Introduction (back to top)
Following World War I, Germany was in political chaos, especially in Munich, the political center of Bavaria. Several political parties were active in the 1920s in Munich, where this virtual political chaos left the different parties all against each other. Some active and popular parties included the Social Democrats, known as the SPD, the Bavarian People’s Party, the BVP, and the Communist Party, the KPD. The National Socialist party, Hitler’s future Nazi party, abbreviated NSDAP, made “its appearance in the already crowded and confused political scene in Munich, the capital of Bavaria.”
Each party supported a different, yet sometimes overlapping, future for Germany. Important parts of each political party were the propaganda and publishing of the party’s opinions through its newspaper. Accordingly, the most influential parties had public newspapers in which they expressed the views of their parties while defaming other politics and parties. The Volkischer Beobachter was the official NSDAP newspaper, and Hitler owned all shares of the paper and the Franz-Eher Publishing House by November 1921, giving Hitler power and control over the publications of the newspaper. Hitler used this newspaper to give “ideological clarification and interpretation to current political issues.” The control of the newspaper served as inhibitor of uncontrolled discussion and disunity among members of the NSDAP. There was no representation of the middle-class Left in the Bavarian Press, but there were important Marxist papers. The Social Democrats were considered Marxist in their views of non-revolutionary peaceful democracy. Among the important newspapers, the SPD’s Munich Post was “far and away the leader among these sheets.” The Bayerisches Wochenblatt was the sister organ of this main SPD newspaper in Bavaria. The socialist newspapers, especially the Munich Post because of its location in the hot spot of Bavaria and its relentless editors, specifically aimed its attention to Hitler, the odd man rising to power in the NSDAP.
The Munich Post’s open opposition against Hitler lasted a dozen
years, and “produced some of the sharpest, most penetrating insights into
his character, his mind and method, then or since.”
These journalists were the first to focus sustained critical attention
on Hitler, from the very first moment he emerged from the beer-hall backrooms
to take to the streets of Munich in the early 1920s. According to Ron
Rosenbaum in Explaining Hitler, “they were the first to tangle
with him, the first to ridicule him, the first to investigate him, the
first to expose the seamy underside of his party, the murderous criminal
behavior masked by its pretensions to being a political movement. They
were the first to attempt to alert the world to the nature of the rough
beast slouching towards Berlin.” All these firsts imply that the Munich Post
was effective in instigating opposition against Hitler. The Munich
Post made the strong effort to report news on Hitler and often
referred to the NSDAP as “Hitler’s party,” reminding its readers that
the crimes committed by the Nazi party were the personal responsibility
of this one man and his criminal politics.
However, the Munich Post’s effect on the general public may have
been less intense than its effect on important party leaders. Although
it did publish attacks on Hitler and the NSDAP, the public reaction to
these articles, and not just what the articles said, must be considered
when giving the Munich Post recognition as an influential newspaper.
The Munich Post’s readers were mainly avid Social Democrats,
so the publishing of these sort of stories may not have had such a drastic
effect on the general public. Rosenbaum dismisses the political upheaval
in Bavaria at the time that may have lead the Munich Post to be
so oppositional to Hitler, simply stating the Munich Post’s “opposition
to Hitler grew initially out of ideology” (since the Munich Post
was founded and sponsored by the Bavarian Social Democratic Party), but
its “struggle with Hitler became extremely personal.” It was not this simple; other newspapers in other
parts of the country were also aware of and exposed Hitler’s “seamy underside”,
and the government regulated his activities to an extent as well. The
effectiveness of the Munich Post on Hitler needs to be examined
through the content and tone of the actual articles published, Hitler’s
reaction to these articles, international news of the events the Munich
Post was covering, and comparison of the Post’s coverage to
other newspapers’. The Munich Post was distinctively active in
two time periods, the early 1920s, when Hitler was just emerging on the
political scene, and in the early 1930s, after his imprisonment, when
he achieved actual authoritative power in Germany.
