Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
Volume Two: The National Socialist Movement
Chapter IX: Basic Ideas Regarding the Meaning and Organization of the SA
THE STRENGTH OF THE OLD STATE rested on three pillars: the monarchistic state form, the civil service, and the army. The revolution of 1918 eliminated the state form, disintegrated the army, and delivered the civil service to party corruption. Thus the most essential pillars of a so-called state authority were shattered. State authority as such rests almost always on the three elements which lie at the basis of all authority.
The first foundation for the creation of authority is always provided by popularity. But an authority which rests solely on this foundation is still extremely weak, uncertain, and shaky. Every bearer of such an authority based purely on popularity must, therefore, endeavor to improve and secure the foundation of this authority by the creation of power. In power, therefore, in force, we see the second foundation of all authority. It is already considerably more stable and secure, but by no means always stronger than the first. If popularity and force are combined, and if in common they are able to survive for a certain time, an authority on an even firmer basis can arise, the authority of tradition. If finally, popularity, force, and tradition combine, an authority may be regarded as unshakable.
Through the revolution this last case was completely excluded. Indeed, there is no longer even an authority of tradition. With the collapse of the old Reich, the elimination of the old state form, the destruction of the former sovereign emblems and symbols of the Reich, tradition was abruptly broken off. The consequence of this was the gravest shaking of state authority.
Even the second pillar of state authority, force, was no longer present. In order to carry out the revolution in the first place, it was necessary to disintegrate the embodiment of the organized force and power of the state, the army; indeed, it was necessary to use the infected parts of the army itself as revolutionary fighting elements. Even though the front-line armies had not succumbed to this disintegration in a uniform degree, they, nevertheless, the more they felt the glorious sites of their four and a half years of heroic struggle behind them, were corroded more and more by the homeland's acid of disorganization, and, arrived in the demobilization organizations, likewise ended up in the confusion of so-called voluntary obedience belonging to the epoch of the soldiers' councils.
Naturally no authority could be based on these mutinous bands of soldiers, who conceived of military service in terms of the eight-hour day. And thus the second element, the element which guarantees the firmness of authority, was also eliminated and the revolution now possessed only the original element, popularity, on which to build its authority. But this particular basis was extremely uncertain. To be sure, the revolution succeeded in shattering the old state structure with one mighty blow, but at bottom only because the normal balance within the structure of our people had already been eliminated by the war.
Every national body can be divided into three great classes: into an extreme of the best humanity on the one hand, good in the sense of possessing all virtues, especially distinguished by courage and self-sacrifice; on the other hand, an extreme of the worst human scum, bad in the sense that all selfish urges and vices are present. Between the two extremes there lies a third class, the great, broad, middle stratum, in which neither brilliant heroism nor the basest criminal mentality is embodied.
Times when a nation is rising are distinguished, in fact exist only, by the absolute leadership of the extreme best part.
Times of a normal, development of a stable state of affairs are distinguished and exist by the obvious domination of the clements of the middle, in which the two extremes mutually balance one another, or cancel one another.
Times when a nation is collapsing are determined by the dominant activity of the worst elements.
In this connection it is noteworthy that the broad masses, the class of the middle as I shall designate them, only manifest themselves perceptibly when the two extremes are locked in mutual struggle, but that in case of the victory of one of the extremes. they complaisantly submit to the victor In case the best people dominate, the broad masses will follow them; in case the worst element rises up, they will at least offer them no resistance; for the masses of the middle themselves will never fight.
Now the war, with its four and a half years of bloody events disturbed the inner balance of these three classes, in so far as - though recognizing all the sacrifices and victims of the middle - we must nevertheless recognize that it drained the extreme of the best humanity almost entirely of its blood. For the amount of irreplaceable German heroes' blood that was shed in these four and a half years was really enormous. Just sum up all the hundreds of thousands of individual cases in which again and again the watchword was: volunteers to the front, volunteer patrols, 'volunteer dispatch carriers, volunteers for telephone squads, volunteers seers for bridge crossings, volunteers for U-boats, volunteers for airplanes, volunteers for storm battalions, etc. - again and again through four and a half years, on thousands of occasions, volunteers and more volunteers - and always you see the same result: the beardless youth or the mature man, both filled with fervent love of their fatherland, with great personal courage or the highest consciousness of duty, they stepped forward. Tens of thousands, yes, hundreds of thousands of such cases occurred, and gradually this human element became sparser and sparser. Those who did not fan were either shot to pieces and crippled, or they gradually crumbled away as a result of their small remaining number. Consider above all that the year 1914 set up whole armies of so-called volunteers who, thanks to the criminal unscrupulousness of our parliamentary good-for-nothings, had received no adequate peacetime training, and thus became helpless cannon fodder at the mercy of the enemy. The four hundred thousand who then fell or were maimed in the battles of Flanders could not be replaced. Their loss was more than the loss of a mere number. By their loss the scale, too lightly weighted on the good side, shot upward, and the elements of baseness, treachery, cowardice, in short, the mass of the bad extreme, weighed more heavily than before.
For one more factor was added:
Not only that the extreme of the best had been most frightfully thinned on the battlefields in the course of the four and a half years, but the bad extreme had meanwhile preserved itself in the most miraculous way. For every hero who had volunteered and mounted the steps of Valhalla after a heroic death, you can be sure there was a slacker who had cautiously turned his back on death, in order to engage in more or less useful activity at home.
And so the end of the War gives us the following picture: The middle broad stratum of the nation has given its measure of blood sacrifices; the extreme of the best, with exemplary heroism, has sacrificed itself almost completely; the extreme of the bad, supported by the most senseless laws on the one hand and by the non-application of the Articles of War on the other hand, has unfortunately been preserved almost as completely.
This well-preserved scum of our people then made the revolution and was able to make it only because no longer opposed by the extreme of the best elements: - they were no longer among the living.
This, however, made the German revolution only a relatively popular affair from the start. It was not the German people as such that committed this act of Cain, but its deserters, pimps, and other rabble that shun the light.
The man at the front welcomed the end of the bloody struggle; he was glad to return home again, to see his wife and children. But with the revolution itself he had at heart nothing in common; he did not love it, and even less did he love its instigators and organizers. In the four and a half years of hardest struggle he had forgotten the party hyenas, and all their quarrels had grown alien to him.
Only with a small part of the German people had the revolution really been popular: among that class of its helpers who had chosen the knapsack as the badge of recognition of all honorable citizens of this new state. They did not love revolution for its own sake, as some people erroneously still believe today, but because of its consequences.
In truth, these Marxist gangsters could hardly base an authority on popularity for any length of time. And yet precisely the young Republic needed authority at any price, if after a brief chaos it did not want to be suddenly devoured by a force of retribution gathering from the last elements of the good part of our people.
There was nothing they more feared, those champions of the revolution, than to lose all foothold in the whirlpool of their own confusion, and suddenly to be seized by an iron fist, such as more than once in such periods has grown out of the life of peoples, and have the ground shifted under them. The Republic had to consolidate itself at any price.
And so it was compelled almost instantaneously to create, by the side of the tottering pillar of its weak popularity, an organization of force, in order to base a firmer authority upon it.
When the days of December, January, February of 1918-19 the matadors of the revolution felt the ground trembling beneath their feet, they looked around for men who would be ready to strengthen the weak position which the love of their people offered them, by the force of arms. The 'anti-militaristic' Republic needed soldiers. But since the first and sole support of their state authority - popularity - rooted only in the society of pimps, thieves, burglars, deserters, slackers, etc., in other words, in that part of the people which we must designate as the bad extreme- every effort to recruit men who were prepared to sacrifice their own lives in the service of the new ideal in these circles, was love's labor lost. The class supporting the revolutionary idea and carrying out the revolution was neither able nor willing to provide the soldiers for its protection. For this class by no means wanted the organization of a republican state body, but the disorganization of the existing state body for the better satisfaction of their instincts. Their watchword was not: order and building up of the German Republic, but: pillage it.
And so the cry for help which the representatives of the people let out in their agony of fear inevitably went unheard; on the contrary, in fact, it aroused resistance and bitterness. For in such an undertaking people felt a breach of loyalty and faith; in the formation of an authority based no longer solely on their popularity but supported by force, they sensed the beginning of the struggle against the one aspect of the revolution that was essential for these elements: against the right to rob and the undisciplined rule of a horde of thieves and plunderers who had broken out of the prison walls and been freed of their chains, in short, of foul rabble.
The representatives of the people could cry as much as they liked; no one stepped forward from their ranks, and only the answering cry, 'traitor,' informed them of the state of mind of those supporters of their popularity.
Then for the first time numerous young Germans once again stood ready to button up their soldier's tunics, to shoulder carbine and rifle, and don their steel helmets in the service of 'law and order' as they thought, to oppose the destroyers of their homes. As volunteer soldiers they banded into free corps and began, though grimly hating the revolution, to protect, and thus for practical purposes to secure, this same revolution.
This they did in the best good faith.
The real organizer of the revolution and its actual wirepuller the international Jew, had correctly estimated the situation. The German people was not yet ripe for being forced into the bloody Bolshevistic morass, as had happened in Russia. This was due in large part to the greater racial unity that still existed between the German intelligentsia and the German manual worker. Further in the great permeation of even the broadest strata of the people with educated elements, such as prevailed only in the other countries of Western Europe, but was totally lacking in Russia. There the intelligentsia itself was in large part not of Russian nationality or at least was of non-Slavic racial character. The thin intellectual upper stratum of the Russia of that time could at any time be removed, due to the total lack of connecting intermediary ingredients with the mass of the great people. And the intellectual and moral level of these last was horribly low.
Once it was possible in Russia to incite the uneducated hordes of the great masses, unable to read or write, against the thin intellectual upper crust that stood in no relation or connection to them, the fate of the country was decided, the revolution had succeeded; the Russian illiterate had thus become the defenseless slave of his Jewish dictators, who for their part, it must be admitted, were clever enough to let this dictatorship ride on the phrase of 'people's dictatorship.'
In Germany there was the following additional factor: As certainly as the revolution could succeed only in consequence of the gradual disintegration of the army, just as certainly the real maker of the revolution and disintegrator of the army was not the soldier at the front, but the more or less light-shy rabble which either hung around the home garrisons or, supposedly 'indispensable,' were in the economic service somewhere. This army was strengthened by tens of thousands of deserters, who were able to turn their backs on the front without special risk. The real coward at all times naturally shuns nothing so much as death. And at the front, day after day, he faced death in thousands of different forms. If you want to hold weak, wavering or actually cowardly fellows to their duty, there has at all times been only one possibility: The deserter must know that his desertion brings with it the very thing that he wants to escape. At the front a man can die, as a deserter he must die. Only by such a Draconic threat against any attempt at desertion can a deterring effect be obtained, not only for the individual, but for the whole army.
And here lay the meaning and purpose of the Articles of War.
It was lovely to believe that the great fight for the existence of a people could be fought on the sole basis of voluntary loyalty born out of and preserved by the realization of necessity. Voluntary fulfillment of duty has always determined the best men in their actions; but not the average. Therefore, such laws are necessary, as for example those against theft, which were not made for those who are basically the most honest, but for the pusillanimous, weak elements. Such laws, by frightening the bad, are intended to prevent the development of a condition in which ultimately the honest man is regarded as the stupider, and consequently people come more and more to the view that it is more expedient likewise to participate in theft than to look on with empty hands, or even to let themselves be robbed.
So it was false to believe that in a struggle, which by all human prognosis might rage for years to come, we could dispense with the instruments which the experience of many centuries, in fact millenniums, showed to be those which, in the gravest times and moments of the heaviest strain on the nerves, can compel weak and uncertain men to the fulfillment of their duty.
For the volunteer hero we obviously needed no Articles of War, but we did for the cowardly egotist, who in the hour of his people's distress sets his own life higher than that of the totality. Such a spineless weakling can only be deterred from giving in to his cowardice by the application of the hardest penalty. When men struggle ceaselessly with death and have to hold out for weeks without rest in mud-filled shell holes, sometimes with the worst possible food, the vacillating soldier cannot be held in line by threatening him with prison or even the workhouse, but only by ruthless application of the death penalty. For experience shows that at such a time he regards prison as a thousand times more attractive a place than the battlefield, considering that in prison at least his invaluable life is not menaced. And the fact that in the War the death penalty was excluded, that in reality the Articles of War were thus suspended, had terrible consequences An army of deserters, especially in 1918, poured into the reserve posts and the home towns, and helped to form that great criminal organization which, after November 7, 1918, we suddenly beheld as the maker of the revolution.
The front itself really had nothing to do with it. All its members felt only a longing for peace. But in this very fact lay tremendous danger for the revolution. For when after the armistice the German armies began to near home, the anxious question of the revolutionaries was again and again: What will the front-line troops do? Will the men in field gray stand for this?
In these weeks the revolution in Germany had to appear at least outwardly moderate, if it did not want to run the risk of suddenly being smashed to bits by a few German divisions. For if at that time even a single divisional commander had taken the decision to pull down the red rags with the help of his loyal and devoted division and to stand the 'councils' up against the wall, to break possible resistance with mine-throwers and hand-grenades, the division in less than four weeks would have swollen to an army of sixty divisions. This made the Jewish wirepullers tremble more than anything else. And precisely to prevent this, they had to cover the revolution with a certain moderation; it could not take the form of Bolshevism, but, as things happened to stand, had to make a pretense of 'law and order.' Hence the innumerable great concessions, the appeal to the old civil service personnel, to the old army leaders. They were needed for a certain time at least, and only after the Moors had done their duty,1 could the wirepuller venture to give them the kicks they had coming to them and take the Republic out of the hands of the old state servants and surrender it into the claws of the revolutionary vultures.
Only in this way could they hope to dupe old generals and old civil officials, to disarm in advance any possible resistance on their part by an apparent innocence and mildness in the new regime.
And practice showed to what an extent this succeeded.
