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