Anton Drexler

Last updated
Anton Drexler
Anton Drexler.jpg
Chairman of the Nazi Party
In office
24 February 1920 29 June 1921
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded by Adolf Hitler (as Führer)
Chairman of the German Workers' Party
In office
5 January 1919 24 February 1920
Deputy Karl Harrer
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Personal details
Born(1884-06-13)13 June 1884
Munich, German Empire
Died24 February 1942(1942-02-24) (aged 57)
Munich, Nazi Germany
Nationality German
Political party German Fatherland Party (1917–18)
German Workers' Party (1919–20)
Nazi Party (1920–23, 1933–42)
Occupation Politician
Awards Blood Order
Golden Party Badge

Anton Drexler (13 June 1884 – 24 February 1942) was a German far-right political leader of the 1920s who founded the pan-German and anti-Semitic German Workers' Party (DAP), the antecedent of the Nazi Party (NSDAP). Drexler mentored his successor in the NSDAP, Adolf Hitler, during his early years in politics.

Far-right politics are politics further on the right of the left-right spectrum than the standard political right, particularly in terms of extreme nationalism, nativist ideologies, and authoritarian tendencies.

Pan-Germanism Pan-nationalist political idea

Pan-Germanism, also occasionally known as Pan-Germanicism, is a pan-nationalist political idea. Pan-Germanists originally sought to unify all the German and possibly also Germanic-speaking peoples in a single nation-state known as Großdeutschland.

Antisemitism is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews. A person who holds such positions is called an antisemite. Antisemitism is generally considered to be a form of racism. It has also been characterized as a political ideology which serves as an organizing principle and unites disparate groups which are opposed to liberalism.

Contents

Early life

Born in Munich, Drexler was a machine-fitter before becoming a railway toolmaker and locksmith in Berlin. [1] He is believed to have been disappointed with his income, and to have played the zither in restaurants to supplement his earnings. [2] Drexler did not serve in the armed forces during World War I due to being deemed unfit. [3]

Munich Place in Bavaria, Germany

Munich is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria, the second most populous German federal state. With a population of around 1.5 million, it is the third-largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, as well as the 12th-largest city in the European Union. The city's metropolitan region is home to 6 million people. Straddling the banks of the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps, it is the seat of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Bavaria, while being the most densely populated municipality in Germany. Munich is the second-largest city in the Bavarian dialect area, after the Austrian capital of Vienna.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

Zither class of musical stringed instruments

Zither is a class of stringed instruments.

Politics

Involvement in politics

During World War I, Drexler joined the German Fatherland Party, [4] a short-lived far-right party active during the last phase of the war, that played a vital role in the emergence of the stab-in-the-back myth and the defamation of certain politicians as the November Criminals.

The German Fatherland Party was a short-lived far-right party in the German Empire, active during the last phase of World War I.

Stab-in-the-back myth

The stab-in-the-back myth was the notion, widely believed and promulgated in right-wing circles in Germany after 1918, that the German Army did not lose World War I on the battlefield but was instead betrayed by the civilians on the home front, especially the republicans who overthrew the Hohenzollern monarchy in the German Revolution of 1918–19. Advocates denounced the German government leaders who signed the Armistice on November 11, 1918, as the "November Criminals".

In March 1918, Drexler founded a branch of Free Workers' Committee for a Good Peace (Der Freie Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten Frieden) league. [1] Karl Harrer, a journalist and member of the Thule Society, convinced Drexler and several others to form the Political Workers' Circle (Politischer Arbeiter-Zirkel) in 1918. [1] The members met periodically for discussions with themes of nationalism and antisemitism. [1] Drexler was a poet and a member of the völkisch agitators.

Karl Harrer German journalist and politician

Karl Harrer was a German journalist and politician, one of the founding members of the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei in January 1919, the predecessor to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, more commonly known as the Nazi Party.

The Thule Society, originally the Studiengruppe für germanisches Altertum, was a German occultist and völkisch group founded in Munich right after World War I, named after a mythical northern country in Greek legend. The society is notable chiefly as the organization that sponsored the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, which was later reorganized by Adolf Hitler into the National Socialist German Workers' Party. According to Hitler biographer Ian Kershaw, the organization's "membership list ... reads like a Who's Who of early Nazi sympathizers and leading figures in Munich", including Rudolf Hess, Alfred Rosenberg, Hans Frank, Julius Lehmann, Gottfried Feder, Dietrich Eckart, and Karl Harrer.

Politischer Arbeiter-Zirkel was a political activist group founded by Karl Harrer, a known rightist, in hopes of gathering intellectuals to discuss the political future of Germany in March 1918. The organization eventually merged with the Workers' Committee for a Good Peace formed by Anton Drexler to become the German Workers' Party in January 1919. Ultimately these principles would develop into the National Socialist German Workers Party, also known as the Nazi Party.

Founding of the German Workers' Party

Together with Harrer, Gottfried Feder and Dietrich Eckart, Drexler founded the German Workers' Party (DAP) in Munich on 5 January 1919. [1]

Gottfried Feder German economist and politician

Gottfried Feder was a German civil engineer, a self-taught economist and one of the early key members of the Nazi Party. He was their economic theoretician. It was one of his lectures, delivered in 1919, that drew Hitler into the party.

Dietrich Eckart German journalist and politician

Dietrich Eckart was a German journalist, playwright, poet, and politician who was one of the founders of the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, which later evolved into the Nazi Party (NSDAP). He was a key influence on Adolf Hitler in the early years of the Nazi Party and was a participant in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch.

At a DAP meeting in Munich in September 1919, the main speaker was Gottfried Feder. When Feder's talk concluded, Adolf Hitler got involved in a heated political argument with a visitor, Professor Baumann, who questioned the soundness of Feder's arguments against capitalism and proposed that Bavaria should break away from Prussia and found a new South German nation with Austria. In vehemently attacking the man's arguments, Hitler made an impression on the other party members with his oratory skills, and according to him, the professor left the hall acknowledging defeat. [5] Drexler approached Hitler and gave him a copy of his pamphlet My Political Awakening, which contained anti-Semitic, nationalist, anti-capitalist, and anti-Marxist ideas. [1] Hitler claims the literature reflected the ideals he already believed in. [6] Impressed with Hitler, Drexler encouraged him to join the DAP. On the orders of his army superiors, Hitler applied to join the party. [7]

Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets. In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investment are determined by every owner of wealth, property or production ability in financial and capital markets, whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.

Bavaria State in Germany

Bavaria, officially the Free State of Bavaria, is a landlocked federal state of Germany, occupying its southeastern corner. With an area of 70,550.19 square kilometres, Bavaria is the largest German state by land area. Its territory comprises roughly a fifth of the total land area of Germany. With 13 million inhabitants, it is Germany's second-most-populous state after North Rhine-Westphalia. Bavaria's capital and largest city, Munich, is the third-largest city in Germany.

Prussia state in Central Europe between 1525–1947

Prussia was a historically prominent German state that originated in 1525 with a duchy centred on the region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It was de facto dissolved by an emergency decree transferring powers of the Prussian government to German Chancellor Franz von Papen in 1932 and de jure by an Allied decree in 1947. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. Prussia, with its capital in Königsberg and from 1701 in Berlin, decisively shaped the history of Germany.

Once accepted, Hitler began to make the party more public, and he organized their biggest meeting yet of 2,000 people, for 24 February 1920 in the Hofbräuhaus in Munich. It was in this speech that Hitler, for the first time, enunciated the twenty-five points of the German Worker's Party's manifesto that he had authored with Drexler and Feder. [8] Through these points he gave the organisation a much bolder stratagem [9] with a clear foreign policy, including the abrogation of the Treaty of Versailles, a Greater Germany, Eastern expansion, exclusion of Jews from citizenship. On the same day the party was renamed the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei; NSDAP). [10] The significance of this particular move in publicity moved Karl Harrer to resign from the party in disagreement. [11]

Following an intraparty dispute, Hitler angrily tendered his resignation on 11 July 1921. The committee members realised that the resignation of their leading public figure and speaker would mean the end of the party. [12] Hitler announced he would rejoin on the condition that he would replace Drexler as party chairman, and that the party headquarters would remain in Munich. [13] The committee agreed; he rejoined the party as member 3,680. Drexler was thereafter moved to the purely symbolic position of honorary president and left the party in 1923. [14]

Drexler was also a member of a völkisch political club for affluent members of Munich society known as the Thule Society. His membership in the Nazi Party ended when it was temporarily outlawed in 1923 following the Beer Hall Putsch despite Drexler not actually having taken part in the coup attempt. In 1924 he was elected to the Bavarian state parliament for another party, in which he served as vice president until 1928. He played no role in the Nazi Party's re-founding in 1925 and rejoined only after Hitler ascended to national power in 1933. [15] He founded a splinter group, the Nationalsozialer Volksbund, but this dissolved in 1928. [16] He received the party's Blood Order in 1934 and was still occasionally used as a propaganda tool until about 1937, but he was never allowed any legitimate power in the party.

Death

Drexler died of natural causes after a lengthy illness in Munich in February 1942. [15]

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Kershaw 2008, p. 82.
  2. https://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/modern-world-history-1918-to-1980/weimar-germany/anton-drexler/
  3. https://allthatsinteresting.com/anton-drexler
  4. Hamilton 1984, p. 219.
  5. Kershaw 2008, p. 75.
  6. Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf , 1925.
  7. Evans 2003, p. 170.
  8. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, p. 37
  9. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, p. 89
  10. Kershaw 2008, p. 87.
  11. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, p. 36
  12. Kershaw 2008, pp. 100, 101, 102.
  13. Kershaw 2008, p. 103.
  14. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, p. 41
  15. 1 2 Hamilton 1984, p. 220.
  16. Zentner & Bedürftig 1991, p. 209.

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References

Party political offices
Preceded by
none
Chairman of the DAP
1919–1921
Succeeded by
Adolf Hitler