The German Workers Party

Key Facts & Summary

  • The German Workers Party (German Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) or DAP was a political party founded in Munich in 1919.
  • Its first president was Anton Drexler.
  • The goal of the party was that of improving the lives of German workers.
  • When Hitler joined the Party, he changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) or NSDAP.
  • On February 24, 1920, Hitler gave a speech in Munich in which he exposed the 25 objectives that the German Workers Party sought to achieve.
  • Hitler’s program was approved by an audience of 2,000 people (according to Hitler’s description of it in Mein Kampf) at the Hofbräuhaus, one of the largest breweries in Munich.

Overview

The German Workers Party (in German Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, DAP) is a far-right (Pan-German, Völkisch and anti-Semitic) German political party that originated from the National Socialist Party of German Workers (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, NSDAP), i.e. the Nazi Party. It was in this ephemeral political movement founded in 1919 in Munich that Adolf Hitler made his first steps in politics and gained notoriety. The future Führer transformed the DAP into the NSDAP and made it a docile instrument at the service of his ambitions.

Foundation of the Party

The party was founded on January 5, 1919, by Anton Drexler and Michael Lotter at the Fürstenfelder Hof in Munich in front of 24 people (mostly railway employees). The German Workers Party is the result of the transformation of the Politischer Arbeiterzirkel into a political party (founded in October 1918 by Karl Harrer, member of the Thule Society, and Anton Drexler). It seems that the decision to create a “real” party was mainly made by Drexler. On the contrary, Harrer, wanted the movement to maintain the look and feel of a club. Drexler proposed the title of Deutsche Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei, a name categorically rejected by Harrer.

Among the founding members were Dietrich Eckartnote and Gottfried Feder, who was to become Adolf Hitler’s economic mentor a few months later.

According to  Ian Kershaw, Harrer was absent on the day of the party’s creation. According to other sources, Harrer only entered the party in March 1919 (and did not mention his profession as a journalist). However, when Hitler made his first appearance and speech in the committee meeting in September 1919. At that time, Harrer was the Reichsvorsitzender (president) and Drexler was at the head of the Munich branch. The first public meetings were organised in front of a sparse audience only after the fall of the Bavarian state council.

According to Hitler, the DAP’s greatest problem in the autumn of 1919 was its total lack of visibility. Such anonymity was mainly caused by a lack of financial freedom: when Hitler first joined the committee, their funds amounted to 7 marks and 50 pfennigs. Despite the committee’s efforts, which was committed to writing by hand/ typing and sending out invitations to its meetings, success was not immediately granted.

The second meeting in which Hitler was invited to speak took place on October 19, 1919, at the Eberlbraükeller. The theme was “Brest-Litowski and Versailles”, during which four speakers addressed 130 listeners.

After the seventh public meeting, Hitler began to develop a program for the party.

On February 24, 1920, Hitler held his speech at the Hofbräuhaus brewery. The meeting originally had to take place at the Bürgerbräukeller in January 1920. However, it had to be postponed due to the general ban on public meetings. In front of nearly 2,000 people, Hitler presented his political program. Their 25-point program combined nationalist demands with social ideas imbued with pan-German, racist and anti-Semitic doctrines.

 

Hitler won the audience’s approval and loudly stated each point of the program.

The DAP was renamed the National Socialist Party of German Workers (NSDAP) on August 8, 1920. After dismissing Drexler, Hitler took the lead on July 29, 1921. The same year, he developed the red and white flag containing a black swastika. The flag was adopted and became the emblem of the Nazi party.

