Hitler in Munich and origins of NSDAP
HITLER GOES TO MUNICH. 1913-1914
Either authoritative biography of Adolf Hitler studied with the author’s pen of Volker Ullrich, John Toland, Ian Kershaw, Joachim Fest, Alan Bullock devotes no less than a definite chapter to Hitler’s life interlude between the so-called ‘Viennese period’ and the battlefields of the World War One. Once we forward ourselves deep enough to the past and the story of the Nazi movement, in a voyage to reveal the causes of why Munich had been praised as the “Hauptstadt der Bewegung” (The Capital of the Movement), we find ourselves within a platform of the Munich HAUPTBAHNHOF on May 25, 1913. In these places, Hitler would get acquainted with his future patrons and the members of what would be once called the ‘inner circle’. Those historical relations would lead some of them up to the scaffold of the Nuremberg Trials.
It was nowhere more than Munich to witness the rise of Hitler’s confidence as a political spokesman within the beer halls to the very extent, which would push him to challenge the Bavarian government on November 8-9, 1923 in pursuit of what would be made history as the ‘Beer Hall Putsch’. Years after that May afternoon of 1913, the DAP party encouraged by Hitler’s charisma, would open its first headquarter and establish the semi-military formations, known as the ‘stormtroopers’. Thousands of its members would take the personal oath to Hitler, would form an approving devotion to his speeches and vision of the future as well as millions of Germans would journey to Munich to attend the regime’s sacred places and museums, spirited and benedicted by Hitler first-hand.
HITLER’S FIRST APARTMENT IN MUNICH 1913-1914
Joachim Fest writes on Hitler, who left Vienna on May 24, 1913, by means of a Vienna-Munich train. A station, which could be met with the statements of Toland and Ullrich, that the future German fuhrer stepped into the platform of the HAUPTBAHNHOF on a sunny Sunday of May 25. Meanwhile, Ian Kershaw operates the fact that Hitler was registered in the local police department on May 26, 1913. One of the only first-hand sources on the ‘Munich’ period of Adolf Hitler’s life before his army service is associated with RUDOLF HAUSLER, a young student at that time. A twenty-year-old grandee, born into a family of a deep-pocketed Viennese family, Hausler got into friendship with Hitler within the Mannerheim hostel for men back in February 1913 (Hausler moved to the hostel on February 4), only three months prior to their departure to Munich. Upon the arriving, the two young men rented a modesty furnitured room №3 on Schleissheimerstrasse 34, 20 minutes walk from the railway station, only five minutes distance from the LOWENBRAUKELLER beerhouse and a few city blocks from the apartment that was placed by Lenin some eleven years before (the fact, beyond Hitler’s knowledge).
The second, still an important first-hand source on a young Hitler in his Munich year is historically associated with Herr and Frau Popp, the owners and leaseholders of the very room on Schleissheimerstrasse 34. The first floor of the building was used as the tailor shop of the Popp family as well as the second one was accommodated by the owners themselves as the upper two floors were designated for renting as “Furnished rooms to let to respectable men.” (the sign mentioned in every second biography of Hitler). Year after, the Popp family expressed nothing but warm sentiments on their young Austrian roomer, who (from Popp’s say) used to read a lot within his room, painted drawings for sale, and politely said no to the perspective to share the dinner with the owners.
Another sequence from Hitler’s life to be mentioned in every recognized biography generally reveals the fact of Hitler’s dodging conscription to army service first within the Viennese and then in his Munich period. It was the very room at Schleissheimerstrasse 34, furnitured with a bed, a sofa, a table, and a chair, to witness the unexpected visit of an officer of the Bavarian police (to serve a writ on Hitler) on January 18, 1914. Subsequent to the rejection as unsuitable for the army service in February, Hitler got back to his room on Schleissheimerstrasse 34, which he used to rent on his own at that time (Hausler had moved out as early as February 15)). By that time, Hitler succeeded to provide himself with a number of regular buyers of his drawings and used to live in a small way in a room inside Popp’s household. A month after the devastating news of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the heritor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was taken Hitler as the overwrought anticipation of the upcoming war, finally announced within the Odeonsplatz on August 2, 1914. Two weeks after, he was taken on service and left the Popp’s house, moving to the army barracks, yet within Munich.
