After Bavarian Soviet Republic (BSR) was brutally crushed in early May of 1919 by the combined forces of Reichswehr and Freikorps, the victorious Social-Democratic government of the People’s State of Bavaria (led by Minister-President Johannes Hoffmann) obviously wanted to make sure that such calamity never happens again.
One obvious way to prevent the repeat of the “Red nightmare” was to thoroughly indoctrinate the Bavarian Army – in other words, to instill in its soldiers and officers ardent nationalist and anti-Marxist views, beliefs, attitudes and principles. Which will guarantee that the Army (that remained largely neutral during BSR days) will crush any Marxist uprising on its outset.
To facilitate a fast, thorough and efficient indoctrination, the government – immediately after Munich was secured on May 6th, set up the “Army Information Department”.
In reality, it was a highly efficient propaganda department that fifteen years later inspired Adolf Hitler to create the Propaganda Ministry for the whole Germany. On May 30th, the command of this department was placed in the hands of one Captain Karl Mayr.
Successful indoctrination obviously required a team of powerful, persuasive, and charismatic public speakers (i.e. propaganda agents) who had to be recruited from the ranks of the Bavarian Army (men in uniform would never even listen to civilians).
Ideally, the department needed decorated soldiers or officers who distinguished themselves on the battlefield, had the natural abilities for persuasive public speakers, had the right political views (nationalist and anti-Marxist) and demonstrated the politically right behavior during the BSR days.
Adolf Hitler fit the bill on all counts. He was one of the rare soldiers who received Iron Cross both the Second and First Class, was wounded twice on the battlefield, spent practically all four years at the front, had natural public speaking abilities demonstrated to family, friends, to co-inhabitants of Men’s House in Vienna and to the clients of beer halls in Munich and was an ardent German nationalist and anti-Marxist.
His behavior during the BSR days also was quite acceptable. During that time he cooperated with the Social-Democratic Government of People’s State of Bavaria – BSR opponent – and after the demise of the latter was a member of the three-man commission that investigated whether members of the his unit had been actively involved in the Räterepublic (i.e., BSR).
Consequently, it is no surprise that he was invited to attend a short but rigorous training (‘anti-Bolshevik courses’) which were to begin in early June. These courses were organized by abovementioned Captain Mayr who is rightfully considered as one of the ‘midwives’ of Hitler’s political career.
As the commanding officer of the Information Department, Mayr was involved in much diverse activities of “information warfare” than just conducting these courses for the future propaganda agents. He was endowed with considerable funds to build up a team of agents and informants, and finance ‘patriotic’ parties, publications, and organizations, among other activities.
Mayr assigned Adolf Hitler assigned to the first of the anti-Bolshevik ‘instruction courses’, to take place in Munich University between 5 and 12 June 1919 which for the latter became the first and only formal political education that he will ever receive.
In his biography of Hitler, Ian Kershaw wrote:
“[During this week], he heard lectures from prominent figures in Munich, hand-picked by Mayr… on ‘German History since the Reformation’, ‘The Political History of the War’, ‘Socialism in Theory and Practice’, ‘Our Economic Situation and the Peace Conditions’, and ‘The Connection between Domestic and Foreign Policy’.”
One of the speakers was one Gottfried Feder, who had made a name for himself among the Pan-Germans as an economics expert. Hitler was so impressed by these lectures that he subsequently made Feder the chief economic advisor of the Nazi Party.
Another lecturer was a history professor from the University of Munich Karl Alexander von Müller. After one of his lectures he observed how Adolf Hitler delivered one of his “sermons” to a group of other trainees.
Professor von Müller was so impressed with Hitler’s oratorical skills that he immediately recommended him to be included into the group of twenty-six instructors to be sent to conduct a five-day indoctrination course at the Reichswehr camp at Lechfeld, near Augsburg.
On August 20th, 1919 the public speaking career of Adolf Hitler has finally begun.