15: Helping Hands
Home Up 8: Early Months 9: A Born Soldier 10: War Not Peace Slaughter & Honor 12: Hate & Defeat 13: Revolution 14: A Star Pupil 15: Helping Hands

15footnotes


At the beginning of 1920 the German Workers' Party had 190 dues paying (a half mark monthly) members. Their ranks were made up of fifty-six skilled tradesman from the railroad shops along with a sampling of minor civil servants, grade school teachers, shopkeepers, salesmen and office workers. There were also twelve university students, six engineers, three doctors, and seven members associated with journalism and publishing. There were also nineteen women--occupations not given. The military was represented by four Army officers along with twenty soldiers.*  Because the military made up only 13% of the membership, and there were only four unskilled members that could truly be called "workers," the party was in reality a lower middle class party and, contrary to popular belief, would continue to remain so during its entire existence.

"In 1920," Hitler would later recall, "when I organized my first big assemblies in Munich....I was in search of starched collars, in the hope that they'd help me to reach the intellectual class."*  Hitler now had second doubts. Since his Vienna days he had always had contempt for the intellectual class, and that included the Right as well as the Left and Center. He saw the intellectuals of the Right as a bunch of "wandering German folkish scholars" who had been doing the same thing for "thirty or even forty years" while the country became more Marxist every year.*   He believed that most of the upper classes were driven by "stupidity and pride,"* and that they really "believed in nothing."* Because of his earlier dealings with the legal system, he especially singled out lawyers and judges and felt that "jurists are either born defective or become so through practice."*  Hitler often talked about the "stupidity of Lawyers" and pointed out that: "They're the people who used to burn witches!"*  Hitler, consequently, took one of the most decisive steps in his political career. Instead of attempting to find acceptance among the upper classes at this time, he decided to do what Lueger had done years before and reach out for more of the crowd.

Hitler knew that to succeed in the politics of the time, sooner or later, he would have to take his "struggle" out into the streets. Large outdoor meetings, rallies and marches announced the success of a political group. A hall or meeting room could be defended by a hand full of "buddies," however, the streets were controlled by the Socialists and Communists. The Social Democrats had their "defense organizations" (united under the Reichsbanner in 1924) while the Communists had their Rotfrontkampfer (Red Front Fighters). These gangs not only fought against one another, but raided the meetings and street rallies or anyone else who opposed them. The Communists were especially skilled at assembling unemployed workers and these groups seldom broke up peacefully. Many of the participants were former soldiers and sailors who were now trained organizers and street fighters. They gathered together with short pieces of lead pipe, wood clubs, knives and guns. They did not hide their intentions of clashing with any opponent and that included the police. Hitler felt that the "cowardly" intellectual and upper classes (who "lived in perpetual fear of irritating the Reds"* and fled at the "sight of every communist blackjack"),* would never succeed in attracting a mass following with their "weapons of the mind."*   He had great admiration for many of the Communist and Socialist party members who were willing to fight, physically, for what they believed in.*  He was determined to attract those men to him.

With the National Chairman gone, the first thing Hitler did in reshaping the movement was to set about getting rid of any "intellectual" airs. To appeal to the working classes Hitler wore "disheveled clothes" and "made sure that all the members of the movement came to meetings without fancy clothes and ties, but in casual dress so as to win the trust of the working class."*   To appeal to the ex-soldiers, who made up a large part of the Marxist parties, Hitler never attempted to hide the fact that he had served in the army. Like any common soldier he used gutter language and "latrine" phraseology in his speeches that ex-soldiers understood immediately.*  For as much as to attract the workers, as well as to rid the party of "scared rabbits” or “fraidy-cats,"*  Hitler also adapted the slogan: "Whoever attacks us with violence, we will defend against with violence."*  On the other hand, Hitler never attempted to reach down to the lowest strata of society. He was determined to attract the "better elements of the working classes."*  As he would state, "we do not want millions of indifferent rabble, we want a hundred thousand men--headstrong, defiant men. Our success will force the millions to follow us."*

Hitler, with his anti-Jewish anti-Marxists outcries, was from the very beginning, as he saw it, an attempt to "educate"* the workers and change "public opinion." He was determined to drive a wedge between the Marxist parties leaders (many of whom were Jewish) and the workers. Unlike most "Jew baiters," Hitler had nothing against Jews he met personally and behaved the same toward them as he did anyone.*  Most of his attacks against the Jews were, as one observer saw it, "not so much on a racial basis, as on an accusation of black marketeering and waxing fat on the misery round them, a charge which was only too easy to make stick."*   As Hitler saw it, "constant grumbling against the Jews succeeded in alienating the working class from their Jewish leaders."*

In Jan 1920 Hitler held his sixth and seventh meetings at the German Reich Tavern.   Hitler's speeches remained unprepared and he spoke with primitive force and emotion. Moderation in politics suggests a lack of conviction and in this matter Hitler was not lacking. He hammered home the inability of the new liberal government's policies, he attacked Germany's enemies, he degraded the peace treaty, he defended the army, and his attacks against the Reds were unrelenting. His attacks against the Jews were directed against those of wealth, recent immigrants from Russia and especially those who played a leadership role in the Marxists parties during and after the war. Over 250 people attended the first meeting, over 400 attended the second. "The hall," Hitler would later state, "could barely hold the crowd." Shortly after, 37 new members joined the party in one day.*

Bavaria offered unusual fertile ground for Hitler's beliefs. Unlike northern and central Germany, Bavarians rejected most of the Socialist ideals and considered the Communists "traitors." Bavaria had become a safe haven for those with nationalist sentiments and was awash with national parties, volkish groups, monarchists, right wing defense leagues, and other conservative organizations. For the most part, Bavarian newspapers glorified the actions of the Right while any actions taken or supported by the socialists or communists were portrayed as unpatriotic or treasonous. Some of Bavaria's parties were so adverse to the direction that northern Germany had taken that the old movement that favored separation from Germany and an independent Bavaria, or one in union with Austria, was growing. Other groups, including Hitler's party and fractions within the army, believe that Bavaria should march on Berlin, overthrow the republican government, and establish a nationalist government.

One of those army officers who wished to overthrow the Republic was staff officer, Captain Ernst Rohm. Impressed by the ideals of the German Workers' Party and Hitler's oratorical talents, he had joined the group shortly after Hitler to become member "623."*  Around the beginning of the new year he replaced Captain Mayr as Hitler's new commander. Rohm, who had a flair for politics and organization, did his best to help expand Hitler's group and steered politically motivated ex-soldiers and officers his way. Unlike Mayr, Rohm also invited Hitler into his circle and introduced him to members of the higher officer class.

Outside of army and party circles Hitler was also widening his contacts. With little organized opposition in the party, Hitler and Drexler became close friends and Hitler became a steady visitor at the Drexler home in the Nymphenburg area. "My little girl used to climb on Hitler's knee," remembered Drexler, "she knew she was always welcome."*  Drexler helped Hitler expand his circle of politically motivated contacts, including a few with properly starched collars. Hitler was not opposed to recruiting sympathizers of the upper classes as long as they were "real fanatics" as he put it.*  One of those who fulfilled his requirement was Dietrich Eckart.

Eckart was a large balding man with a boisterous humor and a quick and course tongue in the Bavarian manner. He was the son of a lawyer and had become a sought after nationalist speaker who, at the time, could hold his own against Hitler. He was also nearly everything Hitler wanted to be in his youth--a writer, a playwright, a composer, a drama critic and a poet. His brilliant translation of Ibsen's "Peer Gynt" (a poetic drama about a simple and self made man with will power) became the standard version in Germany. The work not only brought Eckart national attention but a steady income in royalties. With his own money he published a weekly paper with a readership of 30,000.* The paper, In Plain German, took the nationalist, anti-Jewish, anti-communist line. Though Eckart was a nonconformist like Hitler, his outgoing personality, wit and intelligence made him a welcome addition at the better cafes and beer gardens where he spent much of his time. There he ate and drank excessively and did most of his writing* which was characterized by "bluntness and coarseness."*  Hitler was 31 when he met the 52 year old Eckart and they immediately got along. Hitler considered Eckart "a writer full of idealism."*

