Hitler's Speech at his Trial for Treason
On November 8th, 1923, the Bavarian government held a meeting in a Munich beer hall. Adolf Hitler arrived with armed stormtroopers, jumped onto a table, fired two shots in the air and told the audience that the National Revolution had begun. The next day he and 3,000 armed Nazi supporters clashed with Police. When shots were fired Hitler fled. Arrested two days later, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment. Although Hitler was still an Austrian citizen, the Bavarian officials decided not to deport him. A sympathetic judge allowed Hitler to use the trial as a political podium to present his radical views. His minimal sentence was to be served in a comfortable prison fortress.

The court's verdict – guilty. Possible sentence – life. Hitler's sentence – five years, eligible for parole in six months.

The three judges in the trial had become so sympathetic that the presiding judge had to persuade them to find him guilty at all. They agreed to find Hitler guilty only after being assured he would get early parole.

Other Nazi leaders arrested after the failed Putsch got light sentences as well. General Ludendorff was even acquitted.

On April 1st, 1924, Hitler was taken to the old fortress at Landsberg and given a spacious private cell with a fine view. He got gifts, was allowed to receive visitors whenever he liked and had his own private secretary, Rudolf Hess.

The Nazi Party after the Putsch became fragmented and disorganized, but Hitler had gained national influence by taking advantage of the press to make his ideas known. Now, although behind bars, Hitler was not about to stop communicating.

Pacing back and forth in his cell, he continued expressing his ideas, while Hess took down every word. The result would be the first volume of a book, Mein Kampf, outlining Hitler's political and racial ideas in brutally intricate detail, serving both as a blueprint for future actions and as a warning to the world.

Rudolf Hess (second from right) with Hitler in prison at the Landsberg Fortress

The defiant defendant, Adolf Hitler, with fellow defendants in the Putsch trial, including Gen. Ludendorff (left) and Ernst Röhm (right front) who will soon loom large in the Nazi movement. Below:

Except from Adolf Hitler's Closing Speech
at his Trial for Treason (Feb. 1924)

"The man who is born to be a dictator is not compelled. He wills it. He is not driven forward, but drives himself. There is nothing immodest about this. Is it immodest for a worker to drive himself toward heavy labor? Is it presumptuous of a man with the high forehead of a thinker to ponder through the nights till he gives the world an invention? The man who feels called upon to govern a people has no right to say, 'If you want me or summon me, I will cooperate.' No! It is his duty to step forward. The army which we have now formed is growing day to day. I nourish the proud hope that one day the hour will come when these rough companies will grow to battalions, the battalions to regiments, the regiments to divisions, that the old cockade will be taken from the mud, that the old flags will wave again, that that there will be a reconciliation at the last great divine judgment which we are prepared to face. For it is not you, gentlemen, who pass judgment on us. That judgment is spoken by the eternal court of history...Pronounce us guilty a thousand times over: the goddess of the eternal court of history will smile and tear to pieces the State Prosecutor's submissions and the court's verdict; for she acquits us."