11/08 – The Munich Beer Hall Putsch

NSDAP agitators in what we now consider “classic Nazi” attire during the failed uprising at the Marienplatz. (source: Wikimedia Commons)

On this day in 1923 members of the NSDAP (National Socialist German Worker’s Party, or Nazis) staged the Munich Beer Hall Putsch. Inspired by Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini’s successful march on Rome, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler envisioned a similar popular uprising and overthrow of the current German Reichswehr (government). The Austrian leader marched roughly 2,000 Nazis against government police in the centre of Munich; 14 Nazis and 4 police officers were killed in the fighting. Hitler fled the combat, wounded, but was arrested two days later and put on trial for treason. The uprising had failed, at least initially.

The Nazi Party leader in 1931. (source: Wikimedia Commons)

During his public trial, Hitler was essentially given a platform to share his ideas about nationalism, German supremacy, and the apparent dangers that religious and ethnic minorities posed to “Aryan purity”. The German people, experiencing a time of unrest and upset following WW1, were particularly receptive to Hitler’s messages. While serving time in Landsberg prison, the NSDAP leader wrote his personal manifesto, Mein Kampf (which translates to My Struggle. Self-pity and inability to accept personal blame are key characteristics of fascist thought). Released after only 9 months, Hitler went on to gain Chancellorship in 1933 and general support by the German populace. Hitler’s rise to power – from a failed uprising alongside a collection of criminals and thugs, to jail, to mainstream political power, all within 10 years – shows just how quickly a nation can learn to accept hateful and divisive rhetoric.

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