The Adolf Hitler Trial before the People's Court in Munich Judgment/Basis for Indictment
|The Adolf Hitler Trial before the People's Court in Munich Judgment by [[Author:Bavarian People's Court in Munich| ]]
Basis for Indictment
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BASIS FOR INDICTMENT
On November 8 of the previous year, in the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich, a meeting of members of patriotic bands, working men of all classes, and specially invited guests allegedly took place. Generalstaatskommissar von Kahr had announced he would give a prepared speech. The assembly was to begin at 7:30 p.m. Before the appointed hour, however, the hall was so full that police had to bar entry for safety reasons. Many people were turned away at the door.
Shortly after 8:00 p.m., Kahr appeared in the hall, accompanied by General Lossow and Colonel Seisser. Von Kahr mounted the podium upon which Kommerzienrat Zentz had installed himself as moderator. Von Lossow and Seisser found seats close to the stage. Zentz opened the meeting with a few words of introduction; then Kahr began to speak.
At about 8:45 p.m. he was interrupted. A disturbance was originating from the entrance to the hall. Hitler spearheaded a group of armed men and stormed his way through the crowd and onto the stage. His accomplices carried revolvers and machine guns; Hitler himself clutched a small pistol. Simultaneously, members of Hitler's shock troops seized the entrance. These men had rifles, pistols, and machine guns which they trained on the audience. In the middle of the entrance, they set up a machine gun nest and aimed it at the crowd.
The security force guarding the main entrance to the Bürgerbräukeller were forcibly removed and armed men occupied the other entry, the Rosenheimerstrasse, and the side exits into the beer garden, and they manned the windows from outside. Inside the hall guards were posted at telephones, and no one was allowed to use them other than Hitler's troops. Hitler climbed on a chair by the stage and shouted for silence. To lend emphasis to his command, he fired a shot to the ceiling. Thereupon, he jumped off the chair. When Major Hunglinger stepped in his way, Hitler held the gun at Hunglinger's chest until a bystander pushed his arm away. Hitler then jumped on the stage and shouted roughly the following:
"The national revolution has begun. The hall has been occupied by 600 men, heavily armed. No one may leave. If there isn't order immediately, I'll train a machine gun on the gallery.
"The Bavarian government is deposed. The government is out. A provisional German national government is being formed. The Reichswehr and Landespolizei barracks have been occupied, and these men are advancing under the banner of the swastika."
Hitler then demanded that Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser leave the auditorium to confer with him. The men acquiesced and, guarded by heavily armed men, accompanied Hitler into a small room across from the coatroom. Before the door stood numerous followers of Hitler, also armed.
In the back room, then, were Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser, as well as Hitler himself and three armed followers of Hitler. Major Hunglinger also succeeded in easing his way into the room, but Lossow's guards were prevented from entering. When the leaders were in place, Hitler ordered, "No one leaves this room alive without my permission!"
He then turned to Kahr and said, approximately, "The Reich government has been formed; the Bavarian government has been abolished. Bavaria is the springboard for the Reich government. We must have officers. Pöhner will be president with the full power of a dictator, and you will be governor. I will lead the Reich government; Ludendorff, the national army; and Seisser, the police." When Hitler discovered Major Hunglinger, he ordered him from the room. Hunglinger obeyed at the request of Seisser.
Then Hitler, waving his pistol wildly, continued, "I know this comes as a shock to you, but someone must take the first step and someone must make it easy for you to take that step. Everyone must accept the lot he has been assigned. If you do not, you forfeit your right to live. You'll have to struggle with me and suceed with me, or die with me if this thing goes wrong. I have four bullets in my pistol--three for my compatriots and the last one for me."
At that, he pointed the gun at his temple. Thereupon, Kahr said to Hitler, "You can hold me against my will, you can have me shot, you can even shoot me yourself. To die or not to die is not important." Hitler then turned to Seisser, who reproached him for not keeping his promise that there would be no putsch. Hitler replied, "I did; but forgive me, for the sake of the Fatherland." When asked by Lossow, "What is Ludendorff's position?", Hitler answered, " Ludendorff is ready and will be here presently."
The whole scene may have lasted ten minutes. All during this time, the behavior of Hitler and his accomplices left no doubt that they were prepared to back up their demands with force if necessary. Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser were prevented from speaking with one another. At no time did Hitler receive any encouragement or assent from these gentlemen. As Hitler exited from the room, Dr. Weber entered. All but one of the armed guards had left the room. Dr. Weber led Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser to believe that they could speak freely to one another. At Seisser's request, Major Hunglinger was also called back into the room.
