They Bluffed – He Called

Failure of DSP (i.e. of the Thule Society) attempt to take over NSDAP did not make some other NSDAP leaders happy (to put it mildly). They believed that DSP offer to expand NSDAP outreach via its branches and put Adolf Hitler under control made perfect sense. So they had to come up with “plan B” – and fast.

And they did. Their “plan B” had the first and the last name – and even a title. Doctor Otto Dickel. Dr. Dickel was the founder of Völkische Werkgemeinschaft (Völkisch Work Community) – a German fascist movement – and an author of a somewhat successful book Die Auferstehung des Abendlandes (The Resurrection of the Western World) which was lauded in the Völkischer Beobachter.

Dickel’s mystic völkisch philosophy was a perfect match for Thule’s and some of his ideas – building up a classless community through national renewal, combating “Jewish domination” through the struggle against “interest slavery”, creation of a Greater German nation by uniting all German lands (including Austria) into Ein Reich, etc. – bore undeniable similarities to those of both the NSDAP and the DSP.

Like Hitler (and maybe even more so), Dr. Dickel considered himself a missionary and (again like Hitler) was a dynamic and popular public speaker. Which has been proven beyond the reasonable doubt when Dickel spoke with major success before a packed audience in one of Hitler’s usual haunts, the Festsaal of the Hofbräuhaus (when Hitler went on a fundraising trip to Berlin to save the ailing Völkischer Beobachter).

Drexler, Feder and their co-conspirators (four of the five members of the party Executive Committee) had no illusions about the long-term value of Dr. Dickel to NSDAP.

True, he was the author of an influential book and an inspirational public speaker but he was way too intellectual and too bourgeois to appeal to German masses, especially to workers (and NSDAP was the workers’ party).

He had a PhD but no military decorations and was not a war hero – all major disadvantages compared to Adolf Hitler. And his open völkisch mysticism was not popular with masses – which was one more disadvantage.

Consequently, they could use Dickel only as a tool to make (force if necessary) Adolf Hitler agree to the merger with DSP and with Dickel’s group (which would make the resulting organization more attractive to the Thule society). And to be controlled by the Executive Committee (and ultimately by the Thule).

The NSDAP conspirators called Dickel its “second outstanding speaker with a popular touch” and scheduled more of his speeches in Munich. And when Hitler came back from Berlin, he was almost immediately ushered into a meeting with Dr. Dickel.

For more than three hours, Dickel tried to convince Hitler of the benefits of a loose confederation of the different nationalist groups and recommendations for improvements to the NSDAP’s program.

To no avail. His arguments only prompted numerous outbursts from Hitler before, being able to stand it no longer, he stormed out of the meeting. So Drexler et al had no other choice but to bluff.

They cornered Hitler and plainly threatened to replace him with Dr. Dickel as the key speaker (and propaganda chief) and to go ahead with the merger and with consideration – with or without Hitler. They failed – and failed miserably.

In addition to his unique capabilities as a public speaker, Hitler had another key talent – he was an excellent judge of characters and situations. And his (mostly successful) fundraising experiences made him a skillful and cunning political manipulator.

He immediately knew that his opponents were bluffing. So he waited for three days – and then sent the resignation letter to NSDAP Executive Committee. He claimed – powerfully but erroneously – that the committee members, in violation of the party statutes and acting against the wishes of rank-and-file party members handed over the movement to a man whose ideas (in Hitler’s opinion) were totally incompatible with those of the NSDAP.

At the end of his letter, he solemnly declared:

I will not and can not be any longer a member of such a movement

It was a carefully planned and calculated maneuver to use his position as the party’s star performer to blackmail the Party committee into a total submission to his will.

They bluffed – he called. He knew – and they knew that Otto Dickel was no Adolf Hitler. That the loss of its sole star performer would have been a fatal blow to the NSDAP. And that there was no shortage of competing parties who will accept Adolf Hitler with open arms as their key public speaker, their propaganda chief and their Führer.

So on July 13th, just two days after Hitler’s resignation from the party Dietrich Eckart (the only Executive Committee member who did not take part in the conspiracy) was asked by the other members to negotiate Hitler’s return to the fold of NSDAP.

It was full capitulation from the party leadership. His key demands – to be accepted by an extraordinary members’ meeting – were ‘the post of chairman with dictatorial power’; the party headquarters to be fixed once and for all as Munich; the party program to be regarded as inviolate; and the end of all merger attempts – were immediately and unanimously accepted.

A day later the Executive Committee of NSDAP expressed its readiness in recognition of his ‘immense knowledge’, his services for the movement, and his ‘unusual talent as a speaker’ to give him ‘dictatorial powers’ (i.e. to make him the Führer of the party).

It welcomed his willingness, having turned down Drexler’s offers in the past, now to take over the party chairmanship. This willingness had a simple explanation – all previous offers were to make him the “first among the equals”, not the all-powerful Führer that he wanted (and needed) to be to achieve his highly ambitious objectives.

 

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