The Führer and his Movement – Historical Overview by Reichsleiter Philipp Bouhler
The "German Workers Party", founded by Schriftleiter Karl Harrer on the 5th of January 1919, had almost no political existence.
The six members of the party formed a union of well-meaning nationalist men who knew about the fateful activities of Marxism and thus had united with the purpose of giving the German working-classes back to the nation. Although the knowledge of these men was perfectly true, they were not capable of translating their plans into reality. They had no money but that was not the worst part. They lacked a general grand idea that could have guided them in their fight. Alone and helpless they faced a world that either intentionally ignored them or did not even know that they existed. They simply did not know how to attract the people’s attention and most likely they would never have exceeded the importance of an entirely meaningless debating club. In a word, they needed a Führer. They found him in their 7th member.
On the day - it must have been the 16th of September 1919 - that Adolf Hitler joined the party its unique career began. Hitler immediately realized that the party had to abandon its hidden existence and make itself publicly known. He believed that immense propaganda, adequate for the psyche of the masses was the only possible method of achieving this goal. First though, before he could introduce even the slightest innovation, Hitler had to overcome strong opposition from parliamentary oriented members to the "liquidation" of the party as it existed.
What is obvious in any army, especially in the German army, has almost completely disappeared in the political life of most nations: acknowledgement of the value of personality and its responsibility. In yesterday’s Germany it was the decisions of a majority that dictated the actions of the political leaders who could then hide behind those majority resolutions, free from any responsibility. Adolf Hitler however, structured his party according to the principles of authority towards those below and responsibility towards those above.
When the executive head of the party that had been known as the "NSDAP“ since the 9th of August 1920, resigned in July 1921, Adolf Hitler was elected chairman and was given almost dictatorial powers. Soon afterward it became clear that the speaker, who fascinated the masses with his words, had perfect organizational skills. He immediately and indiscriminately broke away from the [party’s] previous habits in which he saw the destruction of every organization. After all, he did not want to form a party in the common sense of the word. What he needed was a powerful, rigidly organized instrument that blindly obeyed his dominant willpower. This instrument was the NSDAP. It was the organizational core of the National Socialist Movement that should gradually take over the entire German nation. The national community had to be determined by blood and bound to the native soil. All differences of political, social or religious doctrine that hitherto had dispersed nations in all directions had to be bridged. Any small-minded impulse of self interest in individuals or groups had to be drowned out by the command that dictated that all Germans must act in a united manner.
Of what importance is the question of the form of government, the conflict over ecclesiastical problems, or the hate-filled disputes between workers and owners in view of the almighty fate that had to decide inexorably over the life or ruin of Germany!
An organization, as Adolf Hitler envisaged it, was not only a state which could one day replace the rotten, collapsing, Marxist state structure, but one with which a leader’s genius, borne along by the eternal truth of the idea, had to be able to unhinge a world!
According to these grand principles he formed the NSDAP and its sub-divisions. In the end however, it was only Adolf Hitler's personality that guaranteed success. His knowledge and actions (obviously guided by Providence) his work, his faith, his willpower and determination, the shining example of the Führer over and above the hourly and daily chaos, these were the only assurances of success. If it was not for the Führer, how could it have been possible that these boys and all the men and women, sacrificed property and blood without so much as a claim for gratitude? How could they have defied destiny, suffered from misery, need and persecution. How could a look from the Führer’s eyes have been enough compensation for the most difficult sacrifices?
There are things in human life that must be done without regard for whether they will be successful or not. Certain decisions and actions can only be avoided at the price of inner freedom, respect, happiness or even one’s life. Consequently, the individual as well as the Movement or the nation must suffer some defeats. Such was the defeat on the 9th of November 1923. A black day indeed for the National Socialist Movement but at the same time a turning point in contemporary history. On that day a man and a few followers tried to change Germany’s destiny. This man dared to take action although there was almost no chance of success.
Nevertheless, it had to be done. The German future belonged only to him who had the courage to leap into the unknown. The seed of a better Germany could grow up only through blood and combat.
It was one of the most difficult decisions of his life when Adolf Hitler decided to take action. He proved his incredible courage when, supported only by his own resolution he challenged the existing system and declared the government dismissed although it was in possession of the federal means of power. All by himself he carried the burden of responsibility for everything that was to result from this coup. His effort failed. It could not bring to an end the five years of fatal destiny that had crushed Germany. The system of the 9th of November 1918 remained in charge, damaging the entire nation. The attempt of Adolf Hitler and his friends was not a complete failure however.
In later years the Führer came to believe that on the 9th of November 1923 the time had not yet been ripe for victory. On the 9th of November 1933, at the 10th anniversary celebrated in the Burgerbräukeller he called the failed attempt, "Wisdom of Providence" but he added, "and yet I am convinced that when we acted the way we did, we had to act in this and no other way, because we were on a mission from God".
Those men did not follow a phantom, but the call of their hearts beneath the flag with the swastika when they marched towards the Feldherrnhalle on their way to a new Reich. They followed the loud call of an ideal that talked to them through the words of Adolf Hitler. They were ready to sacrifice the most precious good they possessed because they valued the ideal that materialized in Adolf Hitler, higher than their own lives. Destiny accepted this sacrifice from 16 men. Hence, the men who died on that 9th of November were the first martyrs of the National Socialist struggle. They were, followed by many who sacrificed their blood and life on the shrine of their country. But those 16 were the first. For their fight the odds were much worse than the odds were in later years. This means that their effort had to be much stronger. They proved to the world that this new Movement was prepared to fertilize the way to Germany’s freedom with the blood of its fighters. It was the reason that the Führer picked those 16 men out of the line of comrades shot by Red Fronters and Reactionaries and established a monument for them. The Hall of Honor on the Königsplatz in München is a plain and aristocratic monument that reminds us of their great sacrifice and provides the acknowledgement they get from the Movement. This is why on the 9th of November 1935 the mortal remains of these 16 men were taken out of their simple graves in various cemeteries in München and its surroundings. After they were displayed for one night in the Feldherrnhalle they were transferred in a festive parade to their new tomb. There they will forever be Eternal Guards, reminding coming generations of this day.
More than a year passed during which the Movement tried to re-establish an organized system after the breakdown on the 9th of November 1923. It was a time of inner turmoil, of discord and disputes among the leaders. The powerful resurgence of interest in National Socialist thought throughout the entire Reich as a result of the great publicity surrounding the trial of Nazis at the Volksgerichtshof in München, was overshadowed by infighting. Many of the old fighters were deeply seized by a feeling of disillusionment and hopelessness. Many turned their back on the Movement. In northern Germany a few ambitious national leaders tried to take over Adolf Hitler's heritage with the goal of turning his Movement around for their own purposes. It was a relatively small group that loyally stood by the old flag.
Then, on the 20th of December 1924, the gates of the prison at Landsberg am Lech were opened for Adolf Hitler. For the remaining five years of his "punishment" (he had been sentenced for high treason) he was put on probation.
A sigh of relief went through his fellow fighters. Now that the Führer was once again among them, more determined than ever to guide the way with the flag, they no longer felt anxiety for the future. What meant frustration for some, was out of the question for Hitler and his followers: he could not rely on one of the existing national political organizations, but had to re-establish the old NSDAP. On the 25th of February 1925, among the unbelievable cheers of his followers, he proclaimed that his Movement was founded again. The historic Burgerbräukeller in München had to be cordoned off by the police on that day, due to overcrowding. And indeed it was a great achievement that Adolf Hitler in a masterful speech could reunite the deadly rivals among the members of the Großdeutsche Volksgemeinschaft and the Nationalsozialistische Freiheitsbewegung, which at that time were the two dueling sides.
The beginning was made. The fight could be started anew in the same old spirit. In one way however, this fight was different in the methods that had been used up until the 9th of November 1923. Until that date everybody had been prepared to turn the existing government over in a coup.
Now the Führer clearly saw the necessity to continue his fight on a completely legal basis. That however, meant a change in tactics only. By no means did it mean a modification of the goal which, then and always, could only be the conquest of the political power in Germany. The constitution of the "November Republik" with its democratic foundation left the possibility open to gradually win the people’s support through relentless propaganda and thus, in the course of elections, to enter parliament. So we reached our goal in a perfectly legal way. We only had to beat democracy at its own game. The Führer’s challenge to the political system was perfectly clear and the political leaders of Germany of that time immediately took counter measures to prevent the party from getting' established and from spreading its idea. The Bavarian government prohibited public speeches by Adolf Hitler, justifying their action with a manipulated version of one of Hitler’s speeches, which led to a series of oppressive measures and persecutions carried out by public authorities. Other states joined in and for years the Führer could speak in person only at unofficial meetings of party members. Moreover, it was essential to avoid the possibility that the party would be suppressed again and consequently the propaganda possibilities were limited. Nevertheless the fight against enslaving contracts and the weak governmental policy of consensus was carried on pitilessly and by the use of all legal means. Likewise, the examination of Marxism and its corrupting influences on all fields progressed. Gradually the Movement came to a firm footing in the parliaments outside of Bavaria too: first in Thüringen in 1930, then in Braunschweig and Anhalt.
While the political fight continued in this way with unbroken vehemence and tenacity, difficult organizational problems piled up for the Movement. Decisions about assignments of members were not made on a round table basis but the structure of the party developed organically from the bottom up. The true leaders had to emerge out of a free game of powers.
Finally however, this wild growth had to be regulated and controlled. All those who had formed a towngroup - those who had proven that they were men enough to make their own way - they were acknowledged and from then on protected against all attacks. In the end, when those towngroups had spread all over the nation, one after the other was made part of a Gau [District]. The position of Gauleiter was given only to those men who, born in combat, had conquered their territories by themselves.
In this way, fighting, working and constantly ready for action, the apostles of National Socialism stood up in all parts of Germany. They drove around relentlessly, always talking, always fighting. They were hard, coarse and rough men, not at all easy to get along with, often stubborn and individualistic. But how else could they have performed the almost superhuman task of preparing the ground for the planting of Adolf Hitler?
There was a time when many lawyers waited to destroy the party: there were rebels within the party, selfish, ambitious and corrupted subjects who were willing to abuse the NSDAP for their own purposes or to split and thus weaken the party. There were enemies from all sides who, full of hate and in great number, tried to crush the Movement using all possible means of lying and defaming, as well as boycott and terror; there were over-zealous party members who misunderstood the revolutionary spirit and leaped ahead endangering the Movement (as they provided the authorities with a good reason to interfere). These dangers were mastered by the Führer by virtue of his higher insight, his intelligence, his courage and determination. Today it seems like an impressive and unbelievable miracle to us, that he was able to successfully steer the small ship of his party through all those troubled waters.
The Movement was spared nothing. It had grown on fight, need, sacrifice and privation, and this made it hard and pure. A thousand times, party members were exposed to persecution. They were stripped of their brown shirts, they were beaten and thrown in jail. The filth of defamation was poured down on them, they were damaged financially, their lives were ruined and trials were aimed at wearing them down. Fights carried out in city halls left thousands of National Socialists with bleeding wounds of honor. At night, many were slain on the streets by brutish "comrades". A pitiless determination whipped everybody through endless propaganda and election campaigns, through meetings and parades. Private life was hardly known to the National Socialist. Always on the march, serving, fighting. At the end of a success one remembered the Führer’s iron slogan: "The fight goes on“. To this command he completely devoted himself, too. On the way, many lost their courage and sank down, others lost their belief in the eventual victory and some broke down physically. Only faith kept the Movement going; faith and its symbol, the Führer, who led the way for the Movement like a banner in the middle of a chaotic fight ... The hardest year however, was yet to come.