Meanwhile, Hitler was giving a second address in which he stated, among other things, "The Knilling cabinet has been dissolved. A Bavarian cabinet will be formed around a governor and a president with full powers of a dictator. I propose Herr Kahr as governor, and Herr Pöhner as president. I hereby declare the government of the November criminals in Berlin dissolved; Ebert is hereby deposed. A new German national government is born today in Bavaria, here in Munich. We will form a German national army at once. I therefore propose that until the final reckoning with the criminals in Berlin -- the criminals that are destroying Germany -- I will assume the leadership of the provisional German national government. His Excellency Ludendorff will head the German national army; General Lossow will become Minister of the Reichswehr; and Colonel Seisser will be Minister of the Reich police. The task of our provisional German national government is to march on that sinful Babylon, Berlin, and with the massed strength of this land and every German to save our people.
"I ask you now: Outside are three men -- Kahr, Lossow and Seisser. It was a bitter pill for them to swallow. Are you in accord with this solution to the German problem? You can see what leads us. It isn't selfishness. It isn't vanity. It is the eleventh-hour struggle for our own German Fatherland that we desire. We want to build that kind of united state where the common man receives what is rightfully his.
"Be still! The hall is sealed off by the German Kampfbund. Morning will find either a new German national government -- or our dead bodies."
Hitler returned to the small room and spoke of how his second speech in the hall had created such jubilation. He continued to apply pressure to Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser. Suddenly, the military command "Attention!" was heard, as well as cries of greeting. Ludendorff entered the room in civilian clothes. Herr Scheubner-Richter and two others had picked him up and, on the drive to the Bürgerbräukeller, had informed him of the present state of affairs. He was greeted at the door to the back room by Hitler, who confirmed what Scheubner-Richter had told him. Ludendorff then stepped up to Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser and said, without asking or answering questions, "Gentlemen, I am just as surprised as you; but the step has been taken. This concerns the Fatherland, our great nation, our great people. I can only say: 'Come with us, do the same!'"
The atmosphere in the back room changed completely when Ludendorff appeared on the scene. The pistols disappeared and, from this point on, threats were replaced by coaxing. Yet Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser were not permitted to speak with one another. Shortly after Ludendorff, Pöhner entered. An urgent discussion began now among Hitler, Ludendorff, and Dr. Weber. Again and again Hitler would shout that there was "no turning back now." Finally, Lossow and Seisser gave their assent and a while later Kahr declared, "I am prepared to assume leadership of the Bavarian government as the King's Deputy." Hitler urged him to repeat this before the crowd. At first, Kahr resisted, but he finally gave in to Hitler's insistent admonitions.
Hitler then returned to the main hall with Kahr, Lossow, Seisser, Ludendorff, and Pöhner. There he proclaimed the formation of a new government and the willingness of these men to take their appointed offices. Hitler then went on, "Today we need not express our gratitude to His Excellency Kahr, because at this moment his name is etched in the history of the German people. President Pöhner has assured me of his readiness to take over the state government with His Excellency Kahr. I hereby announce the creation of the provisional German national government and that the leader and commander of the German national army will be His Excellency Ludendorff. And so, we have removed the mark of Cain from the brow of the German soldier. Furthermore, as Minister of German armed forces, General Lossow will organize the army -- the army that will rid this land of those criminals who discredited us five years ago and had us slaughtered.
"As minister of Reich police, Colonel Seisser will coordinate actions to purge Germany of those elements which have brought about our present misfortune, and in the coming weeks and months I will fulfill the vow I made five years ago as I lay in a field hospital, a blind cripple: Not to seek peace or comfort until the criminals of November, 1918, have been destroyed; until a Germany of power and greatness, freedom and majesty, is resurrected from the ruins of today's misery. Amen. Long live the Bavarian government of Kahr and Pöhner! Long live the new German national government!"
General Ludendorff declared, "Seized and overcome by the greatness of the moment, I hereby place myself at the disposal of the new German national government. I shall strive to restore the black-white-red badge of old to its rightful place of honor, from which the revolution has taken it. Everything depends on us today. For a German man, there can be no hesitation at this hour, no obstacle to full devotion not only with his mind, but full devotion to our task with all his German heart. This hour marks a turning point in our history. Let us go forth in earnest, convinced of the awful weight of our undertaking, certain and aware of our grave responsibility. Let us go with the common man to our task. If we are pure of heart -- men of Germany, I do not doubt it -- surely God's blessing, which we beseech in this hour, will be with us. I am absolutely convinced and do not doubt it: The Lord in Heaven will be with us when He sees that finally there are real German men again."
Pöhner said, "Of course, I will not evade the call of duty to my Fatherland. I will faithfully assist Herr Kahr in the serious task he has before him. We have always worked together. His Excellency may rely on me."
Kahr declared, "In the Fatherland's darkest hour, I will head the Bavarian government as the deputy of the monarchy which was destroyed iniquitously five years ago. I do this with a heavy heart and, I hope, for the good of our beloved Bavaria and our great German Fatherland."
Lossow said, "I hope that the task of organizing an army -- a task equal to the others established here -- will be successful and that this army will carry our flag everywhere proudly."
Seisser added, "I will attempt to accomplish the task allotted to me; that is, to create a state police -- for the whole Reich -- which is prepared at all times to preserve domestic peace under the black, white, and red flag." At that, the meeting was adjourned.
Meanwhile, heavily armed men had marched on the scene and had taken up positions in front of the Bürgerbräukeller.
Kahr, Lossow, Seisser, Hitler, Ludendorff, and Pöhner returned to the back room. Here a number of leading personalities of the Kampfbund arrived presently. Hitler again asked for forgiveness for his behavior, adding that the dire need of the Fatherland made the step necessary. Kahr inquired after the safety of the arrested cabinet ministers and was informed that they were well taken care of and that their families had been notified. Pöhner informed Kahr that he intended to entrust the leadership of the police to Frick. He also wanted to discuss with Kahr the composition of the list of ministers. Ludendorff spoke with Lossow and Seisser about the next military moves which he thought necessary -- communication with Reichswehr troops, formation of a national army, break-up of the Vaterländische Verbände and their absorption into the Reichswehr, and protection against General Seeckt. In the meantime, Ludendorff discussed various statements for the press with a Captain Weiss who served as Hitler's press secretary. Finally, Ludendorff and General Aechter spoke with Lossow about events in the Pioneer barracks, where an Oberland battalion was held by the Reichswehr. Ludendorff and Aechter were excited by this news.
Even while the first incidents in the back room were played out, President Knilling, Ministers of State Gürtner, Schweyer, and Wultzlhofer, Chief of Police Mantel, Counsel Bernreuther, and Count Soden were led from the hall and detained by armed guards in a room on an upper story of the Bürgerbräukeller. These men were later brought under cover to the villa of a publisher Lehmann on Holzkirchenerstrasse and remained there until they were freed the following evening.
Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser only pretended to agree to Hitler's demands in order to regain their freedom of movement. As soon as they were able -- at approximately 10:30 a.m. -- they left the Bürgerbräukeller, and straightaway laid plans for suppression of the putsch. On November 6, they had called the leaders of the Vaterländische Verbände, particularly the Kampfbund, to the Generalstaatskommissariat, and had most emphatically warned against putsches of any kind. At the same time, they disclosed that violent undertakings would be met with armed intervention.
Moreover, the Generalstaatskommissariat had inside information that the Kampfbund was preparing an action. Among other things, they had learned of a conversation of leaders of the Bavarian National Socialist Storm Troopers in Munich on October 23. In this conversation it was disclosed that the forceful establishment of a Hitler-Ludendorff dictatorship in Bavaria was in the offing and that an armed offensive would proceed from Bavaria against Berlin. In this connection the names of Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser were brought up. Additionally, the Generalstaatskommissariat had found, prior to November 6, a leaflet with the forged signature of General Lossow. The leaflet contained a bogus call on the Reichswehr by Lossow to begin the march on Berlin. Participating in the conversation of November 6 at the Generalstaatskommissariat were Lieutenant Colonel Kriebel, Dr. Weber, and General Aechter, all from the Kampfbund. In connection with the meeting, Kriebel composed and sent the following letter, dated November 7:
- Deutscher Kampfbund
- Bavarian District
- The Military Commander
- Correspondence No. 332
- TO: Bund Bayern und Reich
- Ehrhardt's Wikingbund
- The Reichsflagge
- Jäger's Battalion
- Lieutenant Colonel Willmer
- The conversation of November 6 with the Generalstaatskommissar has shown that he is banking on the disunity of our members. The Generalstaatskommissar has expressed quite clearly and unambiguously through the Landeskommandant and Colonel Seisser that he is determined to use force against any group that attempts to bring about a violent change. As military commander of Kampfbund Bayern, I insist that differences of opinion-even if they are so serious that they render a concerted effort of individual groups impossible -- cannot prevent me and the combined military might of the Kampfbund from casting our lot with any group that meets the force of the Reichswehr and Landespolizei with force.
- Signed, Kriebel.
On November 7, Landeskommandant General Lossow gathered in Munich the military and civilian leaders of the area in order to make them aware of the gravity of the situation. On the morning of November 8, Colonel Seisser, Chief of the Landespolizeiamt, called together the chiefs of the Bavarian Landespolizei commanded for the same purpose. Lossow and Seisser advised their subordinates that there was a very real possibility that Hitler would attempt to lead a putsch. They directed that a putsch of any kind be suppressed with force of arms, if necessary. The action on the evening of November 8 originated in the Kampfbund. Since September 1, 1923, decisive leadership had been supplied by Hitler and his National Socialist Party. Hitler and Lieutenant Colonel Kriebel formed the high command of the Kampfbund. Dr. Scheubner-Richter was managing director. The Kampfbund was composed of the National Socialist Storm Troopers, under Hitler and Captain Göring; Bund Oberland, under Dr. Weber and General Aechter; and Reichskriegsflagge under Captains Röhm and Sendel. Ludendorff had long since approached Hitler and the Kampfbund. He was now closely connected with Hitler. Since early 1923, Brückner had been in charge of the Munich Regiment of the Nazis, which comprised three battalions. Besides this regiment, the Munich Nazi Party had special Hitler Shock Troops composed of highly trained Party members under the charge of Lieutenant Berchtold. Nazi Storm Troopers were also found outside Munich. The leader of all of the Storm Troopers was Captain Göring.
On the afternoon of November 6, after the session at the Generalstaatskommissariat, and during the course of November 7, secret meetings were held among various leading members of the Kampfbund. Final plans for an armed action were formulated at these meetings. Two plans were considered.
The first plan was Hitler's and was actually carried out on November 8. The second plan ran as follows. On the night of November 11, a large night exercise would be planned for the Kampfbund. On the following morning, the Kampfbund would march into Munich and topple the government, thus allowing Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser to take over their new duties with the force of the consolidated Kampfbund to back them up. But Hitler's plan was finally chosen. Participating in the decisive discussions were Göring, Scheubner-Richter, Kriebel, Dr. Weber, Hitler, and Röhm. They then set about alerting members of the organizations belonging to the Kampfbund and making preparations for the action on November 8. The high command was headquartered at the Rheinischerhof. The leaders were Hitler and Kriebel. Again, on November 7, a meeting took place among military leaders of the Kampfbund at which details of the action were worked out.
On November 6, Brückner, as leader of the Munich Regiment of the Nazis, issued an order in which he directed, "On Thursday, November 8, at 8:00 p.m., a tactical instruction for all officers will take place. Attendance is absolutely mandatory. After the exercise, a meeting of leaders will be held. The battalions will stand at battle alert on Thursday, November 8, at 6:00 p.m., at their headquarters for possible action. More orders will be issued tomorrow."
Reichskriegsflagge was holding a private party at the Löwenbräukeller on Thursday, November 8, at 8:00 p.m. The teams not needed for Thursday could attend the party and would be determined by the Regiment.
On November 7, Brückner issued another regimental command. It reads, "The exercise for officers of the Regiment scheduled for Thursday evening at 8:00 has been cancelled due to the general alert. The battalions will receive further instructions for Thursday evening on Thursday afternoon between 3:00 and 4:00. Required dress for the Thursday alert is uniform, cap, and sidearm." At the latest, Brückner knew on the morning of November 8 of the plans for that evening. At the same time, he received orders pertaining to his subsequent conduct.
On November 8, between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m., the First Battalion of the Munich Regiment assembled in the Arzbergerkeller, and the Third Battalion partly in the Ambergerhof and partly in the Gärtnerplatz restaurant. At 7:30 p.m., Brückner had both battalions march to the Löwenbräukeller. He himself had already set out for the Löwenbräukeller, and here he awaited news of the success of the ambush in the Bürgerbräukeller. Then, after he had distributed weapons to his men, he marched both battalions to the Bürgerbräukeller, where he arrived at about 11:30 p.m. and placed himself at the disposal of the High Command.
The leader of the Second Battalion, Lieutenant Edmond Heines, ordered the men of his battalion to dress in full battle gear on the evening of November 7 and to assemble in their garrisons, there to march upon the Bürgerbräukeller at 7:00 p.m. This, in fact, occurred. The men received weapons at Rosenheimerstrasse and then joined in the encirclement of the Bürgerbräukeller, as well as blocking off the approach.
The Hitler Shock Troops gathered at the Torbräu on the evening of November 8 at 6:00. Lieutenant Berchtold here announced that that evening at about 9:00 the existing government would be overthrown and a new government would be proclaimed at the Bürgerbräukeller. He had his men swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler's government. The Shock Troops marched off in formation, obtained weapons on the way, and arrived at the Bürgerbräukefler at about 8:00. While part of the Shock Troops helped to surround and seal off the Bürgerbräukeller, the other part forced its way into the hall at about 8:45.
At around 8:00 that evening, a large number of men from the Kampfbund, particularly Nazis, entered the barracks of the Reichswehr Infantry, 19th Regiment, First Battalion. They claimed they had been ordered there. There were only a few Reichswehr soldiers present, among them an Officer Böhm. He succeeded in contacting a few officers and he assembled his few troops. At a little past 8:30, the Nazis made ready to arm themselves. The Reichswehr, however, prevented this and threw them out of the barracks.
On the evening of November 8 at 7:00, the leader of the Ingolstadt National Socialist Storm Troopers, Chief Inspector Kuffler, received a letter from the High Command in Munich. The letter contained the information that a new national government, headed by Kahr, Ludendorff, and Hitler, would be proclaimed that evening at 8:30. The Chairman of the Nazi Party cell in Ingolstadt had this message announced that evening at a gathering at 9:00. Following earlier instructions, Kuffler procured trucks, loaded his heavily armed Storm Troopers on them, and drove off into the night for Munich.
On November 7, the leader of the Lower Bavarian Nazi Storm Troopers, Gregor Strasser, a pharmacist in Landshut, received a telegram from the High Command ordering him immediately to Munich. Strasser reported to a business office at 39 Schellingstrasse on the morning of November 7. He was ordered to be in Freising on Thursday, November 8, at 8:00, with 150 men from Landshut in order to provide a security force for a Nazi gathering.
On the evening of November 8, Strasser and 150 armed Storm Troopers drove from Landshut to Freising and waited there in vain for the anticipated arrival of Hitler. Around midnight, a courier from Munich arrived by car bringing not only news of the fall of the government and the establishment of a Reich dictatorship, but also an order to come to Munich. Strasser hastened to his lorry, drove to Munich, and reported to the Bürgerbräukefler at 6:00 a.m. He later participated, under orders, in the seizure of the Wittelsbach Bridge.
In Regensburg, on the morning of November 7, Party Secretary Löser, leader of the Oberpfalz Nazi Storm Troopers, received his orders from Munich in a telegram: He must report to the High Command in Munich on the morning of Thursday, November 8. Löser reported to Göring at noon on November 8. Göring revealed that that same evening a national government would be called forth and the Berlin government deposed. Göring gave him further orders, especially to alert Regensburg and the surrounding area. He made him swear an oath not to tell anyone of the coming events. Löser drove back to Regensburg, alerted the Storm Troopers in Regensburg and outlying areas, and also alerted the Regensburg unit of the Bund Oberland.
Due to the intervention of Colonel Etzel and First Lieutenant Unruh of the Reichswehr battalion, it was possible to thwart the Regensburg plan, disarm the Nazis and Oberlanders, and apprehend Löser. Löser explained to Colonel Etzel that he was not subject to the commands of the Reichswehr because he had orders from the government; that is, Hitler.
After the course of action for November 8 had been decided, Dr. Weber made his way to the Rheinischerhof on the evening of November 7 at 6:00. There a meeting had been convened that included the military commander of Oberland, General Aechter, and officers of the Munich Battalion of the Bund Oberland, as well as representatives of outlying party units. In all probability, Dr. Weber had filled in the Munich leaders by this meeting as to the planned action. Certainly he left no doubt that a violent coup d'etat would take place in a few days, with their help, and that the military section of the Bund must be geared and ready for it. To a few of the distant commanders -- in fact, to the commanders of Werdenfels (Pölk) and Seefeld (Rickmers) -- Dr. Weber handed over alert orders in sealed envelopes with instructions to open them on the evening of November 8 at 8:30. The contents of the order was, roughly, "The national dictatorship of Kahr-Hitler-Ludendorff has just been called forth. You are to come to Munich with any and all men, as swiftly as possible, and report to Lieutenant Colonel Kriebel. Signed, Dr. Weber."
The Werdenfels and Seefeld groups were considered to be well trained. Therefore, the High Command thought it wise to have them come to Munich as soon as possible for the action.
The Munich Battalion from Oberland was also summoned for November 8. Sections of Oberland were immediately employed in surrounding the Bürgerbräukeller and then later used in carrying out specific tasks. Other sections of the Oberland Brigade took part in the attempted seizure of the Pioneer Barracks. At around 8:00 p.m., several hundred members of the Oberland gathered there under the leadership of Captain Müller. They demanded weapons and ammunition. When the ranking officer, Captain Cantzler, refused, they attempted to attain their objective first with threats, then with violence. When this failed, Captain Müller announced before the crowd the fall of the Reich government and the creation of the Hitler-Ludendorff dictatorship, thereby hoping to force Captain Cantzler to distribute arms and ammunition. But Captain Cantzler would have none of it. Finally, with the support of the few Pioneers in the barracks, he succeeded in detaining and disarming the Oberländer.
The Reichskriegsflagge had planned a brotherly celebration for members and friends of the Kampfbund in the Löwenbräukeller for November 8 at 7:30 p.m. The invitations had been publicly announced. The members of the Reichskriegsflagge, however, had been ordered to attend in uniform. Members from outlying areas were also invited; for example, Wilhelm Meister, Johann Sebastian Will, and Herbert Müller, all from Schongau. Their invitations contained, among other things, the information that space would be provided for them in the Pioneer Barracks. As late as the afternoon of November 8, a large number of party members were contacted by telephone or telegram. That evening, numerous other members of the Kampfbund besides the Reichskriegsflagge did in fact appear at the Löwenbräukeller, particularly large numbers of Oberländer.
Then, at 9:00, Röhm announced the formation of a new national government of Hitler-Ludendorff-Seisser and a new Bavarian regime of Kahr-Pöhner. Röhm assembled his men and led them to the Wehrkreiskommando of the Reichswehr. At Schönfeldstrasse, other factions of the Kampfbund joined the march. The Wehrkreiskommando was occupied shortly after 9:00. The few sentries of the Reichswehr were unable to mount any kind of resistance against this surging tide.
For quite a while, the Kampfbund had attempted to exert influence on the members of the Infantry School. In particular, Lieutenant Rossbach had labored with success since the beginning of October to infuse the younger soldiers with Hitlerian ideas of a nationalist movement and rebellion, carefully avoiding the staff officers. To this end, Rossbach was constantly in touch with the Infantry School cadets. He met them repeatedly at Hitler gatherings, at specially arranged beer parties, in public saloons, and behind closed doors. Hitler himself once spoke to a group of cadets about his political aims. Wagner quickly became an acquaintance of Rossbach and soon was regularly attending meetings.
Listening to Hitler and Rossbach, the Infantry School cadets got the impression that a great national revolution would occur very soon. Wagner also met Lieutenant Pernet, Ludendorff's stepson, at these meetings. Rossbach announced a visit of several gentlemen of the Infantry School to Ludendorff's residence on November 4. Wagner was also one of the visitors.
On this occasion, Ludendorff spoke of the Volk and of a nationalist revolution. He expressed the view that the idea of the Volk would win out very soon, and he spoke of Hitler's meritorious service, particularly in that he and his movement in the last three years had been able to hold down the White and Blue Peril. According to Hitler, the White and Blue -- or Bavarian -- Peril is the danger that the monarchy would be restored. Then, either Bavaria would leave the Reich or the leaders of the Reich would annex it and place itself over Prussia. When asked when this nationalist rebellion would take place, Ludendorff answered that the first step was already past -- this was the outbreak of the Seeckt-Lossow conflict. Now, he thought, it was only a matter of weeks or months until necessity drove the masses to the ideas of the Volk.
Wagner lectured his followers on Ludendorff's ideas. The Infantry School cadets must have received the impression that Ludendorff stood behind Hitler and Rossbach completely and shared their views in all respects.
At noon on November 8, Pernet came to the Infantry School and ordered Wagner to accompany him to the Kampfbund High Command on Schellingstrasse. Wagner obeyed. At Kampfbund headquarters he was informed of the coming action by Rossbach and Göring and was supplied with appropriate directives. Returning to the School, Wagner reported his information to a few of his trusted comrades and made certain that the students would be called to a supposedly urgent meeting in the casino at 8:15 p.m. In the course of the afternoon, Wagner took a few others into his confidence and was responsible for keeping his superiors in the dark.
That evening at 8:30 both officer groups met in the mess hall and both cadet groups met in an auditorium. Wagner then declared, "At this moment, the nationalist government of Germany is stepping forward in the Bürgerbräukeller. Simultaneously, all over Germany the nationalist revolution is breaking out. Nationalist brigades are already marching on Berlin from all directions. Tomorrow Munich will march. Behind the movement stand Ludendorff and Lossow with the entire 7th Division, Pöhner and Colonel Seisser with the Bavarian Landespolizei, and Hitler and his Kampfbund. Ludendorff has ordered that the Infantry School place itself immediately under Rossbach's command and function as shock troops. Staff officers are to be excluded. That, however, is only temporary. Ludendorff wants to lead the staff himself tomorrow. A Ludendorff Regiment is to be formed from the Infantry School and other formations.
Wagner also announced the disposition of troops and added that Ludendorff wanted to review the troops at once in the Bürgerbräukeller. Practically all of the cadets followed Wagner's orders and filled the parade ground armed with weapons and ammunition. Meanwhile, Rossbach appeared, and from this time on, Wagner served as Rossbach's adjutant and was never very far from him. Rossbach gave another speech, confirming all that Wagner had said. Swastika banners and armbands were given out, and then, at about 9:00 p.m., the Infantry School marched to the Bürgerbräukeller with Rossbach at the head.
Even after the departure of Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser from the Bürgerbräukeller on the evening of November 8, Hitler's cadre sought to continue the nascent undertaking, even at a time when they certainly knew that Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser were determined to quash the putsch with legal governmental forces. The following excerpts from the diverse occurrences on the night of November 8 and the morning of November 9 will serve as proof here.
The headquarters of Hitler's High Command was set up in the Bürgerbräukeller. Essentially, it was there that further action was discussed, decided, and initially implemented. It was there that the main part of the armed Kampfbund was concentrated.
