The Seeds of Evil: The Rise of Hitler

The Seeds of Evil: Germany 1919 - 1933.

The ideology of the Nazi Party 1919-1924

The foundations of the Nazi Party.

The Nazi Party was formed as the German Workers party by Anton Drexler, Dietrich Eckhart and Gottfried Feder in 1919. Drexler, who was the original leader of the party, had strong nationalistic views and was anti-semitic. This small political party was noted by the armed forces as being a potential Socialist threat and a spy, Adolf Hitler, was sent to investigate the party to assess how much of a threat the party was. Hitler became fascinated with the politics of the group, and began an active participation in the activities of the German Workers Party. This led to him rapidly becoming the member of the GWP executive responsible for propaganda and in turn his skills as a public speaker led to him becoming the mouthpiece of the movement.*

His skills as a political speaker and his assertive manner within party meetings soon led to Hitler becoming the recognised leader of the party. It was he who then began to formulate policies. This culminated in the production, in 1920, of a 25 point programme or manifesto. This outlined the aims of the NSDAP (The Party name had by now been changed from 'German Workers party'). The programme, along with Hitler's speeches, illustrates what the ideology of the party was in its early days and, via speeches, how these ideals and aims might be put into practice.

To read the full 25 point programme, click here.

The programme is a curious mixture of ideas ranging from demands for the Unification of Germany through to the expulsion of Jews from the German nation. Economic ideals are noted also in the programme: Nationalisation of corporations, land reform and welfare policies are all suggested. Thus a basis was in place from which the party could sell its programme to a wide audience.

In 1923 Hitler and his party found Bavaria, where they were based, in a state of chaos. Along with other right wing groups the Nazi's sensed the opportunity to take control and begin the National Socialist Revolution. This led to the Munich Putsch, which though a failure, propelled Hitler into the National arena as his trial was widely publicised and the relatively lenient sentence he received had a consequence of breaking a coalition government (Socialists withdrew from the coalition led by Stresemann, resulting in a new coalition being formed).

Hitler used his imprisonment to rethink the strategy of the NSDAP. Whilst serving his sentence he wrote the first edition of Mein Kampf, "My Struggle". This book outlined the history of Hitler's political development and in the section section of the book goes on to discuss political ideology and the way forward. The full text of Mein Kampf is available online at http://www.hitler.org/writings/Mein_Kampf/index.html.

Whilst imprisoned HItler made several decisions that would radically alter the way forward for the Nazi Party. He realised that a revolution of the kind attempted in Munich was unlikely to succeed. Therefore his revolution would have to be a legal one, via the democratic process. This decision changes the manner in which the Nazi Party must organise itself, and the way in which it sells its ideas. From this point onwards, there is a clear attempt at a broader sectoral appeal, with the Nazi propaganda machine becoming increasingly significant. Hitler knew that he had to convince the masses that National Socialism was right for them - and his time in prison allowed him the time to plan for this.

Nazi Party methodology in the period leading up to, and including, the Munich Putsch.

Propaganda is a means of advertising a political idea. In the case of the NSDAP in its early days this took the form of posters, public meetings / speeches and a conscious decision to present the party in a particular manner.

Posters: Click on these thumbnails to see larger versions of these examples of early Nazi Propaganda.

 

"Citizens! Do not believe that the Germany of misfortune and misery, the nation of corruption and usury, the land of Jewish corruption, can be saved by parties that claim to stand on a foundation of facts. Never!"

This poster advertised a speech that Hitler was due to make in May 1920.

Another early example of a Nazi poster, again inviting people to attend a speech by Adolf Hitler in Munich. The choice of colours here is deliberate. Red was believed to 'arouse the opponents' of National Socialism - and of course, is highly visible and therefore attracts more attention.

This poster dates from 1921.

Following the failure of the Munich Putsch it is noticeable that the design of the Propaganda posters alters quite radically. Early posters such as these are largely text based, make use of rhetoric and entice the passer by through use of striking background colours and carefully chosen slogans. Later examples of Propaganda Posters tend to be image based, portraying the strength of National Socialism, portraying Germany as the Fatherland etc.

Rhetoric

This example of Hitters use of Rhetoric as a Propaganda tool dates from May 1923, at the time when French and Belgian troops were occupying the Ruhr and hyperinflation was at its peek. In it Hitler appeals to the National Pride of the people and plays on the economic crisis and its consequences.

My dear fellow Germans!

When Cuno became Chancellor of the German Reich people said that the failure of the policy of compliance necessitated a change in the leadership of the Reich. What did the policy of compliance mean then? That's very simple: you must try as far as possible to satisfy your adversary's demands so as to make Germany's recovery possible. It was unimportant whether or not there was any legal basis for these demands. No state could do more than Germany to fulfil them. But the German People are required to make reparations which exceed the entire wealth of the nation. So these requirements must have a very definite purpose, an agenda which goes far beyond economics. France does not want reparations; it wants the destruction of Germany, the fulfilment of an age-old dream; a Europe dominated by France.

"Reparations" are nothing but a "legal device" intended to bring a state to its knees with a facade of legality, to destroy the fabric of a nation and to replace one state with a conglomeration of small states which consume and destroy each other.

So the only way that the Government could satisfy France was by liquidating the German Reich, by bringing about its dissolution. Satisfying France is not an economic but a political question. This was what caused the downfall of Dr. Wirth. To satisfy France he would have to destroy Germany; that he cannot do; and what he can do, will not satisfy France... But it is the fire in the hearts of Germany's young folk which will bring us ultimate victory. It will be they who will sustain the state which they will create for themselves. New young warriors are coming forward in Germany, young men who have already shed their blood for their Fatherland but know full well that because of those who rule Germany today their blood was shed in vain. The parliamentarians do not enjoy the respect of the nation; they have to pass protective legislation to defend themselves. Germany can be saved only by the dictatorship of the national will and determination to take action.

People ask: is there someone fit to be our leader? Our task is not to search for that person. Either God will give him to us or he will not come. Our task is to shape the sword that he will need when he comes. Our task it to provide the leader with a nation which is ready for him when he comes!

My fellow Germans, awaken! The new day is dawning!

 

 

Source Material illustrating Hitler's early ideological beliefs:

For us there are only two possibilities: either we remain German or we come under the thumb of the Jews. This latter must not occur; even if we are small, we are a force. A well-organized group can conquer a strong enemy. If you stick close together and keep bringing in new people, we will be victorious over the Jews.
Adolf Hitler, 9th November 1921. Munich.

 

Besides this we always find two great catchwords, 'Freedom' and 'Democracy,' used, I might say, as signboards. 'Freedom': under that term is understood, at least amongst those in authority who in fact carry on the Government, the possibility of an unchecked plundering of the masses of the people to which no resistance can be offered. The masses themselves naturally believe that under the term 'freedom' they possess the right to a quite peculiar freedom of motion - freedom to move the tongue and to say what they choose, freedom to move about the streets, etc. A bitter deception!

And the same is true of democracy. In general even in the early days both England and France had already been bound with the fetters of slavery. With, I might say, a brazen security these States are fettered with Jewish chain s....

Adolf Hitler, 28th April 1922. Munich

 

The essential character of the November-Republic is to be seen in the comings and goings to London, to Spa, to Paris and Genoa. Subserviency towards the enemy, surrender of the human dignity of the German, pacifist cowardice, tolerance of every indignity, readiness to agree to everything until nothing more remains. This November Republic bore the stamp of the men who made it. The name 'November criminals' will cling to these folk throughout the centuries....

Adolf Hitler, 12th September 1923. Munich.

 

In the economic sphere this Revolution has proved to be an immense misfortune. The districts which were most important for the feeding of our people were lost and districts which are the condition for the feeding of the nation have been treasonably alienated. And what did the Revolution not prophesy for us in the political sphere? One heard of the right of Self-Determination of Peoples, of the League of Nations, of Self-Government of the People. And what was the result? A World Peace, but a World Peace over a Germany which was but a field of corpses. Disarmament, but only the disarmament of Germany, with Germany looting its own resources. Self-determination, yes, but self-determination for every Negro tribe: and Germany does not count as a Negro tribe. League of Nations, yes: but a League of Nations which serves only as the guarantor for the fulfillment of the Peace Treaty, not for a better world order which is to come. And government by the people - for five years past no one has asked the people what it thinks of the act of November of the year 1918: at the head of the Reich there stands a President who is rejected by the overwhelming majority of the people and who has not been chosen by the people. Seventeen million Germans are in misery under foreign rule.

Hardly ever in five years has so much been torn away from the German nation as in these years of the so-called successful Revolution. We have been rendered defenseless: we are without rights: we have become the pariahs of the world. What are our organs of government today but organs for executing the will of foreign tyrants? . .

Adolf Hitler, 12th September 1923. Munich.

 

For us it was a filthy crime against the German people, a stab in the back of the German nation. The middle class could not take up arms against it because the middle class did not understand the whole revolution. It was necessary to start a new struggle and to incite against the Marxist despoilers of the people who did not even belong to the German race - which is where the Marxist problem is linked with the race problem, forming one of the most difficult and profound questions of our time....

Adolf Hitler, speaking at his trial. 26th February 1924. Munich.

 

The cure of a sickness can only be achieved if its cause is known, and the same is true of curing political evils. To be sure, the outward form of a sickness, its symptom which strikes the eye, is easier to see and discover than the inner cause. And this is the reason why so many people never go beyond the recognition of external effects and even confuse them with the cause, attempting, indeed, to deny the existence of the latter. Thus most of us primarily see the German collapse only in the general economic misery and the consequences arising there from. Nearly every one of us must personally suffer these-a cogent ground for every individual to understand the catastrophe. Much less does the great mass see the collapse in its political, cultural, ethical, and moral aspect. In this the feeling and understanding of many fail completely.
That this should be so among the broad masses may still pass, but for even the circles of the intelligentsia to regard the German collapse as primarily an 'economic catastrophe,' which can therefore be cured by economic means, is one of the reasons why a recovery has hitherto been impossible. Only when it is understood that here, too, economics is only of second or third-rate importance, and the primary role falls to factors of politics, ethics, morality, and blood, will we arrive at an understanding of the present calamity, and thus also be able to find the ways and means for a cure.
The question of the causes of the German collapse is, therefore, of decisive importance, particularly for a political movement whose very goal is supposed to be to quell the defeat.
But, in such research into the past, we must be very careful not to confuse the more conspicuous effects with the less visible causes.
The easiest and hence most widespread explanation of the present misfortune is that it was brought about by the consequences of the lost War and that therefore the War is the cause of the present evil.
Adolf Hitler, Chapter 10, Volume 1. Mein Kampf.

 

No more than Nature desires the mating of weaker with stronger individuals, even less does she desire the blending of a higher with a lower race, since, if she did, her whole work of higher breeding, over perhaps hundreds of thousands of years, night be ruined with one blow.
Historical experience offers countless proofs of this. It shows with terrifying clarity that in every mingling of Aryan blood with that of lower peoples the result was the end of the cultured people. North America, whose population consists in by far the largest part of Germanic elements who mixed but little with the lower colored peoples, shows a different humanity and culture from Central and South America, where the predominantly Latin immigrants often mixed with the aborigines on a large scale. By this one example, we can clearly and distinctly recognize the effect of racial mixture. The Germanic inhabitant of the American continent, who has remained racially pure and unmixed, rose to be master of the continent; he will remain the master as long as he does not fall a victim to defilement of the blood.
The result of all racial crossing is therefore in brief always the following:

  1. Lowering of the level of the higher race;
  2. Physical and intellectual regression and hence the beginning of a slowly but surely progressing sickness.

Adolf Hitler, Chapter 11, Volume 1. Mein Kampf.

 

The State is only a means to an end. Its end and its purpose is to preserve and promote a community of human beings who are physically as well as spiritually kindred. Above all, it must preserve the existence of the race, thereby providing the indispensable condition for the free development of all the forces dormant in this race. A great part of these faculties will always have to be employed in the first place to maintain the physical existence of the race, and only a small portion will be free to work in the field of intellectual progress. But, as a matter of fact, the one is always the necessary counterpart of the other.
Those States which do not serve this purpose have no justification for their existence. They are monstrosities. The fact that they do exist is no more of a justification than the successful raids carried out by a band of pirates can be considered a justification of piracy.
We National Socialists, who are fighting for a new philosophy of life must never take our stand on the famous 'basis of facts', and especially not on mistaken facts. If we did so, we should cease to be the protagonists of a new and great idea and would become slaves in the service of the fallacy which is dominant today. We must make a clear-cut distinction between the vessel and its contents. The State is only the vessel and the race is what it contains. The vessel can have a meaning only if it preserves and safeguards the contents. Otherwise it is worthless.

Adolf Hitler, Chapter 2, Volume 2. Mein Kampf.

 

Notes:

*Hitler had experience of public speaking. In May 1919 he had been recruited as a Political officer by the German Army after he had convinced officers that he had opposed the Socialist uprising in Bavaria. He had quickly developed his rhetoric and was well aware of ways of convincing disillusioned soldiers that a common enemy was the true reason behind germany's defeat and the Treaty of Versailles. These are themes that Hitler would return to time and again during his rise to power and whilst Fuhrer of the Third Reich.

Recommended Links on the early days of the Nazi Party:

http://www.ez-zone.co.uk/ww2desert/adolfhitler.htm

This site provides an intriguing look at the early political life of Adolf Hitler. It traces his route through his early years into the German army at the outbreak of the First World War. From this point the reader is shown how his right wing views are developed and the ways in which he began to become influential within nationalist groups.

http://www.holocaust-education.dk/baggrund/nazismensideologi.asp

This page provides an overview of Nazi ideological beliefs. It briefly outlines the main points of the 25 point plan formulated in 1920 and describes the ideas put forward by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf.

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/adolf_hitler_1918_to_1924.htm

The History Learning Site provides an extremely good overview of the early political life of Adolf Hitler. Incorporating useful sources this page explains the ideology of the NSDAP and the reasons for these beliefs.

 

 

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The Second Reich
The Founding of the Weimar Republic
The Impact of War
The Treaty of Versailles
Germany 1919 - 1923
Germany - Economic Recovery
The Early days of the Nazi Party 1919 - 1924
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Text © Schoolshistory.org.uk

Unit last updated 4th June 2004

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