Taking Control of the Party

Hitler,_A_Study_in_Tyranny

With the re-founding of the Nazi Party In February 1925, Hitler set himself two objectives. The first was to establish his own absolute control over the Party by driving out those who were not prepared to accept his leadership without question. The second was to build up the Party and make it a force in German politics within the framework of the constitution. Ludecke reports a conversation with Hitler while he was still in Landsberg prison in which he said: ‘When I resume active work it will be necessaiy to pursue a new policy. Instead of working to achieve power by an armed coup, we shall have to hold our noses and enter the Reichstag against the Catholic and Marxist deputies. If out-voting them takes longer than out-shooting them, at least the result will be guaranteed by their own Constitution. Any lawful process is slow Sooner1 or later we shall have a majority – and after that, Germany.’

The process was to prove even slower than Hitler had expected. Not only had he to begin at the beginning again, but the times were no longer so favourable as they had been in 1920-3. Hitler’s speech on 27 February had been too successful, the display of his demagogic power too convincing. He had laid great stress on the need to concentrate opposition against a single enemy – Marxism and the Jew. But he had added, in an aside which delighted his audience: ‘If necessary, by one enemy many can be meant.’ In other words, under cover of fighting Marxism and the Jew, the old fight against the State would be resumed. Such phrases as : ‘Either the enemy will pass over our bodies or we over theirs,’ scarcely suggested that Hitler’s new policy of legality was very sincere. The authorities were alarmed and immediately afterwards prohibited him from speaking in public in Bavaria. This prohibition was soon extended to other German states as well. It lasted until May 1927 in Bavaria and September 1928 in Prussia, and was a severe handicap for a leader whose greatest asset was his ability as a speaker. Hitler, however, had no option but to obey. He was on parole for some time after leaving prison and he was anxious lest the Bavarian authorities might proceed with the threat to deport him. An interesting correspondence on the question of Hitler’s citizenship between Hitler’s lawyer, the Austrian Consul-General in Munich, and the Vienna authorities, is to be found in the Austrian police records. It illustrates the anxiety Hitler felt on this score in the mid 1920s.

References:

  1. Bullock, Alan. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny. New York: Harper & Row, 1964. Print. 130-131.
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