On the 9th of November, 1923, Adolf Hitler & members of the NSDAP attempted to seize power in Munich, Bavaria, in a coup. It was a failure, Hitler was injured (& some killed) & he was arrested. This is not that story. This is - *more importantly* - about happened next. THREAD 1/
Hitler, his co-conspirators and the Sturmabteilung (SA) had attempted to usurp the Bavarian state government. Thus, they had been charged with 'high treason'. A trial was scheduled for early 1924, in Munich's 'People's Court'. /2
It seems obvious to say, but neither Hitler, or the NSDAP were what they would later become. The NSDAP was unfocused, still find its feet in some areas. Hitler was a more emotional creature, with more of a scattergun approach to his speaking & rhetoric. /3
One thing that Hitler *did* have was his gift for drawing an audience in with his passion and intensity. It seems odd - a rustic Bavarian accent, sweat pouring, wild gesticulating - but people couldn't help but watch. /4
Still, however, Hitler's NSDAP was just another fish in a very crowded bowl. In the Munich of 1923, the Nazis traded blows with Communists and other left-wing groups of every stripe. On the right, they jostled for attention with monarchists and 'freikorps' - militias. /5
A trial for 'high treason', however - well, that brought the media running. Not only German newspapers, but the foreign press descended on Munich and made sure that wherever journalists could be placed, they were. Security was tight, the building heavily guarded. /6
One thing that had raised alarm among Hitler's opponents, prior to the trial, was the fact that both the Bavarian Justice Minister, Franz Guertner & the trial judge, Georg Neithardt had expressed right-wing sentiments - Neithardt had even shown prior leniency towards Hitler. /7
Hitler's trial, along with that of his co-conspirators, began on the 26th of February 1926. From the outset, it was clear that judge's beliefs were influencing the course, and the direction of the trial. /8
While the courtroom is usually a highly-structured, regimented place, Hitler was allowed to take the spotlight. There were few restrictions on the length of time he was able to speak, nor did anybody object at his cross-examinations of witnesses. /9
While I could give you an outline of the arguments and counter-arguments, I'd rather just make this clear - Hitler was running the show. His words were taken up by the domestic and foreign press and published each day. It became like a serial - a manifesto in segments. /10
As days became weeks, Hitler's rhetoric began to coalesce around two core ideas - that he was taking responsibility for the failed coup all on himself, and that some kind of divine hand had chosen him to do it, for Germany's sake. His final statement ran thus: /11
Prior to the trial, it had been suggested that Hitler could be hanged, or exiled (being an Austrian) if found guilty. Instead, when the verdict was handed down on the 1st of April, 1924, it ran thus - five years, with the possibility of early release for good behaviour. /12
Hitler (and his co-conspirators) were taken to Landsberg Prison, south of Augsburg. There, they were housed in conditions that seemed more like a summer camp than a prisoners. They had guests and access to many outside goods. /13
After an initial period of depression - and a lot of encouragement from his devotees - Hitler began to sit down with Rudolf Hess, his deputy and began outlining a book of his ideas. He had books brought in and read voraciously to help him write. /14
The book that emerged had required significant editing, and was described as a bit of mess, even by fervent Nazis. It didn't sell all that well in the beginning, but would still end up in almost every German home, as a gift. /15
Some say that 'Mein Kampf' was the lasting legacy of Landsberg Prison. Others, including myself, think it was the time and the resources it gave to Hitler, in order to shape him into the demagogue and dictator we know from newsreels and documentaries. /16
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