Showing posts with label Kriegsministerium. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kriegsministerium. Show all posts

Odeonsplatz

 Feldherrenhalle - 'The Altar of the Movement'
Site of the failed Munich beer hall putsch November 9, 1923
The Feldherrnhalle on Munich’s Odeonsplatz, the nineteenth- century memorial to the Bavarian Army, took on new significance after the Nazis came to power. The site of Hitler's failed 1923 putsch attempt where 16 Nazis and 4 police were killed, ten years later Hitler took power and made this the site of his annual march to commemorate the event. A Nazi eagle was placed on it with two 24 hour SS honour guards- one had to give the Hitler salute to pass by. The plaque, often quoted in guides to the city, read:
The Feldherrnhalle is bound for all times with the names of the men who gave their lives on 9 November 1923 for the movement and the rebirth of Germany.
Two ϟϟ men stood on constant guard in front; pedestrians were required to give the Nazi salute as they went by. One British visitor recalled how Germans’ arms "shot up as though in reflex to an electric beam’ when they passed."
Having established his authority in the Party and reshaped its leadership structure, Hitler now decided to challenge the resolve of the Weimar Republic by mounting a Putsch in the Nazi stronghold of Bavaria. No doubt influenced by Mussolini’s successful march on Rome in October 1922, Hitler decided to act. Taking advantage of Germany’s hyper-inflation, the French and Belgian occupation of the Ruhr and government instability, Hitler together with disaffected war hero General Ludendorff and local nationalist groups sought to overthrow the Bavarian government in Munich and then march on “red” Berlin. On the evening of 8 November 1923 Hitler mobilized units of the SA and burst into a public meeting at the Bürgerbräu-Keller in Munich where the Bavarian state government under Gustav von Kahr was deciding whether or not to establish a separatist rightwing regime independent from alleged socialist influence in Berlin. Brandishing a gun, Hitler declared that he was forming a new provisional government: “I am going to fulfil the vow I made five years ago when I was a blind cripple in the military hospital; to know neither rest nor peace until the November criminals had been overthrown, until on the ruins of the wretched Germany of today there should have arisen once more a Germany of power and greatness, of freedom and splendour” Hitler, David Welch, (16)
Soon afterwards Ludendorff arrived, having agreed to become head of the the German Army in Hitler's government. Whilst Hitler had been appointing government ministers, Ernst Roehm seized the War Ministry and Rudolf Hess was arranging the arrest of Jews and left-wing political leaders in Bavaria. Hitler now planned to march on Berlin and remove the national government. Stupidly, Hitler had not thought to take control of the radio stations and the telegraph offices which meant that the national government in Berlin soon heard about Hitler's putsch and gave orders for it to be crushed.

As the morning hours passed, the would-be revolutionaries gradually discovered that they had been betrayed. Hitler might have been a talented propagandist, but he now displayed unimpressive leadership qualities. After some confusion during the morning, the Nazis at the Burgerbräukeller decided to march on the city to rouse the people. They hoped to convince the local Reichswehr to join them for the march on Berlin.
It was approaching noon on 9 November 1923 when a column of about 2,000 men set out for the centre of city. One of the marchers admitted later that the column hardly inspired confidence, looking like a “defeated army that had not fought anybody.” When it reached the bridge over the Isar, it encountered the state police. The “Green Police,” however, were confused by their orders and were overwhelmed by the marchers. This seemed to invigorate the column and it resumed marching. They continued toward military district headquarters.
One commander of the state police was determined to stop the column’s progress. A tough young lieutenant, Michael von Godin, set his men to fire if the marchers would not stop. One of the marchers shouted to the police not to shoot because Ludendorff was coming. Suddenly, a firefight commenced. Ulrich Graf, a loyal bodyguard, threw himself in front of Hitler to save his life. Graf was hit by eleven bullets. Göring was hit by a round in the groin, but escaped. Sixteen putschists were killed. Hitler escaped the scene to be arrested two days later outside of Munich. Hitler soon found that he was to be tried for high treason with other putschists, including Ludendorff. The Nazi leader realised that he might take propaganda advantage from such an event. He decided to use his trial ensure his prominence on the radical Right.

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A short summary of the failed putsch and a dramatisation of the event from the film Hitler- Rise of Evil.
[item image] Ludendorff wrote his account in 1937: Auf dem Weg zur Feldherrnhalle
The Feldherrnhalle from the time of the putsch and pleas for support from Munich residents in the form of proclamations.

Photographs from the putsch attempt
Then and now, with the equestrian statue of Ludwig I

Marienplatz during the Beer Hall Putsch. The photo on the right shows Julius Streicher, later publisher of the “Stürmer”, speaking in support of the putsch.
The first medallion depicting Hitler (name intentionally spelt wrong) satirising the failed putsch attempt as three dwarves are shown on the Munich Theatre stage carrying a gallows and Nazi flag with backward swastika with the third raising his right hand in a Nazi salute. Behind the curtain is von Kahr with a cannon as a Social Democrat points to both. The poster below reads "Etzte Vorstellung - Auf nach Berlin" (Last Performance - On To Berlin). The maker of this medal, Karl Goetz, (who had also been responsible for the infamous Lusitania medal during the Great War) had to hunt down all copies to save himself from the wrath of the Nazis upon their takeover of power when they came out with their own medal honouring the putsch, shown on the right.
The putsch as imagined by Schmitt, showing an heroic Hitler defiantly leading the charge front-centre when in fact he had been ignominiously thrown to the ground once shots were fired and quickly fled the scene.
I'm excited to share a newspaper that was saved by the great-grandfather of a student of mine, shown me by the mother-München Neueste Nachrichten from November 14, 1923. This is the obituary page of those who died during the Munich putsch which had taken place a mere five days earlier. What I find particularly striking is the name of one of them listed as dead- H. Gohring. Apparently it was listed to give Goering enough time to flee to Sweden:
Odeonsplatz commemorative plaque to the four policemen who died during the shootings- Rudolf Schraut, Friedrich Fink, Nikolaus Hollweg and Max Schobert. It reads: Den Mitgliedern der Bayerischen Landespolizei, die beim Einsatz gegen die Nationalsozialistischen Putschisten am 9.11.1923 Ihr Leben liessen. (To the members of the Bavarian Police, who gave their lives opposing the National Socialist coup on 9 November 1923). For some reason Gellately seems unsure of the real number, simply stating in Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe that "three or four policemen were killed." (page 115) Inside the Residenz itself is the plaque shown on the right which reads: "In the memory of the members of the Bavarian police force, who were shot during striking down the National Socialist putsch attempt on 9 November 1923 at the Feldherrnhalle." The authorities have mysteriously removed the memorial soon after the photo in the centre was taken with no reason offered.
This is particularly unfortunate as Munich is considered the capital of the Nazi movement, and yet it was here where the Nazis were stood up to and beaten. Generally ignored is the voice of those who did so, as in the following extract from the memories of Polizeioberleutnant Michael Freiherr von Godin:
On 9 November 1923 Reinforcement Station Middle 2 was mobilised at about 12.30 in the afternoon in Theatre Street . . . to defend against a troop of Hitler supporters marching from the direction of Wine Street. Reinforcement Station Middle 2 had just marched up to the line when a terrible din and screaming began in Residenz Street. At the same time, a few police officers from the direction of the Feldherrnhalle-Theatin Church waved for reinforcements for Residenz Street. With this I hurried with my troop back into Theatin Street around the Feldherrnhalle and recognised that the counter-attack by the Hitler troops, which were armed with all kinds of military equipment, had succeeded brilliantly in penetrating the positions in the Residenz Street. I arrived with the command: ‘Second Station Reinforcement, march, march!’ for a counter-attack against the successful breakthrough by the Hitler troops. At the breach made by the opponents, we were met with fixed bayonets, weapons with their safety catches off and drawn pistols. Individual members of my people were grabbed and pistols with the safety catches off were pointed at their chests. My people worked with rifle butts and rubber truncheons. For my defence, in order not to have to make use of my pistol prematurely, personally I had taken a carbine. I parried two bayonets pointed at me with it and knocked over those concerned with a carbine held out diagonally. Suddenly a Hitlerite, who stood one step diagonally to the left of me, loosed off a pistol shot at my head. The shot went past my head and killed an officer of my Station Reinforcement who was standing behind me. It was later established that it was junior officer Hollweg Nikolaus. For a split second my Station Reinforcement was paralysed. Even before it was possible for me to give an order, my people shot back, which gave the appearance of a salvo. At the same time the Hitlerites began to fire and for the space of 20 to 25 seconds there was a firefight good and proper. We were showered by the Hitler troops with heavy fire from the Preysing Palace and from the Rottenhöfer Café. The Demelmeyer unit from Middle 5 took up the fire fight against these opponents. At the very moment shots were loosed off by Station Reinforcement Middle 2, five men from the same group jumped up to the Feldherrnhalle and returned fire against Hitlerite guards who were firing from a kneeling position behind the lions at the chapel door of the Residenz. After a timespan of thirty seconds at most, the Hitlerites turned to disorderly flight.
E. Deuerlein (198-199)  Der Aufsteig der NSDAP
A new memorial has been placed on the façade of the Residenz. In fact, the Nazis themselves honoured the four below the memorial to the martyrs directly across on the Feldherrnhalle.
The paving stone motif is still in the imperial colours. It was here on the steps of the Feldherrnhalle, that Reinhold Elstner, a German Wehrmacht veteran and Diplom Chemist born in 1920 in the predominantly German inhabited Sudetenland (now in the Czech Republic), poured petrol over himself and committed suicide at about 20.00 on April 25, 1995, in protest against what he called "the ongoing official slander and demonisation of the German people and German soldiers 50 years after the end of World War II". Twelve hours later, on April 26, he died in a Munich hospital.  In a farewell letter, he wrote:  "With my 75 years of age, all I can do is to set a final sign of contemplation with my death in flames. And if only one German comes to consciousness and finds his way to the truth, then my sacrifice will not have been in vain."  Each year groups from various European countries try to hold a commemorative ceremony for him, which Bavarian authorities try to prevent through state and federal courts.
During a tour for the Tauranga International School
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Brief history of the site from my grade 11 class.
Postcards honouring the 'martyrs', featuring the 'Blood Flag' in the foreground and Feldherrnhalle in the background.