The Early 1920s (back to top)
Hitler’s ambitious attitude and extraordinary genius for public speaking gained him attention. Hitler spoke for the first time at a public meeting on October 16, 1919. At this time, the NSDAP was a weak party, and few regulars attended the meetings. This meeting at which Hitler spoke was the first to be publicly advertised, with an ad in the Munchener Beobachter. The idea and ambition behind this ad is credited to Hitler. His popularity at the first meeting, where he boasted he spoke over his allotted time, was the success of his first public speech, and initiated his further insistence on bigger audiences at NSDAP meetings. On February 24, 1920, at the bequeath of Hitler himself, the NSDAP staged its first great mass meeting. The NSDAP quickly turned into one of the most aggressive, vindictive and violent political organizations in Germany, including citizen’s militia, paramilitary forces, and an underground system. They advocated “brute force” against their enemies, and as early as September 1920 were documented as physically throwing their opposition out of assembly halls. Hitler was the main spokesperson for the party at these meetings, and to the Munich public, by 1921 Hitler was the NSDAP. In the summer of 1921, Hitler’s main focus was still primarily concerned with strengthening his position in Munich.
As early as August 1920, the Munich Post labeled Hitler as the sharpest of all agitators “presently doing mischief in Munich.” The socialist newspaper dubbed Hitler ‘leader of the German fascists’ and laid outright attacks on him and his actions through sarcasm, slurs expressing doubt of his alleged bravery during World War I, and corrupt bribes. Hitler’s party referred to the Munich Post as the Poison Kitchen, a name to conjure up images of “a kitchen ‘cooking up’ poisonous slanders, poison-pen journalism.” The newspaper was a poison thorn in Hitler’s side, his newspaper nemesis. Through Rosenbaum’s research, he found that “poison” was a word that Hitler spoke in all seriousness, a word he used only to express his most profound hatred. He called the Jews “the eternal poisoners of the world.” Hitler describing the Munich Post as poison shows his own despise of the newspaper and his hatred for its persistent attacks against him.
Hitler’s true political intentions for the future of Germany also started to surface in the early 1920s. Anti-Semitism was not unpopular in Germany at this time, and the NSDAP made it clear that they were enemies of the Jews early on as Hitler was gaining power in the party. In 1923, at a National Socialist meeting in Munich, the party made these anti-Semitic views clear. On March 16, the party adopted a resolution urging that Jews in Germany should be interned, and those not reporting voluntarily should be shot. The meeting also approved a second resolution, a threat that if the Allied Forces did not leave the Rhineland (which they occupied post WW I), that “all German Jews should be treated like hostages and shot.” However, still, to the great majority of Munich citizens, even less to the those outside the city in the wider population, Hitler was not known as more than “a provincial Bavarian hot-head and rabble-rouser.” The Munich Post, however, had discovered more than just a “rabble-rouser” in Hitler. As early as his emergence onto the scene, this newspaper was determined to show its discovery to the public.
The Munich Post was filled with attacks on Hitler and reports of his and the NSDAP’s actions. In November 1921, at the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Hitler spoke to a crowd filled with opposition, including Majority-Socialist Party and “circles connected with their newspaper the Munich Post” (the Majority-Socialist party was the early name for the Social Democrats, the SPD). A fight broke out over the issue of an assassination attempt on Erhard Auer, a Munich Post writer and SPD spokesperson. A full-scale brawl followed. The socialists in the audience attacked the present SA men with beer mugs they had hidden under the tables as ammunition. Hitler later idealized this scene in Mein Kampf as the “baptism of fire” of his SA men, who were triumphant in the fight despite their comparatively low number of fighters. Hitler recognizing this fight, against the socialists over a Munich Post issue, as the baptism of his SA men, again demonstrates Hitler’s consideration of the SPD party and the Munich Post as his first and foremost enemies.
