Lies being taught;
Mein Kampf is unintelligible ravings of a maniac.
Now the Truth; Read and know. CHAPTER XIId- Beginnings of our movement.
“During the initial phase of our movement, our greatest handicap was the fact that none of us were known and our names meant nothing, a fact which then seemed to some of us to make the chances of final success problematical.
Consider that only six or seven poor devils who were entirely unknown came together to found a movement which should succeed in doing what the great mass-parties had failed to do: namely, to reconstruct the German REICH, even in greater power and glory than before. We should have been very pleased if we were attacked or even ridiculed. But the most depressing fact was that nobody paid any attention to us whatever. This utter lack of interest in us caused me great mental pain at that time. In Munich nobody knew of the existence of such a party, not even by name, except our few members and their small circle of acquaintances.
Every Wednesday what was called a committee meeting was held in one of the cafés, and a debate was arranged for one evening each week. In the beginning all the members of the movement were also members of the committee, therefore the same persons always turned up at both meetings. The first step that had to be taken was to extend the narrow limits of this small circle and get new members, but the principal necessity was to utilize all the means at our command for the purpose of making the movement known. We chose the following methods: We decided to hold a monthly meeting to which the public would be invited. Some of the invitations were typewritten, and some were written by hand. For the first few meetings we distributed them in the streets and delivered them personally at certain houses. Each one canvassed among his own acquaintances and tried to persuade some of them to attend our meetings. The result was lamentable.
We then changed our methods. We had the invitations written with a typewriter in a Munich stationer's shop and then multigraphed them.
The result was that a few more people attended our next meeting. The number increased gradually from eleven to thirteen to seventeen, to twenty-three and finally to thirty-four. We collected some money within our own circle, each poor devil giving a small contribution, and in that way we raised sufficient funds to be able to advertise one of our meetings in the MUNICH OBSERVER, which was still an independent paper.
This time we had an astonishing success. We had chosen the Munich HOFBRÄU HAUS KELLER (which must not be confounded with the Munich HOFBRÄU HAUS FESTSAAL) as our meeting-place. It was a small hall and would accommodate scarcely more than 130 people. To me, however, the hall seemed enormous, and we were all trembling lest this tremendous edifice would remain partly empty on the night of the meeting.
At seven o'clock 111 persons were present, and the meeting was opened. A Munich professor delivered the principal address, and I spoke after him. That was my first appearance in the role of public orator. The whole thing seemed a very daring adventure to Herr Harrer, who was then chairman of the party. He was a very decent fellow; but he had an A PRIORI conviction that, although I might have quite a number of good qualities, I certainly did not have a talent for public speaking. Even later he could not be persuaded to change his opinion. But he was mistaken. Twenty minutes had been allotted to me for my speech on this occasion, which might be looked upon as our first public meeting.
I talked for thirty minutes, and what I always had felt deep down in my heart, without being able to put it to the test, was here proved to be true: I could make a good speech. At the end of the thirty minutes it was quite clear that all the people in the little hall had been profoundly impressed. The enthusiasm aroused among them found its first expression in the fact that my appeal to those present brought us donations which amounted to three hundred marks. That was a great relief for us. Our finances were at that time so meager that we could not afford to have our party prospectus printed, or even leaflets. Now we possessed at least the nucleus of a fund from which we could pay the most urgent and necessary expenses.
The need for this fresh blood supply became evident to me after a few weeks of collaboration with the new members. Herr Harrer, who was then chairman of the party, was a journalist by profession, and as such he was a man of general knowledge. But as leader of the party he had one very serious handicap: he could not speak to the crowd. Though he did his work conscientiously, it lacked the necessary driving force, probably for the reason that he had no oratorical gifts whatsoever. Herr Drexler, at that time chairman of the Munich local group, was a simple working man. He, too, was not of any great importance as a speaker. Moreover, he was not a soldier. He had never done military service, even during the War. So that this man who was feeble and diffident by nature had missed the only school which knows how to transform diffident and weakly natures into real men. Therefore neither of those two men were of the stuff that would have enabled them to stir up an ardent and indomitable faith in the ultimate triumph of the movement and to brush aside, with obstinate force and if necessary with brutal ruthlessness, all obstacles that stood in the path of the new idea. Such a task could be carried out only by men who had been trained, body and soul, in those military virtues which make a man, so to speak, agile as a greyhound, tough as leather, and hard as Krupp steel.
At that time I was still a soldier. Physically and mentally I had the polish of six years of service, so that in the beginning this circle must have looked on me as quite a stranger. In common with my army comrades, I had forgotten such phrases as: "That will not go", or "That is not possible", or "We ought not to take such a risk; it is too dangerous".
The whole undertaking was of its very nature dangerous. At that time there were many parts of Germany where it would have been absolutely impossible openly to invite people to a national meeting that dared to make a direct appeal to the masses. Those who attended such meetings were usually dispersed and driven away with broken heads. The largest so-called bourgeois mass meetings were accustomed to dissolve, and those in attendance would run away like rabbits when frightened by a dog as soon as a dozen communists appeared on the scene.
The Marxist leaders, whose business consisted in deceiving and misleading the public, naturally hated most of all a movement whose declared aim was to win over those masses which hitherto had been exclusively at the service of international Marxism in the Jewish and Stock Exchange parties. The title alone, 'German Labour party', irritated them. It could easily be foreseen that at the first opportune moment we should have to face the opposition of the Marxist despots, who were still intoxicated with their triumph in 1918.
People in the small circles of our own movement at that time showed a certain amount of anxiety at the prospect of such a conflict. They wanted to refrain as much as possible from coming out into the open, because they feared that they might be attacked and beaten. I found it difficult to defend my own position, which was that the conflict should not be evaded but that it should be faced openly and that we should be armed with those weapons which are the only protection against brute force. Terror cannot be overcome by the weapons of the mind but only by counter-terror.
Some time in October 1919 the second larger meeting took place in the EBERLBRÄU KELLER. The theme of our speeches was 'Brest-Litowsk and Versailles'. There were four speakers. I talked for almost an hour, and the success was even more striking than at our first meeting. The number of people who attended had grown to more than 130. An attempt to disturb the proceedings was immediately frustrated by my comrades. The would-be disturbers were thrown down the stairs, bearing imprints of violence on their heads.
A fortnight later another meeting took place in the same hall. The number in attendance had now increased to more than 170, which meant that the room was fairly well filled. I spoke again, and once more the success obtained was greater than at the previous meeting.
Then I proposed that a larger hall should be found. After looking around for some time we discovered one at the other end of the town, in the 'Deutschen REICH' in the Dachauer Strasse. The first meeting at this new rendezvous had a smaller attendance than the previous meeting. There were just less than 140 present. The members of the committee began to be discouraged, and those who had always been skeptical were now convinced that this falling-off in the attendance was due to the fact that we were holding the meetings at too short intervals. There were lively discussions, in which I upheld my own opinion that a city with 700,000 inhabitants ought to be able not only to stand one meeting every fortnight but ten meetings every week. I held that we should not be discouraged by one comparative setback, that the tactics we had chosen were correct, and that sooner or later success would be ours if we only continued with determined perseverance to push forward on our road. This whole winter of 1919-20 was one continual struggle to strengthen confidence in our ability to carry the movement through to success and to intensify this confidence until it became a burning faith that could move mountains.
Our next meeting in the small hall proved the truth of my contention. Our audience had increased to more than 200. The publicity effect and the financial success were splendid. I immediately urged that a further meeting should be held. It took place in less than a fortnight, and there were more than 270 people present. Two weeks later we invited our followers and their friends, for the seventh time, to attend our meeting. The same hall was scarcely large enough for the number that came. They amounted to more than four hundred.
During this phase the young movement developed its inner form. From various sides objections were made against the idea of calling the young movement a party. At that time it was very difficult to make the people understand that every movement is a party as long as it has not brought its ideals to final triumph and thus achieved its purpose. It is a party even if it give itself a thousand different names.
Any person who tries to carry into practice an original idea whose realization would be for the benefit of his fellow men will first have to look for disciples who are ready to fight for the ends he has in view. It is only hair-splitting and playing with words when these antiquated theorists, whose practical success is in reverse ratio to their wisdom, presume to think they can change the character of a movement by merely changing its name.
If somebody has fought for forty years to carry into effect what he calls an idea, and if these alleged efforts not only show no positive results but have not even been able to hinder the success of the opposing party, then the story of those forty years of futile effort furnishes sufficient proof for the incompetence of such a protagonist. Nobody of common sense would appoint to a leading post in such a movement some Teutonic Methuselah who had been ineffectively preaching some idea for a period of forty years, until himself and his idea had entered the stage of senile decay.
Furthermore, only a very small percentage of such people join a new movement with the intention of serving its end unselfishly and helping in the spread of its principles. In most cases they come because they think that, under the aegis of the new movement, it will be possible for them to promulgate their old ideas to the misfortune of their new listeners.
We had declared one of our principles thus: "We shall meet violence with violence in our own defence". Naturally that principle disturbed the equanimity of the knights of the pen. They reproached us bitterly not only for what they called our crude worship of the cudgel but also because, according to them, we had no intellectual forces on our side. These charlatans did not think for a moment that a Demosthenes could be reduced to silence at a mass-meeting by fifty idiots who had come there to shout him down and use their fists against his supporters. The innate cowardice of the pen-and-ink charlatan prevents him from exposing himself to such a danger, for he always works in safe retirement and never dares to make a noise or come forward in public.
Even to-day I must warn the members of our young movement in the strongest possible terms to guard against the danger of falling into the snare of those who call themselves 'silent workers'. These 'silent workers' are not only a white livered lot but are also, and always will be, ignorant do-nothings. A man who is aware of certain happenings and knows that a certain danger threatens, and at the same time sees a certain remedy which can be employed against it, is in duty bound not to work in silence but to come into the open and publicly fight for the destruction of the evil and the acceptance of his own remedy. If he does not do so, then he is neglecting his duty and shows that he is weak in character and that he fails to act either because of his timidity, or indolence or incompetence. To put it briefly, they are sheer swindlers, political jobbers who feel chagrined by the honest work which others are doing. In addition to all this one ought to note the arrogance and conceited impudence with which these obscurantist idlers try to tear to pieces the work of other people, criticizing it with an air of superiority, and thus playing into the hands of the mortal enemy of our people.
In the beginning of 1920 I put forward the idea of holding our first mass meeting. On this proposal there were differences of opinion amongst us. Some leading members of our party thought that the time was not ripe for such a meeting and that the result might be detrimental. The Press of the Left had begun to take notice of us and we were lucky enough in being able gradually to arouse their wrath. We had begun to appear at other meetings and to ask questions or contradict the speakers, with the natural result that we were shouted down forthwith. But still we thereby gained some of our ends. People began to know of our existence and the better they understood us, the stronger became their aversion and their enmity. Therefore we might expect that a large contingent of our friends from the Red Camp would attend our first mass meeting.
Herr Harrer was then chairman of our party. He did not see eye to eye with me as to the opportune time for our first mass meeting. Accordingly he felt himself obliged to resign from the leadership of the movement, as an upright and honest man. Herr Anton Drexler took his place. I kept the work of organizing the propaganda in my own hands and I listened to no compromise in carrying it out. We decided on February 24th 1920 as the date for the first great popular meeting to be held under the aegis of this movement which was hitherto unknown.
I made all the preparatory arrangements personally. The posters and leaflets concentrated on a few points which were repeated again and again. The text was concise and definite, an absolutely dogmatic form of expression being used. For our principal colour we chose red, as it has an exciting effect on the eye and was therefore calculated to arouse the attention of our opponents and irritate them. Thus they would have to take notice of us--whether they liked it or not--and would not forget us.
In the second volume of this book I shall give a detailed account of the guiding principles which we then followed in drawing up our programme. Here I will only say that the programme was arranged not merely to set forth the form and content of the young movement but also with an eye to making it understood among the broad masses. The so-called intellectual circles made jokes and sneered at it and then tried to criticize it. But the effect of our programme proved that the ideas which we then held were right.
I shall bring the first part of this book to a close by referring to our first great mass meeting, because that meeting marked the occasion on which our framework as a small party had to be broken up and we started to become the most powerful factor of this epoch in the influence we exercised on public opinion. At that time my chief anxiety was that we might not fill the hall and that we might have to face empty benches. I myself was firmly convinced that if only the people would come this day would turn out a great success for the young movement. That was my feeling as I waited impatiently for the hour to come.
It had been announced that the meeting would begin at 7.30. A quarter-of-an-hour before the opening time I walked through the chief hall of the Hofbräuhaus on the PLATZ in Munich and my heart was nearly bursting with joy. The great hall--for at that time it seemed very big to me--was filled to overflowing. Nearly 2,000 people were present. And, above all, those people had come whom we had always wished to reach. More than half the audience consisted of persons who seemed to be communists or independents. Our first great demonstration was destined, in their view, to come to an abrupt end.
But things happened otherwise. When the first speaker had finished I got up to speak. After a few minutes I was met with a hailstorm of interruptions and violent encounters broke out in the body of the hall. A handful of my loyal war comrades and some other followers grappled with the disturbers and restored order in a little while. I was able to continue my speech. After half an hour the applause began to drown the interruptions and the hootings. Then interruptions gradually ceased and applause took their place. When I finally came to explain the twenty-five points and laid them, point after point, before the masses gathered there and asked them to pass their own judgment on each point, one point after another was accepted with increasing enthusiasm. When the last point was reached I had before me a hall full of people united by a new conviction, a new faith and a new will.
Nearly four hours had passed when the hall began to clear. As the masses streamed towards the exits, crammed shoulder to shoulder, shoving and pushing, I knew that a movement was now set afoot among the German people which would never pass into oblivion.
A fire was enkindled from whose glowing heat the sword would be fashioned which would restore freedom to the German Siegfried and bring back life to the German nation.
Beside the revival which I then foresaw, I also felt that the Goddess of Vengeance was now getting ready to redress the treason of the 9th of November, 1918. The hall was emptied. The movement was on the march.”