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PROLOGUE: Roots of the Holocaust
 pg. 37 
Storm Troopers, responsible for fomenting riots and disrupting political meetings, stand at attention before Nazi banners that proclaim, "Germany awake."
Photo: Bilderdienst SYddeutscher Verlag
Young supporters of the Nazi Party parade through the streets of Munich during the first annual Party Day rally. The NSDAP did not create a formal youth organization until 1926.
Photo: Ullstein Bilderdienst
On September 12, 1919, Mayr sent Hitler to the Sterneckerbräu, a Munich beer hall, to obtain intelligence about a group whose name led the Army to think--mistakenly--that it belonged to the political left. In fact, the ideology of the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP; German Workers' Party) was just the opposite.

Established in January 1919, this little-known party's leaders included Anton Drexler, a Munich railroad worker, who envisioned a völkisch German state resting on broad middle-class interests and purged of Jews and foreigners. At first, Hitler found the September 12 meeting boring and was about to leave, but when the discussion turned to the possibility of Bavarian separatism, Hitler intervened in strong disagreement. Impressed by Hitler's vigorous rebuttal, Drexler gave Hitler a copy of My Political Awakening, the DAP leader's political credo, and invited Hitler to return if he wanted to join. A few days later, before Hitler had decided what to do, he received a postcard. It said that he had been accepted as a party member and urged him to attend a DAP leadership meeting for further discussion. Hitler went to this meeting--it was held in another Munich beer hall, the dimly lit Altes Rosenbad--where his sympathy for the DAP's views and his sense of personal opportunity impressed him. The exact date remains unclear, but one day during the second half of September 1919, Hitler joined the German Workers' Party as member No. 555 (the DAP's numbering began at 501 to magnify its size). He also became the seventh member of its executive committee.

Hitler's political energy, canny use of advertising and propaganda techniques, and speech-making ability gradually lifted the DAP from oblivion. On February 24, 1920, nearly 2000 people, including several hundred Socialist opponents, came to the party's first mass meeting, which was held in the Festsaal (banquet hall) of Munich's Hofbräuhaus. When it was Hitler's turn to speak, he harangued the audience, amplifying party platform themes that he and Drexler had set down a few days earlier. Among the platform's standard right-wing articles--for example, pan-German nationalism and denunciation of the Versailles Treaty--there were also proposals to revoke the citizenship rights of Jews, to exclude them from the civil service, and to deport Jews who had come to Germany after World War I began. None of these proposals particularly distinguished the DAP from other right-wing German parties, but Hitler and his fiery rhetoric did.

 1919: Action Nationale, an antisemitic and Fascist group, is founded in Belgium by Pierre Nothomb.
 1919: The Treaty of St. Germain guarantees minority rights to Austrian Jews.
 1919: The German translation of Protocols of the Elders of Zion,the alleged minutes of a secret meeting of conspiratorial Elders of Zion, is published.
 January 5, 1919: The German Workers' Party (DAP) is founded in Munich.
 Mid-September 1919: Adolf Hitler joins the German Workers' Party.
 Late 1919: Hitler meets Dietrich Eckart, a Munich playwright and the publisher of Auf gut deutsch (In Plain German), a rabidly antisemitic, anti-Marxist weekly.
 1919-1921: A third wave of violently antisemitic pogroms sweeps Poland and the Ukraine. Overall, more than 60,000 Jews are killed, and several times that number are injured and wounded.
PROLOGUE: Roots of the Holocaust
 pg. 37 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.