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Bavarian Soviet Republic and Hitler’s Role

A German historian, Thomas Weber, has uncovered archival documents in Munich, Germany, that provide definitive evidence of Hitler’s political participation in both the People's State of Bavaria and the Bavarian Soviet Republic. Several editors of Wikipedia have become determined to keep these facts a secret from the public. They have eliminated Adolf Hitler’s role in the 1918-1919 Munich revolution in their Bavarian Soviet Republic Wikipedia page, although the material was fully documented by mainstream historians. The Wikipedia editors have also tried to hide the fact that Hitler favored the Social Democrats after he turned against the defeated communist-operated government in Bavaria. The material below concerns one of the most important times in Hitler’s life, when his interest sparked nationalized socialism, anti-Semitism, and instigating the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazis) in 1920.

 

What Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf

 

Hitler wrote very little about his experiences during the era that brought about a number of revolutionary soviet republics in Munich. What he did write comprises a few ambiguous paragraphs that provide little information about a chaotic and violent power struggle that resulted in street battles across the city of Munich. In Mein Kampf, Hitler maintained that the whole situation was repulsive to him and that he therefore left the political chaos with his war-comrade, Ernest Schmidt, and traveled to Traunstein.[1] After returning to Munich, Hitler confessed that he was confronted in the early morning hours of April 27, 1919, by “three fellows who came to arrest me” but who “did not have the courage to face my rifle and withdrew.”[2] A few days later he said he was ordered before the Inquiry Commission that was established to monitor revolutionary activities. For decades, most historians seemed satisfied to take Hitler’s word that he was not involved with Kurt Eisner from the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD) or Eugen Leviné from the Communist Party of Germany (KPD).


But recently uncovered archival material from Hitler’s military unit in Munich has painted a clearer picture of Hitler’s role in the left-wing revolutionary struggle that gave him the political experience to begin his National Socialist movement.[3] Most of the new material comes from two books by Thomas Weber, Hitler's First War: Adolf Hitler, the Men of the List Regiment, and the First World War published by Oxford University Press in 2011, and Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi by Basic Books in 2017. Weber’s original research focused on whether Hitler’s experience during World War I influenced his political opinions and changed him to embrace virulent anti-Semitism.

 

Hitler’s Role in the Bavarian Soviet Republic

 

In 1999, British historian Ian Kershaw claimed that Adolf Hitler played a role in the Bavarian Soviet Republic. Thomas Weber made similar assertions in 2011. English historian Richard J. Evans, author of the Third Reich Trilogy, described Hitler’s activities in the Bavarian Soviet Republic as “taking part in demonstrations, wearing a red armband along with the rest of his comrades.”[4] Both Kershaw and Weber suggested that, one or two days after the establishment of the socialist republic, Hitler ran for and won a position in Levine’s Bavarian Soviet Republic government as the “Deputy Battalion Representative.” Some of his duties included serving as a liaison officer with the Department of Propaganda.[5] [6] [7]

 

From the military archival material found in Munich, Weber discovered that Hitler received the second-highest number of votes from barrack soldiers, 19 compared to 39 for the winner, allowing him to represent his unit at a secondary level.[8] [9] He further disclosed that after Kurt Eisner’s assassination in February 1919, Hitler attended the funeral and in solidarity with the People's State of Bavaria and with Eisner, a Jewish Marxist reformer, wore a black armband on one arm and a red communist brassard on the other. This view has been supported by surviving movie footage and a still photograph of the funeral.[10] [11] In the movie footage, Hitler and a few men from his unit are seen walking in Eisner's procession. However, it is difficult to tell with certainty whether Hitler can be clearly identified.[12]

 

Photograph of Hitler by Heinrich Hoffmann

 

There was also a still photograph taken of Hitler during the funeral. Heinrich Hoffmann’s photograph showed Hitler in attendance, just before Eisner was eulogized.[13] Although the photo is grainy, Hoffmann, who later became Hitler's court photographer, confirmed that the photograph, which now hangs in the State Library of Bavaria, depicts Hitler.[14] By the early 1980s, Hoffmann’s son also confirmed that Hitler was one of the soldiers in his father's photograph.[15]

 

