Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
Volume Two - The National Socialist Movement
Chapter VII: The Struggle with the Red Front
In 1919-20 and also in 1921 I attended some of the bourgeois meetings.
Invariably I had the same feeling towards these as towards the compulsory
dose of castor oil in my boyhood days. It just had to be taken because it
was good for one: but it certainly tasted unpleasant. If it were possible
to tie ropes round the German people and forcibly drag them to these bourgeois
meetings, keeping them there behind barred doors and allowing nobody to escape
until the meeting closed, then this procedure might prove successful in the
course of a few hundred years. For my own part, I must frankly admit that,
under such circumstances, I could not find life worth living; and indeed
I should no longer wish to be a German. But, thank God, all this is impossible.
And so it is not surprising that the sane and unspoilt masses shun these
'bourgeois mass meetings' as the devil shuns holy water.
I came to know the prophets of the bourgeois philosophy,
and I was not surprised at what I learned, as I knew that they attached little
importance to the spoken word. At that time I attended meetings of the Democrats,
the German Nationalists, the German People's Party and the Bavarian
People's Party (the Centre Party of Bavaria). What struck me at once was
the homogeneous uniformity of the audiences. Nearly always they were made
up exclusively of party members. The whole affair was more like a yawning
card party than an assembly of people who had just passed through a great
revolution. The speakers did all they could to maintain this tranquil atmosphere.
They declaimed, or rather read out, their speeches in the style of an
intellectual newspaper article or a learned treatise, avoiding all striking
expressions. Here and there a feeble professorial joke would be introduced,
whereupon the people sitting at the speaker's table felt themselves obliged
to laugh not loudly but encouragingly and with well-bred reserve.
And there were always those people at the speaker's table. I once attended
a meeting in the Wagner Hall in Munich. It was a demonstration to celebrate
the anniversary of the Battle of Leipzig. The speech was delivered
or rather read out by a venerable old professor from one or other of the
universities. The committee sat on the platform: one monocle on the right,
another monocle on the left, and in the centre a gentleman with no monocle.
All three of them were punctiliously attired in morning coats, and I had
the impression of being present before a judge's bench just as the death
sentence was about to be pronounced or at a christening or some more solemn
religious ceremony. The so-called speech, which in printed form may have
read quite well, had a disastrous effect. After three quarters of an hour
the audience fell into a sort of hypnotic trance, which was interrupted only
when some man or woman left the hall, or by the clatter which the waitresses
made, or by the increasing yawns of slumbering individuals. I had posted
myself behind three workmen who were present either out of curiosity or because
they were sent there by their parties. From time to time they glanced at
one another with an ill-concealed grin, nudged one another with the elbow,
and then silently left the hall. One could see that they had no intention
whatsoever of interrupting the proceedings, nor indeed was it necessary to
interrupt them. At long last the celebration showed signs of drawing to a
close. After the professor, whose voice had meanwhile become more and more
inaudible, finally ended his speech, the gentleman without the monocle delivered
a rousing peroration to the assembled 'German sisters and brothers.' On behalf
of the audience and himself he expressed gratitude for the magnificent lecture
which they had just heard from Professor X and emphasized how deeply the
Professor's words had moved them all. If a general discussion on the lecture
were to take place it would be tantamount to profanity, and he thought he
was voicing the opinion of all present in suggesting that such a discussion
should not be held. Therefore, he would ask the assembly to rise from their
seats and join in singing the patriotic song, Wir sind ein einig Volk von
Brüdern. The proceedings finally closed with the anthem, Deutschland
And then they all sang. It appeared to me that when the second verse was
reached the voices were fewer and that only when the refrain came on they
swelled loudly. When we reached the third verse my belief was confirmed that
a good many of those present were not very familiar with the text.
But what has all this to do with the matter when such a song is sung
wholeheartedly and fervidly by an assembly of German nationals?
After this the meeting broke up and everyone hurried to get outside, one
to his glass of beer, one to a cafe, and others simply into the fresh air.
Out into the fresh air! That was also my feeling. And was this the way to
honour an heroic struggle in which hundreds of thousands of Prussians and
Germans had fought? To the devil with it all!
That sort of thing might find favour with the Government, it being merely
a 'peaceful' meeting. The Minister responsible for law and order need not
fear that enthusiasm might suddenly get the better of public decorum and
induce these people to pour out of the room and, instead of dispersing to
beer halls and cafes, march in rows of four through the town singing Deutschland
hoch in Ehren and causing some unpleasantness to a police force in need of
No. That type of citizen is of no use to anyone.
On the other hand the National Socialist meetings were by no means
'peaceable' affairs. Two distinct outlooks enraged in bitter
opposition to one another, and these meetings did not close with the mechanical
rendering of a dull patriotic song but rather with a passionate outbreak
of popular national feeling.
It was imperative from the start to introduce rigid discipline into our meetings
and establish the authority of the chairman absolutely. Our purpose was not
to pour out a mixture of soft-soap bourgeois talk; what we had to say was
meant to arouse the opponents at our meetings! How often did they not turn
up in masses with a few individual agitators among them and, judging by the
expression on all their faces, ready to finish us off there and then.
Yes, how often did they not turn up in huge numbers, those supporters of
the Red Flag, all previously instructed to smash up everything once and for
all and put an end to these meetings. More often than not everything hung
on a mere thread, and only the chairman's ruthless determination and the
rough handling by our ushers baffled our adversaries' intentions. And indeed
they had every reason for being irritated.
The fact that we had chosen red as the colour for our posters sufficed to
attract them to our meetings. The ordinary bourgeoisie were very shocked
to see that, we had also chosen the symbolic red of Bolshevism and they regarded
this as something ambiguously significant. The suspicion was whispered in
German Nationalist circles that we also were merely another variety of Marxism,
perhaps even Marxists suitably disguised, or better still, Socialists. The
actual difference between Socialism and Marxism still remains a mystery to
these people up to this day. The charge of Marxism was conclusively proved
when it was discovered that at our meetings we deliberately substituted the
words 'Fellow-countrymen and Women' for 'Ladies and Gentlemen' and addressed
each other as 'Party Comrade'. We used to roar with laughter at these silly
faint-hearted bourgeoisie and their efforts to puzzle out our origin, our
intentions and our aims.
We chose red for our posters after particular and careful deliberation, our
intention being to irritate the Left, so as to arouse their attention and
tempt them to come to our meetings if only in order to break them
up so that in this way we got a chance of talking to the people.
In those years' it was indeed a delightful experience to follow the constantly
changing tactics of our perplexed and helpless adversaries. First of all
they appealed to their followers to ignore us and keep away from our meetings.
Generally speaking this appeal was heeded. But, as time went on, more and
more of their followers gradually found their way to us and accepted our
teaching. Then the leaders became nervous and uneasy. They clung to their
belief that such a development should not be ignored for ever, and that terror
must be applied in order to put an end to it.
Appeals were then made to the 'class-conscious proletariat' to attend our
meetings in masses and strike with the clenched hand of the proletarian at
the representatives of a 'monarchist and reactionary agitation'.
Our meetings suddenly became packed with work-people fully three-quarters
of an hour before the proceedings were scheduled to begin. These gatherings
resembled a powder cask ready to explode at any moment; and the fuse was
conveniently at hand. But matters always turned out differently. People came
as enemies and left, not perhaps prepared to join us, yet in a reflective
mood and disposed critically to examine the correctness of their own doctrine.
Gradually as time went on my three-hour lectures resulted in supporters and
opponents becoming united in one single enthusiastic group of people. Every
signal for the breaking-up of the meeting failed. The result was that the
opposition leaders became frightened and once again looked for help to those
quarters that had formerly discountenanced these tactics and, with some show
of right, had been of the opinion that on principle the workers should be
forbidden to attend our meetings.
Then they did not come any more, or only in small numbers. But after a short
time the whole game started all over again. The instructions to keep away
from us were ignored; the comrades came in steadily increasing numbers, until
finally the advocates of the radical tactics won the day. We were to be broken
Yet when, after two, three and even eight meetings, it was realized that
to break up these gatherings was easier said than done and that every meeting
resulted in a decisive weakening of the red fighting forces, then suddenly
the other password was introduced: 'Proletarians, comrades and comradesses,
avoid meetings of the National Socialist agitators'.
The same eternally alternating tactics were also to be observed in the Red
Press. Soon they tried to silence us but discovered the uselessness of such
an attempt. After that they swung round to the opposite tactics. Daily
'reference' was made to us solely for the purpose of absolutely ridiculing
us in the eyes of the working-classes. After a time these gentlemen must
have felt that no harm was being done to us, but that, on the contrary, we
were reaping an advantage in that people were asking themselves why so much
space was being devoted to a subject which was supposed to be so ludicrous.
People became curious. Suddenly there was a change of tactics and for a time
we were treated as veritable criminals against mankind. One article followed
the other, in which our criminal intentions were explained and new proofs
brought forward to support what was said. Scandalous tales, all of them
fabricated from start to finish, were published in order to help to poison
the public mind. But in a short time even these attacks also proved futile;
and in fact they assisted materially because they attracted public attention
In those days I took up the standpoint that it was immaterial whether they
laughed at us or reviled us, whether they depicted us as fools or criminals;
the important point was that they took notice of us and that in the eyes
of the working-classes we came to be regarded as the only force capable of
putting up a fight. I said to myself that the followers of the Jewish Press
would come to know all about us and our real aims.
One reason why they never got so far as breaking up our meetings was undoubtedly
the incredible cowardice displayed by the leaders of the opposition. On every
critical occasion they left the dirty work to the smaller fry whilst they
waited outside the halls for the results of the break up.
We were exceptionally well informed in regard to our opponents' intentions,
not only because we allowed several of our party colleagues to remain members
of the Red organizations for reasons of expediency, but also because the
Red wire-pullers, fortunately for us, were afflicted with a degree of
talkativeness that is still unfortunately very prevalent among Germans. They
could not keep their own counsel, and more often than not they started cackling
before the proverbial egg was laid. Hence, time and again our precautions
were such that Red agitators had no inkling of how near they were to being
thrown out of the meetings.
This state of affairs compelled us to take the work of safeguarding our meetings
into our own hands. No reliance could be placed on official protection. On
the contrary; experience showed that such protection always favoured only
the disturbers. The only real outcome of police intervention would be that
the meeting would be dissolved, that is to say, closed. And that is precisely
what our opponents granted.
Generally speaking, this led the police to adopt a procedure which, to say
the least, was a most infamous sample of official malpractice. The moment
they received information of a threat that the one or other meeting was to
be broken up, instead of arresting the would-be disturbers, they promptly
advised the innocent parties that the meeting was forbidden. This step the
police proclaimed as a 'precautionary measure in the interests of law and
The political work and activities of decent people could therefore always
be hindered by desperate ruffians who had the means at their disposal. In
the name of peace and order State authority bowed down to these ruffians
and demanded that others should not provoke them. When National Socialism
desired to hold meetings in certain parts and the labour unions declared
that their members would resist, then it was not these blackmailers that
were arrested and gaoled. No. Our meetings were forbidden by the police.
Yes, this organ of the law had the unspeakable impudence to advise us in
writing to this effect in innumerable instances. To avoid such eventualities,
it was necessary to see to it that every attempt to disturb a meeting was
nipped in the bud. Another feature to be taken into account in this respect
is that all meetings which rely on police protection must necessarily bring
discredit to their promoters in the eyes of the general public. Meetings
that are only possible with the protective assistance of a strong force of
police convert nobody; because in order to win over the lower strata of the
people there must be a visible show of strength on one's own side. In the
same way that a man of courage will win a woman's affection more easily than
a coward, so a heroic movement will be more successful in winning over the
hearts of a people than a weak movement which relies on police support for
its very existence.
It is for this latter reason in particular that our young movement was to
be charged with the responsibility of assuring its own existence, defending
itself; and conducting its own work of smashing the Red opposition.
The work of organizing the protective measures for our meetings was based
on the following:
(1) An energetic and psychologically judicious way of conducting the meeting.
(2) An organized squad of troops to maintain order.
In those days we and no one else were masters of the situation at our meetings
and on no occasion did we fail to emphasize this. Our opponents fully realized
that any provocation would be the occasion of throwing them out of the hall
at once, whatever the odds against us. At meetings, particularly outside
Munich, we had in those days from five to eight hundred opponents against
fifteen to sixteen National Socialists; yet we brooked no interference, for
we were ready to be killed rather than capitulate. More than once a handful
of party colleagues offered a heroic resistance to a raging and violent mob
of Reds. Those fifteen or twenty men would certainly have been overwhelmed
in the end had not the opponents known that three or four times as many of
themselves would first get their skulls cracked. Arid that risk they were
not willing to run. We had done our best to study Marxist and bourgeois methods
of conducting meetings, and we had certainly learnt something.
The Marxists had always exercised a most rigid discipline so that the question
of breaking up their meetings could never have originated in bourgeois quarters.
This gave the Reds all the more reason for acting on this plan. In time they
not only became past-masters in this art but in certain large districts of
the Reich they went so far as to declare that non-Marxist meetings were nothing
less than a cause of' provocation against the proletariat. This was particularly
the case when the wire-pullers suspected that a meeting might call attention
to their own transgressions and thus expose their own treachery and chicanery.
Therefore the moment such a meeting was announced to be held a howl of rage
went up from the Red Press. These detractors of the law nearly always turned
first to the authorities and requested in imperative and threatening language
that this 'provocation of the proletariat' be stopped forthwith in the
'interests of law and order'. Their language was chosen according to the
importance of the official blockhead they were dealing with and thus success
was assured. If by chance the official happened to be a true German
and not a mere figurehead and he declined the impudent request, then
the time-honoured appeal to stop 'provocation of the proletariat' was issued
together with instructions to attend such and such a meeting on a certain
date in full strength for the purpose of 'putting a stop to the disgraceful
machinations of the bourgeoisie by means of the proletarian fist'.
The pitiful and frightened manner in which these bourgeois meetings are conducted
must be seen in order to be believed. Very frequently these threats were
sufficient to call off such a meeting at once. The feeling of fear was so
marked that the meeting, instead of commencing at eight o'clock, very seldom
was opened before a quarter to nine or nine o'clock. The Chairman thereupon
did his best, by showering compliments on the 'gentleman of the opposition'
to prove how he and all others present were pleased (a palpable lie) to welcome
a visit from men who as yet were not in sympathy with them for the reason
that only by mutual discussion (immediately agreed to) could they be brought
closer together in mutual understanding. Apart from this the Chairman also
assured them that the meeting had no intention whatsoever of interfering
with the professed convictions of anybody. Indeed no. Everyone had the right
to form and hold his own political views, but others should be allowed to
do likewise. He therefore requested that the speaker be allowed to deliver
his speech without interruption the speech in any case not being a
long affair. People abroad, he continued, would thus not come to regard this
meeting as another shameful example of the bitter fraternal strife that is
raging in Germany. And so on and so forth
The brothers of the Left had little if any appreciation for that sort of
talk; the speaker had hardly commenced when he was shouted down. One gathered
the impression at times that these speakers were graceful for being peremptorily
cut short in their martyr-like discourse. These bourgeois toreadors left
the arena in the midst of a vast uproar, that is to say, provided that they
were not thrown down the stairs with cracked skulls, which was very often
Therefore, our methods of organization at National Socialist meetings were
something quite strange to the Marxists. They came to our meetings in the
belief that the little game which they had so often played could as a matter
of course be also repeated on us. "To-day we shall finish them off." How
often did they bawl this out to each other on entering the meeting hall,
only to be thrown out with lightning speed before they had time to repeat
In the first place our method of conducting a meeting was entirely different.