In December 1921, the Munich Post questioned Hitler’s financial securities, a topic he was distinctively touchy about. Hitler had refused the position of chairperson of the NSDAP because he did not want to be bothered with, nor was he good at, organization. Instead, he concerned himself with propaganda, public speaking, reading, and writing. Between January to June 1921, Hitler wrote 39 articles for the Volkischer Beobachter. Much of his time was spent lounging around the cafes in Munich, conversing and speaking to political persons and potential party advocates. In August 1921, the Munich Post obtained the text of an attack on Hitler made by internal Nazi factions. Once the Post gained hold of this text, they printed it immediately. Entitled “Adolf Hitler, Traitor,” this pamphlet questioned Hitler’s mysterious sources for financial support, asking the question “just what does he do for a living?” His official line for his financial situation had been declared previously in the Volkischer Beobachter, stating his help in the movement was self-sacrificial, and he received no money from the party. He made his income purely from fees he received for speeches. After the Munich Post published these questioning remarks, focusing on how Hitler got the money to ride around in these luxury cars with women and expensive cigarettes, Hitler went to court in a libel case against the Post. Hitler did eventually admit to being “supported in a modest way” by NSDAP supporters. Still, the verdict went against the Munich Post, as the pattern would proceed, charging the paper a fine of 600 marks.
This type of pursuit against the Munich Post and other newspaper slanderers was typical. Hitler sued them for libel and fraud again and again, specifically taking advantage of the right-wing nationalist ideals of the Bavarian judiciary branch in cases against the Munich Post. In a similar suit, Hitler was awarded 6000000 marks for slander when the Socialist Berlin organ, the Vorwarts, charged that Hitler was being financed by “American Semitic and Bolshevistic funds.” Hitler responded publicly to these criticisms through these law suits, followed by undercover nighttime threatening phone calls, specifically directed to the writers of the Post, thus following the party’s reputation of violence and threats against its enemies. These licit and illicit responses to the Munich Post’s allegations once again demonstrates that Hitler considered the Munich Post an obvious threat against his power.
Other incriminating information printed in the leaflet “Adolf Hitler, Traitor” raised questions that the Munich Post had been addressing regarding Hitler too, like his alieness and his strangeness, both of origin and personality. Especially damaging was the question of his possible Jewishness or of some subterranean relationship to Jews. The pamphlet argued that, with Hitler’s sudden grab for dictatorial power of the NSDAP, Hitler was not only serving “Jewish interests” but also acting “like a real Jew himself.”
In March 1923, a number of Monarchists were charged with promoting the overthrow of the Bavarian Government and the setting up of a different kingdom. However, Hitler was not charged or related to this incident by accounts with the police, although he was clearly involved. The New York Times reported “the fact the Hitler himself has not been molested by the authorities . . . leads some of the German writers to hint that the Conservative Cabinet is merely using camouflage while secretly backing the so-called National Socialist.” Considering the Munich Post’s previous involvement in such scandals involving Hitler, these “German writers,” although not specified, were likely the journalists of the Munich Post. According to a Berlin cablegram of March 16, the political Supreme Court in Leipsic recognized the NSDAP as part of the coalition, and declared the NSDAP organization a menace to the State, and ordered its dissolution in Prussia, Baden, Thuringia, Hamburg, and Saxony. However, the New York Times article goes further to explain the inefficiency of this Supreme Court declaration compared to Hitler’s influence in Munich: “As the bulk of the National Socialist movement is located in Bavaria and there is little prospect of the South German division of the Supreme Court doing anything calculated seriously to inconvenience the Hitler bands, the Leipsic gesture seems rather futile.” After these allegations, Colonel Xylander, one of the wordiest of the Nationalists, addressed a meeting of fifteen hundred plus Hitler followers. Several people from the audience interrupted his speech to shout slanders about Minister of the Interior Schweyer, who was involved in the Leipsic declaration. These insults included calling him a rascal and a swine and stating he should be held up against a wall and shot or else hanged. The Munich Post’s article about this meeting accused and blamed Colonel Xylander for not only failing to rebuke the interrupters, but also for adding to the slander of the German government by accusing Premier Knilling and Schweyer of “destroying Bavaria’s reputation as a German center of order.”
Since the Munich Post was published in Bavaria where Hitler and the NSDAP were popular with the government, it was specifically discriminated against because of its criticism of Hitler and the NSDAP. When Hitler’s newspaper was ordered to be permanently suspended in all parts of Germany by War Minister Gessler, Bavarian Military Dictator Dr. von Kuhr still permitted it to be published. The New York Times claimed it “appeared as usual last night and the ban is obviously not to be enforced here.” Finally, by military power, on October 6, 1923, the Volkischer Beobachter was officially suspended and not allowed to print in Bavaria. The same Dr. von Kuhr who had permitted the NSDAP’s newspaper to be printed indefinitely suppressed the Munich Post with no explanation at the end of October 1923. Dr. von Kuhr was recognized as part of the Nazi party after the Beer Hall Putsch, and his influence over the situation in Munich, and his discrimination against the Munich Post, shows preference to the NSDAP.
The Munich Post published many of these critical stories against Hitler and the NSDAP in the 1920s, but it was also accused of fabricating and exaggerating some reports as well. In 1923, the Munich Post allegedly exaggerated an incident incorporating the NSDAP. The Post printed that the NSDAP had threatened Erhard Auer at an open meeting when the police investigation claimed that the reporter who threatened was an unknown person in the audience. Since the judicial system in Munich is reported as being corrupt and favorable to the Right wing NSDAP, it is highly possible that these reports were misconstrued.
Another accusation of exaggeration against the Munich Post was in 1923 when the SPD mounted an intense campaign against the NSDAP, not only in the public press and government but in its own party members and followers as well. The Munich Post accused a Nazi in Lichtenfels of intimidating a Jewish merchant. The Jewish merchant was the one convicted of conspiring against the NSDAP. Once again, the questionable police reports or possible favoring of the NSDAP over the SPD may have led to these opposing stories. In Hitler and the Beer Hall Putsch, Gordon asserts, “why the SPD chose to use absurd or unsupported charges against the NSDAP and to mix these with real evidence regarding the activities of this party is unclear.” He further states “they should have realized if they did not, that such wild accusations would be likely to throw doubt on their best evidence. Probably the answer is that their press was directed primarily at their own followers and that they believed any weapon was a good one in a just battle.” The Munich Post’s readers were mostly Social Democratic party members. However, with the other reported incidents being backed by historical evidence, Gordon is being too narrow in his view. He does not question the possibility that the Munich Post may be the source telling the truth and the official police reports were fraudulent. Rosenbaum claimed that the Munich Post “had eyes everywhere,” meaning that wherever Hitler and the NSDAP were, the Post writers were watching and reporting. Therefore, the real truth behind these contradictions, especially with the corrupt police system, may not be as clear and simple as Gordon construes it to be.
The battle between the Munich Post and Hitler was hot up until 1923. Hitler and the NSDAP knew the Munich Post was a threat to them. Hitler’s hatred for it specifically surfaced as he and cohorts were planning the Beer Hall Putsch for November 1923, and part of the plan was to destroy the Munich Post offices.
Destruction of the Munich Post for the first time occurred on November 8, 1923. The Shock Troop (a special division of the SA) used rifle butts to smash windows and beat anyone they encountered. The editorial offices and pressroom were indiscriminately and thoroughly vandalized. In anticipation of later book burning, the SA made a bonfire in the street of newspapers, files, and socialist brochures. The destruction only stopped when the police officials arrived and suggested the place would be useful for a new regime.
