Courtesy Statemaster.com. Stamp commemorating the 1923 beer-related coup event issued years later.
Reported by Ken Carman for professorgoodales.org
Stories abound of stupid things done while visiting your local pub, bar or beer hall. Sometimes things can get strange like patrons passing an obnoxious drunk over their heads on Saint Patty’s Day and tossing him out the door, or drunk streakers who do more stumbling and less streak-ing. But one of the most famous events surrounds a soon to be a lot more famous fellow named Adolf Hitler. If only this event had been the high point of his political career because, if not for those who died, in places it reads a little more like the Stooges than a serious attempt by a world conquer wanna be, mass murderer.
The plot was to march on Munich as beer quaffers joined their cause, kidnap the leaders of the Bavarian government and force them at gunpoint to accept Hitler as their leader.
Hermann Göring and Rudolf Hess, amongst other followers, were inspired by Benito Mussolini’s successful March on Rome. They decided to start in a Munich beer hall called Bürgerbräukeller, where a speech was being given by conservative politician Gustav Ritter von Kahr who supported Hitler.
Imagine they’re all drinking beer and Adolf Hitler walks in, pulls a pistol and fires it in the air, declaring the revolution had started. And shortly thereafter… fizzled. Gustav Ritter von Kahr immediately withdrew his support.
This is what Hitler said…
“The National Revolution has begun! No one may leave the hall. Unless there is immediate quiet I shall have a machine gun posted in the gallery. The Bavarian and Reich governments have been removed and a provisional national government formed. The barracks of the Reichswehr and police are occupied. The Army and the police are marching on the city under the swastika banner!”
All of that was as false as common bragging that occurs after one too many, however Hitler was quite sober. No one in the beer hall knew that though.
Hitler ordered three of Bavaria’s highest officials into a backroom declaring they would be given high positions in the government that resulted form this revolution. They simply glared at him. He had to threaten to shoot them, and then himself, to get them to comply. Unfortunately for the world he didn’t reverse the order of the shootings.
One assumes plenty of beer was consumed while “negotiations” proceeded in the backroom.
Then Adolf suddenly ran back out to the podium and shouted, “Tomorrow will find either a National Government in Germany or us dead!” The quaffers assumed their officials had agreed to this, however In the backroom they hadn’t been any more cooperative.
A highly respected military leaderwho supported Hitler, General Ludendorff, arrived and was sent into the back room to convince them. They reluctantly agreed. Since the beer hall quaffers had no other information to go on, and one assumes after all this time… being in a beer hall some drinking had been going on… Adolf Hitler had them all singing “Deutschland über Alles.”
Meanwhile Hitler, who had by this time did have the support of the beginnings of what became the storm troopers, was waiting on them to complete their part of the plot: take over several military barracks. But the soldiers inside were holding out fine. Hitler decided to leave and see what was happening. After promising to be loyal the three officials slipped out of the beer hall never intending on living up to that promise.
Everything fell apart. Eventually Hitler was found hiding in a friend’s attic and arrested.
What followed the beer hall coup was bloody. If only it had stopped there, but history tells us otherwise. Sometimes when a person tries to cause trouble and raise a hell, maybe it’s best to toss them out, or do your best to make them and their friends a laughing stock. One wonders: could Hitler have been stopped at a beer hall? Probably not, but certainly there were times before he rose to power when he could have been passed over the heads of good Germans and tossed out the door.
Imagine the lives it would have saved.
Now that’s something to raise a great glass of Munich Dunkel to.