Revolutionary Red Armbands

 

There is some controversy over Hitler wearing a red armband during both Eisner’s People’s State of Bavaria and Eugen Leviné’s Bavarian Soviet State, which was established by the Communist Party of Germany. Kershaw states that even after Eisner’s funeral, when the republic was controlled by the Communist Councils in April 1919, Hitler probably “wore, along with almost all the soldiers of the Munich garrison, the revolutionary red armband.”[16] [17] One reason cited for his participation in his battalion activities is that, earlier, Hitler had been “elected to the Soldier’s Council of his military unit”, the Ersatz Battalion of the Infantry Regiment.[18] Others assert that not long after Eisner’s assassination, all soldiers in the Munich barracks were required to wear the red communist armband.[19]

 

Hitler Remained at his Post

 

According to Weber, Hitler “remained in his post for the entire lifespan of the Soviet Republic,” and “did not join a Freikorps with his comrades prior to the defeat of the Soviet Republic.”[20] Hitler’s failure to assist in the liberation of Munich from the communist Räterepublik later brought him “scornful reproaches from Ernst Röhm,” later to head the Nazi Stormtroopers (S.A.)[21] Otto Strasser, a member of the Social Democratic Party before later joining the Nazi party in 1925, also criticized Hitler for not joining General von Epp’s army “to fight the Bolsheviks in Bavaria,” asking: “Where was Hitler that day?”[22] Strasser was one of the Freikorps volunteers who entered Munich to overthrow the Bavarian Soviet Republic. During this time, Hitler “did not act in a way consistent with his later beliefs,” but instead appeared to be a “deeply disorientated man without a clear mental compass” that could have helped him to understand the post-war world.[23]

 

The Leadership and Chaos of the Bavarian Soviet Republic

 

The three leading communist revolutionaries of the Bavarian Soviet Republic were Russian emigrés, two of them atheistic Jews, with Eugen Leviné in charge of the government.[24] On April 12, 1919, the Communist Party seized power from Ernst Toller’s Soviet-style government, which had lasted six days. The Bolshevik regime immediately opened communications with Vladimir Lenin at the Kremlin, and was asked if the Bavarian Bolsheviks had already nationalized the Bavarian banks.[25]

 

Immediately, the communists arrested members of the aristocracy and the upper middle class as hostages, took over churches, expanded and trained the Bavarian Red Army, which soon numbered 20,000, and ordered the surrender of all private weapons “on pain of death.”[26] The Soviet regime seized homes, cars, factories, cash, food supplies, and wanted to banish money. As the chaos increased, public services stopped and “looting and theft were spreading across the city.”[27] Near the end of the regime, 10 hostages were shot by the Red Army commander Egelhofer, mostly members of the Thule Society.[28]

 

During Leviné’s short-lived reign, food shortages quickly became a problem, especially the absence of milk. Criticism over the milk shortage turned political, precipitating the communist government to publicly declare: “What does it matter?... Most of it goes to the children of the bourgeoisie anyway. We are not interested in keeping them alive. No harm if they die—they’d only grow into enemies of the proletariat.”[29]

 

After the Fall of Eugen Leviné’s Red Republic

 

After the fall of Eugen Leviné’s “Red Republic” in early May 1919, Hitler was arrested and “interned” with other soldiers in his barracks, and questioned about his loyalty.[30] Ernst Toller, the president of the socialist republic for 6 days, “reported that a fellow prisoner also interned … had met Hitler in a Munich barracks not long after the revolution, and that the latter had then been calling himself a Social Democrat.”[31] Konrad Heiden in his 1936 book Hitler: a Biography, rendered the same narrative, arguing that Hitler “espoused the cause of Social Democracy against that of the Communists.”[32] When Hitler defended Hermann Esser in 1921 from intra-Nazi party squabbles, he remarked: “Everyone was at one time a Social Democrat.”[33] If Hitler did support the Social Democrats in preference to the Communists, it was likely “viewed as a choice of the lesser of two evils.”[34]

 

Hitler became an informant

 

