Berlin may not be ignored when considering the three cities that have been particularly important in the movement’s history.
Berlin! Capital of the Reich and seat of the Reich government, metropolis, world city, Berlin—an endless sea of buildings with a population larger than that of Switzerland! Berlin at last, the city where during the struggle for power everything came together, where the tread of the proletarian masses was louder and more confident, where the Jew in full confidence of his power was more obvious and insolent than anywhere else.
As the National Socialist movement began to recover after the collapse of 9 November and slowly spread to northern Germany, including Berlin, the conditions were highly unfavorable.
During Adolf Hitler’s imprisonment, internal and personal problems split the völkisch movement, with results that lasted into the party’s re-establishment. The problems were even more evident in an enormous city like Berlin. The asphalt wilderness with its largely proletarian population was fertile ground for political fringe groups of every kind. The result was that the Berlin local group of the NSDAP, despite hard work, was going nowhere, and was a real concern for Munich. It was in the same state as the German Workers’ Party was before Adolf Hitler arrived to give meaning and purpose to its struggle. Berlin too lacked a personality of stature sufficient to win the masses of the working class for National Socialism through the power of his words, to deal with the leaders of other parties, to battle the intellectual currents of the System Era and combat the brutal terror of the political underworld, all the while raising high the Swastika banner in this city of millions.
The party leadership waited for a time, hoping that a leader would grow out of Berlin itself. Only after various attempts had proved unsuccessful did the Führer decide in fall 1926 to entrust Dr. Goebbels with the conquest of Berlin, giving him special authority. Dr. Goebbels has already proved himself as Gauleiter of the Rhineland to be a passionate and exciting speaker to workers in the Ruhr area. Events would show whether or not he was the right man for Gauleiter of the Reich capital. On 30 October 1936, the Führer spoke these moving words of thanks to Dr. Goebbels at the ten year anniversary of the Gau: “Your name symbolizes this ten-year battle for Berlin! It will never fade from German history, from the history of the National Socialist movement, and never from the history of this city.”
In truth, the history of the NSDAP in Berlin begins with the day Dr. Goebbels assumed its leadership. He had to undertake major changes to strengthen the organization, including expelling expelling a large clique of quarreling members. The party headquarters were then in a back courtyard on Potsdamer Street named the “opium den.” This was quickly replaced by clean, dignified offices on Lützow Street, and later on Hedemann Street. He began an organized campaign of propaganda and meetings that gradually spread from Spandau to the entire city.
It is obvious that the Berlin NSDAP needed its own “Hofbräuhaus battle” to prove to its opponents that it could stand up against the bloody deeds of the Reds. On 11 February 1927, Dr. Goebbels spoke in the Pharus Hall, the favorite meeting hall of the Communists in the red Wedding district. “The government is near its end. A new Germany must be forged! White collar workers and blue, the fate of the German people is in your hands.” Those were the words on the big red posters on all the poster pillars.
The Marxist parties saw the meeting as a declaration of war, and they were right. The NSDAP was about to invade their strongest districts. As Dr. Goebbels entered the hall, it has been closed for an hour by the police and was two-thirds filled with Red fighters. A Red rabble-rouser making provocative remarks in the hall was hauled out of the mob of his fellow believers by several SS men and brought to the stage. That was the sign for the Red mob to attack. What happened next was identical to what had happened more than five years earlier as the first Storm Troop unit earned its fame. Here too a tiny minority of fanatic National Socialists began what seemed a hopeless battle against a brutal Red force that shrank at nothing. They won in the end, enabling the further growth of the movement.
The elements that characterized the National Socialist battle throughout the Reich are evident in concentrated form in the struggle for Berlin. There were governmental problems and difficulties of every variety, periodic speaking bans for the Gauleiter, bans of the S.A. and the whole party, tiring trials, searches, arrests, prison, meeting hall battles, and everywhere murder…
The whole battle transpired during the glorious era of Vice President of Police Isidor Weiss, whose real name was Bernhard instead of Isidor. However, his origins and his nose fully justified the mocking name that Berlin jokesters gave him.
The periods when the party was banned posed major challenges to the party membership. The party maintained a shaky existence under the cover of organizations like savings societies, bowling clubs and swimming clubs. Missing propaganda activities were replaced to some extent by founding the newspaper “Der Angriff.” The diehard slogan “Though banned, we’re not dead” helped the party survive the crisis, which in the end threatened to dishearten even the most devoted members.
Happier times now came, times that justified the heaviest sacrifices. The inroads into the ranks of the Marxists could no longer be stopped. On an election night, the Führer could stand nervously in Munich as the “Doctor” reported to him the number of National Socialist votes from working class districts, numbers that exceeded his expectations.
None of the occasional and inevitable setbacks that sometimes threatened the Berlin NSDAP and even the unity of the entire movement could stop Adolf Hitler. The public defection of Dr. Otto Strasser, who had always been a troublemaker, the S.A. mutiny led by Stennes, the betrayal by Gregor Strasser — all these passed like ghosts.
Much blood was shed in the battle for Berlin. Many a promising Berliner had to give his young life for the struggle, the struggle for Germany. One cannot recall these sacrifices without remembering the immortal one murdered on 23 February 1930. Berlin was where the young student Horst Wessel built a unit of young lads who until then had proudly called themselves proletarians, but now were filled with the fighting spirit that came from National Socialist ideals. And the confidence in coming victory led to the song that made his name immortal.
”Raise high the flag, close the ranks…” That is not only a portrait of the march of the Berlin S.A. through the streets in the east and north of the city. It is a command, an order, an appeal to the conscience of the comrades not to waver or weaken until Hitler’s flag wave over every street. Horst Wessel embodies the young leaders of a new age and his name has become a symbol for the unknown S.A. man.
The Führer spoke often in Berlin, in Clou and the Sport Hall. But only in the decisive year 1932 did he become a regular guest in the Reich capital, staying in the Hotel Kaiserhof. The negotiations for taking over the government took place in Berlin, as did the last political and diplomatic struggles. The last barriers had to be eliminated here until the way was free for the most capable in Germany. Today Berlin has the good fortune to have Adolf Hitler as Führer and Chancellor of the German people in its midst, and to take a greater role than any other city in Germany in his struggle, his work, his plans and concerns.
The transformation of Berlin has begun. This enormous city’s random growth will be tamed by the Führer’s plans. Within a few years, the stony wilderness will have a new face, characterized by great avenues, impressive squares and noble buildings. These too are symbols of those enormous tasks facing Adolf Hitler and the German people: the building of a National Socialist German Reich.