Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
Volume Two: The National Socialist Movement
Chapter VII: The Struggle with the Red Front
In 1919-20 and also in 1921 I personally attended bourgeois meetings. They always made the same impression on me as in my youth the prescribed spoonful of cod-liver oil. You've got to take it, and it's supposed to be very good, but it tastes terrible. If the German people were tied together with cords and pulled forcibly into these bourgeois 'demonstrations,' and the doors were locked till the end of the performance and no one allowed to leave, it might lead to success in a few centuries. Of course, I must frankly admit that in this case I should probably lose all interest in life and would rather not be a German at all. But since, thank the Lord, this cannot be done, we have no need to be surprised that the healthy, unspoiled people avoid 'bourgeois mass meetings' as the devil holy water.
I came to know them, these prophets of a bourgeois philosophy, and I am really not surprised I understand why they attribute no importance to the spoken word. In those days I attended meetings of the Democrats, the German Nationalists, the German People's Party, and also the Bavarian People's Party (Bavarian Center). What struck you at once was the homogeneous solidity of the audience. It was almost always solely party members that took part in one of these rallies. The whole thing was without any discipline. more like a yawning bridge club than a meeting of the people which had just been through their greatest revolution.
The speakers did everything they could to preserve this peaceful mood. They spoke, or rather, as a rule, they read speeches in the style of a witty newspaper article or of a scientific treatise, avoided all strong words, and here and there threw in some feeble professorial joke, at which the honorable committee dutifully began to laugh; though not loudly, provocatively, but in a dignified, subdued, reserved fashion.
And what a committee!
Once I saw a meeting in the Wagner-Saal in Munich it was a demonstration on the occasion of the anniversary of the Battle of Nations at Leipzig. The speech was delivered or read by a dignified old gentleman, a professor at some university. On the platform sat the committee. To the left a monocle, to the right a monocle, and in between one without a monocle. All three in frock coats, so that you got the impression either of a court of justice planning an execution or of a solemn baptism, in any case more of a religious solemnity. The so-called speech, which might have cut a perfectly good figure in print, was simply terrible in its effect. After only three quarters of an hour the whole meeting was dozing along in a state of trance, which was interrupted only by the departure of individual men and women, the clattering of the waitresses, and the yawning of more and more numerous listeners. Three workers, who, either from curiosity or because they had been commissioned to attend, were present at the meeting, and behind whom I posted myself, looked at each other from time to time with ill-concealed grins, and finally nudged one another, whereupon they very quietly left the hall. You could see that they did not want to disturb the meeting at any price. And in this company it was really not necessary. Finally the meeting seemed to be drawing to its end. After the professor, whose voice had meanwhile grown steadily softer and softer, had finished his lecture, the chairman of the meeting, sitting between the two monocle-bearers, arose and roared at the 'German sisters' and 'brothers' present how great his gratitude was and how great their feelings on this order must be for the unique lecture, as enjoyable as it was thorough and deeply penetrating, which Professor X had given them, and which in the truest sense of the word was an 'inner experience,' in fact, an 'achievement.' It would be a profanation of this solemn hour to add a discussion to these lucid remarks; therefore, speaking for all those present, he would dispense with any such discussion and instead bid them all rise from their seats and join in the cry: 'We are a united people of brothers,' etc. Finally, to conclude the meeting he asked us all to sing the Deutschland song.
And then they sang, and it seemed to me that even at the second verse the voices were becoming somewhat fewer and only swelled mightily at the refrain, and at the third verse this impression grew stronger, and I believed that not all of them could have been quite sure of the text.
But what does this matter if such a song rings to the heavens in all fervor from the heart of a German National soul.
Thereupon the meeting scattered; that is, everyone rushed to get out quickly, some to their beer, others to a cafe, and still others into the fresh air.
Yes, indeed, out into the fresh air, at all costs out. That was my own one feeling, too. And this was supposed to serve for the glorification of a heroic struggle on the part of hundreds of thousands of Prussians and Germans? Phooey, I say, and again phoney!
The government, of course, may like this kind of thing. Naturally this is a 'peaceful' meeting. The minister for law and order really has no need to fear that the waves of enthusiasm will suddenly burst the legal measure of bourgeois propriety; that suddenly in a frenzy of enthusiasm, the people will pour forth from the hall, not to hurry to a cafe or tavern, but to march through the streets of the city in rows of four with measured tread, singing 'Deutschland hoch in Ehren,' thus creating unpleasantness for a police force in need of rest.
No, with such citizens they can be well pleased.
By contrast, it must be admitted, the National Socialist meetings were not ' 'peaceful.' There the waves of two outlooks dashed, and they did not end with the insipid rattling off of some patriotic song, but with a fanatical outburst of folkish and national passion.
From the very beginning it was important to introduce blind discipline in our meetings and absolutely to guarantee the authority of the committee in charge. For what we said in our speeches was not the feeble bilge of a bourgeois 'speaker,' but in content and form was always suited to provoke a reply from our opponents. And opponents there were in our meetings! How often they came in dense crowds, individual agitators among them, and all their faces reflecting the conviction: Today we'll make an end of you!
How often, indeed, they were led in, literally in columns, our Red friends, with exact orders, poured into them in advance, to smash up the whole show tonight and put an end to the whole business. And how often it was touch and go, and only the ruthless energy of our people in charge and the brutal activism of our guards was able again and again to thwart the enemy's purpose.
And they had every reason to feel provoked.