Nazi-era stamps commemorating Hitler's abortive "Beer Hall Putsch" on November 9, 1923 with Feldherrnhalle in the background.
During the Weimar Republic and the after, during the NSDAP regime
Standing in front July 2010. The feldherrnhalle is clearly modelled on the Loggia della Signoria in Florence.

Purported drawing and 19.0cm by 13.5cm 1914 painting by Hitler himself.
Remarkable photo by Hoffman of Hitler attending a rally in the Munich Odeonsplatz to celebrate the declaration of war August 2, 1914. Colourised enlargement from Bilder aus dem Leben des Führers.

By simple random fortune, Heinrich Hoffmann, who was one day to become Hitler’s private photographer, snapped a picture of a large crowd in Munich’s Odenplatz [sic]. Its members were listening to a reading of the war declaration. Following the announcement, they cheered wildly. Hitler told Hoffman years later that he had been near the front rank of that crowd. A microscopic search revealed the young Hitler, standing enraptured, displaying a broad smile. As Richard Hanser has written, this Hoffman picture “freezes forever the precise instant at which the career of Adolf Hitler becomes possible."

The famous 1914 photo showing Hitler in the middle of the crowd at a WW1 rally was most likely faked. Historian Gerd Krumeich has studied the picture and its history and concluded that Hitler was superimposed into the picture to promote the image of the Nazi leader as a patriot and a man of the people. The photo was taken by Heinrich Hoffmann at a rally in support of war in Munich's Odeonsplatz in 1914. But it was not published until March 12, 1932 (in the Illustrierte Beobachter, the Nazi party newspaper) after Hitler's patriotism was questioned because he escaped from Vienna to Munich to avoid military service in Austria-Hungary.
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Apparently this shows shows footage from the time with Hitler pointed out, but there is no evidence that that footage is actually from 1914. Some claim to see a 1963 corvette driving in the background! Nor does the man purported to be Hitler convincing. Slightly better film footage can be viewed in this youtube clip from the documentary "The Fatal Attraction of Adolf Hitler". Look for the scene at 4:36 of the clip.

Hitler, November 9 1934, speaking at the Feldherrnhalle to newly-admitted members of the Hitlerjugend and League of German Girls from Bilder aus dem Leben des Führers.
Hitlerjugend ceremony I superimposed over same position today.
Recruits being sworn in front of the Feldherrnhalle for the first time on November 7, 1935. Every year troops swore an oath of loyalty to Hitler personally.
The names of the 'martyrs' enscribed on memorial columns within
Footage of November 9th honouring ceremonies
November 9, 1937 and 1938

November 9, 1939 and 1942
November 9, 1943 and the final one in 1944

The Feldherrnhalle on Munich’s Odeonsplatz, the nineteenth- century memorial to the Bavarian Army, had hardly been invisible before 1933, but it certainly took on new significance after the Nazis came to power. A monument to those who died during the Beer Hall Putsch transformed it into one of the holy places of Nazism. The plaque, often quoted in guides to the city, read: 'The Feldherrnhalle is bound for all times with the names of the men who gave their lives on 9 November 1923 for the movement and the rebirth of Germany.’ Two ϟϟ men stood on constant guard in front; pedestrians were required to give the Nazi salute as they went by. One British visitor recalled how Germans’ arms 'shot up as though in reflex to an electric beam’ when they passed. The Feldherrnhalle appeared in all post-1933 guidebook itineraries, often meriting a photograph. Along with the Feldherrnhalle, the new Temples of Honour on the Königsplatz, built to house the sixteen copper coffins of Putsch victims, also attracted many visitors. Postcards contributed to this process of canonization, whereby Nazi shrines became top tourist attractions.
During the annual midnight swearing-in of SS-men.




