The strength of the old state rested on three pillars: the monarchical form of government, the civil service, and the army. The Revolution of 1918 abolished the form of government, dissolved the army and abandoned the civil service to the corruption of party politics. Thus the essential supports of what is called the Authority of the State were shattered. This authority nearly always depends on three elements, which are the essential foundations of all authority.
Popular support is the first element which is necessary for the creation of authority. But an authority resting on that foundation alone is still quite frail, uncertain and vacillating. Hence everyone who finds himself vested with an authority that is based only on popular support must take measures to improve and consolidate the foundations of that authority by the creation of force. Accordingly we must look upon power, that is to say, the capacity to use force, as the second foundation on which all authority is based. This foundation is more stable and secure, but not always stronger, than the first. If popular support and power are united together and can endure for a certain time, then an authority may arise which is based on a still stronger foundation, namely, the authority of tradition. And, finally, if popular support, power, and tradition are united together, then the authority based on them may be looked upon as invincible.
In Germany the Revolution abolished this last foundation. There was no longer even a traditional authority. With the collapse of the old Reich, the suppression of the monarchical form of government, the destruction of all the old insignia of greatness and the imperial symbols, tradition was shattered at a blow. The result was that the authority of the State was shaken to its foundations.
The second pillar of statal authority, namely power, also ceased to exist. In order to carry through the Revolution it was necessary to dissolve that body which had hitherto incorporated the organized force and power of the State, namely, the Army. Indeed, some detached fragments of the Army itself had to be employed as fighting elements in the Revolution. The Armies at the front were not subjected in the same measure to this process of disruption; but as they gradually left farther behind them the fields of glory on which they had fought heroically for four-and-half years, they were attacked by the solvent acid that had permeated the Fatherland; and when they arrived at the demobilizing centres they fell into that state of confusion which was styled voluntary obedience in the time of the Soldiers’ Councils.
Of course it was out of the question to think of founding any kind of authority on this crowd of mutineering soldiers, who looked upon military service as a work of eight hours per day. Therefore the second element, that which guarantees the stability of authority, was also abolished and the Revolution had only the original element, popular support, on which to build up its authority. But this basis was extraordinarily insecure. By means of a few violent thrusts the Revolution had shattered the old statal edifice to its deepest foundations, but only because the normal equilibrium within the social structure of the nation had already been destroyed by the war.
Every national body is made up of three main classes. At one extreme we have the best of the people, taking the word ‘best’ here to indicate those who are highly endowed with the civic virtues and are noted for their courage and their readiness to sacrifice their private interests. At the other extreme are the worst dregs of humanity, in whom vice and egotistic interests prevail. Between these two extremes stands the third class, which is made up of the broad middle stratum, who do not represent radiant heroism or vulgar vice.
The stages of a nation’s rise are accomplished exclusively under the leadership of the best extreme.
Times of normal and symmetrical development, or of stable conditions, owe their existence and outwardly visible characteristics to the preponderating influence of the middle stratum. In this stage the two extreme classes are balanced against one another; in other words, they are relatively cancelled out.
Times of national collapse are determined by the preponderating influence of the worst elements.
It must be noted here, however, that the broad masses, which constitute what I have called the middle section, come forward and make their influence felt only when the two extreme sections are engaged in mutual strife. In case one of the extreme sections comes out victorious the middle section will readily submit to its domination. If the best dominate, the broad masses will follow it. Should the worst extreme turn out triumphant, then the middle section will at least offer no opposition to it; for the masses that constitute the middle class never fight their own battles.
The outpouring of blood for four-and-a-half years during the war destroyed the inner equilibrium between these three sections in so far as it can be said – though admitting the sacrifices made by the middle section – that the class which consisted of the best human elements almost completely disappeared through the loss of so much of its blood in the war, because it was impossible to replace the truly enormous quantity of heroic German blood which had been shed during those four-and-a-half years. In hundreds of thousands of cases it was always a matter of ‘volunteers to the front’, volunteers for patrol and duty, volunteer dispatch carriers, volunteers for establishing and working telephonic communications, volunteers for bridge-building, volunteers for the submarines, volunteers for the air service, volunteers for the storm battalions, and so on, and so on. During four-and-a-half years, and on thousands of occasions, there was always the call for volunteers and again for volunteers. And the result was always the same. Beardless young fellows or fully developed men, all filled with an ardent love for their country, urged on by their own courageous spirit or by a lofty sense of their duty – it was always such men who answered the call for volunteers. Tens of thousands, indeed hundreds of thousands, of such men came forward, so that that kind of human material steadily grew scarcer and scarcer. What did not actually fall was maimed in the fight or gradually had to join the ranks of the crippled because of the wounds they were constantly receiving, and thus they had to carry on interminably owing to the steady decrease in the supply of such men. In 1914 whole armies were composed of volunteers who, owing to a criminal lack of conscience on the part of our feckless parliamentarians, had not received any proper training in times of peace, and so were thrown as defenceless cannon-fodder to the enemy. The four hundred thousand who thus fell or were permanently maimed on the battlefields of Flanders could not be replaced any more. Their loss was something far more than merely numerical. With their death the scales, which were already too lightly weighed at that end of the social structure which represented our best human quality, now moved upwards rapidly, becoming heavier on the other end with those vulgar elements of infamy and cowardice – in short, there was an increase in the elements that constituted the worst extreme of our population.
And there was something more: While for four-and-a-half years our best human material was being thinned to an exceptional degree on the battlefields, our worst people wonderfully succeeded in saving themselves. For each hero who made the supreme sacrifice and ascended the steps of Valhalla, there was a shirker who cunningly dodged death on the plea of being engaged in business that was more or less useful at home.
And so the picture which presented itself at the end of the war was this: The great middle stratum of the nation had fulfilled its duty and paid its toll of blood. One extreme of the population, which was constituted of the best elements, had given a typical example of its heroism and had sacrificed itself almost to a man. The other extreme, which was constituted of the worst elements of the population, had preserved itself almost intact, through taking advantage of absurd laws and also because the authorities failed to enforce certain articles of the military code.
This carefully preserved scum of our nation then made the Revolution. And the reason why it could do so was that the extreme section composed of the best elements was no longer there to oppose it. It no longer existed.
Hence the German Revolution, from the very beginning, depended on only one section of the population. This act of Cain was not committed by the German people as such, but by an obscure canaille of deserters, hooligans, etc.
The man at the front gladly welcomed the end of the strife in which so much blood had been shed. He was happy to be able to return home and see his wife and children once again. But he had no moral connection with the Revolution. He did not like it, nor did he like those who had provoked and organized it. During the four-and-a-half years of that bitter struggle at the front he had come to forget the party hyenas at home and all their wrangling had become foreign to him.
The Revolution was really popular only with a small section of the German people: namely, that class and their accomplices who had selected the rucksack as the hall-mark of all honourable citizens in this new State. They did not like the Revolution for its own sake, though many people still erroneously believe the contrary, but for the consequences which followed in its train.
But it was very difficult to establish any abiding authority on the popular support given to these Marxist freebooters. And yet the young Republic stood in need of authority at any cost, unless it was ready to agree to be overthrown after a short period of chaos by an elementary force assembled from those last elements that still remained among the best extreme of the population.
The danger which those who were responsible for the Revolution feared most at that time was that, in the turmoil of the confusion which they themselves had created, the ground would suddenly be taken from under their feet, that they might be suddenly seized and transported to another terrain by an iron grip, such as has often appeared at these junctures in the history of nations. The Republic must be consolidated at all costs.
