Origins of the Nazi Party

This is a reprint of an article by Professor Gerhard Rempel,

who was Professor of History at Western New England College, Springfield, Massachusetts.


At the beginning of 1919 a new party made its appearance on the already crowded and confused political scene in Munich, the capital city of the young Bavarian republic. The establishment of the German Workers' Party, as the new group called itself, went virtually unnoticed. The formation of new political groupings was hardly unusual in revolutionary Bavaria, and the German Workers' Party showed little promise of developing into more than yet another short-lived Stammtisch-creation. Few contemporary observers would have predicted that this party, which lacked a program, an organizational structure, and financial resources, would in four years develop into a decisive political force among the Bavarian opponents of the Weimar Republic.

The German Workers' Party rose above its unprepossessing beginnings because Adolf Hitler chose to associate his propagandistic and Organizational talents with the new party, but at the time of its establishment he had no connection with the fledgling German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiter Partei: DAP). The party was the joint creation of two men, a toolmaker, Anton Drexler, and a journalist, Karl Harrer. Since initially Harrer was the more dominant partner, the earliest political activity of the two men was organized along lines suggested by him. Harrer preferred a semi-conspiratorial discussion group to a public party as an organizational format. At his insistence membership in the group, the "political working circle," was restricted to seven.

I. Founding of the DAP

It soon became clear to Drexler, however, that this type of activity and organization did not serve much purpose. Drexler proposed that the Society should establish a political party to publicize the group's political views, and win new members for its cause. Harrer then yielded to the wishes of the majority and on January 5, 1919, the DAP was organized. The formation of the DAP did not immediately establish the organizational structure of what was to become the Nazi Party. For some time the DAP existed largely on paper, while the "political working circle" continued its regular meetings and thus remained the real focal point of early Nazi activities. It was only during the spring and summer of 1919 that the party gradually eclipsed its parent organization.

The DAP still had not found the courage to schedule public rallies, bot Drexler and his friends invited ever-increasing numbers of potential sympathizers. By August the party was already moderately well known among rightist groups in Munich.It was now able to attract as speakers at its meetings such prominent men as Gottfried Feder, the opponent of "interest slavery," and Dietrich Eckart, at that time publisher of the violently anti-semitic journal Auf gut Deutsch.

As the focal point of its political activities shifted increasingly from semi-secret discussions to quasi-public rallies, the DAP was also forced to expand the "political working circle's" organizational structure. Between January and September 1919 the DAP built an organizational framework and a membership base which were to prove an adequate foundation for the party's later rise under Hitler. Despite Hitler's later belittling comments, the organizational history of the early DAP was by no means without significance. In the first eight months of 1919 Drexler had transformed the DAP from a neglected step-child of the ''Harrer Society'' into a political group that was "ready" for Hitler. Drexler's DAP was almost as ambitious to expand the horizons of its political activities as was Adolf Hitler.

Both the DAP's political views and the party's decision to convey these views to a larger public were links in the chain of events that led Hitler to join the new party. The DAP's larger rallies attracted the attention of the Bavarian Reichswehr authorities, and since Hitler worked for the Reichswehr as a political indoctrination official, he was asked to report on the activities of the new party. By his own account, Hitler was not impressed by the organizational acumen of the group, but he did appreciate the "good will" he found. He undoubtedly referred to the anti-semitism which permeated the party's political message even then. In general, the DAP's political program was neither a unique nor a well-worked-out series of anti-capitalist, anti-democratic, and pro-nationalist sentiments. However, while much in the party's program remained ill-defined and unspecified, there was never any doubt about the party's anti-semitic views. Drexler had made the DAP's anti-Jewish attitude public almost as soon as the party was formally organized.

Hitler joined the DAP in September 1919. With his extra-ordinary talents as a public speaker he rose quickly in the party's organizational hierarchy, and by the end of the year he was both chief of propaganda and a member of the executive committee. But Hitler was not content with his rapid promotion. On the contrary, he continued to find a great deal to criticize in the DAP. He was appalled at the inefficient and unbureaucratic business procedures in the party and he severely attacked the system of intra-party democracy that characterized the internal administration of the DAP. Like most of the groups on the far right, the party took an ambiguous stand on the question of democracy and parliamentarism. While it vehemently opposed the national parliamentary system of the Weimar Republic, the DAP's internal decision-making processes were subject to very elaborate democratic rules.

In December Hitler proposed a thorough reform of the party's organization. At present, he claimed, the DAP resembled a ''club'' more than a political party. As immediate measures to tighten the party's organizational structure, Hitler demanded the dissolution of the organizational bonds between the DAP and the "political working circle" and an increase in the independent decision-making authority of the executive committee.

The DAP's old-line leadership rejected Hitler's ideas at this time, but the proposals indicated a considerable level of political shrewdness on Hitler's part, even at this early date. Unlike his more timid partners in the leadership corps of the party, Hitler had recognized that the DAP as presently constituted had no real political future. Like so many other groups, the DAP understood the "evils" that had led to the collapse of the empire and the establishment of the Republic. The party had even gone one step further and decided to impart its newly acquired knowledge to the public at large, but neither of these activities in any way singled out the DAP from the dozens of extreme rightist groups. The present leadership was content with the status of one among many.

When Hitler joined the party, the DAP's leadership regarded propaganda activities as ends in themselves. Only Hitler looked upon public rallies as the means to achieve a far greater end: the overthrow of the Republic and the seizure of power by the far right. The differing concepts of the party's future were reflected in the divergent organizational paths of Hitler and the old leadership. An organizational structure administered along democratic lines would be able to plan impressive rallies but would be an ineffective conspiratorial instrument.

For the moment, however, the gulf that separated the political concepts of Hitler and the old guard was still bridged by their agreement that the party's immediate task was the improvement and expansion of its propaganda activities. Here Drexler and Hitler formed a united front against Harrer, who quickly recognized the futility of his opposition and resigned his party post in January. This was undoubtedly a victory for Hitler, but he was still far from controlling the DAP. Drexler became the new chairman, and while he supported Hitler's views on propaganda, he was by no means a puppet. At the time of Harrer's resignation the DAP also obtained its first full-time staff official and a permanent central office. The new official received the title of business manager, and there can be little doubt that Hitler chose the first incumbent of the office, Rudolf Schüssler. He had not only served in the same regiment as Hitler, but the two had worked together in the political affairs department of the Bavarian Reichswehr after the war as well.

Although the DAP was evolving into a more efficient and bureaucratized organization, the old leadership continued to reject Hitler's more basic organizational reform proposals. By late spring Hitler became convinced that the DAP would not become a centralized, bureaucratized political party while the old leadership retained its positions of power. If Hitler were to transform the party into a power-centered instrument of political activity, he would have to go outside the confines of the executive committee. Two courses of action were open to him. He could attempt to win the approval of the present membership for his ideas and thus force the committee to adopt his scheme. This approach, however, held little promise of success. The DAP's still relatively small membership was socially and economically, a very homogeneous body. For the most part the members came from the same social milieu as Drexler and the old guard (indeed, many lived in Drexler's neighborhood), so that they could be expected to share the leader's views on party organization. It was unlikely that they would desert the old leadership.

Hitler, however, had an alternative course of action. Since he was the DAP's only really effective public speaker, he could use his unrivaled talent at propaganda to dilute the present membership with an influx of new members. The old membership would obviously welcome the added stature that the increased membership would bring to the DAP. At the same time it was clear to Hitler, if not to Drexler and his friends, that a significant part of the newly won members would join the party primarily because of Hitler's association with it. Their first loyalty, in other words, would be to Hitler personally, not to the DAP as an institution. Hitler was building a following that could in time be used to overthrow the old leadership, if Hitler chose. Beginning in early 1920, then, Hitler began to exercise his duties as the party's propaganda chief with new vigor.

II. Development: 1920-1923

Paradoxically, the old guard eagerly supported Hitler's efforts. Drexler and Hitler had already laid a foundation for the new drive by providing a more specific party program. In December he and Hitler had drafted the later-famous twenty-five points, a politically expedient mixture of extreme nationalism, violent anti-semitism, vast promises to all social classes, and Feder's ideas on the "breaking of interest slavery.'' Armed with this diet of party goals, Hitler began late in the winter to introduce what was really a new style of political propaganda. The DAP scheduled its first real public rally on February 24, and other followed quickly. From the beginning Hitler's appearances were deliberate, unique variations on the standard themes of rightist diatribes. Like all rightist speakers, Hitler deliberately exploited the Bavarian fear of Bolshevik revolutions.

However, while other parties made blatant appeals for middle class support, Hitler and the DAP emphasized their interest in the lower and especially the urban-worker classes. The reason was not so much a genuine interest in social questions as a far-sighted maneuver to convince the Bavarian Reichswehr and the post-revolutionary Bavarian government that the DAP's activities represented a significant contribution toward the effort to build a bulwark against further revolutionary attempts by the urban working classes. The men who controlled the institutions of governmental power in Munich in 1919 and 1920 had no sympathy with the German Republic.

The commandant of the Reichswehr, Franz von Epp, his chief of staff, Erst Röhm, and the Munich chief of police, Erst Pöhner, were eager to overthrow the Republic and openly encouraged and protected all effective ultra-nationalist movements in their jurisdictional areas. Hitler's new style of propaganda soon attracted their attention to the party, which sometime in 1920 began to call itself the NSDAP, probably to give greater credibility to the "socialist" content of its propaganda line. In December of 1920, financial aid from the Reichswehr and Dietrich Eckart enabled the party to purchase the Völkischer Beobachter, until then an independent völkisch newspaper; and Erst Röhm, an early member of the DAP, persuaded many of his fellow soldiers to join the party. As for Pöhner, Hitler noted proudly that "he never missed an opportunity to help and protect us."

Although in a short year Hitler had succeeded in lifting the NSDAP above the obscure level in which he had found it in September 1919, his accomplishments must not be exaggerated. At the beginning of 1921 neither the NSDAP nor Hitler was well known outside the confines of Munich, and Hitler had not yet challenged the organizational control of the old guard. Yet, slowly, imperceptibly, Hitler's activities undermined the position of the old guard. There was no smooth and steady loss of power on the part of the old leadership, but in retrospect it is nevertheless clear that Hitler increasingly gained control of the real power positions in the movement.

Thus the purchase of what became the official party newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, was a very important milestone in the organizational history of the NSDAP. Since, within the party organizational structure, control of the paper's editorial content obviously fell to the propaganda chief, Hitler had gained a significant addition to his power potential at the end of 1920. The VB became an indispensable ideological and organizational link between the party's central leadership and its local and, later, provincial membership. The initial circulation of the paper at the beginning of 1921 was 11,000, and while the monthly circulation figures varied during the year, they never dropped to less than 7,500 and even reached 17,500 in early 1922.

Hitler's increasingly prominent role in the NSDAP led to yet another unobtrusive but significant development. Largely as a result of Hitler's propaganda activities, a new group of unofficial leaders, a sort of shadow leadership corps, collected around him. Dietrich Eckart became an intimate friend and admirer of Hitler. Eckart in turn brought Alfred Rosenberg into the party. Hermann Essler, a man of rather shadowy and unsavory origins and habits, became a member of the new group. Emil Gansser acted as liaison between Hitler and wealthy potential supporters. None of these men shared either the values or the lower-middle-class origins of the old guard in the NSDAP. They were either upper-middle-class individuals, like Gansser, or, more frequently, asocial demi-monde figures.

Finally there is the most obvious and yet also most significant effect of Hitler's propaganda activities in 1920. By the end of the year the efforts of the Hitler group had vastly increased the party's membership, both in Munich and in the provincial areas, and thus substantially diluted the old-line membership. The party also expanded its network of locals in the Bavarian countryside. The first local outside Munich was organized in Rosenheim in April 1920, and by the beginning of 1921 the party was organized in at least ten local cities outside the Bavarian capital. Somewhat later in the year, the party even established a local outside Bavaria, in Mannheim.

The creation of new locals outside of Munich weakened the old guard and strengthened Hitler. The party that assembled in Munich for its first national congress on January 22, 1921, was a far different organization from the backroom discussion group Hitler had joined a little over a year before. It now had some 3,000 members; it was a respected and influential part of the extreme right in Bavaria. The most significant factor in the membership and organizational growth of the NSDAP was the relentless work and magnetic personality of Adolf Hitler. The old membership had been nearly eclipsed by the influx of Hitler's followers, and it might have seemed logical that Hitler would use the national congress to wrest control from the old leadership. By this time there was certainly no lack of friction between Hitler and the old guard. The old-line leaders and members were particularly critical of Hitler's personal living habits, but there were also fears that Hitler planned to become party dictator. In July 1921 the smoldering fires finally erupted into open flames.