1 This is a reference to Hitler's pet quotation from Schiller's Fiesko.
However, the revolution had not been made by elements of law and order, but by elements of riot, theft, and plunder. And for them, the development of the revolution neither accorded with their will, nor for tactical reasons could the course of events be explained and made palatable to them.
With the gradual growth of the Social Democracy, it had lost more and more the character of a brutal revolutionary party. Not that its thoughts had ever served any other goal than that of the revolution, or that its leaders had ever had other intentions; by no means. But what finally remained was only the purpose and a body no longer suited to its execution. With a party of ten millions it is no longer possible to make a revolution. In such a movement you no longer have an extreme of activity, but the great mass of the middle, that is, of inertia.
Out of this realization, while the War was still going on, the famous split of the Social Democracy by the Jews took place; that is: while the Social Democratic Party, in keeping with the inertia of its mass, hung on national defense like a lead weight, the radical-activistic elements were drawn out of it and formed into forceful new assault columns. The Independent Party and the Spartacus League were the storm battalions of revolutionary Marxism. Their task was to create the accomplished fact, the groundwork of which could be taken over by the masses of the Social Democratic Party, which had been prepared for this over a period of decades. The cowardly bourgeoisie, however, was not rightly estimated by the Marxists, and were simply treated 'en canaille.' Of them no notice was taken whatever, for it was realized that the doglike submissiveness of the political formations of an old outlived generation would never be capable of serious resistance.
As soon as the revolution had succeeded and the main pillars of the old state could be regarded as broken, but the front-line army, marching home, began to appear as a terrifying sphinx, a brake had to be applied to the natural development; the van of the Social Democratic army occupied the conquered position, and the Independent and Spartacist storm battalions were shoved aside.
This, however, did not take place without a struggle.
Not only that the activistic assault formations of the revolution were dissatisfied and felt cheated, and wanted to go on fighting on their own hook, but their unruly rowdyism was only too welcome to the wirepullers of the revolution. For no sooner was the revolution over than there rose within it two apparent camps: the party of law and order and the group of bloody terror. Now what was more natural than that our bourgeoisie should at once, with flying colors, move into the camp of law and order? Now, all at once, these wretched political organizations had an opportunity for an activity, in which, without being obliged to say so, they nevertheless quietly found some ground beneath their feet and came into a certain solidarity with the power which they hated but even more fervently feared. The political German bourgeoisie had received the high honor of being permitted to sit down at the table with the accursed Marxist leaders to combat the Bolshevists.
Thus, as early as December, 1918, and January, 1919, the following condition took form:
With a minority of the worst elements a revolution has been made, and immediately backed by all the Marxist parties. The revolution itself has an apparently moderate stamp, which nets it the hostility of the 'fanatical extremists. The latter begin to shoot off machine guns and hand grenades, to occupy public buildings, in short, to menace the moderate revolution. To suppress the terror of such a further development, an armistice is concluded between the supporters of the new state of affairs and the adherents of the old one, for the purpose of carrying on the struggle in common against the extremists. The result is that the enemies of the Republic have given up their fight against the Republic as such, and help to force down those who, though from totally different angles, are likewise enemies of this Republic. And the further result is that the danger of a struggle of the adherents of the old state against those of the new one seems definitely averted.
We cannot consider this fact often and closely enough. Only those who understand it can realize how it was possible that a people, nine tenths of whom did not make a revolution, seven tenths of whom reject it, and six tenths of whom hated it, nevertheless could have this revolution forced on them by one tenth.
Gradually the Spartacist barricade fighters on the one hand and the nationalist fanatics and idealists on the other were bled white, and in exact proportion as the two extremes wore each other out, as always, the mass of the middle was victorious. The bourgeoisie and Marxism met on a 'realistic basis,' and the Republic began to be 'consolidated.' Which for the present, to be sure, did not prevent the bourgeois parties, especially before elections, from citing the monarchist idea for a time, in order, by means of the spirits of the past, to be able to conjure the smaller spirits of their adherents and ensnare them once more.
Honorable this was not. At heart they had all broken with the monarchy long since, and the filth of the new condition had begun to spread its seductive influences to the bourgeois party camp. The usual bourgeois politician feels more at home today in the muck of republican corruption than in the clean hardness which 'he still remembers from the past state.
As already stated, the revolution, after the smashing of the old army, had been forced to create a new power factor for the reinforcement of its state authority. As things were, it could gain this only from supporters of an outlook that was really opposed to it. From them alone there could slowly arise a new army which, externally limited by the peace treaties, would, with regard to its mentality, have to be reshaped in the course of time into an instrument of the new state conception.
If we put to ourselves the question how - aside from all the real mistakes of the old state, which were among its causes- the revolution as an action could succeed, we come to the conclusion:
1. In consequence of the paralysis of our concepts of duty and obedience, and
2. In consequence of the cowardly passivity of our so-called state-preserving parties.
On these points the following may be said:
The paralysis of our concepts of duty and obedience has its ultimate ground in our totally unnational education, oriented solely toward the state. Here again this gives rise to a confusion between means and end. Consciousness of duty, fulfillment of duty, and obedience are not ends in themselves, any more than the state is an end in itself; they should all be the means for making possible and safeguarding on this earth the existence of a community of spiritually and physically homogeneous beings. In an hour when a national body is visibly collapsing and to all appearances is exposed to the gravest oppression, thanks to the activity of a few scoundrels, obedience and fulfillment of duty toward them amount to doctrinaire formalism, in fact pure insanity, if the refusal of obedience and 'fulfillment of duty' would make possible the salvation of a people from its ruin. According to our present-day bourgeois state conception, the divisional commander who at that time received from above the command not to shoot, acted dutifully and hence rightly in not shooting, since to bourgeois society, thoughtless formal obedience is more valuable than the life of their own people. According to the National Socialist conception, however, it is not obedience toward weak superiors that goes into force at such moments, but obedience toward the national community. In such an hour, the duty of personal responsibility toward a whole nation manifests itself.
The fact that a living conception of these terms had been lost in our people or rather in our governments, giving way to a purely doctrinaire and formal conception, was the cause of the revolution's success.
On the second point, the following must be remarked:
The deeper reason for the cowardice of the 'state-preserving' parties is above all the departure of the activistic, well-intentioned part of our people from their ranks - those who bled to death in the field. Aside from this, our bourgeois parties, which we can designate as the sole political formations which supported the old state, were convinced that they were entitled to defend their views exclusively in the spiritual way and with spiritual weapons, since the use of physical weapons was the sole prerogative of the state. Not only that in such a conception we must see a symptom of a gradually developing decadent weakness, but it was also senseless at a time when a political opponent had long since abandoned this standpoint and openly emphasized his intention of putting forward his political aims by force when possible. At the moment when Marxism appeared in the world of bourgeois democracy, as one of its results, the bourgeois-democratic appeal to carry on the struggle with 'spiritual weapons' was an absurdity, which would one day bring dire consequences. For the Marxists themselves from the very beginning came out for the conception that the use of a weapon must be considered only according to criteria of expediency, and that the right to use it resides solely in success.
