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:
“The Jews were responsible for bringing negroes into the Rhineland with the ultimate idea of bastardising the white race which they hate and thus lowering its cultural and political level so that the Jew might dominate.”
“The Jewish youth lies in wait for hours on end…spying on the unsuspicious German girl he plans to seduce…..he wants to contaminate her blood and remove her from the bosom of her own people. The Jew hates the white race and wants to lower its cultural level so that the Jews might dominate.”
“The longer I lived in Vienna, the stronger became my hatred for the promiscuous swarm of foreign peoples which began to batten on that old nursery ground of German culture.” (A reference to East Europeans)
“Only an adequate large space on this earth assures a nation freedom of existence.” A reference to Hitler’s policy of living space (Lebensraum)
“We must eliminate the disproportion between our population and our area…… Some of this land can be obtained from Russia….. We must secure for the German people the land and soil to which they are entitled.”
“(The state) must see to it that only the healthy beget children; that there is only one disgrace: despite one’s own sickness and deficiencies, to bring children into the world; and one highest honour : to renounce doing so. And conversely it must be considered reprehensible to withhold healthy children from the nation.” This would later develop into Hitler’s idea of the Master Race.
“When you tell a lie, tell big lies. This is what the Jews do, working on the principle, which is quite true in itself, that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility……”
“Whoever wishes to win over the masses must know the key that will open the door to their hearts.”