Eckart's interest in Hitler went beyond casual. In 1919, shortly before he met Hitler, Eckart gave a brief description of the man he believed could return Germany to greatness. The "man" had to be a nameless, common soldier "with burning eyes, moving among the people with a terrible power of conviction."* He had to be one who knew how to talk, and could scare the shit out of the rabble.*  He had to be someone who "could stand the sound of a machine gun," could "give the Reds a juicy answer, and doesn't run away when people start swinging table legs."*  The final requirement was that the man had to be a bachelor who appeared so dedicated to his mission that he felt no need for women.*  "Then," Eckart concluded, "we'll get the women."*

Eckart was the first truly educated and somewhat cultured man to see potential in Hitler. He became Hitler's tutor, coach and friend. Hitler visited the Eckart home so many times that he and Eckart's live-in girlfriend, Anna, got to know one another on a first name basis. Eckart however, was not one to sit ideally at home and he and Hitler were often seen out on the town. The Weinstubble Brennessel (Stinging Nettle Wine Room) in the Schwablng district and the Bratwurstglockl in the Frauen Platz were two of their favorite haunts. Hitler felt that Eckart always "outshone" all the other people because of his "wit and common sense."

Eckart also had access to the drawing rooms and social functions of the wealthy and aristocratic classes. He instructed Hitler in the proper forms of protocol, mannerisms, and dress. He was soon introducing Hitler around as the "long-promised savior."*

High society was something new to Hitler, and after a dinner meeting with a wealthy family, he reported "wide-eyed" to an acquaintance:

I felt quite embarrassed in my blue suit....The servants were all in livery and we drank nothing but champagne before the meal. And you should have seen the bathroom, you can even regulate the heat of the water.*

In such company Hitler was always respectful and polite. He also was very careful to adhere to the proper forms of address* used between "people of the lower rank" and "those of better education, title or academic attainment"* ("persons of quality"). Try as he may, Hitler never felt completely at ease at formal functions and normally appeared awkward and out of place. He had a "winning way"* about him nevertheless, and one woman found him "charmingly clumsy."

Eckart not only guided Hitler through the labyrinth of Munich society but he also picked up most of Hitler's bills.*  He contributed generously to the party and would also write a battle song for the group ("Storm! Storm! Storm!") which glorified revenge. Each verse ended with the words--"Germany, awake."*  Hitler would adapt those two words as a party slogan and use it in many of his speeches.

Hitler had nothing but praise for Eckart and would later state: "How I loved going to see Dietrich Eckart in his apartment on Franz Joseph Strasse. What a wonderful atmosphere in his home! How he took care of his little Anna....He shone in our eyes like the polar star...At the time, I was intellectually a child still on the bottle."*   Six years later Hitler would end the second volume of Mein Kampf with the words: "I want also to count that man, one of the best, who devoted his life to the awakening of his, our people, in his writing and his thoughts and finally in his deeds: 'Dietrich Eckart'"**  Twenty-two years later Hitler would look back at some of the suggestions and actions Eckart promoted (which Hitler saw as insignificant) and state: "It's only with time that I've come to realize my mistake."*

However important the outside help, "Hitler's success was his own energy and ability as a political leader."*  Hitler studied his profession almost scientifically. He studied the beer halls for their acoustics, their colors, the best place from which to speak. He watched the entrances and exits so as to judge the crowd. He learned to get the attention of the audience and how to keep it. He learned to feel the crowd and judge whether, or when, they could be worked up to fever pitch. He also visited the opposition's meetings, sometimes wearing a fake goatee, and learned their methods. He learned at first hand, as a spectator within a crowd, what worked and what didn't. He studied the opposition so well that, in the lectures he was still required to give for the army, "Political Parties and Their Significance" became one of his main topics.*  He knew what men on the street thought, what they wanted, what they expected, and what they would settle for. He learned, as he put it, "how to win over the worker."*

Hitler and Eckart (along with some "economic" input by Gottfried Feder) began to work on the official party program that had been sketched out by Drexler. When Hitler had just about what he wanted, he showed up on Drexler's door step one evening. The two began boiling down the program to twenty-five points. ( Another "point," not added till 1926, was a preface that made the party program unalterable. This would not only give Hitler's party a "granite foundation" (like the 'Communist Manifesto' gave the Communists), but would save uncounted hours of time and energy that is normally wasted within organizations arguing over whether something ought to be added or deleted. Hitler, like constitutional interpreters, knew that times change and "points" can be "bent" to take advantage of changing situations.) By the time the sun rose in the morning they had finished. "These points of ours," Hitler declared, "are going to rival Luther's placard on the doors of Wittenberg."*

Hitler now set to work organizing the parties first mass meeting to present the parties twenty-five point program. Hitler wanted the "people" to pronounce judgment on them. The Fest Room of the Hofbrauhaus, capable of holding over 2000 people was rented for 700 marks for Tuesday Feb. 24, 1920 at 7:30 p.m. Hitler believed that if this meeting was successful the party would "burst the narrow bonds of a small club" and in the future would be able to have "influence on the mightiest factor of our time, public opinion."*

Drexler set about trying to find a well know speaker as a drawing tool who could warm up the crowd before Hitler took the stage. His search, however, proved difficult when it was learned that the communists were threatening to shoot Hitler and whoever appeared on the stage with him.*  Hitler thought of putting the meeting off but understood that if he did, the communists would never cease to threaten him. "The struggle had to be carried through," Hitler would write: "...If not now, a few months later....I knew above all the mentality of the adherents of the Red side far to well, not to know that resistance to the utmost not only makes the biggest impression but also wins supporters."*

Drexler finally contacted a prominent nationalist, Dr. Johannes Dingfelder, who wrote for national and volkisch publications and often gave anti-Jewish speeches. Although Drexler informed Dingfelder that the expected crowd at the meeting might be "partly hostile," the communist death threat was never mentioned. Dingfelder agreed to be the first speaker, but he was never informed that Adolf Hitler was to follow him.*  Hitler, meanwhile, set about getting the word out on the upcoming meeting.

Bright red posters and leaflets along with newspaper ads, addressed to "The Suffering Public,"* with headlines like "The True Causes of the World War," "The Peace Treaty of Versailles'" and "War Guilt" announced the coming event.*  Possibly because Hitler still did not consider himself a big enough draw, or because of the communist death threat, his name did not appear on any of the promotional material; nor was there any mention of the 25 point program.

Like all people on the eve of their first big night, Hitler began to have second doubts. He pondered over his "boldness" in attempting to hold such a huge meeting, then he worried that only a small number of people would show up. He then worried that if the meeting was a success his reception might be a failure. Although Hitler never referred directly to the death threat against him, he also worried that the meeting might be "broken up."*

Three days before, the communists had called for demonstrations to commemorate the death of Kurt Eisner. Fighting between the Left and Right broke out in the streets and beer halls of Munich.* The atmosphere was still explosive and trouble was expected.

Hofbrauhaus.jpg (57552 bytes)Hitler arrived at the Hofbrauhaus (left) at 7:15 on the night of the meeting and to his delight found the large hall to be packed. The crowd, however, included about 400 Communists and Socialists* who had come to disrupt the meeting.* Drexler, who was to chair the meeting, suffered a "nervous collapse" and failed to show up. Hitler, nevertheless, was confident that if things got too rough his boys from the mortar company could control things. "I had taught them the technique of concentrating their efforts on limited objections," Hitler would later state, "and at meetings to attack the opponent table by table."*  Hitler also believed that if he had a chance to "finish" his speech he could win over many of the more zealous Marxist followers to his viewpoint.

hofbrauh-in.jpg (62657 bytes)A large heavy table had been pushed up against the wall on the long side of the hall near a huge tiled stove and the meeting began with Teutonic punctuality. A substitute for Drexler, Marc Sesselmann, a Thule member and editor for the Observer, stepped up on the table and announced Dingfelder. The tension in the large hall was obvious as Dingfelder took his place on the platform. He spoke in a grave but calm manner and stated that humanity was on the verge of doom because of its rejection of religion and natural law. He spoke of order, work, and sacrifice. Unaware of the communist death threat, Dingfelder make a few comments about the killing of the Munich Hostages, but stopped before any tempers were roused. He made no direct comments about the Jews,* but stated that the government in Berlin was "under the influence of foreign races."* He stated that Germany's only hope for regeneration was a return to racial and national principles. He concluded by stressing the need for strong nationalistic leadership and forecast the coming of a German "savior."*  He received a hardy round of applause as he left the stage but the speech was basically the same one he had given many times before.*  He did little to arouse the crowd.

