Hitler's Final Speech at his Trial for Treason, March 27, 1924
After the Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler's trial for treason began before a special court in Munich on February 26, 1924. Lasting for twenty-four days, the trial was reported on the front pages of every German newspaper. For the first time Hitler had an audience outside of Bavaria. He succeeded in turning the proceedings into a triumph. He recovered political initiative by the simple device of assuming full responsibility for the attempt to overthrow the Republic. With these final words he built up the failure of the putsch into one of the great propaganda legends of the movement.
I aimed from the first at something a thousand times higher than being a minister. I wanted to become the destroyer of Marxism. I am going to achieve this task and, if I do, the title of minister will be an absurdity as far as I am concerned. . . .
At one time I believed that perhaps this battle against Marxism could be carried on with the help of the government. In January, 1923, I learned that that was just not possible. The hypothesis for the victory of Marxism is not that Germany must be free, but rather Germany will only be free when Marxism is broken. At that time I did not dream that our movement would become great and cover Germany like a flood.
The army that we are building grows from day to day, from hour to hour. Right at this moment I have the proud hope that once the hour strikes these wild troops will merge into battalions, battalions into regiments, regiments into divisions. I have hopes that the old cockade will be lifted from the dirt, that the old colors will be unfurled to flutter again, that expiation will come before the tribunal of God. Then from our bones and from our graves will speak the voice of the only tribunal which has the right to sit in justice over us.
Then, gentlemen, not you will be the ones to deliver the verdict over us, but that verdict will be given by the eternal judgment of history, which will speak out against the accusation that has been made against us. I know what your judgment will be. But that other court will not ask us: Have you committed high treason or not? That court will judge us, their quartermaster-general of the old army, its officers and soldiers, who as Germans wanted only the best for their people and Fatherland, who fought and who were willing to die. You might just as well find us guilty a thousand times, but the goddess of the eternal court of history will smile and tear up the motions of the state's attorney and the judgment of this court: for she finds us not guilty.1
Connections Questions for the Classroom:
The word charisma is defined as a quality attributed to those who have an exceptional ability to win the devotion of large numbers of people. What qualities made Hitler a charismatic leader? How did the fact that he seemed so sure of himself affect his audiences? What leaders today do you consider charismatic?
Primary Sources: Politics
- 1932 Election Ballot
- Communist Artists
- Communist Party Anti-Nazi Demonstration
- Hitler's Final Speech at his Trial for Treason, March 27, 1924
- Horst Wessel Song Lyrics
- Nazi Election Flyer (1932)
- Ruth Fischer on the Demise of German Communism (excerpt)
- Social Democratic Party Proclamation of the Republic, November 9, 1918
- Socialist Newspaper, November 9, 1918
- Soldiers During the German Revolution of 1918
- Spartacists Proclamation of the Republic, November 9, 1918
- Unemployment in Germany, 1924-1932
- Weimar Constitution (excerpts)
- Workers Demonstration
|Political Party Platforms|
|Political Party Posters|
- Communist Party (KPD)
- German Democratic Party (DDP)
- National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP-Nazi)
- Social Democratic Party (SPD)
|Treaty of Versailles|
- Limits on German Rearmament Post-WWI
- Map of Germany after Treaty of Versailles (1919)
- Treaty of Versailles, summaries of specific articles
- Treaty of Versailles, text of Article 231, the "War Guilt Clause"
|World War I|