It was the year of 1932 when the opposing forces concentrated the most, demanding the very best of every man, from the Führer to the last unknown SA-man. It was the year of the elections for the Reichsprasidenten, the elections for the Reichstag, the numerous elections for the Landtag and Bürgerrat. At that time Hitler flew through Germany four times and during the 14 days of the third trip he made speeches before 49 mass assemblies. And all this was accomplished by a wave of propaganda that until then was unheard of. The year of 1932 saw the colorful changes in the cabinets of Brüning, Papen, Schleicher; and it brought the prohibition of the SA as well as a state of national emergency It was in this year that the government tried in vain to push the Führer off on a side track by offering him the position of Vice-Chancellor. In 1932 we witnessed massive losses for the National Socialists at the second elections to the Reichstag in November; we saw the constant vice of the communist wave as well as Gregor Strasser's stab in the back; and finally we saw streams of the finest German blood shed for the rebirth of the Reich. But even that year went by and when, on the 30th of January 1933 it was announced that Hindenburg nominated Adolf Hitler Reichskanzler the entire German nation was deeply affected.
There were those who worried because of their sins against the Movement and nation. They looked into the future with a dreadful heart. Some of them preferred to grab their money and flee across the border so that they could aim their poisoned arrows against Germany sheltered in a foreign country. And then there were those who had suffered enough from the calamity of the past years. They thanked Providence that it finally had brought about a change in things.
On the 21st of March the German Reichstag met again in the Garnisonkirche in Potsdam At this historic site, a place where faded flags of glory cast shadows on the last resting place of the great King of Prussia, the festive ceremony was held that introduced a new era in German history.
Once again Germany belonged to Germans! The door to a brighter future was open1 Adolf Hitler could begin to form the Third Reich! In 1926 the Austrian National Socialists became an organizational part of the NSDAP, after years of close contact with their German and Bohemian brother parties. But whereas Adolf Hitler and his brown army won the Reich, the National Socialist Movement was brutally suppressed in German-Austria. In the Summer of 1934, when the people’s spontaneous attempt to break their chains failed, a time of immense misery began for our brothers on the other side of the border, who felt a part of Greater Germany as National Socialists. But in this case again, it became clear that terror and suppression can never kill the spirit in the hearts of those who are deeply committed. It is true that the party and its sub-divisions were dissolved and illegal activities were severely punished. It is true that it was prohibited to carry the swastika and to greet people in the German manner. But thousands were glad and ready to hold up the prohibited banner in darkness and misery just to see the dawning of a victory whose time had to come. This street of sacrifices led many through the jails of the establishment, through agony and disgrace. Many a man had to take his final journey but he went in an upright manner unbroken and with a hard look on his face. He was transformed by the knowledge that a change was ahead and he went with the words "Heil Hitler“ on his dying breath. None of the suppressive measures imposed by reactionary powers of state could hinder the constant call: "one People, one Reich, one Führer“. The call could be heard all over Austria and it found a receptive heart on the other side of the border, in the in the great homeland.
In July 1936 the Führer had tried to end the strained relations with Austria by way of an agreement. Despite all promises, the Austrian government did not give up its hostile attitude toward National Socialists. Then, on the 12th of February 1938, the Führer met with the Austrian Chancellor on the Obersalzberg and Mr. Schuschnigg agreed to grant full equal rights to Austrian National Socialists. The moment he arrived home however, Schuschnigg thought of treason. On the 9th of March he announced in Innsbruck that there would be a referendum to decide on Austria’s independence. Not only was such a procedure unconstitutional but it defied all principles of law. There was no doubt that it was impossible to conclude a just referendum in three days without any preparation and without any ballots. Schuschnigg however, never wanted the people’s honest opinion. He only used fraud and terror to secure an outcome favorable to him, on the basis of which he hoped to continue his policy of suppression against Germanness. He had forgotten that Germany under Adolf Hitler’s flag had again become a superpower that would not tolerate treachery and the enslavement of millions of German folk companions.