The Program

The program of the German Workers Party met the needs of their time. The DAP wanted to achieve the following:

  1. We want all Germans to live in a “Greater Germany”
  2. We want Germany to be treated the same as other nations, and we want the peace treaties of Versaillesto be cancelled.
  3. We want land and territory (colonies) to feed our people and to settle our surplus population.
  4. Only Germans may be citizens of the Germany. Only those of the German races may be members of the nation, their religion does not matter. No Jewmay be a citizen.
  5. Non-citizens may live in Germany, but there will be special laws for foreignersliving in Germany.[4]
  6. Only citizens can vote for parliament and councils, or vote on laws. Everyone who works for the German government, a state government or even a small village must be a citizen of Germany. We will stop giving people jobs because of the political party they are in, only the best people should get a job.
  7. We think that the government’s first job is to make sure every citizen has a job and enough to eat. If the government cannot do this, people who are not citizens should be made to leave Germany.
  8. No-one who is not of a German-race should be allowed to live in Germany. We want anyone who is not of a German-race who started living in Germany after 2 August 1914 to leave the country.
  9. All citizens shall have equal rights and duties.
  10. Every citizen should have a job. Their work should not be selfish, but help everyone. Therefore we say
  11. No one should live off money from rents or other income unless they have worked for that money.
  12. So many people die or lose their property in a war, it is wrong for other people to make money from the war. Anyone who made money from the war should have all that money taken away.
  13. We want all very big corporationsto be owned by the government.
  14. Big industrial companies should share their profits with the workers.
  15. We want old age pensionsto be paid.
  16. We want
    • to create a healthy middle class
    • to split up big department stores, and let small traders rent space inside them
    • to make State and town governments try to buy from small traders.
  17. We want to change the way land is owned. We also want
    • a law to take over land if the country needs it, without the government having to pay for it;
    • to abolish ground rent; and
    • to prohibit land speculation(buying land just to sell to someone else for more money).
  18. Crimes against the common interest must be punished with death.
  19. We want the Roman law system changed for the German common law system.
  20. We want to change the system of schools and education, so that every hard-working German can have the chance of higher education.
    1. What is taught should concentrate on practical things
    2. Schools should teach civic affairs, so that children can become good citizens
    3. If poor parent cannot afford to pay the government should pay for education.
  21. The State must protect health standards by
    1. protecting mothers and infants
    2. stopping children from working
    3. making a law for compulsory gymnastics and sports, and
    4. supporting sports clubs for young men.
  22. We want to get rid of the old army and replace it with a people’s army that would look after the ordinary people, not just the rich officer-class
  23. We want the law to stop politicians from being anti-German, and newspapers from writing about them. To make a German national press we demand:
    1. that all editors of, and writers in the German language newspapers are members of the nation (of a German race);
    2. Foreign newspapers need permission from the government. They must not be printed in the German language;
    3. Non-Germans cannot own or control German newspapers.
      1. any non German who does own or control a newspaper will be made to leave Germany, and the newspaper closed down,
    4. Newspapers which criticise the country or the government are not allowed.
    5. Art and books which support foreign ideas, should be banned.
  24. We want to allow all religions in the State, unless they offend the moral feelings of the German race. The NSDAP is Christian, but does not belong to any denomination. The NSDAP will fight the Jewish self-interest spirit, and believes that our nation will be strongest only if everyone puts the common interest before self-interest.
  25. We will
    1. create a strong central government for the Reich;
    2. give Parliament control over the entire government and its organisations;
    3. form groups based on class and job to carry out the laws in the various German states.

Bibliography

[1.] Evans, R. J. (2003). The Coming of the Third Reich. New York; Toronto: Penguin.

[2.] Hitler & Drexler’s 25 Point Programme. Available from: https://www.tutor2u.net/history/reference/the-25-point-programme

[3.] Kershaw, I. (2008). Hitler: A Biography. New York: W. W. Norton & Company

Image sources:

[1.] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/27/German_Workers_party.png

[2.] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c5/Anton_Drexler.jpg

[3.] http://www.germanartgallery.eu/upload/adolf%20reich%20hofbaruhaus%20hitler%20suddeutsche%20zeitung.jpg

[4.] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/27/Bundesarchiv_Bild_119-0289%2C_M%C3%BCnchen%2C_Hitler_bei_Einweihung_%22Braunes_Haus%22.jpg