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Beer Hall Putsch (Part 2)

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The Putsch

Around eight o'clock, Hitler arrived at the Buergerbräukeller in a red Mercedes Benz accompanied by Rosenberg, Ulrich Graf (Hitler's bodyguard), and Anton Drexler. The meeting had already started and Kahr was speaking. Sometime between 8:30 and 8:45 p.m., Hitler heard the sound of trucks. As Hitler burst into the crowded beer hall, his armed storm troopers surrounded the hall and set up a machine gun in the entrance. To grab everyone's attention, Hitler jumped onto a table and fired one or two shots into the ceiling. With some help, Hitler then forced his way to the platform.

"The National Revolution has begun!" Hitler shouted. Hitler continued with a few exaggerations and lies stating that there were six hundred armed men surrounding the beer hall, the Bavarian and the national governments had been taken over, the barracks of the army and police were occupied, and that they were already marching under the swastika flag. Hitler then ordered Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser to accompany him into a side private room.

What exactly went on in that room in sketchy. Hitler waved his revolver at the triumvirate and then told each of them what their positions would be within his new government. They didn't answer him. Hitler even threatened to shoot them and then himself. To prove his point, Hitler held the revolver to his own head. During this time, Scheubner-Richter had taken the Mercedes to fetch General Erich Ludendorff who had not been privy to the plan.

Hitler left the private room and again took the podium. In his speech, he insinuated that Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser had already agreed to join. The crowd cheered. By this time, Ludendorff had arrived. Though he was upset that he had not been informed and that he was not to be the leader of the new government, he went to talk to the triumvirate anyway. The triumvirate then hesitantly agreed to join because of the great esteem they held for Ludendorff. Each one then went onto the platform and made a short speech.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly, so Hitler left the beer hall for a short time to personally deal with a clash between his armed men, leaving Ludendorff in charge.

The Downfall

When Hitler came back to the beer hall, he found that all three of the triumvirate had left. Each one was quickly denouncing the affiliation that they made at gun-point and was working to put down the putsch. Without the support of the triumvirate, Hitler's plan had failed. He knew he did not have enough armed men to compete against an entire army.

Ludendorff came up with a plan. He and Hitler would lead a column of storm troopers into the center of Munich and thus would take control of the city. Ludendorff was confident that no one in the army would fire upon the legendary general (himself). Desperate for a solution, Hitler agreed to the plan.

Around eleven o'clock in the morning on November 9, approximately three thousand storm troopers followed Hitler and Ludendorff on their way to the center of Munich. They met up with a group of police who let them pass after having been given an ultimatum by Goering that if they were not allowed to pass, hostages would be shot.

Then the column arrived at the narrow Residenzstrasse. At the other end of the street, a large group of police waited. Hitler was in the front with his left arm linked with the right arm of Scheubner-Richter. Graf shouted to the police to inform them that Ludendorff was present.

Then a shot rang out. No one is sure which side fired the first shot. Scheubner-Richter was one of the first to be hit. Mortally wounded and with his arm linked with Hitler, Hitler went down too. The fall dislocated Hitler's shoulder. Some say that Hitler thought he had been hit. The shooting lasted approximately sixty seconds.

Ludendorff kept walking. As everyone else fell to the ground or sought cover, Ludendorff defiantly marched straight ahead. He and his adjutant, Major Streck, marched right through the line of police. He was very angry that no one had followed him. He was later arrested by the police.

Goering had been wounded in the groin. After some initial first aid, he was spirited off and smuggled into Austria. Hess also fled to Austria. Roehm surrendered.

Hitler, though not really wounded, was one of the first to leave. He crawled and then ran to an awaiting car. He was taken to the home of the Hanfstaengls where he was hysterical and depressed. He had fled while his comrades lay wounded and dying in the street. Two days later, Hitler was arrested.

According to different reports, between fourteen and sixteen Nazis and three policemen died during the Putsch.

Bibliography

Fest, Joachim. Hitler. New York: Vintage Books, 1974.
Payne, Robert. The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1973.
Shirer, William L. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc., 1990.

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