How correct this conception is was shown in the days of November 7 to 11, 1918. -In those days the Marxists did not concern themselves in the least about parliamentarianism and democracy, but gave both of them the death blow with yelling and shooting mobs of criminals. It goes without saying that in this same moment the bourgeois talking clubs were defenseless.
After the revolution when the bourgeois parties suddenly reappeared, though with modified firm names, and their brave leaders crawled out of the concealment of dark cellars and airy storerooms, like all the representatives of such formations, they had not forgotten their mistakes and likewise they had learned nothing new. Their political program lay in the past, in so far as they had not reconciled themselves at heart with the new state of affairs; their aim, however, was to participate if possible in the new state of affairs, and their sole weapons remained, as they had always been, words.
Even after the revolution, the bourgeois parties at all times "miserably capitulated to the streets.
When the Law for the Protection of the Republic came up for consideration, there was at first no majority in favor of it. But in the face of the two hundred thousand demonstrating Marxists. the bourgeois 'statesmen' were seized with such a fear that contrary to their conviction they accepted the law. in the miserable rear that otherwise when they left the Reichstag they would be beaten to a pulp by the furious masses. Which unfortunately. in consequence of the law's acceptance, did not take place.
And so the development of the new state went its ways, as though there had not been any national opposition at all.
The sole organizations which at this time would have had the courage and strength to oppose the Marxists and their incited masses, were for the present the free corps; later the self-defense organizations, citizens' guards, etc., and finally the tradition leagues. 2
2 Veterans' organizations based on glorification of the old army.
But why their existence brought about no sort of shift that was in any way discernible was due to the following:
Just as the so-called national parties could exert no sort of influence for lack of any threatening power on the streets, likewise the so-called defense organizations, in turn, could exert no sort of influence for lack of any political idea, and above all of any real political goal.
What had given Marxism its success was its complete combination of political will and activistic brutality. What excluded national Germany from any practical activity in shaping the German development was the lack of a unified collaboration of brutal force with brilliant political will.
Whatever the will of the 'national' parties might be, they had not the least power to fight for this will, least of all on the streets.
The combat leagues had all the power, they were the masters of the streets and the state, and possessed no political idea and no political goal for which their strength was or even could be thrown in for the benefit of national Germany. In both cases it was the slyness of the Jew who, by clever persuasion and insistence, was able to bring about a positive perpetuation, in any case an increasing intensification, of this calamitous state of affairs It was the Jew who through his press knew how to launch with infinite dexterity the idea of the 'unpolitical character' of the combat leagues, as, on the other hand, in political life he always praised and encouraged, with equal slyness, the 'purely spiritual nature' of the struggle. Millions of German blockheads babbled this nonsense after him, without having even the faintest idea that in this way they were for practical purposes disarming themselves and exposing themselves defenseless to the Jew.
But for this, too, indeed, there is again a natural explanation. The lack of a great, creative, renewing idea means at all times a limitation of fighting force. Firm belief in the right to apply even the most brutal weapons is always bound up with the existence of a fanatical faith in the necessity of the victory of a revolutionary new order on this earth.
A movement that is not fighting for such highest aims and ideals will, therefore, never seize upon the ultimate weapon.
The fact of having a new great idea to show was the secret of the success of the French Revolution; the Russian Revolution owes its victory to the idea, and only through the idea did fascism achieve the power to subject a people in the most beneficial way to the most comprehensive creative renewal.
Of this, bourgeois parties are not capable.
But it was not only the bourgeois parties that saw their political goal in a restoration of the past, but also the combat leagues, in so far as they concerned themselves with any political aims at all. Old veterans' club and Kyffhäuser 3 tendencies were alive within them and contributed to politically blunting the sharpest weapon that national Germany had in those days and making it languish in the mercenary service of the Republic. The fact that in this they acted in the best conviction, and above all in the best good faith, changes nothing in the catastrophic madness of these occurrences.
3 Kyffhäuserbund der deutschen Landeskriegerverbände, a veterans' organization founded in 1898. Before the War of 1914 it had over two million members. It takes its name from the mountain in the Harz, within which, according to the legend, Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa lies sleeping, to awaken in the hour of Germany's greatest need.
Gradually Marxism obtained the required power to support its authority in the Reichswehr that was being consolidated, and thereupon, consistently and logically, began to disband as superfluous the nationalist combat leagues, which seemed dangerous. Individual leaders of especial boldness, who were looker) on with distrust, were haled before the bars of justice and put behind Swedish curtains.4 But with all of them the destiny for which they themselves were responsible was fulfilled.
4 Thieves' slang for prison bars.
With the founding of the NSDAP, for the first time a movement had appeared whose goal did not, like that of the bourgeois parties, consist in a mechanical restoration of the past, but in the effort to erect an organic folkish state in place of the present senseless state mechanism.
The young movement, from the first day, espoused the standpoint that its idea must be put forward spiritually, but that the defense of this spiritual platform trust if necessary be secured by strong-arm means. Faithful to its belief in the enormous significance of the new doctrine, it seems obvious to the movement that for the attainment of its goal no sacrifice can be too great.
I have already pointed to the forces which obligate a movement, in so far as it wants to win the heart of a people, to assume from its own ranks its defense against the terrorist attempts of its adversaries. And it is an eternal experience of world history that a terror represented by a philosophy of life can never be broken by a formal state power, but at all times can be defeated only by another, new philosophy of life, proceeding with the same boldness and determination. This will at all times be displeasing to the sentiment of the official guardians of the state, but that will not banish the fact. State power can only guarantee law and order when the content of the state coincides with the philosophy dominant at that particular time, so that violent elements possess only the character of individual criminal natures, and are not regarded as proponents of an idea in extreme opposition to the state views. In such a case, the state can for centuries apply the greatest measures of violence against a terror oppressing it; in the end it will nevertheless be able to do nothing against it, but will go down in defeat.
The German state is gravely attacked by Marxism. In its struggle of seventy years it has not been able to prevent the victory of this philosophy of life, but, despite a sum total of thousands of years in prison and jail sentences and the bloodiest measures which in innumerable cases it applied to the warriors of the menacing Marxist philosophy, has nevertheless been forced to almost total capitulation. (This, too, the run-of-the-mill bourgeois political leader will want to deny, though obviously he will be unable to convince anyone.)
The state which on November 9, 1918, unconditionally crawled on its belly before Marxism will not suddenly arise tomorrow as its conqueror; on the contrary: even today feebleminded bourgeois in ministerial chairs are beginning to rave about the necessity of not governing against the workers, and what they have in mind under the concept 'worker' is Marxism. But by identifying the German worker with Marxism, they not only commit a falsification as cowardly as it is untrue, but attempt by this motivation to conceal their own collapse in the face of the Marxist idea and organization.
But in view of this fact - that is, the complete subjection of the present state to Marxism - the National Socialist movement really acquires the duty, not only of preparing the victory of its idea, but of taking over its defense against the terror of an International drunk with victory.
I have already described how in our movement a body for the protection of meetings gradually developed out of practical life, how it gradually assumed the character of a definite monitor troop, and strove for an organizational form.
Much as this gradually arising body might outwardly resemble a so-called combat league, it was nevertheless not to be compared with one.