The Beer Hall Putsch was a miserable failure. The New York Times reported, “Munich experienced little of the ‘putsch’, and the rest of Bavaria failed to react to it. In Berlin, it provoked a minimum of interest and no alarm. . . The populace generally appears to be taking very little interest in the affair, being much more concerned with the increasing price of food.” Later news revealed that if the putsch had succeeded, Dr von Kuhr would have been named Reichsverwehr (National Protector), linking him directly to the NSDAP and showing the discrimination against others and preference to the NSDAP and Hitler in Munich.
The trials for the Beer Hall Putsch lasted from February 26 to April 1, 1924. The verdict from the court case against the putschists was read to an eager audience. Hitler and other top leaders were sentenced to five years’ fortress detention, minus six months of pre-trial imprisonment. Altogether, there were four trials. Three other minor trials also followed this major and highly publicized trial. It was proved that during the putsch, the Munich Post offices were destroyed and SPD city councilors were taken as hostages. Most of the members of the SA were convicted in the Munich Post case but were then turned loose on parole. A combination of a prosecution appeal, pressure from the SPD, and popular outcry resulted in a reconsideration that sent a good number of the convicted men to fortress detention with Hitler in Landsberg. The Munich Post sued members of the SA for civil damages, apparently having little hope of restitution or punishment in any other manner. The NSDAP managed to postpone the trial with legal maneuvers for such a long time that in the end a compromise settlement favorable to the NSDAP was reached. Some claimed the “sentence was nothing short of scandalous.” The only trial Hitler was involved in was the first, and although it is clear he had a part in the other crimes committed being tried, no part of these verdicts put any responsibilities on Hitler.
Hitler’s reemergence: 1927-1930 (back to top)
Hitler was imprisoned and banned from public speaking for these sentenced years after the failed Beer Hall Putsch. In January 1927, less than three years after his sentence, and therefore two years premature to completion of his sentence, the speaking ban on Hitler was lifted by the first large German state, Saxony. On March 5, 1927, the Bavarian authorities finally conceded to the pressure to allow Hitler to speak again also. One of the conditions was that his first public speech in the state should not be held in Munich.
With Hitler’s emergence back into the political realm, the mobilization of masses for the NSDAP, now under Hitler’s control again, presumed. In the 1930s the NSDAP started making strenuous efforts to gain support of the peasants. Designed to gain peasant support, the NSDAP published the Agrarian Programme. This program was designed after R. Walther Darre’s publication in 1928 called “The Peasantry as the Life Source of the Nordic Race.” He claimed the peasant was the guardian of morality and tradition in Germany. The Agrarian Programme was recognized by rivals as unfulfillable policies. However, it still managed to get quick results in terms of support by the peasantry. The potential and capability of Nazi propaganda was already being fully recognized by the Nazi party. The Munich Post reported ominously “what is the situation now? The breakthrough of the National Socialists among Bavarian peasant masses is surely based on the fact that the peasantry is the largest and most populous element in the state; the fact that the Bavarian peasant has in many areas changed his allegiance . . . shows that he is not at all immovable in political matters.” The Munich Post thus resumed its attacks on Hitler and the Nazi party, and from this first mobilization of the peasantry, it realized the long battle ahead of them again.
In March 1930, the Munich Post also published the rumors around town regarding the plans of the Nazis to stage a putsch in the coming weeks. The evidence was never produced and the rumors were probably encouraged by Nazi opponents to blacken the name of the Nazis. The Munich Post was the first paper to refer to the rumors, even boldly suggesting these rumors were started by the Nazis themselves to measure the likely reaction of the public and their readiness to commit to the Nazi regime if a putsch did occur.
Another incident in which the Munich Post spread news about the evilness of the Nazi regime was in May 1930. The SA attended services in the Cathedral of Regensburg. The Volkischer Beobachter proudly printed the carrying of the party banners, the swastika, to church. This parade supposedly followed an agreement the party had previously made with Bishop Buchberger. The Munich Post, however, reported more disturbingly; its headlines read: “the swastika, the old heathen symbol of sun worship, thus received the sanction of the Bishop.” The Church leaders realized the difficultly of the situation, and resented that the church and politics had become intertwined. Still, it declined to condemn the SA outright, instead simply expressing protest to the NSDAP’s preference of race over religion.
A few months later, on October 5th, 1930, a meeting took place between German Chancellor Bruning, Reich Minister Treviranus, Frick and Gregor Strasser, and Hitler. The NSDAP was rapidly gaining power, but Chancellor Bruning hoped to reach an arrangement with Hitler for “loyal opposition” while the end of reparation payments and loans were being discussed. He did not want Hitler’s personal opposition to cause Germany to suffer in these negotiations. However, it seemed that Hitler did not possess such an attitude; his opposition could not be negotiated. As Hitler spoke in the meeting, he proceeded to ignore all the issues raised by Bruning, and repeated he was going to “annihilate” the SPD and other political opposition. After this meeting, Bruning announced that Hitler’s basic principle was “first power, then politics.” Hitler had once again publicly announced his hatred towards the SPD and its opposition to him that was expressed through the Munich Post.
The Early 1930s (back to top)
Regardless of the Munich Post’s attacks and spreading awareness, the public did not respond to the Post’s information. At its annual convention in 1931, the SPD decided to concentrate its attention on the Nazi (fascist) party and its increasing popularity, for in its eyes, “Fascist participation in the government is a danger to be avoided at all costs.” Still, Hitler’s influence and official power in Bavaria increased; the Post accordingly increased its coverage on Hitler and the Nazis. In the final two years of the Munich Post, from 1931-1933, very seldom was an issue published that did not contain numerous attacks and reports of Hitler’s party. These articles usually covered Nazi murders of political opponents, followed by coverage of the courtroom verdicts that allowed the murderers to get off free or charged with extreme lesser crimes instead.
In June 1931, the Munich Post published an article condemning Hitler with the headline “Warm Brotherhood in the Brown House: Sexual Life in the Third Reich.” The focus of the story was directed at the “thriving criminal subculture preying on itself, which raised the blackmail letter to a black art.” The Weimer constitution’s clause 175 made homosexual acts serious crimes. The Munich Post article began “every knowledgeable person knows . . . that inside the Hitler Party the most flagrant whorishness contemplated by paragraph 175 is widespread.” The Munich Post further claimed that it itself was in no way condemning homosexuality, but rather exposing “the disgusting hypocrisy that the Nazi Party demonstrates- outward moral indignation while inside its own ranks the most shameless practices . . . prevail.” The article continued with the publication of a letter addressed to Hitler’s chief of staff Roehm that contained a blackmail threat neatly embedded into the standard completed tasks confirmation. The threat made clear Roehm’s illegal homosexual activities in an attempt to gain further promotion above others in the party: “you mentioned inadvertently you have visited some homosexual pubs together with Dr. Heimsoth to get to know some homosexual boys. You also have been, several times, to Dr. Heimsoth’s doctor’s office and had the opportunity to see his ‘artistically precious’ collections of homoerotic photographs. You called special attention to the fact that Dr. Heimsoth has some letters from you that you are very anxious to get back.” The following day, Hitler and the Nazi party responded by claiming that the letter, written by commander in chief Meyer, was forged or counterfeit. After investigation into the letter, it emerged that Meyer did in fact write that letter. It was hypothesized that perhaps Meyer used the letter as a blackmail threat- if he did not get his demands then he would give the letter to the Munich Post. When Meyer’s demands were not met, he did give the incriminating letter to the Post to publish. Roehm withdrew his charges against the Munich Post after this investigation and agreed to pay all costs of the proceeding and those of Munich Post editor Martin Gruber. 
The Post was relentless in its reporting of the “secret death squad” within the NSDAP, called “Cell G”. They had been caught “red-handed” trying to assassinate members of the Nazi party that had been exposed and held responsible for insider leaks, specifically about the sexual blackmail scandal. The last of a series of articles on this squad quoted Hitler saying, “Nothing happens in the movement without my knowledge, without my approval . . . Even more, nothing happens without my wish.” This quote directly linked Hitler to the murders and covert violence of the NSDAP. The Munich Post was the first newspaper to openly make this claim. This quote was picked up by newspapers all over the world, showing that the Munich Post was the leader of exposing Hitler in his entirety, with a drive that other newspapers did not possess.
On December 9, 1931, the Munich Post printed what, in hindsight, was the first announcement of Hitler’s future plan for Germany. A year before Hitler came to power, the Post published it had discovered some insider information about “a secret plan” of Hitler’s that could not be discussed in public for fear of its effect on foreign policy and other implications. Rosenbaum discovered in the Munich Post archives articles regarding NSDAP’s anti-Jewish sentiment, printed in 1931 that “foretold with astonishing precision all the successive stages and persecutions the Nazi Party was to take against the Jews in the period between 1933 and 1939,” including “removal of the Jews from the courts, from the civil service, the professions; police surveillance and property; detention and expulsion of ‘unwanted’ Jews; Nuremberg-type laws against intermarriage and sexual and social intercourse.” The Post also spoke of “a final solution,” saying “for the final solution of the Jewish question it is proposed to use the Jews in Germany for slave labor or for cultivation of the German swamps administered by a special SS division.” Hitler also proposed that the NSDAP banner, the swastika, the symbol of anti-Semitism and Hitler leadership, should eventually replace the German flag.
The New York Times also reported these same Nazi anti-Jewish sentiments expressed in December 1931. It printed that Hitler claimed “all Jews are swine, un-German, and unpatriotic traitors.” Like the Munich Post, it exposed extreme discrimination: “every achievement in the realm of literature and art and in civilization in general is rejected or minimized (according to Hitler) if its author is suspected of being a Jew or of Jewish descent.” However, the New York Times incorrectly predicted, “just as soon as this fostering soil becomes exhausted the National Socialists spook will vanish. What will probably remain then will be a small, discontented bourgeois party.” This prediction was typical of other newspapers as well - it stated that Hitler would disappear and make no further impression. The Munich Post knew he would not just disappear. It warned that Hitler’s actions and ideas were dangerous and took them seriously, even when no one else did.
In 1932, Hitler’s popularity in upper Bavaria was wavering. This slight drop was caused because “sensible elements felt alienated from this party because of the planned occupation of offices and posts.” To impose even further anti-Hitler feelings, the Munich Post published an incriminating order from Roehm dated January 15, 1932. This command gave marching orders to the SA with a map of the various routes to be taken. The Post’s headline ran: “Ready for Civil War- the Marching Plan of the Nazis.” The immediate result of the exposure of these plans was a temporary ban on the SA and SS throughout the state. Although the ban did not last, it showed that the Munich Post could and did influence the government’s decision to restrict Hitler and his associates.
The Munich Post infuriated Hitler with its publications in 1932 regarding the death of his half niece Geli Raubal. The Post raised questions on the nature of Hitler’s relationship to this attractive half-niece and about his role in her death. Geli Raubal was perhaps the one and only woman Hitler was ever emotionally dependent on. She lived with him in his flat in Munich, and whether their relationship was sexual is not proven, but such speculations are popular. The Munich Post printed that the day before her death, she and Hitler engaged in a heated argument over her moving to Vienna. The Post also suggested that at the time of her death, her nose was broken, because of this argument or perhaps another quarrel with Hitler. This accusation brought Hitler close to the brink of shooting himself, according to several associates who were with him at the time. According to Hitler’s attorney, Hans Frank, whom he dispatched to threaten the Post with a lawsuit over its Geli Raubal coverage, Hitler was moaning that “he could not look at a paper any more, the terrible smear campaign would kill him.”
