The Confrontation Strategy

SA

His personality was charismatic, magnetic and inspirational; his tone harsh and aggressive; his language expressive, direct, coarse, earthy and full of insults directed at his political enemies; his sentences short and punchy – and that’s exactly what his audience understood and enjoyed.

So it is no surprise at all that he produced such a powerful impact on his listeners. Especially after his party commenced the large-scale use of party banner designed by Hitler himself – red banner with black swastika in a white circle.

Arguably the most emotionally and spiritually powerful symbol and the most powerful color combination (although selected mostly because these were the colors of Imperial Germany – the Second Reich).

But Adolf Hitler wanted more. Much more. He wanted to influence not hundreds, but thousands. Tens of thousands. Hundreds of thousands. Millions. He wanted himself and his party to be noticed. In Munich, Bavaria and in the whole Weimar Republic. Ideally – in the whole damn world.

And he knew how to make them notice. How to make them pay attention. With scandal. Confrontation. Violence. “Political fireworks”, if you will. Unlike the “mainstream” politicians, he did not care a damn thing about reputation – his or his party’s.

In Mein Kampf, he wrote:

It makes no difference whatever whether they laugh at us or revile us; whether they represent us as clowns or criminals; the main thing is that they mention us, that they concern themselves with us again and again

To be honest, Adolf Hitler was not the first German politician to recognize the value of intimidation of opponents, the importance of the mastery of techniques of disruption, and the vital need for knowledge and skills of how to deal with disturbances caused by your political opponents.

Unlike the dull, lifeless and utterly boring meetings and events of mainstream parties, DAP (and later NSDAP) meetings were anything but peaceful. On the contrary, they were designed from the start to be confrontational. Very confrontational. Noisy. Intense. Violent.

Even the posters that announced the meetings, were printed in vivid red (and carefully distributed) to provoke the Left to attend. The result was that DAP meetings were packed long before the start, and the numbers of their Leftist opponents present (no less violent than the Nazis) guaranteed that the atmosphere was potentially explosive.

To win this confrontation every time, the party needed powerful and efficient security, in other words, a paramilitary organization more powerful than the Rotfrontkämpferbund (“Red Front Fighters League”) – the paramilitary wing of German Communists.

The paramilitary wing of DAP was initially called Saalschutz (“hall protection squad”) and initially consisted of a few Hitler’s old Army comrades. They first saw hall combat on November 13th, 1919 when Communists and Social democrats tried to shut down DAP meeting but were “thrown down the stairs with gashed heads”.

Subsequently, this unit was labeled the ‘Gymnastic and Sports Section’ in August 1921, and finally got the name that made it (in)famous: Sturmabteilung (“Storm Section”), or SA for short.

The strategy worked. The party got noticed. The amount of free PR it (and Adolf Hitler) received from German media was simply astounding.

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