Means Used by the Nazi Conspiractors in Gaining Control of the German State (Part 8 of 55)
Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter VII
2. ACQUISITION OF TOTALITARIAN POLITICAL CONTROL
A. First Steps in Acquiring Control of State Machinery.
(1) The Nazi conspirators first sought control of State machinery by force. The Munich Putsch of 1923, aimed at the overthrow of the Weimar Republic by direct action, failed. On 8 November 1923 the so-called Munich Putsch occurred. During the evening, von Kahr, State Commissioner General of Bavaria, was speaking at the Buergerbraeukeller in Munich. Hitler and other Nazi leaders appeared, supported by the Sturmabteilungen (Storm Troops) and other fighting groups. Hitler fired a shot and announced that a Nationalist Revolution setting up a dictatorship had taken place. There followed a conference after which von Kahr, von Lossow, and Colonel of Police von Seisser, announced they would cooperate with Hitler and that a "Provisional National Government" was established, as follows: Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler Leader of the National Army Gen. von Ludendorff Reich Minister of War von Lossow Reich Minister of Police von Seisser Reich Finance Minister Feder [Page 200] It was also announced that Kahr would be State Administrator for Bavaria, Poehner would be Bavarian Prime Minister, and Frick would be Munich Police President. Kahr, Lossow and Seisser then departed. During the night the latter group alerted the police, brought troops to Munich, and announced that their consent to the Putsch had been obtained by force. On the afternoon of the next day, Hitler, Ludendorff, and their supporters attempted to march into the center of Munich. At the Feldherrnhalle the procession met a patrol of police, shots were exchanged, and men on both sides were killed. Hermann Goering was wounded, the Putsch was broken up, the Party and its organization were declared illegal, and its leaders, including Hitler, Frick, and Streicher were arrested. Rosenberg, together with Amann and Drexler, tried to keep the Party together after it had been forbidden. Hitler and others later were tried for high treason. At the trial Hitler admitted his participation in the foregoing attempt to seize control of the State by force. He was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment. (252-PS; 2404-PS)
(2) The Nazi Conspirators then set out through the Nazi Party to undermine and capture the German Government by "legal" forms supported by terrorism.
(a) In 1925, the conspirators reorganized the Nazi Party and began a campaign to secure support from Germany voters throughout the nation. On 26 February 1925, the Voelkischer Beobachter, the official newspaper of the National Socialist German Worker's Party (NSDAP) appeared for the first time after the Munich Putsch, and on the following day Hitler made his first speech after his release from prison. He then began to rebuild the Party organization. The conspirators, through the Nazi Party, participated in election campaigns and other political activity throughout Germany and secured the election of members of the Reichstag. (252-PS) As a reflection of this activity the Nazi Party in May 1928, received 2.6% of the total vote and obtained 12 out of 491 seats in the Reichstag. In September 1930, the Nazi Party polled 18.3% of the total vote and won 107 out of 577 seats in the Reichstag. In July 1932, it received 37.3% of the total vote cast and won 230 out of 608 seats. In November 1932, it polled 33.1% of the vote and won 196 out of 584 seats in the Reichstag. (2514-PS)
(b) The Nazi conspirators asserted they sought power only by legal forms. In November 1934, Hitler, speaking of the Munich Putsch of 1923 said: "It gave me the opportunity to lay down the new tactics of the Party and to pledge it to legality". (2741-PS) [Page 201] In September 1931, three officers of the Reichswehr were tried at Leipzig for high treason. At the request of Hans Frank, Hitler was invited to testify at this trial that the NSDAP was striving to attain its goal by purely legal means. He was asked: "How do you imagine the setting up of a Third Reich?" His reply was, "This term only describes the basis of the struggle but not the objective. We will enter the legal organizations and will make our Party a decisive factor in this way. But when we do possess constitutional rights then we will form the State in the manner which we consider to be the right one." The President then asked: "This too by constitutional means ?" Hitler replied: "Yes." (612-PS)
(c) The purpose of the Nazi conspirators in participating in elections and in the Reichstag was to undermine the parliamentary system of the Republic and to replace it with a dictatorship of their own. This the Nazi conspirators themselves made clear. Frick wrote in 1927:
"There is no National Socialist and no racialist who expects any kind of manly German deed from that gossip club on the Koenigsplatz and who is not convinced of the necessity for direct action by the unbroken will of the German people to bring about their spiritual and physical liberation. But there is a long road ahead. After the failure of November, 1923, there was no choice but to begin all over again and to strive to bring about a change in the spirit and determination of the most valuable of our racial comrades, as the indispensable prerequisite for the success of the coming fight for freedom. Our activities in parliament must be evaluated as merely part of this propaganda work. "Our participation in the parliament does not indicate a support, but rather an undermining of the parliamentarian system. It does not indicate that we renounce our anti-parliamentarian attitude, but that we are fighting the enemy with his own weapons and that we are fighting for our National Socialist goal from the parliamentary platform." (2742-PS) On 30 April 1928, Goebbels wrote in his paper "Der Angriff"; "We enter parliament in order to supply ourselves, in the arsenal of democracy, with its own weapons. We become members of the Reichstag in order to paralyze the Weimar sentiment with its own assistance. If democracy is so stupid as to give us free tickets and per diem for the this "blockade" (Barendienst), that is its own affair." Later in the same article he continued: "We do not come as friend nor even as neutrals. we come [Page 202] as enemies: As the wolf bursts into the flock, so we come." (2500-PS)
In a pamphlet published in 1935, Goebbels said: "When democracy granted democratic methods for us in the times of opposition, this was bound to happen in a democratic system. However, we National Socialists never asserted that we represented a democratic point of view, but we have declared openly that we used democratic methods only in order to gain the power and that, after assuming the power, we would deny to our adversaries without any consideration the means which were granted to us in the times of opposition. (2412-PS) A leading Nazi writer on Constitutional Law, Ernst Rudolf Huber, later wrote of this period: "The parliamentary battle of the NSDAP had the single purpose of destroying the parliamentary system from within through its own methods. It was necessary above all to make formal use of the possibilities of the party-state system but to refuse real cooperation and thereby to render the parliamentary system, which is by nature dependent upon the responsible cooperation of the opposition, incapable of action." (2633-PS)
The Nazi members of the Reichstag conducted themselves as a storm troop unit. Whenever representatives of the government or the democratic parties spoke, the Nazi members marched out in a body in studied contempt of the speaker, or entered in a body to interrupt the speaker, thus making it physically impossible for the Reichstag President to maintain order. In the case of speakers of opposition parties, the Nazi members constantly interrupted, often resorting to lengthy and spurious parliamentary maneuvers, with the result that the schedule of the session was thrown out of order. The tactics finally culminated in physical attacks by the Nazis upon members of the house as well as upon visitors. (L-83) In a letter of 24 August 1931 to Rosenberg, Hitler deplored an article in "Voelkscher Beobachter" the effect of which was to prevent undermining of support for the then existing form of government, and said: "I myself am travelling all over Germany to achieve exactly the opposite." (047-PS)
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