Adolf Hitler and the German Workers' Party (Commentary)

This commentary is based on the classroom activity: Adolf Hitler and the German Workers' Party

Q1: Read source 2. Why was Adolf Hitler impressed with Feder's pamphlet, My Political Awakening?

A1: Hitler agreed with Feder's attack on Marxism and trades-unionism and liked his support for German nationalism.

Q2: Study the policies of the German Workers' Party (sources 3, 4, 5 and 7). Describe the type of people who would have joined the GWP.

A2: The GWP targeted several different groups. Source 7 provides details of the GWP policies. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) was the most popular political party at the time. The GWP had several pro-socialist policies such as: abolition of unearned incomes (7-11), the nationalisation of all war and associated industries (7-13), division of profits of all heavy industries (7-14) and expansion of old age welfare (7-15).

The GWP also appealed to those who held nationalist views who felt that Germany had been badly treated after the First World War. For example it called for the "abrogation of the peace treaties of Versailles and St. Germain" (7-2) and the return of overseas territories and "colonization for our surplus population" (7-3).

The GWP was an anti-Semitic party. It argued that Jews could not be German citizens (7-4). That only German citizens should hold "public office" (7-6). That all non-citizens should be expelled from Germany (7-7 and 7-8).

Q3: Describe how the policies of the GWP helps to explain the comments made in source 11.

A3: Kurt Ludecke points out that the GWP was always short of money. Their policies were considered to be hostile to wealthy people and it is not surprisingly they were unwilling to provide money to the GWP. It was only later when Hitler changed his policies that he was able to attract funding from the large corporations.

Q4: In source 8 Adolf Hitler explained how designed the GWP flag (source 1). What did Hitler mean by saying it "suited our movement admirably"?

A4: Hitler argues (source 8) that the swastika flag "suited our movement admirably, both being new and young". He added that the flag "was something akin to that of a blazing torch".

Q5: Study source 6. Explain why we know that the photograph was taken in the second-half of 1920?

A5: The photograph shows GWP members wearing a swastika armband. According to Hitler (source 8) the swastika symbol was designed in the summer of 1920 and therefore the photograph must have been taken in the second-half of that year.

Q6: Use the information in source 9 to explain the meeting of source 10.

A6: The GWP was very hostile to Jews. In source 9 it claims that the Jews were involved in "a secret world conspiracy" and owned a large percentage of German industry. Source 10 shows a Jewish octopus taking control of "small German traders".

Q7: Select passages from at least two different sources that help to explain why Hitler became leader of the German Workers' Party.

A7: Source 5 points out that Hitler helped draft and publish the so-called Twenty-five Point Party Programme. He was also placed in charge of party propaganda. Hitler also became the GWP's main speaker (source 12). Captain Truman Smith (source 13) claims that Hitler was "the dominating force in the movement, and the personality of this man has undoubtedly been one of the most important factors contributing to its success".