April 17, 2017

The New York Times in 1923: "Hitler New Power in Germany"

Reports of Growing Fascist Movement in Bavaria
Adolf Hitler does a dramatic pose while listening to a recording of his own speeches as part of a photo op with photographer Heinrich Hoffmann in 1925. Hitler found the photos embarrassing and ordered Hoffmann to destroy the negatives (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how The New York Times covered the rise and fall of fascism in Europe. It is one of the earliest mentions of Hitler and the Bavarian fascist movement the Times. The first article appeared two months earlier.

From The New York Times, January 21, 1923:
Adolph Hitler, the Austrian-born, leader of the so-called Bavarian Fascisti, figured largely in cabled reports of the activities of the bands counted as the latest enemies of the German Government. How Hitler's eloquence impressed the Munich correspondent of the conservative Kölnische Zeitung is shown by the following excerpt from his account of a Hitler meeting:

"I look around at my neighbors. At my left sits an old aristocrat, a General in the World War. At my right, in the working clothes of the Eastern suburbs of Munich, a man whose honest eyes alone redeem his desperate face. Only after the meeting warms up does he tell me that up to a short time ago he was a convinced Communist, and that only through Hitler has he learned to feel himself a German.

"Suddenly every one jumps up and a roar of applause sweeps through the big hall. Upon the speakers' platform steps a simple, modest looking, slender man of medium height who seems underfed and overworked. He is in the later thirties. His voice certainly is not unpleasant, but neither is it exactly fascinating.

"At the almost bland beginning of his address I think: 'Why these views surely could be approved by Ebert and Wirth, as well as by Stresemann or Hergt.' But gradually one is gripped as much by his strictly logical construction as by what one may almost call the overpowering strength of conviction. Although the man seems to be in a fever of enthusiasm he remains outwardly calm and restrained and uses none of those clownish tricks with which, in the days of Soviet rule, Levien, Leviné, Eisner and other popular speakers delighted to amuse their hearers.

"In astonishment I note that the condescending look of the old General on my left is gradually making way for an expression of wrapt attention. 'What a remarkable range of knowledge and technical learning!' he whispers in my ear. And later, as the accusation of complicity in Germany's want and misery is presented with almost crushing force, 'How fearfully excited the man must be, despite his external calm; he can't have a dry thread on his body!' My neighbor on the right, the Communist, no longer merely claps his hands in applause; in his eyes I think I see tears, and at every slight pause in the speaker's address he roars approval with all his might. In fact, in spite of the speaker's moderate tone, a very hurricane of elemental passion seems to be sweeping down upon the audience.

"So it is no wonder, then, that when Hitler, after having spoken two and a half hours, ends to a terrific storm of applause, the General and the Communist walk fraternally to a table to enroll as members of the National Socialist Party. Everywhere there are flashing eyes and exalted spirits. Youthful forms, although showing signs of semi-starvation, brace up proudly. 'Yes, yes, there still lives in us, thank God, a little of the old Germanism, despite all the corruption,' a lady of my acquaintance calls to me as we go out. And a professor remarks, 'No college instructor can excel this man in the unshakable logic of his construction or in his powers of conviction.'

"We are met with howls of rage from Hitler's enemies when we reach the street, but they are soon silenced by one of his patrols."