Munich, Germany February 26, 1932

On this date in 1932 in Germany, Austrian-born Adolf Hitler was granted Ger­man citi­zen­ship. A decade earlier the Austrian was the unlikely leader of a fringe Populist-nationalist move­ment, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. In Novem­ber 1923 he led a “beer-hall putsch” in the Bavarian capital, Munich, hoping to spur dis­satis­fied ele­ments in the Ger­man Army to bring down the national govern­ment in Berlin, the so-called Weimar Republic. The putsch was imme­di­ately sup­pressed by Bava­rian autho­rities at the cost of more than a dozen Nazis, one bystander, and four Bava­rian police­men (the first of Hitler’s victims) who were killed on the Odeons­platz, in Munich’s city center. There a cordon of police confronted the marchers, some of whom were armed. The fickle­ness of fate saved Hitler from possibly being wounded or killed as police bullets tore into his body­guard and a nearby marcher, killing them and injuring many more. (Among the seriously injured was Hitler’s future Luft­waffe chief, Her­mann Goering.) Hitler was arrested and sen­tenced to five years in Bava­ria’s Lands­berg prison for high trea­son. In a comfor­table cell he dic­tated his crack­pot auto­bio­graphy, Mein Kampf (My Struggle), to fellow in­mate Rudolf Hess and polished his already considerable oratorical skills.

In late Decem­ber 1924 Bavarian authorities, pressured by Hitler’s sup­porters, par­doned and released their pri­soner early “for good behavior.” Six years later, in 1930, the ex-convict and his National Socialist (Nazi) party had emerged as key players in shaping a coali­tion govern­ment under Ger­man Presi­dent Paul von Hinden­burg. The World War I hero—a living, wheezing link to Ger­many’s glory days under Kaiser Wilhelm II—despised “that Bohe­mian cor­poral.” Hitler’s apti­tude, the former Field Marshall said, would con­sign him at best to being a lowly post­master gen­eral. With newly minted citi­zen­ship and the right to hold public office in Germany, Hitler could com­mand a high cabi­net post now that his party, following the July 1932 elec­tions, con­trolled a rela­tive majority of parlia­men­tary seats in the Reichstag (Ger­man parlia­ment). Though the Nazis lost seats in Novem­ber that year, Hinden­burg ate his words and appointed the 43‑year-old former lance cor­poral to the second highest office in the land, that of German Chancellor, on January 30, 1933.

Hindenburg had hoped that the moderate members of Hitler’s cabinet, in which Hitler’s National Socialists held only three of 13 positions, would act as a restraining influence on the powerful new national leader. But within months Hitler had turned tables on the German presi­dent. Shortly after the Reich­stag building erupted in flames on the night of Feb­ru­ary 27, 1933, Hitler assumed ab­so­lute power through a series of Enabling Acts signed by the dod­dering Hinden­burg. In August 1934 Hinden­burg suc­cumbed to old age and Ger­many’s parlia­men­tary sys­tem of repre­sen­tative govern­ment (or what was left of it) suc­cumbed, in turn, to Hitler, leaving the Nazi leader at the helm of a nation he steered toward bestial savagery, genocidal war, and apocalyptic ruin.

Hitler and His Nazi Supporters’ Failed Attempt to Seize Control of the Bavarian State Govern­ment, November 8–9, 1923

Nazis gather in the Bürgerbräukeller, ca. 1923 Nazis take city council members hostage

Left: A 1923 gathering of National Socialist German Workers’ Party mem­bers in the Buerger­braeu­keller, a Munich beer hall. Large beer halls in Southern Ger­many were popu­lar gathering places for local poli­ti­cians, the gen­eral public, and spirited debate. Between 1920 and 1923, the Nazis were fond of holding party rallies at the Buerger­braeu­keller because it could accommodate over 1,800 people.

Right: A Nazi strike team (Stosstrupp), shown in this photo from Novem­ber 9, 1923, briefly took nine Munich City Coun­cil mem­bers hostage and locked them up in the Buerger­braeu­keller. Munich was to have been the base from which Hitler and his Nazi sympathizers were to march on Berlin to bring down Ger­many’s Weimar Republic govern­ment. Hitler’s foiled march was modeled on Benito Mussolini’s successful march on the Italian capital, Rome, by his National Fascist Party supporters a year earlier, in October 1922.

Munich’s Marienplatz on November 9, 1923 Accused participants of Munich’s Beer Hall Putsch, April 1, 1924

Left: Munich’s Marienplatz and the Rathaus during the failed Beer Hall Putsch, Novem­ber 9, 1923. Around two thou­sand men, some armed and trans­ported in trucks, assembled on Marien­platz before even­tually setting out to the Feldherrnhalle (Field Marshals’ Hall) on the Odeonsplatz.

Right: Group photo of the participants of Munich’s Beer Hall Putsch (also known as the Hitler-Luden­dorff Putsch) stand in front of a Bava­rian court­house, accused by autho­ri­ties of high treason. Hitler in civil­ian attire, hat in left hand, stands to the left of Gen. Erich Luden­dorff, a promi­nent nationalist leader during the Wei­mar Republic. Photo taken by Hein­rich Hoff­mann, Hitler’s personal photographer, April 1, 1924.

Hitler’s Brazen Beer Hall Putsch, November 1923

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WWII Chronicles book coverHistory buffs, there is good news! The Daily Chronicles of World War II is now avail­able as an ebook for $4.99 on Amazon.com. Con­taining a year’s worth of dated entries from this web­site, the ebook brings the story of this tumul­tu­ous era to life in a com­pelling, author­i­ta­tive, and suc­cinct man­ner. Fea­turing inven­tive naviga­tion aids, the ebook enables readers to instantly move for­ward or back­ward by month and date to dif­fer­ent dated entries. Simple and elegant! Click here to purchase the ebook.