Chapter Nineteen:
Kampfzeit IV

1932 January 1 From Hitler's New Year's message to his supporters: "After twelve months more, the road to German freedom will be open! . . . . Let us march into this new year as fighters, in order that we may leave it as victors!" 1

1932 Ernst Kaltenbrunner, a Doctor of Law and Political Science from Hitler's native district of Braunau, Austria, joins the NSDAP.


I became a member of the Party in 1932 after I had belonged for several years to the Non-Partisan Movement for the Protection of the Austrian Homeland . . . . I made speeches in my own home province, the Gau Upper Austria, at National Socialist but primarily—or rather exclusively—to promote the Anschluss movement. I was a legal adviser just as any other lawyer of any party who, at that period of economic emergency, was willing to give legal information and advice free of charge for some hours at the end of the day to the needy, who in this case were National Socialists. 2

1932 January 5 While meeting with Rudolf Hess, Alfred Rosenberg, and one of the paper's editors, Wilhelm Weiss, in the Völkischer Beobachter offices, a telegram arrives from the Brüning government. The telegram requests that Hitler appear in Berlin to confer with government leaders. "Now I have them in my pocket!, Hitler joyously exclaims. "They have recognized me as a partner in their negotiations." 3

1932 January 7 For defaming the Jewish religion, Berlin's Deputy Police Commissioner, Bernhard Weiss, bans Der Angriff for one week. In the evening, when Goebbels repeats the same defamation to 15,000 supporters in the Sportpalast, the Berlin police shut him down and disperse the crowd. He is subsequently barred from speaking in public anywhere in Prussia for a further three weeks. 4

1932 January 7 Hitler confers in Berlin with Reich Defense Minister Wilhelm Groener. From the official government note:

Sympathetic impression, modest, decent fellow who wants the best. In his demeanor, type of the earnest autodidact . . . . The minister has clearly stated that he will support the legal effort of Hitler by all means, but that Nazi fomenters of unrest will be opposed as before . . . . Hitler's intentions and aims are good, but he is an enthusiast, fiery, many-sided. The minister fully agreed with him to further his intentions for the good of the Reich. The minister also instructs the [governments of the] states, in the sharpest form, to be fair toward the Nazis: Any excesses should be opposed, not the movement as such. 5

Goebbels tells his diary:

The Presidency is not really in question. Brüning only wants to stabilize his own position and that of his cabinet for the foreseeable future. The Führer has asked for time to consider. The situation must be clarified on all sides . . . . The contest for power, the game of chess, has begun. It may last throughout the year. It will be a fast game, played with intelligence and skill. The main point is that we hold fast, and waive all compromise. 6

1932 January 8-10 Hitler meets with Otto Meissner, Hindenburg's State Secretary, and Groener on the 8th and 10th. Reich President Hindenburg's 7-year term will expire on May 5, 1932. With the dire economic situation in the Republic, these gentlemen tell Hitler, a long and bitter electoral contest at this time would be counter-productive. They propose that the Reichstag override the Weimar Constitution and extend Hindenburg's term in office without holding an election. The motion will not pass without a two-thirds majority in the Reichstag, and Hitler's cooperation is necessary for this to happen. Hitler puts them off, saying he will inform them when he has reached a decision. 7

1932 January 9 Goebbels' diary: "Everything in confusion. Much guessing about what the Führer will do. People will be surprised!" 8

1932 January 12 Going behind the back of Chancellor Brüning, Hitler, through Hugenberg, notifies Reich President Hindenburg that he has decided, on "constitutional, foreign-political, domestic, and moral grounds," that he will not participate in their extra-constitutional scheme. The meeting, and Hitler's rejection, are soon filling columns in the Press, with Brüning and Hitler exchanging barbs publicly. 9

In an open letter to Brüning, Hitler becomes the defender of the Republic:

Democracy espouses the view that all state power issues from the people and hence all the representatives of the state power are only mandates of popular will. No domestic and foreign arguments against new elections can ever be a license to infringe upon the constitution. 10

Hitler, during a secret meeting at the Kaiserhof, soon makes a counter-offer: He will support Hindenburg in the upcoming election if Brüning is dismissed and the Reichstag is dissolved. And a round of elections should be held in Prussia as well. Hitler's 'offer' is dismissed with contempt. Reich President Hindenburg sends word to Hitler, informing him that dismissing Chancellor Brüning is out of the question. It is just as well. Hitler has a candidate of his own in mind for the office of Reich President. 11

1932 January 19 Goebbels, who is with Hitler in Munich, tells his diary: "Discussed the question of the presidency with the Führer. No decision has yet been reached. I am pleading strongly for his own candidacy. By now nothing else is seriously possible. We draw up calculations with figures." This is the first of many diary entries over the next month concerning Goebbels pleading with Hitler, encouraging him to run for Pesident, while Hitler puts off the decision until the last possible moment. 12

1932 January 22 Goebbels and Hitler discuss how the former will fit into a future NSDAP government, as Goebbels records:

The idea is to organize a Ministry for the Education of the People, comprising control of the cinema, broadcasting, new educational establishments, arts, culture, and propaganda generally. This is altogether a revolutionary office, to be directed in general from the center. Its object would be to set forth clearly the Idea of the Reich. It is a vast plan such as the world has not yet seen. I am already beginning to work out the basis of this ministry. It is designed for the intelligent support of the state, and to conquer not only the apparatus of government, but the people as a whole. 13