As Dingfelder took his seat, the announcer thanked him and also the Communists for keeping quiet.*  Hitler was then announced and as he made his way to the platform in his old blue suit the hall fell silent. Hitler opened quietly. With little emotion he outlined the events leading up to the war and the last few years of German history. When he reached the period ending W.W.I and the Red revolts, passion crept into his voice, his eyes flashed, his arm flung up, and he began to gesture.*  His voice blared and echoed through the hall. He damned profiteers, German war guilt and the Versailles Treaty. He attacked the liberal Berlin government and denounced its unmoral attitudes. He accused the Republic of tolerating all types of perversions so as to draw attention away from itself. He also accused it of fermenting a "hothouse of sexual imagery and stimulation" which threatened traditional values. "It is no accident," Hitler charged, "that more and more kinds of diversion are constantly being invented."*  He suddenly assailed the leftist Jews from Russia (Ostjuden) living in Germany and their "lying press" which supported the leftist Weimar government.

The Reds in the audience, caught off guard momentarily, now attempted to shout him down. As Hitler continued, beer mugs and cups flew in his direction. Hitler stood his ground and the mortar company quickly went into action with rubber clubs and riding whips. Hitler carried on as clashes continued in various parts of the hall.*  Hitler's "courage," under such circumstances, would win for him the admiration of men for many years to come.*

"At all my meetings," Hitler would later say, "I always spoke unrehearsed. I allowed, however, party members in the audience to interrupt along lines carefully prepared to give the impression of a spontaneous expression of public opinion. These interruptions greatly strengthened my performance."*

With members of the party in the audience shouting their approval, many of the nationalist and neutral observers warmed to Hitler's spirit. Their cries of approval mixed with the catcalls. Shouts of: "Down with the Jewish press" and "Get out" (directed against the Reds) merged with the heckling.

Hitler abruptly shifted his attack against "all leftist parties." and all hell broke loose. "There was often so much tumult," a undercover police investigator noted, "that I believed that at any moment they would all be fighting."*  After about an hour, the most violent of those opposed to Hitler were thrown from the hall. The cheers and applause nearly drowned out the scattered disturbances. Hitler suddenly stopped his one hour harangue, and the announcer trumpeted the submission of the party's twenty-five points.

As Hitler read each point, he would pause and ask if everyone agreed and understood, then ask the audience for their reaction. The majority roared their approval. Many hecklers still remained in the hall and they occasionally shouted their disapproval or jumped on tables to hurl insults in Hitler's direction. The mortar company kept their clubs and whips visible should any further violence erupt.

The individual points were phrased like slogans and many were drawn along the "anti" position on which the party thrived. The program was anti-parliamentarian, anti-capitalistic, anti-Jewish, and anti-Marxist. Many of the points were vague, and Hitler wanted them that way so that they could be flexible. Most of the points were found in the programs of other German, Austrian and Czechoslovakian national reform movements as well as in the Marxist program.

Unlike the other German political parties, who centered their attention on certain groups of one extreme or another, Hitler, appealed to all Germans. To the patriotic he demanded that the Versailles Treaty be torn up and discarded. He demanded union of all Germans in one German Reich and equality for Germany in world affairs, including a demand for "colonies." To the workers he offered profit sharing in large industries and generous old age benefits. To the lower middle class he offered government subsidies to small businesses and the break up of large department stores which small businessmen could not compete against. To the farmers he offered more land, the abolition of ground rents and land speculation. To the volkisch groups he demanded that all "non-Germans" who emigrated into Germany after August 2, 1914, be expelled immediately and that all Jews be denied the right to hold public office. To the socialists he promised the nationalization of trusts, the abolition of incomes not earned by physical or mental work, the end of child labor, and free higher education for "specially talented children of poor parents, whatever their station or occupation."*  To the religious, Hitler promised "freedom of all religious faiths," but specified that the "party...represents the point of view of a positive Christianity without binding itself to any one particular confession."*  To the sick and aged he promised health reform. To women: "maternity welfare centers." Because Hitler believed that the masses would not follow "anything that is half-hearted and weak," he also promised law abiding citizens a "ruthless war...against those who work to the injury of the common welfare." Even "usurers" and "profiteers" were to be "punished with death regardless of religion or race."*

The two most powerful points of Hitler's program was first, his demand for "the union of all Germans in a Great Germany on the basis of the principle of self-determination of all people."*  The ideal of self-determination, fueled by the Allies and Woodrow Wilson during the war, would forge one of Hitler's "sharpest and most effective weapons"* in his struggle to attract a following. The other point, though not specific, permeated much of the program. Hitler knew at first hand that, with the exception of economics, the majority of the lower middle class (the "respectable" working class) and the workers (the "common" working class) are normally quite conservative. His program, therefore, unlike the Marxist, did not call for the destruction of classes or society. Though the program "promised" to break the back of capitalistic "bondage," it did not call for the destruction of capitalism. Hitler knew that one of his points, which called for the "continuance of a sound middle class," would raise suspicion among the workers, but he did not omit it. He looked back to Lueger (the Mayor of Vienna) and how he "made use of all existing implements of power, to incline mighty existing institutions in his favor, drawing from these old sources of power the greatest possible profit for his own movement."*  Hitler took the same position because he knew that the working classes (whether respectable or common) are not intolerant of existing institutions, whether monarchical or bourgeoisie, as long as there is a minimum of economic injustices.*  His program therefore, basically promised to eliminate economic grievances-- "common good before individual good"--and unite the people of all classes in one unified and mighty "people's community."

The program "expressed the sprite of the time" and the "needs" of society at that time. It, consequently, appealed to socialists and nationalists alike.* (The party in the future, consequently, would often be split into Socialist and Nationalist wings.)

Toward the end of Hitler's two-and-a-half hour discourse he attacked the liberal Jews again and promised that his 25 points would one day become the law of the land. He then savagely attacked the Berlin government and accused it of responsibility for the hunger spreading over the land and the mounting inflation that was affecting nearly everyone. Because most Bavarians believed that the government in Berlin was corrupt and ineffective, his attacks were well received. He sat down to thunderous applause.

An open discussion followed, but the majority in the hall, with shouts of "Get out," gave the radical left little chance to voice their opposition. When a motion was made that the party go on record in opposing the sharing of a relief shipment of flour with Munich's Jewish community, leftists sprang on tables and chairs to voice their opposition. The motion, nevertheless, passed unanimously because "none" of the leftists had the courage or conviction to vote against it.*

When the meeting ended, about a hundred Communist and Independent Socialists formed into ranks outside the hall and marched off toward Marien Platz loudly singing the Communist International* and cheering the Soviet Republic* with intermittent shouts of "down with...the German Nationalists."*  Many others, however, who had come to listen or heckle, were won over.

Hans Frank, a twenty year old law student was overwhelmed by Hitler's deep sincerity and fearlessness: "The first thing you felt," stated Frank, "was that there was a man who spoke honestly about how he felt and was not trying to put something across of which he himself was not absolutely convinced."*  Frank also felt that Hitler made his beliefs understandable and went to the core of things. He was convinced that "if anyone could master the fate of Germany, Hitler was that man."*

The communists mouthpiece in Munich, Der Kampf (The Struggle), would call the 25 points "a stolen program," however, around forty more people joined the party by the next day.*  Before the next open meeting was held, party membership would rise by an additional hundred. Although Hitler's speech was played down in the major Munich newspapers,* Hitler had won the hearts of hundreds of converts. Many saw the beginning of a speaker who knew how to "move" the masses. Word of the new party began to spread, but it was not the program that received the most attention--it was Adolf Hitler.

When Hitler wasn't involved in party matters he was still called upon by his army superiors to deliver pro-German, anti-communist speeches to groups of officers and soldiers. In January and February of 1920 "Herr Hitler" was listed besides such dignitaries as Munich University historians K A von Muller, and other notables as one of the main lecturers in the army's continuing patriotic course. On the afternoon following his presentation of the party program, he delivered one of his lectures at the local barracks* where he still lived.  Though many of his lectures took place at the Munich barracks, he also lectured at the University and, still on occasion, traveled outside the city. In mid March Hitler was to take his last trip outside of Munich as a member of the army.