As already mentioned, the German combat organizations had no definite political idea. They were really nothing but self-defense leagues of more or less competent training and organization, with the result that they actually represented an illegal complement to the state's momentary instruments of power. Their character of free corps was based only on the way in which they were formed and on the condition of the state at that time, but they were by no means deserving of such a title as free formations of the struggle for a free conviction of their own. This, despite all the opposition of individual leaders and whole leagues toward the Republic, they did not possess. For being convinced of the inferiority of an existing condition does not suffice to entitle one to speak of a conviction in the higher sense; no, the latter is rooted only in the knowledge of a new condition and in the inkier vision of a condition the achievement of which one feels as a necessity, and to stand up for whose realization one regards as one's highest life task.
What distinguishes the monitor troop of the National Socialist organization of that time essentially from all combat leagues is that it was not and did not want to be in any way a servant of the conditions created by the revolution, but that it fought exclusively for a new Germany.
In the beginning, it is true, this monitor troop possessed only the character of a meeting-hall guard. Its first task was a limited one: it consisted in making it possible to hold meetings which without it would have been simply prevented by the enemy. Even then, it had been trained to carry out an attack blindly, but not, as stupid German-folkish circles nonsensically claimed, because it honored the blackjack as the highest spirit, but because it understood that the greatest spirit can be eliminated when its bearer is struck down with a blackjack, as in actual fact the most significant heads in history have not seldom ended beneath the blows of the pettiest helots.5 They did not want to set up violence as a goal, but to protect the prophets of the spiritual goal from being shoved aside by violence. And in this they understood that they were not obligated to undertake the protection of a state which offers the nation no protection, but that, on the contrary, they had to assume the protection of a nation against those who threatened to destroy the people and the state.
5 'Heloten.' No change in second edition.
After the meeting-hall battle in the Munich Hofbräuhaus the monitor troop, once and for all, in eternal memory of the heroic storm attacks of the small number they were then, received the name of Sturmabteilung (storm section). As this very designation indicates, it represents only a section of the movement. It is a link in it, just as propaganda, the press, the scientific institutes and so forth, constitute mere links in the party.
How necessary its development was, we could see, not only by this memorable meeting, but also by our attempt gradually to spread our movement from Munich into the rest of Germany. Once we had appeared dangerous to the Marxists, they missed no opportunity to nip any attempt at a National Socialist meeting in the bud, or prevent it from being held by breaking it up. And it was absolutely a matter of course that the party organizations of all shadings of Marxism blindly supported any such intentions and any such occurrences in the representative bodies. But what was one to say of bourgeois parties which themselves had been so thrashed by the Marxists that in many places they could no longer venture to have their speakers appear in public and which, nevertheless, followed any struggles against Marxism that in any way turned out unfavorably for us with an absolutely incomprehensible, idiotic satisfaction. They were happy that the enemy which could not be bested by them, which on the contrary bested them, could not be broken by us either. What should be said of state officials, police presidents, nay, even ministers, who with a really disreputable lack of principle liked to represent themselves publicly as 'national men,' but who in ail conflicts that we National Socialists had with the Marxists, acted as the most disgraceful stooges for them? What should be said of men who went so far in their self-abasement that for a pitiful word of praise in the Jewish newspapers they did not hesitate to persecute the men to whose heroism in risking their own lives they in part owed the fact that a few years previous they were not tattered corpses hung up on lamp-posts by the Red mob?
These were such sad figures that they once moved the unforgettable late President Pöhner, who in his hard straightforwardness hated all crawlers as only a man with an honest heart can hate, to the harsh utterance: 'All my life I wanted to be nothing else than first a German and then an official, and I would never like to be confused with those creatures who prostitute themselves like official whores to everyone who can play the master at the moment.'
And in all this it was especially sad that this kind of men gradually gained power over tens of thousands of the most honorable and best German civil servants, but even gradually infected them with their own disloyalty, and persecuted the honest ones with grim hatred and finally drove them out of their posts and positions, while they themselves, with lying hypocrisy, still represented themselves as 'national' men.
From such men we could never hope for any support, and we obtained it only in the very rarest cases. Solely the development of our own defense organization could safeguard the activity of the movement and at the same time win for it that public attention and general respect which are accorded to the man who, when attacked, takes up his own defense.
As the directing idea for the inner training of this storm section, the intention was always dominant, aside from all physical education, to teach it to be an unshakable, convinced defender of the National Socialist idea, and finally to strengthen its discipline in the highest degree. It should have nothing in common with a combat organization of bourgeois conception, but likewise nothing in common with a secret organization.
The reason why, even at that time, I sharply opposed having the SA of the NSDAP organized as a so-called combat league, was based on the following consideration:
From the purely practical point of view, the military training of a people cannot be carried out by private leagues, except with the help of the most enormous state means. Any other belief is based on great overestimation of their own ability. And so it is out of the question that organizations possessing military value can be built up beyond certain limits with so-called 'voluntary discipline.' The most important support of the power to command is lacking, to wit, the power to punish. To be sure, it was possible in the fall, or even better in the spring of 1919, to set up so-called 'free corps,' but not only did most of them possess front-line fighters who had gone through the school of the old army, but the type of obligation which they laid upon the individuals subjected them, for a limited time at least, just as unconditionally to military obedience.
This is totally lacking in a voluntary 'combat organization' of today. The larger the league, the weaker its discipline will be, the smaller the demands made on the individual men, and the more the whole will take on the character of the old non-political soldiers' and veterans' clubs.
It will never be possible to carry out a voluntary training for army service among the great masses without guaranteed unconditional power of command. Never will more than a few be willing to submit of their own accord to such forced obedience as was considered self-evident and natural in the army.
Furthermore, real training cannot be given in consequence of the absurdly small means at the disposal of a so-called combat league for such a purpose. But the best, most reliable training should be precisely the main task of such an institution. Since the War, eight years have gone by, and since that time not a single age class among our German youth has been systematically trained. But it cannot be the function of a combat league to include the old classes that have already been trained, since otherwise it can at once be reckoned mathematically when the last member will leave this corporation. Even the youngest soldier of 1918 will in twenty years be incapable of fighting, and we are approaching this moment with a disquieting speed. Thus every so-called combat league must necessarily assume more and more the character of an old soldiers' association. This. however, cannot be the purpose of an organization that designates itself not as an old soldiers' league, but as a Wehrverband (combat league), and which by its very name endeavors to express the fact that it sees its mission, not only in the preservation of the tradition and common bond of former soldiers, but in the development of the military (wehr) and in the practical advocacy of this idea, that is, in the creation of a military body.
This task, however, absolutely demands the training of elements which had previously received no military drill, and this in practice is actually impossible. With one or two hours training a week, you really cannot make a soldier. With the present-day enormously increased demands that warfare makes on the individual, a two-year period service is perhaps just adequate to transform an untrained young man into an expert soldier. We have all of us in the field seen the terrible consequences that resulted for young soldiers not thoroughly trained in their trade. Volunteer formations, which for fifteen or twenty weeks had been drilled with iron determination and boundless devotion, nevertheless represented nothing but cannon fodder at the front. Only distributed among the ranks of experienced old soldiers could younger recruits, trained for from four to six months, furnish useful members of a regiment; even then they were directed by the 'old men' and thus gradually grew into their functions.