Paul Hermann's Und Ihr habt doch gesiegt (1942), makes a number of appearances in the video game Return to Castle Wolfenstein


A memorial to the fallen putschists was erected on the east side of the Feldherrnhalle, opposite the spot in the street where the dead had fallen and the putsch had been halted. The top photo shows Hitler honouring the dead, in one many memorial ceremonies to be held at the site. The memorial was guarded perpetually by ϟϟ guards.


Front of the 'Memorial of the Blood Order' mahnmal at the Felderrnhalle with the sixteen 'martyrs' and behind with the Hitlerjugend serving as honour guard during the night of November 8, 1936.
The Memorial of the Blood Order beside a miniature bronze replica for sale.
The monument from behind, looking towards the Residenz which became the possession of SS Brigade Commander Christian Weber, described by Otto Strasser as an "ape-like creature" and "the most despicable of Hitler's underlings". 
 
A couple of  examples of the extensive reconstruction that has taken place since it was destroyed in the March 18, 1944 bombing- the Antiquarium and the Audienzzimmer.


During and after the war, with American GIs providing the guard.
The cenotaph in June 1945. After being dismantled by the American military government the memorial was removed and melted down to be used for the restoration of the Residenz.

Then and now


Shirker's Alley (Drückeberger Gaßl)

All who passed the memorial had to give the Nazi salute. To avoid having to do this, people would walk down a path behind the monument on Viscardigasse, an alley that people used to avoid having to salute the monuments, hence the nickname.


In 1998 bronze stones were placed to commemorate this 18 metres in length and 30 cm in width, designed by Bruno Wank. As with most memorials in Munich, there is no public notice explaining the significance of the bronze trail and the role of the Viscardigasse during the Nazi era. In his testimony at his trial in 1924, Hitler spoke of this street:
Another shot was fired, out of the little street to the rear of the Preysing Palace. Around me there were bodies. In front of us were State Police, rifles cocked. Farther in the rear there were armoured cars. My men were 70 to 80 metres in back of me. A big gentleman in a black overcoat was lying half covered on the ground, soiled with blood. I was convinced that he was Ludendorff. There were a few more shots fired from inside the Royal Residence and from the little street near the Preysing Palace and maybe also a few wild shots fired by our men. From the circle near the Rentenamt, I drove out of town. I intended to be driven back the same night.

On Monday, May 28 1945 the following was scrawled in the front of the Feldherrnmhalle in large white letters:
"Dachau - Velden - Buchenwald
(Ich schäm)e mich, dass ich ein Deutscher bin - I am ashamed to be a German
Later opposite at the Residence was written“Keine Scham, nur Vergeltung! – Hakenkreuz – Schandkreuz" (No shame, only resistance - Swastika = Cross of Shame) and again days later under it: “Goethe, Diesel, Haydn, Rob. Koch. Ich bin stolz, eine Deutscher zu sein!" (I am proud to be a German!) The next two photos show the rear of the Feldherrnhalle after the war and as it appears today. The building attached to the rear of the feldherrnhalle is the Palais Preysing, built between 1723 to 1728 for the Count Johann Maximilian of Preysing and was Munich's first rococo-style palace. The walls on the outside were embellished with stucco. However as can be seen by the photo on the left, what is seen by tourists today is little more than a reconstruction which few sites seem to mention.

The Annual March to Commemorate the Failed Putsch

A map of the route and sites of interest using Google maps created by the head of the Bavarian Orange Order

Rare photo on the right showing the rear of the Feldherrnhalle where the marchers were shot at on the 15th anniversary.
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Two Nazi-era films relating to the commemoration of the failed putsch. The left shows the 1933 film Fuer uns - Zum Appell (For us - An Appeal) wherein the Nazi 'martyrs' call upon the German people to vote for the Nazis in the November 1933 election. The film itself emphasises the Nazi death cult. The right is from the bizarre Nazi film Ewige Wache (1936), showing the procession to the Feldherrnhalle with the names of the 'martyrs' read out.
The march turning along Rosenheimerstr. towards Ludwigsbruecke; behind the last building on the left side was the Buergerbraeukeller. My attempt to show the same site today.