Hence it was forced almost immediately after its foundation to erect another pillar beside that wavering pillar of popularity. They found that power must be organized once again in order to procure a firmer foundation for their authority.
When those who had been the matadors of the Revolution in December 1918, and January and February 1919, felt the ground trembling beneath their feet they looked around them for men who would be ready to reinforce them with military support; for their feeble position was dependent only on whatever popular favour they enjoyed. The ‘anti-militarist’ Republic had need of soldiers. But the first and only pillar on which the authority of the State rested, namely, its popularity, was grounded only on a conglomeration of rowdies and thieves, burglars, deserters, shirkers, etc. Therefore in that section of the nation which we have called the evil extreme it was useless to look for men who would be willing to sacrifice their lives on behalf of a new ideal. The section which had nourished the revolutionary idea and carried out the Revolution was neither able nor willing to call on the soldiers to protect it. For that section had no wish whatsoever to organize a republican State, but to disorganize what already existed and thus satisfy its own instincts all the better. Their password was not the organization and construction of the German Republic, but rather the plundering of it.
Hence the cry for help sent out by the public representatives, who were beset by a thousand anxieties, did not find any response among this class of people, but rather provoked a feeling of bitterness and repudiation. For they looked upon this step as the beginning of a breach of faith and trust, and in the building up of an authority which was no longer based on popular support but also on force they saw the beginning of a hostile move against what the Revolution meant essentially for those elements. They feared that measures might be taken against the right to robbery and absolute domination on the part of a horde of thieves and plunderers – in short, the worst rabble – who had broken out of the convict prisons and left their chains behind.
The representatives of the people might cry out as much as they liked, but they could get no help from that rabble. The cries for help were met with the counter-cry ‘traitors’ by those very people on whose support the popularity of the regime was founded.
Then for the first time large numbers of young Germans were found who were ready to button on the military uniform once again in the service of ‘Peace and Order’, as they believed, shouldering the carbine and rifle and donning the steel helmet to defend the wreckers of the Fatherland. Volunteer corps were assembled and, although hating the Revolution, they began to defend it. The practical effect of their action was to render the Revolution firm and stable. In doing this they acted in perfect good faith.
The real organizer of the Revolution and the actual wire-puller behind it, the international Jew, had sized up the situation correctly. The German people were not yet ripe to be drawn into the blood swamp of Bolshevism, as the Russian people had been drawn. And that was because there was a closer racial union between the intellectual classes in Germany and the manual workers, and also because broad social strata were permeated with cultured people, such as was the case also in the other States of Western Europe; but this state of affairs was completely lacking in Russia. In that country the intellectual classes were mostly not of Russian nationality, or at least they did not have the racial characteristics of the Slav. The thin upper layer of intellectuals which then existed in Russia might be abolished at any time, because there was no intermediate stratum connecting it organically with the great mass of the people. There the mental and moral level of the great mass of the people was frightfully low.
In Russia the moment the agitators were successful in inciting broad masses of the people, who could not read or write, against the upper layer of intellectuals who were not in contact with the masses or permanently linked with them in any way – at that moment the destiny of Russia was decided, the success of the Revolution was assured. Thereupon the analphabetic Russian became the slave of his Jewish dictators who, on their side, were shrewd enough to name their dictatorship ‘The Dictatorship of the People’.
In the case of Germany an additional factor must be taken into account. Here the Revolution could be carried into effect only if the Army could first be gradually dismembered. But the real author of the Revolution and of the process of disintegration in the Army was not the soldier who had fought at the front but the canaille which more or less shunned the light and which were either quartered in the home garrisons or were officiating as ‘indispensables’ somewhere in the business world at home. This army was reinforced by ten thousand deserters who, without running any particular risk, could turn their backs on the Front. At all times the real poltroon fears nothing so much as death. But at the Front he had death before his eyes every day in a thousand different shapes. There has always been one possible way, and one only, of making weak or wavering men, or even downright poltroons, face their duty steadfastly. This means that the deserter must be given to understand that his desertion will bring upon him just the very thing he is flying from. At the Front a man may die, but the deserter must die. Only this draconian threat against every attempt to desert the flag can have a terrifying effect, not merely on the individual but also on the mass. Therein lay the meaning and purpose of the military penal code.
It was a fine belief to think that the great struggle for the life of a nation could be carried through if it were based solely on voluntary fidelity arising from and sustained by the knowledge that such a struggle was necessary. The voluntary fulfilment of one’s duty is a motive that determines the actions of only the best men, but not of the average type of men. Hence special laws are necessary; just as, for instance, the law against stealing, which was not made for men who are honest on principle but for the weak and unstable elements. Such laws are meant to hinder the evil-doer through their deterrent effect and thus prevent a state of affairs from arising in which the honest man is considered the more stupid, and which would end in the belief that it is better to have a share in the robbery than to stand by with empty hands or allow oneself to be robbed.
It was a mistake to believe that in a struggle which,
according to all human foresight, might last for several years it would
be possible to dispense with those expedients which the experience of hundreds
and even of thousands of years had proved to be effective in making weak
and unstable men face and fulfil their duty in difficult times and at moments
of great nervous stress.
For the voluntary war hero it is, of course, not necessary to have the death penalty in the military code, but it is necessary for the cowardly egoists who value their own lives more than the existence of the community in the hour of national need. Such weak and characterless people can be held back from surrendering to their cowardice only by the application of the heaviest penalties. When men have to struggle with death every day and remain for weeks in trenches of mire, often very badly supplied with food, the man who is unsure of himself and begins to waver cannot be made to stick to his post by threats of imprisonment or even penal servitude. Only by a ruthless enforcement of the death penalty can this be effected. For experience shows that at such a time the recruit considers prison a thousand times more preferable than the battlefield. In prison at least his precious life is not in danger. The practical abolition of the death penalty during the war was a mistake for which we had to pay dearly. Such omission really meant that the military penal code was no longer recognized as valid. An army of deserters poured into the stations at the rear or returned home, especially in 1918, and there began to form that huge criminal organization with which we were suddenly faced, after November 7th, 1918, and which perpetrated the Revolution.
The Front had nothing to do with all this. Naturally,
the soldiers at the Front were yearning for peace. But it was precisely
that fact which represented a special danger for the Revolution. For when
the German soldiers began to draw near home, after the Armistice, the revolutionaries
were in trepidation and asked the same question again and again: What will
the troops from the Front do? Will the field-greys stand for it?
During those weeks the Revolution was forced to give itself at least an external appearance of moderation, if it were not to run the risk of being wrecked in a moment by a few German divisions. For at that time, even if the commander of one division alone had made up his mind to rally the soldiers of his division, who had always remained faithful to him, in an onslaught to tear down the red flag and put the ‘councils’ up against the wall, or, if there was any resistance, to break it with trench-mortars and hand grenades, that division would have grown into an army of sixty divisions in less than four weeks. The Jew wire-pullers were terrified by this prospect more than by anything else; and to forestall this particular danger they found it necessary to give the Revolution a certain aspect of moderation. They dared not allow it to degenerate into Bolshevism, so they had to face the existing conditions by putting up the hypocritical picture of ‘order and tranquillity’. Hence many important concessions, the appeal to the old civil service and to the heads of the old Army. They would be needed at least for a certain time, and only when they had served the purpose of Turks’ Heads could the deserved kick-out be administered with impunity. Then the Republic would be taken entirely out of the hands of the old servants of the State and delivered into the claws of the revolutionaries.
They thought that this was the only plan which would succeed in duping the old generals and civil servants and disarm any eventual opposition beforehand through the apparently harmless and mild character of the new regime.
Practical experience has shown to what extent the plan succeeded.
The Revolution, however, was not made by the peaceful and orderly elements of the nation but rather by rioters, thieves and robbers. And the way in which the Revolution was developing did not accord with the intentions of these latter elements; still, on tactical grounds, it was not possible to explain to them the reasons for the course things were taking and make that course acceptable.
As Social Democracy gradually gained power it lost
more and more the character of a crude revolutionary party. Of course in
their inner hearts the Social Democrats wanted a revolution; and their
leaders had no other end in view. Certainly not. But what finally resulted
was only a revolutionary programme; but not a body of men who would be
able to carry it out. A revolution cannot be carried through by a party
of ten million members. If such a movement were attempted the leaders would
find that it was not an extreme section of the population on which they
had to depend butrather the broad masses of the middle stratum; hence the
Recognizing all this, already during the war, the Jews caused the famous split in the Social Democratic Party. While the Social Democratic Party, conforming to the inertia of its mass following, clung like a leaden weight on the neck of the national defence, the actively radical elements were extracted from it and formed into new aggressive columns for purposes of attack. The Independent Socialist Party and the Spartacist League were the storm battalions of revolutionary Marxism. The objective assigned to them was to create a fait accompli, on the grounds of which the masses of the Social Democratic Party could take their stand, having been prepared for this event long beforehand. The feckless bourgeoisie had been estimated at its just value by the Marxists and treated en canaille. Nobody bothered about it, knowing well that in their canine servility the representatives of an old and worn-out generation would not be able to offer any serious resistance.
When the Revolution had succeeded and its artificers believed that the main pillars of the old State had been broken down, the Army returning from the Front began to appear in the light of a sinister sphinx and thus made it necessary to slow down the national course of the Revolution. The main body of the Social Democratic horde occupied the conquered positions, and the Independent Socialist and Spartacist storm battalions were side-tracked.
But that did not happen without a struggle.
The activist assault formations that had started the Revolution were dissatisfied and felt that they had been betrayed. They now wanted to continue the fight on their own account. But their illimitable racketeering became odious even to the wire-pullers of the Revolution. For the Revolution itself had scarcely been accomplished when two camps appeared. In the one camp were the elements of peace and order; in the other were those of blood and terror. Was it not perfectly natural that our bourgeoisie should rush with flying colours to the camp of peace and order? For once in their lives their piteous political organizations found it possible to act, inasmuch as the ground had been prepared for them on which they were glad to get a new footing; and thus to a certain extent they found themselves in coalition with that power which they hated but feared. The German political bourgeoisie achieved the high honour of being able to associate itself with the accursed Marxist leaders for the purpose of combating Bolshevism.
Thus the following state of affairs took shape as early as December 1918 and January 1919:
A minority constituted of the worst elements had made the Revolution. And behind this minority all the Marxist parties immediately fell into step. The Revolution itself had an outward appearance of moderation, which aroused against it the enmity of the fanatical extremists. These began to launch hand-grenades and fire machine-guns, occupying public buildings, thus threatening to destroy the moderate appearance of the Revolution. To prevent this terror from developing further a truce was concluded between the representatives of the new regime and the adherents of the old order, so as to be able to wage a common fight against the extremists. The result was that the enemies of the Republic ceased to oppose the Republic as such and helped to subjugate those who were also enemies of the Republic, though for quite different reasons. But a further result was that all danger of the adherents of the old State putting up a fight against the new was now definitely averted.
This fact must always be clearly kept in mind. Only by remembering it can we understand how it was possible that a nation in which nine-tenths of the people had not joined in a revolution, where seven-tenths repudiated it and six-tenths detested it – how this nation allowed the Revolution to be imposed upon it by the remaining one-tenth of the population.
Gradually the barricade heroes in the Spartacist camp petered out, and so did the nationalist patriots and idealists on the other side. As these two groups steadily dwindled, the masses of the middle stratum, as always happens, triumphed. The Bourgeoisie and the Marxists met together on the grounds of accomplished facts, and the Republic began to be consolidated. At first, however, that did not prevent the bourgeois parties from propounding their monarchist ideas for some time further, especially at the elections, whereby they endeavoured to conjure up the spirits of the dead past to encourage their own feeble-hearted followers. It was not an honest proceeding. In their hearts they had broken with the monarchy long ago; but the foulness of the new regime had begun to extend its corruptive action and make itself felt in the camp of the bourgeois parties. The common bourgeois politician now felt better in the slime of republican corruption than in the severe decency of the defunct State, which still lived in his memory.
As I have already pointed out, after the destruction of the old Army the revolutionary leaders were forced to strengthen statal authority by creating a new factor of power. In the conditions that existed they could do this only by winning over to their side the adherents of a Weltanschhauung which was a direct contradiction of their own. From those elements alone it was possible slowly to create a new army which, limited numerically by the peace treaties, had to be subsequently transformed in spirit so as to become an instrument of the new regime.
Setting aside the defects of the old State, which really became the cause of the Revolution, if we ask how it was possible to carry the Revolution to a successful issue as a political act, we arrive at the following conclusions:
l. It was due to a process of dry rot in our conceptions of duty and obedience.
2. It was due also to the passive timidity of the Parties who were supposed to uphold the State.
To this the following must be added: The dry rot which attacked our concepts of duty and obedience was fundamentally due to our wholly non-national and purely State education. From this came the habit of confusing means and ends. Consciousness of duty, fulfilment of duty, and obedience, are not ends in themselves no more than the State is an end in itself; but they all ought to be employed as means to facilitate and assure the existence of a community of people who are kindred both physically and spiritually. At a moment when a nation is manifestly collapsing and when all outward signs show that it is on the point of becoming the victim of ruthless oppression, thanks to the conduct of a few miscreants, to obey these people and fulfil one’s duty towards them is merely doctrinaire formalism, and indeed pure folly; whereas, on the other hand, the refusal of obedience and fulfilment of duty in such a case might save the nation from collapse. According to our current bourgeois idea of the State, if a divisional general received from above the order not to shoot he fulfilled his duty and therefore acted rightly in not shooting, because to the bourgeois mind blind formal obedience is a more valuable thing than the life of a nation. But according to the National Socialist concept it is not obedience to weak superiors that should prevail at such moments, in such an hour the duty of assuming personal responsibility towards the whole nation makes its appearance.
The Revolution succeeded because that concept had ceased to be a vital force with our people, or rather with our governments, and died down to something that was merely formal and doctrinaire.
As regards the second point, it may be said that the more profound cause of the fecklessness of the bourgeois parties must be attributed to the fact that the most active and upright section of our people had lost their lives in the war. Apart from that, the bourgeois parties, which may be considered as the only political formations that stood by the old State, were convinced that they ought to defend their principles only by intellectual ways and means, since the use of physical force was permitted only to the State. That outlook was a sign of the weakness and decadence which had been gradually developing. And it was also senseless at a period when there was a political adversary who had long ago abandoned that standpoint and, instead of this, had openly declared that he meant to attain his political ends by force whenever that became possible. When Marxism emerged in the world of bourgeois democracy, as a consequence of that democracy itself, the appeal sent out by the bourgeois democracy to fight Marxism with intellectual weapons was a piece of folly for which a terrible expiation had to be made later on. For Marxism always professed the doctrine that the use of arms was a matter which had to be judged from the standpoint of expediency and that success justified the use of arms.
This idea was proved correct during the days from November 7 to 10, 1918. The Marxists did not then bother themselves in the least about parliament or democracy, but they gave the death blow to both by turning loose their horde of criminals to shoot and raise hell.
When the Revolution was over the bourgeois parties changed the title of their firm and suddenly reappeared, the heroic leaders emerging from dark cellars or more lightsome storehouses where they had sought refuge. But, just as happens in the case of all representatives of antiquated institutions, they had not forgotten their errors or learned anything new. Their political programme was grounded in the past, even though they themselves had become reconciled to the new regime. Their aim was to secure a share in the new establishment, and so they continued the use of words as their sole weapon.
Therefore after the Revolution the bourgeois parties also capitulated to the street in a miserable fashion.
When the law for the Protection of the Republic was introduced the majority was not at first in favour of it. But, confronted with two hundred thousand Marxists demonstrating in the streets, the bourgeois ‘statesmen’ were so terror-stricken that they voted for the Law against their wills, for the edifying reason that otherwise they feared they might get their heads smashed by the enraged masses on leaving the Reichstag.
And so the new State developed along its own course, as if there had been no national opposition at all.
The only organizations which at that time had the strength and courage to face Marxism and its enraged masses were first of all the volunteer corps 19), and subsequently the organizations for self-defence, the civic guards and finally the associations formed by the demobilized soldiers of the old Army.
But the existence of these bodies did not appreciably change the course of German history; and that for the following causes:
As the so-called national parties were without influence, because they had no force which could effectively demonstrate in the street, the Leagues of Defence could not exercise any influence because they had no political idea and especially because they had no definite political aim in view.
The success which Marxism once attained was due to perfect co-operation between political purposes and ruthless force. What deprived nationalist Germany of all practical hopes of shaping German development was the lack of a determined co-operation between brute force and political aims wisely chosen.
Whatever may have been the aspirations of the ‘national’ parties, they had no force whatsoever to fight for these aspirations, least of all in the streets.
The Defence Leagues had force at their disposal. They were masters of the street and of the State, but they lacked political ideas and aims on behalf of which their forces might have been or could have been employed in the interests of the German nation. The cunning Jew was able in both cases, by his astute powers of persuasion, in reinforcing an already existing tendency to make this unfortunate state of affairs permanent and at the same time to drive the roots of it still deeper.
The Jew succeeded brilliantly in using his Press for the purpose of spreading abroad the idea that the defence associations were of a ‘non-political’ character just as in politics he was always astute enough to praise the purely intellectual character of the struggle and demand that it must always be kept on that plane
Millions of German imbeciles then repeated this folly without having the slightest suspicion that by so doing they were, for all practical purposes, disarming themselves and delivering themselves defenceless into the hands of the Jew.
But there is a natural explanation of this also. The lack of a great idea which would re-shape things anew has always meant a limitation in fighting power. The conviction of the right to employ even the most brutal weapons is always associated with an ardent faith in the necessity for a new and revolutionary transformation of the world.
A movement which does not fight for such high aims and ideals will never have recourse to extreme means.
The appearance of a new and great idea was the secret of success in the French Revolution. The Russian Revolution owes its triumph to an idea. And it was only the idea that enabled Fascism triumphantly to subject a whole nation to a process of complete renovation.
Bourgeois parties are not capable of such an achievement. And it was not the bourgeois parties alone that fixed their aim in a restoration of the past. The defence associations also did so, in so far as they concerned themselves with political aims at all. The spirit of the old war legions and Kyffauser tendencies lived in them and therewith helped politically to blunt the sharpest weapons which the German nation then possessed and allow them to rust in the hands of republican serfs. The fact that these associations were inspired by the best of intentions in so doing, and certainly acted in good faith, does not alter in the slightest degree the foolishness of the course they adopted.
In the consolidated Reichswehr Marxism gradually acquired the support of force, which it needed for its authority. As a logical consequence it proceeded to abolish those defence associations which it considered dangerous, declaring that they were now no longer necessary. Some rash leaders who defied the Marxist orders were summoned to court and sent to prison. But they all got what they had deserved.
The founding of the National Socialist German Labour Party incited a movement which was the first to fix its aim, not in a mechanical restoration of the past – as the bourgeois parties did – but in the substitution of an organic People’s State for the present absurd statal mechanism.
From the first day of its foundation the new movement took its stand on the principle that its ideas had to be propagated by intellectual means but that, wherever necessary, muscular force must be employed to support this propaganda. In accordance with their conviction of the paramount importance of the new doctrine, the leaders of the new movement naturally believe that no sacrifice can be considered too great when it is a question of carrying through the purpose of the movement.
I have emphasized that in certain circumstances a movement which is meant to win over the hearts of the people must be ready to defend itself with its own forces against terrorist attempts on the part of its adversaries. It has invariably happened in the history of the world that formal State authority has failed to break a reign of terror which was inspired by a Weltanschhauung. It can only be conquered by a new and different Weltanschhauung whose representatives are quite as audacious and determined. The acknowledgment of this fact has always been very unpleasant for the bureaucrats who are the protectors of the State, but the fact remains nevertheless. The rulers of the State can guarantee tranquillity and order only in case the State embodies a Weltanschhauung which is shared in by the people as a whole; so that elements of disturbance can be treated as isolated criminals, instead of being considered as the champions of an idea which is diametrically opposed to official opinions. If such should be the case the State may employ the most violent measures for centuries long against the terror that threatens it; but in the end all these measures will prove futile, and the State will have to succumb.
The German State is intensely overrun by Marxism. In a struggle that went on for seventy years the State was not able to prevent the triumph of the Marxist idea. Even though the sentences to penal servitude and imprisonment amounted in all to thousands of years, and even though the most sanguinary methods of repression were in innumerable instances threatened against the champions of the Marxist Weltanschhauung, in the end the State was forced to capitulate almost completely. The ordinary bourgeois political leaders will deny all this, but their protests are futile.
Seeing that the State capitulated unconditionally to Marxism on November 9th, 1918, it will not suddenly rise up tomorrow as the conqueror of Marxism. On the contrary. Bourgeois simpletons sitting on office stools in the various ministries babble about the necessity of not governing against the wishes of the workers, and by the word ‘workers’ they mean the Marxists. By identifying the German worker with Marxism not only are they guilty of a vile falsification of the truth, but they thus try to hide their own collapse before the Marxist idea and the Marxist organization.
In view of the complete subordination of the present State to Marxism, the National Socialist Movement feels all the more bound not only to prepare the way for the triumph of its idea by appealing to the reason and understanding of the public but also to take upon itself the responsibility of organizing its own defence against the terror of the International, which is intoxicated with its own victory.
I have already described how practical experience in our young movement led us slowly to organize a system of defence for our meetings. This gradually assumed the character of a military body specially trained for the maintenance of order, and tended to develop into a service which would have its properly organized cadres.
This new formation might resemble the defence associations externally, but in reality there were no grounds of comparison between the one and the other.
As I have already said, the German defence organizations did not have any definite political ideas of their own. They really were only associations for mutual protection, and they were trained and organized accordingly, so that they were an illegal complement or auxiliary to the legal forces of the State. Their character as free corps arose only from the way in which they were constructed and the situation in which the State found itself at that time. But they certainly could not claim to be free corps on the grounds that they were associations formed freely and privately for the purpose of fighting for their own freely formed political convictions. Such they were not, despite the fact that some of their leaders and some associations as such were definitely opposed to the Republic. For before we can speak of political convictions in the higher sense we must be something more than merely convinced that the existing regime is defective. Political convictions in the higher sense mean that one has the picture of a new regime clearly before one’s mind, feels that the establishment of this regime is an absolute necessity and sets himself to carry out that purpose as the highest task to which his life can be devoted.
The troops for the preservation of order, which were then formed under the National Socialist Movement, were fundamentally different from all the other defence associations by reason of the fact that our formations were not meant in any way to defend the state of things created by the Revolution, but rather that they were meant exclusively to support our struggle for the creation of a new Germany.
In the beginning this body was merely a guard to maintain order at our meetings. Its first task was limited to making it possible for us to hold our meetings, which otherwise would have been completely prevented by our opponents. These men were at that time trained merely for purposes of attack, but they were not taught to adore the big stick exclusively, as was then pretended in stupid German patriotic circles. They used the cudgel because they knew that it can be made impossible for high ideals to be put forward if the man who endeavours to propagate them can be struck down with the cudgel. As a matter of fact, it has happened in history not infrequently that some of the greatest minds have perished under the blows of the most insignificant helots. Our bodyguards did not look upon violence as an end in itself, but they protected the expositors of ideal aims and purposes against hostile coercion by violence. They also understood that there was no obligation to undertake the defence of a State which did not guarantee the defence of the nation, but that, on the contrary, they had to defend the nation against those who were threatening to destroy nation and State.
After the fight which took place at the meeting in the Munich Hofbräuhaus, where the small number of our guards who were present won everlasting fame for themselves by the heroic manner in which they stormed the adversaries; these guards were called The Storm Detachment. As the name itself indicates, they represent only a detachment of the Movement. They are one constituent element of it, just as is the Press, the propaganda, educational institutes, and other sections of the Party.
We learned how necessary was the formation of such a body, not only from our experience on the occasion of that memorable meeting but also when we sought gradually to carry the Movement beyond Munich and extend it to the other parts of Germany. Once we had begun to appear as a danger to Marxism the Marxists lost no opportunity of trying to crush beforehand all preparations for the holding of National Socialist meetings. When they did not succeed in this they tried to break up the meeting itself. It goes without saying that all the Marxist organizations, no matter of what grade or view, blindly supported the policy and activities of their representations in every case. But what is to be said of the bourgeois parties who, when they were reduced to silence by these same Marxists and in many places did not dare to send their speakers to appear before the public, yet showed themselves pleased, in a stupid and incomprehensible manner, every time we received any kind of set-back in our fight against Marxism. The bourgeois parties were happy to think that those whom they themselves could not stand up against, but had to knuckle down to, could not be broken by us. What must be said of those State officials, chiefs of police, and even cabinet ministers, who showed a scandalous lack of principle in presenting themselves externally to the public as ‘national’ and yet shamelessly acted as the henchmen of the Marxists in the disputes which we, National Socialists, had with the latter. What can be said of persons who debased themselves so far, for the sake of a little abject praise in the Jewish Press, that they persecuted those men to whose heroic courage and intervention, regardless of risk, they were partly indebted for not having been torn to pieces by the Red mob a few years previously and strung up to the lamp-posts?
One day these lamentable phenomena fired the late but unforgotten Prefect Pöhner – a man whose unbending straightforwardness forced him to hate all twisters and to hate them as only a man with an honest heart can hate – to say: "In all my life I wished to be first a German and then an official, and I never wanted to mix up with these creatures who, as if they were kept officials, prostituted themselves before anybody who could play lord and master for the time being."
It was a specially sad thing that gradually tens of thousands of honest and loyal servants of the State did not only come under the power of such people but were also slowly contaminated by their unprincipled morals. Moreover, these kind of men pursued honest officials with a furious hatred, degrading them and driving them from their positions, and yet passed themselves off as ‘national’ by the aid of their lying hypocrisy.
From officials of that kind we could expect no support, and only in very rare instances was it given. Only by building up its own defence could our movement become secure and attract that amount of public attention and general respect which is given to those who can defend themselves when attacked.
As an underlying principle in the internal development of the Storm Detachment, we came to the decision that not only should it be perfectly trained in bodily efficiency but that the men should be so instructed as to make them indomitably convinced champions of the National Socialist ideas and, finally, that they should be schooled to observe the strictest discipline. This body was to have nothing to do with the defence organizations of the bourgeois type and especially not with any secret organization.
My reasons at that time for guarding strictly against letting the Storm Detachment of the German National Socialist Labour Party appear as a defence association were as follows:
On purely practical grounds it is impossible to build up a national defence organization by means of private associations, unless the State makes an enormous contribution to it. Whoever thinks otherwise overestimates his own powers. Now it is entirely out of the question to form organizations of any military value for a definite purpose on the principle of so-called ‘voluntary discipline’. Here the chief support for enforcing orders, namely, the power of inflicting punishment, is lacking. In the autumn, or rather in the spring, of 1919 it was still possible to raise ‘volunteer corps’, not only because most of the men who came forward at that time had been through the school of the old Army, but also because the kind of duty imposed there constrained the individual to absolute obedience at least for a definite period of time.
That spirit is entirely lacking in the volunteer defence organizations of to-day. The more the defence association grows, the weaker its discipline becomes and so much the less can one demand from the individual members. Thus the whole organization will more and more assume the character of the old non-political associations of war comrades and veterans.
It is impossible to carry through a voluntary training in military service for larger masses unless one is assured absolute power of command. There will always be few men who will voluntarily and spontaneously submit to that kind of obedience which is considered natural and necessary in the Army.
Moreover, a proper system of military training cannot be developed where there are such ridiculously scanty means as those at the disposal of the defence associations. The principal task of such an institution must be to impart the best and most reliable kind of instruction. Eight years have passed since the end of the War, and during that time none of our German youth, at an age when formerly they would have had to do military service, have received any systematic training at all. The aim of a defence association cannot be to enlist here and now all those who have already received a military training; for in that case it could be reckoned with mathematical accuracy when the last member would leave the association. Even the younger soldier from 1918 will no longer be fit for front-line service twenty years later, and we are approaching that state of things with a rapidity that gives cause for anxiety. Thus the defence associations must assume more and more the aspect of the old ex-service men’s societies. But that cannot be the meaning and purpose of an institution which calls itself, not an association of ex-service men but a defence association, indicating by this title that it considers its task to be, not only to preserve the tradition of the old soldiers and hold them together but also to propagate the idea of national defence and be able to carry this idea into practical effect, which means the creation of a body of men who are fit and trained for military defence.
But this implies that those elements will receive a military training which up to now have received none. This is something that in practice is impossible for the defence associations. Real soldiers cannot be made by a training of one or two hours per week. In view of the enormously increasing demands which modern warfare imposes on each individual soldier to-day, a military service of two years is barely sufficient to transform a raw recruit into a trained soldier. At the Front during the War we all saw the fearful consequences which our young recruits had to suffer from their lack of a thorough military training. Volunteer formations which had been drilled for fifteen or twenty weeks under an iron discipline and shown unlimited self-denial proved nevertheless to be no better than cannon fodder at the Front. Only when distributed among the ranks of the old and experienced soldiers could the young recruits, who had been trained for four or six months, become useful members of a regiment. Guided by the ‘old men’, they adapted themselves gradually to their task.
In the light of all this, how hopeless must the attempt be to create a body of fighting troops by a so-called training of one or two hours in the week, without any definite power of command and without any considerable means. In that way perhaps one could refresh military training in old soldiers, but raw recruits cannot thus be transformed into expert soldiers.
How such a proceeding produces utterly worthless results may also be demonstrated by the fact that at the same time as these so-called volunteer defence associations, with great effort and outcry and under difficulties and lack of necessities, try to educate and train a few thousand men of goodwill (the others need not be taken into account) for purposes of national defence, the State teaches our young men democratic and pacifist ideas and thus deprives millions and millions of their national instincts, poisons their logical sense of patriotism and gradually turns them into a herd of sheep who will patiently follow any arbitrary command. Thus they render ridiculous all those attempts made by the defence associations to inculcate their ideas in the minds of the German youth.
Almost more important is the following consideration, which has always made me take up a stand against all attempts at a so-called military training on the basis of the volunteer associations.
Assuming that, in spite of all the difficulties just
mentioned, a defence association were successful in training a certain
number of Germans every year to be efficient soldiers, not only as regards
their mental outlook but also as regards bodily efficiency and the expert
handling of arms, the result must necessarily be null and void in a State
whose whole tendency makes it not only look upon such a defensive formation
as undesirable but even positively hate it, because such an association
would completely contradict the intimate aims of the political leaders,
who are the corrupters of this State.
But anyhow, such a result would be worthless under governments which have demonstrated by their own acts that they do not lay the slightest importance on the military power of the nation and are not disposed to permit an appeal to that power only in case that it were necessary for the protection of their own malignant existence.
And that is the state of affairs to-day. It is not ridiculous to think of training some ten thousand men in the use of arms, and carry on that training surreptitiously, when a few years previously the State, having shamefully sacrificed eight-and-a-half million highly trained soldiers, not merely did not require their services any more, but, as a mark of gratitude for their sacrifices, held them up to public contumely. Shall we train soldiers for a regime which besmirched and spat upon our most glorious soldiers, tore the medals and badges from their breasts, trampled on their flags and derided their achievements? Has the present regime taken one step towards restoring the honour of the old army and bringing those who destroyed and outraged it to answer for their deeds? Not in the least. On the contrary, the people I have just referred to may be seen enthroned in the highest positions under the State to-day. And yet it was said at Leipzig: "Right goes with might." Since, however, in our Republic to-day might is in the hands of the very men who arranged for the Revolution, and since that Revolution represents a most despicable act of high treason against the nation – yea, the vilest act in German history – there can surely be no grounds for saying that might of this character should be enhanced by the formation of a new young army. It is against all sound reason.
The importance which this State attached, after the Revolution of 1918, to the reinforcement of its position from the military point of view is clearly and unmistakably demonstrated by its attitude towards the large self-defence organizations which existed in that period. They were not unwelcome as long as they were of use for the personal protection of the miserable creatures cast up by the Revolution.
But the danger to these creatures seemed to disappear as the debasement of our people gradually increased. As the existence of the defence associations no longer implied a reinforcement of the national policy they became superfluous. Hence every effort was made to disarm them and suppress them wherever that was possible.
History records only a few examples of gratitude on the part of princes. But there is not one patriot among the new bourgeoisie who can count on the gratitude of revolutionary incendiaries and assassins, persons who have enriched themselves from the public spoil and betrayed the nation. In examining the problem as to the wisdom of forming these defence associations I have never ceased to ask: ‘For whom shall I train these young men? For what purpose will they be employed when they will have to be called out?’ The answer to these questions lays down at the same time the best rule for us to follow.
If the present State should one day have to call upon trained troops of this kind it would never be for the purpose of defending the interests of the nation vis-à-vis those of the stranger but rather to protect the oppressors of the nation inside the country against the danger of a general outbreak of wrath on the part of a nation which has been deceived and betrayed and whose interests have been bartered away.
For this reason it was decided that the Storm Detachment of the German National Socialist Labour Party ought not to be in the nature of a military organization. It had to be an instrument of protection and education for the National Socialist Movement and its duties should be in quite a different sphere from that of the military defence association.
And, of course, the Storm Detachment should not be
in the nature of a secret organization. Secret organizations are established
only for purposes that are against the law. Therewith the purpose of such
an organization is limited by its very nature. Considering the loquacious
propensities of the German people, it is not possible to build up any vast
organization, keeping it secret at the same time and cloaking its purpose.
Every attempt of that kind is destined to turn out absolutely futile. It
is not merely that our police officials to-day have at their disposal a
staff of eaves-droppers and other such rabble who are ready to play traitor,
like Judas, for thirty pieces of silver and will betray whatever secrets
they can discover and will invent what they would like to reveal. In order
to forestall such eventualities, it is never possible to bind one’s own
followers to the silence that is necessary. Only small groups can become
really secret societies, and that only after long years of filtration.
But the very smallness of such groups would deprive them of all value for
the National Socialist Movement. What we needed then and need now is not
one or two hundred dare-devil conspirators but a hundred thousand devoted
champions of our
Weltanschhauung. The work must not be done through
secret conventicles but through formidable mass demonstrations in public.
Dagger and pistol and poison-vial cannot clear the way for the progress
of the movement. That can be done only by winning over the man in the street.
We must overthrow Marxism, so that for the future National Socialism will
be master of the street, just as it will one day become master of the State.
There is another danger connected with secret societies. It lies in the fact that their members often completely misunderstand the greatness of the task in hand and are apt to believe that a favourable destiny can be assured for the nation all at once by means of a single murder. Such a belief may find historical justification by appealing to cases where a nation had been suffering under the tyranny of some oppressor who at the same time was a man of genius and whose extraordinary personality guaranteed the internal solidity of his position and enabled him to maintain his fearful oppression. In such cases a man may suddenly arise from the ranks of the people who is ready to sacrifice himself and plunge the deadly steel into the heart of the hated individual. In order to look upon such a deed as abhorrent one must have the republican mentality of that petty canaille who are conscious of their own crime. But the greatest champion 20) of liberty that the German people have ever had has glorified such a deed in William Tell.
During 1919 and 1920 there was danger that the members
of secret organizations, under the influence of great historical examples
and overcome by the immensity of the nation’s misfortunes, might attempt
to wreak vengeance on the destroyers of their country, under the belief
that this would end the miseries of the people. All such attempts were
sheer folly, for the reason that the Marxist triumph was not due to the
superior genius of one remarkable person but rather to immeasurable incompetence
and cowardly shirking on the part of the bourgeoisie. The hardest criticism
that can be uttered against our bourgeoisie is simply to state the fact
that it submitted to the Revolution, even though the Revolution did not
produce one single man of eminent worth. One can always understand how
it was possible to capitulate before a Robespierre, a Danton, or a Marat;
but it was utterly scandalous to go down on all fours before the withered
Scheidemann, the obese Herr Erzberger, Frederick Ebert, and the innumerable
other political pigmies of the Revolution. There was not a single man of
parts in whom one could see the revolutionary man of genius. Therein lay
the country’s misfortune; for they were only revolutionary bugs, Spartacists
wholesale and retail. To suppress one of them would be an act of no consequence.
The only result would be that another pair of bloodsuckers, equally fat
and thirsty, would be ready to take his place.
During those years we had to take up a determined stand against an idea which owed its origin and foundation to historical episodes that were really great, but to which our own despicable epoch did not bear the slightest similarity.
The same reply may be given when there is question
of putting somebody ‘on the spot’ who has acted as a traitor to his country.
It would be ridiculous and illogical to shoot a poor wretch
who had betrayed the position of a howitzer to the enemy while the highest
positions of the government are occupied by a rabble who bartered away
a whole empire, who have on their consciences the deaths of two million
men who were sacrificed in vain, fellows who were responsible for the millions
maimed in the war and who make a thriving business out of the republican
regime without allowing their souls to be disturbed in any way. It would
be absurd to do away with small traitors in a State whose government has
absolved the great traitors from all punishment. For it might easily happen
that one day an honest idealist, who, out of love for his country, had
removed from circulation some miserable informer that had given information
about secret stores of arms might now be called to answer for his act before
the chief traitors of the country. And there is still an important question:
Shall some small traitorous creature be suppressed by another small traitor,
or by an idealist? In the former case the result would be doubtful and
the deed would almost surely be revealed later on. In the second case a
petty rascal is put out of the way and the life of an idealist who may
be irreplaceable is in jeopardy.
For myself, I believe that small thieves should not be hanged while big thieves are allowed to go free. One day a national tribunal will have to judge and sentence some tens of thousands of organizers who were responsible for the criminal November betrayal and all the consequences that followed on it. Such an example will teach the necessary lesson, once and for ever, to those paltry traitors who revealed to the enemy the places where arms were hidden.
On the grounds of these considerations I steadfastly forbade all participation in secret societies, and I took care that the Storm Detachment should not assume such a character. During those years I kept the National Socialist Movement away from those experiments which were being undertaken by young Germans who for the most part were inspired with a sublime idealism but who became the victims of their own deeds, because they could not ameliorate the lot of their fatherland to the slightest degree.
If then the Storm Detachment must not be either a military defence organization or a secret society, the following conclusions must result:
1. Its training must not be organized from the military standpoint but from the standpoint of what is most practical for party purposes. Seeing that its members must undergo a good physical training, the place of chief importance must not be given to military drill but rather to the practice of sports. I have always considered boxing and ju-jitsu more important than some kind of bad, because mediocre, training in rifle-shooting. If the German nation were presented with a body of young men who had been perfectly trained in athletic sports, who were imbued with an ardent love for their country and a readiness to take the initiative in a fight, then the national State could make an army out of that body within less than two years if it were necessary, provided the cadres already existed. In the actual state of affairs only the Reichswehr could furnish the cadres and not a defence organization that was neither one thing nor the other. Bodily efficiency would develop in the individual a conviction of his superiority and would give him that confidence which is always based only on the consciousness of one’s own powers. They must also develop that athletic agility which can be employed as a defensive weapon in the service of the Movement.
2. In order to safeguard the Storm Detachment against any tendency towards secrecy, not only must the uniform be such that it can immediately be recognized by everybody, but the large number of its effectives show the direction in which the Movement is going and which must be known to the whole public. The members of the Storm Detachment must not hold secret gatherings but must march in the open and thus, by their actions, put an end to all legends about a secret organization. In order to keep them away from all temptations towards finding an outlet for their activities in small conspiracies, from the very beginning we had to inculcate in their minds the great idea of the Movement and educate them so thoroughly to the task of defending this idea that their horizon became enlarged and that the individual no longer considered it his mission to remove from circulation some rascal or other, whether big or small, but to devote himself entirely to the task of bringing about the establishment of a new National Socialist People’s State. In this way the struggle against the present State was placed on a higher plane than that of petty revenge and small conspiracies. It was elevated to the level of a spiritual struggle on behalf of a Weltanschhauung, for the destruction of Marxism in all its shapes and forms.
3. The form of organization adopted for the Storm Detachment, as well as its uniform and equipment, had to follow different models from those of the old Army. They had to be specially suited to the requirements of the task that was assigned to the Storm Detachment.
These were the ideas I followed in 1920 and 1921. I endeavoured to instil them gradually into the members of the young organization. And the result was that by the midsummer of 1922 we had a goodly number of formations which consisted of a hundred men each. By the late autumn of that year these formations received their distinctive uniforms. There were three events which turned out to be of supreme importance for the subsequent development of the Storm Detachment.
1. The great mass demonstration against the Law for the Protection of the Republic. This demonstration was held in the late summer of 1922 on the Königs-platz in Munich, by all the patriotic societies. The National Socialist Movement also participated in it. The march-past of our party, in serried ranks, was led by six Munich companies of a hundred men each, followed by the political sections of the Party. Two bands marched with us and about fifteen flags were carried. When the National Socialists arrived at the great square it was already half full, but no flag was flying. Our entry aroused unbounded enthusiasm. I myself had the honour of being one of the speakers who addressed that mass of about sixty thousand people.
The demonstration was an overwhelming success; especially because it was proved for the first time that nationalist Munich could march on the streets, in spite of all threats from the Reds. Members of the organization for the defence of the Red Republic endeavoured to hinder the marching columns by their terrorist activities, but they were scattered by the companies of the Storm Detachment within a few minutes and sent off with bleeding skulls. The National Socialist Movement had then shown for the first time that in future it was determined to exercise the right to march on the streets and thus take this monopoly away from the international traitors and enemies of the country.
The result of that day was an incontestable proof that our ideas for the creation of the Storm Detachment were right, both from the psychological viewpoint and as to the manner in which this body was organized.
On the basis of this success the enlistment progressed so rapidly that within a few weeks the number of Munich companies of a hundred men each became doubled.
2. The expedition to Coburg in October 1922.
Certain People’s Societies had decided to hold a German Day at Coburg. I was invited to take part, with the intimation that they wished me to bring a following along. This invitation, which I received at eleven o’clock in the morning, arrived just in time. Within an hour the arrangements for our participation in the German Congress were ready. I picked eight hundred men of the Storm Detachment to accompany me. These were divided into about fourteen companies and had to be brought by special train from Munich to Coburg, which had just voted by plebiscite to be annexed to Bavaria. Corresponding orders were given to other groups of the National Socialist Storm Detachment which had meanwhile been formed in various other localities.
This was the first time that such a special train ran in Germany. At all the places where the new members of the Storm Detachment joined us our train caused a sensation. Many of the people had never seen our flag. And it made a very great impression.
As we arrived at the station in Coburg we were received by a deputation of the organizing committee of the German Day. They announced that it had been ‘arranged’ at the orders of local trades unions – that is to say, the Independent and Communist Parties – that we should not enter the town with our flags unfurled and our band playing (we had a band consisting of forty-two musicians with us) and that we should not march with closed ranks.
I immediately rejected these unmilitary conditions and did not fail to declare before the gentlemen who had arranged this ‘day’ how astonished I was at the idea of their negotiating with such people and coming to an agreement with them. Then I announced that the Storm Troops would immediately march into the town in company formation, with our flags flying and the band playing.
And that is what happened.
As we came out into the station yard we were met by a growling and yelling mob of several thousand, that shouted at us: ‘Assassins’, ‘Bandits’, ‘Robbers’, ‘Criminals’. These were the choice names which these exemplary founders of the German Republic showered on us. The young Storm Detachment gave a model example of order. The companies fell into formation on the square in front of the station and at first took no notice of the insults hurled at them by the mob. The police were anxious. They did not pilot us to the quarters assigned to us on the outskirts of Coburg, a city quite unknown to us, but to the Hofbräuhaus Keller in the centre of the town. Right and left of our march the tumult raised by the accompanying mob steadily increased. Scarcely had the last company entered the courtyard of the Hofbräuhaus when the huge mass made a rush to get in after them, shouting madly. In order to prevent this, the police closed the gates. Seeing the position was untenable I called the Storm Detachment to attention and then asked the police to open the gates immediately. After a good deal of hesitation, they consented.
We now marched back along the same route as we had come, in the direction of our quarters, and there we had to make a stand against the crowd. As their cries and yells all along the route had failed to disturb the equanimity of our companies, the champions of true Socialism, Equality, and Fraternity now took to throwing stones. That brought our patience to an end. For ten minutes long, blows fell right and left, like a devastating shower of hail. Fifteen minutes later there were no more Reds to be seen in the street.
The collisions which took place when the night came on were more serious. Patrols of the Storm Detachment had discovered National Socialists who had been attacked singly and were in an atrocious state. Thereupon we made short work of the opponents. By the following morning the Red terror, under which Coburg had been suffering for years, was definitely smashed.
Adopting the typically Marxist and Jewish method of spreading falsehoods, leaflets were distributed by hand on the streets, bearing the caption: "Comrades and Comradesses of the International Proletariat." These leaflets were meant to arouse the wrath of the populace. Twisting the facts completely around, they declared that our ‘bands of assasins’ had commenced ‘a war of extermination against the peaceful workers of Coburg’. At half-past one that day there was to be a ‘great popular demonstration’, at which it was hoped that the workers of the whole district would turn up. I was determined finally to crush this Red terror and so I summoned the Storm Detachment to meet at midday. Their number had now increased to 1,500. I decided to march with these men to the Coburg Festival and to cross the big square where the Red demonstration was to take place. I wanted to see if they would attempt to assault us again. When we entered the square we found that instead of the ten thousand that had been advertised, there were only a few hundred people present. As we approached they remained silent for the most part, and some ran away. Only at certain points along the route some bodies of Reds, who had arrived from outside the city and had not yet come to know us, attempted to start a row. But a few fisticuffs put them to flight. And now one could see how the population, which had for such a long time been so wretchedly intimidated, slowly woke up and recovered their courage. They welcomed us openly, and in the evening, on our return march, spontaneous shouts of jubilation broke out at several points along the route.
At the station the railway employees informed us all of a sudden that our train would not move. Thereupon I had some of the ringleaders told that if this were the case I would have all the Red Party heroes arrested that fell into our hands, that we would drive the train ourselves, but that we would take away with us, in the locomotive and tender and in some of the carriages, a few dozen members of this brotherhood of international solidarity. I did not omit to let those gentry know that if we had to conduct the train the journey would undoubtedly be a very risky adventure and that we might all break our necks. It would be a consolation, however, to know that we should not go to Eternity alone, but in equality and fraternity with the Red gentry.
Thereupon the train departed punctually and we arrived next morning in Munich safe and sound.
Thus at Coburg, for the first time since 1914, the equality of all citizens before the law was re-established. For even if some coxcomb of a higher official should assert to-day that the State protects the lives of its citizens, at least in those days it was not so. For at that time the citizens had to defend themselves against the representatives of the present State.
At first it was not possible fully to estimate the importance of the consequences which resulted from that day. The victorious Storm Troops had their confidence in themselves considerably reinforced and also their faith in the sagacity of their leaders. Our contemporaries began to pay us special attention and for the first time many recognized the National Socialist Movement as an organization that in all probability was destined to bring the Marxist folly to a deserving end.
Only the democrats lamented the fact that we had not the complaisance to allow our skulls to be cracked and that we had dared, in a democratic Republic, to hit back with fists and sticks at a brutal assault, rather than with pacifist chants.
Generally speaking, the bourgeois Press was partly distressed and partly vulgar, as always. Only a few decent newspapers expressed their satisfaction that at least in one locality the Marxist street bullies had been effectively dealt with.
And in Coburg itself at least a part of the Marxist workers who must be looked upon as misled, learned from the blows of National Socialist fists that these workers were also fighting for ideals, because experience teaches that the human being fights only for something in which he believes and which he loves.
The Storm Detachment itself benefited most from the Coburg events. It grew so quickly in numbers that at the Party Congress in January 1923 six thousand men participated in the ceremony of consecrating the flags and the first companies were fully clad in their new uniform.
Our experience in Coburg proved how essential it is to introduce one distinctive uniform for the Storm Detachment, not only for the purpose of strengthening the esprit de corps but also to avoid confusion and the danger of not recognizing the opponent in a squabble. Up to that time they had merely worn the armlet, but now the tunic and the well-known cap were added.
But the Coburg experience had also another important result. We now determined to break the Red Terror in all those localities where for many years it had prevented men of other views from holding their meetings. We were determined to restore the right of free assembly. From that time onwards we brought our battalions together in such places and little by little the red citadels of Bavaria, one after another, fell before the National Socialist propaganda. The Storm Troops became more and more adept at their job. They increasingly lost all semblance of an aimless and lifeless defence movement and came out into the light as an active militant organization, fighting for the establishment of a new German State.
This logical development continued until March 1923. Then an event occurred which made me divert the Movement from the course hitherto followed and introduce some changes in its outer formation.
In the first months of 1923 the French occupied the Ruhr district. The consequence of this was of great importance in the development of the Storm Detachment.
It is not yet possible, nor would it be in the interest of the nation, to write or speak openly and freely on the subject. I shall speak of it only as far as the matter has been dealt with in public discussions and thus brought to the knowledge of everybody.
The occupation of the Ruhr district, which did not come as a surprise to us, gave grounds for hoping that Germany would at last abandon its cowardly policy of submission and therewith give the defensive associations a definite task to fulfil. The Storm Detachment also, which now numbered several thousand of robust and vigorous young men, should not be excluded from this national service. During the spring and summer of 1923 it was transformed into a fighting military organization. It is to this reorganization that we must in great part attribute the later developments that took place during 1923, in so far as it affected our Movement.
Elsewhere I shall deal in broad outline with the development of events in 1923. Here I wish only to state that the transformation of the Storm Detachment at that time must have been detrimental to the interests of the Movement if the conditions that had motivated the change were not to be carried into effect, namely, the adoption of a policy of active resistance against France.
The events which took place at the close of 1923, terrible as they may appear at first sight, were almost a necessity if looked at from a higher standpoint; because, in view of the attitude taken by the Government of the German Reich, conversion of the Storm Troops into a military force would be meaningless and thus a transformation which would also be harmful to the Movement was ended at one stroke. At the same time it was made possible for us to reconstruct at the point where we had been diverted from the proper course.
In the year 1925 the German National Socialist Labour Party was re-founded and had to organize and train its Storm Detachment once again according to the principles I have laid down. It must return to the original idea and once more it must consider its most essential task to function as the instrument of defence and reinforcement in the spiritual struggle to establish the ideals of the Movement.
The Storm Detachment must not be allowed to sink to
the level of something in the nature of a defence organization or a secret
society. Steps must be taken rather to make it a vanguard of 100,000 men
in the struggle for the National Socialist ideal which is based on the
profound principle of a People’s State.