How thoughtless in contrast seems an attempt to try to create troops with a so-called training period of one or two hours a week, without clear power of command and without extensive means! It might be possible to freshen up old soldiers in this way, but never to turn young men into soldiers.
How indifferent and totally worthless such a procedure would be in its results can be demonstrated especially by the fact that, while a so-called volunteer league, with puffing and blowing, with trouble and grief, trains or tries to train a few thousand essentially well-intentioned men (it does not get to any others) in the military idea, the state itself, by the pacifistic-democratic nature of its education, consistently robs millions and millions of young people of their natural instincts, poisons their logical patriotic thinking, and thus gradually transforms them into a herd of sheep, patiently accepting every arbitrary tyranny.
How absurd, in comparison with this, are all the exertions of the combat leagues to transmit their ideas to the German youth.
But almost more important is the following consideration, which had always made me take a position counter to any attempt at a so-called military rearming on the basis of volunteer leagues.
Assuming that despite the above-mentioned difficulties a league nevertheless succeeded in training a definite number of Germans year after year into arms-bearing men - equally with respect to their convictions as with respect to their physical fitness and schooling in the use of arms - the result would nevertheless be practically nil in a state which, by its whole tendency, absolutely does not desire such military education, in fact positively hates it, since it stands in complete contradiction to the aim of its leaders - the destroyers of this state.
In any case such a result would be worthless under governments which have not only demonstrated by their deeds that they care nothing about the military strength of the nation, but which above all would never be willing to issue an appeal to this strength, except at best for the support of their own ruinous existence.
And today this is the case. Or is it not absurd to try to train some tens of thousands of men for a government in the dim light or dawn and evening, when the state a few years previous disgracefully sacrificed eight and a half millions of the best-trained soldiers, not only ceasing to use them, but as thanks for their sacrifices actually exposing them to general vilification; And so they want to train soldiers for a state regime which befouled and spat upon the most glorious soldiers of former days, tore their decorations from their chest, took away their cockades, trampled their banners and degraded their achievements? Or has this present state regime ever undertaken a single step to restore the honor of the old army, to call to account those who have corrupted and reviled it? Not in the slightest. On the contrary; we can see these creatures enthroned in the highest state posts.- Remember the words spoken at Leipzig: 'Right goes with power.' But since today in our Republic the power lies in the hands of the same men who engineered the revolution, and this revolution represents the vilest high treason, nay, the most wretched piece of villainy in all German history, really no reason can be found for enhancing the power of these very characters by the formation of a new young army. In any event, all the arguments of reason speak against it.
But what importance this state, even after the revolution of 1918, attributed to the military strengthening of its position could be seen clearly and unmistakably by its attitude toward the large self-defense organizations that then existed. As long as they had to intervene for the protection of personally cowardly creatures of the revolution, they were not unwelcome. But as soon as, thanks to the gradually increasing depravity of our people, the danger to these creatures seemed eliminated and the existence of the leagues meant a strengthening of the national-political forces, they were superfluous, and everything was done to disarm them, in fact, if possible to break them up.
Only in the rarest examples does history show gratitude in princes. But to count on the gratitude of revolutionary pyromaniac murderers, plunderers of the people and traitors to the nation, is something that only a neo-bourgeois patriot can manage. In any case, I, in examining the question of whether volunteer combat leagues should be created, could never refrain from the question: for whom am I training the young people? For what purpose are they used and when are they to be called up? The answer to this question provides at the same time the best directives for our own attitude.
If the present state were ever to train forces of this sort, it would never be for the defense of national interests against the outside world, but only for the protection of the rapers of the nation at home against the general rage that some day perhaps will flare up in the swindled, betrayed, and sold-out people.
For this reason alone, the SA of the NSDAP could have nothing in common with a military organization. It was an instrument for defense and education in the National Socialist movement, and its tasks lay in an entirely different province from that of the so-called combat leagues.
But it could also constitute no secret organization. The aim of secret organizations can only be illegal. In this way the scope of such an organization is automatically limited. It is not possible, especially in view of the talkativeness of the German people, to build up an organization of any size and at the same time to keep it outwardly secret or even to veil its aims. Any such intention will be thwarted a thousand times. Not only that our police authorities today have a staff of pimps and similar rabble at their disposal who will betray anything they can find for thirty pieces of silver, and even invent things to betray, but the supporters themselves can never be brought to the silence that is necessary in such a case. Only very small groups, by years of sifting, can assume the character of real secret organizations. But the very smallness of such organizations would remove their value for the National Socialist movement. What we needed and still need were and are not a hundred or two hundred reckless conspirators, but a hundred thousand and a second hundred thousand fighters for our philosophy of life. We should not work in secret conventicles, but in mighty mass demonstrations, and it is not by dagger and poison or pistol that the road can be cleared for the movement, but by the conquest of the streets. We must teach the Marxists that the future master of the streets is National Socialism, just as it will some day be the master of the state.
The danger of secret organizations today lies, furthermore, in the fact that the members often totally misunderstand the magnitude of the task, and the opinion arises that the fate of a people really might be suddenly decided in a favorable sense by a single act of murder. Such an opinion can have its historical justification especially when a people languishes under the tyranny of some oppressor genius, of whom it is known that his outstanding personality alone guarantees the inner solidity and frightfulness of the hostile pressure. In such a case, a self-sacrificing man may suddenly spring forth from a people, to plunge the steel of death into the breast of the hated individual. And only the republican sentiment of petty scoundrels with a bad conscience will regard such a deed as horrible, while our people's greatest poet of freedom has dared to give a glorification of such an action in his Tell.
In the years 1919 and 1920 there existed a danger that the member of secret organizations, filled with enthusiasm by the great models of history and horrified by the boundless misfortune of his fatherland, should attempt to avenge himself against the destroyers of his homeland, in the belief that in this way he could put an end to the distress of his people. Any such attempt, however, was an absurdity, because Marxism had not been victorious thanks to the superior genius and personal significance of an individual, but by the boundless contemptibleness, the cowardly failure of the bourgeois world. The most cruel criticism that can be made of our bourgeoisie lies in the fact that the revolution itself did not produce a single leader of any greatness and nevertheless subjected it. It is understandable to capitulate to a Robespierre, a Danton or a Marat, but it is devastating to have crawled before the scrawny Scheidemann, the fat Herr Erzberger 6 and a Friedrich Ebert and all the other innumerable political midgets. In reality there was not one leader who might have been regarded as the genius of the revolution and hence the misfortune of the fatherland; they were all revolutionary bedbugs, knapsack Spartacists, wholesale and retail. To put any one of these out of the way was completely irrelevant and the chief result was that a few other bloodsuckers, just as big and just as threadbare, came into a job that much sooner.
6 Mattias Erzberger was vice-chancellor in the cabinet of Gustav Bauer which accepted the peace treaty on June 23, 1919. He was murdered on August 26, 1921, by two young soldiers of the Ehrhardt Brigade, a Rightist military organization.
In those years it was not possible to attack sharply enough a conception which had its cause and explanation in the really great figures of history, but was not in the least suited to the present era of dwarfs.
Likewise, in the question of eliminating so-called traitors against the nation the same consideration is in order. It is absurdly illogical to kill a scamp who has informed about a cannon,7 while next door in the highest posts and dignities sit scoundrels who have sold a whole Reich, who have the vain sacrifice of two millions on their consciences, who bear the responsibility for millions of cripples, and with all this calmly carry on their republican business deals. It is senseless to eliminate petty traitors in a country whose government itself frees these traitors against the nation from any punishment. For then it is possible that some day the honest idealist, who puts a scoundrelly armaments stoolpigeon out of the way, for his people, is called to account by capital traitors against the nation. Therefore, it is an important question: Should we have such a traitorous petty creature eliminated by another creature or by an idealist? In one case the success is doubtful and the treason for later almost certain; in the other case, a small scoundrel is eliminated and the life of a perhaps unreplaceable idealist is risked.
Further, in this question, my position is that there is no use in hanging petty thieves in order to let big ones go free; but that some day a German national court must judge and execute some ten thousand of the organizing and hence responsible criminals of the November betrayal and everything that goes with it. Such an example will provide the small armaments stool-pigeon with the necessary lesson for all time.
7 At this time there were various nationalist military leagues with unofficial Reichswehr connections, specializing in the illegal concealment of arms. Numerous murders occurred of persons believed to have reported secret arms caches to the Allied Control Commission.
All these are considerations which caused me again and again to forbid participation in secret organizations and to preserve the SA itself from the character of such organizations. In those years I kept the National Socialist movement away from experiments, whose performers for the most part were glorious, idealistic-minded young Germans, whose acts, however, only made victims of themselves, but were powerless to improve the lot of the fatherland even in the slightest.
Now if the SA could be neither a military combat organization nor a secret league, the following consequences inevitably resulted
1. Its training must not proceed from military criteria, but from criteria of expediency for the party.
In so far as the members require physical training, the main emphasis must be laid, not on military drilling, but on athletic activity. Boxing and jiu-jitsu have always seemed to me more important than any inferior, because incomplete, training in marksmanship. Give the German nation six million bodies with flawless athletic training, all glowing with fanatical love of their country and inculcated with the highest offensive spirit, and a national state will, in less than two years if necessary, have created an army, at least in so far as a certain basic core is present. This, as things are today, can rest only in the Reichswehr and not in any combat league that has always done things by halves. Physical culture must inoculate the individual with the conviction of his superiority and give him that self-confidence which lies forever and alone in the consciousness of his own strength; in addition, it must give him those athletic skills which serve as a weapon for the defense of the movement.
2. In order, at the outset, to prevent the SA from assuming any secret character, in addition to its uniform immediately recognizable to all, the very size of its membership must point the way which benefits the movement and is known to the whole public. It must not hold sessions in secret, but must march beneath the open sky, thus being put unmistakably into a type of activity which destroys all legends of 'secret organization' once and for all. And in order to remove it, spiritually as well, from all attempts to satisfy its activism by petty conspiracies, it had from the very beginning to be initiated completely into the great idea of the movement and to be educated so thoroughly in the task of fighting for this idea that its horizon broadened from the outset, and the individual man saw his mission, not in the elimination of any greater or lesser scoundrel, but in fighting for the erection of a new National Socialist folkish state. Thereby the struggle against the present-day state was removed from the atmosphere of petty actions of revenge and conspiracy, to the greatness of a philosophical war of annihilation against Marxism and its organization.
3. The organizational formation of the SA, as well as its uniform and equipment, can therefore not reasonably emulate the models of the old army, but must pursue an expediency determined by its function.
These views, which directed me in 1920 and 1921 and which I gradually endeavored to inject into the young organization, had the result that, as early as midsummer, 1922, we disposed of an imposing number of companies, which in late autumn, 1922, little by little received their special distinguishing uniforms. Three events were of infinite importance for the further shaping of the SA.
1. The great general demonstration of all patriotic leagues against the Law for the Protection of the Republic in late summer 1922 on the Königsplatz in Munich.
The patriotic leagues of Munich had issued an appeal summoning a gigantic demonstration as a protest against the introduction of the Law for the Protection of the Republic. The National Socialist movement was also expected to participate in it. The solid procession of the party was headed by six Munich companies, followed by the sections of the political party. In the column itself marched two brass bands, and about fifteen flags were carried along. The arrival of the National Socialists in the half-filled square, which was otherwise void of flags, aroused immeasurable enthusiasm. I myself had the honor of being privileged to address the crowd, now numbering sixty thousand heads, as one of the orators.
The success of the rally was overpowering, particularly because, in defiance of all Red threats, it was proved for the first time that national Munich, too, could march in streets. Red republican defense corps (Schutzbund), who attempted to proceed with terror against the approaching columns, were within a few minutes scattered with bloody skulls by SA detachments. The National Socialist movement then for the first time showed its determination to claim for itself the right to the streets in the future, thus wresting this monopoly from the hands of the international traitors to the people and enemies of the fatherland.
The result of this day was an incontestable proof of the psychological and also organizational soundness of our conceptions with regard to the structure of the SA.
On the foundation which had been so successfully proven, it was energetically broadened, so that only a few weeks later double the number of companies had been set up.
2. The march to Coburg in October, 1922.
'Folkish' associations planned to hold a so-called 'German Day' in Coburg. I myself received an invitation to it, remarking that it would be desirable for me to bring an escort. This request, which I received at eleven o'clock in the morning, came very opportunely. An hour later the arrangements for attending this 'German Day' had been issued. As an 'escort' I appointed eight hundred men of the SA; we arranged to transport them in approximately fourteen companies by special train to the little city that had become Bavarian.8 Similar orders went out to National Socialist SA groups which had meanwhile been formed in other places.
It was the first time that such a special train was used in Germany. At all towns where new SA men got in, the transport aroused much attention. Many people had never seen our flags before; the impression they made was very great.
8 Coburg, former co-capital of the Duchy of Saxony-Coburg-Gotha, was a separate administrative entity up to 1920 when it became part of Bavaria.
When we arrived at the Coburg station, we were received by a deputation of the organizers of the 'German Day,' which conveyed to us an order from the local trade unions - in other words. from the Independent and Communist Party - to the effect that we were forbidden to enter the town with flags unfurled, or with music (we had taken along a forty-two-piece band of our own), or to march in a solid column.
I at once flatly rejected these disgraceful conditions, and did not fail to express to the gentlemen present, the organizers of this congress, my surprise that they had carried on negotiations with these people and entered into agreements; I declared that the SA would immediately line up in companies and march into the city with resounding music and flags flying.
And that is just what happened.
