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Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch

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On November 8, 1923, Adolf Hitler attempted to seize control of Germany through a putsch (coup). What was he trying to do? How did he fail?

A Little Background

In the fall of 1922, the Germans asked the Allies for a moratorium on the reparations payments that they were required to pay according to the Versailles Treaty (from World War I). The French government refused the request and then occupied the Ruhr, the integral industrial area of Germany, when the Germans defaulted on their payments. The French occupation of German land united the German people to act. So the French would not benefit from the land they occupied, German workers in the area staged a general strike. The German government supported the strike by giving workers financial support.

During this time, inflation had increased exponentially within Germany and created a growing concern over the Weimar Republic's capability to govern Germany.

In August 1923, Gustav Stresemann became Chancellor of Germany. Only a month after taking office, he ordered the end of the general strike in the Ruhr and decided to pay reparations to France. Rightfully believing that there would be anger and revolts within Germany to his announcement, Stresemann had President Ebert declare a state of emergency.

The Bavarian government was unhappy with Stresemann's capitulation and declared its own state of emergency on the same day as Stresemann's announcement, September 26. Bavaria was then ruled by a triumvirate which consisted of Generalkommissar Gustav von Kahr, General Otto von Lossow (commander of the army in Bavaria), and Colonel Hans Ritter von Seisser (commander of the state police).

Though the triumvirate had ignored and even defied several orders that were directly from Berlin, by the end of October 1923 it seemed that the triumvirate was losing heart. They had wanted to protest, but not if it were to destroy them. Adolf Hitler believed it was time to take action.

The Plan

It is still debated who actually came up with the plan to kidnap the triumvirate -- some say Alfred Rosenberg, some say Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter, while still others say Hitler himself. The original plan was to capture the triumvirate on the German Memorial Day (Totengedenktag) on November 4, 1923. Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser would be on a stand, taking the salute from the troops during a parade. The plan was to arrive on the street before the troops arrived, shut off the street by setting up machine guns, and then get the triumvirate to join Hitler in the "revolution." The plan was foiled when it was discovered (the day of the parade) that the parade street was well protected by police.

They needed another plan. This time, they were going to march into Munich and seize its strategic points on November 11, 1923 (the anniversary of the armistice). However, this plan was scrapped when Hitler heard about Kahr's meeting.

Kahr called a meeting of approximately three thousand government officials on November 8 at the Buergerbräukeller (a beer hall). Since the entire triumvirate would be there, Hitler could force them at gun-point to join him.

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