CAS Calvin College

Background: This is Chapter 7 of Philipp Bouhler’s 1938 textbook on the history of the Nazi Party, intended for use in the schools.

The source: Philipp Bouhler, Kampf um Deutschland. Ein Lesebuch für die deutsche Jugend (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP., Frz. Eher Nachf., 1939), pp. 77-92.

The Battle for Germany

Chapter 6: Munich — Nuremberg — Berlin:
The 3 Cities of the Movement

by Philipp Bouhler

I. From the Sterneckergäßchen to the Königsplatz

These words comprise the history of the development of the NSDAP in Bavaria, as well as the outline of the history of the movement throughout the Reich. Nothing else shows more clearly the amazing rise of National Socialism from a tiny, insignificant and despised movement to a movement of millions of Germans than the location of its offices.

The movement did not have an office when Adolf Hitler joined the young “German Worker’s Party.” The work was done in the homes of the board members. Hitler immediately recognized the need for a business office, and his efforts resulted in the party securing a business office on 1 January 1920. The location was a room in the Sterneckerbräu on Thal 54, with an entrance on the Sterneckergäßchen. But it was a “business office,” and for a while it met the need.

One day Hitler met his old army comrade Max Amann on the street. He had been Hitler’s superior. Just then Hitler had numerous problems in his small party. Intrigues were being formed against him. He had to spend a lot of time and energy getting the necessary decisions through, and the business affairs were not exactly in good hands. Hitler realized that Amann was the right man, and asked him to become business manager of the NSDAP. That was at the end of July 1921. Although Amann had a well-paid position with the Bayerischen Siedelungs- und Landesbank, he gave it up. His boundless industry, his business abilities and his unlimited energy soon overcame all the difficulties. He took over the Völkischer Beobachter several months later, and put it on a sound footing as well. Now Adolf Hitler knew that the business affairs were in good hands, and could put his full energies into his real tasks.

Amann thought that the small dark corner of the Sterneckergasse was not suited to attract members, and soon found a new business office in a former restaurant at Corneliusstraße 12. There was a large room at the front, later divided by a counter. The party’s business took place there. Membership dues were collected, propaganda materials distributed, information given. The membership records were later kept in a large iron safe. Julius Schreck and others ran the counter, as well as the telephone switchboard. During the winter months, the room was a shelter for unemployed party members and supporters who made a lot of noise playing cards. At times the din was so loud that one could not talk, and Christian Weber who ran the office had to come out and clear the area with his long “riding whip.”

There was a “meeting room” in the rear, in which an old billiards table served as the conference table. Later, the growing number of typists was housed here. There was another small and hidden room for the “party leadership” and business office, in which letters were dictated and visitors received. Another room was later the office of Lieutenant Brückner, leader of the Munich S.A. Göring, the S.A.’s national leader, had his office in 1923 in the editorial building of the “VB,” Schellingstraße 39/41.

After the collapse of 1923, during the “leaderless, terrible times” until Adolf Hitler left prison at the end of 1924 and into the beginning of the following year, we had no business office at all, not to mention money or office equipment, since the Bavarian government had seized the entire property of the party on 10 November 1923 and illegally held on to it. The party’s work was conducted in the offices of the “VB” on Thierschstraße by Reichsschatzmeister Schwarz and by me as business manager. The entire staff of the party leadership consisted of one secretary.

We began looking for suitable space, but could find nothing. Rescue finally came through Party Comrade Heinrich Hoffmann. He had a photographic studio on the second floor in a back courtyard at Schellingstraße 50. A bankrupt film company had subleased several rooms. They had to move out, and we moved in.

The biggest room, filled with old red furniture, was the Führer’s office. Rudolf Heß, the Führer’s private secretary, sat in a small adjoining room. I had another nearby room, and Reichsschatzmeister Schwartz — he was still called the treasurer — shared an office with a bookkeeper at the end of a long hallway.

We were all very proud of our business office, which we had to expand step by step. Rebuilding the movement required enormous effort and a growing staff. Within a few months, the space was no longer adequate.

The first step was to take over a bankrupt gold workshop on the ground floor. This became the reception room, and a large safe kept the membership records secure. We made an office for the Reichsschatzmeister out of the washroom.

When the S.A. leadership was centralized, the attic was transformed into another story. Now we had a hall of honor for those who fell on 9 November, with pictures of the movement and the flags of the Munich S.A. The problem was that the glass roof was in poor shape, and water came through when it rained.

More than that, the building was in bad condition, anything but respectable. One passed through a dark gate to a dirty courtyard before finally reaching our business office. We were nonetheless happy to have it, and the more money we spent to make our quarters clean and livable, the less we could think about giving them up.

The Führer joked to Hoffmann: “It will not be long before we, like the coo coo, take over the nest and throw you out of your studio.”

That is exactly what happened. After we had taken over a wine shop and the last three rooms on the ground floor, we needed room for the Organisationsabteilung II in 1929. There was no choice but to persuade Hoffman to seek other quarters.

Now we had done everything we could at Schellingstraße 50. We thought about securing the building behind us, but that did not work out. We had to look elsewhere, for the steadily growing membership of the party and its expanding activities required new staff.

We inspected various buildings and the Führer considered buying a large office building, but finally we found an entirely different solution.

We learned by accident that in summer 1930 that the “Barlow Palace” on Brienner Street was for sale. We looked it over and were enthused. We had no money, but we bought the building for 1 1/2 million Reichsmarks. We immediately appealed to the entire party membership for contributions, and we did it. In the following January, we moved into the renovated building. There were certainly critics even within the party who wondered what the party would do with such a large and costly building! A palace! A workers’ party in a palace!

The Führer put an end to the discussion and renamed the Barlow Palace the “Brown House.” It quickly became known throughout the world as a symbol for the Führer and his movement.

Events proved that no better solution to a headquarters for the NSDAP could have been found. Indeed, it soon was clear that the “Brown House” was still too small for the growing activities of the Reichsleitung. We needed the neighboring building for the S.A. headquarters, and the Hotel “Der Reichsadler” was taken over by the Reichsorganisationsleitung. Finally, however, the Führer and his staff had a worthy place that was appropriate for the size and significance of the movement.

The Bavarian People’s Party Stützel, the Interior Minister, and his Munich Police Chief were outraged. They looked for any possible reason to proceed against the National Socialists. One search followed another, but all was in vain. The Führer was much too intelligent to tolerate any illegal action by members of the movement or to endanger by a careless word the final success he was sure of sooner or later.

Since searches failed, they tried other means. One day two hundred police armed with pistols and machine guns rolled up in trucks, surrounded the Brienner Street, and moved in on the street and grounds. An army of criminal police followed them and searched from top to bottom to find something incriminating. They occupied our quarters for two days and nights. The Brown House resembled an army camp. Police stood at every entrance and the telephone was watched. But the assault failed. Finally the intruders had to give up.

The movement’s advance could no longer be halted. After the victory of 30 January, the Bavarian government had to give way on 7 March 1933. Finally Adolf Hitler had a free hand, as did the NSDAP headquarters. Together with the brilliant architect Professor Ludwig Troost, who unfortunately died before the work was completed, he developed two large buildings, the “Führerbau” and the “Administration Building,” which now crown the Königsplatz and are the center of the National Socialist movement.

Through these buildings and by giving the proud name “Capital of the Movement” to Munich, Hitler has laid out his will:

Munich will forever be the headquarters of the NSDAP.

II. The City of the Reich Party Rallies

In the years after the war one could see a man in Northern Bavaria going from place to place, his rucksack filled with anti-Semitic pamphlets. He never tired of meetings in which he told the Franconians about the danger the Jews are to the world. In tough, constant work the teacher Julius Streicher built a following ready to stand by him through thick and thin. They did not desert him when at the end of 1922 he left the German Socialist Party and joined Adolf Hitler’s NSDAP.

The later Frankenführer was one of the first proclaimers of National Socialism in Franconia. He naturally had as his goal conquering red Nuremberg and turning it into a National Socialist fortress and a center of anti-Semitism. It took hard and bitter struggle, but he succeeded. Nuremberg was soon second only to Munich not only in numbers, but in enthusiasm for the cause. Here more than anywhere else, the Führer could be sure of halls filled to capacity and a public that gave stormy expression to its loving and confident faith in the Führer.

As late as 1922 the Marxists were able to break up the “Artillery Day” with iron bars. But on 1 September of the following year, the impressive German Day was held on the Deutschherrenwiese, to which the German Fighting League owes its origin.

This made it easy for the Führer to decide in spring 1927 to hold the NSDAP’s 3rd Reich Party Rally (the second since its restoration) in the walls of the lovely old Reich city.

Today the Reich Party Rally of the movement is not only a matter of our traditions and styles, but above all a symbol of the unity of the nation. It embodies the Medieval concept of the Reichstag in all its power and glory in a rejuvenated, new and broader form. It also provides the Führer — just as does the Reichstag in Berlin — with a forum in which he can handle political matters of concern to the entire world. Only a part of the larger formations, only a fraction of those whose hearts beat with the millions, can experience the revelations of these days each year. Formerly the party rally was a display to National Socialists as well as to its enemies and those who were indifferent of the powerful and unstoppable growth of the movement. The members received new strength for the coming struggles, the others saw the world’s lies about the presumed decline of the NSDAP shattered.

The Führer consecrated the first four S.A. banners on 28 January 1923 on Munich’s Marsfeld. The young movement was filled with warm courage and a desire for action, wanting to solve the German question by strength. It did not know that a bitter day in November would shatter all its hopes and plans.

Three and a half years later, Adolf Hitler chose the German National Theater in Weimar as the locale for the congress and for the consecration of the banners of National Socialism. Where once the Weimar coalition baptized the ungerman System state [the Weimar Republic], the Führer gave the blood-sanctified flag of 9 November to the loyal hands of his SS. The Weimar Party Rally broke the bonds that had restrained the party since its reestablishment. New courage filled National Socialist hearts, and once more the hope grew strong that the Reich would someday be theirs.

The Reich Party Rally of 1927 in Nuremberg was of a size corresponding to the growth of the party. It was the greatest proclamation of freedom in Germany since the unforgettable days of August 1914. Mass meetings and 13 special sessions on aspects of National Socialist policy and organization were held at various places in the festively decorated city. The large delegates’ conference took place in the main hall of the Kulturvereinshaus. The Luitpoldhain Arena was the ideal place for the S.A. march and the consecration of the banners, even if the masses who came by trucks and trains and on foot and bicycle were not sufficient to fill the arena.

The big event for Nuremberg, however, was the S.A. procession. The population cheered as they marched through the streets to the Hauptmarkt, the present Adolf Hitler Square, where the Führer stood in his car as his followers marched past.

Adolf Hitler personally supervised the preparations, repeatedly traveling to Nuremberg with his aides to work out every detail. Arrivals and departures, housing and provisions, street closings and security, the routes of the masses required the most careful and through preparation if everything was to work out. The movement had to make every effort to ensure that it worked.

The success of the party rally, the attractiveness of the ancient Reich city, and the appropriateness of the area led the Führer to chose Nuremberg for the next party rally, which was to occur from 1-4 August 1929.

The various locations were now determined, but everything was larger and more impressive than before. Over 100,000 people came in 170 special trains and countless trucks to Nuremberg, whose streets carried the stamp of National Socialism.

The party rallies of the period of struggle never could be given full attention. That became clear to the movement and the nation after the victorious National Socialist revolution. Now the Führer had the necessary freedom of action to conduct the Reich Party Rally as his will and spirit wished. The first efforts went into expanding the Luitpoldhain area to the extent necessary for the new conditions. One could also soon see the Führer’s gigantic building projects, with which names like Speer and Ruoff will be associated for all times.

The Führer determined that Nuremberg would forever be the “City of the Reich Party Rallies.” The world reputation of the city, already famous in the Middle Ages, has been restored. Then Albrecht Dürer produced masterpieces of art, Peter Bischer created the noblest sculptures of stone and bronze, and Hans Sachs raised popular literature to the highest level. Outstanding craftsmen in every field were at work and commerce flourished. Nuremberg was a center of German cultural life.

It is no accident that the Reich Party Rally begins each year with a performance of the “Meistersinger.” What could be better than this immortal masterpiece of Richard Wagner? It recalls the magic of old Nuremberg, and points resoundingly and powerfully to the heroic struggle of Adolf Hitler for the German people.

Outside the old walls and towers that testify to a great past, yet bound to them by a thousand ties, a new Nuremberg is growing according to the Führer’s will. His genius is calling forth enormous buildings, the temples of our faith, our desire, our deeds. They give eternal expression in marble to the National Socialist spirit.

Nuremberg is a concept for us today. The old yet simultaneously young city is a bridge from the time-honored past to the proud present and the glorious future. It is a precious shrine that holds old and newly forged traditions. Its monuments and the annual events tied to its name are manifestations of the new political and cultural style.

III. The Battle for Berlin

Berlin may not be ignored when considering the three cities that have been particularly important in the movement’s history.

Berlin! Capital of the Reich and seat of the Reich government, metropolis, world city, Berlin—an endless sea of buildings with a population larger than that of Switzerland! Berlin at last, the city where during the struggle for power everything came together, where the tread of the proletarian masses was louder and more confident, where the Jew in full confidence of his power was more obvious and insolent than anywhere else.

As the National Socialist movement began to recover after the collapse of 9 November and slowly spread to northern Germany, including Berlin, the conditions were highly unfavorable.

During Adolf Hitler’s imprisonment, internal and personal problems split the völkisch movement, with results that lasted into the party’s re-establishment. The problems were even more evident in an enormous city like Berlin. The asphalt wilderness with its largely proletarian population was fertile ground for political fringe groups of every kind. The result was that the Berlin local group of the NSDAP, despite hard work, was going nowhere, and was a real concern for Munich. It was in the same state as the German Workers’ Party was before Adolf Hitler arrived to give meaning and purpose to its struggle. Berlin too lacked a personality of stature sufficient to win the masses of the working class for National Socialism through the power of his words, to deal with the leaders of other parties, to battle the intellectual currents of the System Era and combat the brutal terror of the political underworld, all the while raising high the Swastika banner in this city of millions.

The party leadership waited for a time, hoping that a leader would grow out of Berlin itself. Only after various attempts had proved unsuccessful did the Führer decide in fall 1926 to entrust Dr. Goebbels with the conquest of Berlin, giving him special authority. Dr. Goebbels has already proved himself as Gauleiter of the Rhineland to be a passionate and exciting speaker to workers in the Ruhr area. Events would show whether or not he was the right man for Gauleiter of the Reich capital. On 30 October 1936, the Führer spoke these moving words of thanks to Dr. Goebbels at the ten year anniversary of the Gau: “Your name symbolizes this ten-year battle for Berlin! It will never fade from German history, from the history of the National Socialist movement, and never from the history of this city.”

In truth, the history of the NSDAP in Berlin begins with the day Dr. Goebbels assumed its leadership. He had to undertake major changes to strengthen the organization, including expelling expelling a large clique of quarreling members. The party headquarters were then in a back courtyard on Potsdamer Street named the “opium den.” This was quickly replaced by clean, dignified offices on Lützow Street, and later on Hedemann Street. He began an organized campaign of propaganda and meetings that gradually spread from Spandau to the entire city.

It is obvious that the Berlin NSDAP needed its own “Hofbräuhaus battle” to prove to its opponents that it could stand up against the bloody deeds of the Reds. On 11 February 1927, Dr. Goebbels spoke in the Pharus Hall, the favorite meeting hall of the Communists in the red Wedding district. “The government is near its end. A new Germany must be forged! White collar workers and blue, the fate of the German people is in your hands.” Those were the words on the big red posters on all the poster pillars.

The Marxist parties saw the meeting as a declaration of war, and they were right. The NSDAP was about to invade their strongest districts. As Dr. Goebbels entered the hall, it has been closed for an hour by the police and was two-thirds filled with Red fighters. A Red rabble-rouser making provocative remarks in the hall was hauled out of the mob of his fellow believers by several SS men and brought to the stage. That was the sign for the Red mob to attack. What happened next was identical to what had happened more than five years earlier as the first Storm Troop unit earned its fame. Here too a tiny minority of fanatic National Socialists began what seemed a hopeless battle against a brutal Red force that shrank at nothing. They won in the end, enabling the further growth of the movement.

The elements that characterized the National Socialist battle throughout the Reich are evident in concentrated form in the struggle for Berlin. There were governmental problems and difficulties of every variety, periodic speaking bans for the Gauleiter, bans of the S.A. and the whole party, tiring trials, searches, arrests, prison, meeting hall battles, and everywhere murder...

The whole battle transpired during the glorious era of Vice President of Police Isidor Weiss, whose real name was Bernhard instead of Isidor. However, his origins and his nose fully justified the mocking name that Berlin jokesters gave him.

The periods when the party was banned posed major challenges to the party membership. The party maintained a shaky existence under the cover of organizations like savings societies, bowling clubs and swimming clubs. Missing propaganda activities were replaced to some extent by founding the newspaper “Der Angriff.” The diehard slogan “Though banned, we’re not dead” helped the party survive the crisis, which in the end threatened to dishearten even the most devoted members.

Happier times now came, times that justified the heaviest sacrifices. The inroads into the ranks of the Marxists could no longer be stopped. On an election night, the Führer could stand nervously in Munich as the “Doctor” reported to him the number of National Socialist votes from working class districts, numbers that exceeded his expectations.

None of the occasional and inevitable setbacks that sometimes threatened the Berlin NSDAP and even the unity of the entire movement could stop Adolf Hitler. The public defection of Dr. Otto Strasser, who had always been a troublemaker, the S.A. mutiny led by Stennes, the betrayal by Gregor Strasser — all these passed like ghosts.

Much blood was shed in the battle for Berlin. Many a promising Berliner had to give his young life for the struggle, the struggle for Germany. One cannot recall these sacrifices without remembering the immortal one murdered on 23 February 1930. Berlin was where the young student Horst Wessel built a unit of young lads who until then had proudly called themselves proletarians, but now were filled with the fighting spirit that came from National Socialist ideals. And the confidence in coming victory led to the song that made his name immortal.

”Raise high the flag, close the ranks...” That is not only a portrait of the march of the Berlin S.A. through the streets in the east and north of the city. It is a command, an order, an appeal to the conscience of the comrades not to waver or weaken until Hitler’s flag wave over every street. Horst Wessel embodies the young leaders of a new age and his name has become a symbol for the unknown S.A. man.

The Führer spoke often in Berlin, in Clou and the Sport Hall. But only in the decisive year 1932 did he become a regular guest in the Reich capital, staying in the Hotel Kaiserhof. The negotiations for taking over the government took place in Berlin, as did the last political and diplomatic struggles. The last barriers had to be eliminated here until the way was free for the most capable in Germany. Today Berlin has the good fortune to have Adolf Hitler as Führer and Chancellor of the German people in its midst, and to take a greater role than any other city in Germany in his struggle, his work, his plans and concerns.

The transformation of Berlin has begun. This enormous city’s random growth will be tamed by the Führer’s plans. Within a few years, the stony wilderness will have a new face, characterized by great avenues, impressive squares and noble buildings. These too are symbols of those enormous tasks facing Adolf Hitler and the German people: the building of a National Socialist German Reich.


[Page copyright © 1998 by Randall L. Bytwerk. No unauthorized reproduction. My e-mail address is on the FAQ page.]

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