The locksmith Anton Drexler founded the German Workers’ Party on January 5, 1919 in Munich. The group was anti-Semitic and folkish from the beginning. Nine months later, Hitler joined.
Hartnäckigkeit is a virtue – or it may be at least. The approximately two dozen men who gathered at the Gasthaus Fürstenfelder Hof on January 5, 1919, on the outskirts of Munich’s city center had followed the persistently repeated wish of a colleague.
Anton Drexler suffered since August 1914 under that he had been rejected because of his sickly constitution as a war volunteer. Instead of fighting at the front, he worked as a toolmaker of the local railroad repair shop – no doubt important, but in his opinion not as honorable as serving in the army.
Drexler compensated his disappointment with political ambition: he wanted to bring about a national alternative to the internationalist proletarian movement, to overcome the class struggle in Germany with her and thus to reconcile the working class with the bourgeoisie. He wanted to start his own party in early 1919, the German Workers’ Party (DAP). Its core should be its acquaintances from the railway.
It was already Drexler’s third attempt to become politically active. He had started the first one barely a year earlier, on March 7, 1918. Inspired by the hope of an offensive on the Western Front, he had formed the “Free Workers’ Committee for a Good Peace,” as the Upper Bavarian branch of a similar group in Bremen. His aim was to strengthen the “will to win of the Bavarians, especially the working class, to lift the confidence to the final victory by lectures and meetings and to combat the inhibitions of perseverance such as the usury of war.”
In addition to the demand for a “good” peace, that is to say, the burden of war, from the beginning Jew-hatred belonged to Drexler’s message . For “usury” he felt as “typically mosaic”, even if the war profiteers in Munich were far more Christian than Jewish.
The success of its first founding was manageable: the “Free Workers Committee” initially had barely 40 members in Munich. For Drexler, this could only have one reason: “Again a proof of the mistrust and the poisoning effect of party literature and thus the apolitical mind of the Munich working class.”
He had cultivated his enemy pictures for about a decade and a half – since he had become “unemployed through Marxist-union terror” and had to earn his living by playing nocturnal zithers in cafés for some time: “Through my experiences I was a radical anti-Semite and Become a Marxist opponent. “
Given the low response, it took seven months before Drexler’s start-up was publicly active. In the Wagnersaal, a beer bar in Munich’s old town, the first event of the “Freie Arbeiterausschuss” took place on 2 October 1918 . Drexler had won the chairman of the Bremen role model as a guest speaker, but first tried to address as many of the visitors as possible in his greeting: “From the political homeless, who have formed to hundreds of thousands of civil servants, petty bourgeois and workers from dissatisfaction with their old parties, a new national civic association is to emerge. “
But Drexler did not penetrate, which was certainly due to his very limited rhetorical ability. Instead of enthusiastic approval, there were heavy riots in the audience; the reactions in the Munich press were also mixed. Anton Drexler’s first attempt to found a political organization had failed.
After the event, he was approached by a war-damaged man of almost 30, the sports journalist Karl Harrer. He belonged to a covenant of extremely nationalistic Munich citizens, who called himself Thule Society. Harrer’s task was to form a “workers’ ring”.
He had followed the assembly in the Wagnersaal and was “entirely in my political view,” recalled Drexler in a CV in 1935: “I should sit down with my people of the workers ‘committee to form a political workers’ circle, which has the task, causes and effects of the world war to investigate the revolution in Russia and Germany and to seek ways out of this terrible collapse. “
Harrer and Drexler soon came to an agreement, because to Jews as to “Marxism” they had similar views. Thus, in November 1918, they founded a group that could only be met by personal invitation – Drexler’s second attempt to create a political organization.
Following the example of the Thule Society , this circle was supposed to meet behind closed doors; Chairman was Harrer, who procured the necessary money, Drexler his deputy. From the beginning of December 1918 there was a weekly lecture by the chairman, always in back rooms simple inns. The audience was extremely limited: More than three to six listeners never came to the polls. Topics included “the newspaper as a means of politics” or “Who is the culprit of the World War?” As well as “Germany’s biggest enemy – the Jew”.
But Harrer was rhetorically even less talented than Drexler and read his statements mostly. The second political initiative of the ambitious toolmaker was also bound to fail. “One week before Christmas 1918, at a meeting in the county, I explained that there was no point in consulting such a small group on saving Germany,” Drexler recalled.
“Some should not indulge in abundance”
“We need a new party, namely a German Socialist Workers Party, which is Jew-pure.” For him, the term “socialism” sounded positive; on the home front he had won the conviction: ” Some should not indulge in abundance, while the others are starving. “
But he could not win Harrer and his backers from the Thule Society. Their almost exclusively bourgeois, sometimes extremely rich members vehemently rejected any form of socialism – after all, they held their meetings in the elegant Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten on Munich’s Maximilianstrasse .
Harrer turned against the name proposed by Drexler and insisted that the new group should be called the German Workers’ Party. Since only the Thule Society could provide the necessary funds, Drexler had no choice.
After all, he could, who was equal to the head of the single Ortsgruppen determine to enforce the first meeting on January 5, 1919 handwritten “guidelines of the German Workers Party”, according to which a main objective of the group was “trained and resident workers” from the proletariat to liberate and put on a level with citizens.
The new man had rhetorical talent
At the same time he attacked the “big capital” and called for a “socialization”. Given such phrasing, it was not surprising that these “guidelines” were never printed. For that Drexler would have needed the money of the Thule Society.
Only about nine months later, a soldier, a private , fell into the orbit of the DAP. Because this 30-year-old, however, unlike Drexler and Harrer, had an almost terrifying rhetorical talent and instinctively fulfilled the expectations of his audience, he quickly became the strongman of the DAP. His name was Adolf Hitler.