The issue of inter-party cooperation triggered the outbreak of open warfare between Hitler and the old guard. The NSDAP local in Augsburg, with the full knowledge and approval of the executive committee, negotiated an agreement of mutual cooperation with the German Socialist Party organization in the city. From the outset, both parties attached far more than local significance to the agreement. On the surface, a union of the two parties seemed logical and natural. They had largely identical programs. Nevertheless, the old leadership of the NSDAP was not primarily interested in creating a new and potentially stronger party. Its more immediate and overriding aim was to deprive Hitler of much of his political influence in the party. Hitler neither accepted the decision of the executive committee to conclude the treaty with the DBP nor did he attempt to convince the party leadership that its path of action was wrong. Instead he simply resigned from the party. On July 12, he was again an unaffiliated politician.

The executive committee's hasty, not to say panicky, response to Hitler's resignation was unnecessary. It soon became clear that Hitler had no intention of attempting to split the party. Two days after he resigned, he wrote another letter setting down his conditions for rejoining the NSDAP. He demanded that in the future the party's organizational structure "must be unlike those of other nationalist movements. The party must be instructed and led in a manner that will enable it to become the sharpest weapon in the battle against the Jewish international rulers of our people." As for his own role in the party, Hitler demanded his election as first chairman with "dictatorial powers." He had not forgotten the earlier organizational proposals. A three-man action committee, named by himself, would replace the executive committee as the party's basic policy-making body. Members who refused to accept his terms would be expelled from the party. Finally, Hitler insisted that the old leadership call a special party congress on July 20 to effect his election as chairman.

One day later the executive committee capitulated. It agreed to accept all of Hitler's substantive demands, suggesting only a postponement of the special congress. The total and unexpected collapse of the anti-Hitler front was due not to Hitler's convincing arguments, but to a split in the ranks of he old party leadership. Drexler, to judge from the respect which Hitler accorded him after the crisis, had personally decided to put the future of the NSDAP into Hitler's hands. Drexler had always supported a vigorous program of mass appeals, and rather than risk losing the party's greatest propaganda asset, he urged the board to submit to Hitler's demands.

Hitler moved swiftly to consolidate his formal organizational changes with a series of charismatic projections designed to transform the NSDAP's members into disciplined Hitler loyalists. At the July congress he had been elected chairman almost unanimously, but this represented a vote of confidence by only five hundred members. Apparently, Hitler and his men were effective persuaders. For by the end of August, Munich was secure; the membership was willing to accept Hitler as party dictator. With the Munich membership as a solid block of support behind him, Hitler could turn his attention to the relations between central party headquarters and the locals outside the Bavarian capital.

Hitler selected the 1922 national party congress to confront the provincial leaders with the living presence of his charisma. The congress began on January 29 with a Festabend, a device the NSDAP had frequently used to combine propaganda with entertainment. This put the local leaders in the proper frame of mind for the far more important session of the following day. On the afternoon of January 30 Hitler addressed the assembled leadership corps of the locals from outside Munich at party headquarters. In a speech lasting two and a half hours he stressed the need for a "tightly organized party leadership." In practice, Hitler specified, this would mean that, while the local could remain financially autonomous, politically they would become subordinate to Munich. At the conclusion of the speech, the local leaders expressed their complete confidence in Hitler and the party's new leadership. By the end of the evening Hitler was able to institutionalize his charismatic triumph. The congress formally amended the party's bylaws to enable the first chairman to expel entire locals at will.

The NSDAP of 1922 and 1923 was not a fully developed microcosm of the stratified organizational giant of later years. Many of Hitler's centralizing measures met with determined opposition from the membership of the party, and many directives issued in Munich had little immediate effect upon the day-to-day life of the party. Nevertheless, at least in retrospect, it is clear that the NSDAP was rapidly losing its character as a political party led by Hitler, and was developing instead into a group of disciplined followers willing to submit to Hitler's personal wishes and dictates.

The new atmosphere in the party was particularly apparent during the 1923 national congress. It was in large measure a personal victory for Hitler, and the entire atmosphere of the congress provided an eerie (if somewhat amateurish) foretaste of the later mammoth annual Nazi congresses. As he would so often in later years, Hitler reviewed a parade of the SA, dedicated new flags, and outlined the party's future path to the assembled local leaders. There were no discussions at this congress. Hitler spoke and the membership cheered. The party chairman had become "the honored leader."

The 1923 congress was a mile-stone in the organizational history of the NSDAP because it marked the beginning of Hitler's complete, personalized control of the party's functionary corps and organizational structure. Ever since the July crisis, Hitler had progressively cast the members and subleaders' submission to the spell of his personality into forms of institutionalized organizational hierarchy, centralization, and subordination. Hitler persuaded the membership to give up voluntarily the rights it had enjoyed under the democratic rules of the NSDAP and to accept instead a framework of discipline and obedience to himself. In turn he promised that his personalized control of the NSDAP would enable the party to play a more effective part in felling the Weimar Republic and replacing it with a Nazi-völkisch dictatorship.

III.The Beer-Hall Putch: 1923

The survival of the Republic appeared very doubtful in September 1923 when Stresemann was bitterly criticized for calling off passive resistance in the Ruhr and inflation had reached its last and giddiest stage. The Communists were preparing to seize power, and in the Palatinate the French-backed separatist movement was gaining ground. Even the imperturbable Seeckt was thinking in terms of a right-wing dictatorship.

A big anti-republican rally was held at Nuremberg on the anniversary of the battle of Sedan (2 September) in which the 'patriotic associations' including the S.A. took part. Among the invited guests were generals, admirals and members of former royal houses. Some senior government officials were also present. Altogether about 100,000 people heard Hitler speak. On the day that Stresemann called off the passive resistance in the Ruhr, Kahr, the former Bavarian Prime Minister and a recognized strong man, was brought back as State Commissioner with dictatorial powers. T

he Berlin government replied by declaring a state of emergency throughout the Reich and conferring special powers on Lossow to deal with the crisis in Bavaria. Lossow's military superior, Seeckt, was the subject of a vitriolic attack in Hitler's Völkischer Beobachter, which suggested that he was planning to make himself a dictator. Gessler, the Reichswehr minister in Berlin, ordered the paper to be banned. Kahr refused. Gessler then demanded Lossow's resignation. Kahr rejected this, claiming that Lossow was his subordinate. There was now an open breach between the two governments. With many other problems on its hands, the Reich cabinet was unwilling, and perhaps unable, to take a firm line with the rebellious Bavarians.

In Munich the 'patriotic associations' impatient for action, were talking of a seizure of power in Bavaria that would be the prelude to a similar move in Berlin, where they would instal their own kind of regime, much more extreme than anything envisaged by Seeckt or even by Kahr. On 24 October Lossow told the patriotic associations that they could expect to march on Berlin in three weeks.

But Kahr was urged by Seeckt to show restraint and not to intervene in Saxony and Thuringia, where a Socialist-Communist coalition had come to power. The fear in Berlin was that the Bavarian Reichswehr and 'patriots' would occupy Saxony and Thuringia on their way north to Prussia. The central government's intervention in the two 'red' provinces forestalled such a step. While Kahr and Lossow waited for Berlin's next move against Bavaria, Hitler, encouraged by Ludendorff, decided to strike. The date chosen was 9 November, fifth anniversary of the detested revolution of 1918 and the day after an important patriotic gathering which Kahr was to address.

The story of the abortive Munich Putsch, which first brought Hitler into the headlines of the world's press, is well-known and can be briefly summarized. A large patriotic gathering met in the Bürgerbräukeller on the evening of 8 November to hear Kahr speak. The Bavarian Prime Minister, the police chief (Colonel von Seisser) and other members of the government and officials were present. In the middle of the proceedings Hitler, whose storm-troops had surrounded the hall, burst in, brandishing a revolver. Mounting the rostrum, he fired shots at the ceiling and announced that the governments in Munich and Berlin had been overthrown and that a new 'National Republic' was being formed. In Bavaria he himself would lead the new regime, with Kahr as Regent and Pöhner as Prime Minister.

At Reich level Ludendorff was to be given command of the army with Lossow as Minister of Defence and Seisser as Minister of Police. Temporarily stunned by this irruption, Kahr, Lossow and Seisser (the 'triumvirate') retired to a backroom where they agreed, at pistol point, to Hitler's plans. In the meantime Ludendorff, still a legendary figure, arrived on the scene and, overcoming his surprise, gave Hitler his backing. News of the Putsch was flashed to all wireless stations and appeared in the early morning edition of the Munich newspapers.

But in the course of the night the 'triumvirate', having returned to their offices and learnt that their colleagues were opposed to the whole enterprise, decided not to take any further part in it. News that Seeckt had been given plenary powers by the Reich government influenced their decision. Though Röhm occupied Army Headquarters in Munich, most public buildings remained in the hands of the government. By midday the press carried the news that the Putsch had failed. Ludendorff, apparently unaware of this, and convinced that the army would not oppose a march on Berlin, persuaded Hitler to hold a demonstration in Munich to rally support.

On its way to the Ministry of War in the center of Munich the procession of 2,000-3,000 Nazis found the way blocked by police. A shot was fired, followed by a hail of bullets, and altogether 19 people (15 Nazis and 3 policemen) lost their lives. Ludendorff, marching at the head of the column, was not fired on, but was taken prisoner. Hitler, dragged to the ground when the man next to him was killed, fell and broke a bone in his shoulder. He fled and was captured two days later. Among the other wounded was Göring, the former air ace who had commanded the S.A. since March 1923. He escaped to Austria. Röhm at Army H.Q. capitulated.

In a situation full of ambiguities the most intriguing question was the extent to which Kahr and Lossow were accomplices with Hitler up to their last minute withdrawal. They had acted unconstitutionally towards the Reich government, and their hesitations about a march on Berlin were purely tactical, though the kind of dictatorship they wanted would not have satisfied Hitler. Lossow declared that he would march if he had a 51 per cent chance of success, and Kahr's attitude, though more cautious, was basically similar.

Although the two men were not involved in the charge of high treason that faced Hitler, they were both discredited. They had failed to stop Hitler's obvious preparations for the Putsch, and the assertion that their temporary assent to Hitler's plans was only the result of duress was widely disbelieved. Kahr resigned, and Lossow, who had disobeyed his military superiors before the Putsch, was dismissed. Kahr's belief that he could make use of Hitler without destroying his own position was typical of the approach of many conservatives. Nine years later Papen was to make a similar mistake, with more serious consequences. Kahr was to pay for his 'treachery' with his life in the blood purge of June 1934.

The trial of the accused Nazis took place in February and March 1924. Hitler accepted responsibility for what had happened, thus attracting the limelight to himself, but he also drew attention to the share of Kahr, Lossow and Seisser, thus embarrassing the judges and influencing them in favour of leniency. In defending himself he seized the opportunity to make political speeches which were listened to respectfully by a court whose members were openly biased in his favour. His rousing oratory, defiant, not apologetic, was addressed to a wider audience:

The army we have formed is growing from day to day . . . I nurse the proud hope that one day the hour will come when these rough companies will grow to battalions, the battalions to regiments' the regiments to divisions, when the old cockade will be taken from the mud, when the old flags will wave again, when there will be a reconciliation at that last great divine judgement which we are prepared to face . . . For it is not you, gentlemen, who will pass judgement on us. That judgement is spoken by the eternal court of history . . . You may pronounce us guilty a thousand times over, but the goddess of the eternal court of history will smile and tear to shreds the brief of the State Prosecutor and the sentence of this court. For she acquits us.

Though Hitler was not acquitted by the court which gave him such a sympathetic hearing, its sentence of five years, detention was in the circumstances mild enough; and in the event he served only nine months of it. Even the Bayerischer Kurier complained of the one-sidedness of the trial and described the day on which sentence was passed as a black day for Bavarian justice. In prison Hitler was treated almost as an honored guest, and given every facility for writing his memoirs. Without the nine months in Landsberg fortress, the world might never have had Mein Kampf. Thus Hitler used the failure of his Putsch to lay the foundations of later success.

A new phase began with Hitler's release from goal in December 1924. One of his first acts was to assure the Bavarian Prime Minister, Held, of his peaceful intentions, a gesture signifying the abandonment of violent tactics. The reward was not long in coming: in February 1926 the ban on the N.S.D.A.P., imposed after the events of November 1923, was lifted. The party was to operate within the framework of the constitution. This had two main implications. The first was that the S.A., hitherto a dependency of the Reichswehr, now became an integral part of the party. Röhm, who disagreed with the new policy, resigned and departed for South America. The S.A. was reorganized under a new commander, a former Freikorps man named Pfeffer von Salomon.

The other change was the decision to stand for parliament, which was taken by Hitler with considerable reluctance and against the wishes of many of his followers. The years 1925-6 were marked by a general debate inside and on the fringes of the party on aims and methods.