1932 January 25 Hitler appoints Himmler head of security in the Brown House:

Control of the security service throughout Party Headquarters (The Brown House and adjacent building) is hereby transferred to the Reichsführer-SS. The SA Oberführer of the Munich/Upper Bavaria Untergruppe [Sub-Group] and the SS Standartenführer of No. 1 SS-Standarte, Munich will forward to the Reichsführer-SS a list of the SA and SS men selected. 14

1932 January 25 From Hitler's open letter to Chancellor Brüning: "It would never have come to a Treaty of Versailles, if the parties which support you—the Center, the Social Democrats, and the Democrats—had not undermined, destroyed, and betrayed the old Reich, if they had not prepared and carried through the Revolution (of 1918) or at least accepted and defended it." 15

1932 January 27 Hitler speaks for two-and-one-half hours to the 650 members of the Dusseldorf Industry Club, in the grand ballroom of the Park Hotel. Fritz Thyssen had invited Gustav Krupp to attend, but Krupp, who considers Hitler an "upstart," refused. As is Hitler's method when speaking before such an audience, he does not mention the Jews at all. 16

Fifty per cent of the people [the Communists and Socialists] wish only to smash the State in pieces and feel themselves to be the vanguard not only of an alien attitude towards the State . . . but of a will which is hostile to the State . . . when only fifty per cent of a people are ready to fight for the national colors, while fifty per cent have hoisted another flag which stands for a State which is to be found only outside the bounds of their own State. Unless Germany can master this internal division in Welltanschauungen no measures of the legislature can stop the decline of the German nation . . . .

Here [in the Nazi movement] is an organization which is filled with an indomitable, aggressive spirit, an organization which, when a political opponent says "Your behaviour we regard as a provocation," does not see fit immediately to retire from the scene, but brutally enforces its own will and hurls against the opponent the retort: "We fight today! We fight tomorrow! And if you regard our meeting today as a provocation we shall hold yet another next week—until you have learned that it is no provocation when German Germany also professes its belief . . . . "

And when people cast in our teeth our intolerance, we proudly acknowledge it—yes, we have formed the inexorable decision to destroy Marxism in Germany down to its very last root . . . . Today we stand at the turning-point of Germany's destiny . . . . Either we shall succeed in working out a body politic hard as iron from this conglomeration of parties, associations, unions, and Weltanschauungen, from this pride of rank and madness of class, or else, lacking this internal consolidation, Germany will fall in final ruin . . . .

Remember that it means sacrifice when today many hundreds of thousands of SA and SS men every day have to mount on their lorries, protect meetings, undertake marches, sacrifice themselves night after night and then come back in the grey dawn to workshop and factory, or as unemployed to take the pittance of the dole; it means sacrifice when from the little they possess they have to buy their uniforms, their shirts, their badges, yes, and even pay their own fares. But there is already in all this the force of an ideal—a great ideal! And if the whole German nation today had the same faith in its vocation as these hundred thousands, if the whole nation possessed this idealism, Germany would stand in the eyes of the world otherwise than she stands now! 17

Industrialist Fritz Thyssen, who had organized this meeting for Hitler, later wrote:

I have personally given altogether one million marks to the Nazi Party . . . . It was during the last years preceding the Nazi seizure of power that the big industrial corporations began to make their contributions. But they did not give directly to Hitler; they gave them direct to Dr Alfred Hugenberg, the leader of the Nationalists, who placed at the disposal of the Nazi Party about one-fifth of the amounts given. All in all, the amounts given by heavy industry to the Nazis may be estimated at two million marks a year. 18

Many of the business leaders and industrialists in the audience are seeing Hitler for the first time, and they like what they hear. Contributions to the party spike upward over the next month, giving the Nazis the necessary funds to participate in the upcoming presidential elections, should Hitler finally decide to run. "The effect [of Hitler's speech] upon the industrialists," Otto Dietrich later recorded, "was great, and very evident during the next hard months of struggle." 19

1932 February 2 The two-year "Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments" opens in Geneva. Chancellor Brüning's government—pointing out that, by the terms of the Versailles Treaty, Germany's disarmament was originally supposed to be only a first step toward general disarmament—demands equality of armaments with the other powers. 20

1932 February 2 Goebbels' diary:

The arguments for the Führer's candidacy are so thoroughly persuasive that anything else is out of the question . . . . At noon had a long discussion with the Führer. He sets forth his view of the presidential election. He decides to run himself. But first the opposition must occupy fixed positions. The Social Democratic Party will be the decisive factor. Then our decision will be communicated to the public. It is a struggle of enormously embarrassing alternatives, but we must go through with it. The Führer makes his moves without the slightest haste and with a clear head. 21

1932 February 3 Goebbels' diary:

The Gauleiters are waiting for the announcement of the decision to run for the presidency. They wait in vain. This is a game of chess. You don't tell in advance what moves you are going to make . . . . The party is terribly nervous, tense, but nevertheless everybody is still keeping silent . . . . In his leisure hours the Führer is occupying himself with architectural plans for a new party headquarters as well as for a spectacular rebuilding of Berlin. He has the project all worked out, and I am constantly astonished anew at his expertise in so many fields. At night many loyal old party comrades come to see me. They are depressed because they have not yet heard of any decision. They are worried that the Führer will wait too long. 22

1932 February 15 Hindenburg officially announces that he is standing again for the office of Reich President. The old gentleman does not campaign for the office other than to record an hour-long radio speech to be broadcast on election eve. 23

1932 February 22 Goebbels announces that Hitler is running against Hindenburg—"Our Führer is going to be Reichs President!"—before a huge and enthusiastic crowd at Berlin's Sportpalast. From Goebbels' diary:

Sportpalast jammed. General membership meeting of the West, East and North regions. Stormy ovations right at the start. After an hour of preamble I publicly announce the Führer's candidacy. A storm of enthusiasm rages for almost ten minutes. Wild demonstrations for the Führer. People stand up cheering and shouting. They raise the roof. An overwhelming sight. This is truly a Movement that must win. An indescribable excitement and rapture prevails . . . . Late at night the Führer telephones. I report to him, and then he comes to our house. He is glad that the proclamation of his candidacy has struck home so effectively. He is and remains our Führer after all. 24

However, there is one little problem: Hitler is not a German citizen, and therefore cannot legally hold office. 25

1932 February 22-March 13 In his role as the party's propaganda chief, Goebbels speaks in nine cities on behalf of Hitler's candidacy—including Essen, Cologne, Breslau, Dresden, Magdeburg, Hamburg and Nuremberg—and nineteen times in Berlin, four at the Sportpalast. 26

Christopher Isherwood observed: "Berlin was in a state of civil war. Hate exploded suddenly without warning, out of nowhere; at street corners, in restaurants, cinemas, dance halls, swimming baths; at midnight, after breakfast, in the middle of the afternoon. Knives were whipped out, blows were dealt with spiked rings, beer-mugs, chair legs or leaded clubs; bullets slashed the advertisements on the poster columns, rebounded from the iron roofs of latrines." 27

1932 February 24 In a surprise declaration before the Reichstag—and at the behest of General von Schleicher—Reich Defense Minister Wilhelm Groener does away with the provisions that previously prohibited simultaneous membership of the NSDAP and the Reichswehr:

The repeated declarations of the National Socialist leader and his profession of legality show that he is endeavoring to exclude illegal elements from his party. And the Reich Court has expressly established this fact. These facts have decided me no longer to deny the honorable right of national defense to the members of the NSDAP. 28

1932 February 26 Hitler, a former citizen of Austria, is appointed to a civil service position in the State Culture and Measurement Office (Landeskultur-und Vermessungsamt) in the state of Braunschweig for the period of a week. Ironically, Adolf Hitler of Austria now follows in his father's footsteps (in a manner of speaking) and becomes the one thing he swore he'd never be: a civil servant.

Hitler is now a German citizen, enabling him to run in the Presidential election against Hindenburg. When Hitler is congratulated for officially becoming a citizen, he replies: "You should congratulate Germany, not me!" However, the irregular nature of the maneuver will leave some unsatisfied that this, in point of fact, does truly make Hitler a citizen of Germany. In the event, it proves sufficient. 29

1932 February 27 Before a crowd of 25,000 in the Berlin Sportpalast—perhaps feeling invincible now that he is officially a citizen—Hitler calls out Hindenburg, his main opponent in the election for Reich President, yelling: "'Old man . . . you must step aside! . . . . Dear old man, our veneration for you is too great for us to allow those whom we would destroy to hide behind you. With our deep regret, therefore, you must step aside, for they want to fight us and we want to fight them." The NSDAP uses all its resources in this campaign. During the eleven-day campaign, Hitler will speak in twelve cities. 30

1932 February 29 Goebbels brags to his diary about his innovations in electoral political propagandizing:

Fifty thousand gramophone records have been made, small enough to fit into an ordinary envelope. The supporters of the government will be astonished when they place these miniature records on the gramophone. A film (of me) is being made and I speak a few words in it for about ten minutes. It is to be shown in the evening in all public gardens and squares of the larger cities. 31

1932 February By the end of the month, the number of unemployed in Germany stands at over six million. 32

1932 March 1 The son of a college professor, Ernst Wilhelm Bohle, who had earned a degree in business management at the Handelshochschule in Berlin, joins the NSDAP.

1932 March 10 Chancellor Brüning makes one last appeal to the electorate:

Election of a party man, representing one-sided extremist views, who would consequently have the majority of the people against him, would expose the Fatherland to serious disturbances whose outcome would be incalculable. Duty commanded me to prevent this . . . . If I am defeated, I shall at least not have incurred the reproach that of my own accord I deserted my post in an hour of crisis . . . . I ask for no votes from those who do not wish to vote for me. 33

1932 March 11 A majority of the men in Hitler's paramilitary organizations—the SA and SS—would prefer to be more military than para, and morale is low. Goebbels tells his diary: "Talked over instructions with the SA and SS commanders. Deep uneasiness is rife everywhere. The notion of an uprising haunts the air." 34

1932 March 13 Hitler receives 30.1% of the vote in the Presidential elections with 11,339,446 votes. Goebbels writes in his diary: "We’re beaten; terrible outlook. Party circles badly depressed and dejected." Communist Ernst Thaelmann captures 13.2%, 4,983,341 votes, while Right-wing candidate Theodor Duesterberg, the candidate of the nationalist right wing, polls 2,557,729 votes, 6.8%. But it is not over yet. 84-year-old Paul von Hindenburg und Beneckendorff polls 49% of the 38 million votes cast, just 170,000 votes short of the absolute majority needed to win outright. A run-off election is scheduled for 19 April. 35

