Adolf Hitler was arrested after the failure of the Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler was charged with treason. Such an offence carried the death penalty in Germany at this time. His trial lasted five weeks and turned Hitler into a national figure. For the first time, he was given a platform on which to make his views widely known to people outside of his party. Hitler’s right to defend himself was used as a means of attacking all those he hated – the Jews, communists, socialists and weak politicians who had lost Germany the war; the shameful signing of the Versailles Treaty by weak politicians etc.
None of this was new and many right wing parties existed in Germany. However it was the way Hitler presented his ideas that brought him media attention. “History will tear to tatters the verdict of this court”, he announced shortly after sentence was passed.
Hitler was found guilty of treason – a crime against your country. If he had been a socialist or communist, it is almost certain that he would have received the death sentence. However, many in the court supported his views and he received a prison sentence of 5 years.
He was sent to Landsberg Prison near Munich. Here, the man found guilty of treason, had his own furnished cell, his own servant and was allowed into Landsberg itself during the day, returning at night to be locked up.
In prison, Hitler decided that any future ventures by the Nazis would have to be legal. Any action outside of the law would not be tolerated. In prison, Hitler became moody and depressed. He put his energy into his book “Mein Kampf” (My Struggle). This book explained to anybody who would read it, his plans for Germany’s future. There are also sections on boxing, the growing of roses etc. Many years later, in 1942, Hitler explained to army officers that “Mein Kampf” would never have been written if he had not been sent to prison.
What does “Mein Kampf” tell us about Hitler’s beliefs? The following are extracts from the book: