The city at the heart of Nazism
Munich the capital of the German state of Bavaria, which is in Southern Germany, was the home of the Nazi movement and the site of the model concentration camp at Dachau.
Jews were living in Munich at the beginning of the thirteenth century, but they were expelled in 1442, and by 1790 there were only 127 Jews living in Munich.
A fundamental change for the Jewish life occurred on June 10th, 1813, the “Jews edict” was passed, which allowed Jews to acquire citizenship and estates. In 1826 a Synagogue was opened, and in 1848 the Jews gained the right to vote and to be elected for public office.
In 1880 the pogroms in Russia resulted in an influx of eastern Jews to Munich, and opened up lucrative businesses in leather goods and fur trading. In 1892, the Ohel Jakob synagogue was opened, which seated 1000 men and 800 women. This was the 3rd largest synagogue in Germany.
By 1933, 9005 Jews were living in Munich which was 1.2 percent of the total population of the city. Munich’s Jews played a prominent role in its economic, social and cultural life, and took part in multi-faceted Jewish religious and communal activities.
The central offices of many Jewish national institutions were located there, and a Zionist weekly and the official organ of the Union of Jewish Communities in Bavaria were published in the city.
As the First World War drew to an end, anti-Semitic incidents became increasingly frequent. From November 1918 to February 1919 a Soviet – style revolutionary government held power in Bavaria, headed by Kurt Eisner and including several other prominent Jews.
As a result, an anti-Semitic wave set in, and attacks were launched on Jews throughout the city, especially those of Eastern European origin. On the 23 April 1920, Bavarian prime minister Ritter von Kahr issued an order for the expulsion of the Jews and it took much effort to prevent this order from being carried out.
Hitler and the Nazi Party
The precursor to the NSDAP was the Deutscher Arbeiterpartei (DAP – German Workers Party) was founded in the hotel Fürstenfelder Hof in Munich on 5 January 1919. When the Party reorganized as the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei (NSDAP – National Socialist German Workers Party), it had offices in the Sterneckerbräu brewery at Tal 54, near the city center.
Having recently overcome temporary blindness resulting from exposure to mustard gas during the war, Hitler made his way back to Munich in the summer of 1919 and was assigned by the Reichswehr to "educational" duties which consisted largely of spying on political parties in the overheated atmosphere of post-revolutionary Munich.
Hitler was sent to investigate a small nationalistic group of idealists, the German Workers’ Party. On 16 September 1919 he entered the Party (which had approximately forty members), soon changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) and had imposed himself as its Chairman by July 1921.
The official Party platform was formulated on 24 February 1920, and Adolf Hitler outlined the Party program to the public in the famous Hofbräuhaus beer hall that same evening.Hitler focused his propaganda against the Versailles Treaty, the "November criminals," the Marxists and the visible, internal enemy No. 1, the "Jew," who was responsible for all Germany’s domestic problems.
In the twenty-five-point programme of the NSDAP the exclusion of the Jews from the Volk community, the myth of Aryan race supremacy and extreme nationalism were combined with "socialistic" ideas of profit-sharing and nationalization inspired by ideologues like Gottfried Feder.
Hitler’s first written utterance on political questions dating from this period emphasized that what he called "the anti-Semitism of reason" must lead "to the systematic combating and elimination of Jewish privileges. Its ultimate goal must implacably be the total removal of the Jews."
The Munich Putsch
The Bavarian government defied the Weimar Republic, accusing it of being too far left. Hitler personally endorsed the fall of the Weimar Republic, and declared at a public rally on October 30, 1923 that he was prepared to march on Berlin to rid the government of the Communists and the Jews.
On November 8, 1923, Hitler held a rally at a Munich beer hall and proclaimed a revolution. The following day, he led 2,000 armed "brown-shirts" in an attempt to take over the Bavarian government. The small Nazi Party first won national attention in the Beer Hall Putsch of November 1923, when the Ruhr crisis and the great inflation were at their height. Hitler and his Nazis joined with General Erich Ludendorff (1865-1937) and his conservative nationalist followers in an attempt to seize power in Munich. (The plot got its name because it was planned in one of Munich’s beer halls.)
The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2011