Again, the NSDAP pulls out all the stops. This campaign season has an Easter Truce from politics in the middle of it, which only leaves about one week for actual campaigning. Hitler takes to the air in a hired Junkers plane, with the slogan "The Führer over Germany!" This "Germany Flight" (Deutschlandflug) brings Hitler to twenty different venues, where he addresses an estimated one million voters. Among those who will switch their votes in this run-off election is former Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, who had voted for Duesterberg in the first round. The exiled Kaiser's eldest son, as a way of breaking publicly with Hindenburg, endorses the Führer of the NSDAP: "Since I regard it as absolutely necessary for the national front to close its ranks, I shall vote for Adolf Hitler." 36

In an effort to take full tactical advantage of the continuing influx of new recruits—at the direct expense of their enemies—the Nazis party press soon publishes this cynical suggestion aimed at prospective party-changers:

Halt! Before you leave your present party, convinced of the truth of the National Socialist idea, reflect if you cannot be more useful to the National Socialist Movement by remaining a member where you are and informing us about all the occurrences and intentions of your present party comrades! . . . . Your work will be valued as highly as the sacrifices of every party comrade and SA man who does his duty! 37

1932 March 14 In the Völkischer Beobachter, Hitler declares that he will run again for president in the run-off election: "The first election campaign is over, the second has begun today. I shall lead it." Hitler now embarks on yet another of his patented "Führer over Germany" campaign tours. He charters a Junkers plane and pilot to fly him to twenty different cities in one week, from East Prussia to Westphalia. The Nazi press pumps propaganda prolifically, and uses such innovations as vinyl records of Hitler campaign speeches sent by mail to garner votes. When his plane encounters storm conditions on a flight to Düsseldorf, Nazi newspapers declare Hitler the bravest man in Germany. It is that sort of campaign. 38

1932 March 15 General Kurt von Schleicher, the chief of the Reichswehr's Ministerial Office, is quite upset that the SPD has taken the side of the Nazis against the government. In a memo to Reich Defence Minister Wilhelm Groener, von Schleicher writes:

After the events of the last few days, I am really glad that there is a counterweight [to the Social Democrats] in the form of the Nazis, who are not very decent chaps either and must be stomached with the greatest caution. If they did not exist, we should virtually have to invent them. 39

1932 March 17 The Prussian police, in a raid on SA headquarters in Berlin, find orders and plans—including maps—issued by Ernst Röhm, making ready to launch a coup d'état, in the event that Hitler gains the presidency. Röhm immediately seeks out von Schleicher, and convinces him that they were just contingency plans, and the only actual order issued was to confine the SA to quarters during the election. Göring calls a press conference at the Kaiserhof:

It was most commendable of us to concentrate our 350, 000 storm-troopers in their own quarters on election day. By so doing, we prevented bloodshed. As for the allegation of the police that we Nazis were preparing to surround Berlin, the whole idea is absurd. We are surely entitled to take our own measures for the evacuation from the city of our women and children, so as to protect them from injury by government mobs, and that, in fact, is what we did. Why, heaven help us, we have so many former officers in our ranks that if we really wanted to stage a rising we could set about it in quite a different manner, I assure you, gentlemen. 40

1932 March 31 Baldur von Schirach weds 19-year-old Henriette 'Henny' Hoffmann—the daughter of Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler's official photographer—at the old Registrar's Office in Munich, the "Old Peter." Since the wedding takes place during the "Easter Break" of the election campaign, the reception is held in Hitler's apartment on the Prinzregentenplatz. Hitler consumes a plate of spaghetti, with tomato sauce, and an apple. Before leaving, Hitler gives Henny a note instructing her on the type of food she should serve him: "I eat everything that Nature yields of her own accord: fruit, vegetables, vegetable oil. Please, spare me everything that animals give up against their will: meat, milk and cheese. From animals [I eat] only eggs." 41

1932 April From an Easter Season speech by Julius Streicher:

For 13 years I have fought against Jewry . . . . We know that the Jew, whether he is baptized as a Protestant or as a Catholic, remains a Jew. Why can you not realize this, you Protestant clergymen, you Catholic priests! You are blinded and serve the God of the Jews who is not the God of love but the God of hate. Why do you not listen to Christ, who said to the Jews, "You are the children of the Devil." 42

1932 April 2 Goebbels again mentions the discontent in the SA and SS in his diary: "The SA getting impatient. It is understandable enough that the soldiers begin to lose morale through these long-drawn-out political contests. It has to be stopped though, at all costs. A premature putsch would nullify our whole future." 43

1932 April 19 Paul von Hindenburg is re-elected Reich President with 53.0 percent of the vote; 19,300,000 votes all told; 13,400,000 vote for Hitler, a 30.1% to 36.8% improvement. Communist Ernst Thaelmann loses ground, receiving only 4,983,341 votes, a mere 13.2%. 44

The election season in Germany is far from over—80% of the country is still engaged in a series of state elections that are due to be decided on April 24. At issue is Landtag representation in the states of Prussia, Bavaria, Württemberg and Anhalt, and city council elections in Hamburg. From 16 to 24 April, Hitler will deliver multiple speeches in twenty-six cities, on yet another "Führer over Germany" campaign.

Many of the stops on this tour take place in out-of-the-way provincial locations, where the local press coverage revels in the novelty. The crowds that turn out to hear Hitler speak have, for the most part, never seen him before, and new party membership figures jump in these locales. And the crowds keep getting larger. 45

1932 April 19 Goebbels advises his diary:

We lose no time, but proceed at once to plan our campaign for Prussia. At dawn I am still writing a leading article and proclamation to the Berlin party. They have fought stoutly. Now Prussia must be vanquished. That will be the next fortress to be assaulted. The second election has enormously enhanced our chances. 46

1932 April 21 Contingency plans for a Nazi coup had been found in Nazi Party offices in November of 1931, and in other regional Nazi offices since. With this incriminating evidence at hand, Chancellor Brüning and Interior and Defence Minister Groener convince Hindenburg to ban the activities of "all military-like (militarahnliche) organizations" of the NSDAP. Goebbels' Berlin office is occupied by the police, and the SA offices are sealed. The SA and SS are banned in all of Germany. 47

1932 April 22 Röhm, in company with the local Berlin SA leader, Count von Helldorf, meets secretly with General Kurt von Schleicher, who assures the SA man that he and the Reichswehr are opposed to the ban on the SA and SS, and promises that it is only temporary. 48

1932 April 23 While Goebbels is confident that the NSDAP is doing well in the on-going electioneering, the continual campaign is draining party funds at a worrisome pace, as he ruefully comments to his diary: "It's a fantastic victory that we've attained . . . . [But] we must come to power in the foreseeable future. Otherwise we'll win ourselves to death in elections." 49

1932 April 23 On the eve of the election, Hitler speaks before 120,000 people at the speedway track at Lokstedt. Hamburg schoolteacher Luise Solmitz is there, and later writes this account:

The April sun shone as in summer, turning everything into a picture of happiest expectation . . . . No one [in the crowd] said "Hitler", always just "the Führer. "The Führer says," "the Führer" wants, and what he said and wanted, that seemed good and proper . . . . The hours passed, the sun shone, the expectation mounted . . . . It got to 3 o'clock. 'The Führer's coming!' A thrill goes through the masses. Around the platform hands could be seen raised in the Hitler greeting . . . . There stood Hitler in a simple black coat, looking expectantly over the crowd. A forest of swastika banners rustled upwards. The jubilation of the moment gave vent to a rousing cry of 'Heil'. Then Hitler spoke. Main idea: out of the parties a people (Volk) will emerge, the German people. He castigated the 'system' . . . .

For the rest, he refrained from personal attacks and also unspecific and specific promises. His voice was hoarse from speaking so much in previous days. When the speech was over, there were roars of jubilation and applause. Hitler saluted, gave his thanks, the 'Germany Anthem' sounded over the track. Hitler was helped into his coat. Then he went. How many look to him in touching faith as the helper, saviour, the redeemer from overgreat distress. To him, who rescues the Prussian prince, the scholar, the clergyman, the peasant, the worker, the unemployed out of the party into the people. 50

1932 April 24 The Nazi Party increases its share of the vote in the Free State of Prussia to 36.3%, making Hitler's party the largest in the Landtag with 162 seats. The party receives 32.5% in the Bavaria Landtag, 26.4% in the Württemberg Landtag, and 31.2% in the Hamburg City Council. Anhalt, in effect, votes in their first Nazi Minister-President, when they poll 40.9% for the NASDAP. 51

1932 April 26, 27 The intrigues continue as Röhm and von Helldorf meet with General Kurt von Schleicher, in the course of these two days. While the conversations themselves are not documented, subsequent events, as well as Goebbels' diary entries, indicate that Hitler is in favor of removing the Brüning government. If the SA were to be made legal once again, Hitler would not oppose a new government of von Schleicher's choosing. 52

A subtext to these conversations is the desire of all three to join the SA with the Reichswehr, something to which Hitler is personally opposed. General von Schleicher would like nothing better than to have the SA subordinated to the state. Likewise, if he can bring Hitler into the government, he feels that the Nazi leader and his movement can be neutralized, while the government's position would be strengthened. Hitler is well aware that this trap is being set, and has no intention of falling into it. 53

1932 April 28 Goebbels and Hitler meet with General von Schleicher. "The Leader has decided to do nothing at the moment," Goebbels tells his diary, "but mark time. Things are not to be precipitated." 54

1932 May Rosenberg, in the National Socialist Monatshefte, writes:

The understanding that the German nation, if it is not to perish in the truest sense of the word, needs ground and soil for itself and its future generations; and the second sober perception, that this soil can no more be conquered in Africa, but in Europe and first of all in the East, these organically determine the German foreign policy for centuries. 55

1932 May 1 Joachim Ribbentrop, a wine and champagne wholesaler, joins the NSDAP, Member Number 1,199,927. Ribbentrop later explained that: "It was precisely Hitler's opposition to Versailles that first brought me together with him and the National Socialist Party. 56

1932 May 8 General Kurt von Schleicher meets secretly with Hitler, Oscar von Hindenburg, the President's son, and Oscar's advisor, State Secretary Otto Meissner. Von Schleicher informs Hitler that Brüning is on his way out, and a new government will soon be formed. Hitler pledges to "tolerate" the new government if the ban on the SA and SS is lifted, and new Reichstag elections are held. General von Schleicher agrees to the deal. 57

Goebbels tells his diary:

[We have reached] a decisive discussion with General Schleicher. Brüning is to go in the next days. The Reich President will withdraw his confidence. The plan is to install a presidential cabinet. The Reichstag will be dissolved; all coercive laws will be dropped. We will be given freedom of action, and will then deliver a masterpiece of propaganda. 58

Chancellor Brüning does have one strong supporter in the cabinet: Wilhelm Groener, the Minister of Defense and the Interior. It was Groener who had worked with Hindenburg and Ludendorff to accept the Armistice and depose the Kaiser, and he had always had Hindenburg's ear. However, things had changed recently, and the old field marshal's affection for Groener had lessened. Groener, 62-years-old, had recently married, and his new wife had given birth to a baby boy only five months later. Even worse, Groener had posed with his son for a photograph that had been published in the newspapers. General von Schleicher keeps Hindenburg informed of all the details. Further, he called various high-ranking Reichswehr officers, ostensibly to ask them what they thought of the matter. In this manner, von Schleicher is able to marginalize the influence of Brüning's foremost ally. 59 1932 May 10 Gregor Strasser, the most socialist National Socialist, addresses the Reichstag:

The rise of National Socialism is the protest of a people against a State that denies the right to work and the revival of natural intercourse. If the machinery for distribution in the present economic system of the world is incapable of properly distributing the productive wealth of nations, then that system is false, and must be altered. The important part of the present development is the anti-capitalist sentiment that is permeating our people; it is the protest of the people against a degenerate economic system. It demands from the State that, in order to secure its own right to live, it shall break with the Demons Gold, World Economy, Materialism, and with the habit of thinking in export statistics and the bank rate, and shall be capable of restoring honest payment for honest labour. This anti-capitalist sentiment is a proof that we are on the eve of a great change—the conquest of Liberalism and the rise of new ways of economic thought, and of a new conception of the State. 60

1932 May 10 Hermann Göring assails the Minister of Defense and Interior, Wilhelm Groener, on the floor of the Reichstag:

Don't think that by removing his brown shirt you can take away the spirit of the SA man. While other parties change their policies like their shirts, for us spirit and policy remain the same, in spite of prohibition and terror. Faithfulness and comradeship, which to many of you have become a phantom, like your oath, for us are fundamental to the union of German men, who stand united for their country and their people . . . . A government that, internally, externally, and in political economy, has lost every battle, can no longer ask for confidence. It has always been so in history. When a general has lost a battle, he has to go. Troops are not there to bleed to death for a general, and a people does not exist to be ruined by a government which cannot master the situation. And so we declare today that the Cabinet no longer enjoys the trust of the people. The people are clamouring for new men!  . . . The Brüning Cabinet must go. It must go, in order that Germany can live. 61

When Groener, who is dealing with diabetes and other health issues on top of all his other difficulties, rises to respond to Göring's attack, the Nazis in the chamber shout him down. Surrendering to the relative safety of his seat, he is informed by General von Schleicher that he no longer enjoys the confidence of the Reichswehr, and should do the proper thing and resign from the government. 62

1932 May 12 Interior and Defense Minister Groener tenders his resignation, which is accepted by Chancellor Brüning. General von Schleicher becomes the new Reich Defense Minister. 63

The foremost lesson Adolf Hitler had learned from the Putsch is that he can never gain power without the blessing—or at least tolerance—of the Reichswehr, and no German government can survive without its support. For all practical purposes, Reich Defense Minister von Schleicher now speaks for the Reichswehr, and has thus become the eminence grise of the latter days of the Weimar Republic. No government can be formed without his approval, and none can retain power over his opposition. As Hitler once put it: "Take away from the present state the machine gun, take away the cannon, the hand-grenade, the police, take away the Reichswehr, and leave the present state to the love of its citizens—and you will see what remains of it!" 64

Hermann Göring, no stranger to intrigue, said of General Kurt von Schleicher: "Any Chancellor who has Herr von Schleicher on his side must expect, sooner or later, to be sunk by the Schleicher torpedo, there was a joke current in political circles: "General von Schleicher ought really to have been an Admiral for his military genius lies in shooting under water at his political friends." 65

Note: Coincidentally, the root of the name Schleicher is the verb schleichen, which means "to creep or crawl," and a Schleicher is a man who is an intriguer. 66

1932 May 13 Goebbels writes in his diary:

For Brüning alone, winter seems to have arrived. He is being secretly undermined and is already completely isolated. He is anxiously looking for collaborators—"My kingdom for a Cabinet Minister!" General Schleicher has declined the Ministry of Defense . . . . Our mice are busily at work gnawing through the last supports of Brüning's position. 67

1932 May 17 General Kurt von Schleicher again meets secretly with Hitler. 68

1932 May 18 Goebbels writes in his diary: "For Brüning alone winter seems to have set in. The funny thing is he doesn't realize it. He can't find men for his cabinet. The rats are leaving the sinking ship." 69

1932 May 20 Engelbert Dollfuss becomes Chancellor of Austria. 70

1932 May 25 The Communists in the Prussian diet enter a no-confidence motion against the Braun government. Caught up in the moment, Communist deputy Wilhelm Pieck takes the floor and delivers a blistering speech against the "party of murderers," that is, the NSDAP. The outnumbered Nazi legislators rise as one, and start breaking heads. Ejecting the stunned Communists from the chamber, the victorious NSDAP delegation breaks into an enthusiastic rendering of the Horst Wessel Song. Goebbels later tells his diary of Hitler's reaction: "I had to tell him the whole story in epic length, and he rubbed his hands with pleasure." 71

1932 May 26 Fifty-three-year-old Catholic Center Party (Zentrum) politician Franz von Papen, at home in his estate in the Saar, is summoned to Berlin by General von Schleicher, Brüning's Defense Minister. 72

1932 May 27 Von Papen arrives in Berlin in the evening and meets with von Schleicher. "There is a Cabinet crisis; we are looking for a Chancellor," von Schleicher tells him. "The President would like to have you form a cabinet." Papen is greatly surprised: "I very much doubt if I am the right man," he replies, and asks for time to think it over. 73

1932 May 29 Hitler's Nazis win twenty-four of the forty-six seats in the Oldenburg Landtag; the first NSDAP absolute majority. 74

1932 May 29 Reich President von Hindenburg sends for Chancellor Brüning. "I am informed," he tells his embattled chancellor, "that you have ministers with Bolshevist plans in your cabinet. That cannot go on!" Hindenburg demands his resignation. 75

1932 May 30 Von Papen again meets with Defense Minister General von Schleicher.

Franz von Papen:

I went to see Herr von Schleicher again. I said to him: "I have decided not to accept." Herr von Schleicher said: "That won't do you any good, the President wants you under all circumstances." I answered Herr von Schleicher: "The President probably has a wrong conception of the political forces which I would bring to him for this government; he probably thinks that the Center would support me politically. But that is out of the question."

On the afternoon of this day, I went to see the head of the Center Party. I asked him, and he said: "Herr von Papen, do not accept the office; the party would immediately oppose you." I said: "Thank you, that is what I thought." I then went to see Hindenburg and presented the situation to him. Hindenburg stood up and said: "I did not call you because I wanted the support of any party through you; I called you because I want a cabinet of independent men." Then he reminded me of my duty toward the fatherland. When I continued to contradict him, he said: "You cannot leave me, an old soldier, in the lurch when I need you." I said: "No, under these circumstances I will not leave you in the lurch; I will accept." 76

1932 May 30 Chancellor Brüning, in a morning meeting, notable for its brevity, submits his resignation to Reich President von Hindenburg. Immediately, Franz von Papen is given the official heads-up to form a government. 77

Hitler will later opine: "Unlike the idea attached to the word "Reich", the idea of the "Chancellor of the Reich" has unfortunately lost its significance in the course of the centuries. On a single occasion, a giant [Bismarck] gave it its full glory, and then it came to signify abortions like Wirth, Brüning, etc." 78

1932 May 30 At 4:00 o'clock P.M., Reich President von Hindenburg meets with Hitler and Göring. When the aged president asks him if it is true that he has promised to support the new von Papen government, Hitler replies in the affirmative. 79

1932 May 30 Goebbels gloats to his diary:

Hitler's talk with the President went well . . . . The bomb has exploded! . . . . The system is collapsing . . . . The SA ban will be dropped. Uniforms are to be allowed again. The Reichstag will be dissolved. That's the most important of all. v. Papen is foreseen as Chancellor. But that is not so interesting. Voting, voting! Out to the people. We're all very happy. 80

1932 May 31 German President Paul von Hindenburg appoints von Schleicher's choice, Franz von Papen, as the lucky thirteenth chancellor of the Weimar Republic, replacing Heinrich Brüning, the leader of Papen's own party. Schleicher is rewarded with the post of Minister of Defense. Papen has practically no support in the Reichstag except from the DNVP (Conservative German National People's Party). So, he forms a "cabinet of barons" meant to be independent of parties. Two members of the cabinet are corporate CEO's, and five are members of the aristocracy. 81

M. François-Poncet, the French ambassador in Berlin, wrote: "The President's choice [of von Papen] met with incredulity. No one but smiled or tittered or laughed because Papen enjoyed the peculiarity of being taken seriously by neither his friends nor his enemies . . . . He was reputed to be superficial, blundering, untrue, ambitious, vain, crafty and an intriguer." 82

Papen's chancellorship has been brought about through the intrigues of General Kurt von Schleicher, who is heard to boast: "I′m not the soul of the cabinet, but I am perhaps its will." When asked "Why Papen?" in private, von Schleicher will say: "In most things there must be a certain frivolity. People sometimes say that Herr von Papen is frivolous. But that is what we need." When it was pointed out that von Papen is a man without a head, the new Reich Minister of Defense explained: "He doesn't need a head. His job is to be a hat." 83

1932 May 31 Konstantin Freiherr von Neurath—a 58-year-old career diplomat serving as the Reich Ambassador to Britain—receives a telegram from the German Foreign Office:

The Reich President requests you, in view of your former promise, to take over the Foreign Ministry in the presidential cabinet now being formed, which will be made up of rightwing personalities free from political party allegiance, and will be supported not so much by the Reichstag, as by the authority of the Reich President. The Reich President addresses an urgent appeal to you not to refuse your services to the fatherland in this difficult hour. Should you not be able to give an affirmative answer immediately, I ask you to return at once. 84

1932 June 2 Konstantin von Neurath is appointed Chancellor von Papen's Reich Minister of Foreign Affairs. 85

Konstantin von Neurath:

Already in 1929, after Stresemann's death, Hindenburg had wanted to appoint me Foreign Minister. At that time I refused, because in view of the party conditions existing in the Reichstag in those days, I saw no possibility for a stable foreign policy. I was not a member of any of the 30 or so parties, so that I would not have been able to have found any kind of support in the Reichstag of those days. Hindenburg, however, obtained my promise that I would answer his call if the fatherland should find itself in an emergency . . . .

I was not the least bit keen on taking over the post of Foreign Minister at that time. I liked my post as Ambassador in London, enjoyed good relations there with the Government and the Royal Family, and I was hoping, therefore, that I could continue to be of service to both countries, Great Britain and Germany. I could not simply overlook Hindenburg's appeal, but even then I did not decide until after I had had a lengthy personal discussion with him, in which I stated my own aims and ideas regarding German foreign policy, and in which I assured myself of his support of a peaceful development, and the means of attaining equality for Germany, the strengthening of her position in the council of nations, and the regaining of sovereignty over German national territory. 86

1932 June 2 In pursuit of their respective agendas, Communists and Nazis combine forces in the Prussian diet and pass a no-confidence motion against the Braun government. 87

1932 June 3 Chancellor von Papen resigns from the Zentrum, just before he is to be expelled for his betrayal of Brüning. 88

1932 June 3 Von Schleicher travels to Mecklenburg-Schwerin to meet secretly with Hitler, who is campaigning for the upcoming Landtag elections. All is proceeding as planned. 89

1932 June 4 President Hindenburg dissolves the Reichstag, as von Schleicher had promised in his "gentlemen′s agreement" with Hitler. The election is scheduled for July 31, 1932, the latest date allowed by law. Goebbels would have preferred that the election be held sooner: "The longer the contest beforehand, the better for our opponents. We shall have our work cut out to make up for this." 90

It is during this election cycle that the story of Hitler's antecedents is revealed in a Vienna newspaper, the Sonn-und-Montags Zeitung, under the headline HEIL SCHICKLGRUBER! The spurious story sells many papers, but only voters who are already predisposed against the Nazi Führer pay it much heed. 91

1932 June 4 Hitler speaks before a crowd of 30,000 in Mecklenburg. After receiving word of the dissolution of the Reichstag, he and Goebbels drive back to Berlin. 92

1932 June 5 The NSDAP receives 49% of the vote in state elections in Mecklenburg-Schwerin. 93
1932 June For the first time as Reich Chancellor, von Papen meets with Hitler. Hitler frankly informs him: "I regard your Cabinet only as a temporary solution and will continue my efforts to make my party the strongest in the country. The Chancellorship will then devolve on me." 94

Franz von Papen:

The aim of the talk was to determine under what conditions Hitler would be willing to tolerate my Government. My program contained so many points in the social field that an approval of that program by the National Socialists was to be expected. Hitler's condition for such an approval of the Government program was the lifting of the ban on uniforms for the SS; that is, the political equalization of his party with the other parties. I agreed to that, at that time; all the more so, as the ban of the SS by the Brüning Government was an obvious injustice. The SS, or rather the SA, had been prohibited; but the uniformed formations of the Socialists and the Communists, that is, the Rotfront and the Reichsbanner, had not been prohibited. The result of my promise to Hitler was that Hitler obligated himself to tolerate my Government. 95

1932 June 14 In a clear attempt to provoke the Berlin police and make the papers, Goebbels leads forty to fifty fully outfitted SA leaders on an invasion of a stylish restaurant on the popular Potsdamer Platz. When this fails to gain them any arrests, the troop makes an excursion across the square to Potsdamer Strasse. The police ignore them, and they eventually disperse. 96

1932 June 15 As von Schleicher had promised, the von Papen government finally lifts the ban on the SA and SS, which had been enacted earlier by Brüning. 97

1932 June - July With the lifting of the SA ban, the political violence in Germany reaches epidemic proportions. Over 500 recorded street battles, mostly between Nazis and Communists, take place in Prussia alone. Deaths amount to 99, and 1,125 are seriously wounded between June 1 and July 20, 1932. 98

1932 June 16 The Lausanne conference begins, as representatives from Great Britain, Germany, and France meet in Lausanne, Switzerland.

1932 June 19 The NSDAP receives 44% of the vote in state elections in Hesse. 99

1932 June 20 At the Hotel Kaiserhof in Berlin, Hitler addresses the Keppler Circle for the first time. Wilhelm Karl Keppler, a German businessman who had been introduced to Hitler by Heinrich Himmler, had formed this circle of like-minded small businessmen to gather support for the NSDAP among this class. As always, Hitler tailors his remarks to appeal to the sensibilities of the crowd, and his address is a great success. 100

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

Click to join 3rdReichStudies

Click to join 3rdReichStudies

Disclaimer:The Propagander!™ includes diverse and controversial materials--such as excerpts from the writings of racists and anti-Semites--so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and anti-Semitic discourse. It is our sincere belief that only the informed citizen can prevail over the ignorance of Racialist "thought." Far from approving these writings, The Propagander!™ condemns racism in all of its forms and manifestations.

Fair Use Notice: This site--The Propagander!™--may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of historical, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, environmental, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a "fair use" of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.