Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Airship President - Part 3

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            Hitler’s arrest was intended to be the beginning of the end for the unrest in Germany. President Eckener and Chancellor Adenauer hoped that by depriving this radical party it’s leader, that the movement would wither away and die, and Germany could move forward in peace. And for a short time it did, until Hitler’s trial started in January of 1933. Then everything looked as though it might fall apart.
- Liebermann, Dr. William. The Zeppelin President."Chapter 3: 1933 and the War on Nazism.” Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003

BERLIN, JAN 3- Today Chancellor Adenauer announced to the press that his government intends to seek the death penalty for Adolf Hitler, who was arrested over a month ago, charged with planning the attack on President Eckener that resulted in the death of Chancellor Wels. Senior Nazi officials vow that they will fight this attempt with all their might. 
-“Adenauer Says Gov’t will Seek Death for Hitler,” Frankfurter Zeitung, January 3, 1933

PEOPLE OF GERMANY AWAKEN!! The Eckener government in Berlin, which is riddled with Jews and Communists and other enemies of the true Germany seeks to murder the true hero of the People, Adolf Hitler, leader of the National Socialist Movement in Germany. If we want to see Germany take it’s rightful place in the sun, and revenge the Great War, we must rise up as one People and remove Eckener, this filthy capitalist pig, from the Presidency, and toss his henchman Adenauer out of office. The time for talking is over. The time for action is now!
-“Time for Revolution,” Volkisher Beobatcher (Nazi Party Paper), January 8, 1933

BERLIN, JAN 20- The German government is reporting that the Nazi party has bombed several important government offices in Berlin, including the Reichstag and the Chancellery, along with carrying out attacks in many other cities across the country. President Eckener has yet to react in any strong way, but reportedly the government will be meeting within the week to establish a firm plan of action.
            Many here in Britain are looking wearily across the channel at the chaos that doesn’t seem to end in troubled Germany, and hope that it will not spill out into the rest of Europe or across the waters to our own lands.
-“Terrorists Strike Across Germany,” The Times (London), January 21, 1933

January 23, 1933- All hell seems to be breaking loose. Just when we thought that the whole Nazi problem had been solved. The bombings earlier this week have the people shaken, and there are calls from members of the military for at least Adenauer to resign if our government can’t put a lid on these terrorists. We’ve got to come up with a game plan, and fast. We are going to meet in three days to try and solve this problem. I hope that the end is in sight.
- From the personal diary of President Hugo Eckener “Personal Documents of President Eckener.” The Zeppelin Institute, Friedrichshafen.

            Eckener ultimately ordered the Reichswehr to arrest all the Nazi leaders, and on February 1, the Reichstag passed a resolution banning the Nazi Party, expulsing the 29 Nazi delegates and calling for special elections in those districts. But even that didn’t work. Members of the Nazi Party began rioting in the street. Then, on February 20, the Stahlhelm (Steel Helmet) Veterans Organization called on Eckener and Adenauer to resign, and for there to be new elections. Members of the Armed Forces, senior career Generals, also called for the resignation of the Government. It seemed as if all would be lost, and that Eckener would be forced from office.
- Liebermann, Dr. William. The Zeppelin President."Chapter 3: 1933 and the War on Nazism.” Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003

March 1, 1933- We had an emergency meeting of the Government tonight at the Chancellery.  Adenauer argued that we should dismiss the current army leaders and replace them with fellows more favorable to the democratic regime. Wirth spoke up and said he’d resign if we took such a course. He had a new idea. He said “What if we ask the Stahlhelm to join us?” Adenauer and I looked at him with utter bewilderment. “Join us how?” I asked him. “We create a new Federal Police, and allow the members of the Stahlhelm to fill most of the ranks. In effect, we put them to work for us. They largely support the military, not the Nazis, though there are exceptions. But if we offer them a piece of the pie…” Adenauer looked intrigued. “Mr. President, it’s not a bad plan, but it may be hard to get the SPD on board. We’d have to make some serious concessions. I doubt they’d support me as Chancellor.” I told him he was right. Then Konrad totally surprised me. He said, “Mr. President, now that I think about it, Wirth’s plan is the best thing I can come up with, and to do with, we have to have the SPD onboard. I will resign as Chancellor and allow Hans Vogel to take my place. We can bring in the Stahlhelm men as the “Reichspolizei”. Wirth spoke up at this point, “We’ll also need to consider other things to bring the Right onboard. Play up the nationalism card to draw the populace away from the radicals. Maybe restore the imperial flag. Things like that.” Adenauer agreed. Finally we have something new to try. I pray to God that this works.
- From the personal diary of President Hugo Eckener “Personal Documents of President Eckener.” The Zeppelin Institute, Friedrichshafen.

BERLIN, MAR 4- Chancellor Konrad Adenauer resigned his office yesterday, and was today replaced by President Eckener with Hans Vogel, of the Social Democrats. Today was in fact a big day for the President. In addition to appointing Mr. Vogel to Chancellor, he also established the Reichspolizei, a national level police force, aimed at dealing with former Nazis. It is rumored that the RP will consist primarily of members of the Stahlhelm, which had up till now been quite critical of President Eckener’s government.
            Chancellor Vogel stated that Adenauer would remain in the government, going back to his original portfolio of Foreign Minister.
-“Adenauer Resigns,” Frankfurter Zeitung, March 5, 1933.

BERLIN, MAR 12- The German Government, under the leadership of President Hugo Eckener, has declared war on the Nazi Party. With the creation of a new national police force, the Eckener administration, headed by a new chancellor (the third since Eckener took office a little less than a year ago), seems to be rebounding from terrible terrorist attacks and riots that were perpetrated by the Nazis earlier this year. President Eckener and new Chancellor Hans Vogel seem confident this new approach will work, though time alone will tell. Many conservatives in Germany have an “I-wont-hold-my-breath” attitude towards this latest attempt to crush the Nazis.
-“War on Nazis Declared in Germany,” The New York Times, March 14, 1933

            From March 4 onwards, the tide slowly began to turn in Eckener’s favor. The Stahlhelm threw their support behind the Government as they operated the Reichspolizei. The RP was a big help in bringing down the Nazi movement before it was able to really go underground. In the only real violent confrontation of the so called “War on Nazis,” the Reichspolizei and the Reichswehr fought against the last remnants of the Nazis in Munich in what many refer to as the “Battle of Munich”. Fighting lasted for over a week, as the RP and the RW encircled the Nazi stronghold and eventually beat them on July 9, 1933. After that battle, most Nazis just gave up. Many towns held swastika burning parties as former Nazis recanted and moved on with their lives. When Hitler was finally put on trail in August, he was given life in prison, to avoid any chance of him becoming a martyr. His health would later deteriorate, and he was released from prison in 1951, and died the following year, just months after finding some small publisher to release, in a small number of copies, his second book, explaining why the Nazis failed.
            After the end of the War on Nazis, Eckener was able to focus on rebuilding Germany and helping the country’s fragile democracy finally take root.
- Liebermann, Dr. William. The Zeppelin President."Chapter 3: 1933 and the War on Nazism.” Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003

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