According to a close friend, Ernst Schmidt, Hitler's internment by Freikorps troops was brief, perhaps due to the intervention of a military officer who had befriended Hitler during the war.[35] A few days later, Hitler agreed to become an "informant" and supplied the authorities with information about his former friends and commanders who had supported the communist regime and the Bavarian Red Army.[36] As soon as May 9, Hitler began to serve on the Investigation and Decommission Board of the Second Infantry Regiment, where he testified about the radical activities of officers and soldiers. This opportunity probably allowed Hitler not only to avoid decommissioning but “deportation to his native Austria, imprisonment or even death” for serving in his low-level position in the Bavarian Soviet Republic.[37]

 

Hitler as a Social Democrat

It is likely that the violent street battles between the communists and Weimar German and Freikorps troops, that claimed up to 600 lives, caused Hitler to rethink his political positions and take a more moderate position with the Social Democrats. There are a number of sources that noted this transformation. During an early Nazi party event, Hitler revealed to one of his early members, Friedrich Krohn, that he supported a form of “socialism” that he called “national Social Democracy,” which seemed to resemble nations like Scandinavia, England, and prewar Bavaria.[38] The liberal newspaper Berliner Tageblatt published an article on Oct. 29, 1930, reporting that Hitler had once regarded himself “as a supporter of Social Democracy,” although he still expressed some reservations.[39]However, Hitler’s attraction to Social Democracy Party of Germany (SPD) did not last long. He did not turn against the SPD over their socialist ideology. Rather, he was outraged over the harsh conditions of the Versailles Treaty that was spearheaded by the Social Democracy Party of Germany and the Catholic Central Party.[40]

Notable Figures Who Supported the Soviet Republics

A number of notable figures took part in the revolutionary movement in Munich. One adherent was Sepp Dietrich, who later became a Waffen-SS general, head of Hitler’s SS-Leibstandarte, and “elected chairman of a Soldiers’ Council in November 1918.”[41] Hitler’s longstanding chauffeur and first leader of the Schutzstaffel (“Protection Squadron”; SS), Julius Schreck, signed up and served as a member of the Red Army in late April 1919.[42] Another historical figure involved in the Communist republic was Hitler’s future Deputy Führer, Rudolf Hess. Hess was actively serving in the Bavarian Red Army, telling his parents in an April 23, 1919, letter not to worry, that his unit was not experiencing "any unrest at all. Yesterday we had an orderly march with red flags, nothing else out of the ordinary.”[43] Balthasar Brandmayer, one of Hitler’s close wartime friends, remarked “how he at first welcomed the end of the monarchies,” and the establishment of the republic in Bavaria.[44] All of the later Nazi officers were subsequently disillusioned by the socialist republic.

Have a source for this?

[1] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, chapter VIII: “The Beginning of My Political Activities”, vol. 1, 1925

[2] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, chapter VIII: “The Beginning of My Political Activities”, vol. 1, 1925

[3] Thomas Weber, Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi, New York: NY, Basic Books, 2017, “Archival Collections & Private Papers and Interviews”, files of: 6th Bavarian Reserve Division (RD6), 16 Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment (RIR16), 17 Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment (RIR17), from Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Munich, pp. 391-392

[4] Richard J. Evans, The Coming of the Third Reich, Penguin, 2004, p. 161

[5] Ian Kershaw, Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris, New York and London, W.W. Norton & Company, 1999, p. 118, Archival material from Ian Kershaw: BHStA, Abt.IV, 2.I.R., Batl. Anordnungen, Bl.1505, 1516; Joachimsthaler, 212-13, 217

[6] Thomas Weber, Hitler's First War: Adolf Hitler, the Men of the List Regiment, and the First World War, Oxford, England, UK: Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 251

[7] Norman Stone, “The Fuhrer In the Making,” Wall Street Journal, Oct. 30, 2012

[8] Thomas Weber, Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi, New York: NY, Basic Books, 2017, p. 49

[9] Josef. Hofmiller, Revolutionstagebuch 1918/19: Aus den Tagen der Münchener Revolution, Leipzig, 1938, pp. 179-181, 184

[10] Thomas Weber, Hitler's First War: Adolf Hitler, the Men of the List Regiment, and the First World War, Oxford, England, UK: Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 251

[11] Hitler: A Profile, episode 1 of 6, “The Private Man” written and produced by Guido Knopp and Maurice Philip Remy, produced by ZDF (Germany) in association with A&E Home Video and The History Channel, 1995 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1RJY-O03bY&t=14s

[12] Thomas Weber, Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi, Basic Books, 2017, p. 351, f. 30

[13] .Thomas Weber, Hitler's First War: Adolf Hitler, the Men of the List Regiment, and the First World War, Oxford, England, UK: Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 251

[14] Thomas Weber, Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi, Basic Books, 2017, pp. 39-40

[15] Thomas Weber, Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi, Basic Books, 2017, p. 40

[16] Ian Kershaw, Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris, New York and London, W.W. Norton & Company, 1999, p.120

[17] Joachimsthaler, pp. 188, 197-8, 125; Maser, Hitler, p. 159, Maser, Ende der Führer-Legende, p. 263 n. (citing remarks made to him in the early 1950s by Otto Strasser and Hermann Esser) Eitner, p. 66

[18] Thomas Weber, Hitler's First War: Adolf Hitler, the Men of the List Regiment, and the First World War, Oxford, England, UK: Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 250

[19] Thomas Weber, Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi, Basic Books, 2017, pp. 50-51

[20] Thomas Weber, Hitler's First War: Adolf Hitler, the Men of the List Regiment, and the First World War, Oxford, England, UK: Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 251

[21] Ian Kershaw, Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris, New York and London, W.W. Norton & Company, 1999, p.120

[22] Otto Strasser, Hitler and I, Boston: MA, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1940, p. 12

[23] Thomas Weber, Hitler's First War: Adolf Hitler, the Men of the List Regiment, and the First World War, Oxford, England, UK: Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 250

[24] Jeffrey S. Gabb, Munich: Hofbräuhaus & History: Beer, Culture, and Politics, International Academic Publishers, 2006, p. 58

[25] Richard J. Evans, The Coming of the Third Reich, New York: NY, Penguin Press, 2004, p. 159

[26] Richard J. Evans, The Coming of the Third Reich, New York: NY, Penguin Press, 2004, p. 159

[27] Richard J. Evans, The Coming of the Third Reich, New York: NY, Penguin Press, 2004, p. 159

[28] Michael Burleigh, The Third Reich: A New History, New York: NY, Hill and Wang, 2000, p. 40

[29] Michael Burleigh, The Third Reich: A New History, New York: NY, Hill and Wang, 2000, p. 40

[30] Ian Kershaw, Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris, New York and London, W.W. Norton & Company, 1999, pp. 118-119

[31] Ian Kershaw, Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris, New York and London, W.W. Norton & Company, 1999, p. 118)

[32] Konrad Heiden, Hitler: A Biography, London, UK, Constable & Co. LTD, 1938, p. 54

[33] Hitler: Sämtliche Aufzeichnungen 1905-1924, Eberhard Jäckel and Axel Kuhn, (editors), Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1980, p. 448

[34] Ian Kershaw, Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris, New York and London, W.W. Norton & Company, 1999, p.120

[35] Thomas Weber, Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi, Basic Books, 2017, p. 70

[36] Thomas Weber, Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi, Basic Books, 2017, p. 72

[37] Thomas Weber, Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi, Basic Books, 2017, p. 72

[38] Thomas Weber, Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi, Basic Books, 2017, pp. 66-67) (IFZ, ZS89/2, Friedrich Krohn, Fragebogen über Adolf Hitler, 1952.

[39] Thomas Weber, Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi, Basic Books, 2017, p. 75, quoted  from Anton Joachimsthaler in his book Hitlers Weg begann in München 1913-1923, (Hitler's path began in Munich 1913-1923), Munich, 2003, p. 203.

[40] Thomas Weber, Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi, Basic Books, 2017, p. 83

[41] Ian Kershaw, Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris, New York and London, W.W. Norton & Company, 1999, p. 119

[42] Ian Kershaw, Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris, New York and London, W.W. Norton & Company, 1999, p. 119

[43] Thomas Weber, Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi, New York: NY, Basic Books, 2017, p. 47

[44] Ian Kershaw, Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris, New York and London, W.W. Norton & Company, 1999, p. 119

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