring out from the War Ministry. Two Reichswehr soldiers are wounded. In retaliation, a Nineteenth Infantry sergeant, manning a machine gun, shoots Reichskriegsflagge soldier Martin Faust, who dies instantly. A former Reichswehr officer, Lieutenant Theodor Casella, is shot while trying to drag Faust to safety. Three men, one of whom is Heinrich Himmler, rush out from their hastily found cover and attempt to retrieve their fallen comrades, as the shooting stops. The wounded are taken to Josephinum hospital. Faust is dead on arrival. Casella will survive him by an hour. 112
Shortly before noon, Hermann Goering lines up the men under his direct command and leads them in an oath of loyalty to Ludendorff. This is a most exciting moment for him, and he is quite enjoying himself. 113
Noon: The troops begin lining up on Rosenheimer Strasse in preparation to march. They begin their march into the center of Munich with two standard bearers in the lead, followed by Ludendorff, still in his hunting jacket. They march in four-man wide columns, grouped in threes, to equal twelve-abreast. As they march, bystanders and gawkers join the procession, swelling their numbers while making discipline more difficult. Alongside the columns, Max Amann and Hermann Esser are riding in a car. Esser is suffering from jaundice. Spotting Dietrich Eckart standing amongst the crowd by the side of the road, they pick him up. A canary-yellow Opel, flying a Red Cross flag, takes up the rear. Inside is Dr. Walter Schultze, a medical doctor attached to the Munich regiment of the SA. 114
Hitler recalled: "We set out convinced that this was the end, one way or another. I remember someone who said to me as we were coming down the steps, 'This finishes it!' " Hitler walks down the marching columns, ordering that all their weapons should be double-checked to makes sure they are not loaded. He does not want any bloodshed, he says. However, Hermann Goering orders Josef Berchtold to retrieve the city counselors held hostage at the Büurgerbräukeller. He has in mind putting them at the head of the column to dissuade an attack. "I don't want any martyr's," Hitler declares upon learning of the order, and countermands it. 115
When they arrive at the Ludwig Bridge they find it guarded by a unit of "Green Police" (security police) with raised rifles. State policeman Lieutenant Georg Hofler, the green police commander on the scene, will write: "The leader of this unit gave orders to walk on slowly, whereupon I explained to him that if he didn't stop walking I would give the order to shoot. I ordered my detachment, which was standing about ten steps behind me, to "load ball ammunition!" The Nationalist Socialists shouted, "Don't shoot at your comrades!" 116
Putschist Johann Aigner: "We raised our hands and shouted, "Don't shoot, Hitler is coming, Ludendorff is coming, comrades, don't shoot at your fellow Germans!" . . . . We were approximately 10 meters away from them, when the police officer in charge ordered them to take the safeties off of their rifles. At about 5 meters' distance we raised our hands again, and repeated our statements to them.
SA-Mann Berchtold: "We were within a stone's throw of them when they raised their rifles. Ulrich Graf, Hitler's bodyguard, shouted, "Don't fire; Ludendorff is with us," whereupon they lowered them again, and I sprang forward at the head of some ten of my fellows and promptly disarmed them." The thirty state police surrender. They are sent back to the Bürgerbräukeller and held there under guard, along with other "detainees". 117
Dr. Weber: "Naturally we intended to march through the city, and after the encounter at the Ludwig Bridge we did not even consider [the possibility of] being halted by the state police. There the state police had given way . . . . We assumed that this would happen elsewhere." 118
Standing alongside the path of the march, Professor von Mueller recorded his state of mind at that moment:
Hitler and Ludendorff, in civilian clothes, were leading the march. I remember seeing Ludendorff with an emotion which can perhaps be understood only by people of my generation—it was one of the deepest shocks of my life. Ludendorff's overall behavior was repugnant to me; I never had any personal dealings with him. Nonetheless, there was the general of the war. Whatever one wanted to say, he was one of the great generals of the old German army, the planner and winner of glorious battles. There he was, walking at the head of a crowd of desperate revolutionaries, wearing a crumpled civilian coat, a shabby soft hat on his head. 119
As they march past the Munich City Hall, Julius Streicher is addressing a crowd on the steps. Streicher and his supporters join the march en masse. 120
Our banner—which was to become a banner of blood—flew in front. I joined the second group, and we marched into the city towards the Feldherrnhalle. Ashen, I saw rifle after rifle ranged before the Feldherrnhalle and knew that now there would be shooting; I marched up 10 paces in front of the banner and marched straight up to the rifles. Then came the massacre, and we were arrested . . . . At Landsberg . . . Hitler declared to me and to the men who were in prison with him, that he would never forget this action of mine. Thus, because I took part in the march to the Feldherrnhalle and marched at the head of the procession, Adolf Hitler may have felt himself drawn to me more than to the others. That was the friendship born of the deed. 121
The tall Ludendorff takes long strides, and Hitler, pistol in hand, is having trouble keeping up with him. Next to Hitler is Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter, with Hermann Kriebel and Gottfried Feder close behind. Then marched Drexler, Rosenberg, Streicher, and Goering, among many others. 122
Ludendorff commands the marchers to rendezvous with Roehm's Reichskriegsflagge troops at the War Ministry. When asked later why he had made this decision, he responded: "At certain moments in life, one acts instinctively and doesn't know why. I fought the battle of Tannenberg. When I ask myself why I fought it the way I did, I don't know. The reasons given in those splendid history books I only thought of afterward. We just wanted to get to Roehm and bring him back." In order to do so, they will have to pass through the Odeonsplatz. It is here that the line had been drawn by the authorities, and both the police and the Reichswehr troops have been ordered to shoot if necessary. No one is to cross the Odeonsplatz. 123
12:30 PM: The putsch army makes its way through the streets of Munich. They cross the Marienplatz to wild cheering from the crowds, who burst into patriotic songs, joining in with the marching band. The putschists navigate the Weinstrasse and the Perusastrasse before turning into the Residenzstrasse. Here the road narrows, and the troops are forced to reform into a four-abreast formation. 124
Lieutenant Demmelmeyer of the green police is having trouble in properly deploying his men. Most of his troops are on the Theatinerstrasse, but he needs them on the Residenzstrasse. Demmelmeyer later testified:
I hurried over to the Residenzstrasse and saw an endless Hitler column, the front of which was already in the middle of the Residenzstrasse. I rushed into the Residenz and alerted [the state police battalion headquarters located there]. The Second Company came out in a short time . . . . The policemen advanced with rifle butts forward, with rifles held across their bodies, and with nightsticks against the column in order to halt it. 125
The end of the street is blocked by another unit of green police, armed with carbines. They are led by Lieutenant Freiherr Michel von Godin, who is determined to follow orders. No one will pass onto the Odeonsplatz on his watch. While the marchers vastly outnumber the police, the latter have chosen the ground for their stand cleverly. The narrowness of the street makes it impossible for the putschists to bring their superiority in numbers to bear. 126
National Socialist "historians" will later claim that Ulrich Graf ran out ahead of the vanguard, shouting at the police-soldiers: "Don't shoot! His Excellency Ludendorff is here!" Most historians have cast some degree or another of doubt on this version. Payne wondered why Graf would risk his life to say something so obvious at that moment. Ludendorff was in the very front, was a head or two taller than anyone else in the procession, and was recognizable from a very long distance. Heiden and Kershaw marveled that, in the circumstances, anybody would bother add "His Excellency" to the important information that "Ludendorff is here." 127
Note: Many things happened at once during this confusing interval. Numerous accounts containing differing interpretations have been analyzed critically in order to determine the most probable version. Unless otherwise noted, only events with at least two unanimous sources are included.
Lieutenant von Godin:
I dashed with my platoon [which was] in the Theatinerstrasse back around the Feldherrnhalle and realized that the counterattack of the Hitler troops, who were armed with every kind of weapon, had easily broken through the cordon in the Residenzstrasse. I went over to the counterattack against the successful breakthrough of the Hitler people, with the order: "Second Company, double time, march."
It is not known who fired the first shot, and the shooting itself lasts less than one minute. The police had been instructed to avoid firing directly into the column, but to aim their fire into the pavement instead. For this reason, many in the front row are not hit, but those two or three rows back are peppered with ricochets. 129
I was received in their ranks with level bayonets, unlocked rifles, and leveled pistols. Some of my men were grabbed and had pistols held against their chests. My men worked with rifle-butt and night-stick. I myself had taken a rifle so as to defend myself without going over too soon to the use of my pistol, and parried two bayonets with it, overturning the men behind them, with rifle at high port. Suddenly a Hitler man who stood one step half left of me, fired a pistol at my head. The shot went by my head and killed Sergeant Hollweg behind me.
Then, before I could give an order, my people opened fire, with the effect of a [volley]. At the same time, the Hitler people commenced firing, and for twenty or thirty seconds a regular fire-fight developed. 128
Hermann Goering is wounded when two pieces of granite, and some smaller fragments, ricochet into his groin. He crawls to relative safety behind a stone lion guarding the old Wittelsbach Residenz. Retrieved by some of his SA men, he is taken to a nearby building, where a doctor's shingle is displayed out front. Turned away by the physician's office, they are offered assistance by an elderly Jewish couple. The lady of the house, Frau Ilse Ballin and her sister, had both served as nurses during the Great War. The sisters recognize the famous anti-Semite immediately. Perhaps from some battlefield instinct, or due to an innate humanity, they do not hesitate to help the wounded man. They clean the wound, which is very messy, and manage to stop the bleeding. 130
Max Scheubner-Richter is killed instantly by a direct hit. He and Hitler had linked arms just before the shooting began. Scheubner-Richter, dead before he hits the ground, drags Hitler down to the ground with him. The dead weight of the falling Scheubner-Richter has dislocated Hitler's left shoulder, though Hitler initially believes he has been shot. Ulrich Graf is said to have shielded Hitler with his own body, and had received four to five hits in the process. 131
While crossing in front of Ludendorff, his valet, Kurt Neubauer, has half of his head blown off by a large caliber bullet. By the time the sound of the last ricochet fades away, fourteen National Socialists and three Green Police members lay dead on the ground. 132
Everywhere people were going down, writhing on the ground in agony, dead and dying, while the guns still rattled death and murder into their stampeding midst. It was madness and slaughter. Goering and Graf fell, badly wounded; fourteen dead were trampled under people's feet throwing [tripping] the living down; blood flowed everywhere over the gray pavement. The whole thing was a ghastly debacle. Shrieks and cries rent the air, and ever that insane firing went on. 133
Suzanne St. Barbe Baker, an English tourist visiting relatives, wrote:
I had come to Munich to persuade the British Consul to grant me an extension of my permit, and was blissfully ignorant of any political trouble. Apparently it had just pleased Mr. Hitler [sic] . . . to arrange a miniature revolution and select the Odeonsplatz as the scene of war. Within half a minute the square was surrounded by troops and police and transformed into a battlefield, where the machine-gun bullets whizzed past my head, so that I had to crawl on all fours to cover. I found this in a cafe that could no longer boast of a single window-pane. 134
Throughout the shooting, and in the immediate aftermath, only two figures remain erect and moving forward: Ludendorff, and his adjutant, Major Hans Streck. They walk all the way across the Odeonsplatz and do not stop until they reach the Feldherrn Hall. After a while, the police catch up with Ludendorff. 135
I saw a civilian, and a Hitler officer who had a bleeding nose come toward me. I recognized the civilian—it was General Ludendorff. I walked up to Ludendorff and told him, "Excellency, I must take you into protective custody." Ludendorff agreed, with the following words: "You have your orders, and I will follow you." I walked the two gentlemen to the Feldherrnhalle and ordered Sergeant-Major Krohler to take Ludendorff to the Residenz. Then I walked back to my cordon. 136
Ludendorff's heroic march, with his head held high through a swarm of bullets, will make him perhaps the only participant of the putsch whose public standing will initially be raised by his participation. 137
Arrested on the spot are Streicher, Amann, Brueckner, Drexler, and Dr Weber. Freikorps leader Gerhard Rossbach escapes to Salzburg. Hermann Esser flees to Czechoslovakia. 138
Hitler, one of the first to get up and flee the scene, is clever enough to have had a personal exit strategy ready, in case things went sour. One of the doctors attached to his party, Dr. Walther Schultze, has his yellow Fiat, with the motor running, parked on the Max-Josephplatz. Hitler just has to get there. One imagines that Hitler must have felt a bit as he had during the Great War, carrying a dispatch to Regimental Headquarters in a war zone. Cradling his dislocated arm with his good arm, he runs down the sidewalk of the Residenzstrasse, finally making it to the Max-Josephplatz and the waiting Fiat. Dr. Schultze's chauffeur drives Hitler directly to the village of Uffing. Hitler thinks he has been shot. Dr. Schultze asks if he feels a warm spot, and Hitler answers that he does not. Schultze wrote: "[During the drive] I had Hitler undress, and established that he did not suffer a bullet wound, but a severe shoulder dislocation." 139
2:00 PM: A large police force surrounds the Bürgerbräukeller. The Kampfbund surrenders without resistance. All of the Jews and hostages are released. 140
3:00 PM: At the War Ministry, Roehm and his Reichskriegsflagge troops surrender after receiving word of the shooting. Roehm's standard bearer is Heinrich Himmler. Roehm is arrested, and incarcerated in Stadelheim Prison to await trial for treason. Disarmed, Himmler and the remaining members of the Reichskriegsflagge march through the streets with their dead, before officially disbanding. Himmler will be fired from his job, because of his participation in the putsch, 141
3:00 PM: General von Lossow tells Generalkommissar von Kahr: "Excellency, the Ludendorff-Hitler Putsch has been broken." 142
As the victorious police forces move through the streets, it is clear to them that the putsch they had just put down had much popular support. They are taunted with wounding barbs, such as: "Pfui! Jew defenders! Betrayers of the Fatherland! Bloodhounds! Heil Hitler—Down with Kahr!" 143
Many putschists are disillusioned and distraught, in the aftermath of the day's events. Freikorps leader Kriedrich Wilhelm Heinz is representative: "Hitler led his men into battle with absolutely no protection. He had no idea of what he wanted. Then when things got tough, Adolf the Swell-head took off . . . and left his men in the lurch . . . . Did you expect that he'd do anything else?" 144
Johann Aigner, the fallen Max von Scheubner-Richter's valet, gains entrance to a makeshift morgue that has been set up at the Feldherrnhalle. "After much pleading," Aigner will write, "[a police official] accompanied me inside, where, near the entrance, all the dead were lying side by side. I was close to madness when I had to look for him among the bodies." He finds his friend and employer's body next to that of his best friend, Kurt Neubauer, Ludendorff's valet. "Sick in my soul and totally shattered, I returned to our residence on the Widenmayerstrasse," Aigner wrote. When he informs Frau Scheubner-Richter that her husband is dead, she replies: "That's terrible but that is why one is an officer's wife." 145
4:00 PM: Dr. Schultze and Hitler arrive in the village of Uffing, south of Munich. Hitler is taken to the home of his friend, Ernst Hanfstaengl. Ernst, who had been in the thick of the recent events, is still in Munich, but he will soon escape over the border to Austria. The pregnant Frau Hanfstaengl [above] is a handsome and capable woman. An American, born Helene Elise Adelheid Niemeyer, she had married 'Putzi' in 1920, and shares her husband's devotion to the Austrian politician.
Helene listens sympathetically to Hitler's version of the putsch, and offers him the use of an attic bedroom. Wearing a pair of Putzi's oversized white pajamas, and wrapped up in some blankets to help ease the pain, Hitler eventually lays down and tries to get some sleep, but is in a lot of pain. 146
When darkness falls over Munich, Goering is transported to the medical clinic of a Nazi sympathizer, Professor Alwin Ritter von Asch, and his very messy, shrapnel-like wounds are treated. Goering's wife, Carin [above], is in very poor health, but when she is contacted and informed of her husband's whereabouts, she leaves her bed—against doctor's orders—and makes her way to Asch's clinic, on this cold and windy evening. She finds Goering in much pain. 147
As the result of his injury, Goering is unable to walk, so his SA men must carry him out to the vehicle. He is driven forty-five miles south of the city, to a ski resort that is owned by a friend, Major Schuler van Krieken. Goering spends the night there. 148
From the front page story in the New York World:
Munich uprising fizzles overnight:
1923 November 10
General von [sic] Ludendorff, the most dangerous man in Germany for the last four years, came to the end of his rope this afternoon when he was taken captive . . . . With his arrest the Bavarian revolution collapsed like a punctured balloon . . . . Driven mad by ambition and having lost all sense of proportion in his determination to reunite Teutonic peoples into a solid fighting force which yet would conquer the world, Ludendorff allied himself with Hitler. When Hitler went off half-cocked last night, declaring the Fascist revolution in Munich, Ludendorff was dragged down with him. 149
Early on this Saturday morning, Dr. Schultze and a colleague, an assistant of the well-respected Dr. Sauerbruch stop by the Hanfstaengls to see Hitler. After they set his shoulder, Hitler asks them to get a message to his friends, the Bechsteins. He is considering borrowing a car from them, and fleeing to Austria. The doctors will both return at noon to change the bandage wrapping on his shoulder. 150
In a fatalistic mood, Hitler composes a sort of political testament. He appoints Alfred Rosenberg as the leader of the NSDAP, Max Amann deputy leader, Ernst Hanfstaengl as party treasurer, while Hermann Esser and Julius Streicher fill out the leadership roles. No mention is made of Goering, Drexler, Feder, or Roehm. 151
Rudolf Hess, after spending the night in an unknown location, finally gets through by phone to Ilse Proehl [above, left], his fiancée. He is stuck in Tergernsee without transportation. He needs to see Professor Haushofer. She gets on her bicycle and pedals to her husband. On the way back, one of them rides while the other walks, in turn. Haushofer agrees to hide Hess in his home in Munich. After a few days, he will move in with some friends outside the city, but will risk discovery pedaling back and forth to visit her frequently. 152
Frau Hanfstaengl is shocked when Goering's gardener, Greinz, comes calling in the afternoon and asks to speak to Hitler. She denies that he is there, and Greinz checks into a hotel in town. Frau Hanfstaengl is convinced that her house is being watched. 153
10:00 PM: Hermann Goering, in the company of a medical doctor, attempts to cross the border into Austria at Garmisch, but is recognized and placed under arrest. While waiting for an actual police officer to arrive, Goering and his companion manage to escape, leaving Carin behind to delay pursuit. They eventually make their way over the border into Austria at Mittenwald. Winding up in Seefeld, Austria, they rent a small room in which to spend the night. 154
1923 November 11
Morning: After his driver has gone back over the border and brought Carin to Austria, the three of them travel to Innsbruck. They check into the Hotel Tiroler Hof, which is owned by a Nazi fellow-traveler. Goering is in very bad shape. He is running a high fever, and his wound is showing definite signs of massive infection. 155
Noon: Hitler leaves the attic bedroom for the first time, and walks down the stairs to the main floor of the house. Physically, he feels a bit better, but he is very concerned that he has not heard from the Bechsteins, and imagines all sorts of difficulties, as a result. 156
4:20 PM: Senior Lieutenant Rudolf Belleville is the commander of the state police company at Weilheim, which has jurisdiction over Uffing. The fugitive putschist Adolf Hitler is known to be hiding out in the residence of Ernst Hanfstaengl. He is to be arrested immediately. 157
5:00 PM: Frau Hanfstaengl's mother lives in a villa nearby. She calls her daughter, and manages to inform her that a squad of policemen are searching her home, before one of them takes the phone from her. Speaking to Helene, the police official tells her he is coming there directly. 158
Hitler is arrested by Lieutenant Belleville, with the assistance of a dozen policemen. From the police report:
After they had knocked, the door was opened. A lady came to meet Senior Lieutenant Belleville. After he had introduced himself the lady asked if Senior Lieutenant Belleville was the leader. When Belleville said that he was, she said, "May I ask you to come in alone first."
Frau Hanfstaengl and Senior Lieutenant Belleville help Hitler to get dressed, and his Iron Cross, First Class, was pinned on, at his request. The Hanfstaengl's toddler son, Egon, is said to have accosted the police party: "What are you bad, bad men doing to my Uncle Dolf?" The detachment clears the street of curious bystanders and, after a somber good-bye, Hitler is helped into the truck. 159
Senior Lieutenant Belleville considered that he might be about to walk into a dangerous trap, but he did as she asked. The detachment waited outside the house. Without saying a word, Frau Hanfstaengl led him up to the door of a room, hesitated for a moment, looked at Senior Lieutenant Belleville for several seconds, opened the door, and said, "Please go in."
In the room stood Hitler in white pajamas, his arm in a sling . . . . Hitler stared at him quite absent-mindedly; when he learned that he had come to arrest him, Hitler gave him his hand and explained that he was at his disposal . . . .
They drive directly to the prison in Landsberg am Lech, a small, picturesque Bavarian town forty miles west of Munich. 160
Hitler arrives at Landsberg around midnight, on a very cold winter night. Awaiting him are thirty-nine prison guards. Count Anton Arco-Valley, the assassin of the first republican premier of Bavaria, Kurt Eisner, has been removed from his comfortable quarters. Cell #7 is given to Hitler. 161
A Landsberg Prison warden, Franz Hemmrich, would write about this day:
Then, on November 11, 1923, I remember, there was a real storm raging. The wind howled and shrieked round the place and tore at the barred windows. Rain dashed against the panes as if it would break them. At that time I had a room within the prison. It was night, and I'd gone to bed. All was still save for the muffled tread of an officer going the rounds, or for the ticking when he clocked in . . . .
His superior, Herr Oberregierungsrat Leybold, wakes him from his sleep:
"See here," he said, and his face was as serious as his voice, "Hitler's coming here tonight. He has been arrested at last, and he'll certainly be sent along to us. We'll have to be prepared for anything. His followers may make an attempt at rescue . . ."
Hemmrich takes Hitler to his cell personally, and helps him undress. The cell is furnished with a cot, two chairs, a table, a cupboard, and a nightstand. Two barred windows stand out against the whitewashed walls. Hitler refuses to eat anything, and lays down on the cot straight away. Warden Hemmrich locks him in and turns out the light. 163
While we were speaking, the telephone rang, and word came through that a strong detachment of the local Reichswehr had been detailed to take over guard in the prison. I received the order to get ready a cell for Hitler in the fortress division . . . . I hastened down and soon met a strange enough group of men coming through the halls, with their shadows flickering and dancing in the darkness before them. First, I recognized the governor, accompanied by the superintendents of police, one of whom led a dog on a leash. Between these came Hitler, very upright, the Iron Cross on his breast. Over his shoulder was slung the gray trench coat he had been wearing in the Odeonsplatz. His left arm hung in a sling. Bareheaded, white and worn in the face, he marched thus, to the place we had prepared. 162
"In this year 1923, the swastikas and storm troops disappeared, and the name Adolf Hitler fell back almost to oblivion. Nobody thought of him any longer as a possible in terms of power."—Stefan Zweig 164
End of Chapter.
Next: Show Trial, Soft Time
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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