David Irving, Hitler and Holocaust Denial: Electronic Edition, by Richard J. Evans

Table of Contents
(vii) Conclusion >>

(i) Historical background

1. The first link in Irving's self-proclaimed chain of key documents which demonstrate that Hitler was the best friend the Jews ever had in the 'Third Reich' does not in fact relate to the 'Third Reich' itself but to a relatively early incident in Hitler's career. The revolution of November 1918, which had overthrown the Imperial structure and for the first time in Germany history set up a fully democratic state, soon led to a backlash from the right. This backlash was most extreme in Bavaria. Under a counter-revolutionary government, Munich quickly became the centre for a variety of nationalist or völkisch sects which had formed all over the country since the end of the First World War.
2. One of the völkisch groups was the DAP, the German Workers' Party. It would in all likelihood have remained an insignificant and obscure splinter sect, had not Adolf Hitler, at the time a political agent for the German army, the Reichswehr, decided to use it as the platform for the launch of his political career. Hitler soon became the leading figure of the party (he officially took over the leadership of the party in July 1921) which changed its name in February 1920 to NSDAP, National Socialist Workers' Party, or Nazis. While there was some local support for the Nazis, it was only with the crisis of the Weimar state in 1922 and 1923, that the Nazi Party started to expand beyond its Munich power base. In this time of instability, intensified by the perceived threat of an immenent Communist rising in central Germany, the Nazis became increasingly powerful on the right-wing fringe of the political spectrum.
3. In late 1923, Hitler tried to translate his perceived strength into action and attempted a 'March on Berlin' to seize power. On the evening of 8 November, Hitler and some armed supporters stormed a meeting in the Bürgerbräukeller, (a Munich beer-cellar). The meeting was addressed by Gustav Ritter von Kahr, who as General Commissioner possessed almost dictatorial powers and was the most powerful politician in Bavaria. Hitler fired a shot into the ceiling. Then, he led von Kahr and others senior figures, such as the police president Seisser, into a back room, where they were forced to declare their support of the putsch.
4. Once Hitler had secured the backing of these men, his supporters, who were assembled in another beer hall, the Löwenbräukeller, were informed via telephone that the 'national revolution' had broken out. Hitler's followers in the Löwenbräukeller were led by Ernst Röhm, an army officer who was actively engaged in arming right-wing paramilitary groups. With Röhm were members of his own paramilitary organisation as well as SA (Storm Division) troops - the brown-shirted paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party. From April 1924 the brownshirts too would be led by Röhm. Once Röhm got the message that Hitler had apparently been successful, he mobilised his troops and marched towards the District Military Headquarters to take them over. But Hitler had seriously miscalculated his influence over the Bavarian government and army. He failed to win the support of leading political figures like von Kahr, who started counter-measures against the coup once he had been set free by Hitler. A small group of determined Nazi marchers set off for the city centre at noon on 9 November 1923 and were dispersed by armed police who fired on them as they approached the Odeonsplatz.1
5. The trial against Hitler and some of his accomplices began on 26 February 1924 before a political court, the Bayerisches Volksgericht. The trial aroused great interest in both the domestic and the foreign press. The presiding judges allowed Hitler to turn the trial into a propaganda show for the Nazi party. Hitler was able to elaborate his ideology at great length, without interruption. The sympathies of the Bavarian judge were openly manifested in the sentence meted out to Hitler on 1 April 1924 the minimum possible, namely five years' incarceration in a Festung (a much milder form of imprisonment than prison or penitentiary). Hitler was released in December 1924.


1. Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris (London, 1998), pp. 195-219.
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(vii) Conclusion >>

accessed 12 March 2013