On the square in front of the railroad station we were received by a howling, shrieking mob numbering thousands. 'Murderers,' 'bandits,' 'robbers,' 'criminals,' were the pet names which the model founders of the German Republic affectionately showered on us. The young SA kept exemplary order, the companies formed on the square in front of the station, and at first took no notice of the vulgar abuse. In the city that was strange to all of us, frightened police officials led the marching column, not, as arranged, to our quarters, a shooting gallery situated on the periphery of Coburg but to the Hofbräuhauskeller, near the center of the city. To left and right of the procession, the uproar of the masses of people accompanying us increased more and more. Hardly had the last company turned into the courtyard of the Keller than great masses, amid deafening cries, tried to crowd in after us. To prevent this, the police locked the Keller. Since this state of affairs was intolerable, I had the SA line up once again, gave them a brief speech of admonition, and demanded that the police open the gates immediately. After a long hesitation, they yielded.
To get to our quarters, we marched back the way we had come, and now at last a stand had to be taken. After they had been unable to disturb the poise of our companies by cries and insulting shouts, the representatives of true socialism, equality, and fraternity had recourse to stones. At this our patience was at an end, and so for ten whole minutes a devastating hail fell from left and right, and a quarter of an hour later, there was nothing red to be seen in the streets.
In the evening there were serious dashes again. Some National Socialists had been assaulted singly, and patrols of the SA found them in a terrible condition. Thereupon we made short shrift of our foes. By next morning the Red terror, under which Coburg had suffered for years, had been broken.
With real Marxist-Jewish lies they now attempted to harry the 'comrades of the international proletariat' back into the streets, by totally twisting the facts and maintaining that our 'bands of murderers' had begun a 'war of extermination against peaceful workers' in Coburg. The great 'demonstration of the people,' which, it was hoped, tens of thousands of workers from the whole vicinity would attend, was set for half-past one. Therefore, firmly resolved to dispose of the Red terror for good, I ordered the SA, which had meanwhile swollen to nearly one and a half thousand men, to line up, and set out with them on the march for the Fortress of Coburg, by way of the great square on which the Red demonstration was to take place. I wanted to see whether they would dare to molest us again. When we entered the square, only a few hundred were present instead of the announced ten thousand, and at our approach they kept generally quiet, and some ran away. Only at a few points did Red troops, who had meanwhile come from the outside and who did not yet know us, try to pester us again; but in the twinkling of an eye, all their enthusiasm was spoiled. And now it could be seen how the frightened and intimidated population slowly woke up and took courage, and ventured to shout greetings at us, and in the evening as we were marching off broke into spontaneous cheering in many places.
At the station the railroad men suddenly informed us that they would not run the train. Thereupon I notified a few of the ringleaders that in that case I planned to round up whatever Red bosses fell into my hands, and that we would run the train ourselves; however, we would take along a few dozen of the brothers of international solidarity on the locomotive and the tender and in every car. Nor did I fail to call it to the gentlemen's attention that the trip with our own forces would, of course, be an extremely risky undertaking and that it was not excluded that the whole lot of us should break our necks and bones. But, anyway, in that case, we should be delighted to leave for the Hereafter, not alone but in equality and fraternity with the Red gentlemen.
Thereupon the train departed with the utmost punctuality, and we were back in Munich safe and sound the following morning.
Thus, for the first time since 1914 the equality of citizens before the law was re-established in Coburg. For if today some simpleton of a higher official ventures the assertion that the state protects the lives of its citizens, this was certainly not the case at that time; for at that time the citizens had to defend themselves against the representatives of the present-day state.
At first the importance of this day could not be fully evaluated by its consequences. Not only that the victorious SA had been enormously enhanced in its self-confidence and its faith in the soundness of its leadership, but the outside world also began to follow our doings more closely, and many for the first time recognized in the National Socialist movement the institution which in all probability would some day be called upon to put a suitable end to the Marxist madness.
Only the democrats groaned that anyone could dare not peacefully to let his skull be bashed in, and that under a democratic republic we had had the audacity to oppose a brutal attack with fists and cudgels instead of pacifistic songs.
On the whole, the bourgeois press, as usual, was partly pitiful and partly contemptible, and only a few honest newspapers greeted the fact that in one place at least someone had dared to call a halt to the activity of the Marxist highwaymen.
In Coburg itself, at least a part of the Marxist working class, which incidentally could be regarded only as misled, had learned a lesson from the fists of National Socialist labor and been taught to realize that these workers also fight for ideals, since, as experience shows, men fight only for something that they believe in and love.
The greatest benefit, however, was derived by the SA itself. It now grew with great rapidity, and at the Party Day held on January 27, 1923, approximately six thousand men could take part in the dedication of the flag, and the first companies were fully equipped with their new uniforms.
For the experience in Coburg had shown how necessary it is, and not only in order to strengthen the esprit de corps, but also to avoid confusion and forestall mutual non-recognition, to introduce uniform dress among the SA. Until then it wore only the armband; now the canvas jacket and the well-known cap were added.
And, furthermore, the experience of Coburg had the significance that we now began systematically, in all places where for many years the Red terror had prevented any meeting of people with different ideas, to break this terror and restore freedom of assembly. From now on, National Socialist battalions were assembled again and again in such localities, and in Bavaria gradually one Red citadel after another fell a victim to National Socialist propaganda. The SA had grown more and more into its task, and so had moved further and further away from the character of a senseless and unimportant defense movement and risen to the level of a living organization of struggle for the erection of a new German state.
This logical development lasted until March, 1923. Then there occurred an event which compelled me to shift the movement from its previous course and subject it to a modification.
3. The occupation of the Ruhr by the French in the first months of 1923 had in the following period a great significance for the development of the SA.
Even today it is not yet possible, and particularly in the national interest not expedient, to speak or write of this with full publicity. I can only express myself in so far as this theme has already been touched upon in public proceedings and thus brought to the knowledge of the public.
The occupation of the Ruhr, which came as no surprise to us, gave rise to the justified hope that now at length there would be an end to the cowardly policy of retreat, and that with this a definite task would fall to the combat leagues. And the SA, which then embraced many thousands of young powerful men, could not fittingly be excluded from this national service. In the spring and midsummer of 1923 it was reshaped into a military fighting organization. To it the later development of 1923, in so far as it concerned our movement, was attributable.
Since I treat the development of 1923 in broad outlines elsewhere, I shall only state here that the reorientation of the SA was a harmful one from the viewpoint of the movement, if the presuppositions that had led to its reorientation - that is, the resumption of active resistance against France - did not materialize.
The close of the year 1923, terrible as it may seem at first sight, may, if viewed from a higher standpoint, be regarded as positively necessary, in so far as with one stroke it ended the reorientation of the SA, made pointless by the attitude of the German Reich government and hence harmful for the movement, and thus created the possibility of building some day at the point where we had once been forced to relinquish the correct road.
The MISHAP, newly founded in 1925, must again set up, brain, and organize its SA according to the aforementioned principles. It must thus return to the original healthy views, and must now once more find its highest task in creating, in its SA, an instrument for the conduct and reinforcement of the movement's struggle for its philosophy of life.
It must neither suffer the SA to degenerate into a kind of combat league nor into a secret organization; it must, on the contrary, endeavor to train it as a guard, numbering hundreds of thousands of men, for the National Socialist and hence profoundly folkish idea.
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