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PROLOGUE: Roots of the Holocaust
 pg. 25 
Gerlich was not the only German journalist who opposed Hitler and the Nazi Party during the 1920s and early 1930s. Even before Gerlich used his pen against Hitler, a group of now largely (but undeservedly) forgotten editors and reporters at the Munich Post--Martin Gruber, Erhard Auer, Edmund Goldschagg, and Julius Zerfass among them--used a savvy combination of investigative and tabloid styles to expose the Nazis as scandal-ridden, blackmailing, murderous thugs who would stop at nothing to put their racist, antisemitic politics into practice. Arguably the first public voices raised against Hitler, their opposition was from the political left more than from Gerlich's conservative perspective, but their themes and his had much in common.

For 12 years, up to and even including Hitler's early days as Germany's chancellor in the winter of 1933, the Munich Post battled Hitler and the National Socialists in print. Regarding Hitler as a political criminal and the Nazis as a reckless gang, the newspaper portrayed Hitler as controlling every move the Nazis made. The Nazis, the Post's journalists typically underscored, were the "Hitler Party." Its cartoons lampooned Hitler; its stories aimed to topple him. The paper exposed murderous blackmail-driven purges within the Nazi Party, and denounced Hitler's lie that a Socialist "stab in the back" had brought about Germany's World War I defeat. Post reporters implicated Hitler criminally in the mysterious death of his half-niece, Geli Raubal, and they insinuated that Hitler's antisemitism was unsuccessfully covering the likelihood that he was himself at least partly Jewish. In "The Jews in the Third Reich," a forecast published on December 9, 1931, more than two years before Hitler took power, the Post reported that it knew of a secret Nazi plan to deprive Jews of civil rights, confiscate their property, and achieve "the Final Solution of the Jewish Question" by removing them from German society through slave labor.

These are the most important defendants at the trial following the Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler is fourth from the right.
Photo: Bundesarchiv / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive
The Beer Hall Putsch

In November 1923 Adolf Hitler and Nazi Party followers attempted to overthrow the Bavarian government in what has come to be known as the Beer Hall Putsch.

Backed by armed members of the SA, Hitler stormed an official rally held in one of Munich, Germany's ubiquitous beer cellars on the evening of November 8. With a melodramatic proclamation that the national revolution had begun, Hitler and his followers took over the meeting and discussed strategy to gain popular support for their uprising. The next day, a mass Nazi demonstration in the center of Munich turned into a fiasco. Confronted by police barricades and following a brief gun battle in which 16 Nazis and four policemen were killed, Hitler and his followers fled for their lives.

The treason trial against Hitler and his underlings received national attention in Germany and resulted in a propaganda victory for the upstart politician. Accepting full responsibility for his actions, Hitler claimed that the real criminals were the signatories of the Versailles Peace Treaty and supporters of the Weimar Republic.

Right-wing judges sympathetic to Hitler's political vision sentenced Hitler to five years in prison, of which he served nine months. While in jail, Hitler dictated (to Rudolf Hess) his political manifesto, Mein Kampf (My Struggle).
Photo: Hulton Getty Images

 1516-1918: Palestine is under control of the Ottoman Empire; See October 1918.
 1542: Martin Luther, father of Protestant Christianity, publishes the pamphlet On the Jews and Their Lies.
 1648-1649: The Cossack-led pogroms of Bogdan Chmielnicki erupt in Poland and Russia. Charges of ritual murder and Host profanation lead to the destruction of about 300 Jewish communities and the murder of about 100,000 Jews.
 1780s: Prussian chemists formulate "Prussian blue," a toxic compound that will be refined some 155 years later and called Zyklon B, used by the Germans to gas Jewish death-camp inmates.
 September 27, 1791: France grants citizenship to Jews who swear an oath of loyalty to the nation.
 1796: The Netherlands grants citizenship to Jews.
PROLOGUE: Roots of the Holocaust
 pg. 25 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.