SECOND HITLER’S MUNICH APARTMENT: 1920-1929
On November 19, 1918, a little more than five years since Hitler’s set off from Munich as a soldier of the Emperor’s army and only ten days since the news of the end of the Great War (the moment to be self-distressed by Hitler in the following years and within the ‘Mein Kampf’), he was discharged from the PASEWALK hospital. The future German Fuhrer would later describe this military complex near Strasburg as the cradle of his political awakening. Two days removed, the thirty-year-old corporal Adolf Hitler retraced his way back to Bavaria to be sent, another month later, to Traunstein city, neighboured by the Austrian Salzburg, as the soldier of the 3rd Infantry Regiment. For the following month up to the disbanding of the military camp in mid-January, Hitler did his duties as a guard for the prisoners of war and a number of civilian prisoners.
Retrieving his way to Munich, Hitler would spend the next one and a half a year as a resident of the ‘Karl-Liebknecht-Kaserne’ barracks. As late as May 1, 1920, a month after his demob from the army and after had been a member of the DAP party for nearly eight months, Hitler rented a small 2.5* 4.5-meter room in apartment number 1 on Thierschstrasse 41. The apartment on the second (from the ground) floor had been owned by the Reichert family: Ernst and Maria since June 30, 1914. Once again modest living space furnitured with a table, a chair, and an old tired linoleum is far from better than his room in the Mannerheim hostel in Vienna, as well as his first accommodation in Munich on Schleissheimersstrasse 34, owned by Popp family. Hitler would be in some way devoted to the Reichert family: in 1924 Frau Maria Reichert visited Hitler at least twice in his cell in Landsberg prison, and the Reichert spouse would serve as house staff in the apartment at Prinzregentensplatz 16, and years later the German dictator would send the family Christmas gifts every year. The elderly couple would outlive Hitler for six years until 1951 and their daughter Antonia would later leave some recollections about him.
Once again, Hitler could be associated as no less than a diligent renter, who used to pay accommodation revenue like clockwork, a habit he had sustained from the year 1910 and his move to the Mannerheim hostel in Vienna. The accounts of the second Hitler’s apartment in Munich on Thierschstraße 41 had become a thing of history due to ‘Hitler. The missing years’ memoirs of Ernst Hanfstaengl, were first published in the US in 1957. In the role of one of the members of the inner circle of the Nazi movement and Hitler back in 1920-1930-s, Hanfstaengl managed to describe Hitler in his house-shoe with a rare habit to use other premises of the apartment (he rented a room inside the shared apartment), such as a hallway and a kitchen.
This very apartment on Thierschstraße 41 (not the beer hall as it was depicted in ‘Hitler: The Rise of Evil’ movie) witnessed a scene when Hanfstaengl did succeed to impress Hitler with his piano play. With a closer look, the very chapter of the book bears a symbolic name: ‘Tristan in the Thierschstrasse’, marking the name of the street, where Hitler used to live between May 1920 and October 1929 and drawing a parallel between Adolf and the legendary mythological character of the medieval stories.
Once we take a closer look at the very location of Hitler’s second apartment in Munich on Thierschstrasse, it’s easy to make one-plus-one to reveal that building number 41 was at that time located only 300 meters distanced from the office of ‘Völkischer Beobachter’. Hitler’s biographers do not have solid facts whether it was an informed choice, yet seven months later, on the eve of Christmas 1920, the publishing was bought by the party. Hitler spent his night and the hours of November 8, 1923, prior to what would be known as the ‘Beer Hall Putsch’ and it was his first destination on the day of release from the Landsberg prison on December 29, 1924. On that day Hitler would be greeted by Reichert, Gahr, and Fuess families, as well as his dog called Wolf.
By the time Hitler moved into a new luxurious nine-room apartment in October 1929, he had already become the sole ruler of the NSDAP party and among the most powerful political figures in the state. In nine decades since the 1920s Hitler’s apartment on Thierschstrasse 41 has been changed slightly and the first floor of the building, the same as it was in the days of Hitler, accommodates a store. Once raising our eyes, we can still observe a modest stone figure of Madonna, between the windows of the second floor. It is worth mentioning, that it was Ernst Hanfstaengl, who mentioned his visit to Thierschstrasse 41 once again in the 1950s and the fact Madonna figure was in place and the building had been preserved the same look as thirty years before.
PRINZREGENTENPLATZ 16: HITLER’S APARTMENT AFTER 1929
A circumstance worthy of being noted once again includes the fact that Hitler used to rent a room and later the whole apartment on Thierschstrasse 41 up to October 1929. Though the intimate circle of Hitler’s social environment was reservedly admired with this frugalism and spartan living conditions, the ever-increasing status of the leader of the ambitious political movement in Germany fell into contradiction with Hitler’s apartment. The popularity of the party dominated both the cities and the heartlands of the state and the number of party cards succeeded to reach an incredible 150 000 figure up to October 1929, to that moment Hitler was now ready to switch his residence to Munich. Every second authoritative biographer of Hitler, including the deservedly praised Volker Ulrich, finds a little coincidence in Hitler’s moving into a spacious apartment at the height of the world economic crisis.
