‘Germany must live, even though we die.’ – Adolf Hitler
November 1923, saw the German revolt against a French initiative to seize control of Bavaria and to force its secession from Germany proper. Hitler made the decision to respond decisively. “At that time our opponents intended to raise a revolution about the 12th November, and a Bavarian revolution at that . . . As soon as I heard this, I knew that the hour of Germany’s destiny was approaching. Then I formed the resolution to strike four days before our opponents and so seize for our side the initiative.” – Putsch Anniversary Speech, 1937
“The danger was that others should act first: men were saying, ‘North Germany is Bolshevist anyway: we must therefore separate from the North. We must leave the North to burn itself out. Only after that can we join up with the North again. They knew quite well how to cut themselves off from the North, but they troubled themselves very little to consider how they should come together again. And for that reason we were determined to act first.
We did not want at the time a coup d’etat; but on one point my mind was made up: if the other side went so far that I knew that they would strike, then I would let fly four days before. If anyone says to me, ‘Yes, but the consequences!’ then I answer, ‘The consequences could not be worse than they would have been if we had not acted.’ – Putsch Anniversary Celebration, Munich, 1934
“Since the Revolution of November 1918 had broken the laws which were formerly in force, it could not be expected of us that we should regard the Revolution as a legal constitution . . . So in November 1923 we marched, filled with the faith that we should succeed in overthrowing those who were responsible for November, 1918, in annihilating the men who were responsible for the untold misfortune of our people.” – Munich, 8th November 1935
“The Government of that day had come to power through violence and it was through violence that it had to be destroyed.” – Volkischer Beobachter, 10th November 1936
“We are met in a Celebration in memory of the day on which for the first time we sought to change the face of Germany. The result of that attempt was sixteen dead, more than a hundred severely or slightly wounded, and a further result was the apparent annihilation of our Movement.
If year by year we have celebrated this day – in the time of persecution not always in the same form – if we are determined in the future and for all time to make this a Holy Day for the German nation, that is not because on it sixteen men died. Daily thousands die and wars destroy many more in an hour. It is because these sixteen men with a true faith in their hearts suffered a death which helped to raise up once more the German people. These sixteen men even before that had stood their ground, they had been in the Great War, many of them had been wounded once, several times. They had already often looked death straight in the eyes. But in war it was different! Then the whole German people in arms faced its foes, while on the 9th November, 1923 only a small band arose against the annihilators of the Fatherland and the destroyers of the nation, against those who had sold and betrayed our people.
. . . it was a bold decision just because it meant that with the means one had – and they were small enough – one must have the courage to assume power. Yet this decision was necessary: it could not be escaped. No other action was possible. Someone in this hour had to oppose treason, had to set these traitors the national watchword. It mattered not in the last resort who did it. We did it; I made the venture. – Munich, 8th November 1935. Celebration of the 12th Anniversary of the November 1923 Putsch
“Could our dead of the 9th November rise again they would weep for joy that now the German army and the awakened German people have found their way to unity . . . because today we are binding into one the whole strength of the nation we can now give to the dead their eternal rest.” – Munich, 8th November 1935. Celebration of the 12th Anniversary of the November 1923 Putsch
“It was at this time that the Movement wrote upon its standards the words: ‘Germany must live, even though we die.’ The motto of the others was the exact opposite: ‘We shall live, even though Germany is destroyed.” – Munich, 8th November 1935. Celebration of the 12th Anniversary of the November 1923 Putsch
“That the attempt failed was perhaps the greatest good fortune of my life and the greatest good fortune for the German nation . . . the splitting up of Germany was finally prevented, for in order to get rid of us the help of the North of Germany was needed, and thus separation was stopped. And yet, we could not be silenced: as though by an explosion our ideas were hurled over the whole of Germany and thus my decision was justified.” – In the Putsch anniversary speech of 1937
Hitler’s statement at the Putsch Trial “The (National Socialist) army which we have formed grows from day to day; from hour to hour it grows more rapidly. Even now I have the proud hope that one day the hour is coming when these untrained bands will become battalions, when the battalions will become regiments and the regiments divisions, when the old cockade will be raised from the mire, when the old banners will once again wave before us: and then reconciliation will come in that eternal last Court of Judgement – The Court of God – before which we are ready to take our stand. Then from our bones, from our graves will sound the voice of that tribunal which alone has the right to sit in judgement upon us.
For, gentlemen, it is not you who pronounce judgement upon us, it is the Eternal Court of History which will make its pronouncement upon the charge which is brought against us.
The judgement that you will pass, that I know. But that Court will not ask of us ‘Have you committed high treason or not/’ That Court will judge us . . . who as Germans have wished the best for their people and their Fatherland, who wished to fight and to die. You may declare us guilty a thousand timers, but the Goddess who presides over the Eternal Court of History will with a smile tear in pieces the charge of the Public Prosecutor and the judgement of the court, for she declares us guiltless.’ — Reden (1933 ed. p.122. Hitler’s Speeches, Baynes. Vol.1. The Institute of International Affairs. 1942
On the Putsch trials: “I was myself in prison when these trials began to run their course. And I had only one anxiety – that under the pressure of arrest, questioning, and the whole method of conducting the trial one or the other might perhaps give way, might seek to save himself, and might plead ‘I have been guiltless: I have acted under compulsion. I could not help myself.’
My heart overflowed with joy when I saw the first reports of those trials, when I read in the Munich Post, ‘The men of the Shock Troops are just as insolent and shameless as was their lord and master.’ Then I knew that Germany was not lost! That spirit would gnaw its way through anything. Such a spirit they can no longer destroy. And out of these Shock-Troop men and these SA. men were later formed the greatest organisations of the German Movement – the SA. and the SS. And the spirit has remained: it has ever and again proved itself ten thousand – a hundred thousand-fold.’
That is what we owe to these men who died: the example which they gave in Germany in the darkest hour.” – Munich, 8th November, 1935. Celebration of the 12th Anniversary of the November 1923 Putsch
The failed November Putsch decided Hitler to use legal rather than illegal means of coming to power. ” . . . If you will read again my final speech in the great prosecution you will be in a position to say that as a prophet I foreshadowed the only possible way for progress in the future, that I have publicly declared what that way was and have resolutely followed it for nine years. I could thus follow it only because this action happened first, because previously men had died for this way. . . In very truth, the cerecloths of these sixteen dead have celebrated a resurrection which is unique in the history of the world. They have become the banners of their people’s freedom. The miracle is that from their sacrifice arose this mighty unity of Germany, this victory of a Movement, an idea, and to this the whole people is pledged. And all that, the whole of our debt, is bound up with these men. For all those who later sacrificed their blood were inspired by the sacrifice of these men.” – Munich, 8th November 1935. Celebration of the 12th Anniversary of the November 1923 Putsch
“And during these eight months the world has abused us: they complain of atrocities; the greatest atrocities in Germany were wrought in the name of the Treaty of Versailles: the Treaty was the cause of some 20,000 suicides annually, 20,000 decent men who had been robbed by the Treaty of their prospects, of their means of livelihood. . . . When has there ever been a revolution so free of atrocities as ours?” – Sportpalast, Berlin. 24th October 1933
” . . . If these foreign countries and in particular certain democratic statesmen champion with such energy the cause of individual German priests, that action can have only a political ground, fort these same statesmen were completely silent when in Russia hundreds of thousands of priests were massacred or burnt; they are completely silent when in Spain tens of thousands of priests and nuns are slaughtered in a bestial way or are even, while still living, thrown into the flames. They could not – they cannot – deny these facts, but they are silent; they say not a word . . . ” – Reichstag, 30th January 1939.
THE SIXTEEN MARTYRS
They now pass into the German immortality under God’s free heaven. For us they are not dead: these temples are no crypts: they are the eternal guard post. Here they stand for Germany and keep guard over our people.”
– Adolf Hitler, 11th November 1935
When the bodies of the sixteen martyrs of the November Putsch were removed to the open-air Memorial in Munich, Hitler said that long ago he had determined that if he ever came to power he would take these comrades from the cemeteries and honour them: “That determination I have now fulfilled. They now pass into the German immortality. In their own time they could not yet see the Reich of today: they could only dimly envisage it. Fate has forbidden to them to experience this Reich. But though they might neither see nor experience this Reich, we will take care that the Reich will see them. And therefore we have laid them in no crypt and beneath no dome. No, just as they once marched, their breast open to the air, so now shall they lie in wind and weather, in storm and snow, under God’s free heaven, a perpetual reminder for the German nation. For us they are not dead: these temples are no crypts: they are the eternal guard post. Here they stand for Germany and keep guard over our people. Here they lie as true witnesses to our Movement.” – Volkischer Beobachter, 11th November 1935