After the unsuccessful Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, that saw Adolf Hitler arrested, the National Socialist German Worker's Party was in disarray.
Those who weren't arrested were forced underground, and while they still engaged in the odd protest, they were a pretty fractured group.
Hitler had been sentenced to five years, but was released after serving just eight months. One of the conditions was that he broke off all contact with General Ludendorff, his accomplice in the 'coup'.
But if he entered prison as a martyr he left it as a common man. Gone were the throngs of followers hanging off his every word. Many of his former supporters jumped ship and the few hangers on seemed to lack direction.
Part of the problem was that conditions in Germany had improved considerably and the German people were no longer in need of a saviour. Relations had improved with former enemies and American businessmen were now offering loans and investing in the country. It wasn't as easy to rally the troops for a war with no enemy.
When Hitler did speak now it was about threats to the Aryan race, mostly from the Jews.
[Hitler] speaks words of consolation and encouragement to those like him, telling them not to despise themselves, for in reality they are better than the others. You are Aryans. You are the pure blood; that is more, than possessions or rank; it is the highest, and this highest is just what the Jew wants to take away from you and destroy because he has already taken away and destroyed everything else. For the Jew is the type suited to the normal world of today, with its equalization which kills the personality; he is the type who makes the mass dominant in order to kill the outstanding individual; for the outstanding individual might offer resistance to Jewish world domination. In order to kill the people's instincts of defense, the Jew poisons the pure Aryan blood. (1)Houston Chamberlain had taught him well.
But his audience was now mostly the dregs of society, and if he had any hope at all of achieving his former status, he would have to find a way to appeal to a broader base. Alfred Rosenberg and Rudolf Hess had remained loyal, and he was able to draw in a few more who believed in the movement.
The party was legitimized in 1925, and began to create a coalition of smaller groups, mostly anti-communism and of course anti-Semitics. Soon Hitler was named leader of a party with 4,000 members. And instead of just gong after the enemy from within, he began to attack Germany's foreign policy, once again getting his name in the paper, and by 1927 he was speaking to crowds of 20,000.
And no longer just from the lower classes, but from all levels of society. After the fate of the Romanovs in Russia and the abdication of the Kaiser, many of the upper echelon felt threatened by Bolshevism, and they saw in Hitler someone who could restore their place. And to the average German he was a "God-given form of supreme authority, which could now be clothed in new, more populist garb." (2)
By the time the election rolled around in 1930, he was ready and Time magazine had their story:
Chapter Nineteen: Near Victory for Fascist Fanatic
In 1920 Demagog Hitler and General Erich von Ludendorff gath ered the nucleus of the present German Fascist party, attempted a revolution in 1923 which they hoped would make them Germany's dictators but which unhappily only brought them to trial for treason. Ludendorff was released, retired to obscurity and the private worship of Norse war gods. Hitler, sentenced to five years of military imprisonment, was released at the end of eight months, so completely destitue of a following did he seem.
Personally attractive for his 41 years, virile, an orator comparable to Kerensky, Trotzky or Mussolini, Demagog Hitler soon reclaimed his old position. To his cause have flocked many an adoring Jungfraulein and hot-blooded youngster. The latter he has organized into clean-up gangs called "storm squads," comparable to the Communist "Red Front Squads." So closely do the Fascist tenets resemble those of Communism that many of his disciples are onetime Communists, grown weary of their cabal's inactivity.
The platform on which the National Socialists hope to seat themselves in the Reichstag next month is, basically, built on these planks:
1) annulment of the Versailles and St. Germain treaties
2) abandonment of reparations payments
3) dissolution of the Reichswehr (volunteer army) and
organization of a strong conscripted German army
4) restoration of all colonies
5) socialization of all basic industry
6) disfranchisement of all Jews,
7) expulsion of all non-Germans who have immigrated since Aug. 2, 1914
If such an extraordinary program should win the Fascists a large block of seats in the Reichstag old President Paul von Hindenburg would have an extremely ticklish time organizing his government. To gain Hitler's support, Chancellor Heinrich Briining would doubtless be forced to turn over the minister of interior to a Fascist, placing police power in Demagog Hitler's hands just as it now is in Thuringia. That, believe lovers of Democracy, would ring the knell of the Republic. (3)
1. Der Fhehrer, Hitler's Rise to Power, By: Konrad Heiden, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1944, Pg. 259
2. Hitler: Profiles in Power, by: Ian Kershaw, Longman House UK, 1991, ISBN: 0-582-08053-3, Pg. 12
3. National Socialists, Time Magazine, August 25, 1930