The former modest apartment on Thierschstrasse 41 with a kitchen, a few rooms, a hallway, and an old pianino within a drawing room was located in an unwealthy city district of Munich, even if close to the city center. The ground floors of that three-to-five-story buildings were generally accommodated by merchants and tailors stores. In contrast, a new residence of Adolf Hitler after October 1, 1929, was now on Prinzregentenplatz 16 within Bogenhausen, the 13th administrative division of Munich.
As far as the first years of the XIX century, the Bogenhausen district to the East of Munich, at that time outside the city limits, had obtained the status of the elite residential township of the Bavarian nobility. As the earliest as 1892, thirty years before Adolf Hitler would move in, the district had officially been assigned to the city limits of Munich. At those times, Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria, was praised as the key persona in the city. A ruler of Bavaria on the threshold of two centuries, he was a grandfather of Prince Ruprecht, the last and in fact never-inheritor of the Bavarian crown, and the patron of the KRIEGERDENKMAL Memorial in Munich. Under the rule of Luitpold, the new Prinzregentenstraße took ten years to be included in the city district in 1901. The section of the newborn Magistrale was broadened to become a Prinzregentenplatz square with a Prinzregententheater nearby. It was this place to be chosen by Hitler, a building at Prinzregentenplatz 16, close to the theater as his new residence since October 1929.
The apartment on the second floor (third from the ground) with a total space of 317 square meters included nine rooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a spacious hallway, and a cloakroom. Early on, Hitler rented the apartment for 4176 reichsmarks annually, and only sometime later (one year after Hitler’s move-in) the accommodation was bought by the party thanks to the ever-growing funds on the national scale. The residence was decorated with grandiosity and a few servants, particularly the Reichert family from the previous residence at Thierschstraße 41 (they moved here on October 5), used to maintain the householding at Prinzregentenplatz 16. It was nowhere else than here that Geli Raubal, Hitler’s niece committed suicide on September 19, 1931, all while Hitler was in Nuremberg. Hitler used to use the apartment on Prinzregentenplatz 16 as his primary residence up to January 1933 and his appropriation as the German Chancellor. He used to guests from his inner circle to the apartment: for example in 1932 Hitler hosted here a celebration dinner on the occasion of the wedding between Baldur von Schirach and Henriette Hoffmann, the daughter of Hitler’s personal photographer. In the following years, he used to spend progressively more time either in Berlin or in his mountain residence in Berchtesgaden, with rare visits to his Munich apartment. In April 1935 he invited Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British fascist movement to his apartment. In September 1938, the apartment witnessed a meeting between Hitler and Neville Chamberlain, a British prime minister shortly before what would be known as the ‘Munich Agreement’. At present, the building is in possession of the police department of Munich with pretty much the same look, which has slightly changed since the 1930s.
NSDAP HEADQUARTERS AND THE UNDISPUTED MUNICH
For a variety of interrelated reasons and far from historical coincidences, the followers of the Nazi movement indeed had praised Munich as the “Hauptstadt der Bewegung” (The Capital of the Movement). Alongside the obvious factors and historical events, such as Hitler’s public appearances within the beer houses, the DAP origin, the failed ‘Beer Hall Putsch’, and the following annual manifestations, we should mention a number of additional milestones. Hitler was in desperate love with Munich from the very moment he befooted the railway platform of the Hauptbahnhof on May 25, 1913. This kind of obsession, as well as to his native Linz, had been brought through all his years of life as undisputed value. Once he made his way back to Munich back in January 1919, Hitler spent his next fourteen years in the heart of the Bavaria lands.
As far back as 1921, at the height of the negotiations with the Deutschsozialistische Partei (The German Socialist Party in the small city of Zeitz, near Leipzig, Anton Drexler, the DAP secretary, and its founder made a suggestion not only to merge two parties but also to move the mutual headquarter to Berlin. Hitler, who had not taken part in this meeting, got into a rage over Drexler’s initiative. A historical fact, once stranded on the side of a historic road. In the same summer of 1921, Hitler threatened to leave the party, which was faced with the doomed perspective of fission and regress. One of his obligatory demands for retaking the command of propaganda, among the other empowerments, included bidding to assign Munich as the heart of the movement and the residence of its headquarters once and for all. Prior to his regaining his political career in February 1925, Hitler reacted in the same vein to the suggestion of Kurt Lüdeck to move the HQ in Thuringia, strategically located in the center of the Weimar Republic, on the crossroads between Leipzig, Frankfurt, and Dresden. Hitler denied the perspective with a little frustration that Munich had become his home and he could not leave it.
THE FIRST NAZI MUNICH HEADQUARTERS
In the far-stand days of September 1919, when Adolf Hitler joined the lower-middle-class DAP party, the movement was no more than a numerically insignificant dispute club without a headquarters, yet have been using the Sterneckerbrau beer house for some time as a weekly meeting place. Subsequent to a relative success (an increased number of attendees) at the Hofbraukeller on October 16, 1919, and due to Hitler’s persistent efforts as the chief of propaganda and the draughtsman of the party leaflets, the movement gained the support of its first patrons.
Later in the same month, the members of the party committee successfully bargained a rent of a small back premise within Sterneckerbrau, with a separate entrance from the sidelines of a cozy alley (Sterneckerstrasse). This primal DAP headquarters would be furnitured with a big table, a dozen chairs, and a few cabinet chests. The spartan interior would be accompanied by a typewriter, which Hitler would take advantage of by typing meeting invitations for the party gatherings, and leaflets, distributed among the tables of the Munich beer halls (including Sterneckerbrau next door), and beer gardens. The figure for the attendees of such a meeting would be steadily increased.
Though a new (first) headquarter had become the main meeting point of the party members, now unaffected by the weekly evening biorhythms of the beer hall, the party superiors, including Hitler, used to bring forward their sit-rounds to Anton Drexler’s apartment at Burghausener Strasse 6. On February 24, 1920, the DAP movement with a one-year history (formally established by Drexler in January 1919) was renamed Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP and the first headquarters within an alley of Sterneckerstraße would be once and all associated with the birth of the Nazis. And while as early as next year the movement would settle on a new spacious premise at Corneliusstraße 12, the very first command center on the corner of Tal and Sterneckerstrasse would make its everlasting way to the party legends and manifestations.
At dinnertime of November 9, 1923, the column of the putschists, who had started their marching from the steps of the Burgerbraukeller on the opposite bank of the Isar river, would boot in front of the building of its first headquarter. Years from that day, the annual ceremonial column, spearheaded by Hitler himself, would be used to make a one-minute silence stop at this very place. As early as November 8, 1933, Hitler would be the headliner of the first marching in Munich and the star guest to ceremonially open a party museum inside the former command point. The building was not damaged during the Allied raids on Munich, yet the famous beer hall saw its last customer as late as 1957. These days the emplacement is accommodated with a store as well as the back door to the former NSDAP HQ now leads to a residential estate.
THE SECOND HEADQUARTERS: 1921-1923
As fast as Hitler had raised his self-confidence and the figure of the party members had risen exponentially, the primary headquarter in a Sterneckerstrasse alley had been soon put in a position to do the honors of the house for all guests, beneficiaries, and newly minded free-willers of the movement. A marginal room next door to Sterneckebrau was good enough only for gatherings of a tiny number of the party committee. The ambitions of the Nazi movement had already gone beyond a poor-illuminated room in the backyards of the B-class beer hall. As late as October 1921 Hitler and Drexler gave an eye to a perspective of a new command center, which could get in line with the endeavors of a party and such a place would be soon found at Corneliusstraße 12, only a few city blocks from initial HQ. The DAP party bureau moved into the new office as early as November 1, 1921.
All along before DAP finally took the ground floor of the building in rent, the facility had been used for commercial purposes and the remained shop windows were like a dream comes true for a new course of the Nazi movement in its pursuit of gaining newcomers. In so much as a new party command center accommodated the whole main floor, new owners obtained ownership of some additional premises inside the estate. The main hall had soon become a hangout harbor both for the acting party members and for fresh blood. Another backroom was chosen to be used for the primal function of the political movement as a meeting point for the party superiors, led by Hitler and Drexler, next to a room for taking in guests.
In the ensuing year of active propaganda activity, Hitler’s public appearances, efforts on luring new members, and the number of party cards figured to a game-changing 20 000 figure up to the end of the year 1922. At that point in time, these papers were taken and stored in a vault (safe box) within a committee meeting room. Corneliusstraße 12 had become a place for men, generally of the middle of a lower class to come and join the ranks of the growing nationalist movement. In so doing, Hermann Goering, a blue-eyed hero pilot of the Great War (WW1) visited the building on Corneliusstraße 12 at the end of October 1922. The headquarter was a meeting point for the leaders of the movement on November 8, 1923. They would leave the building in two cars in the direction of Burgerbraukeller after 8 p.m.
