How did Hitler Enter Politics?

FROM THE LECTURE SERIES: SECRET SOCIETIES

By Richard B. Spence Ph.D., University of Idaho

After the end of World War I and the abdication of the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm, socialists took over Germany. However, a unified socialist party did not exist rather it was fragmented. Several parties were then formed. The Communists took seven members of the Thule Society hostage and executed them. However, the society did not last long and was soon abolished by the Freikorps, the right-wingers with Swastikas on their helmets.

Hitler's German Workers' Party (DAP) membership card
Every worker of Hitler’s German Workers’ Party (DAP) owned a membership card.
(Image: User: Eloquence / Public domain)

Hitler’s First Steps in Politics

After World War I, Adolf Hitler, who was a veteran, did not return home. He didn’t leave the army until April 1920. He was connected with Munich’s revolutionary soldiers’ councils and even wore a red armband. But after the Reds collapsed, he went to the other side and informed on the revolutionary soldiers.

Learn more about Red Octopus: The Communist International.

In May 1919, Captain Karl Mayr, who was in charge of education and propaganda in the German army, took notice of him. He compared him to a ‘stray dog looking for a master’. Hitler attended classes at Munich University under his command. Then, he became an informant of military intelligence or a V-Mann.

On September 12, 1919 he was assigned to go to a meeting of the German Workers’ Party (DAP). The DAP was against both capitalism and Marxism and regarded them as the manifestations of Jewish influence. They planned to establish national socialism based on the Aryan race and German nation as a counter-ideology to international socialism.

The speaker was Gottfried Feder, one of Hitler’s teachers at Munich University, and talked about the means to eliminate capitalism. Hitler impressed the attendees by taking part in a debate after the talk and showed excellent speaking skills. So, he was put in charge of the party propaganda.

Armed Freikorps paramilitaries in Berlin in 1919.
Armed Freikorps paramilitaries in Berlin in 1919. (Image: Major a. D. F. W. Deiß, Weller Verlag/Berlin/Public domain)

Learn more about The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital.

Hitler and the Thule Society

Although Hitler claimed that he had no prior acquaintance with the Thule, there are a number of connections between him and the Thule society. The speaker at the meeting, Gottfried Feder, was a member of the Thule and Hitler’s instructor. Also, Captain Mayr trained the V-Men based on Thule’s propaganda.

This is a transcript from the video series Secret Societies. Watch it now, on The Great Courses Plus.

Another link between Hitler and the Thule society is related to Anton Drexler. He was the founder of the German Worker’s Party and was a guest-attendant at the Thule meetings. The DAP was practically a ‘Ring of Thule’ since Drexler had merged his party with Thule’s Political Workers’ Circle.  

Besides, based on Sebottendorf’s claims in his 1933 memoir, Before Hitler Came, Hitler ‘entered the halls of Thule’ in summer 1919. This is before he joined the DAP. Also in the summer of 1919, he applied for a job in a newspaper controlled by the Thule society. So he did know about the Thule society, although these cannot prove that he was a member. Since the German army did not allow the soldiers to join organizations that required an oath of loyalty, it can be accepted that he was not a member and just a guest-attendant.

Hitler Enters the Thule Society

Gottfried Feder
Gottfried Feder (Image: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R16259/CC-BY-SA 3.0/CC BY-SA 3.0 DE/Public domain)

Sebottendorf had to leave Thule because of financial accusations, questions about his citizenship, and past actions in Turkey. There are also some allegations that some people in the army wanted to put Hitler in Sebottendorf’s place, so they got rid of him. Whatever the actual reason, Hitler joined Thule, and the DAP was renamed to the National Socialist German Workers’ party. The Thule society gradually faded due to the absence of Sebottendorf. But at the same time, the new Nazi Party was flourishing with the new leader, Adolf Hitler.

Communism was still a big threat to Germany, the Nazi Party decided to create a counter-communist ideology to appeal to workers. Under his leadership, the party announced a Twenty-Five Point Program as a counter-communist manifesto. It promised social welfare, nationalization of industry freedom of religion, and equality. The only religion that was not worthy of German citizenship was Jewish whose believers were non-Aryans. But Hitler’s personal hatred for the Jews was much stronger than that although there isn’t clear evidence as to how it started and how much he really meant it.

It seems that he used Jews as a means to ‘create first-rate revolutionary upheavals, regardless of what methods and means I have to use in the process’. Still it is not clear whether he was a tool in the hands of his superiors or he was an aspiring politician who thought of nothing but his own ambitions.

Common Questions about How Hitler Entered Politics

Q: What were the SS in Germany?

When Hitler entered politics with the leadership of the Nazi Party, he had rivals. One of them was the Nazi boss in Berlin. He criticized Hitler for his dependence on the capitalists. In response to these criticisms, Hitler formed his personal guard– SS.

Q: What do the 25 points of Nazism mean?

In 1920 the Nazis adopted a twenty-five point program. They demanded equal social rights for all people except for Jews, who were non-Aryans and did not deserve German citizenship. They even promised equal rights and freedom of religion.

Q: What was Hitler’s first political party?

Hitler’s first political party was DAP or the German Workers’ Party. He first attended their meetings as a guest and gradually rose to power. The DAP had anti-capitalist and anti-Marxist views.

Q: When did the DAP become the NSDAP?

In 1920, soon after Hitler joined the DAP, the German Workers’ Party was renamed the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. They added the ‘National Socialist’ part to better highlight the party as an alternative to Communism’s International Socialism.

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