We did not beg and pray to be allowed to speak, and we did not straightway
give everybody the right to hold endless discussions. We curtly gave everyone
to understand that we were masters of the meeting and that we would do as
it pleased us and that everyone who dared to interrupt would be unceremoniously
thrown out. We stated clearly our refusal to accept responsibility for anyone
treated in this manner. If time permitted and if it suited us, a discussion
would be allowed to take place. Our party colleague would now make his speech....
That kind of talk was sufficient in itself to astonish the Marxists.
Secondly, we had at our disposal a well-trained and organized body of men
for maintaining order at our meetings. On the other hand the bourgeois parties
protected their meetings with a body of men better classified as ushers who
by virtue of their age thought they were entitled to-authority and respect.
But as Marxism has little or no respect for these things, the question of
suitable self-protection at these bourgeois meetings was, so to speak, in
When our political meetings first started I made it a special point to organize
a suitable defensive squad a squad composed chiefly of young men.
Some of them were comrades who had seen active service with me; others were
young party members who, right from the start, had been trained and brought
up to realize that only terror is capable of smashing terror that
only courageous and determined people had made a success of things in this
world and that, finally, we were fighting for an idea so lofty that it was
worth the last drop of our blood. These young men had been brought up to
realize that where force replaced common sense in the solution of a problem,
the best means of defence was attack and that the reputation of our hall-guard
squads should stamp us as a political fighting force and not as a debating
And it was extraordinary how eagerly these boys of the War generation responded
to this order. They had indeed good reason for being bitterly disappointed
and indignant at the miserable milksop methods employed by the bourgeoise.
Thus it became clear to everyone that the Revolution had only been possible
thanks to the dastardly methods of a bourgeois government. At that time there
was certainly no lack of man-power to suppress the revolution, but unfortunately
there was an entire lack of directive brain power. How often did the eyes
of my young men light up with enthusiasm when I explained to them the vital
functions connected with their task and assured them time and again that
all earthly wisdom is useless unless it be supported by a measure of strength,
that the gentle goddess of Peace can only walk in company with the god of
War, and that every great act of peace must be protected and assisted by
force. In this way the idea of military service came to them in a far more
realistic form not in the fossilized sense of the souls of decrepit
officials serving the dead authority of a dead State, but in the living
realization of the duty of each man to sacrifice his life at all times so
that his country might live.
How those young men did their job!
Like a swarm of hornets they tackled disturbers at our meetings, regardless
of superiority of numbers, however great, indifferent to wounds and bloodshed,
inspired with the great idea of blazing a trail for the sacred mission of
As early as the summer of 1920 the organization of squads of men as hall
guards for maintaining order at our meetings was gradually assuming definite
shape. By the spring of 1921 this body of men were sectioned off into squads
of one hundred, which in turn were sub-divided into smaller groups.
The urgency for this was apparent, as meanwhile the number of our meetings
had steadily increased. We still frequently met in the Munich Hofbräuhaus
but more frequently in the large meeting halls throughout the city itself.
In the autumn and winter of 19201921 our meetings in the
Bürgerbräu and Munich Kindlbräu had assumed vast proportions
and it was always the same picture that presented itself; namely, meetings
of the NSDAP (The German National Socialist Labour Party) were always crowded
out so that the police were compelled to close and bar the doors long before
The organization of defense guards for keeping order at our meetings cleared
up a very difficult question. Up till then the movement had possessed no
party badge and no party flag. The lack of these tokens was not only a
disadvantage at that time but would prove intolerable in the future. The
disadvantages were chiefly that members of the party possessed no outward
broken of membership which linked them together, and it was absolutely
unthinkable that for the future they should remain without some token which
would be a symbol of the movement and could be set against that of the
More than once in my youth the psychological importance of such a symbol
had become clearly evident to me and from a sentimental point of view also
it was advisable. In Berlin, after the War, I was present at a mass-demonstration
of Marxists in front of the Royal Palace and in the Lustgarten. A sea of
red flags, red armlets and red flowers was in itself sufficient to give that
huge assembly of about 120,000 persons an outward appearance of strength.
I was now able to feel and understand how easily the man in the street succumbs
to the hypnotic magic of such a grandiose piece of theatrical presentation.
The bourgeoisie, which as a party neither possesses or stands for any
outlook at all, had therefore not a single banner. Their party was
composed of 'patriots' who went about in the colours of the Reich. If these
colors were the symbol of a definite philosophy then one could
understand the rulers of the State regarding this flag as expressive of
their philosophy, seeing that through their efforts the official
Reich flag was expressive of their philosophy.
But in reality the position was otherwise.
The Reich was morticed together without the aid of the German bourgeoisie
and the flag itself was born of the War and therefore merely a State flag
possessing no importance in the sense of any particular ideological mission.
Only in one part of the German-speaking territory in German-Austria
was there anything like a bourgeois party flag in evidence. Here a
section of the national bourgeoisie selected the 1848 colours (black, red
and gold) as their party flag and therewith created a symbol which, though
of no importance from a weltanschauliche viewpoint, had, nevertheless, a
revolutionary character from a national point of view. The most bitter opponents
of this flag at that time, and this should not be forgotten today, were
the Social Democrats and the Christian Socialists or clericals. They, in
particular, were the ones who degraded and besmirched these colours in the
same way as in 1918 they dragged black, white and red into the gutter. Of
course, the black, red and gold of the German parties in the old Austria
were the colours of the year 1848: that is to say, of a period likely to
be regarded as somewhat visionary, but it was a period that had honest German
souls as its representatives, although the Jews were lurking unseen as
wire-pullers in the background. It was high treason and the shameful enslavement
of the German territory that first of all made these colours so attractive
to the Marxists of the Centre Party; so much so that today they revere them
as their most cherished possession and use them as their own banners for
the protection of the flag they once foully besmirched.
It is a fact, therefore, that, up till 1920, in opposition to the Marxists
there was no flag that would have stood for a consolidated resistance to
them. For even if the better political elements of the German bourgeoisie
were loath to accept the suddenly discovered black, red and gold colours
as their symbol after the year 1918, they nevertheless were incapable of
counteracting this with a future programme of their own that would correspond
to the new trend of affairs. At the most, they had a reconstruction of the
old Reich in mind.
And it is to this way of thinking that the black, white and red colours of
the old Reich are indebted for their resurrection as the flag of our so-called
national bourgeois parties.
It was obvious that the symbol of a régime which had been overthrown
by the Marxists under inglorious circumstances was not now worthy to serve
as a banner under which the same Marxism was to be crushed in its turn. However
much any decent German may love and revere those old colours, glorious when
placed side by side in their youthful freshness, when he had fought under
them and seen the sacrifice of so many lives, that flag had little value
for the struggle of the future.
In our Movement I have always adopted the standpoint that it was a really
lucky thing for the German nation that it had lost its old flag.
This standpoint of mine was in strong contrast to that of
the bourgeois politicians. It may be immaterial to us what the Republic does
under its flag. But let us be deeply grateful to fate for having so graciously
spared the most glorious war flag for all time from becoming an ignominious
rag. The Reich of today, which sells itself and its people, must never be
allowed to adopt the honourable and heroic black, white and red colours.
As long as the November outrage endures, that outrage may continue to bear
its own external sign and not steal that of an honourable past. Our bourgeois
politicians should awaken their consciences to the fact that whoever desires
this State to have the black, white and red colours is pilfering from the
past. The old flag was suitable only for the old Reich and, thank Heaven,
the Republic chose the colours best suited to itself.
This was also the reason why we National Socialists recognized that hoisting
the old colours would be no symbol of our special aims; for we had no wish
to resurrect from the dead the old Reich which had been ruined through its
own blunders, but to build up a new State.
The Movement which is fighting Marxism today along these lines must display
on its banner the symbol of the new State.
The question of the new flag, that is to say the form and appearance it must
take, kept us very busy in those days. Suggestions poured in from all quarters,
which although well meant were more or less impossible in practice. The new
flag had not only to become a symbol expressing our own struggle but on the
other hand it was necessary that it should prove effective as a large poster.
All those who busy themselves with the tastes of the public will recognize
and appreciate the great importance of these apparently petty matters. In
hundreds of thousands of cases a really striking emblem may be the first
cause of awakening interest in a movement.
For this reason we declined all suggestions from various quarters for identifying
our movement by means of a white flag with the old State or rather with those
decrepit parties whose sole political objective is the restoration of past
conditions. And, apart from this, white is not a colour capable of attracting
and focusing public attention. It is a colour suitable only for young
women's associations and not for a movement that stands for reform in a
Black was also suggested certainly well-suited to the times, but embodying
no significance to empress the will behind our movement. And, finally, black
is incapable of attracting attention.
White and blue was discarded, despite its admirable æsthetic appeal
as being the colours of an individual German Federal State
a State that, unfortunately, through its political attitude of particularist
narrow-mindedness did not enjoy a good reputation. And, generally speaking,
with these colours it would have been difficult to attract attention to our
movement. The same applies to black and white.
Black, red and gold did not enter the question at all.
And this also applies to black, white and red for reasons already stated.
At least, not in the form hitherto in use. But the effectiveness of these
three colours is far superior to all the others and they are certainly the
most strikingly harmonious combination to be found.
I myself was always for keeping the old colours, not only because I, as a
soldier, regarded them as my most sacred possession, but because in their
aesthetic effect, they conformed more than anything else to my personal taste.
Accordingly I had to discard all the innumerable suggestions and designs
which had been proposed for the new movement, among which were many that
had incorporated the swastika into the old colours. I, as leader, was unwilling
to make public my own design, as it was possible that someone else could
come forward with a design just as good, if not better, than my own. As a
matter of fact, a dental surgeon from Starnberg submitted a good design very
similar to mine, with only one mistake, in that his swastika with curved
corners was set upon a white background.
After innumerable trials I decided upon a final form a flag of red
material with a white disc bearing in its centre a black swastika. After
many trials I obtained the correct proportions between the dimensions of
the flag and of the white central disc, as well as that of the swastika.
And this is how it has remained ever since.
At the same time we immediately ordered the corresponding armlets for our
squad of men who kept order at meetings, armlets of red material, a central
white disc with the black swastika upon it. Herr Füss, a Munich goldsmith,
supplied the first practical and permanent design.
The new flag appeared in public in the midsummer of 1920. It suited our movement
admirably, both being new and young. Not a soul had seen this flag before;
its effect at that time was something akin to that of a blazing torch. We
ourselves experienced almost a boyish delight when one of the ladies of the
party who had been entrusted with the making of the flag finally handed it
over to us. And a few months later those of us in Munich were in possession
of six of these flags. The steadily increasing strength of our hall guards
was a main factor in popularizing the symbol.
And indeed a symbol it proved to be.
Not only because it incorporated those revered colours expressive of our
homage to the glorious past and which once brought so much honour to the
German nation, but this symbol was also an eloquent expression of the will
behind the movement. We National Socialists regarded our flag as being the
embodiment of our party programme. The red expressed the social thought
underlying the movement. White the national thought. And the swastika signified
the mission allotted to us the struggle for the victory of Aryan mankind
and at the same time the triumph of the ideal of creative work which is in
itself and always will be anti-Semitic.
Two years later, when our squad of hall guards had long since grown into
storm detachments (Sturm-Abteilung), it seemed necessary to give this defensive organization
of a young philosophy a particular symbol of victory, namely
a Standard. I also designed this and entrusted the execution of it to an
old party comrade, Herr Gahr, who was a goldsmith. Ever since that time this
Standard has been the distinctive token of the National Socialist struggle.
The increasing interest taken in our meetings, particularly during 1920,
compelled us at times to hold two meetings a week. Crowds gathered round
our posters; the large meeting halls in the town were always filled and tens
of thousands of people, who had been led astray by the teachings of Marxism,
found their way to us and assisted in the work of fighting for the liberation
of the Reich. The public in Munich had got to know us. We were being spoken
about. The words 'National Socialist' had become common property to many
and signified for them a definite party programme. Our circle of supporters
and even of members was constantly increasing, so that in the winter of
192021 we were able to appear as a strong party in Munich.
At that time there was no party in Munich with the exception of the Marxist
parties certainly no nationalist party which was able to hold
such mass demonstrations as ours. The Munich Kindl Hall, which held 5,000
people, was more than once overcrowded and up till then there was only one
other hall, the Krone Circus Hall, into which we had not ventured.
At the end of January 1921 there was again great cause for anxiety in Germany.
The Paris Agreement, by which Germany pledged herself to pay the crazy sum
of a hundred milliards of gold marks, was to be confirmed by the London
Thereupon an old-established Munich working committee, representative of
so-called völkisch groups, deemed it advisable to call for a public
meeting of protest. I became nervous and restless when I saw that a lot of
time was being wasted and nothing undertaken. At first a meeting was suggested
in the König Platz; on second thoughts this was turned down, as someone
feared the proceedings might be wrecked by Red elements. Another suggestion
was a demonstration in front of the Feldherrn Hall, but this also came to
nothing. Finally a combined meeting in the Munich Kindl Hall was suggested.
Meanwhile, day after day had gone by; the big parties had entirely ignored
the terrible event, and the working committee could not decide on a definite
date for holding the demonstration.
On Tuesday, February 1st, I put forward an urgent demand for a final decision.
I was put off until Wednesday. On that day I demanded to be told clearly
if and when the meeting was to take place. The reply was again uncertain
and evasive, it being stated that it was 'intended' to arrange a demonstration
that day week.
At that I lost all patience and decided to conduct a demonstration of protest
on my own. At noon on Wednesday I dictated in ten minutes the text of the
poster and at the same time hired the Krone Circus Hall for the next day,
In those days this was a tremendous venture. Not only because of the uncertainty
of filling that vast hall, but also because of the risk of the meeting being
Numerically our squad of hall guards was not strong enough for this vast
hall. I was also uncertain about what to do in case the meeting was broken
up a huge circus building being a different proposition from an ordinary
meeting hall. But events showed that my fears were misplaced, the opposite
being the case. In that vast building a squad of wreckers could be tackled
and subdued more easily than in a cramped hall.
One thing was certain: A failure would throw us back for a long time to come.
If one meeting was wrecked our prestige would be seriously injured and our
opponents would be encouraged to repeat their success. That would lead to
sabotage of our work in connection with further meetings and months of difficult
struggle would be necessary to overcome this.
We had only one day in which to post our bills, Thursday. Unfortunately it
rained on the morning of that day and there was reason to fear that many
people would prefer to remain at home rather than hurry to a meeting through
rain and snow, especially when there was likely to be violence and bloodshed.
And indeed on that Thursday morning I was suddenly struck with fear that
the hall might never be filled to capacity, which would have made me ridiculous
in the eyes of the working committee. I therefore immediately dictated various
leaflets, had them printed and distributed in the afternoon. Of course they
contained an invitation to attend the meeting.
Two lorries which I hired were draped as much as possible in red, each had
our new flag hoisted on it and was then filled with fifteen or twenty members
of our party. Orders were given the members to canvas the streets thoroughly,
distribute leaflets and conduct propaganda for the mass meeting to be held
that evening. It was the first time that lorries had driven through the streets
bearing flags and not manned by Marxists. The public stared open-mouthed
at these red-draped cars, and in the outlying districts clenched fists were
angrily raised at this new evidence of 'provocation of the proletariat'.
Were not the Marxists the only ones entitled to hold meetings and drive about
in motor lorries?
At seven o'clock in the evening only a few had gathered in the circus hall.
I was being kept informed by telephone every ten minutes and was becoming
uneasy. Usually at seven or a quarter past our meeting halls were already
half filled; sometimes even packed. But I soon found out the reason why I
was uneasy. I had entirely forgotten to take into account the huge dimensions
of this new meeting place. A thousand people in the Hofbräuhaus was
quite an impressive sight, but the same number in the Circus building was
swallowed up in its dimensions and was hardly noticeable. Shortly afterwards
I received more hopeful reports and at a quarter to eight I was informed
that the hall was three-quarters filled, with huge crowds still lined up
at the pay boxes. I then left for the meeting.
I arrived at the Circus building at two minutes past eight. There was still
a crowd of people outside, partly inquisitive people and many opponents who
preferred to wait outside for developments.
When I entered the great hall I felt the same joy I had felt a year previously
at the first meeting in the Munich Hofbräu Banquet Hall; but it was
not until I had forced my way through the solid wall of people and reached
the platform that I perceived the full measure of our success. The hall was
before me, like a huge shell, packed with thousands and thousands of people.
Even the arena was densely crowded. More than 5,600 tickets had been sold
and, allowing for the unemployed, poor students and our own detachments of
men for keeping order, a crowd of about 6,500 must have been present.
My theme was 'Future or Downfall' and I was filled with joy at the conviction
that the future was represented by the crowds that I was addressing.
I began, and spoke for about two and a half hours. I had the feeling after
the first half-hour that the meeting was going to be a big success. Contact
had been at once established with all those thousands of individuals. After
the first hour the speech was already being received by spontaneous outbreaks
of applause, but after the second hour this died down to a solemn stillness
which I was to experience so often later on in this same hall, and which
will for ever be remembered by all those present. Nothing broke this impressive
silence and only when the last word had been spoken did the meeting give
vent to its feelings by singing the national anthem.
I watched the scene during the next twenty minutes, as the vast hall slowly
emptied itself, and only then did I leave the platform, a happy man, and
made my way home.
Photographs were taken of this first meeting in the Krone Circus Hall in
Munich. They are more eloquent than words to demonstrate the success of this
demonstration. The bourgeois papers reproduced photographs and reported the
meeting as having been merely 'nationalist' in character; in their usual
modest fashion they omitted all mention of its promoters.
Thus for the first time we had developed far beyond the dimensions of an
ordinary party. We could no longer be ignored. And to dispel all doubt that
the meeting was merely an isolated success, I immediately arranged for another
at the Circus Hall in the following week, and again we had the same success.
Once more the vast hall was overflowing with people; so much so that I decided
to hold a third meeting during the following week, which also proved a similar
After these initial successes early in 1921 I increased our activity in Munich
still further. I not only held meetings once a week, but during some weeks
even two were regularly held and very often during midsummer and autumn this
increased to three. We met regularly at the Circus Hall and it gave us great
satisfaction to see that every meeting brought us the same measure of success.
The result was shown in an ever-increasing number of supporters and members
into our party.
Naturally, such success did not allow our opponents to sleep soundly. At
first their tactics fluctuated between the use of terror and silence in our
regard. Then they recognized that neither terror nor silence could hinder
the progress of our movement. So they had recourse to a supreme act of terror
which was intended to put a definite end to our activities in the holding
As a pretext for action along this line they availed themselves of a very
mysterious attack on one of the Landtag deputies, named Erhard Auer. It was
declared that someone had fired several shots at this man one evening. This
meant that he was not shot but that an attempt had been made to shoot him.
A fabulous presence of mind and heroic courage on the part of Social Democratic
leaders not only prevented the sacrilegious intention from taking effect
but also put the crazy would-be assassins to flight, like the cowards that
they were. They were so quick and fled so far that subsequently the police
could not find even the slightest traces of them. This mysterious episode
was used by the organ of the Social Democratic Party to arouse public feeling
against the movement, and while doing this it delivered its old rigmarole
about the tactics that were to be employed the next time. Their purpose was
to see to it that our movement should not grow but should be immediately
hewn down root and branch by the hefty arm of the proletariat.
A few days later the real attack came. It was decided finally to interrupt
one of our meetings which was billed to take place in the Munich
Hofbräuhaus, and at which I myself was to speak.
On November 4th, 1921, in the evening between six and seven o'clock I received
the first precise news that the meeting would positively be broken up and
that to carry out this action our adversaries had decided to send to the
meeting great masses of workmen employed in certain 'Red' factories.
It was due to an unfortunate accident that we did not receive this news sooner.
On that day we had given up our old business office in the Sternecker Gasse
in Munich and moved into other quarters; or rather we had given up the old
offices and our new quarters were not yet in functioning order. The telephone
arrangements had been cut off by the former tenants and had not yet been
reinstalled. Hence it happened that several attempts made that day to inform
us by telephone of the break-up which had been planned for the evening did
not reach us.
Consequently our order troops were not present in strong force at that meeting.
There was only one squad present, which did not consist of the usual one
hundred men, but only of about forty-six. And our telephone connections were
not yet sufficiently organized to be able to give the alarm in the course
of an hour or so, so that a sufficiently powerful number of order troops
to deal with the situation could be called. It must also be added that on
several previous occasions we had been forewarned, but nothing special happened.
The old proverb, 'Revolutions which were announced have scarcely ever come
off', had hitherto been proved true in our regard.
Possibly for this reason also sufficiently strong precautions had not been
taken on that day to cope with the brutal determination of our opponents
to break up our meeting.
Finally, we did not believe that the Hofbräuhaus in Munich was suitable
for the interruptive tactics of our adversaries. We had feared such a thing
far more in the bigger halls, especially that of the Krone Circus. But on
this point we learned a very serviceable lesson that evening. Later, we studied
this whole question according to a scientific system and arrived at results,
both interesting and incredible, and which subsequently were an essential
factor in the direction of our organization and in the tactics of our Storm
When I arrived in the entrance halt of the Hofbräuhaus at 7.45 that
evening I realizcd that there could be no doubt as to what the 'Reds' intended.
The hall was filled, and for that reason the police had barred the entrances.
Our adversaries, who had arrived very early, were in the hall, and our followers
were for the most part outside. The small bodyguard awaited me at the entrance.
I had the doors leading to the principal hall closed and then asked the bodyguard
of forty-five or forty-six men to come forward. I made it clear to the boys
that perhaps on that evening for the first time they would have to show their
unbending and unbreakable loyalty to the movement and that not one of us
should leave the hall unless carried out dead. I added that I would remain
in the hall and that I did not believe that one of them would abandon me,
and that if I saw any one of them act the coward I myself would personally
tear off his armlet and his badge. I demanded of them that they should come
forward if the slightest attempt to sabotage the meeting were made and that
they must remember that the best defence is always attack.
I was greeted with a triple 'Heil' which sounded more hoarse and violent
Then I advanced through the hall and could take in the situation with my
own eyes. Our opponents sat closely huddled together and tried to pierce
me through with their looks. Innumerable faces glowing with hatred and rage
were fixed on me, while others with sneering grimaces shouted at me together.
Now they would 'Finish with us. We must look out for our entrails. To-day
they would smash in our faces once and for all.' And there were other expressions
of an equally elegant character. They knew that they were there in superior
numbers and they acted accordingly.
Yet we were able to open the meeting; and I began to speak. In the Hall of
the Hofbräuhaus I stood always at the side, away from the entry and
on top of a beer table. Therefore I was always right in the midst of the
audience. Perhaps this circumstance was responsible for creating a certain
feeling and a sense of agreement which I never found elsewhere.
Before me, and especially towards my left, there were only opponents, seated
or standing. They were mostly robust youths and men from the Maffei Factory,
from Kustermann's, and from the factories on the Isar, etc. Along the right-hand
wall of the hall they were thickly massed quite close to my table. They now
began to order litre mugs of beer, one after the other, and to throw the
empty mugs under the table. In this way whole batteries were collected. I
should have been surprised had this meeting ended peacefully.
In spite of all the interruptions, I was able to speak for about an hour
and a half and I felt as if I were master of the situation. Even the ringleaders
of the disturbers appeared to be convinced of this; for they steadily became
more uneasy, often left the hall, returned and spoke to their men in an obviously
A small psychological error which I committed in replying to an interruption,
and the mistake of which I myself was conscious the moment the words had
left my mouth, gave the sign for the outbreak.
There were a few furious outbursts and all in a moment a man jumped on a
seat and shouted "Liberty". At that signal the champions of liberty began
In a few moments the hall was filled with a yelling and shrieking mob. Numerous
beer-mugs flew like howitzers above their heads. Amid this uproar one heard
the crash of chair legs, the crashing of mugs, groans and yells and screams.
It was a mad spectacle. I stood where I was and could observe my boys doing
their duty, every one of them.
There I had the chance of seeing what a bourgeois meeting could be.
The dance had hardly begun when my Storm Troops, as they were called from
that day onwards, launched their attack. Like wolves they threw themselves
on the enemy again and again in parties of eight or ten and began steadily
to thrash them out of the hall. After five minutes I could see hardly one
of them that was not streaming with blood. Then I realized what kind of men
many of them were, above all my brave Maurice Hess, who is my private secretary
today, and many others who, even though seriously wounded, attacked again
and again as long as they could stand on their feet. Twenty minutes long
the pandemonium continued. Then the opponents, who had numbered seven or
eight hundred, had been driven from the hall or hurled out headlong by my
men, who had not numbered fifty. Only in the left corner a big crowd still
stood out against our men and put up a bitter fight. Then two pistol shots
rang out from the entrance to the hall in the direction of the platform and
now a wild din of shooting broke out from all sides. One's heart almost rejoiced
at this spectacle which recalled memories of the War.
At that moment it was not possible to identify the person who had fired the
shots. But at any rate I could see that my boys renewed the attack with increased
fury until finally the last disturbers were overcome and flung out of the
About twenty-five minutes had passed since it all began. The hall looked
as if a bomb had exploded there. Many of my comrades had to be bandaged and
others taken away. But we remained masters of the situation. Hermann Essen,
who was chairman of the meeting, announced: "The meeting will continue. The
speaker shall proceed." So I went on with my speech.
When we ourselves declared the meeting at an end an excited police officer
rushed in, waved his hands and declared: "The meeting is dissolved."
Without wishing to do so I had to
laugh at this example of the law's delay. It was real police pompousness.
The smaller they are the greater they must always try to appear.
That evening we learned a real lesson.
And our adversaries never forgot the lesson they had received.
Up to the autumn of 1923 the
Münchener post did not again mention the clenched fists of the
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