by Reichsleiter Philipp Bouhler. Translated from the Third Reich original.
GENESIS OF THE MOVEMENT
In the summer of 1919, at Munich, six men set about forming a new political party, which they called the German Workers’ Party. They had in their minds a vague idea of organizing a national party which would oppose the Marxist Workers’ Party. These six men certainly meant well, but they had no resources whatsoever, and above all, there was nobody among them who could claim to have the necessary qualities for leadership. And so they were helpless in face of the task to which they had set themselves. History would have known nothing of this little circle of six men had not destiny presented it with its seventh member. This was Adolf Hitler.
At the end of November 1918 he was back again in Munich and had rejoined the reserve battalion of his regiment; but this fell under the control of the Soldier’s Council, which was hateful to Hitler. So he went to Traunstein and remained there until the camp was demobilized. Then he returned to Munich, in March 1919. Shortly afterwards, a Cominunist regime along Soviet lines was established there. On April 27 he was to have been arrested by order of the Central Council of the Reds, on the charge of having participated in anti-revolutionary activities. But the three braves who came to carry out the order for arrest turned tail and departed when Hitler presented a bold face and showed them his rifle.
Early in May, the 2nd Infantry Regiment set up a Committee of Enquiry to investigate the events that led to the revolution. Lance-Corporal Hitler received instructions to participate in the work of that Committee. This was the practical start of Hitler’s political career. Courses of instruction were established for the purpose of teaching the duties of citizenship to the soldiers in the army. It was during one of the debates which followed a lecture on this topic that Hitler was given the first opportunity of speaking in public. As a result of the impression which his speech made on that occasion, he was appointed, a few days later, as a so-called instruction officer to one of the regiments stationed in Munich at that time. One day he received orders to make enquiries about the “German Workers’ Party,” an organization hitherto unknown. He attended a meeting of this party in the former Sternecker Bräu, at which about twenty persons were assembled. Towards the end of the meeting a representative of the Separatist Movement spol.,-, and that brought Hitler to his feet. His speech in reply made a marked impression on the audience. It was thus that he became acquaintca with the aims of this new workers’ party. Subsequently he was invited to become a member. After tossing around the problem in his mind for several days, Hitler agreed to join, one of the reasons for doing so being that he had already thought of founding a party of his own. Moreover, this little society, although it had no programme or fixed aims, had a sort of framework on which he could build a working plan for the realization of his own ideas. The chief difficulty which now presented itself was to get this little movement known. It was necessary to lift it out of obscurity and place it on a footing where it would attract and hold the attention of the general public.
The process of doing so proceeded very slowly. The first meeting was composed of only the original seven members, with one or two onlookers. So meager were the propaganda resources that the number of people who attended subsequent meetings increased only to 11, 13, 17, 23, and 34, respectively. At the meeting after the latter, 111 persons were present. Hitler now spoke regularly at meetings and in that way became conscious of his oratorical gifts. He induced the Committee to entrust control of the propaganda department to him. On February 24, 1920, he was at last able to hold the first mass meeting in the Hofbräu Haus.
It was on that occasion that he promulgated and expounded the Programme of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. An attempt on the part of the Communists to wreck the meeting was frustrated by a handful of Hitler’s former war comrades, who had taken upon themselves the responsibility for maintaining order. Hitler’s contention, that the Marxist terror should not only be smashed by mental weapons but also by physical force, was proved for the first time at this meeting.
Henceforth, almost week after week the Munich hoardings displayed large red placards calling on the public to attend the mass meetings of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party at which Party Comrade Adolf Hitler would speak. These posters, which carried a footnote stating, “Jews will not be permitted,” were designed by Hitler himself. They also displayed statements dealing with the political questions of the day.
In December of 1920, the Party took over the Völkischer Beobachter and thus had a press organ of its own. At first, this paper appeared twice weekly. But early in 1923 it was published as a daily newspaper. Towards the end of August of that year, it first appeared in its present large size.
Hitler was not yet chairman of the Party, though in reality he was its leader. Some members took part in an intrigue to get rid of him-, but the consequence was that at a general meeting of all the members of the Party, held towards the end of July 1921, the entire administration of the Party was entrusted to Adolf Hitler and a new statute was enacted which invested him with special plenipotentiary powers.
He was now able to go ahead with the work of reorganizing the Party, whose meetings and decisions had hitherto been conducted on parliamentary principles. In reorganizing the movement, he proved that he was not only a convincing speaker and controversialist but that he was also an excellent organizer. The governing principle now adopted for the development of the Movement was that it should first acquire for itself a position of power and influence in one locale before it started to spread out and form district branches. The party had to expand organically. For a long time, therefore, Hitler confined his activities exclusively to Munich, before taking on the task of establishing outside groups.
At the same time, the foundations were laid on which the Storm Detachment was subsequently established. In the beginning, this detachment was simply a body of men acting as meeting hall guards to maintain order at meetings; but it has been known as the Storm Detachment (Sturm Abteilung, hence S.A.) ever since November 4, 1921. On that day, the Party held a meeting in the banquet hall of the Munich Hofbräu Haus. The Reds turned up in force for the purpose of crushing the new Movement once and for all. But they experienced a bitter disappointment. As the meeting progressed, the opposition raised an outcry and a furious fight ensued. Though the Marxist disturbers were much superior in numbers, the National Socialist guards stormed the Red Front again and again, beer mugs were flung from one side to the other and free-style hand-to-hand fights raged until the Marxists were cleared from the hall and many of them sent home with bleeding skulls. The National Socialists remained masters of the hall. They had shown that they could fight and hold their ground.
Towards the end of the summer of 1922, a mass demonstration was held on the Königsplatz in Munich by all the patriotic societies. The National Socialists officially took part in the meeting. In the fall of that year, on October 14, a Congress was held at Coburg which was entitled “German Day.” The National Socialists took part in it, too. Coburg had hitherto been a Red Stronghold. At the head of 800 Storm Troopers from Munich Hitler entered Coburg and marched through its streets with flags flying and band playing. Several fights took place, but the National Socialists succeeded in suppressing the Red terror once and for all in that city. This was a practical demonstration of Hitler’s statement, “We have dealt with Marxism in a way which shows that henceforth the masters of the street are the National Sociahsts, as they will one day be the masters of the State.”
On January 28, 1923, the first National Socialist Party Congress was held on the Marsfeld in Munich, and it was on this occasion that the first S.A. standards were dedicated, which had been designed by Hitler himself. Soon afterwards, Flight Captain Herman Göring became Chief of the S.A. It was he who expanded and perfected their organization.
An attempt was made to force the National Socialist Party into a “United Front from Right to Left,” but Hitler’s determined opposition shattered the attempt. He saw clearly that an understanding with the “November Criminals” of 1918 would not only be meaningless but also impossible.
There were temporary working coalitions with other associations, but they lasted only for a short time. In these cases, Hitler’s idea was clearly proved to be right, namely, that the strong is strongest when alone.