The attempt to commandeer the Pioneer garrison and the 19th Regiment at the outset had failed. News of this filtered into the Bürgerbräukeller at about 10:00. General Aechter and Major Paul von Müller drove to the Pioneer garrison at the request of the High Command -- Hitler, Ludendorff, and Kriebel -- but there they were apprehended by the Reichswehr. General Aechter called out to his driver, Lorenz Hüter, who had driven up to the main gate, "My good man, I have been arrested." Hitler drove the empty car back to the Bürgerbräukeller. Hitler then drove with Dr. Weber to the Pioneer garrison and to the 19th Regiment's barracks and was convinced that the Reichswehr had secured both and that the organizations of the Kampfbund had encountered resistance. After his return to the Bürgerbräukeller, Hitler addressed the assembled troops of the Kampfbund.
In the meantime, Major Siry volunteered to get information about the whereabouts of Lossow and the Reichswehr's attitude. On the orders of Hitler, Ludendorff, and Kriebel, the Major made his way to the Reichswehr garrison, but he was arrested there and was unable to return.
Between midnight and 1:00, the order went out to occupy the Generalstaatskommissariat on Maximilianstrasse. An Oberland brigade was dispatched. When they returned in defeat, the Infantry School -- at Ludendorff's command -- was ordered to occupy the Generalstaatskommissariat at all costs, and to smash the resistance with weapons. The Infantry School headed for the Maximilianstrasse under Rossbach's command.
Negotiations were carried on with a leader of the Landespolizei in front of the Generalstaatskommissariat. The students prepared to exchange fire with the police. Finally, however, Ludendorff's command rang out: "Pull back." The cadets, led by Rossbach, then marched to the train station and from there to the Infantry School. Here, the true position of Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser was made known. Rossbach, however, was able with Wagner's help to hold together a large number of cadets and lead them back to the Bürgerbräukeller.
Meanwhile, the Wehrkreiskommando was secured by the Kampfbund under Röhm. Röhm also commandeered all telephones and supervised all calls, and finally, in the course of the night, had the officers locked up to prevent them from reporting to their superiors. Between 10:00 and 11:00 Hitler appeared, gathered the men in a courtyard, and gave a speech in which he said, among other things, "Exactly five years after the November criminals took the helm, a day of liberation dawns on Germany. The Berlin government has been banished to the devil. In its place stands a national dictatorship with Ludendorff as Commander of the National Army, Lossow as Army Minister, Seisser as Minister of Police, and myself as political leader." Hitler thanked the brigades for their cooperation and bound them to honor future obligations. He also thanked Röhm in particular for his brotherhood under arms. Shortly thereafter, Hitler left.
After him, Röhm went to the Bürgerbräukeller. He soon reappeared with several armed men at the municipal command post, where he hoped to find Lossow and Seisser. He was refused entry. Between 10:00 and 11:00 at night, Röhm returned to the Wehrkreiskommando, and around 1:00 Ludendorff and Kriebel arrived. In the meantime, it had been learned that Passau Reichswehr Battalion had received orders from the Staatskommissariat to march on Munich; that the Oberland battalion had eventually been disarmed at the Pioneer garrison, that General Aechter was a prisoner of the Reichswehr, that all members of the Kampfbund had been ejected from the 19th Regiment's garrison, that the barracks were being defended by the Reichswehr, and, finally, that Lossow was with the 19th Regiment and that the headquarters of the Wehrkreiskommando had been moved there.
One by one, Hitler, Ludendorff, Röhm, Pöhner, Kriebel, Dr. Weber, and other leaders, including Major Hühnlein, took seats. At around 1:00 a.m., Reichswehr Lieutenant Rossmann appeared. Under orders from Battalion leader Major Schönhärl of the 19th Regiment, Rossmann was to ascertain the fate of the sentries at the post and determine whether the Kampfbund planned an attack on the Oberwiesenfeld garrison. Rossmann spoke with Röhm, Kriebel, and Ludendorff, and he told them that Lossow was at the Infantry barracks and that preparations were being made that left no doubt that Lossow opposed the revolution and would proceed against the Kampfbund. Rossmann then returned to the garrison and made his report.
Around 3:00 a.m. Ludendorff, Kriebel, and Röhm sent a Lieutenant Alois Hecker to Lossow requesting him to attend a meeting at the Wehrkreiskommando. At this point, Kriebel said to Hecker, " Hecker, you are our last hope. You must go to the garrison and see to it that Lossow comes to this meeting with Ludendorff. Everything depends on it. There seems to be several misunderstandings which must be cleared up immediately."
When Hecker went to the garrison, however, he was ordered by Lossow to remain there and not to return to the Wehrkreiskommando. Around 4:00 a.m. Major Hühnlein drove to the Infantry School on Ludendorff's orders to request Colonel Leupold to come to him at the Wehrkreiskommando. Leupold obeyed and was greeted by Hitler and Ludendorff at the Wehrkreiskommando at around 5:00 a.m.
In their conversation, Leupold told Ludendorff and Hitler the following: "Between 12:00 and 1:00 last night, I was instructed by General Lossow to tell you that Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser do not consider bound to their promise because this promise was exacted under duress and because the 7th Division does not endorse this undertaking. I personally spoke with Lossow at the 19th Regiment this morning between 2:00 and 3:00. I confirmed this message with him and I have heard that troops are being called up to use force if necessary to restore order." As he was taking leave of Ludendorff and Hitler, Leupold stated that he did not think Lossow would change his mind, and he added that the Division would follow orders even if the orders conflicted with individual conscience. He would come again if General Lossow deemed it necessary. At approximately 6:00 Leupold reported his conversation to General Lossow.
Leupold's report to the men at the Wehrkreiskommando had merely confirmed what they surely must have known hours before. Nonetheless, they decided to carry on the action. Hitler, in particular, recommended ruthless measures; he thought it necessary to try for everything. He ordered Pöhner to take charge of an Oberland battalion, occupy the police presidium, and call out the auxiliary police. Hitler was convinced that everything depended on the attitude of the masses -- that the main thing now was propaganda. The Hitler troops would have to rule the city and pretend to have a larger force by constantly moving about. Everyone expressed the hope that the troops would not have to fight against the black, white, and red banner.
Hitler, Kriebel, Ludendorff, and their staff, because they no longer felt safe at the Wehrkreiskommando, returned to the Bürgerbräukeller between 6:00 and 7:00 in the morning. Only Röhm and his men, on Ludendorff's orders, remained at the Wehrkreiskommando to stop the Reichswehr. Pöhner set out for the Wehrkreiskommando between 6:00 and 7:00 that morning and went with Major Hühnlein to police headquarters. He intended to take over the police building with Kampfbund troops. Various brigades of the Kampfbund did in fact follow him. As soon as Pöhner and Hühnlein entered the building, however, they were arrested; the Kampfbund troops retreated empty-handed.
At 9:00 that morning, armed squads, following Hitler's orders, threatened the lives of the publishers Parcus and Mühltaler, confiscated large sums of money, and brought it back to the Bürgerbräukefler. In the course of the morning, the troops of the Kampfbund were paid with this money.
Brückner received an order during the morning from the High Command to barricade Ludwig Bridge, Cornelius Bridge, and Wittelsbach Bridge with heavily armed forces on the right bank of the Isar, facing the city. Brückner carried out the order. Almost immediately, Landespolizei appeared, blocked off the bridges on the other side, and allowed no weapons to cross into the heart of the city. Now there could be no doubt that the Landespolizei did not side with the Kampfbund.
Of all the Hitler troops, the Hitler Shock Troops distinguished themselves as the most violent and lawless. The Shock Troops went on a rampage at the offices of the newspaper Münchener Post, perpetrated a brutal house search upon Erhard Auer, the vice president of the Bavarian State Senate, and took a number of hostages. During the morning of November 9, members of the Hitler Shock Troops forced their way into City Hall and dragged Mayor Schmidt as well as the Socialist City Councilmen off to the Bürgerbräukeller, there to hold them hostage. Hitler and Ludendorff knew of these prisoners, and yet did nothing to expedite their release.
Around noon, the High Command conceded that they had lost. Therefore, after drawn-out conferences, they decided to organize a procession and march into the city. All of the members of the Kampfbund lined up in columns. These men were armed -- they had rifles, submachine guns, revolvers, machineguns, bayonets, and even hand grenades. The Hitler Shock Troops were to serve as security guards and therefore had fixed bayonets. A large number of these men had loaded their guns. An auto was also driven in the procession, supposedly as an ambulance. Hitler and Ludendorff took places at the head of the procession under tricolor, swastika, and Oberland colors. The object of the procession was to gain support for the action among the populace and either to push back the Reichswehr and Landespolizei or to entice them to join their side.
At Ludwig Bridge the Landespolizei barred the way and ordered the oncoming crowd loudly and unambiguously to stop and turn around. These warnings were ignored. As the Landespolizei readied their weapons, a number of Shock Troopers forced them back with fixed bayonets and drawn guns, disarmed them, and led them off as captives to the Bürgerbräukeller. The Hitler march proceeded farther until it confronted a thick chain of Landespolizei on Residenzstrasse, not far from the Feldherrnhalle. The men in the procession again did not heed the orders to stop which the Landespolizei clearly expressed in word and action. The marchers tried the same tactics as at Ludwig Bridge. This time, however, the police stood fast and finally had to use their weapons.
Meanwhile, the Wehrkreiskommando had been completely surrounded by the Reichswehr. The squad under Röhm eventually had to vacate the building and surrender their weapons. Thus the action was finally smashed.