A sense of stabilization appeared to be settling over Germany, and the liberal government leaders in Berlin felt confident. They were determined to show their more radical leftist brothers, who frowned on the Republic's cozy relations with Rightist groups, that they could manage without Free Corps support. The government began disbanding the Free Corps again. The Right, unhappy with the direction the country was moving, staged a putsch. The army in Berlin appeared to stay neutral but the officers backed the uprising. Their anger was sparked by a whole series of Allied demands including one which demanded that 900 top German military and civilian leaders be turned over for trial as war criminals. Hindenburg, Ludendorff, the former crown princes of Bavaria and Prussia, and a whole series of nobility and influential people, who had nothing to do with the action of the war, were on the list.

On March 13, fearful that the government might give in to Allied demands, Free Corps groups marched into Berlin. Without a shot being fired (Noske's troops refused to fire on the advancing Corps), the Weimar government fled. The Pan-German nationalist, Dr. Wolfgang Kapp, was installed as Chancellor.

News of the Kapp Putsch was acclaimed among military and rightist groups throughout Germany. Because of the action in Berlin, the Right in Munich, backed up by the military, gave the Social Democrats an ultimatum to relinquish their offices. Finding little support among the people, they got out the same day. A party of the "center" (Bavarian People's Party), headed by arch-conservative Ritter Gustav von Kahr, was installed and all parties of the left were excluded from the government.

The army in Munich wanted a liaison man in Berlin in order to coordinate the two revolts. Hitler and Eckart volunteered and their help was immediately accepted. Eckart's connections among the well-bred and well-fed, along with Hitler's power of arousing the working classes, was more then they could ask for. The two where each provided with two sets of credentials. One was to be used if they fell into the hands of leftist sympathizers. The other was to introduce them to any rightist supporters. A plane and a military pilot were put at their disposal. On the morning of March 17, Eckart and Hitler took off for Berlin.

It was Hitler's first flight and the weather was rough. He became air sick and started vomiting. Short of fuel, the pilot was forced to land at Juterbog, about 40 miles short of Berlin. The airport was in the hands of leftists and Hitler, taking no chances that he might be recognized, put on his fake goatee. Eckart posed as a paper manufacturer on business. Hitler posed as his accountant. After some touch and go negotiating they were supplied with fuel and allowed to proceed. Hitler resumed vomiting.

After landing at Tempelhof in Berlin they proceeded to the Reich Chancellery where they met with Kapp's press secretary. They learned that Kapp's Putsch had turned into a fiasco. The Socialist government had called for a general strike to protest the Putsch. The Communists, who knew their movement would suffer under a rightist regime, now wholeheartedly supported the ousted Socialist Republic. Red workers and their trade unions united with the Socialists. Electricity and water were turned off, transportation stopped, industry shut down, garbage piled up in the streets, and even small shops kept their doors closed. The civil servants in the ministries refused to cooperate with Kapp. No one of importance would accept a position in his cabinet. Kapp's position became hopeless and his movement collapsed. The German democratic Republic, was in affect this time, saved by the Communists. Hitler and Eckart were informed that Kapp was already on his way out of the country. There was nothing for them to do.

In the demilitarized Ruhr, the Communist, smarting over their victory in Berlin, arose and 50,000 staged a revolt. After murdering 300 people, many of them policemen, they occupied most of the region. Their newspapers proclaimed that "Germany must become a Republic of Soviets in union with Russia." In Saxony the Communists proclaimed a Soviet Republic and took control of part of the state. They threatened to "slaughter the middle class regardless of age or sex" if troops dared interfere. Throughout the country the Communists stirred up revolts and a wave of looting, murder, and arson spread over the country.

The Weimar government, lacking sufficient trustworthy troops, began searching frantically for anyone to help them restore "law and order." President Ebert was forced to beg General von Seeckt, who had walked out on the government a few days before, to return. Seeckt was given almost unlimited powers to put down the Communist revolts. One of his first acts was to recommission all the Free Corps units that had just been disbanded--the outcasts and rebels of a few days before were now called on to save the Republic again. Within a short time the militarists did the dirty work and the Weimar government was firmly in control again. The Free Corps (now sometimes called the "Republican Army"), never received any punishment for the part they played in the putsch. The Republic even paid the troops the bonus that the Kapp regime had promised them to overthrow the Republic.*

In the meantime Hitler and Eckart had adopted the role of tourists and remained in Berlin for over a week. The city was home to many nationalist and volkisch organizations, as well as wealthy anti-leftist whom Eckart knew well. Hitler, who at this stage, could never hope to enter such circles on his own, must have been greatly impressed. Though Hitler never mentioned his first introduction into Berlin's high society, it is highly likely that he was introduced to General Ludendorff at this time.* What Hitler was very outspoken about, however, was, as he put it: "the great Babylonian whore....Red Berlin."

Hitler's disgust at what he had seen in Munich, concerning morals, sex, and tradition, seemed trivial to what he observed in Berlin. Since the days of the Roman circuses, inadequate governments have always looked for ways to defuse the public's attention. The Weimar government was "corrupt," "confused," "inept," "shaky," and "self serving." Its capitol had become a cesspool of super liberal permissiveness. As Marx had wanted, nearly "all morality" was "abolished,"* and in its place reigned lawlessness and perversion. Berlin had become the center of the Dadaist movement,* and writers and artist wrote "manifestos" against civilization and tradition.*  Destructive antisocial and anti-cultural tendencies were viewed as natural. The streets had become unsafe and criminals went unpunished. Dope pushers openly sold cocaine, called 'Schnee' (snow), or any other drug one wanted in the streets. From dusk to dawn girl prostitutes, ten and eleven years old, heavily rouged and wearing short baby-doll dresses, competed against lush blondes and whip toting Amazon types.*  The Marquis de Sade had been rediscovered and his views that sexual cruelty was "natural" opened the closets of sadist and masochists alike who preached an alternative way of life.  Nudity became boring and heterosexuals, homosexuals, and bisexuals did what they could to shock the "philistine" and "good" citizens. Sexual licentiousness became "a triumph of chaos over law and order."*  Hitler believed that the only way to "cleanse" Berlin was to "destroy" the Weimar Republic.

On March 29, Hitler and Eckart were back in Munich. Kapp's failed putsch convinced Hitler that a military backed uprising against the government would never succeed without the support of the worker. He was certain from what he witnessed, that Berlin, and then all of Northern Germany would, sooner or later, fall to the Communists. Hitler called the party committee members together at the Sternecker Brewery and on three consecutive evenings, March 29-31,* lectured them on the importance of his views. The only way to save Germany, he believed, was to unite the common workers and those engaged in the more respectful occupations. With their backing, Hitler believed, a popular nationalist party could take control of Bavaria's government and then march on Berlin. (This was the reason for Hitler's attempted putsch in 1923.)

Hitler was aware that his present connection with the army, if known, would be a stumbling block in attracting followers. Because of the army's connections with the failed putsch, it had become discredited among most north Germans and even many southerners regarded it with suspicion. Hitler had already taken steps to disguise his position (he registered with the party as an "artist"), but if he continued with his political career, his position was bound to become public knowledge. There can be little doubt that Hitler had considered resigning from the army, but he was reluctant to do so. Outside of the barracks millions of unemployed were experiencing hunger and uncertainty. The army not only provided Hitler with a comfortable and secure lifestyle, but a prestigious position. Leaving the army was not a decision Hitler could make on his own. "Fate," however, would again come to his aid.

The Treaty forced on Germany by the Allies in 1919, demanded that the German army (after reducing to 200,000) "by a date which must not be later than March 31, 1920... must not exceed 100,000 men, including officers."*  Although the army had been stalling on its reduction commitments and would fail to reach its obligations by the proscribed date, it now had to accelerate its demobilization because of rising pressures by the Allies and the Berlin government. Hitler may have been considered too important to the 200,000 man army a year earlier to let go, but an army reducing to 100,000 hardly had room for Hitler on its roll books. Hitler's decision was made for him.

On March 31, 1920, after over four years on the front lines and a year and a half as a propagandist, he received his "discharge."*  To take him in to civilian life the army officially provided Hitler with 50 marks along with a suit of clothes: cap, shirt, jacket, coat, underwear, pants, socks and shoes.* Unofficially however, the army had been providing financial support to right wing groups and individuals since the end of the war. They were not about to abandon anyone who served their purposes as well as Adolf Hitler.

Continue:

Top of Page

Footnotes: