Nazi Party, Horst Wessel
Horst Wessel, the son of a Protestant clergyman from Bielefeld, was a songwriter who abandoned his law studies to live with a former prostitute in the slums of Berlin. He joined the party at 19 and became the leader of a troop of Brownshirts. He wrote the lyrics for the celebrated “Horst Wessel” song, originally titled by him “Raise High the Flag”. A gang of communists that burst into his room murdered him. The supposed killer is Ali Höhler. The “official” Nazi Party version has it that Wessel was surprised by communists at his home at Grosse Fraankfurter Strasse 62 on January 14, 1930, and was shot in the mouth and died nine days later. Other more critical, but possibly more objective, reports go so far as to claim he was a procurer of prostitutes and was killed in a brawl over a girl. His untimely death has transformed him into a Nazi symbol, an idealist who has given his life for the Nazi cause.
Gobblels, never one to let an opportunity slip and in typically verbose language, calls him, “a Socialist Christ”. The “Horst Wessel” song becomes the official anthem of the Nazis and takes second place only to the national anthem, “Deutschland, Deutschland”. The tune is said to have been originally a Salvation Army hymn.
Die Fahnen hoch, die Reihe dicht geschlossen!
SA marschiert mit ruhig festem Schritt.
Kam’raden, die Rotfront und Reaktion erschossen,
Marschiern im Geist in unsern Reihen mit.
The flags held high!
The ranks stand tight together!
SA march on, with quiet, firm forward pace.
Comrades who, though shot by Red Front or Reaction,
Still march with us, their spirit in our ranks.
The outside world is changing rapidly. The Muller coalition government resigns and Henrich Brüning, head of the Catholic Centre party, succeeds him and promises to cure Germany’s economic problems of deflation and unemployment, but the Nazis and communists have voted against him in the Reichstag. Finally, on July 16, Brüning persuades President Hindenburg to use his emergency powers to put his decrees into effect. When his coalition partners refuse to vote for him, however, he dissolves the Reichstag and calls for new elections for September 14.
Nazi Party, Organization
With the money from the Ruhr magnates continuing to pour into the Nazi coffers, Hitler re-equipps and enlarge his SA. He purchases the Brown House in Munich on the Briennerstrasse, which he has re-designed as party headquarters. Originally built in 1828, it had by the 1920s fallen into some disrepair, which left it open for the internal changes that will be necessary for its use by the NSDAP. Contributions have been pouring in from many party members to help defray the costs. Professor Troost, Hitler’s favourite architect, has been brought in to deal with the architectural and design features and is working closely with Hitler.
Inside the Brown House was stunningly impressive, at least by Nazi values. The conference room was garish red leather, and the black and red entrance hall was highlighted with swastikas, and there was a restaurant in the basement. The SA man from the country who visited his party headquarters left in awe, but possibly depressed, for many of the SA were in dire financial straits during this period.
SA, Stennes Mutiny
Many SA men, being unpaid and hungry, and exhausted from non-stop campaigning, are becoming disillusioned. So the districts under Oberster SA-Führer Ost, Walther Stennes, have gone on strike. Stennes a former Freikorps leader and follower of Strasser’s radical Nazism, has become Pfeffer von Salomon’s deputy and leader of the SA in eastern Germany. His men are for the most part unemployed and in poverty, and have heckled a speech by Goebbels, the Gauleiter of Berlin, and beat up his SS guard. Hitler’s oratorial skills have not worked and he fears an SA revolt.
Hitler was in Munich at the time of the revolt. He raced to Berlin, because if the revolt continued or spread all would be lost in the coming elections. Hitler went from group to group, begging, pleading even sobbing. They were angry and frustrated. One SA-Führer actually grabbed Hitler by the tie and shook him.
Ernst Röhm, Hitler’s long-time ally, is in Bolivia assisting that country in training its army. Hitler believes that Röhm is the one man who can control the uneasy SA. So he decides it is time to call Röhm back. In the meantime he quietly takes steps which assures his ultimate control of the SA. He names himself Oberster SA-Führer on September 2 with the second-in-command to be Stabschef answerable only to him.
Pfeffer von Solomon, following the SA mutiny and a dispute with Hitler over the nomination of SS rather than SA men to the Reichstag, was relieved of command of the SA. Hitler took it over personally and recalled Röhm from Bolivia to command it, demanding a personal loyalty oath from the men of the SA. For a time in 1930 it looked highly unlikely that there would be an SA rally in Braunschweig to pay homage to Hitler. During this period the Nazis took advantage of every opportunity provided to them.
During 1930 Strasser organized the party for the Reichstag elections, concentrating on key seats, making the party the second largest in the Reichstag. But again he quarrelled with Hitler over Nazi Party policy. His younger brother, Otto, was thrown out of a party meeting in Berlin and called for other radicals to form a new party with him. Gregor disowned him and remained at the centre of Nazi power, but his position was seriously weakened. It was further weakened when Otto Strasser and Stennes later fled to Prague and established the Schwarze Front (Black Front), an organization of dissident Nazis who represented “true National Socialist views”.
Politics, Reichstag Elections
In the elections, 30 million Germans have gone to the polls. The Nazis become the second-largest party in the Reichstag with 107 seats, second only to the Social Democrats with 143 seats. The communists are a poor third with 77 seats. A total of 6,409,000 votes have been cast for the Nazis, and most of the men whose names would later become synonymous with National Socialism are now party deputies in the Reichstag.
While the Nazis are celebrating their gains, Heinrich Brüning, the Social Democrat Chancellor is faced with an appalling predicament. Not only does he not command an absolute majority but also there is obviously no way in view of the political mix that he can hope to get one.
All in all 1931 augured well for Hitler, save for the discontent in the SA. He had suddenly become a best-selling author. Mein Kampf had sold an average of a little more than 6000 annually until 1930, when the amount rose to 54,086. This got him a respectable personal income. Furthermore the Brown House, the new party headquarters, was opened on the first of the year. At the same time he was profoundly disturbed by a personal crisis. He learned that his chauffeur and companion Emile Maurice had become secretly enged to his niece Geli Raubal, who had been living a restricted life in the Prinzregentplatz apartment. Ironically it was the Führer himself, the perpetual matchmaker, who had given the idea to Maurice. “I’ll come and have supper with you every evening when you are married,” he urged the young man. “Following his advice,” Maurice confided in a colleague, “I decided to become engaged to Geli, with whom I was madly in love, like everybody else. She gladly accepted my proposal.” Finally he steeled himself to confess. Hitler flew into a rage, accused Maurice of disloyalty and dismissed him as chauffeur.