Here at the close of the volume I shall describe the first stage in the progress of our movement and shall give a brief account of the problems we had to deal with during that period. In doing this I have no intention of expounding the ideals which we have set up as the goal of our movement; for these ideals are so momentous in their significance that an exposition of them will need a whole volume. Therefore I shall devote the second volume of this book to a detailed survey of the principles which form the programme of our movement and I shall attempt to draw a picture of what we mean by the word ‘State’. When I say ‘we’ in this connection I mean to include all those hundreds of thousands who have fundamentally the same longing, though in the individual cases they cannot find adequate words to describe the vision that hovers before their eyes. It is a characteristic feature of all great reforms that in the beginning there is only one single protagonist to come forward on behalf of several millions of people. The final goal of a great reformation has often been the object of profound longing on the parts of hundreds of thousands for many centuries before, until finally one among them comes forward as a herald to announce the will of that multitude and become the standard-bearer of the old yearning, which he now leads to a realization in a new idea.
The fact that millions of our people yearn at heart for a radical change in our present conditions is proved by the profound discontent which exists among them. This feeling is manifested in a thousand ways. Some express it in a form of discouragement and despair. Others show it in resentment and anger and indignation. Among some the profound discontent calls forth an attitude of indifference, while it urges others to violent manifestations of wrath. Another indication of this feeling may be seen on the one hand in the attitude of those who abstain from voting at elections and, on the other, in the large numbers of those who side with the fanatical extremists of the left wing.
To these latter people our young movement had to appeal first of all. It was not meant to be an organization for contented and satisfied people, but was meant to gather in all those who were suffering from profound anxiety and could find no peace, those who were unhappy and discontented. It was not meant to float on the surface of the nation but rather to push its roots deep among the masses.
Looked at from the purely political point of view, the situation in 1918 was as follows: A nation had been torn into two parts. One part, which was by far the smaller of the two, contained the intellectual classes of the nation from which all those employed in physical labour were excluded. On the surface these intellectual classes appeared to be national-minded, but that word meant nothing else to them except a very vague and feeble concept of the duty to defend what they called the interests of the State, which in turn seemed identical with those of the dynastic regime. This class tried to defend its ideas and reach its aims by carrying on the fight with the aid of intellectual weapons, which could be used only here and there and which had only a superficial effect against the brutal measures employed by the adversaries, in the face of which the intellectual weapons were of their very nature bound to fail. With one violent blow the class which had hitherto governed was now struck down. It trembled with fear and accepted every humiliation imposed on it by the merciless victor.
Over against this class stood the broad masses of manual labourers who were organized in movements with a more or less radically Marxist tendency. These organized masses were firmly determined to break any kind of intellectual resistance by the use of brute force. They had no nationalist tendencies whatsoever and deliberately repudiated the idea of advancing the interests of the nation as such. On the contrary, they promoted the interests of the foreign oppressor. Numerically this class embraced the majority of the population and, what is more important, included all those elements of the nation without whose collaboration a national resurgence was not only a practical impossibility but was even inconceivable.
For already in 1918 one thing had to be clearly recognized; namely, that no resurgence of the German nation could take place until we had first restored our national strength to face the outside world. For this purpose arms are not the preliminary necessity, though our bourgeois ‘statesmen’ always blathered about it being so; what was wanted was will-power. At one time the German people had more than sufficient military armament. And yet they were not able to defend their liberty because they lacked those energies which spring from the instinct of national self-preservation and the will to hold on to one’s own. The best armament is only dead and worthless material as long as the spirit is wanting which makes men willing and determined to avail themselves of such weapons. Germany was rendered defenceless not because she lacked arms, but because she lacked the will to keep her arms for the maintenance of her people.
To-day our Left-wing politicians in particular are constantly insisting that their craven-hearted and obsequious foreign policy necessarily results from the disarmament of Germany, whereas the truth is that this is the policy of traitors. To all that kind of talk the answer ought to be: No, the contrary is the truth. Your action in delivering up the arms was dictated by your anti-national and criminal policy of abandoning the interests of the nation. And now you try to make people believe that your miserable whining is fundamentally due to the fact that you have no arms. Just like everything else in your conduct, this is a lie and a falsification of the true reason.
But the politicians of the Right deserve exactly the same reproach. It was through their miserable cowardice that those ruffians of Jews who came into power in 1918 were able to rob the nation of its arms. The conservative politicians have neither right nor reason on their side when they appeal to disarmament as the cause which compelled them to adopt a policy of prudence (that is to say, cowardice). Here, again, the contrary is the truth. Disarmament is the result of their lack of spirit.
Therefore the problem of restoring Germany’s power is not a question of how can we manufacture arms but rather a question of how we can produce that spirit which enables a people to bear arms. Once this spirit prevails among a people then it will find a thousand ways, each of which leads to the necessary armament. But a coward will not fire even a single shot when attacked though he may be armed with ten pistols. For him they are of less value than a blackthorn in the hands of a man of courage.
The problem of re-establishing the political power of our nation is first of all a problem of restoring the instinct of national self-preservation for if no other reason than that every preparatory step in foreign policy and every foreign judgment on the worth of a State has been proved by experience to be grounded not on the material size of the armament such a State may possess but rather on the moral capacity for resistance which such a State has or is believed to have. The question whether or not a nation be desirable as an ally is not so much determined by the inert mass of arms which it has at hand but by the obvious presence of a sturdy will to national self-preservation and a heroic courage which will fight through to the last breath. For an alliance is not made between arms but between men.
The British nation will therefore be considered as the most valuable ally in the world as long as it can be counted upon to show that brutality and tenacity in its government, as well as in the spirit of the broad masses, which enables it to carry through to victory any struggle that it once enters upon, no matter how long such a struggle may last, or however great the sacrifice that may be necessary or whatever the means that have to be employed; and all this even though the actual military equipment at hand may be utterly inadequate when compared with that of other nations.
Once it is understood that the restoration of Germany is a question of reawakening the will to political self-preservation we shall see quite clearly that it will not be enough to win over those elements that are already national-minded but that the deliberately anti-national masses must be converted to believe in the national ideals.
A young movement that aims at re-establishing a German State with full sovereign powers will therefore have to make the task of winning over the broad masses a special objective of its plan of campaign. Our so-called ‘national bourgeoisie’ are so lamentably supine, generally speaking, and their national spirit appears so feckless, that we may feel sure they will offer no serious resistance against a vigorous national foreign – or domestic policy. Even though the narrow-minded German bourgeoisie should keep up a passive resistance when the hour of deliverance is at hand, as they did in Bismarck’s time, we shall never have to fear any active resistance on their part, because of their recognized proverbial cowardice.
It is quite different with the masses of our population, who are imbued with ideas of internationalism. Through the primitive roughness of their natures they are disposed to accept the preaching of violence, while at the same time their Jewish leaders are more brutal and ruthless. They will crush any attempt at a German revival, just as they smashed the German Army by striking at it from the rear. Above all, these organized masses will use their numerical majority in this Parliamentarian State not only to hinder any national foreign policy, but also to prevent Germany from restoring her political power and therewith her prestige abroad. Thus she becomes excluded from the ranks of desirable allies. For it is not we ourselves alone who are aware of the handicap that results from the existence of fifteen million Marxists, democrats, pacifists and followers of the Centre, in our midst, but foreign nations also recognize this internal burden which we have to bear and take it into their calculations when estimating the value of a possible alliance with us. Nobody would wish to form an alliance with a State where the active portion of the population is at least passively opposed to any resolute foreign policy.
The situation is made still worse by reason of the fact that the leaders of those parties which were responsible for the national betrayal are ready to oppose any and every attempt at a revival, simply because they want to retain the positions they now hold. According to the laws that govern human history it is inconceivable that the German people could resume the place they formerly held without retaliating on those who were both cause and occasion of the collapse that involved the ruin of our State. Before the judgment seat of posterity November 1918 will not be regarded as a simple rebellion but as high treason against the country.
Therefore it is not possible to think of re-establishing German sovereignty and political independence without at the same time reconstructing a united front within the nation, by a peaceful conversion of the popular will.
Looked at from the standpoint of practical ways and means, it seems absurd to think of liberating Germany from foreign bondage as long as the masses of the people are not willing to support such an ideal of freedom. After carefully considering this problem from the purely military point of view, everybody, and in particular every officer, will agree that a war cannot be waged against an outside enemy by battalions of students; but that, together with the brains of the nation, the physical strength of the nation is also necessary. Furthermore it must be remembered that the nation would be robbed of its irreplaceable assets by a national defence in which only the intellectual circles, as they are called, were engaged. The young German intellectuals who joined the volunteer regiments and fell on the battlefields of Flanders in the autumn of 1914 were bitterly missed later on. They were the dearest treasure which the nation possessed and their loss could not be made good in the course of the war. And it is not only the struggle itself which could not be waged if the working masses of the nation did not join the storm battalions, but the necessary technical preparations could not be made without a unified will and a common front within the nation itself. Our nation which has to exist disarmed, under the thousand eyes appointed by the Versailles Peace Treaty, cannot make any technical preparations for the recovery of its freedom and human independence until the whole army of spies employed within the country is cut down to those few whose inborn baseness would lead them to betray anything and everything for the proverbial thirty pieces of silver. But we can deal with such people. The millions, however, who are opposed to every kind of national revival simply because of their political opinions, constitute an insurmountable obstacle. At least the obstacle will remain insurmountable as long as the cause of their opposition, which is international Marxism, is not overcome and its teachings banished from both their hearts and heads.
From whatever point of view we may examine the possibility of recovering our independence as a State and a people, whether we consider the problem from the standpoint of technical rearmament or from that of the actual struggle itself, the necessary pre-requisite always remains the same. This pre-requisite is that the broad masses of the people must first be won over to accept the principle of our national independence.
If we do not regain our external freedom every step forward in domestic reform will at best be an augmentation of our productive powers for the benefit of those nations that look upon us as a colony to be exploited. The surplus produced by any so-called improvement would only go into the hands of our international controllers and any social betterment would at best increase the product of our labour in favour of those people. No cultural progress can be made by the German nation, because such progress is too much bound up with the political independence and dignity of a people.
Therefore, as we can find a satisfactory solution for the problem of Germany’s future only by winning over the broad masses of our people for the support of the national idea, this work of education must be considered the highest and most important task to be accomplished by a movement which does not strive merely to satisfy the needs of the moment but considers itself bound to examine in the light of future results everything it decides to do or refrain from doing.
As early as 1919 we were convinced that the nationalization of the masses would have to constitute the first and paramount aim of the new movement. From the tactical standpoint, this decision laid a certain number of obligations on our shoulders.
(1) No social sacrifice could be considered too great in this effort to win over the masses for the national revival.
In the field of national economics, whatever concessions are granted to-day to the employees are negligible when compared with the benefit to be reaped by the whole nation if such concessions contribute to bring back the masses of the people once more to the bosom of their own nation. Nothing but meanness and shortsightedness, which are characteristics that unfortunately are only too prevalent among our employers, could prevent people from recognizing that in the long run no economic improvement and therefore no rise in profits are possible unless internal solidarity be restored among the bulk of the people who make up our nation.
If the German trades unions had defended the interests of the working-classes uncompromisingly during the War; if even during the War they had used the weapon of the strike to force the industrialists – who were greedy for higher dividends – to grant the demands of the workers for whom the unions acted; if at the same time they had stood up as good Germans for the defence of the nation as stoutly as for their own claims, and if they had given to their country what was their country’s due – then the War would never have been lost. How ludicrously insignificant would all, and even the greatest, economic concession have been in face of the tremendous importance of such a victory.
For a movement which would restore the German worker
to the German people it is therefore absolutely necessary to understand
clearly that economic sacrifices must be considered light in such cases,
provided of course that they do not go the length of endangering the independence
and stability of the national economic system.
(2) The education of the masses along national lines can be carried out only indirectly, by improving their social conditions; for only by such a process can the economic conditions be created which enable everybody to share in the cultural life of the nation.
(3) The nationalization of the broad masses can never be achieved by half-measures – that is to say, by feebly insisting on what is called the objective side of the question – but only by a ruthless and devoted insistence on the one aim which must be achieved. This means that a people cannot be made ‘national’ according to the signification attached to that word by our bourgeois class to-day – that is to say, nationalism with many reservations – but national in the vehement and extreme sense. Poison can be overcome only by a counter-poison, and only the supine bourgeois mind could think that the Kingdom of Heaven can be attained by a compromise.
The broad masses of a nation are not made up of professors and diplomats. Since these masses have only a poor acquaintance with abstract ideas, their reactions lie more in the domain of the feelings, where the roots of their positive as well as their negative attitudes are implanted. They are susceptible only to a manifestation of strength which comes definitely either from the positive or negative side, but they are never susceptible to any half-hearted attitude that wavers between one pole and the other. The emotional grounds of their attitude furnish the reason for their extraordinary stability. It is always more difficult to fight successfully against Faith than against knowledge. Love is less subject to change than respect. Hatred is more lasting than mere aversion. And the driving force which has brought about the most tremendous revolutions on this earth has never been a body of scientific teaching which has gained power over the masses, but always a devotion which has inspired them, and often a kind of hysteria which has urged them to action.
Whoever wishes to win over the masses must know the key that will open the door to their hearts. It is not objectivity, which is a feckless attitude, but a determined will, backed up by force, when necessary.
(4) The soul of the masses can be won only if those who lead the movement for that purpose are determined not merely to carry through the positive struggle for their own aims but are also determined to destroy the enemy that opposes them.
When they see an uncompromising onslaught against an adversary the people have at all times taken this as a proof that right is on the side of the active aggressor; but if the aggressor should go only half-way and fail to push home his success by driving his opponent entirely from the scene of action, the people will look upon this as a sign that the aggressor is uncertain of the justice of his own cause and his half-way policy may even be an acknowledgment that his cause is unjust.
The masses are but a part of Nature herself. Their feeling is such that they cannot understand mutual hand-shakings between men who are declared enemies. Their wish is to see the stronger side win and the weaker wiped out or subjected unconditionally to the will of the stronger.
The nationalization of the masses can be successfully achieved only if, in the positive struggle to win the soul of the people, those who spread the international poison among them are exterminated.
(5) All the great problems of our time are problems of the moment and are only the results of certain definite causes. And among all those there is only one that has a profoundly causal significance. This is the problem of preserving the pure racial stock among the people. Human vigour or decline depends on the blood. Nations that are not aware of the importance of their racial stock, or which neglect to preserve it, are like men who would try to educate the pug-dog to do the work of the greyhound, not understanding that neither the speed of the greyhound nor the imitative faculties of the poodle are inborn qualities which cannot be drilled into the one or the other by any form of training. A people that fails to preserve the purity of its racial blood thereby destroys the unity of the soul of the nation in all its manifestations. A disintegrated national character is the inevitable consequence of a process of disintegration in the blood. And the change which takes place in the spiritual and creative faculties of a people is only an effect of the change that has modified its racial substance.
If we are to free the German people from all those failings and ways of acting which do not spring from their original character, we must first get rid of those foreign germs in the national body which are the cause of its failings and false ways.
The German nation will never revive unless the racial problem is taken into account and dealt with. The racial problem furnishes the key not only to the understanding of human history but also to the understanding of every kind of human culture.
(6) By incorporating in the national community the masses of our people who are now in the international camp we do not thereby mean to renounce the principle that the interests of the various trades and professions must be safeguarded. Divergent interests in the various branches of labour and in the trades and professions are not the same as a division between the various classes, but rather a feature inherent in the economic situation. Vocational grouping does not clash in the least with the idea of a national community, for this means national unity in regard to all those problems that affect the life of the nation as such.
To incorporate in the national community, or simply the State, a stratum of the people which has now formed a social class the standing of the higher classes must not be lowered but that of the lower classes must be raised. The class which carries through this process is never the higher class but rather the lower one which is fighting for equality of rights. The bourgeoisie of to-day was not incorporated in the State through measures enacted by the feudal nobility but only through its own energy and a leadership that had sprung from its own ranks.
The German worker cannot be raised from his present standing and incorporated in the German folk-community by means of goody-goody meetings where people talk about the brotherhood of the people, but rather by a systematic improvement in the social and cultural life of the worker until the yawning abyss between him and the other classes can be filled in. A movement which has this for its aim must try to recruit its followers mainly from the ranks of the working class. It must include members of the intellectual classes only in so far as such members have rightly understood and accepted without reserve the ideal towards which the movement is striving. This process of transformation and reunion cannot be completed within ten or twenty years. It will take several generations, as the history of such movements has shown.
The most difficult obstacle to the reunion of our contemporary worker in the national folk-community does not consist so much in the fact that he fights for the interests of his fellow-workers, but rather in the international ideas with which he is imbued and which are of their nature at variance with the ideas of nationhood and fatherland. This hostile attitude to nation and fatherland has been inculcated by the leaders of the working class. If they were inspired by the principle of devotion to the nation in all that concerns its political and social welfare, the trades unions would make those millions of workers most valuable members of the national community, without thereby affecting their own constant struggle for their economic demands.
A movement which sincerely endeavours to bring the German worker back into his folk-community, and rescue him from the folly of internationalism, must wage a vigorous campaign against certain notions that are prevalent among the industrialists. One of these notions is that according to the concept of the folk-community, the employee is obliged to surrender all his economic rights to the employer and, further, that the workers would come into conflict with the folk-community if they should attempt to defend their own just and vital interests. Those who try to propagate such a notion are deliberate liars. The idea of a folk-community does not impose any obligations on the one side that are not imposed on the other.
A worker certainly does something which is contrary to the spirit of folk-community if he acts entirely on his own initiative and puts forward exaggerated demands without taking the common good into consideration or the maintenance of the national economic structure. But an industrialist also acts against the spirit of the folk-community if he adopts inhuman methods of exploitation and misuses the working forces of the nation to make millions unjustly for himself from the sweat of the workers. He has no right to call himself ‘national’ and no right to talk of a folk-community, for he is only an unscrupulous egoist who sows the seeds of social discontent and provokes a spirit of conflict which sooner or later must be injurious to the interests of the country.
The reservoir from which the young movement has to draw its members will first of all be the working masses. Those masses must be delivered from the clutches of the international mania. Their social distress must be eliminated. They must be raised above their present cultural level, which is deplorable, and transformed into a resolute and valuable factor in the folk-community, inspired by national ideas and national sentiment.
If among those intellectual circles that are nationalist in their outlook men can be found who genuinely love the people and look forward eagerly to the future of Germany, and at the same time have a sound grasp of the importance of a struggle whose aim is to win over the soul of the masses, such men are cordially welcomed in the ranks of our movement, because they can serve as a valuable intellectual force in the work that has to be done. But this movement can never aim at recruiting its membership from the unthinking herd of bourgeois voters. If it did so the movement would be burdened with a mass of people whose whole mentality would only help to paralyse the effort of our campaign to win the mass of the people. In theory it may be very fine to say that the broad masses ought to be influenced by a combined leadership of the upper and lower social strata within the framework of the one movement; but, notwithstanding all this, the fact remains that though it may be possible to exercise a psychological influence on the bourgeois classes and to arouse some enthusiasm or even awaken some understanding among them by our public demonstrations, their traditional characteristics cannot be changed. In other words, we could not eliminate from the bourgeois classes the inefficiency and supineness which are part of a tradition that has developed through centuries. The difference between the cultural levels of the two groups and between their respective attitudes towards social-economic questions is still so great that it would turn out a hindrance to the movement the moment the first enthusiasm aroused by our demonstrations calmed down.
Finally, it is not part of our programme to transform the nationalist camp itself, but rather to win over those who are anti-national in their outlook. It is from this viewpoint that the strategy of the whole movement must finally be decided.
(7) This one-sided but accordingly clear and definite attitude must be manifested in the propaganda of the movement; and, on the other hand, this is absolutely necessary to make the propaganda itself effective.
If propaganda is to be of service to the movement it must be addressed to one side alone; for if it should vary the direction of its appeal it will not be understood in the one camp or may be rejected by the other, as merely insisting on obvious and uninteresting truisms; for the intellectual training of the two camps that come into question here has been very different.
Even the manner in which something is presented and the tone in which particular details are emphasized cannot have the same effect in those two strata that belong respectively to the opposite extremes of the social structure. If the propaganda should refrain from using primitive forms of expression it will not appeal to the sentiments of the masses. If, on the other hand, it conforms to the crude sentiments of the masses in its words and gestures the intellectual circles will be averse to it because of its roughness and vulgarity. Among a hundred men who call themselves orators there are scarcely ten who are capable of speaking with effect before an audience of street-sweepers, locksmiths and navvies, etc., to-day and expound the same subject with equal effect to-morrow before an audience of university professors and students. Among a thousand public speakers there may be only one who can speak before a composite audience of locksmiths and professors in the same hall in such a way that his statements can be fully comprehended by each group while at the same time he effectively influences both and awakens enthusiasm, on the one side as well as on the other, to hearty applause. But it must be remembered that in most cases even the most beautiful idea embodied in a sublime theory can be brought home to the public only through the medium of smaller minds. The thing that matters here is not the vision of the man of genius who created the great idea but rather the success which his apostles achieve in shaping the expression of this idea so as to bring it home to the minds of the masses.
Social-Democracy and the whole Marxist movement were particularly qualified to attract the great masses of the nation, because of the uniformity of the public to which they addressed their appeal. The more limited and narrow their ideas and arguments, the easier it was for the masses to grasp and assimilate them; for those ideas and arguments were well adapted to a low level of intelligence.
These considerations led the new movement to adopt a clear and simple line of policy, which was as follows:
In its message as well as in its forms of expression the propaganda must be kept on a level with the intelligence of the masses, and its value must be measured only by the actual success it achieves.
At a public meeting where the great masses are gathered together the best speaker is not he whose way of approaching a subject is most akin to the spirit of those intellectuals who may happen to be present, but the speaker who knows how to win the hearts of the masses.
An educated man who is present and who finds fault with an address because he considers it to be on an intellectual plane that is too low, though he himself has witnessed its effect on the lower intellectual groups whose adherence has to be won, only shows himself completely incapable of rightly judging the situation and therewith proves that he can be of no use in the new movement. Only intellectuals can be of use to a movement who understand its mission and its aims so well that they have learned to judge our methods of propaganda exclusively by the success obtained and never by the impression which those methods made on the intellectuals themselves. For our propaganda is not meant to serve as an entertainment for those people who already have a nationalist outlook, but its purpose is to win the adhesion of those who have hitherto been hostile to national ideas and who are nevertheless of our own blood and race.
In general, those considerations of which I have given a brief summary in the chapter on ‘War Propaganda’ became the guiding rules and principles which determined the kind of propaganda we were to adopt in our campaign and the manner in which we were to put it into practice. The success that has been obtained proves that our decision was right.
(8) The ends which any political reform movement sets out to attain can never be reached by trying to educate the public or influence those in power but only by getting political power into its hands. Every idea that is meant to move the world has not only the right but also the obligation of securing control of those means which will enable the idea to be carried into effect. In this world success is the only rule of judgment whereby we can decide whether such an undertaking was right or wrong. And by the word ‘success’ in this connection I do not mean such a success as the mere conquest of power in 1918 but the successful issue whereby the common interests of the nation have been served. A coup d’etat cannot be considered successful if, as many empty-headed government lawyers in Germany now believe, the revolutionaries succeeded in getting control of the State into their hands but only if, in comparison with the state of affairs under the old regime, the lot of the nation has been improved when the aims and intentions on which the revolution was based have been put into practice. This certainly does not apply to the German Revolution, as that movement was called, which brought a gang of bandits into power in the autumn of 1918.
But if the conquest of political power be a requisite preliminary for the practical realization of the ideals that inspire a reform movement, then any movement which aims at reform must, from the very first day of its activity, be considered by its leaders as a movement of the masses and not as a literary tea club or an association of philistines who meet to play ninepins.
(9) The nature and internal organization of the new movement make it anti-parliamentarian. That is to say, it rejects in general and in its own structure all those principles according to which decisions are to be taken on the vote of the majority and according to which the leader is only the executor of the will and opinion of others. The movement lays down the principle that, in the smallest as well as in the greatest problems, one person must have absolute authority and bear all responsibility.
In our movement the practical consequences of this principle are the following:
The president of a large group is appointed by the head of the group immediately above his in authority. He is then the responsible leader of his group. All the committees are subject to his authority and not he to theirs. There is no such thing as committees that vote but only committees that work. This work is allotted by the responsible leader, who is the president of the group. The same principle applies to the higher organizations – the Bezirk (district), the Kreis (urban circuit) and the Gau (the region). In each case the president is appointed from above and is invested with full authority and executive power. Only the leader of the whole party is elected at the general meeting of the members. But he is the sole leader of the movement. All the committees are responsible to him, but he is not responsible to the committees. His decision is final, but he bears the whole responsibility of it. The members of the movement are entitled to call him to account by means of a new election, or to remove him from office if he has violated the principles of the movement or has not served its interests adequately. He is then replaced by a more capable man. who is invested with the same authority and obliged to bear the same responsibility.
One of the highest duties of the movement is to make this principle imperative not only within its own ranks but also for the whole State.
The man who becomes leader is invested with the highest and unlimited authority, but he also has to bear the last and gravest responsibility.
The man who has not the courage to shoulder responsibility for his actions is not fitted to be a leader. Only a man of heroic mould can have the vocation for such a task.
Human progress and human cultures are not founded by the multitude. They are exclusively the work of personal genius and personal efficiency.
Because of this principle, our movement must necessarily be anti-parliamentarian, and if it takes part in the parliamentary institution it is only for the purpose of destroying this institution from within; in other words, we wish to do away with an institution which we must look upon as one of the gravest symptoms of human decline.
(10) The movement steadfastly refuses to take up any stand in regard to those problems which are either outside of its sphere of political work or seem to have no fundamental importance for us. It does not aim at bringing about a religious reformation, but rather a political reorganization of our people. It looks upon the two religious denominations as equally valuable mainstays for the existence of our people, and therefore it makes war on all those parties which would degrade this foundation, on which the religious and moral stability of our people is based, to an instrument in the service of party interests.
Finally, the movement does not aim at establishing any one form of State or trying to destroy another, but rather to make those fundamental principles prevail without which no republic and no monarchy can exist for any length of time. The movement does not consider its mission to be the establishment of a monarchy or the preservation of the Republic but rather to create a German State.
The problem concerning the outer form of this State, that is to say, its final shape, is not of fundamental importance. It is a problem which must be solved in the light of what seems practical and opportune at the moment.
Once a nation has understood and appreciated the great problems that affect its inner existence, the question of outer formalities will never lead to any internal conflict.
(11) The problem of the inner organization of the movement is not one of principle but of expediency.
The best kind of organization is not that which places a large intermediary apparatus between the leadership of the movement and the individual followers but rather that which works successfully with the smallest possible intermediary apparatus. For it is the task of such an organization to transmit a certain idea which originated in the brain of one individual to a multitude of people and to supervise the manner in which this idea is being put into practice.
Therefore, from any and every viewpoint, the organization is only a necessary evil. At best it is only a means of reaching certain ends. The worst happens when it becomes an end in itself.
Since the world produces more mechanical than intelligent beings, it will always be easier to develop the form of an organization than its substance; that is to say, the ideas which it is meant to serve.
The march of any idea which strives towards practical fulfilment, and in particular those ideas which are of a reformatory character, may be roughly sketched as follows:
A creative idea takes shape in the mind of somebody who thereupon feels himself called upon to transmit this idea to the world. He propounds his faith before others and thereby gradually wins a certain number of followers. This direct and personal way of promulgating one’s ideas among one’s contemporaries is the most natural and the most ideal. But as the movement develops and secures a large number of followers it gradually becomes impossible for the original founder of the doctrine on which the movement is based to carry on his propaganda personally among his innumerable followers and at the same time guide the course of the movement.
According as the community of followers increases, direct communication between the head and the individual followers becomes impossible. This intercourse must then take place through an intermediary apparatus introduced into the framework of the movement. Thus ideal conditions of inter-communication cease, and organization has to be introduced as a necessary evil. Small subsidiary groups come into existence, as in the political movement, for example, where the local groups represent the germ-cells out of which the organization develops later on.
But such sub-divisions must not be introduced into the movement until the authority of the spiritual founder and of the school he has created are accepted without reservation. Otherwise the movement would run the risk of becoming split up by divergent doctrines. In this connection too much emphasis cannot be laid on the importance of having one geographic centre as the chief seat of the movement. Only the existence of such a seat or centre, around which a magic charm such as that of Mecca or Rome is woven, can supply a movement with that permanent driving force which has its sources in the internal unity of the movement and the recognition of one head as representing this unity.
When the first germinal cells of the organization are being formed care must always be taken to insist on the importance of the place where the idea originated. The creative, moral and practical greatness of the place whence the movement went forth and from which it is governed must be exalted to a supreme symbol, and this must be honoured all the more according as the original cells of the movement become so numerous that they have to be regrouped into larger units in the structure of the organization.
When the number of individual followers became so large that direct personal contact with the head of the movement was out of the question, then we had to form those first local groups. As those groups multiplied to an extraordinary number it was necessary to establish higher cadres into which the local groups were distributed. Examples of such cadres in the political organization are those of the region (Gau) and the district (Bezirk).
Though it may be easy enough to maintain the original central authority over the lowest groups, it is much more difficult to do so in relation to the higher units of organization which have now developed. And yet we must succeed in doing this, for this is an indispensable condition if the unity of the movement is to be guaranteed and the idea of it carried into effect.
Finally, when those larger intermediary organizations have to be combined in new and still higher units it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain over them the absolute supremacy of the original seat of the movement and the school attached to it.
Consequently the mechanical forms of an organization must only be introduced if and in so far as the spiritual authority and the ideals of the central seat of the organization are shown to be firmly established. In the political sphere it may often happen that this supremacy can be maintained only when the movement has taken over supreme political control of the nation.
Having taken all these considerations into account, the following principles were laid down for the inner structure of the movement:
(a) That at the beginning all activity should be concentrated in one town: namely, Munich. That a band of absolutely reliable followers should be trained and a school founded which would subsequently help to propagate the idea of the movement. That the prestige of the movement, for the sake of its subsequent extension, should first be established here through gaining as many successful and visible results as possible in this one place. To secure name and fame for the movement and its leader it was necessary, not only to give in this one town a striking example to shatter the belief that the Marxist doctrine was invincible but also to show that a counter-doctrine was possible.
(b) That local groups should not be established before the supremacy of the central authority in Munich was definitely established and acknowledged.
(c) That District, Regional, and Provincial groups should be formed only after the need for them has become evident and only after the supremacy of the central authority has been satisfactorily guaranteed.
Further, that the creation of subordinate organisms must depend on whether or not those persons can be found who are qualified to undertake the leadership of them.
Here there were only two solutions:
(a) That the movement should acquire the necessary funds to attract and train intelligent people who would be capable of becoming leaders. The personnel thus obtained could then be systematically employed according as the tactical situation and the necessity for efficiency demanded.
This solution was the easier and the more expedite. But it demanded large financial resources; for this group of leaders could work in the movement only if they could be paid a salary.
(b) Because the movement is not in a position to employ paid officials it must begin by depending on honorary helpers. Naturally this solution is slower and more difficult.
It means that the leaders of the movement have to allow vast territories to lie fallow unless in these respective districts one of the members comes forward who is capable and willing to place himself at the service of the central authority for the purpose of organizing and directing the movement in the region concerned.
It may happen that in extensive regions no such leader can be found, but that at the same time in other regions two or three or even more persons appear whose capabilities are almost on a level. The difficulty which this situation involves is very great and can be overcome only with the passing of the years.
For the establishment of any branch of the organization the decisive condition must always be that a person can be found who is capable of fulfilling the functions of a leader.
Just as the army and all its various units of organization are useless if there are no officers, so any political organization is worthless if it has not the right kind of leaders.
If an inspiring personality who has the gift of leadership cannot be found for the organization and direction of a local group it is better for the movement to refrain from establishing such a group than to run the risk of failure after the group has been founded.
The will to be a leader is not a sufficient qualification for leadership. For the leader must have the other necessary qualities. Among these qualities will-power and energy must be considered as more serviceable than the intellect of a genius. The most valuable association of qualities is to be found in a combination of talent, determination and perseverance.
(12) The future of a movement is determined by the devotion, and even intolerance, with which its members fight for their cause. They must feel convinced that their cause alone is just, and they must carry it through to success, as against other similar organizations in the same field.
It is quite erroneous to believe that the strength of a movement must increase if it be combined with other movements of a similar kind. Any expansion resulting from such a combination will of course mean an increase in external development, which superficial observers might consider as also an increase of power; but in reality the movement thus admits outside elements which will subsequently weaken its constitutional vigour.
Though it may be said that one movement is identical in character with another, in reality no such identity exists. If it did exist then practically there would not be two movements but only one. And whatever the difference may be, even if it consist only of the measure in which the capabilities of the one set of leaders differ from those of the other, there it is. It is against the natural law of all development to couple dissimilar organisms,or the law is that the stronger must overcome the weaker and, through the struggle necessary for such a conquest, increase the constitutional vigour and effective strength of the victor.
By amalgamating political organizations that are approximately alike, certain immediate advantages may be gained, but advantages thus gained are bound in the long run to become the cause of internal weaknesses which will make their appearance later on.
A movement can become great only if the unhampered development of its internal strength be safeguarded and steadfastly augmented, until victory over all its competitors be secured.
One may safely say that the strength of a movement and its right to existence can be developed only as long as it remains true to the principle that struggle is a necessary condition of its progress and that its maximum strength will be reached only as soon as complete victory has been won.
Therefore a movement must not strive to obtain successes that will be only immediate and transitory, but it must show a spirit of uncompromising perseverance in carrying through a long struggle which will secure for it a long period of inner growth.
All those movements which owe their expansion to a so-called combination of similar organisms, which means that their external strength is due to a policy of compromise, are like plants whose growth is forced in a hothouse. They shoot up externally but they lack that inner strength which enables the natural plant to grow into a tree that will withstand the storms of centuries.
The greatness of every powerful organization which embodies a creative idea lies in the spirit of religious devotion and intolerance with which it stands out against all others, because it has an ardent faith in its own right. If an idea is right in itself and, furnished with the fighting weapons I have mentioned, wages war on this earth, then it is invincible and persecution will only add to its internal strength.
The greatness of Christianity did not arise from attempts to make compromises with those philosophical opinions of the ancient world which had some resemblance to its own doctrine, but in the unrelenting and fanatical proclamation and defence of its own teaching.
The apparent advance that a movement makes by associating itself with other movements will be easily reached and surpassed by the steady increase of strength which a doctrine and its organization acquires if it remains independent and fights its own cause alone.
(13) The movement ought to educate its adherents to the principle that struggle must not be considered a necessary evil but as something to be desired in itself. Therefore they must not be afraid of the hostility which their adversaries manifest towards them but they must take it as a necessary condition on which their whole right to existence is based. They must not try to avoid being hated by those who are the enemies of our people and our philosophy of life, but must welcome such hatred. Lies and calumnies are part of the method which the enemy employs to express his chagrin.
The man who is not opposed and vilified and slandered in the Jewish Press is not a staunch German and not a true National Socialist. The best rule whereby the sincerity of his convictions, his character and strength of will, can be measured is the hostility which his name arouses among the mortal enemies of our people.
The followers of the movement, and indeed the whole nation, must be reminded again and again of the fact that, through the medium of his newspapers, the Jew is always spreading falsehood and that if he tells the truth on some occasions it is only for the purpose of masking some greater deceit, which turns the apparent truth into a deliberate falsehood. The Jew is the Great Master of Lies. Falsehood and duplicity are the weapons with which he fights.
Every calumny and falsehood published by the Jews are tokens of honour which can be worn by our comrades. He whom they decry most is nearest to our hearts and he whom they mortally hate is our best friend.
If a comrade of ours opens a Jewish newspaper in the morning and does not find himself vilified there, then he has spent yesterday to no account. For if he had achieved something he would be persecuted, slandered, derided and abused. Those who effectively combat this mortal enemy of our people, who is at the same time the enemy of all Aryan peoples and all culture, can only expect to arouse opposition on the part of this race and become the object of its slanderous attacks.
When these truths become part of the flesh and blood, as it were, of our members, then the movement will be impregnable and invincible.
(14) The movement must use all possible means to cultivate respect for the individual personality. It must never forget that all human values are based on personal values, and that every idea and achievement is the fruit of the creative power of one man. We must never forget that admiration for everything that is great is not only a tribute to one creative personality but that all those who feel such admiration become thereby united under one covenant.
Nothing can take the place of the individual, especially if the individual embodies in himself not the mechanical element but the element of cultural creativeness. No pupil can take the place of the master in completing a great picture which he has left unfinished; and just in the same way no substitute can take the place of the great poet or thinker, or the great statesman or military general. For the source of their power is in the realm of artistic creativeness. It can never be mechanically acquired, because it is an innate product of divine grace.
The greatest revolutions and the greatest achievements of this world, its greatest cultural works and the immortal creations of great statesmen, are inseparably bound up with one name which stands as a symbol for them in each respective case. The failure to pay tribute to one of those great spirits signifies a neglect of that enormous source of power which lies in the remembrance of all great men and women.
The Jew himself knows this best. He, whose great men have always been great only in their efforts to destroy mankind and its civilization, takes good care that they are worshipped as idols. But the Jew tries to degrade the honour in which nations hold their great men and women. He stigmatizes this honour as ‘the cult of personality’.
As soon as a nation has so far lost its courage as to submit to this impudent defamation on the part of the Jews it renounces the most important source of its own inner strength. This inner force cannot arise from a policy of pandering to the masses but only from the worship of men of genius, whose lives have uplifted and ennobled the nation itself.
When men’s hearts are breaking and their souls are plunged into the depths of despair, their great forebears turn their eyes towards them from the dim shadows of the past – those forebears who knew how to triumph over anxiety and affliction, mental servitude and physical bondage – and extend their eternal hands in a gesture of encouragement to despairing souls. Woe to the nation that is ashamed to clasp those hands.
During the initial phase of our movement our greatest handicap was the fact that none of us were known and our names meant nothing, a fact which then seemed to some of us to make the chances of final success problematical. Our most difficult task then was to make our members firmly believe that there was a tremendous future in store for the movement and to maintain this belief as a living faith; for at that time only six, seven or eight persons came to hear one of our speakers.
Consider that only six or seven poor devils who were entirely unknown came together to found a movement which should succeed in doing what the great mass-parties had failed to do: namely, to reconstruct the German Reich, even in greater power and glory than before. We should have been very pleased if we were attacked or even ridiculed. But the most depressing fact was that nobody paid any attention to us whatever. This utter lack of interest in us caused me great mental pain at that time.
When I entered the circle of those men there was not yet any question of a party or a movement. I have already described the impression which was made on me when I first came into contact with that small organization. Subsequently I had time, and also the occasion, to study the form of this so-called party which at first had made such a woeful impression. The picture was indeed quite depressing and discouraging. There was nothing, absolutely nothing at all. There was only the name of a party. And the committee consisted of all the party members. Somehow or other it seemed just the kind of thing we were about to fight against – a miniature parliament. The voting system was employed. When the great parliament cried until they were hoarse – at least they shouted over problems of importance – here this small circle engaged in interminable discussions as to the form in which they might answer the letters which they were delighted to have received.
Needless to say, the public knew nothing of all this. In Munich nobody knew of the existence of such a party, not even by name, except our few members and their small circle of acquaintances.
Every Wednesday what was called a committee meeting was held in one of the cafés, and a debate was arranged for one evening each week. In the beginning all the members of the movement were also members of the committee, therefore the same persons always turned up at both meetings. The first step that had to be taken was to extend the narrow limits of this small circle and get new members, but the principal necessity was to utilize all the means at our command for the purpose of making the movement known.
We chose the following methods: We decided to hold a monthly meeting to which the public would be invited. Some of the invitations were typewritten, and some were written by hand. For the first few meetings we distributed them in the streets and delivered them personally at certain houses. Each one canvassed among his own acquaintances and tried to persuade some of them to attend our meetings. The result was lamentable.
I still remember once how I personally delivered eighty of these invitations and how we waited in the evening for the crowds to come. After waiting in vain for a whole hour the chairman finally had to open the meeting. Again there were only seven people present, the old familiar seven.
We then changed our methods. We had the invitations written with a typewriter in a Munich stationer’s shop and then multigraphed them.
The result was that a few more people attended our next meeting. The number increased gradually from eleven to thirteen to seventeen, to twenty-three and finally to thirty-four. We collected some money within our own circle, each poor devil giving a small contribution, and in that way we raised sufficient funds to be able to advertise one of our meetings in the Munich Observer, which was still an independent paper.
This time we had an astonishing success. We had chosen the Munich Hofbräuhaus Keller (which must not be confounded with the Munich Hofbräuhaus Festsaal) as our meeting-place. It was a small hall and would accommodate scarcely more than 130 people. To me, however, the hall seemed enormous, and we were all trembling lest this tremendous edifice would remain partly empty on the night of the meeting.
At seven o’clock 111 persons were present, and the meeting was opened. A Munich professor delivered the principal address, and I spoke after him. That was my first appearance in the role of public orator. The whole thing seemed a very daring adventure to Herr Harrer, who was then chairman of the party. He was a very decent fellow; but he had an a priori conviction that, although I might have quite a number of good qualities, I certainly did not have a talent for public speaking. Even later he could not be persuaded to change his opinion. But he was mistaken. Twenty minutes had been allotted to me for my speech on this occasion, which might be looked upon as our first public meeting.
I talked for thirty minutes, and what I always had felt deep down in my heart, without being able to put it to the test, was here proved to be true: I could make a good speech. At the end of the thirty minutes it was quite clear that all the people in the little hall had been profoundly impressed. The enthusiasm aroused among them found its first expression in the fact that my appeal to those present brought us donations which amounted to three hundred marks. That was a great relief for us. Our finances were at that time so meagre that we could not afford to have our party prospectus printed, or even leaflets. Now we possessed at least the nucleus of a fund from which we could pay the most urgent and necessary expenses.
But the success of this first larger meeting was also important from another point of view. I had already begun to introduce some young and fresh members into the committee. During the long period of my military service I had come to know a large number of good comrades whom I was now able to persuade to join our party. All of them were energetic and disciplined young men who, through their years of military service, had been imbued with the principle that nothing is impossible and that where there’s a will there’s a way.
The need for this fresh blood supply became evident to me after a few weeks of collaboration with the new members. Herr Harrer, who was then chairman of the party, was a journalist by profession, and as such he was a man of general knowledge. But as leader of the party he had one very serious handicap: he could not speak to the crowd. Though he did his work conscientiously, it lacked the necessary driving force, probably for the reason that he had no oratorical gifts whatsoever. Herr Drexler, at that time chairman of the Munich local group, was a simple working man. He, too, was not of any great importance as a speaker. Moreover, he was not a soldier. He had never done military service, even during the War. So that this man who was feeble and diffident by nature had missed the only school which knows how to transform diffident and weakly natures into real men. Therefore neither of those two men were of the stuff that would have enabled them to stir up an ardent and indomitable faith in the ultimate triumph of the movement and to brush aside, with obstinate force and if necessary with brutal ruthlessness, all obstacles that stood in the path of the new idea. Such a task could be carried out only by men who had been trained, body and soul, in those military virtues which make a man, so to speak, agile as a greyhound, tough as leather, and hard as Krupp steel.
At that time I was still a soldier. Physically and mentally I had the polish of six years of service, so that in the beginning this circle must have looked on me as quite a stranger. In common with my army comrades, I had forgotten such phrases as: "That will not go", or "That is not possible", or "We ought not to take such a risk; it is too dangerous".
The whole undertaking was of its very nature dangerous. At that time there were many parts of Germany where it would have been absolutely impossible openly to invite people to a national meeting that dared to make a direct appeal to the masses. Those who attended such meetings were usually dispersed and driven away with broken heads. It certainly did not call for any great qualities to be able to do things in that way. The largest so-called bourgeois mass meetings were accustomed to dissolve, and those in attendance would run away like rabbits when frightened by a dog as soon as a dozen communists appeared on the scene. The Reds used to pay little attention to those bourgeois organizations where only babblers talked. They recognized the inner triviality of such associations much better than the members themselves and therefore felt that they need not be afraid of them. On the contrary, however, they were all the more determined to use every possible means of annihilating once and for all any movement that appeared to them to be a danger to their own interests. The most effective means which they always employed in such cases were terror and brute force.
The Marxist leaders, whose business consisted in deceiving and misleading the public, naturally hated most of all a movement whose declared aim was to win over those masses which hitherto had been exclusively at the service of international Marxism in the Jewish and Stock Exchange parties. The title alone, ‘German Labour party’, irritated them. It could easily be foreseen that at the first opportune moment we should have to face the opposition of the Marxist despots, who were still intoxicated with their triumph in 1918.
People in the small circles of our own movement at that time showed a certain amount of anxiety at the prospect of such a conflict. They wanted to refrain as much as possible from coming out into the open, because they feared that they might be attacked and beaten. In their minds they saw our first public meetings broken up and feared that the movement might thus be ruined for ever. I found it difficult to defend my own position, which was that the conflict should not be evaded but that it should be faced openly and that we should be armed with those weapons which are the only protection against brute force. Terror cannot be overcome by the weapons of the mind but only by counter-terror. The success of our first public meeting strengthened my own position. The members felt encouraged to arrange for a second meeting, even on a larger scale.
Some time in October 1919 the second larger meeting took place in the Eberl-bräu Keller. The theme of our speeches was ‘Brest-Litowsk and Versailles’. There were four speakers. I talked for almost an hour, and the success was even more striking than at our first meeting. The number of people who attended had grown to more than 130. An attempt to disturb the proceedings was immediately frustrated by my comrades. The would-be disturbers were thrown down the stairs, bearing imprints of violence on their heads.
A fortnight later another meeting took place in the same hall. The number in attendance had now increased to more than 170, which meant that the room was fairly well filled. I spoke again, and once more the success obtained was greater than at the previous meeting.
Then I proposed that a larger hall should be found. After looking around for some time we discovered one at the other end of the town, in the ‘Deutschen Reich’ in the Dachauer Strasse. The first meeting at this new rendezvous had a smaller attendance than the previous meeting. There were just less than 140 present. The members of the committee began to be discouraged, and those who had always been sceptical were now convinced that this falling-off in the attendance was due to the fact that we were holding the meetings at too short intervals. There were lively discussions, in which I upheld my own opinion that a city with 700,000 inhabitants ought to be able not only to stand one meeting every fortnight but ten meetings every week. I held that we should not be discouraged by one comparative setback, that the tactics we had chosen were correct, and that sooner or later success would be ours if we only continued with determined perseverance to push forward on our road. This whole winter of 1919–20 was one continual struggle to strengthen confidence in our ability to carry the movement through to success and to intensify this confidence until it became a burning faith that could move mountains.
Our next meeting in the small hall proved the truth of my contention. Our audience had increased to more than 200. The publicity effect and the financial success were splendid. I immediately urged that a further meeting should be held. It took place in less than a fortnight, and there were more than 270 people present. Two weeks later we invited our followers and their friends, for the seventh time, to attend our meeting. The same hall was scarcely large enough for the number that came. They amounted to more than four hundred.
During this phase the young movement developed its inner form. Sometimes we had more or less hefty discussions within our small circle. From various sides – it was then just the same as it is to-day – objections were made against the idea of calling the young movement a party. I have always considered such criticism as a demonstration of practical incapability and narrow-mindedness on the part of the critic. Those objections have always been raised by men who could not differentiate between external appearances and inner strength, but tried to judge the movement by the high-sounding character of the name attached to it. To this end they ransacked the vocabulary of our ancestors, with unfortunate results.
At that time it was very difficult to make the people understand that every movement is a party as long as it has not brought its ideals to final triumph and thus achieved its purpose. It is a party even if it give itself a thousand difterent names.
Any person who tries to carry into practice an original idea whose realization would be for the benefit of his fellow men will first have to look for disciples who are ready to fight for the ends he has in view. And if these ends did not go beyond the destruction of the party system and therewith put a stop to the process of disintegration, then all those who come forward as protagonists and apostles of such an ideal are a party in themselves as long as their final goal is reached. It is only hair-splitting and playing with words when these antiquated theorists, whose practical success is in reverse ratio to their wisdom, presume to think they can change the character of a movement which is at the same time a party, by merely changing its name.
On the contrary, it is entirely out of harmony with the spirit of the nation to keep harping on that far-off and forgotten nomenclature which belongs to the ancient Germanic times and does not awaken any distinct association in our age. This habit of borrowing words from the dead past tends to mislead the people into thinking that the external trappings of its vocabulary are the important feature of a movement. It is really a mischievous habit; but it is quite prevalent nowadays.
At that time, and subsequently, I had to warn followers repeatedly against these wandering scholars who were peddling Germanic folk-lore and who never accomplished anything positive or practical, except to cultivate their own superabundant self-conceit. The new movement must guard itself against an influx of people whose only recommendation is their own statement that they have been fighting for these very same ideals during the last thirty or forty years.
Now if somebody has fought for forty years to carry into effect what he calls an idea, and if these alleged efforts not only show no positive results but have not even been able to hinder the success of the opposing party, then the story of those forty years of futile effort furnishes sufficient proof for the incompetence of such a protagonist. People of that kind are specially dangerous because they do not want to participate in the movement as ordinary members. They talk rather of the leading positions which would be the only fitting posts for them, in view of their past work and also so that they might be enabled to carry on that work further. But woe to a young movement if the conduct of it should fall into the hands of such people. A business man who has been in charge of a great firm for forty years and who has completely ruined it through his mismanagement is not the kind of person one would recommend for the founding of a new firm. And it is just the same with a new national movement. Nobody of common sense would appoint to a leading post in such a movement some Teutonic Methuselah who had been ineffectively preaching some idea for a period of forty years, until himself and his idea had entered the stage of senile decay.
Furthermore, only a very small percentage of such people join a new movement with the intention of serving its end unselfishly and helping in the spread of its principles. In most cases they come because they think that, under the ægis of the new movement, it will be possible for them to promulgate their old ideas to the misfortune of their new listeners. Anyhow, nobody ever seems able to describe what exactly these ideas are.
It is typical of such persons that they rant about ancient Teutonic heroes of the dim and distant ages, stone axes, battle spears and shields, whereas in reality they themselves are the woefullest poltroons imaginable. For those very same people who brandish Teutonic tin swords that have been fashioned carefully according to ancient models and wear padded bear-skins, with the horns of oxen mounted over their bearded faces, proclaim that all contemporary conflicts must be decided by the weapons of the mind alone. And thus they skedaddle when the first communist cudgel appears. Posterity will have little occasion to write a new epic on these heroic gladiators.
I have seen too much of that kind of people not to feel a profound contempt for their miserable play-acting. To the masses of the nation they are just an object of ridicule; but the Jew finds it to his own interest to treat these folk-lore comedians with respect and to prefer them to real men who are fighting to establish a German State. And yet these comedians are extremely proud of themselves. Notwithstanding their complete fecklessness, which is an established fact, they pretend to know everything better than other people; so much so that they make themselves a veritable nuisance to all sincere and honest patriots, to whom not only the heroism of the past is worthy of honour but who also feel bound to leave examples of their own work for the inspiration of the coming generation.
Among those people there were some whose conduct can be explained by their innate stupidity and incompetence; but there are others who have a definite ulterior purpose in view. Often it is difficult to distinguish between the two classes. The impression which I often get, especially of those so-called religious reformers whose creed is grounded on ancient Germanic customs, is that they are the missionaries and protégés of those forces which do not wish to see a national revival taking place in Germany. All their activities tend to turn the attention of the people away from the necessity of fighting together in a common cause against the common enemy, namely the Jew. Moreover, that kind of preaching induces the people to use up their energies, not in fighting for the common cause, but in absurd and ruinous religious controversies within their own ranks. There are definite grounds that make it absolutely necessary for the movement to be dominated by a strong central force which is embodied in the authoritative leadership. In this way alone is it possible to counteract the activity of such fatal elements. And that is just the reason why these folk-lore Ahasueruses are vigorously hostile to any movement whose members are firmly united under one leader and one discipline. Those people of whom I have spoken hate such a movement because it is capable of putting a stop to their mischief.
It was not without good reason that when we laid down a clearly defined programme for the new movement we excluded the word völkisch from it. The concept underlying the term völkisch cannot serve as the basis of a movement, because it is too indefinite and general in its application. Therefore, if somebody called himself völkisch such a designation could not be taken as the hall-mark of some definite, party affiliation.
Because this concept is so indefinite from the practical viewpoint, it gives rise to various interpretations and thus people can appeal to it all the more easily as a sort of personal recommendation. Whenever such a vague concept, which is subject to so many interpretations, is admitted into a political movement it tends to break up the disciplined solidarity of the fighting forces. No such solidarity can be maintained if each individual member be allowed to define for himself what he believes and what he is willing to do.
One feels it a disgrace when one notices the kind of people who float about nowadays with the völkisch symbol stuck in their buttonholes, and at the same time to notice how many people have various ideas of their own as to the significance of that symbol. A well-known professor in Bavaria, a famous combatant who fights only with the weapons of the mind and who boasts of having marched against Berlin – by shouldering the weapons of the mind, of course – believes that the word völkisch is synonymous with ‘monarchical’. But this learned authority has hitherto neglected to explain how our German monarchs of the past can be identified with what we generally mean by the word völkisch to-day. I am afraid he will find himself at a loss if he is asked to give a precise answer. For it would be very difficult indeed to imagine anything less völkisch than most of those German monarchical States were. Had they been otherwise they would not have disappeared; or if they were völkisch, then the fact of their downfall may be taken as evidence that the völkisch outlook on the world (Weltanschhauung) is a false outlook.
Everybody interprets this concept in his own way. But such multifarious opinions cannot be adopted as the basis of a militant political movement. I need not call attention to the absolute lack of worldly wisdom, and especially the failure to understand the soul of the nation, which is displayed by these Messianic Precursors of the Twentieth Century. Sufficient attention has been called to those people by the ridicule which the left-wing parties have bestowed on them. They allow them to babble on and sneer at them.
I do not set much value on the friendship of people who do not succeed in getting disliked by their enemies. Therefore, we considered the friendship of such people as not only worthless but even dangerous to our young movement. That was the principal reason why we first called ourselves a Party. We hoped that by giving ourselves such a name we might scare away a whole host of völkisch dreamers. And that was the reason also why we named our Party, The National Socialist German Labour Party.
The first term, Party, kept away all those dreamers who live in the past and all the lovers of bombastic nomenclature, as well as those who went around beating the big drum for the völkisch idea. The full name of the Party kept away all those heroes whose weapon is the sword of the spirit and all those whining poltroons who take refuge behind their so-called ‘intelligence’ as if it were a kind of shield.
It was only to be expected that this latter class would launch a massed attack against us after our movement had started; but, of course, it was only a pen-and-ink attack, for the goose-quill is the only weapon which these völkisch lancers wield. We had declared one of our principles thus: "We shall meet violence with violence in our own defence". Naturally that principle disturbed the equanimity of the knights of the pen. They reproached us bitterly not only for what they called our crude worship of the cudgel but also because, according to them, we had no intellectual forces on our side. These charlatans did not think for a moment that a Demosthenes could be reduced to silence at a mass-meeting by fifty idiots who had come there to shout him down and use their fists against his supporters. The innate cowardice of the pen-and-ink charlatan prevents him from exposing himself to such a danger, for he always works in safe retirement and never dares to make a noise or come forward in public.
Even to-day I must warn the members of our young movement in the strongest possible terms to guard against the danger of falling into the snare of those who call themselves ‘silent workers’. These ‘silent workers’ are not only a whitelivered lot but are also, and always will be, ignorant do-nothings. A man who is aware of certain happenings and knows that a certain danger threatens, and at the same time sees a certain remedy which can be employed against it, is in duty bound not to work in silence but to come into the open and publicly fight for the destruction of the evil and the acceptance of his own remedy. If he does not do so, then he is neglecting his duty and shows that he is weak in character and that he fails to act either because of his timidity, or indolence or incompetence. Most of these ‘silent workers’ generally pretend to know God knows what. Not one of them is capable of any real achievement, but they keep on trying to fool the world with their antics. Though quite indolent, they try to create the impression that their ‘silent work’ keeps them very busy. To put it briefly, they are sheer swindlers, political jobbers who feel chagrined by the honest work which others are doing. When you find one of these völkisch moths buzzing over the value of his ‘silent work’ you may be sure that you are dealing with a fellow who does no productive work at all but steals from others the fruits of their honest labour.
In addition to all this one ought to note the arrogance and conceited impudence with which these obscurantist idlers try to tear to pieces the work of other people, criticizing it with an air of superiority, and thus playing into the hands of the mortal enemy of our people.
Even the simplest follower who has the courage to stand on the table in some beer-hall where his enemies are gathered, and manfully and openly defend his position against them, achieves a thousand times more than these slinking hypocrites. He at least will convert one or two people to believe in the movement. One can examine his work and test its effectiveness by its actual results. But those knavish swindlers – who praise their own ‘silent work’ and shelter themselves under the cloak of anonymity, are just worthless drones, in the truest sense of the term, and are utterly useless for the purpose of our national reconstruction.
In the beginning of 1920 I put forward the idea of holding our first mass meeting. On this proposal there were differences of opinion amongst us. Some leading members of our party thought that the time was not ripe for such a meeting and that the result might be detrimental. The Press of the Left had begun to take notice of us and we were lucky enough in being able gradually to arouse their wrath. We had begun to appear at other meetings and to ask questions or contradict the speakers, with the natural result that we were shouted down forthwith. But still we thereby gained some of our ends. People began to know of our existence and the better they understood us, the stronger became their aversion and their enmity. Therefore we might expect that a large contingent of our friends from the Red Camp would attend our first mass meeting.
I fully realized that our meeting would probably be broken up. But we had to face the fight; if not now, then some months later. Since the first day of our foundation we were resolved to secure the future of the movement by fighting our way forward in a spirit of blind faith and ruthless determination. I was well acquainted with the mentality of all those who belonged to the Red Camp, and I knew quite well that if we opposed them tooth and nail not only would we make an impression on them but that we even might win new followers for ourselves. Therefore I felt that we must decide on a policy of active opposition.
Herr Harrer was then chairman of our party. He did not see eye to eye with me as to the opportune time for our first mass meeting. Accordingly he felt himself obliged to resign from the leadership of the movement, as an upright and honest man. Herr Anton Drexler took his place. I kept the work of organizing the propaganda in my own hands and I listened to no compromise in carrying it out.
We decided on February 24th 1920 as the date for the first great popular meeting to be held under the ægis of this movement which was hitherto unknown.
I made all the preparatory arrangements personally. They did not take very long. The whole apparatus of our organization was set in motion for the purpose of being able to secure a rapid decision as to our policy. Within twenty-four hours we had to decide on the attitude we should take in regard to the questions of the day which would be put forward at the mass meeting. The notices which advertised the meeting had to bring these points before the public. In this direction we were forced to depend on the use of posters and leaflets, the contents of which and the manner in which they were displayed were decided upon in accordance with the principles which I have already laid down in dealing with propaganda in general. They were produced in a form which would appeal to the crowd. They concentrated on a few points which were repeated again and again. The text was concise and definite, an absolutely dogmatic form of expression being used. We distributed these posters and leaflets with a dogged energy and then we patiently waited for the effect they would produce.
For our principal colour we chose red, as it has an exciting effect on the eye and was therefore calculated to arouse the attention of our opponents and irritate them. Thus they would have to take notice of us – whether they liked it or not – and would not forget us.
One result of our tactics was to show up clearly the close political fraternization that existed also here in Bavaria between the Marxists and the Centre Party. The political party that held power in Bavaria, which was the Bavarian People’s Party (affiliated with the Centre Party) did its best to counteract the effect which our placards were having on the ‘Red’ masses. Thus they made a definite step to fetter our activities. If the police could find no other grounds for prohibiting our placards, then they might claim that we were disturbing the traffic in the streets. And thus the so-called German National People’s Party calmed the anxieties of their ‘Red’ allies by completely prohibiting those placards which proclaimed a message that was bringing back to the bosom of their own people hundreds of thousands of workers who had been misled by international agitators and incensed against their own nation. These placards bear witness to the bitterness of the struggle in which the young movement was then engaged. Future generations will find in these placards a documentary proof of our determination and the justice of our own cause. And these placards will also prove how the so-called national officials took arbitrary action to strangle a movement that did not please them, because it was nationalizing the broad masses of the people and winning them back to their own racial stock.
These placards will also help to refute the theory that there was then a national government in Bavaria and they will afford documentary confirmation of the fact that if Bavaria remained nationally-minded during the years 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922 and 1923, this was not due to a national government but it was because the national spirit gradually gained a deeper hold on the people and the Government was forced to follow public feeling. The Government authorities themselves did everything in their power to hamper this process of recovery and make it impossible. But in this connection two officials must be mentioned as outstanding exceptions.
Ernst Pöhner was Chief of Police at the time. He had a loyal counsellor in Dr. Frick, who was his chief executive official. These were the only men among the higher officials who had the courage to place the interests of their country before their own interests in holding on to their jobs. Of those in responsible positions Ernst Pöhner was the only one who did not pay court to the mob but felt that his duty was towards the nation as such and was ready to risk and sacrifice everything, even his personal livelihood, to help in the restoration of the German people, whom he dearly loved. For that reason he was a bitter thorn in the side of the venal group of Government officials. It was not the interests of the nation or the necessity of a national revival that inspired or directed their conduct. They simply truckled to the wishes of the Government, so as to secure their daily bread for themselves, but they had no thought whatsoever for the national welfare that had been entrusted to their care.
Above all, Pöhner was one of those people who, in contradistinction to the majority of our so-called defenders of the authority of the State, did not fear to incur the enmity of the traitors to the country and the nation but rather courted it as a mark of honour and honesty. For such men the hatred of the Jews and Marxists and the lies and calumnies they spread, were their only source of happiness in the midst of the national misery. Pöhner was a man of granite loyalty. He was like one of the ascetic characters of the classical era and was at the same time that kind of straightforward German for whom the saying ‘Better dead than a slave’ is not an empty phrase but a veritable heart’s cry.
In my opinion he and his collaborator, Dr. Frick, are the only men holding positions then in Bavaria who have the right to be considered as having taken active part in the creation of a national Bavaria.
Before holding our first great mass meeting it was necessary not only to have our propaganda material ready but also to have the main items of our programme printed.
In the second volume of this book I shall give a detailed account of the guiding principles which we then followed in drawing up our programme. Here I will only say that the programme was arranged not merely to set forth the form and content of the young movement but also with an eye to making it understood among the broad masses. The so-called intellectual circles made jokes and sneered at it and then tried to criticize it. But the effect of our programme proved that the ideas which we then held were right.
During those years I saw dozens of new movements arise and disappear without leaving a trace behind. Only one movement has survived. It is the National Socialist German Labour Party. To-day I am more convinced than ever before that, though they may combat us and try to paralyse our movement, and though pettifogging party ministers may forbid us the right of free speech, they cannot prevent the triumph of our ideas. When the present system of statal administration and even the names of the political parties that represent it will be forgotten, the programmatic basis of the National Socialist movement will supply the groundwork on which the future State will be built.
The meetings which we held before January 1920 had enabled us to collect the financial means that were necessary to have our first pamphlets and posters and programmes printed.
I shall bring the first part of this book to a close by referring to our first great mass meeting, because that meeting marked the occasion on which our framework as a small party had to be broken up and we started to become the most powerful factor of this epoch in the influence we exercised on public opinion. At that time my chief anxiety was that we might not fill the hall and that we might have to face empty benches. I myself was firmly convinced that if only the people would come this day would turn out a great success for the young movement. That was my feeling as I waited impatiently for the hour to come.
It had been announced that the meeting would begin at 7.30. A quarter-of-an-hour before the opening time I walked through the chief hall of the Hofbräuhaus on the Platz in Munich and my heart was nearly bursting with joy. The great hall – for at that time it seemed very big to me – was filled to overflowing. Nearly 2,000 people were present. And, above all, those people had come whom we had always wished to reach. More than half the audience consisted of persons who seemed to be communists or independents. Our first great demonstration was destined, in their view, to come to an abrupt end.
But things happened otherwise. When the first speaker had finished I got up to speak. After a few minutes I was met with a hailstorm of interruptions and violent encounters broke out in the body of the hall. A handful of my loyal war comrades and some other followers grappled with the disturbers and restored order in a little while. I was able to continue my speech. After half an hour the applause began to drown the interruptions and the hootings. Then interruptions gradually ceased and applause took their place. When I finally came to explain the twenty-five points and laid them, point after point, before the masses gathered there and asked them to pass their own judgment on each point, one point after another was accepted with increasing enthusiasm. When the last point was reached I had before me a hall full of people united by a new conviction, a new faith and a new will.
Nearly four hours had passed when the hall began to clear. As the masses streamed towards the exits, crammed shoulder to shoulder, shoving and pushing, I knew that a movement was now set afoot among the German people which would never pass into oblivion.
A fire was enkindled from whose glowing heat the sword would be fashioned which would restore freedom to the German Siegfried and bring back life to the German nation.
Beside the revival which I then foresaw, I also felt
that the Goddess of Vengeance was now getting ready to redress the treason
of the 9th of November, 1918. The hall was emptied. The movement was on