As early as November 10, a day after the failed ‘Beer Hall Putsch’ (completely suppressed until the evening of November 9) the Bavarian police made a rain on the NSDAP headquarters at Corneliusstraße 12 and confiscated a few trucks of belongings of the movement. Political banners, as well as leaflets and agitation materials, were subjected to irretrievable taking out, yet the majority of the personal possessions would be given back. It is worth mentioning, that some difficult-to-obtain items, such as typewriters and metallic helmets were never returned to the NSDAP and found to use within the police and governmental units. Nominally, the command center on Corneliusstraße 12 had been associated with the office of the NSDAP until 1925, yet only technically as the movement had been banned in Bavaria since 1923. Over the years, the ground floor has been used as the commercial estate again and the modern look includes the show-cases of a jewelry store and a postcard shop.
THE THIRD NAZI PARTY HEADQUARTERS: 1925-1931
In June 1925 (June 24), soon after Hitler’s reversion of a full-fledged political career in Germany, the now outbanned NSDAP party was now in possession to open a new office as a follow-on a temporary one within the ‘Eher Verlag’ publishing house at Thierschstrasse. A new party command center was located at Schellingstrasse 50, to the North of the Munich city center, just a step away from the Alte Pinakothek. Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler’s personal photographer, who had obtained a party card №427 back in April 1920, now (in 1925) make a few premises of his photo studio available for the NSDAP party. Hoffmann had several ateliers in Munich. He particularly rented a part of the building at Schellingstrasse 50 (his ‘Weiss-Blau Atelier’: White-blue atelier) since 1 August 1919 and bought it in 1921. In 1925 after the resurrection of the NSDAP he suggested Hitler rent thirteen empty rooms in the building and, as Hoffmann later wrote in his memoirs, the Fuhrer was glad to get twelve of them into possession of the party as a new headquarters.
For the span of the next six years, the party headquarters at Schellingstrasse 50 was assigned as the office and the command center of the Nazi movement. In 1926 Gregor Strasser appointed a young Heinrich Himmler as his right hand with a table right inside of the rooms at Schellingstrasse. Two years later (1928) Adolf Hitler designated Strasser as Reich’s organizational director and the Fuhrer’s deputy would carry one’s duties nowhere but here. About midnight of May 20, 1928, overnight after the national elections, Hitler came to the party office at Schellingstrasse 50 to make his enthusiastic and semi-philosophical speech about a better tomorrow despite the loss of 100 000 votes in contrast with the previous year’s triumph. Two years after that relative political failure, the enormous 18.3% of the national support in September 1930 would turn Schellingstrasse 50 to be if not enough capacity to welcome all the newcomers of the NSDAP.
THE BRAUN HOUSE. THE FOURTH HQ IN MUNICH
September 1930 witnessed never-seen-before national support of the NSDAP party with 6 million and 400 thousand votes, which made a party office on Schellingstrasse out of capability to do honors to all newcomers, who had been astonished by the success of the recently poor-known movement. Along with that, the party had already obtained a luxurious PALAIS BARLOW palace in the very heart of Munich, next to the Konigsplatz square (King’s or Royal Square). Indeed, the building was set for an auction as far back as 1928 and Hitler personally had been obsessed with the idea to repatriate the superb estate with an eye to turning it into a new command center of the ever-growing movement, which had been taking minds of the ever-increasing figure of the German population. All the papers were harmonized and considered for approval back already in May 1930 and the palm-sweating amount of money had amounted to 800 000 DM (Deutsche Mark) by virtue of massive donations, party funds, and Hitler’s personal dividends from the recently redoubled sales of ‘Mein Kampf’.
Whensoever the papers were signed, Hitler made a magnetic appeal to Paul Ludwig Troost, a famous architect, who would make the reconstruction possible no later than in September of the same year. The future-to-become Fuhrer put himself a fascination with reforming the party headquarters, at times at the expense of the ongoing political issues. The renewed NSDAP residence was ceremonially opened in March 1931, once incarnated functionality and beauty, as Hitler would comment first-hand. Leaving no doubts, a new office was pre-determined to house a grand political presence of Hitler, a cabinet with a portrait of Friedrich the Great on the wall next to a bust of Benito Mussolini. The new party center was planned to accommodate newly created departments of Propaganda, Agricultural Policy, Justice, and Press. The former PALAIS BARLOW was heavily damaged by the Allied air raids on Munich back in the Spring of 1945 and had been left in ruins for decades. As early as 2015 the location of the former Nazi resistance was taken by ‘NS-Dokumentationszentrum München – Lern- und Erinnerungsort Zur Geschichte des Nationalsozialismus’ (Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism).