Was Rosa Luxemburg in support of the Spartacist Uprising in January 1919?

IBDP History Extended Essay Example   Rosa Luxemburg and the Spartacist Uprising
Research question: Was Rosa Luxemburg in support of the Spartacist Uprising in January 1919?

Section A.

    This investigation deals with the question Was Rosa Luxemburg in support of the Spartacist Uprising in January 1919? To conclude a valid answer the role of the Spartacists in the November Revolution (the events leading up to the revolts in January 1919) will be at the focus. Thereby the aims of the Spartacus League and the overall revolution should be identified, as well as Rosa Luxemburg’s personal engagement and expectations. The sources Der Spartakusaufstand im Januar by the history academic Holger Lucas and Gesammelte Werke are being evaluated, as they are crucial in determining Luxemburg’s role and standpoint in the Spartacist Uprising. For reconstructing the events of the winter 1918/19 and compiling Luxemburg’s profile the first source is essential. Also the latter is vital in this process; it is a collection of Luxemburg’s writings and thus the most important source for understanding her ideology.

Word count: 146
Section B.

In 1916 the Spartacus League had developed out of the Spartacus Group, having first began as the Group Internationale in 1914. Rosa Luxemburg was the initiator of this left-wing opposition organisation, and, alongside Karl Liebknecht, emerged as the leadership of the KPD  until their murders on January 15, 1919.

In October 1918, towards the end of World War I, the Hohenzollern monarchy was collapsing; consequently a parliamentary government of USDP and SPD,  dominated by the latter, was set up. Friedrich Ebert, SPD, led this provisional government. The SPD rejected a revolution, nonetheless political prisoners were granted amnesty October 20, 1918. Liebknecht was released from jail October 23; he promptly returned to the Spartacist leadership. At this point, Germany was already in a revolutionary state.

November 4, a mutiny by 80,000 sailors in Kiel stimulated the so-called November Revolution. Soon workers, who went on strike for better working conditions and the removal of the monarchy, joined them. Under increasing pressure Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated on November 9. The Democratic Republic of Germany was proclaimed.

By this time the Spartacists had gained significant influence in all major cities. Almost everywhere workers’ and soldiers’ councils had been established. In order to provide these proletarian institutions with political power, the Spartacus League demanded to be given seats in the governmental council. However, bound by an agreement with the OHL, President Ebert had to resist a Bolshevik-style revolution completely in return for the army’s support. Consequently, the Spartacists recalled their request and categorised the SPD as an enemy of the revolution.

Luxemburg, released from jail November 8, immediately joined the revolution in Berlin, working for the Spartacist newspaper Die Rote Fahne. She outlined the League’s manifesto demanding the “dictatorship of the proletariat” replacing the “bourgeois” government with democratically elected workers’ and soldiers’ councils and, adding to this, large reforms to remove the conservative military, judiciary and police, without the recourse to violence. The SPD responded with a counter-revolution whilst Luxemburg continuously spoke out, repeatedly demanding the proletarian masses carry on the revolution to peacefully unite and use the power of the mass strike against the government. She denounced both the idea of an all-powerful central committee as well as the existence of a national assembly. Instead all power must be provided to the councils.

On December 16, state police killed Spartacists demonstrators upon which Luxemburg suggested setting up a “workers-militia” . That same month the constituent assembly was officially handed over all power within Germany, with workers’ and soldiers’ councils serving only as advisory bodies. As a consequence the USDP left the coalition government and united with the Spartacus League; on December 29 they set up a Revolutionary Committee aiming to boycott the proposed national elections on January 19 and overthrow the government. Liebknecht was part of its leadership and only one of two Spartacists. Moreover, the Spartacists came together simultaneously to form the KPD, December 30. Unlike the majority of her Party, Luxemburg emphasised the need to join the elections in order to pursue proletarian rule.

When the provisional government removed police-president Emil Eichhorn - USPD member and KPD sympathiser - on January 4, the left wing called for protests. On January 5-12, 1919, the Spartacus League launched a socialist revolutionary attempt to overthrow the provisional government. 500,000 workers in Berlin followed the Revolutionary Committee, yet the Kiel sailors stayed uncommitted. The main communication centres, railway stations, the police department and other buildings were beleaguered. The revolutionaries were equipped with weapons, such as machineguns; up to about one-thousand Freikorps and other governmental forces intervened on December 11/12, raids and violence broke out. In bloody battles, around 150 revolutionaries and 13 militaries were killed, also civilians. Luxemburg and her KPD comrade Leo Jogiches had already officially retreated from the revolts January 8.

Words: 685 Section C.

    Gesammelte Werke by Rosa Luxemburg is a collection of her works in four volumes published by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. It includes articles, transcripts of speeches, pamphlets or the like in German, the language Luxemburg wrote in. She used these media to present her political ideas, in particular the concept of social freedom and how it may be achieved. Thus, by reading these primary sources a historian receives direct access to Luxemburg’s thoughts and political maxims without any bias from translation. This enables us to evaluate what kind of socialist Rosa Luxemburg was and thus how she must have felt about the January revolts. However, one must consider her articles were published in Die Rote Fahne, the Spartacist’s newspaper, where she was only one of six publishers; disagreement was on the daily routine, thus her articles may not fully represent her personal opinion . Moreover, the international Bolshevik organisation exerted noteworthy influence on the newspaper and the League (later KPD) as a whole.  Consequently, when referring to Gesammelte Werke, one must account for external influence and possible restrictions imposed on Luxemburg’s writings and speeches by other Spartacists and the Comintern.

    The analytical essay Der Spartakusaufstand im Januar und der staatlich gelenkte Einsatz von Freiwilligenverbänden by the history academic Holger Lucas is equally important. Its purpose is to investigate how the government intervened in the Spartacist Uprisings in 1919 by reconstructing a timeline of events and analysing Libknecht’s and Luxemburg’s role. Lucas, as a German academic producing a research study in 2004, enjoys the privilege that all public as well as most private or institutional archives are open to him. This enables him to access large numbers of official statistics and primary sources. However, collections of, for example, Eastern German documents are still not completed. And, because Lucas is writing from hindsight, he is prone to reproduce a false image of the early years of the Weimar Republic. Though, he can discuss the situation openly and make judgements based on a wide range of information. Since the essay focuses on giving facts and numbers rather than convincing the reader of a specific argument, it is a very valuable secondary source to help understand the individual events that constituted the Spartacist Uprisings. At the same time it provides information about Luxemburg and Liebknecht in one separate chapter. The historian studying the source can get a well-rounded idea of the revolts themselves and Luxemburg’s involvement.
Word count: 405 Section D.

    „By Karl Liebknecht we have sworn it, with Rosa Luxembrug we shake hands,“ lyrics every primary-school pupil in the DDR had to memorise; a testament it gave to the importance of Luxemburg and Liebknecht in the DDR. Annually, the SED celebrated them as national heroes with a march to their memorial at Friedrichsfeld, Berlin as national martyrs for standing up against the right-wing politics in the Spartacist Uprising. Socialists continue to honour them, now as front-fighters against fascism. The received wisdom is that both were in favour of the uprising. However, analysing of the material suggests this to be a simplification.

    Lucas clearly identifies Liebknecht as the prime mover of the Spartacist uprising: “In particular the communist leader Karl Liebknecht rooted for revolutionary action”. Focus online supports his argument: “Liebknecht proclaimed the armed struggle against the government,” focussing on Liebknecht’s antagonism towards the SPD government which he dismissed as a “democracy that socialism has never demanded.” The majority of the KPD welcomed his call for an armed coup to anticipate the planned elections on January 19; it became KPD prority.

Seemingly, Luxemburg was in clear opposition to Liebknecht and the new KPD policy. Lucas writes: They “were at odds about the new course. While he was forcing the uprising, she was objected to it.” Instead of rearing up against the national elections on January 19, Luxemburg had advocated the KPD’s participation at its founding party congress. Waldman supports this interpretation, arguing Luxemburg solely engaged with the Spartacist Uprisings because she believed in the power of spontaneous mass strikes.

Altogether, Luxemburg pleaded for more moderate action; a pacifist in her principles. This is still disputed by those wishing to stress her Marxist credentials:

They were revolutionaries and Marxists, and it was their convictions, their belief that a better, socialist world could be created, that drove them to follow the path they did.

Such claims transform both individuals into a monolith, claiming Luxemburg clearly favoured the uprising and, moreover, indifferently tolerated the use of violence as it happened during the January revolts. This idea is contradicted by what is conveyed by her writings. In the Spartacist Program she wrote, “a proletarian revolution does not require violence to succeed in its aims… as it is not fighting against individuals but institutions.” Furthermore, in her manuscript The Russian Revolution, composed during the German November Revolution, she rejected “the use of terror” completely, referring negatively to Lenin’s use of the Red Terror. However, one must wonder why she advocated a workers-militia. Fritz Schlegel argues that it was a response after the murder of sixteen Spartacists in order to protect the workers and their will, and was to be separated from the KPD completely to prevent it from deviating from democratic policies.

    Dr Helmut Trotnow further suggests that Luxemburg would not have supported the protest given the organisation of the uprising, feeling those behind a revolution must solely give an impulse to the masses. This argument is supported by her writings. As early as 1904 she criticised Lenin’s idea of an ultra-centralist party concept, believing that such a system would provide a small elite circle with dictatorship-like power, while neglecting the proletarian masses. Moreover, in the League’s manifesto she denounces the use of the masses as merely a tool for a minority in a revolution and reemphasises that a truly socialist revolution must be a revolution by the proletariat. However, the Revolutionary Committee, from which she was absent, resembles such an elite minority with Liebknecht functioning as the ‘German Lenin.’ This contradicts with her idea of a truly socialist revolution and social democracy.
Word Count: 712
Section E.

    The January Revolts have been referred to as a „revolutionary legend” although it is doubtful that Rosa Luxemburg would have agreed with this description. The German November Revolution and the Spartacist Uprising 1918/19 stand diametrically opposed to her principles which consistently called for a peaceful revolution driven by well-educated proletarian masses and conducted by socialist leaders to establish a socialist democracy. The actual revolution was dominated by an elitist minority which relied on violence as a means of revolution. Adding to this, the revolution was missing the widespread mass support, and those who supported the demonstrations were not fully educated in socialist studies from Luxemburg’s perspective. Lastly, the Revolutionary Committee did not define its goal to establish a lasting socialist democracy but simply wanted to remove the current government.
    Concluding, Rosa Luxemburg could not have been in support of the Spartacist Uprsings in January 1919. Yet, she did not want to destroy the socialist spirit that had developed, and therefore, she half-heartedly supported the revolts.
Words: 178

Section F.

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Unfortunately, the shape given to the new empire at the point of unification in 1871 provided powers for the government more appropriate to the era of absolute monarchy. The state tradition in Ger- 3 4 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 many was paternalistic, going back to patterns established by Prussian monarchs like Fred- erick the Great. Paternalism also shaped the nineteenth-century form of government. There was a bicam- eral parliament (Bundesrat and Reichstag), but Otto von Bismarck and his successors in the chancellorship excluded the parliament from decision making. The country was directed by a conservative elite. Demands for democratic participation were blunted or made to serve the purposes of the monarchy. Despite this seemingly anachronistic style, political life in impe- rial Germany was relatively free and social democracy made steady progress. In 1903, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) became the second largest party in the Reichstag. And yet par- ticipation in the political process was one of form rather than substance. Effective power remained in the hands of the old dynastic order. There were no fundamental civil rights. All of this was supported by what has been dubbed the “industrial-feudal state.” Within that order there existed a linkage between large private cartels and state-managed enterprises. It was not a cruel society. The more odious consequences of industrialization—unem- ployment, pestilence sweeping through the slums of cities, accidents in factories producing beggars on street corners, poor working conditions leading directly to illnesses and bodily harm, conditions so troubling in European societies industrializing earlier—were avoided. These were handled more effectively from the top down than they were in many democratic societies where the negative impact of unbridled capitalism had been more widely injurious. Prussian paternalism evolved in the united Germany into a progressive social-welfare state, physically industrial but socially feudal, socialistic and capitalistic simultaneously.3 The state paternalism conditioned the German populace to obedience and dependency. It fostered the illusion that nothing great or even just positive could be accomplished without state inter- vention. But to the objective observer, no amount of paternalism could hide the disparities in the social order. Class conflicts abounded. Instead of trying to work with the laboring classes, as those classes grew larger, the impe- rial elite increasingly walled itself off against the masses and often assaulted them with stri- dent rhetoric.4 Beyond rhetoric, which had potentially negative by-products, there appeared a need to integrate the disenfranchised masses behind the conservative order. The idea was to make the people at large enthusiastically loyal, essentially comfortable, and caught up in a participatory myth. This was done, not as part of genuine reforms, but by a series of stop- gap measures aimed at blunting or co-opting Social Democratic issues. Bismarck was able to manipulate the state and society because he avoided foreign entan- glements while Germany industrialized. His assumption was that the new Reich had not been sufficiently stabilized since its establishment in 1871 to allow foreign adventures. When Bis- marck was gone, prudence slipped away. The German people were then exposed to deliber- ately stimulated enthusiasm for imperialism, taking the form of a naval race with Great Britain and the development of strident patriotic associations. What came from the proponents of this new “world politics” (Weltpolitik) was mobilization inside Germany and expansion out- side. These tactics prefigured later Nazi crusades in a milder form. The Kaiser saw himself as freed from Bismarck’s policy of restraint. He wanted to trans- form his country into a world power surpassing even the British Empire. The Kaiser, in turn, inspired others to become imperialistic. One example of this removal of restraints imposed by the retired chancellor was to be seen in the person of Alfred von Tirpitz, secretary of the navy, and his activities. He was instrumental in building the second most powerful naval One. Origins and Inspirations 5 force in the world. He was also the orchestrator of a brilliant public-relations campaign urg- ing the adoption of imperialistic policy. These arguments urging an imperialistic course issued from popular associations like the Pan-German League, the Naval League, and the Colonial Society. These were organizations that popularized war, especially wars of expansion, as noble causes.5 The imperialistic policies of the Second Reich thus, to an important extent, furnished the background for the foreign policy of the Third Reich.6 There is a continuity between the policies of ruling prewar elites and the Nazis leaders of the thirties. This does not mean that there are many direct causal links between the Second and Third Reichs. There were remote linkage areas. The first was the attachment of Germans to paternalistic authority. The second was the concept, vaguely drawn before the war, of National Socialism. These two factors were not dangerous in a society restrained by religious conscience and scientific intellect. But, by 1933, a new generation had reached maturity, scarred by war and economic ruin. Then it became possible to subordinate intellect to emotion and surrender Germanic destiny to a deviant strain of ideologically driven elements. Ethnic and religious hatreds were as intense in Germany as elsewhere in Europe. And the most virulent form of racism was anti–Semitism. For centuries, the Jews had been seen as “Christ-killers.” They were pariahs who had to be excluded from society. It was a supreme irony that there were affinities between Germans and Jews. A close linguistic relationship between Germans and Jews evolved into Yiddish, a dialect developed as an offspring of medieval high German. This dialect also had words derived from Hebrew and various Slavic tongues. Moreover, it was spoken across much of Eastern Europe among lower-class Jews. Most Germans had little difficulty in understanding Yiddish. Jews had been treated as religious outcasts since the Middle Ages. But the key word here is “religious.” They had been excluded from Christian communities by all possible means. While excluded, the Jews of Germany themselves felt exclusive, and they usually refused to participate in the general cultural pattern of societies in which they resided. This character- istic of German life has been called by scholars of medieval Germany “otherness.” It helped make the Jews a target for discrimination. It is only with the advent of the eighteenth century Enlightenment that the Jews began to participate in the cultural and social life of Germany. The Germans and German Jews developed a closer relationship, albeit often antagonistic, than Jews and gentiles elsewhere.7 A scholar described Germans and Jews as the two people who were admired and hated, “both equally unable to make themselves liked.”8 Germans and Jews of the eighteenth and nine- teenth centuries shared thought patterns and expressed themselves in the same language. Most Jewish writers, including Zionists, assimilated German culture and wrote in German. When tensions between the two groups intensified, the Yiddish dialect was regarded by Ger- mans as a stigma. Whatever real or perceived cultural differences existed between German Jews and Ger- man Christians, the awareness of them was intensified by the influx of eastern Jews (Ostju- den) into Germany. These immigrants increased in number in the early twentieth century. And they were more removed from the mainstream than the original German Jews. They spoke Yiddish, wore ghetto attire, and formed clans. Even many a native German Jew saw these “intruders” as totally alien. They presented an “unpleasant” sight as they searched Ger- man cities for economic opportunity. A government minister during World War I, Walther 6 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 Rathenau, an assimilated Jew himself, said that the Jews from the East were a “foreign organ- ism in the German People’s body.”9 If Rathenau, a Jew, was offended by Ostjuden, then how much greater must have been the feelings of a young Adolf Hitler. What Rathenau saw as a foreign organism became for the racists, often speaking in pseudobiological terms, a “bacillus.” This was a deadly organ- ism or virus requiring total expulsion from the host. Some Jews, particularly Ostjuden, did stand out in terms of physical appearance. But assimilated Jews stood out in their intellec- tual endeavors. The evidence is persuasive that Jews had displayed equal, if not superior, intelligence whenever competing with other Germans. This displayed ability was not “racial,” but rather the product of a culture in which scholarship was valued. Jews, therefore, consti- tuted a much higher percentage than that of the general population in professions like law, medicine, and higher education. Such a disproportionate representation of Jews among intel- lectuals has fostered much speculation as to causes of the phenomenon. Some have explained it, as explained here, by focusing on the long-term tendency to form an intellectual commu- nity. Others, unscientifically, have seen clear genetic factors. The Jews were an ancient, cultured people who, during the Middle Ages, found them- selves among primitive natives who were suspect of their intellectuality and business abili- ties. The two peoples lived side by side, but were at different stages of cultural evolution. The genetic argument, as is the case with other “racial questions,” has been accepted by only a few. To embrace it would amount to a kind of racism arguing that there is something in the Jewish “race,” not culture, that is marked by higher intelligence. Whichever view was held, Jews were forced to bear the brunt of ethnic prejudices. From the Middle Ages, Jews had been the focus for prejudicial assaults. By the late nine- teenth century, such anti–Jewish prejudice was greatly enhanced by their participation in rad- ical causes as they joined liberal and leftist movements. Some of the leaders of radical movements were Jewish. Despite the fact that during the nineteenth century all the elements of what is now called “anti–Semitism” were present, it did not become politically organized until its last two decades. One of the first spokesmen of organized anti–Semitism in Germany was Court Chap- lain Adolf Stöcker. Stöcker founded the “Christian Social Party” in 1878 to rescue the lower classes from Marxian-Socialism. He presented himself as the representative of a troubled lower-middle class. He used the Jews as a scapegoat for widespread financial and economic problems resulting from intense industrialization. There had been a great depression in 1873 and widespread scandals in high finance during the same decade. Stöcker insinuated that “Jewish capital” was somehow responsible. He identified himself with the complaints of small business owners who claimed to have been ruined by corporations and banks. Since these institutions were often owned by Jews, the Jews were thus the source of misfortune.10 Stöcker failed in founding a mass movement, but his anti–Semitic rhetoric was well received by some conservatives. One rightist newspaper, the Kreuzzeitung, singled out a close financial confidant of Otto von Bismarck’s for attack because he was Jewish. In this way, Ger- son Bleichschroder was seen by some as the author of German financial difficulties during the 1870s.11 This pattern of anti–Semitism was similar to that displayed elsewhere in Europe. At its core, it was the resentful expression of displaced social groups damaged by late nine- teenth-century industrialization. 12 In the shorter term, unsuccessful anti–Semitic political vehicles developed. The League One. Origins and Inspirations 7 of Anti-Semites was founded in 1879. In 1880, the Social Reich Party and the German Reform Party were launched, with anti–Semitism providing most of their platforms. Moreover, Ger- many was saturated in the 1880s by a proliferation of minor anti–Semitic parties, books, mag- azines, and pamphlets. Theodor Fritsch, later to become a Nazi, founded his own anti–Semitic publishing house in Leipzig, the Hammer Publishing Company. Hammer issued a steady stream of anti–Semitic books. The themes presented in all these books were similar: the Jews were in secret league with Freemasons, Catholics, and Jehovah’s Witnesses to control the world. This was linked with the illogical assumption that these disparate groups would actu- ally have anything to do with each other. Admittedly, all this in Germany did not represent the thinking of a significant portion of society. The theme of “national interests” of an anti–Semitic kind was more pronounced in Austria. Ethnic conflicts were intense within the multiethnic empire. The Germanic pop- ulation, although it contained the ruling class (the Habsburgs), felt threatened. The result was a recurrent xenophobic Germanism with stridently anti–Semitic overtones.13 Vienna was governed by an anti–Semitic mayor, Karl Lueger, in 1907. This was the case when Hitler appeared there. Lueger was a Christian Socialist supported by the middle class. He found tar- gets in the financial community, in his view the “natural home” of society’s “scoundrels” and “scandals.” Unrealistically, Lueger held that all the financial problems of a modernizing soci- ety could be solved by a return to a more “organic” racial community. Lueger and his ilk held that one could be rid of all the vices spawned by modern finance capitalism by removing all Jews from banking. Lueger’s chief political rival in Vienna was Georg Ritter von Schönerer, a landowner, who sat in the Austrian House of Delegates. In addition to the anti–Semitism that was so much a part of the time’s political currency, Schönerer commonly issued calls to end the influence of the Catholic Church. Central to his thought was the need to merge Germanic Austria with Germany. Such anti–Semitic politicians and parties were ineffective in imperial Germany. On the social level, there were few serious anti–Semitic disturbances before World War I. Some of the racial groups and parties mentioned here did incite latent prejudice. But their public influ- ence was negligible. In sum, before 1914, blatant and political anti–Semitism was rarer in Germany than in the ethnically fractioned Austrian Empire. And yet, cultural anti–Semitism was often just beneath the surface. There were obscure pamphleteers here and there who provided a “literature” which could be bought in newsstands in both Germany and Austria. One author whose name appeared on many booklets was Georg Lanz von Liebenfels (whose real name was Adolf Lang). It was his cheap pamphlets which provided Hitler with many of his ideas. Liebenfels had founded the “Order of the Temple” in 1901, whose members had to be fair-haired, blue-eyed men who were urged to mate only with “pure Aryan women.” His racist ideas were spread through Ostara, a magazine usually adorned with a swastika. Hitler went to him on one occasion in Vienna to ask for back issues of Ostara and discover the swastika’s origins. He also wished to examine Lang’s racist theories of history, and the idea that “ape-like” humans should be exter- minated.14 Actually, there was considerable cross-fertilization of racialist ideas in the Germanic world, with personal contacts between academics and racist popularizers. In 1900, for exam- ple, industrialist Alfred Krupp announced an essay competition on the subject: “What can 8 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 we learn from the principles of Darwinism and its application to the inner political develop- ment and the laws of the state?” The majority of the contestants were believers in Aryan supe- riority. First prize went to a Munich physician who recommended stringent eugenic efforts to keep the Aryan race pure. Another contestant in Krupp’s competition was Ludwig Wolt- man, who later published a racist journal. This publication was one of many to be found in Germany and Germanic Austria, almost every one of which had bibliographic and citational paraphernalia that imitated scholarship. When Hitler read a popularizer, he was absorbing ideas to be found both in a pseudoin- tellectual fringe of academic circles and the popular arena. The message was always basically the same: any organism of any biological kind is constantly engaged in a ceaseless struggle for existence and is doomed to extinction if it does not fight. Moreover, nations were “very much like individuals”; they too were involved in an unending fight to survive. The fighting quality of a nation depended on its racial purity. It was proclaimed by racist ideologue Eugen Fischer that the Bismarckian empire and the Realpolitik that established it was too tolerant of minorities and their “impurities.” What was needed, held Fischer, was a way to rid the entire Germanic world of “defilers.” Fischer offered that his ends could be accomplished by appropriate state measures, for only government intervention could prevent further “infec- tion” by inferior races. Thus, governments, especially the one in Germany, should develop and implement a coherent racial policy.15 Nazism would one day put into effect such a pol- icy. Paramilitary Antecedents We return at this juncture to the Prussian military tradition. The power of the military in German life and particularly the Prussian officers corps derived from a long historical tra- dition. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Prussian state had gradually expanded. This expansion was based on a polity organized along military lines. It was dominated by a neo-feudal system of landowners, the Junker class. This class had intermeshed with the mil- itary recruiting system.16 This system was dismantled with the end of serfdom. The prestige of the Prussian army was then damaged considerably by its defeat in fighting against Napoleon. It has often been maintained that the Prussians fought the French in the humiliating battles of the first decade of the nineteenth century with the army that had been used by Frederick the Great a generation earlier. In some instances this was precisely the case, as it was reported that at Jena one old Prussian general had to be lifted into the saddle on his horse so as to ride into battle. In 1848 and again in 1862, Prussian reformers came close to bringing the old Prussian officers corps under civilian control. Then Otto von Bismarck was appointed chancellor to save the army from interference by reformers. He quickly used a revived Prussian army in three wars to unify Germany. And reformist zeal was turned aside permanently in 1871. After unification, the army was greatly influential in Germany society. Its contin- uing prestige, secured through the wars of unification, was enormous. Noncommissioned officers, who had stayed in the army for some years after initial tours of compulsory military service, were given an automatic right to a position in state employment when they finally were discharged. In time, the majority of police, postal workers, and various other state func- tionaries were veterans who carried out their jobs in a militaristic style. One. Origins and Inspirations 9 As years passed, a popular militarism spread. There was by the early twentieth century a “Navy League” and a considerable variety of veterans’ organizations.17 By the beginning of World War I, military professionalization made the army increasingly less open to reform. This pervasive professionalism made the army even less potentially democratic. Also, mili- tary arrogance became increasingly prominent in German life. This phenomenon was enhanced by Germany’s entry into Weltpolitik, the competitive pursuit of colonies in what would later be called the “third world.” The German army in South-West Africa (now Nam- bia) slaughtered thousands of a people called the “Herero.” They then drove the rest of the natives into the desert where a great many more of them died because of starvation.18 Even in Alsace-Lorraine, within Europe itself, German troops behaved like conquerors, causing a hostile response and a lasting hatred among French natives. The political life of prewar Germany developed in a way that made the society easily para- militarized after the end of the war. It was greatly factionalized into coalitions which were normally hostile to each other. These coalitions spanned the political spectrum from conser- vative to liberals. Unlike Great Britain, Germany had a prominent element of politicized Catholicism. But Catholicism in politics displayed some characteristics of a class-based party even while displaying a strongly unifying religious theme. There was something of a para- noid style at work in political life. Particularly the Marxists saw themselves as “just” defend- ers of their beliefs, eternally watchful against attacks from all sides. In a system like this, lasting coalitions were impossible so that the goals of any one or few groups could not be achieved.19 Of all the political formations, the only one that had any chance of success was the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which came closest to developing a program with a significant attraction for the masses in Germany. But no political party appeared that came close to the umbrella parties that had developed in England or the United States, sheltering diverse fac- tions as they did. The process of oppositional block building then carried over into postwar Germany. And during the postwar period, blocs were reinforced by paramilitary associations. Without World War I, the tensions between and among blocs would likely have spawned lit- tle actual physical confrontation. But the war acted as a catalyst for change in terms of rigid- ifying the opposition, and sometimes confrontations, between these disparate groups. In this way the initial cause for the emergence of political associations in the immediate postwar period was obviously that conflict itself, followed as it was by humiliating defeat. But to observe the war by itself as a primary causational factor is to oversimplify. Certain aspects of German society had become highly militarized before the “Great War.”20 It is necessary to return to the fact that Wilhelmine society greatly honored the military which had been its unifier. Therefore, as early as 1900, in addition to the veterans’ organizations mentioned ear- lier, there had appeared the first ancestors of the postwar Free Corps. As early as 1900, there existed the Kyffhäuser Bund counting some 3 million members over time. This formation was established to oppose socialism and did so with government assistance.21 That the appearance and growth of such formations was sparked in opposition to the spread of Social Democracy was demonstrated in individual cases. For example, in 1903 the SPD emerged from Reichstag elections as the second largest party in Germany, taking some one-third of the votes cast. This success on the left caused widespread panic on the right. The first fruit of this rightist apprehension was the formation of the National Association against Social Democracy. When the SPD put together youth organizations, the imperial government 10 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 backed the founding of the Young German League. This league was a sort of Boy-Scout-like formation, in some ways resembling the later Hitler Youth. It also provided military train- ing in its time. It eventually numbered some three-quarter million young men.22 In this way, before the common linking between the military and the political Right was seen through- out the world, it was seen in prewar Germany. A picture is provided of an imperial Germany politicized to some extent and militarized to a greater extent. This situation pertained because the German army had gained and main- tained enormous prestige as the instrument of unification. A concept appeared which had it that the army should and would act as the “school of the nation,” conforming civilian life to military standards. Any military service gave the veteran returned to ordinary life prestige and enhanced social standing in a fairly highly stratified society. It became true that a mid- dle-class individual obtaining even a reserve commission would gain social advancement. And this military cast returned to the civilian order to enter the anti–SPD lists through auxiliary organizations.23 When the war came in 1914, it built on the tendencies toward militarization well entrenched in German life. Its impact was built on two chronological segments of the war. Before 1916, societal chasms were bridged and the Germans unified in an unprecedented man- ner. After 1916, the year which saw two catastrophic tragedies at Verdun and at the Somme, the strain of a large conflict of attrition diminished that earlier spirit of unified resolve. Ger- many to a considerable extent was generationally divided along a fault line separating an older generation, which more easily put aside war fervor in the form of a desire to return to the peaceful prewar time, and the younger people represented by the mass of young manhood at the front. Many of this second group came to romanticize the war and the “front experience.” Increasingly, the usual generational conflict was intensified by these two differing percep- tions. The residual postwar impact of this divide was seen in older brothers who returned to civilian life unable to accept the defeat emotionally. These young men were quick to convey to younger siblings the idea that class divisions should be replaced by a new order in which societal stratification was meaningless. The old social chasms were said by those who made the calls for a front-oriented soci- ety to be overridden by a nationalistic-militaristic orientation. The returning veterans became the national leaders of those too young to have served in the war. Among postwar university students, “it was interesting [in 1919] to observe closely the transformation of [their] politi- cal spirit. Representatives of liberal and democratic ideals were in the minority [obscured] by blustering soldiers of fortune, growing rapidly in number.... Just as later, before Hitler’s rise, anti–Semitism emerged as the means for supporting such viewpoints.”24 A basic aspect of this situation was that these returned soldiers in 1918 and 1919 seemed oblivious to the fact that they had been no more than civilians serving as soldiers for the dura- tion of the war. In civilian life, they too had been among the faceless masses working at bor- ing jobs for inadequate wages. The war had lifted them above all that and made them intolerant of returning to take up residence among those who were as they once had been. Hence, a more militarized and simultaneously participation-inclined German society, split between gradu- alism and radicalism emerged by the end of the fighting. Particularly drawn to the new world of the militarized society for the common man were the younger siblings who could not serve because of age limitations in the war itself. Many of these had participated in a pre-service paramilitary program. One of these was later Nazi One. Origins and Inspirations 11 leader Heinrich Himmler who commenced his pre-service training in a militarized youth for- mation in 1917. This made him ready to join his veteran older sibling who was part of a group of would-be soldiers run out of the service by a restriction imposed by the Treaty of Ver- sailles limiting the total army to 100,000 men.25 The war had involved the population of Germany in the affairs of the nation and made it a much more participatory society. The first wave of a participation revolution had swept over Germany during the war. A second wave was realized after the war, having both Left and Right spearheads.26 Over time, the Nazi stormtrooper would become an integral part of the second wave. The German revolution at war’s end and the simultaneous abdication of the Kaiser played double causational roles in shaping the postwar participation explosion. These were a double link between the Empire and the emerging Republic. They were also a stimulative cause for the emergence of the many paramilitary groups appearing in the imme- diate postwar era. The feature of the German revolution most commonly seen throughout Germany and most abhorrent to the Right generally was the appearance of the soldiers’ and workers’ councils with their own fighting forces. A negative image of such councils was spread throughout the “patriotic literature.” The street fighters associated with the councils were com- monly offered up in this literature as exclusively involved in atrocities and ruthless acts launched against the civilian population. As the councils and their paramilitary “guards” became active on 9 November 1919, it appeared likely that the only sort of government to develop would grow out of the revolu- tion. There was a vacuum of civil authority after the abdication of the Kaiser and it was quickly filled by the councils. This process will be covered more completely in the next chap- ter. It is sufficient to state at this point that this swirl of events drew together the various strands of militaristic tendencies proceeding from the nineteenth century and placed them com- pletely at the service of the political Right. Chapter Two The Weimar Republic Rises Among the Ruins It should not be understood that only anti–Semitism dominated the political and social thought of imperial Germany. Of great significance too were strains of traditionalist monar- chist thinking, emerging socialism, some vague stirrings toward English-style parliamentar- ianism and, most important, nationalism. Of these, the only one to blend with anti–Semitism in any meaningful fashion was nationalism. German political development suffered from the absence of conservatives and liberals developed on the Western model. Before 1918, in fact, liberals had little influence. This was also true of the conservatives after 1918 who lost them- selves in dreams of a vanished monarchy. German liberals failed to think in modern ways. Most of them never doubted the principles on which the Reich had been established in 1871. Western ideals of liberalism, meaning, in the nineteenth century, parliamentary limitation on the power of the executive, were not accepted. Before 1914, the nationalistic forces in Germany were growing in numbers, but were not yet of overwhelming influence. The rise of German nationalism in the nineteenth century was based in part upon the idea of the Germanic Volk (literally “the people” with overtones of racial connectiveness and exclusivity). In this view the Volk was an entity held together by historical symbols and traditions. The rise of nationalism, even before Germany was a nation, stimulated the worship of “the people” and the nation as a secular religion. The idea was greatly enhanced after 1871. The very beginning of the nineteenth century witnessed a feeling of disappointment with the disunity of German lands. After 1815, the Congress of Vienna’s legacy was the Ger- manic Federation, a loose union of some thirty-nine states, large and small. This situation led to a glorification of the “wars of liberation” against Napoleon just ended. After it, Ger- mans from each of the thirty-nine states formed into a loose union. They began, because of this, to think of themselves as a nation. The governments of the confederation were suspi- cious of this nationalism first developing against Napoleon. They worked to suppress it wher- ever it reappeared. When the Second Reich came in 1871, it was the fulfillment of long-held hopes for unity. But this new Germany stressed the state’s power rather than “spiritual” linking. The govern- ment moved to integrate the masses into the conservative social order, by using a common set of Germanic values. The ruling classes envisioned a strong central Europe under Germanic hegemony. Their vision embraced an expansionist policy aimed at the open space that lay east- 12 Two. The Weimar Republic Rises Among the Ruins 13 ward (the Drang nach Osten or “drive to the east”) and the acquisition of colonies abroad. Bismarck had not acted in accordance with this expansionist dream. But his successors com- menced to invoke both hyper-nationalism and imperialism to gain the support of the work- ing classes, ever burgeoning in numbers because of rapid industrialization. Once Bismarck was gone and Wilhelm II was in power, the German people were exposed to deliberately stim- ulated enthusiasm for imperialism. Many saw war as a noble cause and demanded Lebensraum (“living room”) for the German people. All of this prefigured the eventual Nazi crusades. This does not mean that prewar Germany was rife with storm warnings of the Nazism to come. Wilhelmine society broadly was committed to law and order. Its laws protected property and persons. Political violence when it transpired, was generally condemned and prosecuted under law. This was the case regardless of who the victims were. The protective umbrella of Wilhelmine law covered Socialists and Jews despite the fact that both were unpop- ular. Anti-Semitic and antisocialist writings and actions were handled harshly in many cases, even though many judges were also antisocialist and anti–Semitic. This happened because the defendants, as they took action against “societal enemies,” often violated rights of pri- vacy and property. Hence, like many societies, the Second Empire had within it anomalies. But without an extraordinary set of circumstances these could not assume a central position in national life. It was the Great War of 1914 that provided the circumstances that disrupted stability. The German people were enthralled when war was declared in August of 1914. Many of the initial participants in the first fighting shared a displayed euphoria about impending com- bat. In Germany, the intense nationalism of the prewar period caused those on the Left to join those on the Right in pledging themselves to suspend civil dissent until victory was achieved. The Emperor proudly announced a Burgfrieden (a moratorium on political con- frontation).1 Influenced by the Kaiser’s promises that the war would be short, most Germans saw it as a brief respite from making a living wage, from boring assembly lines. Nothing was at all foreboding for, as the Kaiser and others had said, the war would be “over by Christ- mas.” By Christmas of 1914, however, there was no end in sight. Instead, particularly on the Western front, there was a war of attrition. The losses were staggering. And the home front was anything but united. Great societal fissures appeared. The Left voted funds along with the rest of the Reichstag at the outset of the war and expected in return to be granted significant political concessions. But none appeared. Even after it became clear that there were to be no concessions, support for the war continued. This can be attributed, in part, to a delight in conflict based on prewar nationalism. Important also was the constant war propaganda indi- cating that the nation’s leaders would present Germany with the fruits of victory. This was unrealistic. Geopolitical and military situations signaled defeat over the longer term. Perhaps this should have been apparent to the German High Command from the outset. Germany was fighting on two fronts against enemies owning more extensive means of production and greater numbers of people. Deadly threats from more than one quarter required careful coordination of strategic policy, especially with Germany’s war-alliance partners. It required understandings between civilian and military authorities. But these did not exist.2 Instead of developing a plan for coordinating the war, Germany’s High Command began to subvert the power of the civilian government. This was very much the case when Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff 14 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 assumed supreme command of the German army and war effort in August of 1916. Having crippled the Russians at Tannenburg and the Masurian Lakes in 1914, Hindenburg and Luden- dorff assumed the status of exalted heroes. Their reputations dwarfed the Emperor’s and those of civilian leaders. This allowed them to establish the so-called “Hindenburg-Ludendorff dictatorship” for the last two years of the war. From late 1916 on, the Kaiser was politically impotent. This was also true in the cases of the chancellor, the cabinet, the Reichstag, the indus- trialists, and the trade unions. In actuality, this German military, so exalted in myth, was little more than a pale reflec- tion of earlier Prussian or German forces. Particularly was this the case at the strategic level. In 1914, the Germans quickly bogged down on the Western front. In 1915 and 1916, German strategists sacrificed a million men in futile battles. In 1916, the admirals made a failed effort to challenge the British navy off Jutland and break a war-long blockade. In 1917, the Hinden- burg-Ludendorf command team guaranteed defeat by throwing away whatever chances they had for a moderate peace by bringing America into the war with unrestricted submarine war- fare, transporting the Bolshevik leader V. I. Lenin from Switzerland into Russia to mount a Communist revolution, and committing Germany’s last reserves to a final assault. The army appointed civilians to arrange a cessation of hostilities and later created a myth blaming them for “stabbing the Germany Army, never defeated” at the front, “in the back.” This, they said, had happened through “inadequate support” on the home front. This was the stab-in-the-back legend (Dolchstosslegende).3 The German people thus believed until the final months of the war that victory was close at hand. Four years of positive propaganda followed by one piece of profoundly negative news made the shock from the loss much greater. If the Germans had allowed more accurate information to issue during wartime as had the English, the populace might have been more realistic. It took the nation a few years and a humiliat- ing treaty to accept defeat. And some never accepted it. The generals acted in this manner because they wanted to maintain the position of the military in German life. It was axiomatic for them to blame everything on home-front defeatism. Just before the end of the war, the High Command and the entrenched elites decided that the Allies did not want to settle peace with the monarchy. As the generals saw it, the old ruling order had become a liability. United States president Woodrow Wilson, inspired by lofty democratic sentiments, held that there could be no bargain with the emperor or the mil- itary. This provided Germans who wanted to replace the monarchy with an excuse; they would devise a parliamentary state. Diplomatic pressure alone could not have brought about the abandonment of the monar- chy. By the middle of 1918, the Allied blockade was creating starvation. There were food riots in major cities and strikes. The Kaiser’s credibility was at its nadir. The Emperor had appointed Max of Baden, his liberal cousin, as chancellor. But that act improved his public image little. Meanwhile, Max of Baden indicated to the Allies that Germany was now under civilian con- trol and ready to sign an armistice. On 11 November the armistice was signed by a civilian, Matthias Erzberger, who had sponsored earlier peace resolutions in the Reichstag. The armistice terms were not lenient. The document was designed to let the Germans know that they had lost the war and to make them experience the humiliation of defeat. While the German delegation agonized over terms in a railroad car in the forest of Compiègne, on 9 November the Kaiser abdicated and went into Dutch exile. Quickly, a political vacuum came into being. Several factions, including the Communists, tried to fill the void. Two. The Weimar Republic Rises Among the Ruins 15 In Moscow, Lenin saw the German situation as being much like that of St. Petersburg in 1917. Lenin’s belief appeared confirmed by the appearance of councils of workers and soldiers. They also seemed confirmed by mutinous sailors in Kiel (28 October 1918) who had refused an order to take out the fleet for a final decisive battle with the British in the North Sea. Instead, they sang revolutionary songs and hoisted red flags over their ships. As news of the sailors’ mutiny spread across Germany, a rash of revolts were inspired. The government, with few troops back from the front, could not suppress them. These German rebels of 1919, however, were not followers of Lenin as that leader in far- away Russia believed. They were not interested in a Bolshevik-style revolution. They were merely war-weary and hoped that rebellious actions would bring a quick end to conflict. On 8 November the independent socialist Kurt Eisner, supported by councils of workers, soldiers, and peasants, overthrew the royal Bavarian government. Eisner and his followers then pro- claimed a “Socialist Republic.” It thus appeared, superficially, that the first two weeks of November during 1918 consti- tuted a reenactment of the Russian revolution. The fears of a Communist revolution were exaggerated. The German situation did not resemble Russia during 1917. In Russia, the urban working classes were proportionately much smaller. They were also less disciplined along for- mal political lines and lacked traditions of skilled craftsmanship. Those kind of traditions made the German workers much more moderate than the Bolsheviks. In Russia, under impact of a disastrous war, an elite cadre of revolutionaries skillfully manipulated deep-seated resent- ments. The eventual result was a one-party dictatorship. In contrast to the Russian situation, the Germans produced a “revolution” that left the social structure of Wilhelmine Germany essentially the same.4 The decisive political shift in Germany had actually transpired before the revolution when the ruling elites were temporar- ily displaced by Social Democracy, and some middle-class elements.5 The largest of the polit- ical parties supporting change at the top of the governmental pyramid was the Social Democratic Party (SPD). In 1914, the SPD had reluctantly supported the war effort. But this had caused a basic split in its ranks. The dissidents walked out of the party and formed a new entity in 1917 called the “Independent Socialist Party.” The aim of the new radicals was to establish genuine socialism in Germany. The new group first called for a quick halt to the war. These independent socialists were supported by even more radical Communists, admir- ers of the Bolsheviks in Russia. German Communists were led by two notorious and highly effective revolutionaries— Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. Supported by angry workers, the “Spartacists” (instead of “Communists”) were named after the ill-fated, insurrectionary Roman slave leader Spar- tacus. They called at war’s end for a Bolshevik-style order. Out of this event, they expected an expropriation of industries, and the limitation of inherited estates. This all was to be enacted by “Soviets” ( as in Russia). Spartacist leader Karl Liebknecht was the son of Wil- helm Liebknecht, a close friend of Karl Marx. Karl Liebknecht had broken with the rump majority of Social Democrats as early as 1914 over the voting of war credits. The younger Liebknecht was a person of unshakable determination and revolutionary zeal. By May of 1918, Liebknecht was organizing a demonstration against the war to denounce government “warmongers.” And he moved quickly to call for the violent overthrow of the government. This was called sedition by the government. He was seized by authorities, quickly tried, and given a four-year jail sentence. However, in October of 1918, as part of a general 16 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 amnesty for political prisoners, he was released. He quickly returned to center stage in Berlin.6 Soon thereafter a sizeable part of the German Left gathered around Liebknecht and his sec- ond-in-command, Rosa Luxemburg. Luxemburg was a brilliant ideologue, a combative agi- tator in her mid-forties. Born in Poland, she had come to Germany to study. She emerged as an intellectual at the forefront of the Left. She was one of the few in Germany who opposed the war from the beginning. The majority socialists also claimed to be Marxists. In actuality, their rank-and-file showed little interest in ideology. They had the lifestyles of the petit bourgeois and wanted no revolution. Rather, the SPD desired to raise the general standard of living for working peo- ple in the context of a moderate democratic order. Typical of this new nonrevolutionary Left in Germany was their leader, Friedrich Ebert. Born in 1871, Ebert was the son of a tailor, who had apprenticed as a saddlemaker. He had became the chairman of the saddler’s union in Bre- men and was a member of the city council before he was thirty. In 1904, he rose to the cochair- manship of the SPD convention. A year later he was appointed secretary of the Central Committee. The majority socialists liked the fact that Ebert was not a rigid ideologue. He was a revisionist, who believed in parliamentary democracy. Parliamentary government, in his view, would best transpire in a republican form. But he was not averse to it developing as a constitutional monarchy. The last thing in the world that a man like Ebert would support was a Bolshevik-like ris- ing of the masses against the state.7 In October of 1918, he feared such a revolution in Ger- many. For that reason, he threw his authority behind Max of Baden. Those close to Ebert thought much as he did, notably his chief lieutenant, Philip Scheidemann. By 9 November 1918, Berliners were in a state of tension. The radical Left had called for a general strike of all workers. There was an expectation of violence but little transpired. Most people expected to see the abdication of the Emperor. Suddenly Max of Baden forced the situation to change. On his own authority, he announced the Kaiser’s abdication and issued a call for new elections. Unwillingly, the Kaiser departed. That same day, Philip Scheidemann was confronted, while at lunch in the Reichstag dining room, with the news that Liebknecht was speaking from the balcony of the imperial palace to proclaim a new Red republic. Scheidemann later described the situation as follows: “Now I saw clearly what was afoot. I knew his Liebknecht’s] slogan—supreme authority for the workers’ councils. Germany to be therefore a Russian province, a branch of the Soviet. No, no, a thousand times no!”8 Schei- demann then rushed to one of the large windows of the Reichstag and proclaimed the repub- lic to a crowd below. This spur-of-the-moment announcement had been made even before the abdication. Ebert believed, because there had as yet been no abdication, that Scheidemann actually had no right to do as he did. Germany thus more or less stumbled into the republi- can form by accident. It was argued at the time, and has been argued since, that a more grad- ual move to a constitutional monarchy would have brought the new government a larger group of supporters and increased its survival chances.9 However, pressure from the streets and the urgings of Woodrow Wilson suggested that the Germans did not have the time to move in a gradual manner away from the empire. During the last days of 1918 and the early days of 1919, conservative forces were in dis- array. The situation looked bleak. Conservatives, at least momentarily, were without resolve and energy and appeared incapable of opposing a Red takeover. Many people turned to the major- ity socialists as the best hope of preventing a revolution. Conservatives noted with alarm that Two. The Weimar Republic Rises Among the Ruins 17 the situation was reminiscent of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. The formation of coun- cils by workers, soldiers, and left-wing intellectuals established a force competing directly with established, traditional Reichstag political parties. The party leaders were hostile to the coun- cils. One historian, although his is not the majority view, has argued that the councils could have played a positive role in Germany’s future, helping to “restructure society.”10 But such an assumption is counterfactual. The reluctance of the majority socialists to use the councils was expressed in their public utterances and a program. This encouraged the political Right. The Right came to believe that, since it did not have to fear the councils, the needed conces- sions would be minimal. The SPD leadership was in a quandary. It hoped to establish a state based on coopera- tion with moderate forces, and there was no wish to alienate such forces. They were much concerned that, should any reforms look radical, they might appear to be Bolshevistic. They were apprehensive not only that the broad sweep of the middle class might believe this, but that the English and French would as well. Their plight worsened through the surge of radi- calism that appeared to dominate the period of November 1918 to April 1919. During this time span, revolution seemed to be in the air. But uprisings lacked the extent of organization pres- ent in the Bolshevik Revolution. There appeared to be no disciplined cadre of the kind seen acting earlier with Lenin to bring down the state’s edifice. In Munich, power was seized in a spontaneous rush by a collection of idealists led by journalist Kurt Eisner. Eisner and his associates were able to prevail for a time because there was a nearly absolute vacuum in Bavaria at war’s end when King Ludwig fled his domain. But Eisner was no Lenin. No proletarian dictatorship was set in place. Instead, Eisner spon- sored elections which took place in April and quickly threw him out of office. He was then assassinated. The killing of Eisner (an event described later in this book) inspired his fol- lowers to try to retain power by force. This meant establishing the Soviet-style government they failed to create initially. The eventual “Red Republics” which grew out of this circum- stance lasted only a brief period and were soon crushed by German army and Freikorps ele- ments. Freikorps units were recent paramilitary arrivals on the scene. They formed at the end of the war when armistice and treaty negotiations were forcing men out of the military. They were assigned the task of defending German territory in the east against Poland.11 These fierce fighters, most of whom would have liked to see World War I continue, believed that the more territory they controlled militarily the more Germany would receive in a peace settlement. The new German government believed the same thing, but the authorities in Berlin could not rely on regular army units to carry out the tasks necessary to achieve such a goal. Many of the soldiers still in uniform had seen their units fall apart at the end of the war through desertions, casualties, and epidemics. For these reasons, special units were formed by drawing on volunteers. Not all the volunteer groups were formed of frontline veterans. Some members had been too young to enlist during the war, although they very much wanted to fight. Others had not been able to pass intelligence tests or had criminal records, keeping them out of the army. Free Corps were usually led by men who had been wartime junior officers or noncom- missioned officers. These Freikorps never employed regular army restraint. They were bru- 18 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 tal fighters with brutal instincts. One indication of just how badly the times were out of joint was seen in the socialist government in Berlin being forced, as in Munich, to call in regular army troops reinforced by Freikorps to suppress rebellions. This practice led to a split on the Left between moderate and more radical socialists. This fracture was not healed for the dura- tion of the Weimar Republic. Revolutionary activity in Berlin was of the greatest importance, because it was the seat of government. Immediately after the war, Berlin had become a center of radical agitation. In January of 1919, a series of major disturbances erupted comprising the so-called Spartacist Revolt. The Spartacists had agitated against the war with intensity during its final stages and now called for a socialist revolution. However, the Spartacist leaders, Liebknecht and Lux- emburg, were not planning revolution in January because the time was not ripe. The revolt that broke out in the capital was without design or meaningful leadership. Some of the demonstrations had been called by revolutionary shop stewards Others seemed more spontaneous, boiling up on the spot.12 Planned and spontaneous actions resulted in an uprising which presented Liebknecht and Luxemburg with a quandary. The two lead- ers did not believe that Germany was ready to embrace far-reaching change. However, the people were in the streets and they had been presented with a premature action. They had to provide direction and a sense of purpose. Their decision to act turned out to be an unwise one. The duo’s assumption of leadership led to their murders by troops charged with restor- ing order. Perhaps a New York Times editorial had the most perceptive observation on the events when it questioned the choice of the revolutionists’ name: “[I]n choosing the name [Spartacist] the German leader [Liebknecht] forgot to take into consideration” that the Spar- tacus of Roman times had attached to his name both the glory of early victories and “the stigma of ultimate defeat.”13 Without much of a plan and little hope of success, the uprising appeared preordained to fail. Ebert as spokesman for the government, called upon the military to restore order. He had established connections with members of the general staff during the war. His emissary to the army in the postwar period was Gustav Noske, an SPD moderate. Noske was a pariah in Leftist circles where he was called the “bulldog of the counterrevolution.”14 General Wilhelm Groener was the representative of the general staff in negotiations with the majority socialists. The outcome was a deal struck between the generals and SPD lead- ers. The generals would dispatch troops to Berlin to deal with the revolutionaries. In return for this service, the Social Democratic government promised to leave the General Staff intact within the new state. An unintended outcome of this bargain was the creation of an essen- tially unreformed, unrepublican army. In the short term, army troops came to Berlin to put down the rising and hard upon the heels of the army came the far less disciplined and more violent Free Corps. This caused a number of anti-insurgent atrocities, including the killing of the Spartacist leaders. This fact led to a lasting enmity between the majority socialists and the radical Left faction of prewar Social Democracy. The majority socialists quickly moved to arrange the election of a National Assembly. This assembly was sent from the capital to congregate in Weimar away from Berlin’s strife. After negotiations, the workers’ councils went along with the idea. In this manner, on 19 January 1919, Germany had its first important election. It produced a National Assembly charged with writing a new constitution. On 9 February the Assembly had its first meeting and selected Ebert president and Scheidemann his chancellor. Fear of Two. The Weimar Republic Rises Among the Ruins 19 Shown are street scenes from Berlin demonstrating street fighting during the suppression of the Spartacist Revolt of 1918/1919. (From photographic montages in J. Goebbels, Das erwachende Berlin, Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP, 1934. 20 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 Two images of Rosa Luxemburg and one of Karl Liebknecht. Both were murdered during the sup- pression of the Spartacist rising. radical socialist revolution had established a basis for temporary cooperation between con- servatives and moderate socialists. The Versailles Treaty now confronted Germany. It has been handled variously by histo- rians. One view is that it had an initial negative impact for the Weimar Republic from which it was impossible to recover. It has also been offered that it “fell between two stools.” In this Two. The Weimar Republic Rises Among the Ruins 21 view, it was neither harsh enough to make certain a lasting parliamentary state was estab- lished nor, on the other hand, lenient enough to obtain that same end. Instead of providing sufficient Allied control to prevent the emergence of effective anti–Republican forces, the Allies forced Germany to move forward with difficulty. Moreover, not only was Allied con- trol not forthcoming, but the infant parliamentary order was not provided with the instru- ments to restrain foes. Regardless of which position one takes on the Versailles Treaty, it is evident that the Republic did not recover from its economic impact until the mid–1920s. Moreover, the irri- tant quality of the treaty in German society remained. Over time, many anti–Republican nationalists called Versailles a “dictated peace.” There was a widely held belief in Germany that the treaty was unfairly imposed upon Germans, that the people had no voice in it when the representatives of the new Republic had been forced to agree to its provisions. All of that was supposedly done by the Allies, particularly the bullying French. There was some truth in the notion. The German legation that went to Paris in 1919 was given little chance to modify the treaty. Perhaps the Germans should have had no reason to be surprised by this; they had been defeated in a long and costly war. In sum, the treaty played a very large part in the history of the Republic. Its provisions need to be weighed against the almost unanimous German claim that it was unfairly puni- tive. This view was held by some notable non–Germans as well. Widely known English econ- omist John Maynard Keynes called it a “Carthaginian peace, aimed at reducing Germany to a second rate power and leading to the impoverishment of the German people.”15 Some of the key terms were: (1) Alsace-Lorraine was returned to France; (2) West Prus- sia and Pomerania were given to Poland; (3) Memel went to Lithuania; (4) Danzig was declared a free city under the League of Nations; (5) German colonies were parceled out to the Allies; (6) the Saar Basin was placed under administration of the League of Nations for fifteen years; (7) newly established European states made out of old empires had to be recognized; (8) the Anschluss with Austria was forbidden; (9) Germany was limited to a 100,000-man army; and (10) Germany was to pay restitution for all wartime damages. On a more positive note, the Allies did not try to separate the Rhineland from the rest of the German nation, although the French might have liked that. The treaty in final draft ignored separatist sentiment in both Bavaria and the Rhineland. Important for postwar chaos was the limitation of the army to 100,000 men, making it impossible for those who wished to remain warriors to stay in the regular military. Versailles had left the truncated Germany a large and highly populated nation with, perhaps most importantly, its industrial power still intact. But the treaty also caused a number of problems. The reparations demands of the treaty were too high to make good sense economically. The plan to pay them out over an excessively long period of time was problematic. But the economic crisis of 1923, and the worldwide one in 1929, were by no means the sole product of the treaty. A relatively recent study of the negotiations at Versailles has argued persuasively that the terms of the treaty represented a compromise. It was, in this view, a bargain between those who wanted Germany to pay all war costs and those who wanted the new government to pay only damages suffered by civilians.16 Unfortunately, to satisfy those who wanted a more punitive war settlement but had failed to achieve it, Article 231 was included. Article 231 was the infamous and intensely disliked “war guilt” clause. By it, Germany accepted “the respon- sibility” for initiating the war. Many German politicians seized upon this symbolic article to 22 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 make of it an act of national humiliation unjustly imposed by the Allies.17 And the Allies were not the only villains in this scenario. This infamous treaty had been signed, it was often held, by “treacherous” republicans practicing a “policy of fulfillment.” Some statesmen were aware of the difficulties involved in a treaty perceived as too harsh. David Lloyd George, the British prime minister, was one of these. Lloyd George believed that stationing troops of the victorious Allies in Germany would create lasting bitterness in a “proud people.”18 Lloyd George was aware of the warning left behind by one of the nineteenth century’s most effective diplomats, Clemens von Metternich, Prince of Austria. Metternich had testified after the Congress of Vienna had ended the Napoleonic Wars that, when any party left the negotiating table totally bitter, the treaty just signed could not last long. Lloyd George was concerned about how successful the new German republic could be as it labored under a harsh treaty. Yet he could not argue his doubts in negotiations. Lloyd George wished to maintain his party in power in England. And he had promised voters during 1918 that Ger- many would be pressured mercilessly after the war and forced to compensate for the enor- mous losses that Britain had endured. To some extent the prime minister’s hands were tied. The U.S. president, Woodrow Wilson, had come to Europe in 1919 with a vision for a new and peaceful world. During the war, he had offered his “Fourteen Points.” These prom- ised a just peace. The Germans based far too much hope on the Wilsonian pronouncements. Wilson did not actually have sufficient support from his own Congress to exercise the free- dom of action necessary to impose his vision at Paris.19 Once the negotiations had ended, Wil- son appeared to many Germans to have been a hypocritical liar. Germans came to fear Wilson when he spoke in idealistic terms. During the Weimar republican years, antidemocratic dia- tribes began by singling out Wilson as an example of how little the statements of the former Allies could be taken at face value. One such was writer Arthur Moeller van den Bruck who provided the title “the Third Reich” for the future Germany he hoped to see.20 Wilson’s lack of realism and Lloyd George’s political opportunism were noted by George Clemenceau, the prime minister of France. Clemenceau commented that sitting between the two was like “sitting between Napoleon and Jesus Christ.” In hindsight, the Versailles Treaty was perhaps not grossly unfair in the moral sense, given the damage Germany had inflicted and the precedent of the Empire’s highly punitive Treaty of Brest-Litovsk imposed upon Rus- sia in 1917. However, even if the treaty was not completely unfair, it was unwise. The Weimar leaders charged with the responsibility of signing the armistice had not wanted to do so, but the military leadership made it clear that Germany simply could not continue the fighting. Philip Scheidemann resigned as chancellor rather than sign the treaty. But finally, given little choice in that the Allies were clearly in a position to occupy Germany as far east as the borders with the new state of Czechoslovakia, the government signed. Many of those same generals who told the Republican government that they had to sign the treaty were later to call its members a group of “traitors” for having done so. Those who supported the national leaders in signing Versailles did not come close in their emotional support to matching the vehemence of rightist opposition. Enemies of the Republic attacked it early and often in the period from 1920 to 1923. Coup attempts, political murders and popular risings threatened the state. The immediate impact of the Versailles Treaty on Germany was twofold. It led to the cabinet crisis resulting in Schei- demann’s resignation. More ominously, over time, it led to a soldiers’ revolt against the Repub- lic. For a time, leaders of the German military thought seriously of armed resistance to the Two. The Weimar Republic Rises Among the Ruins 23 Allies. But even the most diehard generals recognized that a revolt against the victors by a diminished army had no hope of success. Frustrated, it was not long before military figures shifted their rage to the Republic. The republican government, in the meantime, was under intense pressure from the Allies to reduce the army to a peacetime force of 100,000 men and disband all paramilitary forces. This only served to intensify military resentments. What resulted was a series of mutinous acts. The most serious of these was in March of 1920 when army officers conspired to overthrow the Republic. This episode known as the Kapp Putsch is named after an undistinguished Prussian civil servant, Wolfgang Kapp. The plan for the Kapp rebellion was actually the work of General Walther von Lüttwitz, commander of the Berlin army district. The scheme was simple. A paramilitary group named after the Second Marine Brigade’s former commander, Captain Hermann Ehrhardt (the “Ehrhardt Brigade”), was to march on Berlin and topple the government.21 As the Kapp Putsch began, republican leaders discovered that the generals would not order their men to fire on Ehrhardt. The army leadership said that the paramilitary unit acting as the spearhead of the Putsch was “one of its own.” The army saw most such units as groups which wished to be under its command and ought to be. Thus abandoned by its own army and under assault by a paramilitary force, the republican government fled the capital. It went first to Dresden and then fled to Stuttgart. Before leaving Berlin, it issued an appeal to all German workers to sup- port a general strike. The general strike took place and the Ehrhardt men in their swastika- adorned helmets left Berlin as Kapp and Lüttwitz found they could not run the government when public workers would not provide basic services. On 20 March it was all over. Ebert returned to Berlin to resume control. The retrospective significance of this failed coup was not just that it revealed the unre- liability of the military if an assault came from the Right. The differing approach the army took was soon demonstrated by what happened when an assault from the radical Left tran- spired in the Ruhr. A Red army of some 80,000 moved in and took over that industrial region. The Ebert regime quickly called out an army that had proven unreliable a week before. This time, however, the German army showed few qualms in quelling the revolt. Ebert’s hopes of dismantling an officers’ corps full of anti–Republican rightists to replace it with a truly repub- lican force were in this way disappointed permanently.22 The Kapp Putsch had other significant results. It forced the government to call its first national election, perhaps prematurely. It brought rightists into control of the Bavarian state regime. In Bavaria, the majority socialist government was forced to resign. On 16 March 1920 Gustav von Kahr was elected prime minister by the Bavarian diet. Kahr harbored separatist notions. Bavaria now became the domain of the far Right (often called the “Orderly Compartment of Bavaria”). Munich then, under Kahr, spearheaded opposition against the Repub- lic in Berlin.23 In the spring of 1921, the final reparations bill (left blank in the Versailles Treaty), came due. It was thirty-five billion dollars in gold marks. The Germans were given a six-day ultimatum to accept the reparations bill. Not to do so would have resulted in an invasion of the Ruhr. The government accepted the ultimatum. As with the treaty itself earlier, there was no alter- native. The nationalists, cloaking themselves in hyperpatriotism, screamed about “treason.” The Right complained about the fact that the man assigned to the task of complying with repa- rations was Walther Rathenau, a Jew. From the Right there emerged a popular and reprehen- sible couplet: “Shoot down that Walter Rathenau, that cursed, god-damned Jewish sow.”24 The Kapp Putsch is depicted here. Every photograph shows members of the supporting Ehrhardt Brigade which, when leaving the city, shot people indiscriminately who jeered at them. Under Rathenau’s leadership, Weimar Germany scored its initial success in foreign pol- icy. Rathenau attempted to thwart France’s desire to isolate Germany through encircling alliances by turning to the Soviets. The U.S.S.R. was also isolated in foreign affairs. The two international outcasts concluded a treaty of friendship at Rapallo near Genoa. The bilateral document contained an agreement to establish relations on a permanent footing and a pledge Two. The Weimar Republic Rises Among the Ruins 25 not to ask reparations of each other. They also initiated close economic relations and, in a secret clause, established military connections. Rapallo caused consternation abroad, partic- ularly in France. Inside Germany, the treaty did not provide public-relations dividends for the government. Instead, rightist hysteria continued and resulted in Rathenau’s murder. The same clandestine group that killed Rathenau, the “Organization Consul,” had also assassi- nated Matthias Erzberger. Erzberger’s “sin” had been that he signed the armistice. There was a continuing economic crisis in Germany as all this happened because of runaway inflation. This phenomenon was caused by a series of unwise policies adopted by the government originating in World War I.25 The war had hidden the problems, but the pressures imposed by defeat brought them to the surface. The immediate cause of economic collapse was the inva- sion of the Ruhr by a French force on 11 January 1923. The Germans had requested a mora- torium on war debt payments. But the French had refused. French leadership had tried to persuade the British and Americans to believe that an Allied invasion of the Ruhr was justified. But they could not. Not dissuaded, Paris waited on a pretext to act on its own. The pretext desired in France came when the Reparations Commission declared Ger- many in default on the delivery of some 140,000 telegraph poles to replace lines destroyed during the war. On 11 January a French-Belgian force marched into the Ruhr. Thus was the nearly nonexistent unity of the Reich further weakened.26 French occupiers acted harshly and often brutally. The German government’s answer to all this was “passive resistance.” All eco- nomic activity came to a halt in the Ruhr. In an effort to subsidize the workers there who were out on strike, more paper money was printed. Inflation reached fantastic heights in con- sequence and unemployment soared. The German government could not meet its obligations. The majority of middle-class citizens were ruined by the inflation. In hope of bringing a quick end to the inflationary crisis, Ebert appointed Gustav Stre- semann, leader of the German Peoples’ Party, as chancellor. The new chancellor faced stag- gering problems. The Ruhr was still occupied. Moreover, Communist and socialist regimes hostile to the Republic had been established in Thuringia and Saxony. And there were Com- munist insurrections in industrial centers like Hamburg. As all this transpired, the mark became so devalued that it stood at 4.6 million to one U.S. dollar. It was in this poisoned atmos- phere existing from 1919 through 1923 that an obscure veteran of the Great War became leader of a right-wing party in Bavaria that was little more than a political club at the time. This leader decided, somewhat unrealistically, that he would soon lead an insurrection to over- throw the Weimar Republic. His name was Adolf Hitler. At least one more immediate postwar phenomenon is to be examined here before turn- ing to Hitler’s rise, and that is the “military desperado.” The word “desperado” used in this manner was first employed in a 1967 article by historian Wolfgang Sauer.27 This idea holds that a distinct interest group was formed by a coalescence of men emerging from the war to find they could not become civilians again. Neither could they remain in the armed forces, which most would have liked to do, because of the restrictions imposed by Versailles. These men had become primitive warriors in four years of battles. Most of them were individuals who had simply come to desire the adventure of mortal combat. They sought not only to return to the army life, but also to transform the civilian world into a facsimile of the front. Immediately after the war there was for a time a near vacuum of political and military power which was filled to some extent by a pluralistic system of militaristic activity. Initially, the postwar Free Corps provided the backbone of this system. But not too much later the con- 26 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 text expanded to include all sorts of paramilitaristic activity and formations. There were leagues and a large number of organizations with “Bund” somewhere in their names. Among the elaborate mix of such groups was the fledgling Nazi SA. Typical of this group in Germany was Ernst Röhm, later to lead the Nazi SA, who wrote: “I discover that I no longer belong to the people. All I remember is that I once belonged to the German Army.”28 All the German desperadoes shared a mythical belief in the life of the trenches. This was a vision that consecrated the total war experience. Such a myth may well have had its origins as early as the Napoleonic Wars, but it reached its fullest development immediately after World War I. This notion of a shared unique experience kept the desperado seeking its repli- cation. This was difficult in the gray, drab world of peacetime. They also remembered their fallen comrades as heroes in Valhalla. If the desperado followed his vision into the paramil- itary world, he could then believe, and many did, that their special shared meaning of life was continuing in the civilian sphere with like-minded comrades. It would be a mistake to think that the desperado was a typology to be found in Ger- many alone. The Treaty of Trianon had come close to dismembering historic Hungary. The Hungarians had in fact been stripped of some two-thirds of their prewar territory. This loss exacerbated an intense Hungarian nationalism. Equally stimulative of this nationalism was a threat from the Left much like that of the Sparticist rising in Germany. Communist Bela Kun was successful in establishing a short-lived regime only to have it dislodged by a counterrev- olution under Admiral Nicholas Horthy. The desperado played a pivotal role in this coun- terrevolutionary action. In Hungary, desperadoes returning from the front threw their violent support to one cause or another as it suited them. Oscar Jazi, an early postwar government official, described them as “those bands of political soldiers” who hastened, once having fought, to present their accounts to the government, demanding this role and that in the future Hungarian state. The eventual role played by the Nazis in Germany as a magnet draw- ing in the desperado was fulfilled in Hungary by the “Magyar Defense League.” The League fought against leftist attempts to control the state. But the League was not alone; despera- does played a role at one time or another in some 200 groups labeled by historians of Hun- gary as “fascistic.”29 Many Hungarian veterans found postwar paramilitary life extraordinarily attractive as it, like Free Corps activity in Germany, was free from the regular-army discipline enforced upon them in the past. Some of this broad group, despite a general antipathy to Marxism, commonly shared, participated for a time in Bela Kun’s Red Army because, apparently, they saw it as the most readily available way for the moment to follow a violent course of action. Of course, with this mindset they found it easy to shift sides later. Clearly the desperado, here and elsewhere, lacked a clear ideological profile. Of course, given a choice between Left and Right they normally preferred the Right. Because the treaty had dismembered historic Hun- gary, most of them were violently irredentist. It is just that some were casual about what part of the political spectrum could produce a “reunited” Hungary. In Hungary, however, strong- man Nicholas Horthy as leader appeared capable of keeping under control what might well have become the core of a fascist party and, in that fashion, the example differs markedly from the German situation. Similarly, in Italy, the peace settlement of 1919 gave Rome small pieces of territory. Larger ambitions were left unsatisfied. Many in nationalist circles believed that Italy, having been on the “winning” side, would receive an extended colonial empire. They did not. Then the Two. The Weimar Republic Rises Among the Ruins 27 Italian government accepted a peace not including the desired territorial acquisitions. The things desired but not granted were an African colonial empire and the Dalmatian area of what became at war’s end Yugoslavia. Most Italians came to believe that they had fought the war, emerging on the victorious side only to “lose the peace.” But the further toward the Right the individual, the greater was the fury. The best known desperado elements associated with this angered Right were the Arditi. The Arditi were a fabled group of Italian veterans. Like their counterparts called “stormtroopers” in the German Army, they were elite units maintained in the rear to be brought to the front to participate in suicidal assaults. The idea was, as it came to be with the German “Storm Detachments,” to create a breakthrough for regular infantry through holes in the barbed-wire fences and sandbagged protections. Men such as these possessed no clear ideological profile, as was the case with Hungarian and German desperadoes. But they, like their counterparts in other countries, found it difficult to return to peaceful life at home. As one of them put it at the end of 1918, he felt that “every one of us” is obliged “to exclude the possibility” of putting our lives back together for “the war has become our second nature.” But like these others, soon enough, they were drawn to the radical Right in Italy to follow Benito Mussolini.30 The phenomenon of the desperado is yet another case where the extraordinary impor- tance for postwar life of World War I can be observed. This war was a major turning point in the history of the modern world and appears today, nearly a century after its beginning, as a juncture in time (1914) on a level of importance with the French Revolution of 1789. To the postwar generation, the perspective one saw was influenced by the triumph of Bolshe- vism in Russia, domestic chaos in many places, often appearing to originate on the left, and the chaotic economic situation of the early twenties. As for the desperado, he appeared as part of postwar chaos not only in countries which had been losers in the war, but even in Great Britain. Note the case of the infamous “Black and Tans” in Ireland. Although only a small proportion of British forces were sent to suppress the Irish Repub- lican Army’s attempts to secure independence, the Black and Tans were by far the most ruth- less of these. They were much feared. Their official title was the “Royal Irish Constabulary.” Most of them had fought the “war to end all wars” and returned to find no jobs in the con- tracting economy of postwar Britain. By the time they entered the Black and Tans they had become severely demoralized. Author George Bernard Shaw wrote about the sort of men drawn to the Black and Tans: “Hardly a week passes without some soldier who risked death in the field” being involved in one petty criminal act or another. The call to arms in Ireland was a lifesaver for such men. But the government that hired them did not know how the war had brutalized them. They were given the authority to arrest and imprison. And there were documented instances of outright murder. Their uniforms were a mix of dark green tunics, khaki trousers, black belts, and odd headgear. The Irish gave them the nickname previously applied to a famous pack of wild dogs in County Limerick, the “Black and Tans.” By 1921, they had outlived their usefulness. They were then disbanded.31 For the most elaborate and important development of the desperado, however, one must return to postwar Germany. In Germany, there came together after the war men disgusted with peacetime society. They had no capacity for civilian life. Instead, their taste was for adventurism and criminality. No matter how heinous their acts, the desperadoes saw them as simply exercising a proper spirit of nationalism. They were a group never at rest. One 28 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 might well call the desperado in Germany an agent of permanent revolution. But they were unlike past European revolutionaries. Those former revolutionaries had a vision of a better future. The desperado was without a meaningful vision. He was instead driven by a constant restlessness. As far as there was any goal for him it was to eternalize the values of the trenches. But to achieve this aim in Germany they had to become political. It was this fact that would eventually drive many of them into Hitler’s party. The most typical German desperado was Hauptman (Captain) Ernst Röhm. Conditions immediately after the war were especially favorable for Captain Ernst Röhm of Reichswehr Group Headquarters 4 in Munich. In Bavaria, more than elsewhere in Germany, men like Röhm were free to develop counterrevolutionary and counter-societal activity. One of a large group of ambitious captains, this scarred veteran of trench battles rose to become important in Bavaria and the master of a secret weapons cache. He was often called the “machine-gun king” of Bavaria. Guided by his belief in the soldier’s basic right to leadership in civilian or military realms, Röhm organized a special intelligence unit of the General Staff to watch the various political groups springing up like wild seedlings in postwar Munich. These groups that interested the captain were of both the Left and Right. He wished to know which might be useful to the army. It was in this connection that he first came into contact with a young soldier named Adolf Hitler. Hitler soon served as an agent sent out to evaluate various Right- leaning political groups.32 The war, the postwar period of upheaval, and the consequences of each played an impor- tant part in the lives of the men who made up this generation moving out of the trenches. This “Front Generation” had members who were eventually, to use one of Hitler’s favorite phrases, “like iron filings drawn to a magnet,” pulled toward Nazism. The initial appeal of Nazism for the desperado was not its anti–Semitism. Discriminating against Jews was more popular with lower-middle-class people looking for economic scapegoats to provide emo- tional cover for their own failures. For the desperado, the movement held out the chance for participation in irresponsible violence. Röhm and his colleagues sought to spread terror for its own sake. And the Hitlerian vehicle awaited them to achieve that end. Chapter Three The Appearance of Hitler In 1837, a forty-one-year-old maid named Maria Anna Schickelgruber returned to her native village of Strones. She was pregnant, but unmarried. Her family cast her out and a ten- ant farmer took her in. Soon after, she gave birth to a baby boy. He was baptized as Alois Schickelgruber. On the birth records the space for the father’s name was left blank. This was a common practice in an area where inbreeding and illegitimacy were the rule rather than the exception. The high rate of illegitimacy in rural Austria probably resulted from the lack of economic opportunity. As a result, couples often simply could not afford to marry when they owned no land or property. Who the father of Alois might have been is uncertain. One possibility suggested was that a wealthy Graz Jew named Frankenberger impregnated Hitler’s grandmother while she was in domestic service. While awaiting execution in Nuremberg during 1946, Hans Frank made a sensational statement about Hitler’s possible roots. He revealed that a highly agitated Hitler in 1930 had asked Frank to look into allegations that the Nazi leader might have had a Jew- ish ancestor. If true, this would have been more than embarrassing for a leader of an anti–Semitic movement. Frank claimed that he had discovered at least some circumstantial evidence that Hitler had Jewish ancestry. To this date, no shred of evidence has surfaced prov- ing that Hitler was one-quarter Jewish as such theories have it.1 After half a century’s research, Hitler’s biographers have not been able to identify Alois Hitler’s real father. The most authoritative account has it that Johann Nepomuk Heidler, Anna’s later husband’s brother, is the likely candidate. It was the Heidler name which was mis- takenly written down as “Hitler” in the parish registry later when Alois was legitimized after the fact. This was not a matter of any importance in a society and an era where rural Austri- ans were casual about names. It was a partially literate society. At any rate, henceforth, the later dictator’s father was legally Alois Hitler and not Alois Heidler. Johann Georg Heidler, an itinerant millworker, had been married to Maria only five years before she died. The step- father then resumed wandering. Alois moved into the home of the brother, Johann Nepomuk. Johann Nepomuk’s role as surrogate parent is cited by some as evidence he was the father.2 Of course, this is circumstantial evidence. The truth is that no real biological father for Alois can be identified and the actual circumstances of his birth will likely never emerge. The only possible historical importance of all of this might be, if various psycho-historians are correct, that Hitler had mental problems because he doubted the purity of his background. Since this question of background did not materially shape the history of the Weimar Repub- lic and Third Reich, it may well be historically moot. For Hitler, a shadowy ancestral past 29 30 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 turned out to be an asset. It enabled him to fabricate dramatic stories with legendary ori- gins. In Mein Kampf, Hitler merely indicated that his father served as a customs official while his mother was idealized as a devoted housewife.3 What is certain is that Adolf Hitler entered life on 20 April 1889 in the Austro-German border town of Braunau on the river Inn. In this town, not far from Germany, Hitler grew up as the fourth child of his father’s third marriage. Klara Pölzl, Alois’s third wife, was a domestic servant. Hitler had siblings named Alois, Angela, and Paula. Hitler’s half brother married an Irish woman, Bridget Dowling, who later fabricated a story about the dictator and a supposed visit he made to England in the period 1912–1914. Dowling’s son, Patrick Hitler, traveled to Germany during the 1930s in hope of obtain- ing money and favors from his famous uncle. He was, however, turned away with a few marks and stern advice about working for a living. Adolf ’s half-sister Angela married one Leo Raubal. She remained closer to the Führer than his other relatives. Angela’s son Leo was often near Hitler and the future dictator was fond of him. Eventually, Leo became a German army officer and was captured at Stalingrad. Hitler’s younger sister, Paula, was the only other sur- viving member of the family. There is evidence that Adolf was somewhat attached to her. From 1926 on she was in charge of his household, but did not use the name Paula Hitler. Instead she called herself Paula Wolf. The reasons for this are obscure. Adolf Hitler liked the pseudonym “Wolf,” which he had used when skirting the borders of legality in postwar Munich.4 It is difficult to find the origins of Nazism, Hitler’s later cruelty, his extreme racism, and other features of the Nazi movement inspired by him in his family life. Hitler’s childhood was outwardly normal. He was doted upon and spoiled by his parents. Particularly this was the case after two of his brothers and one sister died within a span of only two years. This was common in an era when children, especially those who grew up in remote rural areas or city slums, fell prey to all sorts of childhood diseases. Hitler’s father, who died as a retired Austrian Imperial Customs official, left his family in decent shape financially. Hitler later claimed to have been beaten by his father. But there is scant evidence to demonstrate that Alois went beyond what was common in the way of punishment and thus was any more abu- sive than other fathers of his time and class.5 That said, Alois was apparently hot-tempered and so was his son. According to Hitler, he resisted his father’s wishes concerning career choices. If there was such an ongoing con- flict between Adolf and his father, we will never really know. One must remember that this story is drawn from a political autobiography where Hitler liked to place himself in dramatic settings. The reported father-son conflict may thus well be the result of calculated invention. Alois died suddenly of a heart attack in 1903. By then, Hitler had received an excessive amount of smothering care from his mother. She made it known that she feared Adolf might expire, as had his siblings. It is Hitler’s relationship with his mother that many have centered upon as the source for his later self-indulgences.6 There have been numerous attempts to reconstruct Hitler’s childhood from psycholog- ical perspectives. They are speculative because it is impossible to obtain clinical evidence. Instead, many of the assumptions about Hitler’s childhood and resultant psychological devel- opment are based on unverifiable evidence and are thus less than compelling. For example, we know nothing of Hitler’s toilet training. It therefore cannot be maintained, as some have, that he needed to retain his feces in his body (“anal retentivism”) and thus had a preoccupa- Three. The Appearance of Hitler 31 tion with manure. Similarly, it can not be assumed that since Hitler had an undescended tes- ticle that this caused a lasting distortion of his psychosexual maturation. This theory rests on a Russian autopsy describing a charred corpse assumed to have been Hitler’s retrieved from near his Berlin bunker in 1945.7 The adult Adolf Hitler was obviously not normal. His abnormalities eventually came to shape aspects of public policy. And this can be assumed without retroactive psychoanalysis. It can be assumed as well that Hitler shared psychological problems with a large number of people thrown off the normal track of their lives by the war. One thing that does appear to have emerged from examinations of Hitler’s early life is that he could not have enjoyed a happy or tranquil existence. This can be ascertained from an examination of his adult emotional traits displayed before the public.8 Some of these traits could have been rooted in simply too much moving about or the death of too many siblings. But even given the abnormal amount of moving, Braunau to Passau, Passau to Hofeld, and emerging from the initial grade at Fischlam on Traum to enter his second year in a Catholic school of the Bendedictine Order, he received high grades in his early education. He also was a choirboy and apparently admired the Catholic priesthood. One particular cleric caught his eye. The Abbot Hagen displayed a coat of arms, and a large ring. Featured on his devices was the swastika.9 Adolf Hitler’s father spent much of his time in retirement keeping bees, visiting local taverns, and nagging some of his children to make something of themselves. An example of the elder Hitler’s attempt to shape his children’s’ future can be seen with Adolf ’s half-brother Alois who fled his father’s demands. Young Alois thereafter moved to England, back to Ger- many, then to England once more. As a result, Adolf then became the recipient of his father’s well-meaning but often ill-founded judgments. This situation was not enduring, of course, as the elder Hitler died suddenly in 1903. In 1897, the family had moved once more to a location near Linz on the Danube. Since his father had singled him out for a technical career, Adolf was sent to a state secondary school. There, young Adolf Hitler’s interest in academic matters began to wane.10 Once his father had died, Hitler was at home with four women—his mother, an aunt, a female lodger, and his sister Paula. In 1904, Hitler transferred to another school in Steyer. This institution was located fifteen miles from his residence. In this new school his grades slipped. There is nothing unusual in this circumstance. Many examinations of American school systems have noted the adverse impact on children uprooted from an educational situation they liked, to be placed in unfamiliar surroundings. Claiming an illness, Hitler left school in 1905. In fact, it appears that the actual reason for Hitler’s leaving school was his failing grades. Even in geography and history, which he later claimed as “favorite subjects,” he received mediocre marks. He dropped out of school to spend the next two years in Linz, drifting, writ- ing poetry, drawing, going to the theater, and daydreaming. Much about the life he lived in those days is revealed to us by August Kubizek. Kubizek was a friend and companion. Kubizek tells us that Hitler was a dreamer, a young man who always selected fantasy over reality. He envisioned in his realm of daydreams redesigning and reconstructing cities. He developed grandiose plans for completely rebuilding the city of Linz. Kubizek testified that Hitler actu- ally came to believe that he had finished projects never even started.11 He also became impa- tient, cranky, and irritable if contradicted. 32 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 His outbursts of temper rather naturally ensured he would have few friends beyond Kubizek. During his stay in Linz, he thus dreamed of becoming a great painter or architect. He also read a great deal. But his consumption of literary works revealed his lack of formal education. He read bits of this and that. He later claimed to have read Schopenhauer, Niet- zsche, and Schiller. If he looked at these, he likely did not read them but only glanced through them. He appears not to have been capable of examining ideas objectively. Like many another uneducated person with pretensions, he left the work of serious authors to spend his time with fanciful and distorted pieces of writing. In fact, Hitler was developing an almost uni- versal characteristic of the radical Right in any Western culture; he had a pigeon-hole mind, turning to the printed page to confirm a bias already held. Since Hitler wanted to make his mark as a great artist in the world, he looked to Vienna instead of Linz. Not even his mother’s operation for breast cancer in January of 1907 could deflect him from the notion that that he must pursue artistic greatness. In the summer of 1907, his mother gave him enough money from his father’s estate to support him as an art student in Vienna. Hitler moved to Vienna only to face failure when he took the entrance examination. He was apparently crushed by this rejection. The rector of the academy told him that he had little aptitude for painting and that what talent he had was better suited to archi- tecture.12 Despite this setback, Hitler swore to retake the examination in the fall of 1908. As this transpired, he was forced to rush home, as his mother was dying. A radical mastectomy in January of 1907 had done nothing to arrest her cancer. Soon after his arrival, Hitler’s remaining parent died and he was prostrate with grief. Now alone, young Hitler faced a world around him which might well pose dire threats.13 Initially, his share from his father’s inheritance, added to an orphan’s pension from the state, amounted to a respectable sum. It took him some time to squander it through his aim- less and self-indulgent lifestyle. Only then did he come close to facing the fate he described in his vivid Mein Kampf account.14 Over the short term, he returned to Vienna and shared an apartment with Kubizek who was studying at the Conservatory of Music. In the autumn of 1908, he sat for an examination and failed again to qualify for entrance to the art academy. At this juncture, Kubuzek left Vienna for a brief period of military training. He returned to discover that Hitler had moved out without leaving a forwarding address. Between 1908 and 1913, Hitler’s movements are obscure. Once he exhausted his legacy, he lived in men’s hostels and cheap apartments. He managed to secure a marginal living. His only source of regular income was his orphan’s pension. This he shared with his sister Paula, but it amounted to barely enough for food. He therefore rented beds in private homes or sought shelter in the mass quarters available to the homeless of Vienna. In the summer, he slept in the open, in parks or under archways. When the weather turned cold, he sought refuge in a hostel for the homeless, operated, ironically, by contributions from a Jewish fam- ily.15 In this kind of life, Hitler mingled with desperate men who regarded daily existence as a kind of jungle where survival of the fittest was the basic rule. In late 1909, Hitler teamed up with a vagabond named Reinhard Hanisch. Hanisch became Hitler’s sales agent, hawking his “art.” Adolf produced a steady stream of small pictures, most of them copies of postcards or prints. In the summer of 1910, the partnership halted abruptly as Hanisch urged Hitler to produce more pieces. Hitler complained to the police that Hanisch had defrauded him of the income from two pictures. This complaint resulted in Hanisch’s arrest. Hanisch would later Three. The Appearance of Hitler 33 take his revenge by spreading false tales about Hitler once his former associate became promi- nent in politics. In turn, Hitler took his vengeance after the Anschluss with Austria. Hanisch was tracked down and killed on Hitler’s orders.16 Hitler displayed at this point a worldview born of poverty and disappointments. This view had three major components: Social Darwinism, anticommunism, and extreme anti–Semitism. The first of these he displayed on the streets of Vienna and in Mein Kampf: “He who does not want to battle in this world of eternal struggle does not deserve to be alive.”17 In this prewar Vienna sojourn Hitler was a declassed outsider, but he maintained views drawn from his middle-class background. Hitler’s reaction to proletarian ideology, Marxist or Social Democratic, was unbridled condemnation. Marxism he saw as a “pestilen- tial whore covered with the mask of social virtue and brotherly love.”18 His hatred of “the Jew” went beyond the usual prejudice of his time and became an irra- tional detestation. Although this was the case, evidence of why this was so is lacking. There was much ethnic discrimination in the prewar Austrian empire of some twenty separate nationalities. Germanic dislike for Slavs was nearly as great as that held for the Jews. Perhaps the intensification of this enmity resulted from a fear and resentment of Jews coming into Vienna escaping persecution in the East and competing with those native Austrians already there scratching out a marginal living. Young Hitler too, like many another racist in our own time, could associate personally with a Jew or other despised category of people without see- ing the contradiction in such behavior. He was fairly close to one Jew on a personal level. This man’s name was Josef Neuman, a companion also down on his luck and a frequenter of hos- tels.19 Hitler was much influenced by living in the central magnet of an empire with some twenty or more ethnic groups. Personal contacts with Jewish people much like himself did little to impede the development of his anti–Semitism. Hitler became a rabid and frequent reader of the various anti–Semitic tracts that appeared all over Vienna. He liked Lanz von Liebenfels’ Ostara, on sale in tobacco shops. He also maintained a collection of tabloids which provided nauseating articles on Jews and their supposedly perverted sexual attitudes. He was a particular fan of pan–German nationalist Georg Ritter von Schönerer, a favorite author of Hitler’s since having been introduced to his publications by an early teacher, Leopold Poetsch.20 In conjunction with the twisted ideas he absorbed, Hitler became aware of the growing presence of Jews on the streets of Vienna. In the years before World War I, those of the Jew- ish faith were nearly twenty-eight percent of the enrollment at the University of Vienna. These, however, were not the Jews arousing Hitler’s disgust. The traditional Viennese Jews were well assimilated. They looked and sounded very much like non–Jewish Austrians. Fuel- ing local anti–Semitism, a demographic movement transpired with large numbers of “East- ern Jews” moving into Vienna. Regardless of how down and out the inhabitants of the slum locations in Vienna were, they thought of themselves as German, Slavic, or even assimilated Jews and thus better than these new arrivals. What Hitler had in common with others is that he saw “intruding” Ostjuden as alien com- petitors. Hitler was perhaps more disturbed than most by the “Eastern Jew” and he came to see them as the cause of most of his problems. To Hitler and others of his ilk, Jews could never be Germans because they were “racially” different. These aliens were so different that they needed to be removed from German society. Hitler’s perception of the Jews as alien 34 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 beings was intensified by his belief that they smelled bad. How a Viennese down-and-outer, sleeping outside and seldom bathing, could have smelled anyone else is difficult to under- stand. Of course, the answer lies in an emotional reaction. Apparently, Hitler’s behavior was a common product of primitive ethnocentricity and he returned to it in Mein Kampf, claim- ing that the “smell of these caftan wearers often made me ill.”21 Like many of the racists of his day, Hitler learned from his pamphlets to use pseudo- biological terms. He regarded Jews as “leeches.” Like a leech, the Jews had grafted themselves onto a foreign body, in this case all human society. Hitler’s analysis of this situation was devel- oped over the years until it appeared full blown in Mein Kampf, where Hitler claimed that, in society, we always “find a little Jew, blinded by the sudden light, like a maggot in a rotten corpse.”22 The tendencies described have caused some psycho-historians to see Hitler as a “bor- derline personality.” In this view he was paranoid, with tendencies to fantasize about his sup- posed magical omnipotence. Such personality quirks, it has been held, would perhaps have made of him a man who behaved in selfish and narcissistic ways with phobias about filth.23 This, of course, does not explain why so many of Hitler’s generation appeared to have shared similar mental traits. There is little doubt that the young Hitler had the described character- istics. On the other hand, he and like-minded Germanophiles in Austria exhibited other traits which did not fit such a profile well. It is likely that Hitler did experience personality disor- ders which would, after having been exposed to the hard crucible of trench warfare, likely be categorized as some sort of sociopathic or antisocial behavior.24 More than that one cannot state with certainty. What is fairly certain is that his anti–Semitism and antisocial behavior were pretty much fully developed during the flophouse years in Vienna. In May of 1913, Hitler left Vienna and arrived in Munich to rent a small attic room from a tailor named Josef Popp. Despite the fact that he continued a solitary life, he saw Munich as far superior to Vienna. This was a city of ethnic solidarity, a city almost entirely made up of Germans. Despite being alone, Hitler clearly appears to have been euphoric about his new urban home. Munich also seemed the place to stimulate his artistic abilities. It was a city known for major developments in art and literature.25 By fluke, a considerable number of important historical personalities lived in prewar Munich. Lenin had spent part of his exile there. And he had lived on the same street where the young Hitler eventually rented a room, Schleissheimerstrasse. Four streets over, Oswald Spengler had lived, as a still obscure writer collecting material for his seminal work, The Decline of the West. There were many others, including the famous novelist Thomas Mann. Two famous Kaffehandliteraten (coffeehouse intellectuals) also lived in Munich before the war. One was Eric Muhsam, who loved to frighten the citizens of Munich with high- flown, vague rhetoric about liberating the downtrodden masses. The other was Kurt Eisner. Eisner was a small, unkempt man who told all who would listen that he was ready to help free people from the shackles of exploitive capitalism. His belligerent political style, imprac- tical at the same time it was utopian, caused respectable citizens to desire nothing more than to see him jailed or killed. Eisner seemed to fit the stereotype of the unwashed radical, the sort of man a respectable German loved to hate. Some said he looked like a shaggy dog. The son of a Jewish Berlin shop owner, he had come to Munich, after study at Berlin University, to work as a journalist. He became theater critic for a prominent socialist newspaper, the  ̈Münchener Post.”26 Three. The Appearance of Hitler 35 Hitler, for his part, moved through the excitement and glitter of prewar Munich like a shadow. Few actually remember him from that era. It is unlikely that he was alone in this cir- cumstance. The city drew young people with artistic and intellectual ambitions. Few of them made a mark either. His unimpressive paintings were produced in his attic room. He liked to paint pictures— the Hof bräuhaus, the Town Hall, and other local scenes— to sell them through Munich art dealers. His paintings from this period were almost always of buildings without people. This has drawn some to theorize that this was a result of his disdain for others. That is a theoretical leap. This pattern could just as easily have resulted from the fact that the human form is more difficult to render than straight-lined buildings. Only one prewar experience transpired which appeared to interrupt what was for him a pleasing life. In January of 1914, the Austrian authorities tracked down Hitler and charged him with evading military service.27 Hitler was persuasive in arguing that it was beyond his means to travel back to Linz and he was allowed a delay. Soon thereafter, he pled his poverty in a letter to authorities while maintaining he was anxious to serve in the Austrian army. He also asked if he could report in Salzburg, closer to Munich. He then went before Austrian authorities who rejected him as “too weak” for military duty, thus completing what was likely a hoax. The great irony here is that this is the same man, declared unfit for military service in February of 1914, who joyfully reported with other volunteers to join the German army when war was declared later the same year.28 He was in time to claim in a self-serving man- ner that he fell to his knees and thanked heaven for the war and the good fortune to live in such times.29 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. Its mem- bers 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 pre- cise instant at which the career of Adolf Hitler becomes possible.”30 Hitler was carried away by his excitement and rushed to enlist. Two weeks later he was in basic training. After only ten weeks, his regiment, the Sixteenth Bavarian Infantry Regi- ment (“the List”), was in combat. Hitler’s regiment had been sent down the Rhine in mid– October, then to Belgium by way of Aachen. On 29 October it went into action, suffering heavy losses. On 1 November 1918 Hitler was made a Lance Corporal.31 Although he was to serve with courage for the rest of the war, this was as high as he rose in the ranks. Perhaps this was because Hitler was a loner. Unlike his comrades, he received no mail from home. He appeared to many of his fellow soldiers to be overly zealous and too quick to curry favor with officers.32 While other soldiers relaxed, he gratuitously cleaned his equipment. One of them recalled later that he acted “as if we would lose the war if he were not on the job every minute.”33 War tends to form extraordinary bonds among men, but Hitler obviously did not build these bonds. Too much can be made of this. The description of his mind-set by his fellow soldiers probably did not differ much from those made of colleagues in other armies decid- ing to remain outside the world of comradely sentiments displayed by their brothers-in-arms. It was perhaps his desire to remain outside the bonds of soldierly comradeship that explains why he never received promotion to noncommissioned rank. The adjutant of his regiment, 36 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 Fritz Wiedemann, later testified in the docket at Nuremberg that Hitler was not promoted because his officers thought that he was a “Bohemian.” Apparently, his superiors believed him to be a good soldier without leadership qualities.34 Hitler’s bearing, reported Wiedemann, was unmilitary. He often dressed in a slovenly fashion and slouched. Most of the time he spoke little except when, in the pattern of his prewar days, some remark caused him to launch into a tirade.35 Moreover, Hitler apparently did not desire promotion.36 However limiting his quirks might have been, Hitler was more than willing to take on dangerous missions. He took part in over thirty battles and risked his life with sufficient fre- quency to be cited by officers. He earned the Iron Cross First Class near the end of the war. For Hitler, as for most young Germans, the war was the focal point around which the future would revolve. Many Germans lost their youthful idealism in the trenches. Others, like writer Ernst Jünger, glorified what was to some soldiers a terror-filled experience. Jünger wrote after the war that when one dies in combat “there is no lovelier death in the world.”37 Hitler and a number of others like him also displayed this attitude. He was to provide an opinion later that his time at the front was worth thirty years of university study. In a war where so many died, Hitler was relatively fortunate. He had been temporarily disabled by combat twice, first in the autumn of 1916 when wounded in the left thigh. The second time was in 1918, less than a month before the armistice, when he became a victim of a heavier-than-air gas discharged into the trenches. This gassing caused temporary blindness and he was returned home. He was recuperating from his injury when he received the shat- tering news in his hospital bed that the war had ended in defeat. It has been observed that the war redeemed Hitler from an aimless life to find a purpose. Of course, he was faced with the challenge after the war that bothered many of the despera- does; he needed to eternalize the meaning of the trenches. In the war, he found a surrogate home in the List Regiment. His new surrogate home was to be a political party. For many of the early Nazis there developed this tendency to install the sprit of the trenches in any man- ner possible in German political and social life. This meant it was necessary to extinguish class differences. This did not mean that they were Marxists. This was a notion born during the war and in part the result of government propaganda. This propaganda campaign, issu- ing from the imperial government during the 1914–1918 period, had it that class differences could be submerged in a common nationalism. Hitler was five months in fully recovering from his injuries. He was then sent to a reserve battalion in Munich. At this point, although momentous events appeared to be tearing apart the fabric of traditional Bavaria, Hitler was as yet politically uninvolved. In February of 1919, he volunteered for guard duty in a prisoner-of-war camp near the Austrian frontier. After only a month of this, he was returned to Munich when the camp closed. Munich was at that point in a state of upheaval. Bavaria had fallen under the disorganized leadership of Kurt Eis- ner. Eisner’s assassination in February 1919 ushered in a time of even greater confusion. This brief flurry of abnormal events resulted in the establishment of a short-lived leftist regime followed by a short-lived Soviet Republic in April. In May, Free Corps elements sent by Berlin overthrew this second regime and killed its leaders. All of this will be covered in greater detail in the interpolation that follows. Suffice it to indicate at this juncture that, for those who already had developed a fervent anti–Marxism, the series of events just described hardened their attitudes and made them a permanent part of their beliefs. As a fervent nationalist, Hitler, like many other returning veterans, temporarily found Three. The Appearance of Hitler 37 himself in a precarious position. But when the Red terror ended, he was eager to offer his services to a board of inquiry established to examine possible treachery within the army. His new work involved giving evidence on his fellow soldiers who perhaps had been “infected” with revolutionary fervor. He did his job of testifying so well that pleased military authori- ties assigned him to a course on proper civic thinking. In charge of the course was Captain Karl Mayr, head of the local army unit’s Department of Press and Propaganda. It was Mayr, with some of Hitler’s instructors, who discovered that the Austrian veteran owned compelling powers as a public speaker.38 What happened was that Hitler’s prewar tirades, and similar out- bursts in the trenches, were now being channeled for political purposes. Hitler’s talent so impressed his superiors that they made him an “instructional officer.” He was charged with indoctrinating his fellow soldiers with correct nationalistic ideas. For a time, Hitler’s influence through oratory was limited. Then, with the help of the army, he was given the opportunity of addressing much larger groups. His reputation blos- somed. One observer described his style thusly: “Hitler is a born demagogue; at a meeting his popular appeal compels his audience to listen to him.”39 In September of 1919, Hitler was assigned a new duty by Captain Mayr. He was to investigate an obscure new party (actually little more than a political discussion group) called the “ the German Workers’ Party.” This Deutsche Arbeiterpartei Partei (or DAP) held meetings and talked in the backrooms of small taverns about the usual combination of nationalistic, anti–Semitic, and anti-demo- cratic ideas. The men in Munich’s army headquarters viewed it positively. It was seen as yet another vehicle for use in spreading views held in the army’s local command circles. Hitler went to a DAP meeting and liked what he heard. After reporting to superiors, he returned for subsequent meetings on his own. He then joined the fledgling group and became a pop- ular speaker. In time, as part of a pattern of soldiers leaving the army because of treaty lim- itations, he left the military in order to devote his full energies to the DAP. Hitler liked to call his “granite foundation” psychological quirks and ideas developed during his down-and-out prewar years in Vienna and then Munich. The postwar Bavarian capital provided the setting where Hitler managed to merge with others displaying similar ideas. Interpolation I The Munich Matrix of Right Radicalism Between 1871 and 1914, the nature of European life was altered substantially. Industrial society promoted growing populations and the spreading of urban centers. Germany indus- trialized late, but rapidly. The organization of factory production in the Reich, as elsewhere, caused a concentration of people in cities. These cities also proliferated in number. Through- out Europe, with each passing year, proportionately fewer people remained in the country- side pursuing agricultural careers. Those who did stay in the agricultural sector were linked to cities more than before and were tied into national cultures by new transportation and communication networks. This all caused massive changes in political life. Mass move- ments made an appearance. Political parties developed as narrow interest groups. This forced the development of multi-party coalition-based systems. Demagogues appeared, shouting out messages in impromptu settings. Messages of a socialistic and Marxist bent attracted mass followings as did messages typified by antilabor, anti–Semitic and antiliberal themes. Propaganda, the ability to control the spread of information, became the avenue to suc- cess. Anti-Semitism in politics became a challenge in Austria. Socialism became the foil to established norms in Germany. And political scandals stirred the masses in France. As Munich grew after 1871, it gained a reputation as the most tolerant, democratic, and fun-loving city in Germany. In the popular mind, Munich meant baroque buildings, fine-art museums, and easygoing Gemütlichkeit. The atmosphere was such that it was easy to forget one was in Germany where urban centers were typified by authoritarianism and strutting mil- itarists. Perhaps Munich was so amiable because life there was shaped by a beer-hall culture. To many outside observers, it appeared that great beer halls like the Hofbräuhaus had been established in an atmosphere where little distinction appeared to exist between the local social classes mixing in their celebration of leisure time. This was, however, a mere surface impres- sion. Munich had experienced the same rapid population growth as the rest of Germany. Between 1880 and 1910, the population doubled. It was by 1910 a city of around 600,000 peo- ple. Most of them came from parts of Germany beyond Bavaria or from Eastern Europe. Around 1900, nearly half of the city’s population was not from Munich originally. And this was the capital of the most particularistic and xenophobic state in all Germany where resent- ment of all things “Prussian” was the order of the day. Moreover, rapid population growth 38 Interpolation I. The Munich Matrix of Right Radicalism 39 brought the usual urban ills seen elsewhere. Typically, municipal authorities could not organ- ize the services necessary to deal with exploding populations. Munich’s poor were forced to move about continually because of high-priced rentals. The upper levels of many buildings had in them small spaces transformed into rental units like the one Hitler lived in before the war. The expanding number of poor people caused a plague of begging and an increase in prostitution. There was a proliferation of open homo- sexuality, disturbing traditional and prudish Munich residents. There was organized pedophilia, resulting in a growing trade in young boys. Prewar Munich’s economy was in a state approaching upheaval. Small business, the tra- ditional backbone of the local economy, was challenged by the growth of a manufacturing base demanding new labor forces. Small shops run by artisans were transformed into little factories. Munich became typified by labor unrest. There were repeated strikes against employ- ers who hired cheaper foreign labor. In turn, threatened employers then banded together in protective associations which relied on cheap immigrant labor to fill the workplace. There were fewer strikes in the immediate postwar period, but primarily because employers became better organized. The animosities between classes remained and intensified. Workers had not made significant progress in Munich as the war began. This was reflected in politics. In 1887, Social Democracy arrived in Munich. The party quickly began to grow and gained seats in the Bavarian state parliament. Along with the growth of Social Democ- racy, at the other end of the spectrum, there appeared political anti–Semitism. Cultural and political anti–Semitism thus developed, although there was much less of a Jewish population to react against than had been the case in Hitler’s Vienna. Bavarian Social Democrats tended to be more moderate than the party nationally, so much so in fact that they were popularly called “his majesty’s loyal SPD.” For quite some time, the phenomenon of anti–Semitism was not as intense in Munich as in prewar Vienna. But then few places in Europe before World War I were typified by the intense anti–Semitism of Vienna. The most significant cause of the upsurge of anti–Semi- tism in Munich in the immediate prewar period was Jewish population growth. As in Vienna, although tiny in comparison with Viennese numbers, an influx of Eastern Jews moved into Munich, fleeing persecution. The established Jewish community in Munich, although noticed because of their seeming overconcentration in the professions, was not readily distinguish- able from the rest of the city’s population. But the Eastern Jews were. As Social Democracy entered organized politics, so did anti–Semitism. In December of 1891, a group calling itself “the German Social Union” registered with the police as an anti–Semitic party. As was common in Munich, a small newspaper appeared and was soon aligned with the movement. The emerging political anti–Semitism made common cause with Pan-Germanism. Munich had the largest group enrolled in the Pan-German League of any city by 1900. This transpired in a city also typified by strong sentiments for separatism. Munich was a city in flux and people imbibed of the various socio-political brews available there. Men like Hitler, whose ideological constructs continued to develop in small attic rooms, dreamed radical dreams. These sorts of personalities were described by author Thomas Mann in his story “At the Prophets” (1904): “Strange regions there are, strange minds.... At the edge of large cities, where streetlamps are scarce ... are houses where you can mount no further, up into attics under the roof, where pale young geniuses, criminals of the dream, sit with 40 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 folded arms and brood.... Here reign defiance ... the ego supreme ... here freedom, madness, and death hold sway.”1 Despite the societal fault lines mentioned, Munich rejoiced in 1914 when the guns of August sounded. That Munich developed war fervor should provide no surprise. Since Bis- marck’s armies had unified Germany in 1871, military enthusiasm had become a part of Munich’s atmosphere along with the frivolity of its beer barns. As one observer wrote in 1914: “They are glad to fight for king and fatherland.”2 However, once the war began, government spokesmen had continually demanded unqualified support for it. Then signs of disarray began to show across the Reich. Particularly was this true after 1916. A stalemated conflict appeared where thousands of men fought raging battles with massive losses of life and only a few miles of front would move one way or the other. Moreover, this protracted war had commenced to cause suffering at home. While mounting disillusionment was almost universal in Germany from 1916, it became particularly intense in Munich. Those living there between 1914 and 1918 came to believe that their suffering was greater than in other parts of Germany. It seemed worse than in favored “Prussia” (a term sometimes used to refer to almost all of Germany north of Bavaria). It was true that, in Munich, the war had greatly accelerated social and economic change. Weapons factories had appeared there for the first time. A larger workforce was required to operate these and thousands of laborers came from the rest of Germany. Eventually, many of these outsiders became part of leftist insurrections after the war ended. Replacing men sent to the front, women began to be called to the factories unprecedentedly. Over 9,000 women were in Munich factory jobs by 1917.3 Such changes in the gender composition of the work force were unpleasant for many and seemed to mean an end to the old Munich. There were many bankruptcies and mounting unemployment. The war also dramatically exacerbated Munich’s housing shortage. To add to the housing problem, food shortages were widespread. Munich city government began rationing food in May of 1915 and constantly added items to the scarcity list.4 Food distribu- tion nationally was coordinated by a large bureaucratic structure in Berlin called the “War Food Office.” This caused constant complaints in Munich about food being produced in Bavaria only to be carried away to the north. With foodstuffs in short supply, the people in Munich, like other Germans, were forced to consume ersatz supplies. Most of these were less than appetizing. Most serious for many who frequented the great beer barns was the fact that their “beer” was dosed with water. According to one witness, after consuming some ersatz foodstuffs, “people [began to] collapse, feel sick, [and] grew desperate.”5 In June of 1916, the first of a series of wartime food protests transpired. This featured people milling in the street and denouncing local authorities as “Prussian Lackeys.”6 It was rumored that King Ludwig of Bavaria had shipped milk from a model royal dairy northward to reap large profits. Bavarian hops were widely rumored to have been exported there as well, thus lessening the local supply. In the summer of 1917, it was rumored that Ludwig was so unpopular that he had fled to Saxony. All these rumors were untrue, but they led to the widely held impression that Ludwig was a stooge of Berlin’s Saupreussen (“Prussian Pigs”). The costs of the war elevated. And it became common in Munich to blame the Bavarian government for dragging the local people into a conflict they had not wanted. The people of Munich had obviously forgotten the wild celebration in the Odeonsplatz in August of 1914. Soon enough, in response to deprivations caused by the war, the first pacifist Interpolation I. The Munich Matrix of Right Radicalism 41 flyers appeared. These sheets were handed out in the streets and were pasted on walls or kiosks. They called the war a great “swindle.” By 1917, the “Independent Social Democratic Party,” or USPD, had made its appearance in Munich. And it came under the control of the suddenly and surprisingly politically prominent Kurt Eisner.7 The rise to prominence of Eisner coincided with the end of the war. Out of the volatile mix of emotions that was Munich at war’s end came a revolution which preceded the rest of Germany by thirty-six hours. It began on the Thereisenwiese, the traditional site of the Okto- berfest. It commenced as an ordinary beer festival with a political slant. Those who appeared as speakers were pacifist intellectuals. Eisner was prominent among them. Most represented the USPD. The speeches given blamed the war on Germany and announced that independ- ent socialists had broken with the mainstream Social Democrats led by Erhard Auer. The demonstration was about to become a silent protest march into the city when one of Eisner’s followers, waving a red flag, jumped on stage and shouted: “Off to the barracks! Long live the Revolution!” Within a few hours, without a shot fired, Eisner’s group had occupied bar- racks, ministries, and the parliament building. King Ludwig III fled Munich into exile. Eisner’s governing effort went badly. On 21 February 1919 he was on his way to the par- liament to resign after an election defeat when a young army officer (Count Anton Arco–Val- ley) stepped from a doorway and shot him. Eisner died immediately. Within an hour, in retribution, an Eisner follower stormed into the parliament building firing shots. This opened the way to yet another revolution.8 Eisner’s funeral was held on 26 February 1919. The day before, the “Congress of Bavarian Councils” had met for a while in the parliament building. During this period, elsewhere in Germany, workers and veterans from the front pro- claimed conciliar republics. There were general strikes in Thuringia and Leipzig. In the Bavar- ian Diet a number of radical proposals were brought forward. The leader of the radical Left was Max Levien. The news of Eisner’s willingness to resign and have his government step down, followed by his assassination, inspired hard-core Communists to leap into the breach. Local Reds formed a Munich chapter of the Spartacus League. The Spartacists transformed themselves nationally into the German Communist Party (KPD). The KPD’s sudden promi- nence on Bavarian soil was the work of Levien. Levien was a Russian-born disciple of Lenin’s who had escaped to Germany after the 1905 Russian revolution’s failure. He became a Ger- man citizen and served in the army during World War I. After the war, he chaired the ini- tially unimportant Munich Soldiers’ Council. During the week after Eisner’s “revolution,” a network of councils had appeared in Bavaria. There were peasants’ councils in the countryside and a pyramid of workers’ coun- cils in urban settings. In all, during November, seven thousand conciliar organizations, some quite tiny and some larger, appeared in Bavaria. For a time, a workers-and-soldiers council had come into being in Augsburg and controlled that partially industrialized center located north of Munich. Max Levien moved to seize the leadership of this mix of organizations. Levien, despite his name, was not Jewish. He actually was descended from French Huguenot immigrants who came to Russia escaping the persecutions of Louis XIV. Despite this her- itage, the Right made anti–Semitic charges against him. As early as Eisner’s admission that he could no longer form a government, Levien had called for a permanent Soviet Republic. As Eisner’s funeral was announced, Levien was calling openly for a “second revolution.” On the eve of the funeral, some five thousand of the Radical Left assembled in a Munich beer barn to cheer the reading of a five-point program demanding a permanent cessation of all 42 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 functions of the Bavarian parliament, proclamation of a Bavarian Soviet Republic, diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, arming of the workers, and formation of a Red Army. When the Bavarian Congress convened, a motion that Bavaria he transformed into a Socialist Soviet Republic was soundly defeated. Max Levien and another USPD representative immediately resigned from the council’s deliberative body. A few hours later the radical Left issued calls for a protest rally. Early on 1 March 1919 several thousand demonstrators appeared on the Thereisenstrasse. Violence ensued, followed by days of moderate-radical negotiation. Even- tually, an unstable government under moderate socialist leader Johannes Hoffman appeared. While the Hoffman government struggled with the economic situation, tremors of activ- ity from elsewhere in Europe reached Munich. Vienna sent out feelers signaling a desire to discuss a possible Anschluss with Germany, then withdrew them. In early March, Lenin had begun the Communist International (Comintern) in Moscow. Moscow soon sent word to Munich that it was not in the best interests of international Communism for the radical Left in Munich to cooperate with the mainstream Social Democrats. In Budapest on 22 March 1919, Communists under Bela Kun overthrew a parliamentary government and set up a Soviet regime. The revolutionary tide in Europe, beginning with the Bolsheviks in Russia during 1917 and coming to states like Hungary, seemed to be rushing westward. Elsewhere in Ger- many, the government in Berlin had found it necessary to use troops to smash a general strike in the Ruhr. Prompted in part by all these events, and by intense Bavarian internal pressures resulting from a nearly Arctic winter, beer-hall meetings promoted radicalism nightly.9 The situation caused moderate Social Democratic leader Johannes Hoffmann to recall the parliament. Before much could be done to reconstitute that body, various of the councils merged in Augsburg to discuss courses of action for the radical Left. The councils endorsed enthusiastically a Bavarian conciliar republic, an alliance for the nation with Communist Rus- sia, and another with Bela Kun’s Hungary. There were various other radical measures issued, among them, a call for a Bavarian general strike. A delegation was then sent from Augsburg to Munich to negotiate with the Hoffmann regime. But Hoffmann had taken the train for Berlin to consult with the central government. Remaining officials in Munich would not negotiate with the councils. A power vacuum devel- oped into which the radical Left moved. Another meeting produced a demand to eliminate all political parties and the proclamation of a Soviet Republic. On 6–7 March 1919, arrange- ments were finalized for the First Soviet Republic in Bavaria.10 This new left-wing government was never fully in control of Bavaria, but only ruled over Munich and an area immediately around it, including Augsburg. The vast majority of people in Munich remained in stunned silence as this group of “foreigners” took over. The Hoffman government simply moved to Bamberg. It claimed still to be “the single possessor of power in Bavaria.” Ernst Toller, at twenty-five probably the youngest head of state in Ger- man history, was proclaimed the new chief executive of Bavaria. Toller was a businessman’s son from East Prussia who had been invalided out of the army in 1916. He became active in a student peace movement at Heidelberg University and wrote antiwar poems. He joined the Bavarian Left at war’s end.11 This was a regime which faced major obstacles from the outset. On 9 April 1919 leaflets were dropped by planes flying over Munich. These came from the Hoffmann regime in Bam- berg. The leaflets had it that the farmers in north Bavaria had suspended food deliveries to the capital. Meanwhile the short-lived first Soviet Republic was increasingly opposed by hard- Interpolation I. The Munich Matrix of Right Radicalism 43 line Communists. Militants poured out of the factories denouncing the new government’s lack of purpose and calling for the Communists to take control. By 11 April 1919, Munich was a scene of confusion. Newly printed paper money was held to be worthless and, by 13 April, there was gunfire in the streets between workers and soldiers of the First Infantry Regiment. Of course, veterans from World War I were present on both sides and the weapons they used were ones brought home with them. Moreover, Munich had many stockpiles of weapons stored in the basements of various buildings, even monasteries. Some of these stockpiles were still available as late as the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. The putative heads of the Second Bavar- ian Soviet Republic met at the Hofbräuhaus and proclaimed the new regime. A new admin- istration was installed under Eugen Leviné.12 Leviné was born in St. Petersburg into a family of emancipated Russian Jews. After his father’s death, Leviné had moved to Germany with his mother. As part of his university courses, he had been involved in Russian studies and had returned there to participate in the 1905 rising. After the collapse of the revolutionary movement in that year, he was sentenced to imprisonment. He was released in 1908 and returned to Germany. He later joined the Spar- tacus League in Berlin. He was sent to Bavaria to take of the Communist Party there. Once the second Soviet Republic had been established, a Red Army (consisting of armed factory workers) replaced a disbanded police force. It became common at this juncture to refer to the regime in control as “Reds” and to those who opposed it as “Whites.” On 16 April there was a Red-White firefight in Dachau. Counterrevolutionary forces began to organize outside Munich and there were further clashes. There were atrocities committed by both sides. The White force assembled at Dachau had in it hardened desperadoes and they shot down without cause some twenty medical orderlies and eight surrendered Red soldiers. Most infamously, the Reds executed ten people by firing squad, including the Countess Westarp. This killing was the direct result of the White atrocities at Dachau which had caused Red sol- diers to ask superiors if they could take revenge. Permission was granted and the victims were rounded up and brought to courtyard of the Luitpold gymnasium. In pairs, they were placed against a wall and shot. The news of this horrific event spread quickly and, by midday of 1 May, the killings had become public knowledge. There were protest meetings all over the city, and firefights erupted. The Luitpold event moved up a White timetable to move on Munich and dislodge the Second Soviet regime. The Whites had decided to move on 2 May. They now advanced the attack to May Day. It was held to be just and proper that they were moving into the capital on the traditional workers’ holiday. As the Whites took Munich, atrocities appeared seem- ingly everywhere. All White killings were said to be justified by the Luitpold executions. The Luitpold killings had also had a demoralizing impact on Red troops not involved but who had heard of them. They began throwing down their arms, as the Whites entered the city to encounter scant opposition.13 The Munich political scene, immediately after the demise of the Red Republics, was pro- foundly altered. The disappearance of the two republics resulted in an atmosphere changed lastingly. It is to be noted that the two Soviet republics were shaped, as would be Hitler’s move- ment, largely in the beer halls of Munich. This beer-hall phenomenon was based on prewar tendencies from the nineteenth century. During this earlier time, to the outside observer, the beer-hall scene was classless and democratic.14 However, beneath this boisterous surface, was another aspect of beer-hall life. There were frequent brawls and riots. Beer steins were thrown 44 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 and swung. Made of heavy earthenware, they were formidable weapons. These conflicts were often sparked by ideological disagreements. The great halls saw orators of all political stripes. And commonly their remarks would lead to open conflict. This was the heritage which car- ried over into the scene after the war. As the White Terror began to subside, Munich returned to a superficial normality. But the atmosphere in Munich was not the same. The period of revolutionary chaos had led to community life featuring a kind of electric tension. There was bitterness, apprehension, and a widespread expectation of more upheaval. The population was in full reaction to the Soviet regimes and appeared ready to listen to reactionary views from nearly any source on the Right. Munich appeared now ready to interpret the turmoil of the immediate past as the unavoid- able product of “aliens” come from outside Bavaria to arrive in Munich and disturb its tran- quility.15 The darker dimensions of Munich’s prewar society now came to the fore (racism, calls for Bavarian separation from the rest of Germany, and the enshrining of extreme voices). There emerged a mix of rightist groups nearly as confusing as the mix of conciliar organiza- tions. Generally these groups are called völkisch. This is a nearly untranslatable term with overtones of hyper-nationalism of a definitely anti–Semitic type mixed with the idea of “root- edness” (the notion that only those of pure blood are truly rooted in Germanic soil). Nazism was to be one of these movements. One major difference between Nazism and these other groups was that most had originated outside Bavaria and what became National Socialism was a native movement of that state.16 Conditioning the Munich welter of discontent was the fact that, on 9 May 1919, the vic- torious Allies announced the terms of the Versailles Treaty. Its perceived harsh nature raised an outcry in Munich beyond that heard elsewhere. The most important, but certainly not the only, grievance in Munich with the treaty was that the Allies demanded some reparations in grain and hops. This seemed but yet another drain on Bavaria’s resources. Moreover, Bavar- ian particularism with this set of stimuli reappeared in full force. The Social Democratic Hoff- mann government had been reinstalled. Particularists now charged Hoffmann with being an anti–Bavarian culprit for his association with those who had penned a much-disliked Weimar constitution that had not protected Bavarian rights.17 Munich continued to be a city in ferment and an armed camp. The army could not maintain order because it was in flux. Men were urged out of its ranks as the Republic adjusted to the limitations on military strength imposed at Versailles. The Hoffmann government gave its blessing to “Civil Guards,” composed of ex-soldiers. But the Guards felt accountable only to their own leaders. Munich was still littered with stockpiles of weapons, some of which probably came directly from the German army, now called the Reichswehr. Arms reported to the Allies as destroyed had been spirited away to various rightist groups including the Guards. The Guards’ commander, Georg Escherich, presided over an organization which came to have in it some 300,000 members. Thirty thousand of them were within the city limits of Munich. Despite claims of nonpoliticization, the Civil Guards reached out to similarly inclined groups. Escherich directed an umbrella organization which eventually came to be called “Orka.” This group worked its way into Western Austria and as far away as the Ukraine.18 It is apparent that the upsurge of the masses building in all Germany was especially intense in Munich. In Munich there had been a surge from the Left and now there was a surge from the Right. But the total socio-political picture there was still composed of various dif- Interpolation I. The Munich Matrix of Right Radicalism 45 fering parts floating about seeking a channel to the future. What was needed was an inaugu- rator of reform, a figure or a movement to coalesce disparate elements. It was a time calling out for a movement into which all things flow and from which all things emerge. A metaphor to describe this need might be a bundle of varicolored threads drawn through a ring, twisted in passing through, so that every thread emerges on the other side with the pattern changed lastingly. Given the tendencies to list toward the right in Munich, the movement could have been produced by any one of various shades of rightist opinion. But the ring through which the threads of history were drawn in this south German state was to be formed by the Nazis. Chapter Four The Infancy Of Nazism (1919–1923) Between November 1918 and May 1919, a political breakdown produced in Bavaria a power vacuum that established an opening to the left followed quickly by opposition on the right. The extreme Left had occupied a momentary opening vowing, “The Revolution will not allow itself to be voted down.”1 The Left made good on its threat, but the counterrevo- lutionary Right had the last say. The major focal point of White activities in Bavaria had been the army headquarters in Munich. In that headquarters, Colonel Ritter von Epp commanded the remnants of a Bavarian “Life Guard,” a local militia called to active duty during the war. Before the war, he had been in Southwest Africa participating in the earlier described geno- cidal assault on a native people called the Hereros, punished for disobedience to their Ger- man masters. The Hereros were practically wiped out by 1911.2 During World War I, Epp was appointed to command the Bavarian Life Guard. This was an elite commando unit. Because of his Life Guard activities, he received the highest Bavar- ian decoration, the Max-Josef Ritterorden (which also made him a nobleman). During the rising of the Left, Munich became too unstable for the orderly operation of Epp’s counter- revolutionary paramilitary activity. Epp transferred his theater of operations outside Bavaria and established a Free Corps in Thuringia. It was placed under the command of the Ministry of Defense as were other desperado units springing up to form a loose coalition of fighters without political affiliation. With Epp in Thuringia was Captain Ernst Röhm, a battle-scarred man who had proven a daredevil at the front. Röhm, like Epp, belonged to the military caste. This specialized order felt threatened with extinction in Bavaria by the rise of the Soviets. Both Röhm and Epp believed that there was only one way to deal with the revolutionary Left and that was to anni- hilate it. Both men also considered the possibility that the German middle-class might have become “infected” by parliamentary liberal ideals. They were ready to wage war on both left- ists and moderates. Röhm was the scion of a family of Bavarian civil servants. But he distanced himself from that background to become a risk-taking soldier, rising to the rank of captain. In the course of four year’s fighting he was wounded several times. He had a deep bullet scar on one cheek. He was short and sturdy, with a ruddy complexion, a swashbuckling manner, and an obvi- ous fondness for good-looking young men. He, like others, felt betrayed by the government’s surrender at war’s end and came to blame the “November Criminals” in Berlin for Germany’s 46 Four. The Infancy of Nazism (1919–1923) 47 defeat. Another major focus of the counterrevolutionary movement was the Thule Society. (Countess Westarp’s membership in the Thule Society put her against that wall in Munich). This was a conspiratorial and racist organization. The society grew out of the “Germanic Order” which had been founded in prewar Munich. It took the name “Thule” in 1918, after a legendary, pure Germanic order which supposedly had vanished into the dim mists of time.3 The headquarters of the society was in the fashionable Hotel Vierjahrzeiten, where the group rented meeting rooms. Membership depended upon proving “Aryan descent.” Just how one did that with accuracy was not well defined. Perhaps this was because the völkisch ideological community was awash in differing definitions of what it mean to be Aryan.4 The Thule society spawned many of the pioneers of the Nazi movement. Among them were Diet- rich Eckardt, editor of an anti–Semitic journal and mentor of Hitler; Alfred Rosenberg, des- tined to become Nazism’s official “philosopher”; Gottfried Feder, a somewhat economically confused “financial expert”; Hans Frank, Hitler’s future lawyer; Rudolf Hess, eventually Deputy Führer; and Father Bernhard Stemple, who helped Hitler write Mein Kampf. In the winter of 1918, Rudolf von Sebattendorf (Adam Glauer), another Thule member, became interested in a new political club calling itself the “Free Workers Committee for a Good Peace.” This informal group of workers had been founded in Munich during March 1918 by Anton Drexler, a toolmaker in the Munich railroad works. Sebattendorf saw an oppor- tunity to use this small circle as a means to convert other German workers to the cause of the völkisch movement. Sebattendorf suspected that many German workers would not defect to Communism because their loyalty to the nation was stronger than their allegiance to class.5 In October 1918, Sebattendorf instructed Karl Harrer, a sports journalist and Thule Society member, to combine forces with Drexler in a “political worker’s circle.”6 Shortly thereafter, this small club became the Deutsche Arbeiter Partei (DAP). The initial program for this “German Workers’ Party” was promoted by the slow-wit- ted Drexler. Anton Drexler meant to save the workers of Germany from international Com- munism. He imagined a pure Germanic state, purged of all “alien” forces. In truth this club was simply another beer-hall debating society with a vague program and an ill-defined agenda. Like other rightist associations with grandiose names, it had difficulty maintaining even a small membership. While the two Red republics held sway, Drexler had a hard time of it, barely escaping a firing squad of Red guards.7 The defeat of the Communists allowed the DAP to operate in public and to recruit. At this point, in spite of its small size, the “party” had impor- tant contacts like Ludendorff, through a friend of the general’s. Ludendorff had left Germany briefly after the defeat of 1918. He returned, memoirs in hand, to reside in a villa near Munich.8 What was required at this point was to make the DAP something more than a debating society. Every political group noticed in Munich possessed a fiery beer-hall orator to draw in crowds. The DAP considered Hermann Esser, a talented rabble rouser, to fill this role. Esser, some held, might just provide the spark to ignite the proper fires. After the war, Esser had become involved in beer-hall politics. He was cunning and quite unscrupulous. Konrad Hei- den, perhaps the first serious historian of Nazism, described him as the prototypical Nazi— crude, brutal, without morality, and callous.9 Esser, like Hitler and Joseph Goebbels to come later, had a gift for making vivid phrases. But Esser was disqualified as the potential firebrand the DAP needed. He seemed far too selfish. He was not likely to attract members in the num- bers required. What this party waited upon was what Bruce Mazlish has termed the “revolutionary 48 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 ascetic.” Such zealots, once they have seen the “light,” are galvanized into a kind of contin- uous action typified by intense charisma. The masses are soon converted to the ideology pro- fessed. In everyday life the revolutionary ascetic appears to be immune to the usual human problems. Leaders of this kind are sometimes perceived as somewhat godlike within their movements.10 It happened that Adolf Hitler, not Esser, possessed enough of these qualities to fill the role. When Hitler joined the party in September of 1919, he was shocked by the beer-hall slovenliness that characterized business procedures. He was also disturbed by the lack of proper authority as the organization seemed to be so casually democratic in nature. This was because the DAP was still a club. After Hitler came, he set to work with feverish energy, send- ing out invitations to meetings, building lists of potential members, and personally seeking support. All of this disenchanted some of the older members, content as they were with mem- bership in an obscure political club. Because it was required that they move into the big beer barns where the SPD and Bavarian separatists operated, some accused Hitler of delusions of grandeur.11 People move into mass movements when times are bad. Times were very bad in Munich even after martial law had been removed and the state government was brought back. Inse- curity for the local populace was heightened as economic distress became the order of the day. A close handmaiden of this distress was social dislocation. Prices continued to soar because of the scarcity factor. Inflation was rampant. But it seemed especially difficult in Munich. The city had within it a high percentage of vulnerable groups such as small businessmen, civil servants, white-collar workers, and retired people on fixed incomes. One product of this situation which opened the way for the DAP was a wave of anti–Semitic agitation produced by socio-economic distress. There were attacks on Jews who were said by the attackers to be responsible for increases in profiteering. Moreover, the tri- als of Reds accused of participating in the Luitpold gymnasium took place in the fall of 1919. The six defendants were found guilty and executed immediately. This very public trial and sentence helped heighten animosity toward the Left with a linking of these views, illogically, with anti–Semitism. There were calls for the immediate deportation of all Eastern Jews. While this transpired, Hitler argued with the old guard at the DAP that now was the time to move into the beer barns. This argument continued until finally Hitler won a vic- tory. A party meeting was held with an audience of nearly 2,000 attending. Hitler was not billed as the main speaker, but in the Hofbräuhaus on 24 February 1920 he got his chance. When he rose to speak he was confronted by loud opposition and fighting on the floor of the hall resulted. This was represented in Mein Kampf as a unique situation. It was hardly that. Hitler claimed as he wrote about it that he alone mastered the uproar. He then secured agree- ment from the floor to change the name of the party to the National Socialist German Work- ers Party (or NSDAP). It was abbreviated soon enough to “Nazi” from the sound of the title in German and perhaps in response to the Socialists’ long-term use of “Sozi” as shorthand for “member of the SPD.” As the writ of Nazism continues, Hitler announced the twenty-five points of the party’s “unchangeable” program through an up-or-down vote.12 According to later Nazi hagiogra- phy, this mass meeting was the equivalent of Luther’s presentation of his ninety-five theses for debate at Worms. Whatever happened at the meeting, Hitler painted a great success for himself. Contemporary press accounts based on police reports do not bear out the significance Four. The Infancy of Nazism (1919–1923) 49 of this event. But within the narrow universe of the NSDAP as it existed at that time, it does appear to have been a decisive moment. Shortly after this speech Hitler was discharged from the army, but he did maintain links with his old comrades. After this, Hitler became a full-time agitator, finding such support as he could while living, like the proper revolutionary ascetic, in a single poorly furnished room. It is clear, from what he said to many around him, that Hitler wanted to mobilize the masses in the service of the radical Right. He had only scorn for conservative nationalists who remained separated from the broad ranges of the German social order by class barriers. He also disliked the small racist societies because they only spoke to each other in tiny groups. Hitler had looked long and hard at the Social Democratic Party during his Vienna days and its use of mass followings. He wanted to establish the rightist equivalent. A week after the Hofbräuhaus “triumph,” Hitler’s wish to make the name change invoked in the mass meeting permanent was agreed upon in a party leadership conference. The term “National Socialist” was hardly new in that it was used by groups in Germany and Austria before the war. Hitler’s insistence on the name may have been a simple attempt to confuse workers, who might normally have opted for socialism. The party’s next step was to use Hitler as their main attraction to bring in the crowds and enroll them in Nazi ranks. The Party also commenced to create “locals” outside of Munich.13 In December of 1920, a newspaper was obtained in the manner of many small Rightist groups which had preceded the fledgling Nazis. It became in time the Völkischer Beobachter (loosely translated, the “Racist Observer”). By this juncture, Hitler had become the propa- ganda chief of the party. It fell to him to determine the editorial policy of its newspaper. Despite the earlier mentioned demand from some quarters that the “Eastern Jew” be deported, there were additional persecutions in Eastern Europe and refugees continued to flow into Munich. Along with them came East European Christians. These immigrants were lumped together in the popular mind despite their religious differences. Such refugees automatically sunk to the lowest social levels.14 As a result of popular attitudes, there were attacks on the Easterners in the press. Often these were anti–Semitic in character. To some extent, the more respectable press criticized the bizarre stories appearing in the racist media. A mainstream German newspaper denounced a story appearing in one racist sheet. The story had it that some 200 children were missing from the city. It was offered that these children had likely been butchered by Jews and the flesh used to make wurst.15 This story was actually a variation of an old folk tale, likely dat- ing back to the Middle Ages. Like similar fables collected by the Brothers Grimm, this story was an old cannibalistic folk story. All of this was not lost on the various racist-nationalist groups in Germany. The early Nazis quickly became aware that such gutter-level messages satisfied some. The tendency to ape such material appeared in Hitler’s speeches during 1920. Hitler, like other rabble-rousers of the Right, used them to stir paranoia. He presented lists of those plotting to sabotage the German nation. Among these were capitalists, Bolsheviks, black marketeers, profiteers, and unspecified anti–German conspirators. Hitler’s displayed racism was extended beyond Jews to include Africans. One way of demonstrating how vengeful the French were was for him to hold that they had put African troops from their colonial empire into the Rhineland. They did this, he said, so that these “sub-humans” could rape white women. When the war ended, the French had moved back to Alsace-Lorraine, lost to them in 1871. Hitler talked of the shame 50 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 involved for Strasbourg where church bells had tolled for two hours to celebrate French vic- tory. It was promised that they would one day ring for three hours when the French were thrown out.16 What Hitler offered in 1920 meetings differed little from what he believed while still in Austria. Germany, he said, was surrounded by malevolent powers set on destroying the Father- land. His proof was the Allied appropriation of livestock, ships, and coal through reparations. He accused Clemenceau of saying malevolently that there were “twenty million Germans too many.” This was the justification for the “stealing” of “German food” by the Allies.17 Hitler was like many of the orators on the Right in that he kept his diatribes uncompli- cated. England, Hitler said, controlled world commerce. While London exported merchan- dise, Germany had to export people who were wage slaves for other countries.18 He talked generally about politics, calling it only a means to an end. That end was the flourishing of Germany’s people. The form of government that accomplished this was not important. The only question was what was best for the Volk. Hitler continually compared and contrasted prewar Germany with its order, cleanliness, and precision with the disorderly Germany of the 1920s. Hitler’s speeches from his early days as an orator were racist “wisdom” interlaced with attacks on Versailles. Hitlerian principles had also been included in the party program. The treaties of Versailles and St. Germaine had to be abrogated as soon as possible. Only real Ger- mans should be allowed citizenship in the Reich. These were defined as people of “pure blood.” The Jew could not be a German even if he or his ancestors had converted to Christianity. Only those who worked deserved incomes. War profits should be confiscated by the Reich. A “peo- ple’s army” should be built nationally. Hitler was gathering a following with all this. He did not suggest answers for problems, but his strength was in the keen discernment of the biased views and grievances shaping the views of those who listened to him. The result of his approach was that increased numbers came into the party. On 22 January 1921, the party assembled for its initial national congress in Munich. Hitler appears to have been carried away by his apparent successes. But, of course, the Nazi Party was still only one of many similar organizations. Many rival groups in Bavaria had equal or greater strength. The party was about 3,000 strong. It had become respectable on the Right. Julius Streicher led a branch of the similarly racist German Socialist Party in Nuremberg. Otto Dickel directed a branch of the same party in Augsburg. This “socialism” had nothing to do with the SPD but rather was yet another part of the broad völkisch movement. Hitler hoped eventually to establish a homogeneous party organized along military lines. As his confidence in his own leadership abilities grew, he tried increasingly to shape Nazism in terms of his ambitions. As he moved to do this, he became quite heavy-handed and the old guard resented it. Charges were made that Hitler wanted to make himself dictator of National Socialism. Those who held this view were likely correct. In time, there was an open breach between Hitler and his detractors over a plan to bring into the party the whole Ger- man Socialist Party from Nuremberg and Augsburg. This seemed practical enough on the sur- face. Both organizations were much alike. A merger could mean a beneficial pooling of financial resources and talents. The proponents of this plan argued that the Nazi Party would be strengthened by such a step. It could become part of a broader movement with its head- quarters in Berlin. Hitler felt threatened by ideas of this sort. He saw the move by the old guard as an attempt to dilute his growing support by swelling the ranks with recruits of uncer- Four. The Infancy of Nazism (1919–1923) 51 tain loyalties. Moreover, Hitler saw the idea of moving the headquarters to Berlin as an attempt to isolate his followers in Bavaria. The emerging Nazi Party, in many ways, already belonged to Hitler. He had gradually built an elaborate ritual around the mass meeting. It reflected a distorted vision of Catholic ceremony. Regardless, an approach of this sort was appealing and enjoying some success in Catholic Bavaria. This was not part of some brilliant master plan. The young Nazi Party did not possess experienced strategists. It was instead a fortunate stumbling onto something that worked. Among the devices now produced to attract new members were posters and banners. Hitler deliberately picked red for these to provoke the Left and added the swastika. He devel- oped the “Heil Hitler!” salute. He also employed mass parades and the dedication of party standards. He spent many hours hunting through magazines to find an eagle for the party emblem. Members were then ordered to wear the emblem at all times.19 At a typical party meeting, tension was built up in advance with martial music and patriotic songs. Such meet- ings were announced (time and place) by a special section of the party newspaper entitled “From the Campaign.” Hitler’s successes caused more rumbling among the founding members of the DAP. Many of them seemed prepared to limit the Hitlerian role. For a party he had shaped so personally to slip from his control was more than Hitler could bear. His response was daring. Hitler resigned from the Nazi Party suddenly on 12 July 1921. The Executive Committee was caught off guard. They maligned Hitler, accusing him of dictatorial ambitions. An absurd charge was made that he was in the pay of Jews.20 Hitler then said that he might rejoin the Party, but only on condition that he be given dictatorial powers. Drexler played a central role at this point in the inner-party struggle. Drexler was also suspicious of Hitler’s intentions. But he saw that, if Hitler left, the DAP might become a club again. He knew that its recent growth was due in large part to Hitler’s talents. Drexler persuaded his colleagues to accede to Hitler’s demands. The Party Congress, held 29 July 1921, was a triumph for Hitler. He proclaimed at it that he would structure the party as he saw fit. Mixing politics with stagecraft, he put on a series of gaudy events. It became common for some on the Right to refer to him after this as the “King of Munich.” Hitler’s political style now became belligerent. His speeches were especially provocative. His meetings were commonly violent. Meetings of opponents were invaded to cause disrup- tions. Sometimes people were seriously injured. The police monitored Nazi gatherings and related meetings on a regular basis. The authorities repeatedly warned Hitler to keep his fol- lowers in check. Leaflets, pamphlets, and posters were often censored because of venomous content. On 12 January 1922 Hitler was sentenced to three months in prison for disrupting a meeting at the Lowenbräu beer hall where the speaker was severely injured.21 To serve time in jail was a badge of honor. Hitler emerged from his cell to be welcomed by the Nazis as a hero. But the confrontational style often caused the Nazis problems. Speakers at Nazi meet- ings, particularly Hitler, created extreme sentiments in audiences. On 31 August 1920, for example, Hitler told an audience: “One should hate the Jew simply because of his race.”22 Earlier, he said the “eternal Jews” were responsible for providing “ninety percent of all rack- eteers and usurers.”23 It was natural that such assertions as these would produce extreme responses. His Nazi listeners responded with shouts of: “Hang them! Kill them!”24 As early 52 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 as September 1920, it became necessary to throw people out of the meetings who responded negatively and physically to such vitriolic statements.25 These people were ejected by so-called “monitor troops.” The Pre-Putsch SA One of the often made and inaccurate generalizations about this early Nazi Party was that what was to become the stormtroopers was built out of men drawn from war veterans like those found in many of the Free Corps.26 In fact, the Nazis would have preferred men from the trenches, but most of these became involved in earlier developing paramilitary groups. Instead, the initial defense formations of the Nazi Party appear to have been con- structed of “loud young students” and elements drawn from other radicalized youth.27 It was out of material like this that Emil Maurice, former member of the paramilitary Bund Ober- land, built the initial small groups of monitor troops.28 In November of 1920, a “Sport Sec- tion” or SA was built out of hall guards. It is difficult to tell when the term “Sturmabteilung” (“Storm Detachment”) was first used to describe the organization formed in late 1920. “Stormtrooper” was clearly in common use by mid–1921. The Nazi SA was at some point renamed (from “Sport Detachment” to “Storm Detachment”) after the party leaders had become assured that the authorities would not respond negatively to a more aggressive sound- ing name. Perhaps it was because the initials “SA” for “Security Section” were already in com- mon use on the Left. The SPD had established SAs in Munich and Coburg by 1921.29 The name Sturmabteilung had come directly from the trenches. Storm Detachments were specialized units used in the World War I German Army, charging the opposing lines to cre- ate breakthroughs for infantry.30 There thus was a kind of romantic aura about the name, contributing to the attraction for the brawlers recruited for the early SA. World War I stormtroopers had been highly mobile, nearly suicidal, and much-honored units.31 The basic notion in forming the SA was to transform the party’s meeting guards over time into a mass organization. In the short term, it was believed that its “heroic” actions would attract many to Nazism.32 On 11 August 1921, an appeal appeared in the party media addressed to all German youth.33 This emphasis on youth demonstrates the difference between the SA and other paramilitary formations. Most of the rest desired to make only desperadoes the bulk of their rank and file. The SA sought desperadoes primarily to act as leaders. The party was fairly consistent in seeking recruits between seventeen and twenty-one years of age.34 One can argue, and scholars do, that not all postwar radical–Right organizations should be dubbed “fascist,” since only two ever bore that name in their title. Of course, intense nationalism was at the core of each movement, so that each country had its unique variety of the radical Right. It might also be argued that there is no “fascism,” but only “fascisms.” Nevertheless, the fervently nationalistic kind of ideology called fascism was very much a “revolt of the younger generation” in all the states where such movements appeared.35 Similar calls for violence in service of a cause to those made by the Nazis emerged in France. Rightist George Valois argued in 1924 that the old order had to be destroyed. It was time for the youth of his country to rise up en masse and destroy decadent, old structures. It was useful for young people to be ready to employ violence to establish the new order. His well-known injunction was as follows: “Two plus three makes naught, the barbarian replies, smashing his head in.”36 Four. The Infancy of Nazism (1919–1923) 53 Hitler was very much of the same mind, indicating, “If you do not wish to be German, I will bash in your skull.”37 The Nazi emphasis on youth during this period may have been simple practicality. If the SA was to be made into a propaganda organization rather than a standard paramilitary formation, it suited that purpose better to have malleable young men. Membership roles dating from 1921 demonstrate the emphasis on youth. One list has on it 25 members. Most of these were not veterans (only eight were). Half the men listed were eight- een or younger.38 These original SA men were soon brought under the influence, arranged by Ernst Röhm, of desperadoes from the Ehrhardt Brigade. Once Ehrhardt became established in Bavaria after the forced dissolution of his Brigade for involvement in the Kapp Putsch, he and his men moved in several directions. One of these was clandestine in nature. The Ehrhardt cohort in this shadow world was the Organization Consul (OC), the secretive band of assassins that murdered Rathenau in 1922. After the Rathenau killing, the OC membership from the Ehrhardt group decided to choose a more public avenue to action and produced another paramilitary league called the Wiking Bund.39 By the end of 1922, the Vikings had announced that their political program was the same as that of the Nazi Party.40 A connection with Nazism was soon to be seen. Alfred Hoffmann, a former naval officer, managed the “General Policy Section” of the Vikings and worked with the Nazis. Similarly, the military-affairs section was headed by Manfred von Killinger, later a high-ranking Nazi official, whose memoirs reveal him to have been something of a war- produced psychopath.41 It was Ernst Röhm, who exercised influence beyond others in the shadow land of Free Corps, Defense Leagues and anti–Weimar political conspiracies. The local combat leagues, first formed in an attempt to fight the Left in Munich, were led by a generation of revolu- tionary-minded junior officers. These younger men had a certain amount of contempt for senior officers, steeped in tradition. Such men formed paramilitary units, not to reinforce tra- ditional militarism, but to enhance their own prestige. Röhm had developed contacts with these men and went to perhaps the best-known of them at this juncture. Apparently, Ernst Röhm approached Ehrhardt and convinced him to help the Nazi’s fledgling paramilitary formation.42 Ehrhardt had originally refused to have anything to do with Hitler. Despite reservations, he finally decided to give in to Röhm’s urgings. It was arranged that someone from the Vikings would be sent to try to provide a more militaristic structure for the SA. The first Sturmabteilung leader became Johann Ulrich Klintsch, a for- mer officer.43 The Ehrhardt group also contributed Alfred Hoffmann to become SA Chief of Staff.44 Killinger, after escaping political murder charges, came to the SA. The Ehrhardt peo- ple then installed a Nazi version of their marching song for the fledgling SA: Swastika on our helmet, Black-Red-White armband, Storm Detachment Hitler, We are named!45 The SA now assumed more of a fighting stance. On 4 November 1921 the Party’s fighters added another element to the Nazi mythology when Hitler’s “soldiers” flung themselves “like wolves” on their opponents to drive them out of the Hofbräuhaus.46 Of course, this account is from Mein Kampf and subject to the usual exaggerations. In party lore this came to be known as the battle of the Hofbräuhaus. It was not seen as all that impressive by the police. Never- 54 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 theless, it became a lasting part of Nazi mythology. Ever more frequent “hall battles” (Saalschlachten) became typical during 1922. In October of 1922, Hitler and his SA went to Coburg on a special train. Some 800 stormtroopers were passengers along with other Nazi Party members assembling to attend a patriotic meeting. It was scheduled in an area known to have a substantial concentration of SPD members. This invasion tactic was often used by Bavarian Right. Near the end of the Weimar Republic it also became a frequent violence-pro- voking motif used in the industrial centers of northern Germany. When the party train arrived at the Coburg main station, Hitler and his followers were warned by authorities not to march into the central city lest trouble ensue. The Nazis ignored the order and marched anyway. A street riot resulted. The stormtroopers cleared the streets of opponents and came close to holding Coburg under siege. This act of bravado seems to have emboldened Hitler. He apparently came to believe that he could challenge Bavarian authorities whenever he desired. The Coburg experience became a part of the developing Nazi mythology. For years thereafter, it was common for members to greet each other as part of their ceremonies with: “Were you at Coburg?”47 Although the members of the Nazi SA were sworn to render willing obedience to Nazism, the party leadership was aware that some of the ruffians clustered in the party paramilitary divided their loyalties between the Nazis and other segments of the Bavarian Right. More- over, Hitler and his civilian colleagues began to differ with people like Röhm about the long- term role to be played by the SA. Röhm saw the SA as an eventual part of a new German Army assembled to avoid the restrictions of Versailles. Hitler saw it as a propaganda weapon. Between 1922 and 1923, the SA appeared to exert independence. Hitler believed it to be overly influenced by outsiders. This was unacceptable.48 Starting in the fall of 1920, SA members had been on hand at every party rally. They reg- ularly acted as bouncers. These rowdies then extended their activities beyond the meeting halls. Much like contemporary street gangs, they sought targets upon which to vent their rage. Not surprisingly, as they roamed the streets seeking targets, they often sought people who looked Jewish. One of their songs had it: “The Jew, flat footed and hooked nose, and kinky hair, he dare not breathe our German air. Throw him out!”49 The Munich police did little to counter this. Emil Maurice, who was a twenty-three-year-old watchmaker, directed young storm- troopers to beat a man in the train station who had called them a name.50 The police scarcely noticed this violence, although some were standing close to it. This reflected a very tolerant chief of police named Ernst Pöhner, about whom more will be offered later, who listed badly to the Right. By the time Röhm, Ehrhardt, and others began to try and influence the SA, the mem- bership of the Nazi paramilitary proved receptive. Unlike the rest of the party, it was com- posed of nationalistic students, out-of-work artisans (unemployment was always a force in SA history), distraught white-collar workers, and demobilized soldiers. There were also ex–Freikorps people, although this last was a minor component.51 Hitler was forced to counter outside influence as best he could, and a good place to begin was with the SA. Klintsch was replaced at the beginning of 1923 with Herman Göring, a well-known war hero. This changed things very little in the short run because the separation between the two wings of the party was already entrenched. It was perhaps to safeguard himself against unruly SA leaders that Hitler built his own Praetorian guard at this juncture. During March of 1923, a personal bodyguard was formed. This small body of men was Four. The Infancy of Nazism (1919–1923) 55 called the “Stabswache” and was the ancestor of the future SS (Schutzstaffel, or “Protective Squad”). This elite guard dressed differently to differentiate itself from the SA.52 Hitler’s first bodyguard was replaced with a new one in May of 1923, the Stosstrupp Adolf Hitler. Its mem- bers by and large came from a differing social and age group (older) than the quite young SA. The initial leader of this group was Julius Schreck, a man who superficially resembled Hitler and later served as his double from time to time. These recruits were later described by one of their own: “Hard and rough and sometimes quite uncouth were the customs, habits, and looks of the Stosstrup. They did not know ... groveling. They clung to the right of the stronger, the old right of the fist. In an emergency they knew no command.... When ... called to action— to attack right and left—march! march!—then things were torn to bits and in minutes streets and squares were swept of enemies.... Soon we were known in village and town.”53 Most members of the Stosstrupp were from working-class origins and had been involved in their share of beer-hall brawling. Hitler appeared to feel quite at home with these young toughs. Although this young Nazism had been successful in blending the described paramilitary elements with the civilian wing to produce the dual party, the decision made in 1922–23 to advance on the state with force proved nearly fatal politically. Hitler began to make it known than he desired to seize the state through some sort of coup rather than rise to prominence through the vote. In October of 1922, Benito Mussolini had taken power in Italy by march- ing on Rome, inspiring much of the Bavarian Right. The question now became: why not fol- low the Italian fascists’ example and march on Berlin? Hitler, as well as other colleagues on the Right, became convinced that a march on Berlin would in fact work. But there was a practical consideration. Hitler could not hope to take such a step without joining with other paramilitary leagues. On his field of dreams Hitler saw a combined effort of conservative traditional military (in the form of the local Reichswehr contingent) and paramilitary groups. The next part of the vision had it that these forces would unite behind some great natural leader who could come only from the Great War. One such was handy locally in the person of Erich Ludendorff. Most historians believe that Hitler did not yet see himself as the leader to make all of this work. He often used the term the “drum- mer” when speaking of his part in such an undertaking. Of course, Hitler also showed ambiva- lence when he wondered in “Christian” terms whether he was just a John the Baptist or the new Messiah. During this time, the Nazi Party was growing, although not much outside Bavaria. Accounts of early party history appear uncertain about where the first non–Bavarian local might have been.54 Some have it placed somewhere in Baden during 1921 or in Stuttgart as early as June of 1920.55 Wherever these locals were formed, SA squads developed for meeting protection. SA growth outside Munich was less impressive than the party as a whole. There were just too many Vereine seemingly everywhere in Germany. In Nuremberg, for example, nearly the last paramilitary band to be formed was the quite small local Nazi SA.56 In Baden, many new local Nazis preferred to stay in other paramilitary formations. The tendency for new SA members to own multiple memberships in a variety of “defense leagues” was seen in many places and that tendency infuriated party leadership.57 As the party grew, perhaps six thousand SA men assembled in Munich for the first Reich party rally. At this meeting, Hitler called out for a national dictatorship to save Germany from impending collapse. In February, Hitler formed an alliance with other right-wing forces, 56 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 something that came close to derailing his career. A joint committee was established and Lieutenant Hermann Kriebel was appointed military leader for the “Working Union of Patri- otic Fighting Associations.” A political role was arranged for Hitler in the formation.58 In the following months, as Germany moved from one crisis to another, rumors of an impending putsch intensified. Hitler decided to assert the role of his Nazi movement more forcefully by preventing May Day celebrations of the Left. However, on 1 May 1923, Hitler’s sympathizers in the government left him in the lurch. To his considerable embarrassment, stormtroopers, poised for battle on the Oberwiesenfeld, had to return their guns to Reich- swehr arsenals from which they had been secured through a ruse. For a time, Hitler, greatly shamed, moved out of the spotlight to remain for a time at Berchtesgaden. Then he returned and participated in a paramilitary rally in Nuremberg (1–2 September). At this meeting a new Deutsche Kampfbund (“German Fighting League”) was established. As the Kampfbund assumed threatening proportion, the Bavarian government declared a state of emergency. Dr. Gustav von Kahr, former prime minister and reactionary separatist, was given dictatorial powers. His control rested directly on General Otto von Lossow, in com- mand of the Seventh District of the Reichswehr, and Hans Ritter von Seisser, in command of the Bavarian State Police. Kahr immediately forbade all mass demonstrations. At the same time, he conspired to be free of the hated national government in Berlin. In these plans only a marginal role was envisioned for Hitler and the Nazis. But Hitler was not one to stay for long on the margin of things. With all of this, much of the Bavarian Right devoted the month of October 1923 to mil- itary preparations. Beer-hall meetings abounded. In the broad Rightist spectrum there was much intrigue. But there was also mutual distrust and a clear potential for fractioning. In early October, typically, there was a rupture in the Kampfbund which caused the Reichsflagge to be disbanded and split into separate groups. Ernst Röhm seized control of the rump por- tion left behind and called it the Reichskreigflagge (the “Reich War Banner”). Interpolation II The Bavarian Paramilitary Scene (1919–1923) The Freikorps Before any discussion of the Bavarian paramilitary scene at the time that the Nazi SA was developing, it is necessary to take a brief look at the postwar development of the elabo- rate network of paramilitary groups that fought for and against the Weimar state. The des- ignation “Freikorps” was originally applied to voluntary forces recruited by Frederick the Great during the Seven Years’ War in the mid–eighteenth century. Later, Free Corps units appeared at the time of the Napoleonic Wars to reinforce troops of the line. During the wars of unification, little use was made of paramilitary groups by Bismarck’s highly developed and efficient Prussian army. The Freikorps were generally regarded in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as unreliable for actual fighting at the front—they were used mainly as sentries and for other minor duties. The concept of the Free Corps fighter was changed greatly by the outcome of the world- wide conflict beginning in 1914. The term began to be used to designate paramilitary organ- izations springing up around Germany as soldiers returned in defeat to their German homeland from World War I. These men nearly all subscribed to the “stab-in-the-back” myth discussed earlier in these pages. It was briefly described earlier how the Free Corps appeared soon after the war. A fuller account of their postwar activities begins here, starting with that historical juncture at the end of 1918. The Freikorps movement sprang from a number of historical factors. First, was the fact, already stressed, that many German soldiers did not feel themselves to have been defeated. Moreover, when the war ended, German forces were still on French and Belgian soil. In the east, they were as yet in charge of a sizeable portion of the old tsarist realm and their forces were holding territories in the Balkans. They had no idea that the German High Command already knew that victory had eluded imperial Germany. But the eventual consequence of that situation was an imperial German army which imploded rapidly at war’s end. A once formi- dable force began to dissolve quickly as soldiers surrendered in ever greater numbers. On the home front there was in Germany an extreme–Left political force at work, tak- ing the form of the so-called “Spartakusbund,” named after the gladiator who had rebelled against ancient Rome. The leaders of this movement had been greatly inspired by the suc- cessful Bolshevik revolution in Russia. They acted at this point to inspire large scale strikes 57 58 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 which broke out across Germany. Moreover, that summer, sailors had mutinied against the commanders of a High Seas Fleet in Kiel, which had been bottled up in port for most of the war by a British blockade. Shortly before the armistice ending the shooting, the German High Command decided to get the best possible situation for the country by ordering the fleet to venture out to con- front the British. This action was intended to demonstrate that the Germans still had a pow- erful naval force. This policy caused navy men to revolt on their ships in reaction to what they saw as a meaningless and suicidal action. On the ships quartered in the harbor at Kiel, 28 October 1918, the crews raised the red flag of revolt. The mutiny quickly spread to other ports like Lübeck, Hamburg, Cuxhaven, and Bremerhaven. The Social Democrats, a quite moderate political group when compared with the Spar- tacus League, needed a military force to deal with chaos in Berlin during the first weeks of November 1918. There were many armed men in Berlin, but they were splintered into mutu- ally antagonistic groups. These often engaged in fighting each other to determine who would become ascendant in the capital. On 10 November 1918, Quarter-Master General Wilhelm Groener had offered military support to suppress the leftist rising. However, the field army was still far from Berlin and some groups developed, such as the National Association of Deserters, put together by the Spartacists, which encouraged men who fled the army to enter their ranks and bring about a Bolshevik-style revolution in Germany. The regular army units, troubled by desertions and consequent insufficient numbers, were not able to quell the Christ- mas disturbances in the capital. By Christmas of 1918, the SPD had fractionated to the Left, producing the independent socialists (the USPD) who, in December, were led by Emil Eichorn to build a “security police” to attempt an assumption of power in Berlin. In Germany’s capital, the “People’s Naval Divi- sion,” with the Kaiser already in exile, had taken over the Imperial Palace to use as a head- quarters from which looting forays then issued. The adjutant to the official Commandant of Berlin has left us the following picture of those dark days: “Disorder, insecurity, looting ... had become the order of the day ... soldiers’ councils lurked in all the alleys ... worst of all were the barracks. They were full to bursting when it was meal time or time to be paid, but empty when the [Berlin] Command desired [only] a dozen soldiers to perform legitimate duties.... Day and night [there were] senseless shootings.... Berlin lived, danced, drank, and celebrated.”1 At this stage of events, defeat and revolution had caused the German army to disinte- grate more thoroughly. Even where soldiers were still stationed in barracks, there was a good chance that the soldiers’ revolutionary councils had taken over. To make matters worse, with the German army in this reduced situation, there were threats in border areas as Poles and Czechs saw the German internal crisis as an opportune time to encroach on German lands. Meanwhile, some nearly intact sections of the German army returned from the front. This army remnant was set upon fighting in Berlin, not to defend a republican government few of them liked much, but, in the words of one of their officers “to fight against the masses ... to fight all physical and psychological opposition [on the home front] ... to become unbur- dened of all sentimentality.”2 The returned regular-army force mounted an attack on the occupied palace on the morn- ing of Christmas Eve (1918). The army units responded to their orders by throwing the rad- ical sailors out of the palace. The building was easily taken, but, soon enough, a mob of hostile Interpolation II. The Bavarian Paramilitary Scene (1919–1923) 59 people, perhaps drawn by the sounds of combat, churned about the armed soldiers. The sailors who had been forcibly evicted took advantage of this situation as some troopers, lis- tening to entreaties from the crowd, went over to the mob. The sailors who had been thrown out of the palace took advantage of this situation and they took people as shields and opened fire on the soldiers still defending.3 This was the first and only attempt of the regular army to crush revolutionary forces, and it failed. Thus was provided the backdrop for the initial appearance on the historical stage of a man who would be decisively important in the eventual demise of the Weimar Republic. Major Kurt von Schleicher had begun to move in political circles as a representa- tive of the army. Schleicher suggested that the government recruit volunteers, saying that a volunteer force could stabilize Germany and yet would be unlikely to compete effectively with the army for the position as the preeminent force in the state.4 The first Free Corps unit was assembled in Kiel. In an attempt to restore order, Gustav Noske, the Social Democratic minister of defense, had decided that he could right the situa- tion by enlisting voluntary Free Corps units to supplement the regular army.5 The first Free Corps unit assembled on Noske’s orders was called the “Iron Brigade.” Then, on the morn- ing of 4 January 1919, Noske and Friedrich Ebert accepted an invitation to observe a parade staged by a former army and now Freikorps general. Ludwig von Maercker had been build- ing his group of irregulars intensively since the previous month.6 This “Volunteer Provincial Rifle Corps” was now ready to serve under republican authority for the purpose of suppress- ing revolutionaries on the streets of Berlin. Maercker’s example was soon followed and one Free Corps after another was assembled in the immediate area of Berlin. Quickly, the Iron Brigade moved in from the North Sea ports to help in the assault on the revolutionary fighters. A confrontation soon developed. On 23 December 1918 the Spartacists and associated paramilitary forces began their assault on the republican government. On 30 December the Spartakusbund changed its name to the Ger- man Communist Party (KPD). This immediate threat from the KPD caused the Social Demo- cratic provisional regime to move in haste in their employment of the Free Corps. This was timely in that a full-scale armed insurrection was ordered by Red leadership on 9 January 1919. The following day, Free Corps groups converged on Berlin to occupy the outlying dis- tricts. Beginning on 12 January, Free Corps units were deployed all over the city. They mopped up nests of Red resistance and sought out snipers to eliminate. On 15 January the arrests and subsequent murders of Liebknecht and Luxemburg transpired.7 On 19 January the new gov- ernment was voted in, the meetings transpiring in the city of Weimar because the capital was considered to be too unstable to host the event. Noske had entered Berlin on 11 January, marching with the Iron Brigade.8 His was the first of a group of fighters to be welcomed joyfully by the citizens of Berlin “all along the way,” as the vast majority of the people were up in arms because of the “Communist rule of ter- ror.”9 Soon enough, the revolutionary fires in Berlin had been dampened. They were finally extinguished fully by the end of March. But it was not in Berlin alone that the “freebooters” played an important role. Maercker’s rifles moved into the city of Weimar to defend the deliberations producing the polity known from that original meeting as the “Weimar Repub- lic.”10 During the spring of 1919, there were new Freikorps springing up all over Germany. Some were the size of a single infantry company and some the size of an entire division with 60 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 cavalry and artillery elements. The units were usually built around a core of veterans from the front, but often also included students and other fervent German nationalists too young to have served in the war. It was necessary for Noske to use these forces to secure control over various port cities like Bremerhaven, Cuxhaven, Wilhelmshaven and Hamburg. These had been in Communist hands since the final days of the revolution. These actions involved pri- marily the Iron Brigade and the Ehrhardt Brigade. After only a few days of fighting, the cited ports yielded to governmental authority. Immediately thereafter, revolution broke out in the Ruhrgebeit. A general strike was called in this industrial heartland. Soldiers’ and Workers’ Councils moved into support posi- tions.11 Soon enough, there were violent clashes with the Free Corps as they encountered the so-called “Red Army of the Ruhr.” There were a number of these violent encounters, but an agreement was negotiated by the SPD in order to avoid sabotage of the mines by radicals. Such an event would most certainly have had a dire economic impact on Germany. After that, the wave of insurrections moved on to central Germany. Here Noske relied primarily on Maercker’s rifles to quell insurrections appearing among the different industrial areas (although other veteran Free Corps formations like the Ehrhardt Brigade were also involved, as was a German veterans’ organization, the Stahlhelm). Several of the central Ger- man cities had proclaimed themselves autonomous at the end of February 1919. The city of Halle was assaulted on 1 March. During April, Brunswick and Dresden were subdued. In both places Communist governments had been established and their leaders had made pub- lic their desire to break with the Reich and associate themselves with the “new Russia” under Lenin. Dresden then fell on 14 April. By 10 May, Leipzig had been conquered. By the middle of June, it was over. One Free Corps member would say later that, at this juncture, “order had been established sufficiently to allow the lifting of martial law.”12 In Interpolation I, the Eisner revolution followed by the violent and short-lived Red Republics in Bavaria was detailed. It is useful here to turn back briefly to the Free Corps response to those leftist assumptions of power. In Bavaria, the general responsibility for restor- ing order was turned over to General Ernst von Oven. Shortly, some 30,000 men were sent by him to surround the city of Munich. This force included veteran units like the ubiquitous Ehrhadt Brigade, as well as others. The most important of these others was the “Bavarian Free Corps” under Franz Ritter von Epp and the associated Bund Oberland. The Bavarian Red Army had at some point consisted of approximately 60,000 men. How- ever, by the time the Free Corps began their assault on Munich, the Red fighters had dwin- dled in numbers considerably through desertions. Soon enough, the “Red Terror” that had ruled in Bavaria for some six months had been ended through the use of decisive force. During what the Free Corps fighters liked to call the “Battle of Liberation” of Munich, the Freikorps leaders reported losses of some 68 killed and 170 wounded. The Red losses were much higher. One report had them at 1,000 to 1,200.13 That estimate is probably conservative. It is recorded that the numerous undertaking establishments in the Munich area simply could not handle the volume of dead bodies and the decaying corpses which soon became a health menace. In an ominous preview of what the Nazis would do on a larger scale in World War II, the Free Corps men dug shallow trenches, shoved the decaying bodies of their foes into them and covered them over.14 The Munich victory raised the Freikorps to the heights of their fame in Germany. It was due to them, people said, that insurgents had been defeated in Berlin, the port cities, the Interpolation II. The Bavarian Paramilitary Scene (1919–1923) 61 Ruhr, and central Germany. The Weimar state had been established under their protection. Soon enough, they also moved into border warfare to turn back those who would encroach upon German soil. At the end of World War I, things were going very much better in the east than they were in the west. By August of 1918, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk had taken Russia out of the war and given Germany large chunks of territory far beyond the eastern borders of the imperial empire as they had existed in 1914. It appeared to many that the old pan–Germanic dream of the “Drive to the East” (Drang nach Osten) was to become fact. But the triumph was short- lived. The Western front collapsed and wartime boundaries, however recently established, were said by the victorious Allies to be no longer relevant. In actuality, the new order of things in Europe was not to be settled until well into 1919 with what was called in Germany the “Ver- sailles Dictate.” The Poles refused to wait upon Versailles. They began to move after the armistice, with weapons confiscated from defeated German forces, into the city of Posen (in Polish “Posan”).15 The Germans moved out of P party which was, as others had been, riven by power struggles, arguments, and rival- ries.19 Part of the negative attitude about Nazism was due to SA activity nationwide. The SA, immediately after the so-called “seizure of power,” had played a dramatic role as an auxil- iary police, pursuing Communists and other old foes. But once such elements had been “han- dled,” it quickly became obvious that there was no further need for a private army.20 The SA, with its continuing calls for a permanent revolutionary army, was anathema to the officers of the regular Reichswehr. The Storm Detachment was now an organization without a pur- pose. As for the Reichswehr, its leaders hoped to bargain with Hitler to escape Gleichschal- tung.21 One of the things the generals feared most was Röhm’s contention that the “Officers’ Corps of the SA,” as a first step, should be amalgamated with the command staff of the Reich- swehr. Hitler was scheming to violate unilaterally the disarmament clause of the Versailles Treaty and arm to an extent well beyond the 100,000-man treaty limitation. The generals believed that the commanders of the SA, men whose private lives had received too much “obscene publicity,” were not to be trusted with the vital business of defending Germany. Gen- eral Walter von Brauchitsch later remarked: “Rearmament was too serious and difficult a business to permit the participation of peculators, drunkards and homosexuals.”22 Because of this attitude displayed by the professionals upon whom Hitler would have to depend if he needed to rearm, the Führer knew full well that his Nazi revolution could not, like the Bol- sheviks in Russia, produce a revolutionary mass army of the kind Röhm was advocating. In sum, the top military command and even the increasingly feeble Hindenburg openly desired that Hitler take action against Röhm. On 11 April Hitler joined the top military commanders on the cruiser Deutschland. This visit was presented to the public as a normal spring military maneuver where the Führer would appear simply to observe. In fact, there was a meeting between Hitler and those com- manders who detested Röhm and his SA. It is not known precisely what was said aboard the Deutschland, but we do know that some sort of “gentleman’s agreement” had been reached at this juncture. By it, Hitler would, in return for the military’s support of his regime, sup- press Röhm and his loudly proclaimed plans to create a new type of armed force. The tradi- tional nature of the military would be preserved. Röhm also had dangerous foes within Nazism. Perhaps the two most important of these were Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler. Both of these men had much to gain from the SA chief of staff’s removal. Göring at this point controlled the Gestapo (an acronym for Geheime Statspolizei or “Secret State Police”). He had also received the rank of general from Hindenburg and could thus present himself as a highly decorated hero from World War I and the ideal figure to bring the party and the army closer together. Göring had appointed Heinrich Himmler (1 April 1934) to head the Prussian Gestapo. 166 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 During the first half of the year, Himmler was moving around the chess pieces of power to enlarge his own feudal domain within the Nazi Party. He was already the director of the Bavarian police and chief of the SS. The SS was still officially a sub-section of the SA, but Himmler was gradually moving to detach it from its original moorings. He had the help of his top lieutenant, Reinhard Heydrich, in accomplishing all of his backstage gambits. To begin working toward the superseding of the SA with the SS, Himmler set out to collect com- plaints and scandals about SA leadership. As the urgings from these two anti–SA camps intensified, Hitler began to be drawn toward their point of view. The Führer tried one last time with Röhm. In a private five-hour talk he apparently tried to convince the SA chief of staff that he must stop antagonizing the Reichswehr officers. Röhm was told that his calls for a central role for the SA in army activ- ities had soured Nazi-army relations. Röhm was not really planning an anti-army revolt. He thus agreed to go on that fatal “sickness leave” to Bad Wiesse. At this point, Hindenburg intervened. He asked Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen to try to straighten matters out in a Germany troubled by potential inflation, church complaints about new religious policies, and the ruthless suppression of the political parties. Papen agreed to do so.23 Papen, at this juncture, had been excluded from all matters of importance in Berlin despite the fact that he was still vice-chancellor. Two of his advisers, Edgar Jung and Herbert von Bose, urged him to take at least one decisive anti–Nazi step. Jung wrote a speech for him to be delivered in Marburg on 19 June 1934. The Marburg speech was given. The text of it denounced the regime for spreading morally reprehensible practices under the guise of a so-called “revolution.” Goebbels moved quickly to keep the speech off the radio waves and out of the press. Nevertheless, the address caused a furor. Jung urged Papen to follow it up with a visit to Hindenburg to protest the govern- ment’s suppression of the Marburg speech.24 It likely seemed to Papen that he was realizing some success from his Marburg public appearance in that he was greeted at a race-horse meet- ing in Hamburg (naturally attended only by members of his social class) with shouts of “Hail Marburg!” from the conservative crowd in attendance there.25 Papen threatened to resign the vice-chancellorship. As he pointed out, he had been excluded from affairs of state for some time. Hitler, quite anxious that nothing happen which would upset the ailing president, told Papen that in due course the whole matter would be discussed with the “old gentleman” at his estate. Then Hitler, on 21 June, went off alone to see Hinden- burg at his estate in Neudeck. When he arrived, the minister of defense, Werner von Blomberg, confronted him. Hitler was told by Blomberg that he had been discussing Papen’s Marburg speech with Hindenburg. The army chief pointed out that, if the stormtroopers were not sub- dued, Hindenburg would declare martial law and turn the country over to the army.26 Hitler returned to Berlin knowing that he now had to act. The Gestapo, with Heydrich and Himmler directing it, began to manufacture “evidence” that Röhm and his stormtrooper leadership were planning a rising against the state, a “second revolution.” Leading officers in the SS were presented with this “evidence” on 24 June and given instructions on how to deal with the national Putsch which “loomed on the horizon.” Not long after, lists of “politically unreliable people” were drawn up and local SS leaders were called upon to kill a number of them once the purging operation was set in motion. The army then placed its resources at the disposal of the SS in case there was a serious nationwide conflict with the SA, a con- flict involving the mass membership of the organization.27 As it turned out, the strategy Epilogue (1933-1934) 167 Hitler is shown inspecting an SS group, with an SA leader directly behind him. enacted successfully was to “cut off the head of the snake” so that the rest of the body was not involved. On 27 June, Hitler met with army leaders to secure their cooperation in the anti–SA action. The generals replied by expelling Röhm from the German Officers’ League the next day. The army was also placed on full alert. Blomberg then published an article in the Nazi press, declaring the army fully loyal to Hitler.28 During the same time period, Hitler learned that Hindenburg had agreed to give Papen an audience on 30 June. This fact confirmed Hitler’s view that he must strike against the SA. He also believed he had to act against key conserva- tives who might well work with Hindenburg to install Papen as president when the constantly weakening old man died.29 At this point, Hitler nervously went to a wedding reception in Essen where he telephoned Röhm’s adjutant at Bad Wiesee. He left orders for Storm Detachment leaders to meet with him on the morning of 30 June. Hitler then organized a hurried conference with Joseph Goebbels and Sepp Dietrich (commander of the Führer’s personal SS bodyguard) in Bad 168 Hitler’s Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933 Godesberg on 29 June 1934. It was determined that action would be taken against the SA early the next morning. Goebbels, not one of the inner-party plotters against the SA chief of staff, was astonished by this sequence of events, but of course said nothing and moved quickly to play a role in carrying through the purge.30 Göring was dispatched to Berlin to take charge of actions to be taken there. Rumors began to be circulated and alarm spread in SA ranks. On the streets of Munich stormtroopers surged back and forth. They shouted that they would crush any army attempts to quiet them. They also openly denounced the Führer. Calm was eventually restored in the Bavarian capital by Adolf Wagner, regional SA commander in Munich. But there were similar demonstrations elsewhere in Germany. When Hitler was told of these events on flying into Munich in the early morning hours of 30 June, he decided he could wait no longer. The purge had to be launched at this point.31 When one looks at the broader significance of the events of 30 June and 1 July 1934, one issue immediately comes to mind. Is it too much to state, as does Joachim Fest, that 30 June 1934 was the “decisive date after January 30, 1933 in the Nazi seizure of power?”32 Is it even a greater leap to see a direct connection “between the killings of 30 June and the subsequent practice of mass murder in the concentration camps of the East?”33 It is perhaps more impor- tant for the observer of this period of history to speculate in somewhat more limited ways. One should note that the purge came along at a time in the history of Nazi Germany when the Third Reich seemed to far too many of the people of Germany to be represented by the bullying arrogance of the SA. This situation had thus become offensive to a broad segment of the population.34 Popular reactions to the purge must be observed in this context. Of course, to begin, none of the public was aware of the fact that the claims of an existing plot aimed at a coup were fabricated. Perhaps because of this and the widespread disquiet about stormtrooper activities, there was a total absence of criticism. A report from Swabia indicated much pop- ular sympathy on the side of the Führer.35 Similar sentiments came from Upper Bavaria.36 In sum, far from causing Germans to have any doubts about their national leader, nearly all accounts indicate that this initial mass murder by the Third Reich was not seen as such and, in fact, paid handsome dividends for the new regime.37 It allowed the Nazis to establish with the German people, with little contradiction, the idea that Hitler had the right to pass sen- tence on the SA leadership. Moreover, he had the “right” to send other “culprits” to their deaths without a trial.38 Once the killings had been accomplished, Hitler withdrew from public view. A press release soon described his “grave conflicts of conscience.” There were, of course, many lurid details provided about sexual deviants in the Nazi Party and the fact that many of them had been killed at dawn on 1 July. It was not until 13 July that Hitler emerged from seclusion to deliver that hour-long speech to the Reichstag. In it, he assumed personal responsibility for the purge. He claimed that he had rescued the German people from a threat so deadly that only a drastic action of the kind taken could have eradicated it. He stressed the duty of the National Socialist state “to stamp out and destroy ... every last vestige of this phenomenon which poisons and makes dupes of people.” He had destroyed, in his view, nothing but “desert- ers and mutineers.”39 When Hitler gave his Reichstag speech, he was wildly applauded. The Reichswehr gen- erals listened to his address with special satisfaction. They particularly liked his statement to Epilogue (1933-1934) 169 the effect that “in the state there is only one bearer of arms, and that is the army.”40 The Reich- stag then unanimously approved an after-the-fact law making the murders of 30 June 1934 and 1 July 1934 legal. The immediate positive feeling of the Germans following the purge developed into a lasting belief that the end of SA terrorism meant a return to a nation typified by law and order. A positive feeling about Hitler spread from the officers down throughout the German army.41 Hindenburg apparently expressed some regrets that generals Schleicher and Bredow had been killed along with the SA leaders. But he too sent a congratulatory telegram to the Nazi leader, giving him credit for “saving the nation from serious danger.”42 The long-expected death of Paul von Hindenburg transpired on 2 August 1934. It took Hitler only an hour after the old field marshal’s death to announce that he had merged the presidential office with the chancellorship. This made him head of state and supreme com- mander of the armed forces. It was also on 2 August that the army’s supreme command required all German soldiers to swear a “sacred oath” of “unconditional obedience to the head of state.43 The unlimited nature of the Hitlerian file. Der Angriff 90, 111 Anschluss 33 Anti-Semitism 12, 33–35, 44–48, 49 Arbeitsgemeinschaft 71 Arco-Valley, Count Anton 41 “Arditi” (Italian World War I shock troops) 27 Armistice of 1918 14 “Arrow Cross” (Hungarian) 133 Article 231 of the Versailles Treaty (War Guilt Clause) see Ver- sailles Treaty Article 48 of the Weimar Consti- tution see Weimar Constitu- tion Article 53 of the Weimar Consti- tution see Weimar Constitu- tion “At the Prophets” (1904) by Thomas Mann 39 Auer, Erhard 76 “Automatic Procedure” 88 Baden, Max of 14 Bainton, Roland H. 120 Baird, Jay W. 2, 121 Baltische Landwehr 62 Bamberg party meeting (1926) 88 Barbu, Zevedei 128 Bastille Day 159 Bauhaus 116 Bavarian Life Guard 46 Bavarian Red Army 42 Bavarian Soviet Republic (1919) 42–43, 46 Berlin 106, 107, 108–109 Berlin-Coelln 106 Berthold, Rudolf 65 Bennecke, Heinrich 124 Bismarck, Otto von 4, 6, 8, 13, 107 Black and Tans 27 Black Reichswehr 72, 74–75 Bleischroder, Gerson 6 Blomberg, Werner von 145, 166– 167 Blücher Bund 69 Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 125 Boxer Rebellion (China) 3 Index Boxheim Papers 143 Bredow, General Kurt von 162, 169 Brest-Litovsk, Treaty of 61 Bruck, Arthur Moeller van den 22 Brüning, Heinrich 97, 139–140, 141, 145- 146, 157 Bund Frankenland 69 Bund Oberland 60 Bund Unterland 69 Burgerbräukeller 76–77 Burgfrieden (1914) moratorium on politics 13 Catholic Center Party (Zentrum) 135, 139 157–158 Christian Social Party of Adolf Stöcker 8 The Civil Guards 44, 70 Clemenceau, George 22 Coburg “march-out” (1922) 54 Colonial Society 5 Comintern (Communist Interna- tional) 42 Communist Party of Germany (KPD) 41, 75, 93, 96, 111, 102; Karl Liebknecht House Defense 133; May Day uprising of 1929 109 Confiscation bill for property of nobility 87 Congress of Vienna 107 Cuno, Wilhelm 73 Cyfka, Johann 130–131 Daluege, Kurt 123 DAP (German Worker’s Party) 47–48, 51 Darré, Walter 91 Dawes, Charles 83 Dawes Plan 83, 94 The Decline of the West 34 Deutsche Arbeiter Partei (DAP) 37, 47, 48 Deutsche Kampfbund (German Fighting League) 56 Deutscher Schütz und Wanderbund 6 Deutscher Studentenbund (German Student League) 91, 94 189 Dickel, Otto 50 Dietrich, Otto 91 Dietrich, Sepp 158–159,161, 165, 167 Doelle, Werner 86 Drang nach Osten 13 Drexler, Anton 47, 51 Eastern Jews (“Ostjuden”) 5, 33–34, 49 Ebert, Friedrich 16, 18, 23, 25 Eichorn, Emil 58 Eichorn’s security police 58 Eicke, Theodor 162 Einstein, Albert 109 Eiserne Schar 65 Eisner, Kurt 15, 17, 34, 36, 41 “Enabling Act” 157 Engmann, Helmut 134 Ehrhardt, Hermann 23, 69, 84, 163 Ehrhardt Brigade 23, 53, 69, 60; marching song 53 Epp, Colonel Ritter von 46, 60, 64 Erzberger, Matthias 14, 25, 68 Escherich, Georg 44 Esser, Hermann 47 Feckenbach, Felix 80, 137 Fest, Joachim 101 Fischer, Conan 102 Fischer, Eugen 8 Fourteen Points, Wilsonian Doc- trine 22 Frank, Hans 29 Frederick the Great of Prussia 4, 107, 157 Frederick William I of Prussia 106 Frederick William of Prussia (the “Great Elector”) 107 Free Corps (Freikorps) 17–18, 52, 57–71, 72, 99, 117 Freebooters 60–62 Frick, Wilhelm 91 Fritsch, Theodor 7 “Front Ring” 85 Frontbann (“Front Band”) 84– 86 190 Index Gau structure of Nazi Party 90– 91 German National People’s Party (DNVP) 96–97, 143 German Officers League 167 German People’s Party 96–97 German Reform Party 7 German Social Union 39 German Socialist Party (völkisch) 50 German Supreme Court (Leipzig) 136 Germanic Confederation 107 Gessler, Otto 73 Gestapo 156, 165 Gleichschaltung 158–159, 165 Godin, Michael von 78 Goebbels, Joseph 50, 85, 86, 104, 109–110, 112, 114, 125, 128, 143, 154–155, 167–168 Goltz, General Graf Rudiger von der 62–63 Graf, Ulrich 78 The Grand Coalition 89, 97 Greater German People’s Com- munity 87 The Green Police 78 Grenschutz (“border defense”) 145 Grimm, the Brothers 66 Groener, Wilhelm 58, 140, 144, 145 Gropius, Walter 116 Grzesinski, Police Chief Albert 114 Hagen, the Abbot 31 Hamburg-Altona march-out 114 Hammer Publishing Company 7 Hanisch, Reinhard 32–33 Hannich, Ernst 130 Hanseatic League 106 Hansel and Gretel 66 Hanser, Richard 35 Harrar, Karl 47 Heiden, Konrad 104–105, 122, 125, 141 Heidler, Johann Georg 29 Heidler, Johann Nepomuk 29 Heines, Edmund 133–134, 136 Held, Heinrich 83–84 Hereros 9, 46 Hess, Rudolf 80, 93 Hessian election 142 Heydebreck, Peter von 65 Hierl, Konstantin 91 Hilferding, Rudolf 139 Hilfswerk (“Help to Work”) 141 Himmler, Heinrich 11, 141, 161,165 Hindenburg, Paul von 14, 97, 139, 142, 143, 149,150–151, 159–160, 160 Hitler, Adolf 7, 31–35, 46, 73, 81, 83, 91, 99, 103–104, 114, 127– 128, 140–141; ancestry 29–30; personality 30–31; presidential campaign (1931) 112–114; Reich- stag speech after Röhm purge 168–169; World War I experi- ence 36 Hitler, Alois 29 Hitler, Alois, Jr. 31 Hitler (Raubal), Angela 30 Hitler, Patrick 30 Hitler, Paula 30–32 Hitler Youth 10, 91 Hoffmann, Alfred 53 Hoffmann, Heinrich 35 Hoffmann, Johannes 42–44 Home Guard (Einwohnerwehr in Bavaria) 69 Horthy, Admiral Nicholas 26 Hotel Vierjahrzeiten (Munich) 47 Hugenberg, Alfred 94, 95–96, 152 Independent Socialist Party (USPD) 15, 41–42, 58, 108 Information Office of the Reich Interior Ministry 137 Iron Brigades (two) 59–60, 62, 63 Jazi, Oscar 26 Jews 5; see also anti-Semitism Julich-Cleves, Duchy of 106 Jung, Edgar 162 Jünger, Ernst 36 Jüttner, Max 102, 124 Kahr, Gustav von 23, 56, 67, 68, 83, 162 Kampfbund 56, 69, 73–74, 76, 84 Kapp, Wolfgang 33 Kapp Putsch 63, 66–67 Keynes, John Maynard 21 Kiel naval revolt (1919) 58 Killinger, Manfred von 53 Klintsch, Johann Ulrich 53 Knilling, Eugen von 83 Koestler, Arthur 116 Kreuzzeitung, German newspaper 6 Kriebel, Hermann 56 Krupp, Alfred 7–8 Kubizek, August 31–32 Kun, Bela 42 KyffhäuserBund 9 Lagarde, Paul de 108 Landsberg prison 80 Landsknechte (“freebooters”) 64 League of Anti-Semites 6–7 Lebensraum (“living room”) 13 Lenin, V.I. 14–15, 34 Levien, Max 41–42 Ley, Robert 159 Liebenfels, Georg Lanz von (Adolf Lang) 7, 33 Liebknecht, Karl 15 Liebknecht, Wilhelm 15 Leviné, Eugen 43 “Little Wedding” (Berlin-Charlot- tenburg) 109 Lloyd George, David 22 Lossow, General Otto von 56, 68, 75, 79 Ludendorff, Erich 13–14, 55, 73, 76, 85 Ludin, Hans 140 Ludwig III of Bavaria 40–41 Lueger, Karl 7 Luitpold School executions 43 Lutze, Viktor 102 Luxemburg, Rosa 15–16 Magyar Defense League 26 Mann, Thomas 39–40 Marburg Speech (Papen in 1934) 166 Marx, Karl 7, 23, 107 Masurian Lakes, battle of (1914) 14 Maurice, Emil 54 Mayr, Karl 37 Mazlish, Bruce 47 Mein Kampf 30, 32, 48, 53, 80– 82, 87 Memoirs of a High Traitor by E. Röhm 64 Metternich, Clemens von 22; Meyer, Rudolf 108 Mosse, George 2 Mueslum, Dr. Margaret 112 Münchener Post 34, 77 Musham, Eric 34 Mussolini, Benito 27, 79 National Socialist Freedom Move- ment 87 Naval League 5, 9 Nazi Party (NSDAP) 48, 75, 76, 80, 90, 91, 96, 98, 100, 140, 143, 149, 147, 152; beer hall Putzch 75–79; Gleichschaltung 158–159 Neithardt, Gregory 79 Neumann, Josef 33 “Night of the Long Knives” 162 North German Confederation 108 Noske, Gustav 18, 59–60 “November Criminals” 46 Nuremberg Party Congress (first annual) 91 “Operation Hummingbird” 161– 163 “Order of the Temple” 7 “Orderly Compartment of Bavaria” 23 Organization Consul 25, 33, 132 Orgesch 67 Orka 44 Ostara 7, 33 Osthilfe (“Eastern Help”) 146 Oven, General Ernst von 60 Pan-German League 5, 39 Papen, Franz von 114, 133, 144, 149, 150, 155, 162, 166 “People’s Naval Division” (1918) 58 Pfeffer, Franz von 98, 129, 141 Pietrzuch (Communist Worker) 150 PO (political organization of the Nazi Party) 97, 141, 144–145 Pöhner, Ernst 54, 67–68, 76 Pölzl, Klara 30 Popp, Josef 34 Potempa Five 150 Potempa Murder 150 Potsdam Garrison Church meet- ing of Reichstag 156–157 “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” 81 Prussia, Duchy of 106 Rapallo, Treaty of 24–25 Rathenau, Walther 5–6, 23–24 Raubal, Geli 142 Raubal, Leo 30 Realpolitik 107 Red Front Fighters (KPD) 98, 101 Red Swastika (Nazi women’s med- ical auxiliary) 93 Reichenau, Walter von 145 Reichsflagge (“Reich Flag”) 69, 71 Reichskreigflagge (“Reich War Banner”) 69 Reichstag fire (27 February 1933) 156 Rentenmark 83 Revision of lower-middle class thesis (Nazism) 175 f.n. Revolutionary ascetic 47–48 Rhenische Zeitung 107 Ribbentrop, Joachim von 152 Riga, Free Corps attacks on 62– 63 Röhm, Ernst 26, 28, 46–47, 53– 54, 64, 70–71, 84–86, 122–123, 141, 160–163, 166 Rosenberg, Alfred 87 Rote Fahne (“Red Flag,” the KPD newspaper) 110 Royal Irish Constabulary 27 Ruhr Occupation (1923) 25, 72– 74 SA (Sturmabteilung or “Storm Detachment”) 88–89 , 97, 98, 100, 117, 122, 124, 139; arrests in Berlin 111 ff.; ban on in Berlin 111; Beer Hall Putsch 73, 84, 86, 88; criminal element in 123; early development 52–56; elec- tioneering 99; gangsterism 112; Hagen (Westphalia) SA 119–120; “Homes” 119–120; ideal SA family 148; ideological pro- file (1930) 103; Legal Depart- ment 135; machismo in 130, 149; mythology 121; Pharus Hall battle (1927) 110; prohibition of (1932) 145; purge of 160–170; Reichstag members 112; Röhm reorganization 141; squad for- mations 119; Tetlow “march- out” 110–111 Sauer, Wolfgang 25 Schar (smallest SA unit) 92 Scharnagl, Karl 83 Scheidemann, Philip 16,18 Scheringer, Richard 140 Schickelgruber, Maria Anna 29 Schirach, Baldur von 91 Schlageter, Albert Leo 73 Schleicher, General Kurt von 59, 97, 136, 139, 149, 150, 152, 162, 169 Schönerer, Georg Ritter von 7 Schreck, Julius 55 Schwartz, Franz Xaver 91 Sebattendorf, Rudolf von (Adam Glauer) 47 Seeckt, Hans von 75 Seisser, Hans Ritter von 76 Shaw, George Bernard 27 Sidman, Charles F. 2 Social Darwinism 81 Social Democratic Party (SPD) 16, 17, 108, 114, 115, 117–118, 147, 153 Social Reich Party 7 Soviet Republic of Bavaria (first) 42 Soviet Republic of Bavaria (sec- ond) 42 Spartacist revolt 15–18, 61 Spartacists 15–18, 61, 108 Spengler, Oswald 34 SS (Schutzstaffel or “protection formations”) 55 Stab-in-the-back legend (Dolch- stosslegende) 14 Stabswache 55 Strasser, Gregor 86–88, 90 Stein, Baron vom 107 Stemple, Father Bernhard 47 Stöcker, Adolf 6 “Storm Centers” for the SA 105–119 Stosstrupp Hitler 55, 76 Streck, Hans 73 Streicher, Julius 50 Stresemann, Gustav 25, 88, 94, 95 Stucke, Lutheran vicar 111 Tannenburg, Battle of 1914, 14 Teutonic Knights 106 “The Three Penny Opera” 116 Thule Society 47 Tirpitz, Alfred von 4–5, 16 Toller, Ernst 42 Trianon, Treaty of 26 Trupp (an SA “troop”) 92 “Unknown SA Man” 110 Urban Pand 90, 98 Valois, George 52 Versailles Treaty 20–22, 44, 105, 140; War Guilt Clause 21–22 Völkisch ideology 44 Völkischer Beobachter (the “Racist Observer”) 49, 75, 99 Von Epp Free Corps 67 Waite, Robert G.L. 65–66 Wallenstein, Count Albrecht von 64 War Food Office 40 Weber, Friedrich 73 Der Wehrwolf 121 Wehrwölfe 65 Weil, Kurt 116 Weimar Constitution 154 Weiss, Bernhard 114 Wendt, Friedrich 140 Wessel, Horst 112 Westarp, Countess von 47 White Terror (Munich) 44 Wiedemann, Fritz 36 Wiking Bund (the “Vikings”) 53, 69 William II of Hohenzollern, Ger- man emperor 3, 4, 13, 14 Wilson, Woodrow 14, 22 Wolfram, Ludwig 8 Yiddish, German language and 5 “Young Communists”