What can be more embarrassing than a meeting in a room that is only half or even less full? Ever since the mass rally of the right-wing extremist and anti-Semitic Deutschvölkischer Schutz- und Trutzbund in Munich’s “Kindlkeller” on January 7, 1920, Adolf Hitler knew what he really wanted: a major event like this for his German Workers’ Party (DAP) with several thousand listeners.
He probably suspected, however, that his name would not be popular enough to fill one of Munich's huge beer bars. Therefore, on February 20, 1920, the formal DAP chairman Anton Drexler recruited a speaker who was well known in Bavaria, the physician Johannes Dingfelder. He agreed to repeat a lecture that had already been given five times in public at a DAP meeting.
On Saturday, February 21, 1920, the DAP dared to book the large hall of the "Hofbräuhaus" for the following Tuesday with Dingfelder, who was well respected by the folkish audience, as the keynote speaker - it could hold 2000 people fully occupied. On the same day, radical right-wing newspapers in Munich announced the gathering; posters were also printed. The bright red paper called for people to come to Dingfelder's lecture on February 24, 1920, entitled "What we need to do!" The poster made no mention of Hitler.
But the "advertising officer", i.e. chief propagandist, of the DAP was planning his own coup: he wanted to present a program to the public in the Hofbräusaal. Some members have been working on drafts for weeks. At the beginning of February 1920, the text was essentially complete, and two days before the meeting Hitler and Drexler edited it, wrote it clean and put it into print. It comprised 25 points; a mixture of nationalist, anti-capitalist and anti-Semitic demands.
Hitler, who had taken over the leadership of the meeting in accordance with his duties, kept to the announcement and, after the greeting, immediately gave the floor to the guest speaker. The hall was crowded. There were also many supporters of left-wing parties among the audience, but they didn't really bother Dingfelder's presentation. This was certainly due to the fact that he appeared moderate, as a reporter from the Munich police noted: "The speaker's statements were quite factual and often carried by a deep religious spirit."
Dingfelder never said the word "Jew". A section of the anti-Semitic audience was quite different: half a dozen times the police report noted heckling like: “Jews! Jews! Out with the Jews!” The main speaker did not respond to this, but concluded with the announcement: “One day our people will awaken! Then it will heal again and then it will again be true that the world will heal in the German spirit!”
An ideal template for Hitler. He thanked Dingfelder and the political opponents present "for their calm behavior" and promised that "we will not stab you in the back." With that, however, his supply of objectivity was exhausted.
Because now he escalated into the series of accusations that was characteristic of him, one after the other against the government and its officials, against war profiteers, profiteers and usurers – allegedly, of course, Jewish – and against newspapers. His followers responded enthusiastically; the police report noted "lively applause", but also increasingly heckling like "down with the Jewish press!" or "hang up!".
Now Hitler began to read out the 25 points of the DAP program: “1.We demand the union of all Germans on the basis of the peoples' right to self-determination to form a Greater Germany. 2. We demand equal rights for the German people compared to other nations, cancellation of the peace treaties of Versailles and St. Germain. 3. We demand land and soil (colonies) to feed our people and settle our surplus population.”
And so it went on and on – succinctly formulated but inflexible maximum demands. Once the 25 points have been implemented, there will be no further program, it said: "The leaders refuse to set new goals after the achievement of the goals set out in the program for the sole purpose of artificially increasing mass dissatisfaction to prevent the continuation of the to enable the party.”
The audience received the program divided. At that time, political dissidents often attended party meetings. Leisure activities in a world with almost no cinemas, no radio, and certainly no television, in which theaters were too expensive for average earners and most apartments were just places to sleep.
"During the reading of the program, the other side often heckled, which was followed by shouts of 'Out'. There was often a lot of commotion, so I thought fights would break out at any moment,” noted the reporter from the Munich police headquarters.
The representative of the “Völkischer Beobachter”, at that time still a newspaper independent of the DAP, but with an extremely right-wing orientation, saw it similarly: “Mr. Hitler developed some apt political pictures that met with thunderous applause, but also caused the numerous preconceived opponents present to object. ' The 25 points of the actual program struck him as less remarkable; they come "in the basics the program of the German Socialist Party" close.
The USPD newspaper "Der Kampf" even accused Hitler and Drexler of plagiarism: the DAP copied their program "for the sake of simplicity from the socialist program". Accordingly, the headline of the article read: "A stolen 'program'!"
Although the presentation of the party program had gone quite unsatisfactorily, Hitler later exaggerated February 24, 1920 as the founding act of his NSDAP. In his confessional book Mein Kampf he wrote: "When I finally presented the twenty-five theses point by point to the masses and asked them to pass judgment on them themselves, they were now accepted one after the other with increasing cheering , unanimously and unanimously again and again, and when the last thesis had thus found its way to the heart of the masses, a hall full of people stood before me, united by a new conviction, a new belief, by a new will.”
However, the reporters in the Munich press, regardless of their political leanings, had heard nothing of this. It was purely a stylization.
After the Free State of Bavaria had prevented Hitler's "Mein Kampf" from being published for a long time, a critical edition was published by the Institute for Contemporary History in January 2016. WELT history editor Sven-Felix Kellerhoff knows the depths of the anti-Semitic pamphlet.
Source: The World
Like the claim that the DAP changed its name to “National Socialist German Workers’ Party” in connection with the 25-point program. This can often be read, including in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which is now often used as a benchmark. Here it says, "the official change of registration from DAP to NSDAP (was) already completed on February 20, 1920".
In reality, the new name did not come into use until around or after Easter 1920. On March 1, Hitler, who was already signing in the first place, and the formal chairman Anton Drexler still used the self-designation German Workers' Party in a letter to the completely independently founded "German National Socialist Workers' Party in Austria". Three days later, at another meeting in the “Hofbräukeller”, Hitler expressly asked the audience to “join the DAP”. The Munich newspapers also used the abbreviation DAP as the party name in articles about events organized by the Hitler party in March 1920.
It was not until the beginning of April that the spelling "National Socialist German Workers' Party" appeared; in a police report for the first time at a meeting on April 6, 1920. Hitler apparently used the new name personally for the first time on May 2 in a speech in Rosenheim. Two weeks earlier, however, he had already said: "In this sense we are National Socialists."
Now his party not only had a charismatic leader, but also a program and an attractive name. The rise of the Hitler movement began.
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This article was first published in February 2020.