The Munich Post was on its way to destruction once and for all when Hitler officially became the Reich Chancellor on January 30, 1933. With this appointment, Germany would never be the same. At Hitler’s appointment, General Ludendorff warned Reich President Hindenburg, “I solemnly prophesy that this accursed man will cast our Reich into the abyss and bring our nation to inconceivable misery. Future generations will damn you in your grave for what you have done.” The Munich Post agreed with Ludendorff, and continued to fight its battle against Hitler.
In January 1933, the Post published a continuing chronicle of one individual murder to epitomize the acts of the death squads under Hitler’s commands. He was not the typical victim, as he was not anti-Hitler, but his death gave a clear example of how far Hitler’s power had extended. Herbert Hentsch was a teenage Nazi recruit who was murdered by SA thugs for an alleged deviation from party discipline. The Post claimed his executioners were shouting “Heil Hitler” as they beat him to death. The headline for a report on the murder read “What Have You Done Hitler?” Followed were reports of the “political murder summary: eighteen dead and thirty-four badly wounded in death squad attacks.” In February they continued to run such headlines and reports as “Nazi Party Hands Dripping with Blood” and “Germany Today: No Day without Death.”
The Post continued to fight on futilely against the onrushing strength of Hitler’s party until March 9, 1933, when the Nazis banned the last opposition papers still publishing. In all parts of Germany, including Chemitz, Muenster, Magdeburg, and Munich, all Socialist newspapers’ buildings were taken over. The Munich Post offices were turned over to an SA squad to pillage. They gutted it completely, dumping trays of broken type onto the streets. Furniture was thrown out the windows, and copies of the newspaper were again burned in the middle of the street. Although the police witnessed this destruction, they “simply stood by in the street and looked on while the SA wrecked the offices.” The writers and editors were dragged away to imprisonment in concentration camps. That was the end of the Munich Post. Its battle against Hitler and the Nazis had been lost.
Conclusion (back to top)
Rosenbaum justly calls the story of the Munich Post “one of the great unreported dramas in the history of journalism.” Again and again, the Munich Post “reminded the people of Munich and a world that wouldn’t listen” of Hitler’s misdeeds and evils. In the early 1920s, the NSDAP “was hardly yet a significant force. . . Without the extraordinary conditions in Bavaria . . . without the backcloth of political instability, economic crisis, and social polarization, everything suggests it would have remained insignificant.” Perhaps with more courageous opposition like the Munich Post, the Nazi party and Hitler would have remained insignificant indefinitely.
The act of reading the Munich Post, Rosenbaum writes, was nightmarish: “There was something about communing with the actual crumbling copies of the newspaper . . . issues in which Hitler was a living figure stalking the pages, that served to give me a painfully immediate intimation of the maddeningly unbearable Cassandra-like frustration the Munich Post journalists must have felt. They were the first to sense the dimensions of Hitler's potential for evil -- and to see the way the world ignored the desperate warnings in their work.” Rosenbaum shows, through his study of newspaper archives, that the German people knew who Hitler really was, or at least that they could have known if they had listened or responded to the warnings, especially the warnings of the Munich Post. Hitler's true character was made painfully clear in newsprint on a regular basis for at least twelve years before he ruled the country.
Protesters to Hitler fought with their hearts and jeopardized their freedom and lives hoping the world would listen. These men included Martin Gruber, Erhard Auer, Edmund Goldschagg, Julius Zerfass and others, reporters and editors of the Munich Post. They faced imprisonment and death, trying unsuccessfully to warn the world about the man who embodied evil, Adolf Hitler. Even more disheartening is how successful Hitler was in erasing his first enemies, the Munich Post, from history and memory.” Exploration of the Munich Post provides historians with another important side of Hitler’s coming to power. The question of if he could have been stopped now looms more darkly. The events of the past cannot be changed, but the protesters of Hitler and the Nazi party must be given recognition. They promote freedom of ideas and courageous opposition, even, and perhaps especially, when these ideals seem impossible to withhold.
Works Cited (back to top)
Links (back to top)