The red color of our posters in itself drew them to our meeting halls. The run-of-the-mill bourgeoisie were horrified that we had seized upon the red of the Bolsheviks, and they regarded this as all very ambiguous. The German national souls kept privately whispering to each other the suspicion that basically we were nothing but a species of Marxism, perhaps Marxists, or rather, socialists in disguise. For to this very day these scatterbrains have not understood the difference between socialism and Marxism. Especially when they discovered that, as a matter of principle, we greeted in our meetings no 'ladies and gentlemen' but only 'national comrades,' and among ourselves spoke only of party comrades, the Marxist spook seemed demonstrated for many of our enemies. How often we shook with laughter at these simple bourgeois scare-cats, at the sight of their ingenious witty guessing games about our origin, our intentions, and our goal.
We chose the red color of our posters after careful and thorough reflection, in order to provoke the Left, to drive them to indignation and lead them to attend our meetings if only to break them up, in order to have some chance to speak to the people.
It was really a treat in those years to follow the perplexity and helplessness of our adversaries in their perpetually vacillating tactics. First they called on their adherents to take no notice of us and to avoid our meetings.
And on the whole this advice was followed.
But since in the course of time individuals came notwithstanding, and this number slowly but steadily increased and the impression made by our doctrine was obvious, the leaders gradually became nervous and uneasy and became obsessed with the conviction that they must not forever stand idly by and watch this development, but must put an end to it by terror.
Thereupon came appeals to the 'class-conscious proletarians' to attend our meetings in masses and strike the representatives of 'monarchistic, reactionary agitation' with the fists of the proletariat.
All at once our meetings were filled with workers, three quarters of an hour in advance. They were like a powder barrel that could blow up at any moment, with a burning fuse already under it. But it always turned out differently. The people came in as our enemies, and when they left, if they were not our supporters, at least they had grown thoughtful, indeed critical; they had begun to examine the soundness of their own doctrine. But gradually it transpired that after my speech lasting three hours adherents and adversaries fused into a single enthusiastic mass. Then any signal to smash up the meeting was in vain. Then the leaders really began to be afraid, and they turned back to those who had previously come out against this tactic and who now, with a certain semblance of justification, emphasized their opinion that the only correct method was to forbid the workers to attend our meeting on principle.
Then they stopped coming, or at least there were fewer of
them. But after a short while the whole game began again from the beginning.
The prohibition was not observed; more and more of the comrades came, and again the adherents of the radical tactic were victorious. Our meetings must be broken up, they decided.
Then, after two, three, or often eight and ten meetings it turned out that to break up the meetings was easier said than done; and the result of every single meeting was a crumbling away of the Red fighting troops. Suddenly the other watchword was back again: 'Proletarians, comrades! Avoid the meetings of the National Socialist agitators! '
And the same, eternally vacillating tactic was found in the Red press. Sometimes they tried to kill us by silence, then becoming convinced of the uselessness of this effort and again trying the contrary. Every day we were 'mentioned' somewhere, usually with the intent of making the absolute absurdity of our whole existence clear to the workers. But after a certain time the gentlemen could not help but feel that not only did this do us no harm, but on the contrary benefited us, since naturally many individuals could not help but ask themselves why so many words were devoted to this phenomenon if it was absurd. The people became curious. Then there was a sudden shift, and they began for a time to treat us as humanity's biggest criminals. Article upon article, in which our criminality was explained and proved again and again, and scandalous stories, even if pulled out of the air from A to Z. were expected to do the rest. But after a short time they seem to have convinced themselves of the inefficacy of these attacks; essentially all this only helped really to concentrate the general attention upon us.
At that time I adopted the standpoint: It makes no difference whatever whether they laugh at us or revile us, whether they represent us as clowns or criminals; the main thing is that they mention us, that they concern themselves with us again and again, and that we gradually in the eyes of the workers themselves appear to be the only power that anyone reckons with at the moment. What we really are and what we really want, we will show the wolves of the Jewish press when the time comes. One more reason why, as a rule, our meetings were not directly broken up in those days was the absolutely incredible cowardice of the leaders of our adversaries. In all critical cases they sent little rank-and-filers ahead, at most waiting outside for the results of the disturbances.
We were almost always very well informed with regard to the intentions of these gentry. Not only because, for reasons of expediency, we had left many party comrades within the Red formations, but because the Red wirepullers themselves were afflicted with a talkativeness which in this case was very useful to us, and which, unfortunately, is very frequently found among the German people in general. They couldn't keep it to themselves when they had hatched out such a plan, and as a rule they began to cackle even before the egg was laid. And so, many and many a time, we had made the most comprehensive preparations and the Red shock troops hadn't so much as a suspicion how close they were to being thrown out.
The times compelled us to take the defense of our meetings into our own hands; one can never count on protection on the part of the authorities; on the contrary, experience shows that it always and exclusively benefits the disturbers. For the sole actual result of intervention by the authorities-that is, the police-was at best to dissolve, in other words, to close the meeting. And that was the sole aim and purpose of the hostile disturbers.
In this connection the police has developed a practice which represents the most monstrous form of injustice that can be conceived of. If through some sort of threats it becomes known to the authorities that there is danger of a meeting being broken up, they do not arrest the threateners, but forbid the others, the innocent, to hold the meeting, and what is more, the run-of-the-mill police mind is mighty proud of such wisdom. They call this a 'precautionary measure for the prevention of an illegal act.'
Thus, the determined gangster is always in a position to make political activity and efforts impossible for decent people. In the name of law and order, the state authority gives in to the gangster and requests the others please not to provoke him. And so if National Socialists wanted to hold meetings in certain places and the unions declared that this would lead to resistance on the part of their members, the police, you may rest assured, did not put these blackmailing scoundrels behind the bars, but forbade our meeting. Yes, these organs of the law even had the incredible shamelessness to inform us of this innumerable times in writing.
If we wanted to defend ourselves against such eventualities, we had, therefore, to make sure that any attempt at a disturbance was forestalled 1 in the bud.
In this connection the following had also to be considered: Any meeting which is protected exclusively by the police discredits its organizers in the eyes of the broad masses. Meetings which are guaranteed only by the presence of a large police force do not attract support, since the presupposition for winning the lower strata of a people is always a strength that is visibly present.
Just as a courageous man can more easily conquer women's hearts than a coward, a heroic movement will sooner win the heart of a people than a cowardly one which is kept alive only by police protection.
Especially for this last reason, the young party had to make sure of defending its own existence, of protecting itself and of breaking the enemy terror with its own hands.
The protection of meetings was based:
(1) On an energetic and psychologically sound conduct of the meeting.2
If we National Socialists held a meeting in those days, we were its masters and no one else. And every minute, uninterruptedly, we sharply emphasized this master right. Our opponents knew perfectly well that anyone creating a provocation would be mercilessly thrown out, even if we were only a dozen among half a thousand.
1 'schon in Keim unmöglich gemacht Garde.'
2 In the first edition this series concludes abortively with No. 1. The second edition inserts: '(2) On an organized monlior troop.'
In the meetings of those days, especially outside of Munich, there would be five, six, seven, and eight hundred adversaries to fifteen or sixteen National Socialists. But nevertheless we tolerated no provocation, and those who attended our meetings knew full well that we would rather have let ourselves be beaten to death than capitulate. And it happened more than once that a handful of party comrades heroically fought their way to victory against a roaring, flailing Red majority.
In such cases these fifteen or twenty men would in the end have assuredly been overcome. But the others knew that previously at least twice or three times as many of them would have had their skulls bashed in, and this they did not gladly risk.
Here we tried to learn from the study of Marxist and bourgeois meeting technique, and learn we did.
The Marxists had always had a blind discipline, so that the idea of breaking up a Marxist meeting, by the bourgeoisie at least, could not even arise. But the Reds busied themselves all the more with such intentions. Gradually they had not only achieved a certain virtuosity in this field, but ultimately in large sections of the Reich they went so far as to designate a non-Marxist meeting as such as a provocation of the proletariat; especially when the wirepullers sensed that the meeting might draw up the catalogue of their own sins and unmask the treachery with which they deceived and lied to the people. Then, as soon as such a meeting was announced, the whole Red press raised a furious outcry, and these men who in principle despised the law were not seldom the first to turn to the authorities, with the urgent and threatening request that this 'provocation of the proletariat' be prohibited at once, 'in order to prevent worse things from happening.' They chose their language and achieved their success according to the dimensions of the official bonehead. But if, in an exceptional case, there was a real German official in such a post, not an official toady, and he rejected the shameless imposition, there followed the well-known summons not to suffer such a 'provocation of the proletariat,' but on such and such a date to attend the meeting en masse, and 'put a stop to the disgraceful activity of the bourgeois creatures, with the horny fist of the proletariat.'
You need to have seen such a bourgeois meeting, you need to have seen its leaders in all their miserable fear! Often, upon such threats, a meeting was simply called off. And always the fear was so great that instead of eight o'clock the meeting was seldom opened before a quarter to nine or nine o'clock. The chairman then endeavored, with twenty-nine compliments, to make it clear to the 'gentlemen of the opposition' present, how pleased he and all the others present were at heart (a plain lie!) with the visit of men who did not yet stand on the same ground, because after all only mutual discussion (to which he thereby most solemnly consented in advance) could bring them closer, arouse mutual understanding, and throw a bridge between them. And in passing he gave assurance that it was by no means the purpose of the meeting to turn people away from their previous views. No, indeed, let each man be happy in his own fashion, but let him not interfere with the happiness of others; and so he requested the audience to let the speaker complete his remarks, which would not be very long anyway, so that this meeting should not present to the world the shameful spectacle of German brothers quarreling among themselves. . . Brrr!
But the brethren on the Left usually had no understanding for this; no, before the speaker had even begun, he had to pack up his things amid the wildest abuse; and not seldom you got the impression that he was thankful to Fate for quickly cutting off the painful procedure. Amid a monstrous tumult such bourgeois meeting-hall toreadors left the arena, except when they flew down the steps with gashed heads, which was actually often the case.
And so, you may be sure, it was something new to the Marxists when we National Socialists organized our first meetings, and especially how we organized them. They came in convinced that, of course, they would be able to repeat on us the little game they had so often played. 'Today we'll finish you off!' How many a one boastfully shouted this sentence to another on entering our meeting, only to find himself outside the hall in the twinkling of an eye, even before he could shout his second interruption In the first place, the committee in charge was different with us. No one begged the audience graciously to permit our speech, nor was everyone guaranteed unlimited time for discussion; it was simply stated that we were the masters of the meeting, that in consequence we had the privilege of the house, and that anyone who should dare to utter so much as a single cry of interruption would be mercilessly thrown out where he came from. Thai, furthermore, we must reject any responsibility for such a fellow; if there was time left and it suited us, we would permit a discussion to take place, if not, there would be none, and the speaker, Party Comrade So-and-So, had the floor.
This in itself filled them with amazement.
In the second place, we disposed of a rigidly organized house guard. In the bourgeois parties this house guard, or rather monitor service, usually consisted of gentlemen who believed that the dignity of their years gave them a certain claim to authority and respect. But since the Marxist-incited masses did not have the least regard for age, authority, and respect, the existence of this bourgeois house guard was for practical purposes nullified, so to speak.
At the very beginning of our big meetings, I began the organization of a house guard in the form of a monitor service, which as a matter of principle included only young fellows. These were in part comrades whom I knew from military service; others were newly won party comrades who from the very outset were instructed and trained in the viewpoint that terror can only be broken by terror; that on this earth success has always gone to the courageous, determined man; that we are fighting for a mighty idea, so great and noble that it well deserves to be guarded and protected with the last drop of blood. They were imbued with the doctrine that, as long as reason was silent and violence had the last word, the best weapon of defense lay in attack; and that our monitor troop must be preceded by the reputation of not being a debating dub, but a combat group determined to go to any length.
And how this youth had longed for such a slogan!
How disillusioned and outraged was this front-line generation, how full of disgust and revulsion at bourgeois cowardice and shilly-shallying!
Thus, it became fully clear that the revolution had been possible thanks only to the disastrous bourgeois leadership of our people. The fists to protect the German people would have been available even then, but the heads to play the game were lacking. How many a time the eyes of my lads glittered when I explained to them the necessity of their mission and assured them over and over again that all the wisdom on this earth remains without success if force does not enter into its service, guarding it and protecting it; that the gentle Goddess of Peace can walk only by the side of the God of War; and that every great deed of this peace requires the protection and aid of force. How muck more vividly the idea of military service now dawned on them! Not in the calcified sense of old, ossified officials serving the dead authority of a dead state, but in the living consciousness of the duty to fight for the existence of our people as a whole by sacrificing the life of the individual, always and forever, at all times and places.
And how these lads did fight!
Like a swarm of hornets they swooped down on the disturbers of our meetings, without regard for their superior power, no matter how great it might be, without regard for wounds and bloody victims, filled entirely with the one great thought of creating a free path for the holy mission of our movement.
As early as midsummer, 1920 the organization of the monitor troop gradually assumed definite forms, and in the spring of 1921 little by little divided into hundreds, which themselves in turn were split up into groups.
And this was urgency necessary, for in the meanwhile our public meeting activity had steadily increased. Even now, to be sure, we still often met in the Festsaal of the Munich Hofbräuhaus, but even more often in the larger halls of the city. The Festsaal of the Bürgerbräu and the Münchener Kindl-Keller saw mightier and mightier mass meetings in the fall and winter of 1920-21, and the picture was always the same: rallies of the NSDAP even then usually had to be closed by the police even before beginning, because of overcrowding.
The organization of our monitor troop clarified a very important question. Up till then the movement possessed no party insignia and no party flag. The absence of such symbols not only had momentary disadvantages, but was intolerable for the future. The disadvantages consisted above all in the fact that the party comrades lacked any outward sign of their common bond, while it was unbearable for the future to dispense with a sign which possessed the character of a symbol of the movement and could as such be opposed to the International.
What importance must be attributed to such a symbol from the psychological point of view I had even in my youth more than one occasion to recognize and also emotionally to understand. Then, after the War, I experienced a mass demonstration of the Marxists in front of the Royal Palace and the Lustgarten. A sea of red flags, red scarves, and red flowers gave to this demonstration, in which an estimated hundred and twenty thousand persons took part, an aspect that was gigantic from the purely external point of view. I myself could feel and understand how easily the man of the people succumbs to the suggestive magic of a spectacle so grandiose in effect.
The bourgeoisie, which in its party politics neither represents nor advocates any outlook at all, had therefore no flag of its own. They consisted of 'patriots' and therefore ran around in the colors of the Reich. If these had been the symbol of a definite philosophy, it would have been understandable that the owners of the state viewed its flag as the representative of its philosophy, since the symbol of their philosophy had become the flag of the state and the Reich through their own activity.
But this was not the case.
The Reich had been formed without any move on the part of the German bourgeoisie, and the flag itself had been born from the womb of war. Hence it was really nothing but a state flag and possessed no meaning of any sort in the sense of a special philosophical mission.
Only in one spot of the German language area was anything like a bourgeois party flag in existence - in German Austria. By choosing the colors of 1848, black, red, and gold, for its party symbol, a part of the national bourgeoisie in that country had created a symbol, which, though without any meaning in a philosophical sense, nevertheless had a revolutionary character, politically speaking. The sharpest enemies of this black, red, and gold flag were then - and today this should not be forgotten- the Social Democrats and the Christian Social Party, or Clericals. It was precisely they who in those days reviled, befouled, and soiled these colors, just as later, in 1918, they dragged the black, white, and red into the gutter. At all events, the black, red, and gold of the German parties of old Austria were the colors of 1848; that is, of a time which may have been fantastic, but which was represented by the most honorable individual German souls, though the Jew stood in the background as the invisible wirepuller. Therefore, it was high treason and the shameless selling-out of the German people and German treasure which made these flags so agreeable to the Marxists and the Center that today they honor them as their most sacred possession and create organizations of their own for the protection of the flag they once spat upon.
And so, up to 1920, Marxism was actually confronted by no flag which philosophically would have represented its polar opposite. For even if the best parties of the German bourgeoisie after 1918 would no longer consent to take over the suddenly discovered black, red, and gold flag as their own symbol, they themselves had no program of their own for the future to oppose to the new development; at best they had the idea of a reconstruction of the past Reich.
And it is to this idea that black, white, and red banner of the old Reich owes its resurrection as the flag of our so-called national bourgeois parties.
It is obvious that the symbol of a state of affairs, which could be overcome by Marxism under conditions and attendant circumstances that were anything but glorious, is ill-suited for a symbol under which to annihilate this same Marxism. Sacred and beloved as these old and uniquely beautiful colors, in their fresh, youthful combination, must be to every decent German who has fought under them and beheld the sacrifice of so many, the flag is worthless as a symbol for a struggle for the future.
Unlike the bourgeois politicians, I have, in our movement, always upheld the standpoint that it is a true good fortune for the German nation to have lost the old flag. What the Republic does beneath its flag, can remain indifferent to us. But from the bottom of our hearts we should thank Fate for having been gracious enough to preserve the most glorious war flag of all times from being used as a bedsheet for the most shameful prostitution. The present-day Reich, which sells itself and its citizens, must never be permitted to fly the black, white, and red flag of honor and heroes.
As long as the November disgrace endures, let it bear its own outer covering and not try to steal this like everything else from a more honorable past. Let our bourgeois politicians remind their conscience that anyone who desires the black, white, and red flag for this state is burglarizing our past. Truly, the former flag was suited only to the former Reich, just as, God be praised and thanked, the Republic chose the one suited to it.
This was also the reason why we National Socialists could have seen no expressive symbol of our own activity in hoisting the old Bag. For we do not desire to awaken from death the old Reich that perished through its own errors, but to build a new state.
The movement which today fights Marxism with this aim must therefore bear the symbol of the new state in its very flag.
The question of the new flag - that is, its appearance - occupied us intensely in those days. From all sides came suggestions, which for the most part it must be admitted were more well-intended than successful. For the new flag had to be equally a symbol of our own struggle, since on the other hand it was expected also to be highly effective as a poster. Anyone who has to concern himself much with the masses will recognize these apparent trifles to be very important matters. An effective insignia can in hundreds of thousands of cases give the first impetus toward interest in a movement.
For this reason we had to reject all suggestions of identifying our movement through a white flag with the old state, or, more correctly, with those feeble parties whose sole political aim was the restoration of past conditions, as was proposed by many quarters. Besides, white is not a stirring color. It is suitable for chaste virgins' clubs, but not for world-changing movements in a revolutionary epoch.
Black was also suggested: in itself suitable for the present period, it contained nothing, however, that could in any way be interpreted as a picture of the will of our movement. Finally, this color has not a stirring enough effect either.
White and blue were out of the question despite their wonderful esthetic effect, for these were the colors of an individual German state, and of an orientation toward particularistic narrow-mindedness which unfortunately did not enjoy the best reputation. Here, too, moreover, it would have been hard to find any reference to our movement. The same applied to black and white.
Black, red, and gold were in themselves out of the question.
So were black, white, and red, for reasons already mentioned, at least in their previous composition. In effect, to be sure, this color combination stands high above all others. It is the most brilliant harmony in existence.
I myself always came out for the retention of the old colors, not only because as a soldier they are to me the holiest thing I know, but because also in their esthetic effect they are by far the most compatible with my feeling. Nevertheless, I was obliged to reject without exception the numerous designs which poured in from the circles of the young movement, and which for the most part had drawn the swastika into the old flag I myself - as Leader - did not want to come out publicly at once with my own design, since after all it was possible that another should produce one just as good or perhaps even better. Actually, a dentist from Starnberg did deliver a design that was not bad at all, and, incidentally, was quite close to my own, having only the one fault that a swastika with curved legs was composed into a white disk.
I myself, meanwhile, after innumerable attempts, had laid down a final form; a flag with a red background, a white disk, and a black swastika in the middle. After long trials I also found a definite proportion between the size of the flag and the size of the white disk, as well as the shape and thickness of the swastika.
And this remained final.
Along the same lines arm-bands were immediately ordered for the monitor detachments, a red band, likewise with the white disk and black swastika.
The party insignia was also designed along the same lines: a white disk on a red field, with the swastika in the middle. A Munich goldsmith by the name of Füss furnished the first usable design, which was kept.
In midsummer of 1920 the new flag came before the public for the first time. It was excellently suited to our new movement. It was young and new, like the movement itself. No one had seen it before; it had the effect of a burning torch. We ourselves experienced an almost childlike joy when a faithful woman party comrade for the first time executed the design and delivered the flag. Only a few months later we had half a dozen of them in Munich, and the monitor troop, which was growing bigger and bigger, especially contributed to spreading the new symbol of the movement.
And a symbol it really is! Not only that the unique colors, which all of us so passionately love and which once won so much honor for the German people, attest our veneration for the past; they were also the best embodiment of the movement's will. As National Socialists, we see our program in our flag. In red we see the social idea of the movement, in white the nationalistic idea, in the swastika the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man, and, by the same token, the victory of the idea of creative work, which as such always has been and always will be anti-Semitic.
Two years later, when the monitor troop had long since become a Sturrm-Abteilung (storm section), embracing many thousands of men, it seemed necessary to give this armed organization a special symbol of victory: the standard. This, too, I designed myself and then gave it to a loyal old party comrade, master goldsmith Gahr, for execution. Since then the standard is among the symbols and battle signs of the National Socialist struggle.
Our public meeting activity, which increased more and more in 1920, finally led to the point where we held as many as two meetings in some weeks. People crowded in front of our posters, the largest halls of the city were always filled, and tens of thousands of misled Marxists found the way back to their national community to become warriors for a free German Reich to come. The Munich public had come to know us. People spoke of us, the word 'National Socialist' became familiar to many and already meant a program. The host of adherents, and even of members, began to grow uninterruptedly, so that in the winter of 1920-21 we could already be regarded as a strong party in Munich.
Aside from the Marxist parties there was in those days no party, above all no national party, which could boast of such mass demonstrations as ours. The Münchener-Kindl-Keller, holding five thousand people, had more than once been filled to the bursting point, and there was only a single hall into which we had not yet ventured, and this was the Zirkus Krone.
At the end of January, 1921, grave cares arose once more for Germany. The Paris Agreement, according to which Germany obligated herself to pay the insane sum of a hundred billion gold marks, was to be realized in the form of the London dictate.3 A working federation of so-called folkish leagues, long existing in Munich, wanted to call a large common protest meeting on this occasion. Time was pressing, and I myself was nervous in view of the eternal hesitation and delay in carrying out decisions that had been taken. First there was talk of a demonstration on the Königsplatz, but this was abandoned for fear of being broken up by the Reds and a protest demonstration in front of the Feldherrnhalle was projected. But this too was abandoned and finally a common demonstration in the Münchener-Kindl-Keller was suggested. Meanwhile, day after day had passed, the big parties had taken no notice whatever of the great event, and the action committee could not make up its mind to set a definite date for the intended demonstration.
On Tuesday, February 1, 1921, I most urgently demanded a final decision. I was put off till Wednesday. So on Wednesday I absolutely insisted on clear information when and whether the demonstration should take place. The answer was again indefinite and evasive; I was told that they 'intended' to call a demonstration for Wednesday a week.
With this the cord of my patience snapped and I decided to carry through the protest demonstration alone. On Wednesday noon I dictated the poster into the typewriter in ten minutes and at the same time had the Zirkus Krone rented for the following day, Thursday, February 3.
At that time this was a tremendous venture. Not only that it seemed questionable whether we could fill the gigantic hall, but we also ran the danger of being broken up.
Our monitor troop was far from being adequate for this colossal hall. And I had no proper idea about the kind of procedure possible in case of an attempt to break the meeting up. At that time I thought this would be much harder for us in the Circus building than in a normal hall. Yet, as it later turned out, the truth was exactly the opposite. Actually, in this gigantic hall, it was easier to master a troop of disturbers than in small halls where you were penned in.
3 The Supreme Allied Council met in Paris from January 24 to 30, and elaborated a plan of reparations payments. Annual payments were to begin at two billion gold marks a year and gradually increase to six billions at the end of eleven years.
The London Conference on Reparations, held from April 29 to May 5 of the same year, sent an ultimatum to Germany demanding one billion gold marks on penalty of occupying the Ruhr. The Germans accepted the terms and paid the sum by borrowing in London.
Only one thing was certain: any failure could throw us back for a long time to come. For if we were once successfully broken up, it would have destroyed our nimbus at one stroke and encouraged our opponents to attempt again what had once succeeded. This could have led to a sabotage of our whole further meeting activity, which would have taken many months and the hardest struggles to overcome.
We had only one day's time to put up posters, that was Thursday itself. Unfortunately, it was raining in the morning, and the fear seemed founded that under such circumstances many people would prefer to stay home, instead of hurrying through the rain and snow to a meeting at which there might possibly be murder and homicide.
Altogether, I suddenly became afraid on Thursday morning that the hall would not be filled after all (and in this case I would have been discredited in the eyes of the working federation), so now I hastily dictated a few leaflets and had them printed for circulation in the afternoon. They naturally contained an appeal to attend the meeting.
Two trucks that I had hired were swathed in as much red as possible, a few of our Bags were planted on top of them and each one was manned with fifteen to twenty party comrades; they received the command to drive conscientiously through the streets of the city and throw off leaflets; in short, to make propaganda for the mass demonstration in the evening. It was the first time that trucks had driven through the city with banners and no Marxists on them. Consequently the bourgeoisie stared open-mouthed after the red car decked out with fluttering swastika flags, while in the outer sections numerous clenched fists arose whose owners seemed obviously burned up with rage at this newest 'provocation of the proletariat.' For only the Marxists had the right to hold meetings or to drive around in trucks.
At seven that night the Circus was not yet well filled. Every ten minutes I was notified by phone, and even I was pretty worried for at seven or a quarter after, the other halls had usually been half, in fact, often almost entirely, full. This, however, was soon explained. I had not reckoned with the gigantic dimensions of the new hall: a thousand persons made the Hofbräuhaus seem very well filled, while they were simply swallowed up by the Zirkus Krone. You could hardly see them. A short time later, however, more favorable reports came in, and at a quarter to eight word came that the hall was three-quarters full and that large crowds were standing outside the box office windows. Thereupon I set out.
At two minutes past eight I arrived in front of the Circus. There was still a crowd to be seen in front, partly just curious people, with many opponents among them who wanted to stay outside and see what would happen.
As I entered the mighty hall, the same joy seized me as a year previous in the first meeting at the Munich Hofbräuhaus Festsaal. But only after I had pressed my way through the human walls and reached the lofty platform did I see the success in all its magnitude. Like a giant shell this hall lay before me, filled with thousands and thousands of people. Even the ring was black with people. Over five thousand six hundred tickets had been sold, and if we included the total number of unemployed, of poor students and our monitor detachments, there must have been six and a half thousand persons.
'Future or Ruin' was the theme, and my heart rejoiced in the conviction that down there before me the future lay.
I began to speak, and spoke about two and a half hours; and my feeling told me after the first half hour that the meeting would be a great success. Contact with all these thousands of individuals had been established. After the first hour the applause began to interrupt me in greater and greater spontaneous outbursts, ebbing off after two hours into that solemn stillness which I have later experienced so very often in this hall, and which will remain unforgettable to every single member of the audience. Then you could hardly hear more than the breathing of this gigantic multitude, and only when the last word had been spoken did the applause suddenly roar forth to find its release and conclusion in the Deutschland song, sung with the highest fervor.
I stayed to watch as the giant hall slowly began to empty and for nearly twenty minutes an enormous sea of human beings forced its way through the mighty center exit. Only then did I myself, overjoyed, leave my place to go home.
Photographs were made of this first meeting in the Zirkus Krone They show better than words the magnitude of the demonstration. Bourgeois papers ran pictures and notices, but they only mentioned that there had been a 'national' demonstration and with their usual modesty passed over the organizers in silence.
With this we had for the first time far overstepped the bounds of an ordinary party of the day. We could no longer be ignored. And now, lest the impression arise that this successful meeting was nothing more than fly-by-night, I immediately fixed a second meeting in the Circus for the coming week, and the success was the same. Again the gigantic hall was full to the bursting point with human masses, so that I decided to hold a meeting in the coming week in the same style for the third time. And for the third time the giant Circus was packed full of people from top to bottom.
After this introduction to the year 1921, I increased our public meeting activity in Munich even more. I now switched over to holding not only one meeting every week, but in some weeks two mass meetings; in fact, in midsummer and late fall, it was sometimes three. We still met in the Circus and to our satisfaction noted that all our evenings brought the same success.
The result was a steadily increasing number of adherents to the movement and a great increase in members.
Such successes naturally did not leave our enemies inactive. Always wavering in their tactics, they had alternated between a policy of terror and one of killing us by silence, and now, as they themselves were forced to recognize, they could in no way obstruct the development of the movement with either the one or the other. And so, with a last exertion, they decided upon an act of terror that would definitely bar any further public meeting activity on our part.
As outward occasion for this action they used a highly mysterious attack upon a deputy in the Bavarian Diet by the name of Erhard Auer.4 The said Erhard Auer was said to have been shot at one night by someone. That is, he had not actually been shot, but an attempt had been made to shoot him. Amazing presence of mind, as well as the proverbial courage of the Social Democratic Party leader, had ostensibly not only frustrated the insidious attack, but put the infamous assailants to ignominious flight. They had fled so hastily and so far that even later the police could not catch the slightest trace 5 of them. This mysterious occurrence was now used by the organ of the Social Democratic Party in Munich to agitate against the movement in the most unrestrained fashion, and among other things to hint with their customary loose tongue at what must soon follow. Measures had been taken, they hinted, to keep us from getting out of hand, proletarian fists would intervene before it was too late.
And a few days later the day of intervention was at hand.
A meeting in the Munich Hofbränhaus Festsaal, at which I myself was to speak, had been chosen for the final reckoning.
On November 4, 1921, between six and seven in the evening, I received the first positive news that the meeting would definitely be broken up, and that for this purpose they intended to send in great masses of workers, especially from a few Red factories.
4 Erhard Auer was leader of the Munich Social Democrats and a member of the Bavarian Diet. Hitler's story is accurate to the extent that Auer himself reported the attempt to murder him and that nothing was ever learned of his assailants.
5 'nicht die leiseste Spur erwischen.'
It must be laid to an unfortunate accident that we did not get this information earlier. On the same day we had given up our venerable old business office in the Sterneckergasse in Munich and had moved to a new one; that is, we were out of the old one, but could not yet move into the new one because work was still going on inside. Since the telephone had already been taken out of the old one and not yet installed in the new one, a number of attempts to inform us by telephone of the intended invasion had been in vain.
The consequence of this was that the meeting itself was protected only by extremely weak monitor groups. Only a numerically weak company, comprising about forty-six heads,6 was present, and the alarm apparatus was not yet sufficiently developed to bring ample reinforcement in the space of an hour in the evening. Added to this was the fact that such alarmist rumors had come to our ears innumerable times without anything special happening. The old saying that announced revolutions usually fail to take place had up to this time always proved correct in our experience.
And so, for this reason, too, perhaps everything was not done which could have been done that day, to counter any attempt to break up the meeting with the most brutal determination.
Finally, we regarded the Festsaal of the Munich Hofbräuhaus as most unsuited for an attempt to break up a meeting. We had been more afraid for the largest halls, especially the Circus. In this connection this day gave us a valuable lesson. Later we studied all these questions with a method which I should call truly scientific and came to results which in part were as incredible as they were interesting and in the ensuing period were of basic importance for the organizational and tactical leadership of our storm troops.
6 The German word I have translated as 'company' is 'Hundertschaft,' literally a company of one hundred. The effect in German is somewhat ludicrous, but not impossible, as it would be in English to say 'a hundred, comprising about forty-six heads.'
When I entered the vestibule of the Hofbränhaus at a quarter of eight, there could indeed be no doubt with regard to the existing intention. The room was overcrowded and had therefore been closed by the police. Our enemies who had appeared very early were for the most part in the hall, and our supporters for the most part outside. The small S. A. awaited me in the vestibule. I had the doors to the large hall closed and then ordered the forty-five or forty-six men to line up. I made it clear to the lads that today probably for the first time they would have to show themselves loyal to the movement through thick and thin, and that not a man of us must leave the hall unless we were carried out dead; I myself would remain in the hall, and I did not believe that a single one of them would desert me; but if I should see anyone playing the coward, I myself would personally tear off his arm-band and take away his insignia. Then I called upon them to advance immediately at the slightest attempt to break up the meeting, and to bear in mind that the best defense lies in your own offensive.
The answer was a threefold Heil that sounded rougher and hoarser than usual.
Then I went into the hall and surveyed the situation with my own eyes. They were sitting in there, tight-packed, and tried to stab me with their very eyes. Innumerable faces were turned toward me with sullen hatred, while again others, with mocking grimaces, let out cries capable of no two interpretations. Today they would 'make an end of us,' We should look out for our guts, they would stop our mouths for good, and all the rest of these lovely phrases. They were conscious of their superior power and felt accordingly.
Nevertheless, the meeting could be opened and I began to speak. In the Festsaal of the Hofbräuhaus I always stood on one of the long sides of the hall and my platform was a beer table. And so I was actually in the midst of the people. Perhaps this circumstance contributed to creating in this hall a mood such as I have never found anywhere else.
In front of me, especially to the left of me, only enemies were sitting and standing. They were all robust men and young fellows' in large part from the Maffei factory, from Kustermann's, from the Isaria Meter Works, etc. Along the left wall they had pushed ahead close to my table and were beginning to collect beer mugs; that is, they kept ordering beer and putting the empty mugs under the table. In this way, whole batteries grew up and it would have surprised me if all had ended well this time.
After about an hour and a half - I was able to talk that long despite interruptions - it seemed almost as if I was going to be master of the situation. The leaders of the invading troops seemed to feel this themselves; for they were becoming more and more restless, they often went out, came in again, and talked to their men with visible nervousness.
A small psychological mistake I committed in warding off an interruption, and which I myself realized no sooner had I let the word out of my mouth, gave the signal for them to start in.
A few angry shouts and a man suddenly jumped on a chair and roared into the hall: 'Freiheit!'7 (Freedom.) At which signal the fighters for freedom began their work.
In a few seconds the whole hall was filled with a roaring, screaming crowd, over which, like howitzer shells, flew innumerable beer mugs, and in between the cracking of chair-legs, the crashing of the mugs, bawling, howling, and screaming.
It was an idiotic spectacle.
I remained standing in my place and was able to observe how thoroughly my boys fulfilled their duty.
I should have liked to see a bourgeois meeting under such circumstances.
The dance had not yet begun when my storm troopers - for so they were called from this day on - attacked. Like wolves they flung themselves in packs of eight or ten again and again on their enemies, and little by little actually began to thrash them out of the hall. After only five minutes I hardly saw a one of them who was not covered with blood.
7 Greeting and slogan of the German Social Democrats
How many of them I only came really to know on that day; at the head my good Maurice,8 my present private secretary Hess, and many others, who even though gravely injured themselves, attacked again and again as long as their legs would hold them. For twenty minutes the hellish tumult lasted, but then our enemies, who must have numbered seven and eight hundred men, had for the most part been beaten out of the hall and chased down the stairs by my men numbering not even fifty. Only in the left rear corner of the hall a big group stood its ground and offered embittered resistance. Then suddenly two shots were fired from the hall entrance toward the platform, and wild shooting started. Your heart almost rejoiced at such a revival of old war experiences.
Who was shooting could not be distinguished from that point on; only one thing could be definitely established, that from this point on the fury of my bleeding boys exceeded all bounds and finally the last disturbers were overcome and driven out of the hall.
About twenty-five minutes had passed; the hall looked almost as if a shell had struck it. Many of my supporters were being bandaged; others had to be driven away, but we had remained masters of the situation. Hermann Esser, who had assumed the chair this evening, declared: 'The meeting goes on. The speaker has the floor.' And then I spoke again.
After we ourselves had closed the meeting, an excited police lieutenant came dashing in, and, wildly swinging his arms, he cackled into the hall: 'The meeting is dismissed.'
Involuntarily I had to laugh at this late-comer, real police pompousness. The smaller they are, the bigger they have to try and look at least.9
That night we had really learned a good deal and our enemies never again forgot the lesson they for their part had received.
After that the Münchener Post threatened us with no more fists o f the proletariat up to the autumn of 1923.
8 Emil Maurice. By trade a watchmaker. An early associate of Hitler and first leader of the storm troops. He was in prison with Hitler in Landsberg after the Putsch, and Hitler first dictated Mein Kampf to him. After the National Socialists seized power, he became a municipal councilor in Munich. He was active in the blood purge killings of 1934.
9 Persons residing in Munich at the time report that the Social Democrats were expelled from the meeting by the police.
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