Painting closeup
Closeup: The Munich Putsch

Painting Spotlight:

The Munich Putsch

The Nazi Party prepared for revolution.1 On 9 November 1923, Adolf Hitler used a mass meeting at the Buergerbäukeller beer hall in Munich to begin what became known as the “Beer Hall Putsch.”2 After a confrontation with the police, sixteen Nazis and three police were dead or dying, with many others wounded. The subsequent trial of Hitler and nine co-defendants propelled him into the national spotlight. Convicted of treason Hitler would write Mein Kampf (My Struggle) in Landsberg prison, part autobiography, part blueprint for the future of Germany and the “operator’s manual” for the Nazi Party. Released after serving only nine months of a five-year sentence, Hitler went on a book tour to promote his new book. It became a bestseller and catapulted Hitler into the national limelight.3 The failed coup d’état became a sacred day for the Nazi Party and was commemorated in memorial ceremonies and paintings.4 In the center of the painting, Hitler boldly defies the soldiers, while dead and dying comrades lay at his feet. A bright light in the background emphasizes the righteousness of the cause. In reality, Hitler, and most of the Nazi leadership fled the scene as soon as shots were fired. The artist is identified only as “Schmitt.”

1 Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. A History of Nazi Germany, 66-68.

2 Sometimes also called the “Munich Putsch; Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. A History of Nazi Germany, 66-68.

3 John Keegan, The Second World War (New York: Viking Penguin, 1989), 33; Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. A History of Nazi Germany, 77-79.

4 In 1935 as the Chancellor of Germany, Hitler presided over a ceremony placing the sixteen dead in a national shrine.

Painting
Painting: The Munich [“Beer Hall”] Putsch