The curtain fell quickly on this act of shame that had lasted long enough. After a few violent attempts to put down the revolts that had started everywhere, Schuschnigg resigned on the 11th of March. Public authority now rested with Seyß-lnquart who had been a National Socialist member of the cabinet since the Berchtesgaden agreement. To resurrect peace and justice he asked for an invasion of German troops because the Marxists were planning to fish in troubled waters. The next day squadrons of German planes roared over Austrian territory, greeting National Socialist Austria with millions of leaflets. The Führer, along with soldiers of the German armed forces who crossed the border everywhere, returned to his home country in triumph. The yearning call had finally come true: "one People, one Reich, one Führer“. The next day there was but one cry of gratitude and the crowd cheered as the Führer moved into Vienna through an ocean of jubilant, flag-waving people. Clearer than any referendum, the Germans in Austria had spoken when they carried Adolf Hitler through his home country on waves of exaltation in those unforgettable days in March. The outcome of the referendum that had been scheduled for the 10th of April was nothing more than another affirmation of a perfect fact. It could only reveal the overwhelming support for the Greater German Reich and its founder and Führer.
It was not an idea alone with the dynamic power to break down the bastions of the old system that had conquered Germany, and it was not only through powerful speeches in which the Führer had hammered the new Weltanschauung into the hearts and brains of the new generation; it was the personality of Adolf Hitler that from the very beginning had been the driving force behind the idea. His personality had guaranteed success. The unique appearance of the Führer and the power of his charisma are grounded in the totality of his genius and in the harmony of his personality; that rare combination chosen by Providence to bring about a change in world history. As dazzling as may seem the contrasts in the Führer’s genius and the variety of the interests to which he is attracted and which he masters, it is exactly this multitude of mutually supporting talents and inclinations that coalesce into the harmony and gigantic perfection of his genius. Thus the Führer, whose roots are in the fine arts made his way into politics filled with the brave virtues of a soldier. He topped the creations of a politician with the military success of a general. His creative imagination which endows him with grand concepts and plans, is tamed by a razor-sharp logic and an extraordinary instinct for reality. His sense for the needs and necessity of everyday life is as clear and unclouded as his opinion in all fields of arts and estheticism. He has the political attitude of a soldier so his warfare has to yield to political necessities. He elevated leadership in governing and war into the art of governing and the art of war. Therefore, it is only logical that the Führer had already finished an outline of his cultural program and had made plans for huge buildings and revolutionary urban projects at a time when he was still fighting for the political power in Germany; at a time when he had to battle the corrupting influences of the Jewish-Marxist system, sometimes even by using brute force. It is only logical that later on, when he installed an armed force and formed the domestic and foreign policies of the new Reich, he began to carry through all the cultural plans. Thus, he gave new impetus to German art and prepared the ground for an economic upswing.
Cool and calculating minds could not follow the Führer until actual events proved his prophecies correct and made the iron logic in his line of argumentation visible. Thus, his claim to leadership was supported by the facts as well as by success. But long before all this became clear, thousands had believed with all their heart in this man who despite actual circumstances, had promised to resurrect beloved Germany and to guide the way to unknown magnitude. But it was not the words that the masses believed in, it was the man, the personality Adolf Hitler. This was the secret process by which during the time of fighting he attracted fighters from all Districts like a magnet, by virtue of his personality. He welded them together in a blood brotherhood and thus won the Reich.
Today the whole German nation, not only looks up to the Führer with deep admiration, but it is ready to sacrifice everything and feels deep love for the father of the nation; feelings that are mainly grounded in Adolf Hitler's humane nature. This man rose out of the people and thus has an understanding for the worries and concerns of the people. It shines down on the masses and fills them with faithful confidence to see this man’s solidarity with them, his loyalty towards his fellow combatants, his distinct sense for justice, his deep feelings for the great and beautiful and his immense goodness of heart that shines through even if, in national interest, he has to make adamant decisions. What makes the personality of Adolf Hitler so special, however, is the shining example he gives the people every single day. The people know that the Führer demands the most from himself and never demands anything from anybody that he is not ready to do whenever it needs to be done. The people are content in the knowledge that his work and whole existence belong to Germany and that he himself sacrifices his private life. Thus, in the best sense of the word he leads the way for his people as a standard bearer - visible for everybody, the Führer of the nation, the founder of the Reich, the pioneer of a new era!