Thursday, 8 November 2018

der bürgerbräu-putsch

Inspired by Benito Mussolini’s successful March on Rome of October of the previous year, on this night in 1923 Adolf Hitler, former quartermaster General Erich Ludendorff and members of the Kampfbund (a patriotic, rather revanchistic society crafted by Hitler a month prior in Nuremberg) and a sizable paramilitary detachment (Sturmabteilung) massed at the Bürgerbräukeller, a vast drinking hall in Munich where the state commissioner and ombudsman of the Weimar Republic was addressing an assembly of some three thousand.
After witnessing the rabid ferocity that the disaffected veterans could summon from the crowd, the same commissar had banned the Kampfbund from organising such assemblies by reason of public menace and in response, Hitler commandeered the platform and took the entire crowd hostage with machine guns, proclaiming a coup d’état. Having felt he won the sympathy of the captive audience, the plotters were emboldened and advanced to capture government ministries and ransom members of the city council. Their progress was thwarted by the state police and many participants were arrested on the following day. Hitler had been delivered to the countryside where he managed to allude authorities for two days until he was captured, jailed and stood trial in a broadly publicised case of sedition along with fellow co-conspirators. His subsequent prison sentence—after capitalising on media coverage of his trial—gave Hitler the forum to radicalise others to his cause and develop a strategy of propaganda as a path to power, rather than violent insurrection.