Standing today in 2010 where Julius Streicher leads the Blutfahne held by Jakob Grimminger in a photo from Geoff Walden's definitive site, where he states that "one of the columns at the end of the Ludwigsbrücke remains today" although I couldn't find it. According to William Shirer in Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich (67),
it was here on the Ludwig Bridge, which leads over the River Isar toward the centre of the city, stood a detachment of armed police barring the route. Goering sprang forward and, addressing the police commander, threatened to shoot a number of hostages he said he had in the rear of his column if the police fired on his men. During the night Hess and others had rounded up a number of hostages, including two cabinet members, for just such a contingency. Whether Goering was bluffing or not, the police commander apparently believed he was not and let the column file over the bridge unmolested.
According to Hitler himself at his trial in 1924,
On Ludendorff’s right side Dr. Weber marched, on his left, I and [Max von] Scheubner-Richter and the other gentlemen. We were permitted to pass by the cordon of troops blocking the Ludwig Bridge. They were deeply moved; among them were men who wept bitter tears. People who had attached themselves to the columns yelled from the rear that the men should be knocked down. We yelled that there was no reason to harm these people. We marched on to the Marienplatz. The rifles were not loaded. The enthusiasm was indescribable. I had to tell myself: The people are behind us, they no longer can be consoled by ridiculous resolutions. The Volk want a reckoning with the November criminals, as far as it still has a sense of honour and human dignity and not for slavery. In front of the Royal Residence a weak police cordon let us pass through. Then there was a short hesitation in front, and a shot was fired. I had the impression that it was no pistol shot but a rifle or carbine bullet. Shortly afterwards a volley was fired. I had the feeling that a bullet struck in my left side. Scheubner-Richter fell, I with him. At this occasion my arm was dislocated and I suffered another injury while falling. I only was down for a few seconds and tried at once to get up.
The 'cauldron' as it appears today can be seen in the background photo of the 1933 march.

The procession passes under the Isartor Gate, shown after the war and me in front today.

Hitler with Wagner at the commemoration of the martyrs
For a detailed outline of a ceremony of the NSDAP for 9 November 1942 for local groups without access to instrumental music of the procession from “Zum 9. November 1942. Gedenktag für die Gefallenen der Bewegung,” Die neue Gemeinschaft, 8 (September 1942), pp. 492-502, see http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/99feier.htm

The SA marching through the Odeonsplatz in 1938

Further down Ludwigstraße is the Kriegsministerium
 The site six months after the fall of the monarchy when a demonstration took place in front of the Bavarian war Ministry in the afternoon 22 of April 1919, and the building today.
Heinrich Himmler (holding the Imperial German Army flag) and SA leader Ernst Röhm in front of the Kriegsministerium (now the Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv und Staatsarchiv München) on Ludwigstraße during the Munich Beer hall Putsch. Himmler would later be instrumental in the latter's death on the Night of the Long Knives. After this 1934 purge, Röhm's face was eliminated from the photograph by painting in an additional barricade element obscuring his face as seen in the doctored version on the right.

Roehm, at the head of a detachment of storm troopers from another fighting league, the Reichskriegsflagge, had seized Army headquarters at the War Ministry in the Schoenfeldstrasse but no other strategic centres were occupied, not even the telegraph office, over whose wires news of the coup went out to Berlin and orders came back, from General von Seeckt to the Army in Bavaria, to suppress the putsch...
By dawn Regular Army troops had drawn a cordon around Roehm’s forces in the War Ministry...
Shortly after noon the marchers neared their objective, the War Ministry, where Roehm and his storm troopers were surrounded by soldiers of the Reichswehr. Neither besiegers nor besieged had yet fired a shot. Roehm and his men were all ex-soldiers and they had many wartime comrades on the other side of the barbed wire. Neither side had any heart for killing...
Roehm surrendered at the War Ministry two hours after the collapse before the Feldherrnhalle.

Despite the friendly picnic-like atmosphere Shirer describes it, according to Ernst Röhm in his book Die Geschichte eines Hochverräters, Martin Faust and Theodor Casella, both members of the armed militia organisation Reichskriegsflagge, were shot down accidentally in a burst of machine gun fire during the occupation of the War Ministry as the result of a misunderstanding with II/Inf.Regt 19. The best account of the putsch I've found was in Anthony Read's The Devil's Disciples: Hitler's Inner Circle which states that "Two of Röhm's men were also shot dead as they tried to break through the army cordon around the War Ministry to join the battle." (100)
I can't find anything more than that about the incident; most books (of course) focus on Hitler's role and limit or ignore their examination of the peripheral events. This includes Evans's The Coming of the Third Reich which, despite a chapter entitled "The Beer-Hall Putsch", spends just over a single page on the actual events of that day (193-4).

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