Flight from Terror, by Otto Strasser - Peter Myers, September 6, 2008; update February 3, 2009.

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Otto Strasser was the leader of the Socialist Left faction of the NSDAP. He wanted Public Ownership of the economy to be the key element of party policy, whereas Hitler made Race central. Strasser opposed Hitler's policy on Race and his targeting of Jews.

William L. Shirer wrote in his book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Secker and Warburg, London, 1961):

{quote} Once in the fall of 1930 Strasser, Feder and Frick introduced a bill in the Reichstag on behalf of the Nazi Party calling for a ceiling of 4 percent on all interest rates, the expropriation of the holdings of 'the bank and stock exchange magnates' and of all 'Eastern Jews' without compensation, and the nationalization of the big banks. Hitler was horrified; this was not only Bolshevism, it was financial suicide for the party. He peremptorily ordered the party to withdraw the measure. Thereupon the Communists reintroduced it, word for word. Hitler bade his party vote against it.
{endquote; p. 144}

The Strasser brothers took the socialist plank in the NSDAP party platform seriously, whereas Hitler had been accepting large donations from German industrialists and was beholden to them.

Hitler was finally forced to chose, and got rid of the Socialist Left in the Night of the Long Knives. Gregor Strasser and Ernst Roehm were among those killed, but Otto Strasser escaped.

He narrowly survived many attempts at capture and assassination, and went on to become the leader of the underground opposition to Hitler.

His earlier book Hitler and I tells the first part of the story: otto-strasser-hitler.html.

Flight From Terror is the story of how he became the "most wanted man" in Germany. The complete text is on the internet here, for the first time.

FLIGHT FROM TERROR

by OTTO STRASSER and MICHAEL STERN

NATIONAL TRAVEL CLUB New York 1943

{p. 9} Chapter I

THE THIRD FLOOR of Garnison Hospital, in Munich, was reserved for the leg-wound cases from the Western Front, and I lay in the ward there, hearing the groans of the men in the long rows of beds on either side of me, smelling the sick-sweet odor of antiseptic. For though they called this red brick building located near the Max II Barracks a hospital, it was little more than a butcher shop - a dark, dirty, overcrowded way station for the broken, flesh-torn soldiers of the German Fatherland.

In this hospital we knew only suffering. Even the food supplied to rebuild the weakened bodies of the wounded was awful beyond description. Coffee made from acorns - which we called "swine coffee"; butter, made from carrots - which we called Helden-butter or "hero butter," because only heroes could eat it; small chunks of tough black bread, made from potatoes; and meat twice a week, served with "barbed wire" soup. That was Garnison Hospital, a place of huddled misery, filth and lean, desperate want.

Everywhere in the third-floor ward - as in all the wards - there was pain; each of us was tortured by a wound eating away at the flesh of his body - and today there had come another wound, a deeper, more deadly one that ate away at the spirit.

For today we had heard that the war was over, that von Hindenburg had admitted the defeat all Germans had known was inevitable after the United States had entered the conflict. A premonition of disaster had been whispered to us only ten days before. On October 28, 1918 the Imperial Navy had mutinied at its base in Kiel. There had been arrests, shootings, the raising of red flags; the workers of Kiel had been seized

{p. 10} with the spirit of the navy's revolt, had formed revolutionary councils and demanded the abdication of the Hohenzollerns, amnesty for the leaders of earlier mutinies, and the right of equal suffrage; and these uprisings against established despotism had been duplicated in other cities as a result. Despite the eforts of the government to keep these acts from the people, underground intelligence had informed us - but we could not guess that the Kiel movement had been growing meantime, that it would reach its climax today in Munich. We could not guess that the dateline, "Munich, November 7, 1918" would become part of recorded history - a written period, a full stop, after I1565 days of blood, pain and hell. And I'm glad we did not know that the date promised no surcease of the horror we'd all been through, soldier and civilian alike.

Thinking men, of course, had seen it coming - the surrender and its aftermath. That the Imperial arms could not prevail was apparent toward the end; the aftermath, the reckoning, was just as fearsomely certain as it was unpredictable. It would come, this harvest for the vanquished; we knew that. How, or in what form, was what could not be foretold.

During the war 65,000,000 men had been mobilized and forced to participate; of them, 9,000,000 - about one in seven - had been killed in action; about 22,000,000 had been wounded, with a third permanently disabled, many soon to die; and there was still that ghostly 5,000,000 "missing in action." Such a cataclysm must be paid for through bitter years.

We had seen the reckoning coming for Germany in those angry days before the armistice. General Ludendorff had been forced to resign his command only two days before the Imperial Navy mutinied at Kiel; the rumbling of a separatist movement could be heard in Bavaria; the Emperor and the Crown Prince were about to flee to the Netherlands; Prince Max of Baden was being ousted from the chancellorship, and within two days a group of socialists led by Friedrich Ebert was

{p. 11} to take over the destiny of a new German Republic. What thinking man could have failed to have seen it coming?

But the future of Germany was more of a personal problem to me, I believe, than to anyone else in the ward at Garnison. I was only twenty-one years old, but even then - seemingly as much as today - the solution of Germany's future was my own enormous task. During all of Armistice Day I lay in bed filled with an impotent rage at the men and the forces that had brought the German people and myself to this modern Armageddon, with its promise of a harsh tomorrow.

Why did all this happen ? Ceaselessly that question sounded through my head. Once when the ward's single nurse - a mouselike creature who shuddered at the sight of blood even now - bent over my bed, I voiced my thoughts aloud.

"Why did we have to go to war?" I asked wildly. "Nobody gained by it - not even those we fought. Certainly not the Prussian Junkers who wanted it, nor even the profiteering indutrialists who -

Her urgent gesture stopped my words, and her expression of pained surprise gave way to one of nervous fear. She glanced from side to side to see if I had been overheard, then said stiffly, tensely, "You mustn't speak like that, Herr Le utnantl Why, you sound like one of those Communists!"

I was bitter at her lack of understanding, tried to explain that I was not a Communist, not a Monarchist, not anything just a man without hope, in a country that had no hope. But she couldn't comprehend; she couldn't see that, if my dislike of the Monarchist Party was strong, my dislike grew to hate where the Communists were concerned.

Toward evening I ceased my wild wondering, closed my eyes and tried to sleep. Street sounds drifted in through the open window; and slowly, in my drowsy state, that confusion of far-of sound seemed the chaotic rumble of an approaching mob. I could almost hear someone singing the "Internationale," the marching song of the Communists. Then other voices took

{p. 12} up the song and it seemed to sweep down the street like a tidal wave of madness.

A second later I was bolt upright in bed, wide awake now. The men around me, too, were staring at each other in surprise, for to all of us the sounds coming in the window meant that a mob was on the march, that in the dead world of Germany outside some group had had the spirit to rise and act. The ward of almost dead men came to life. Several patients shouted for the nurse at the same time; those in neighboring beds asked each other excited questions; in the confusion some just lay there and cursed impotently.

The mouselike nurse, bewildered in the face of this disorder in the ward, terrified by the street's pandemonium, stood between the rows of beds with her hands fluttering ineffectually. At that moment she was not far from the foot of my bed.

"What's happening?" I shouted to her excitedly.

Even in her fear and confusion, there was a look of distrust in her eyes as she turned to me.

"Don't you know, Herr Leutnant?"

"Of course not!" I answered sharply, anger rising within me at her expression and the implication of her words. "If I did know, would I be asking you, fraulein ?"

"It's the Communist revolution!"

"You mean - they've won?" There was an incredulous note in my voice, but inside me an insistent sense of the truth forced me to accept the hateful knowledge.

Not trusting her voice, the nurse's head bobbed up and down, the very violence of her movement showing the tension of her fear. But her answer wasn't necessary; I already knew.

Was this, then, the reason we had bled and suffered ? Was this why we were led like docile cattle to the slaughter pen, or a wage for the throbbing agony of the wounds of the Western Front ? ... It was not for this I had of ered my flesh - so that the Communists could impose their own peculiar brand of government on us

{p. 13} I had fought and sufered for an ideal, for a Fatherland that was mine, and in which I believed. That song I heard through the window was the chant of something alien. I hated one as violently as I loved the other.

It did not seem possible that the province of Bavaria could have fallen into Communist control; that fact just didn't seem to have substance. Yet here in the streets of the capital city of Bavaria hundreds of voices chanted to the blood-stirring tempo of hundreds of shuffling feet; and the song those voices chanted was the "Internationale," here in the streets of Munich - in Catholic Bavaria.

I could not lie in a hospital bed and let final destruction overtake my country. Somewhere were men who believed as I did. Somewhere were those who would fight and die to turn back this tide of red terror.

Pretending to lie quietly, I watched the nurse out of halfclosed eyes as she scurried about the ward and attempted to quiet her patients. Then, after some minutes, she was called away briefly. I had my chance. Struggling upright, I pivoted my legs over the side of the bed, surprised at the weakness of my body. Although shrapnel wounds in my leg were almost healed now, my weeks in the hospital had taken a toll of my strength that could not soon be repaired. The bag that held my clothes was under the bed and I hauled it out and began to dress, trembling so with the unaccustomed exertion that once I had to clutch the edge of the bed with both hands for support. But at last I had on my uniform again, and I groped in the bag for that familiar leather holster I had worn at the front. The feel of the butt of the Lueger in my hand was as strong and sustaining as the resolve that was building in my heart.

Limping down the ward now, impatience drove me forward despite my unsure gait. The nurse, coming into the ward at the far end, spotted me leaving and saw my empty bed.

Herr Leutnant!" she called. "Come back at once! You cannot go without permission!"

{p. 14} But the door of the ward had swung shut behind me, cutting off any further commands, and I was reeling down the stairs to the main floor. A few moments later and I had gained the outside world unmolested, chest heaving and the pulses pounding in my temples.

In the street a surging, howling mass of humanity swept me along with them - just as every bewildered individual in the Fatherland was now being plunged helplessly forward by a lawless, blind tide he could not oppose with his puny strength of body and mind. I fought to free myself from this unthinking, blind horde, working my way slowly and laboriously to its outer fringe, and succeeded at last in breaking free into a quiet side street.

There, weak and breathless from the violence of my physical exertion, I leaned trembling against the side of a building. In the distance I could hear the pulsation of the marching feet and the chanting voices; far and faint now, but ominous, like the sick echo of disaster pounding in my heart. And then there was only quiet again. The shouting crowds had gone, follow ing the line of march. But the formless, imponderable some| thing that had been the spirit of the mob, that is the spirit of all revolution, lay heavy over the city. I could feel its physical nearness, like a miasma in the street, as oppressive and ominous as the chant that still beat dully in my brain.

And it was then, in that moment of bitterness, that I was able to see the background of events that had allowed this revolution to succeed so well. ...

By the terms of the Armistice of 1918 all German troops were ordered demilitarized as speedily as possible. General Karl Haushofer, Commander of the Max II Barracks that stood near the hospital, had received such instructions and had acted upon them swiftly. But no sooner were men mustered out of service, than Ernst Toller, the German radical, and Eugen Levine, an agent sent by the Bolshevist government of Russia, would or-

{p. 15} ganize them into their own Red Army. And with this Red Army the Communists hoped to maintain control of Bavaria, one of Germany's chief provinces.

Perhaps the best analogy to such a thing happening in the United States would be this: New York State, taken unaware, is seized by the Communists organized within it - Albany, the capital, falling first. The Communists then declare the state in revolt against the governor and the established government Immediately they set up a Communist governor in his stead - and the Federal government in Washington, which for this analogy is assumed to be weak and torn by dissension itself, is helpless to do anything about it. New York State would then become a Communist-controlled power within the Union - practically an autonomous, self-suficient government.

Such was the purpose of Toller and Levine in recruiting the demobilized soldiers of Germany. But one is bound to ask: How could loyal soldiers of the Fatherland who had fought for her through four grueling years be induced to accept Red enlistment? The answer is sirnple. They had no jobs to which they could return; they were bitter and disillusioned; they saw only chaos about them, saw no hope for the future; they were hungry in a starving land - and the Red Army at least promised them three meals a day.

Nor were the Bavarian authorities in ignorance of this movement of soldiers from one allegiance to another, for Toller and Levine recruited openly. Yet no action was taken to halt it, for General Karl Haushofer's instructions were simple and explicit: "Muster out your men; demobilize your forces." Nothing had been said about guarding against incipient revolt, or about crushing such a movement before it could reach fruition.

As for the German government itself, the Kaiser and the Crown Prince were on the point of fleeing to Doorn (which they did three days later), and there existed no strong central power. The liberal Prince Maximilian of Baden had organized a moderate coalition government but, like all compromises

{p. 16} when emotions run high, it pleased no onc. Political faction wrangled with snarling political faction - and the Communists furthered this disorder to gain their own ends. Communism thrives on chaotic disorder and disunity.

It is too much to expect that a people used to being ruled by a single autocratic voice for years can, overnight, learn to rule themselves. And in the aftermath of a disastrous war such a feat is impossible. Consequently, all of the German states had already reverted to a semiautonomy - their princes having fled the empire - and did pretty much as they liked within their own borders. Germany had been converted into a federation of republican states, provisionally governed by a Council of People's Commissars, under Prince Maximilian. Thus a revolt against any state could be successful, once the local constabulary and home guard were overthrown; everyone knew the central government was too weak and insecure to send troops. And so the Communists struck in Bavaria.

But with every action there is a reaction. In the face of this disorder in Munich - as in all Germany - the people themselves took independent action. Toller's Red Army did not long go unopposed. Soon word was passing from mouth to mouth in the streets that General von Epp was raising a force of soldiers to put down the coming revolt. The General, who had commanded an Alpine division on the Italian front, and who was a fine officer though not a brilliant thinker, had no authority from Bavaria or the German Reichstag to act in such a manner. But he was a person who looked to the spirit as well as the letter of the law. And so grew the veteran opposition to Toller's Red Army.

The recollection of these events went through my mind as I stood there in the side street, resting against the building and gathering my strength. The pattern of events was so logical and clear now, as such patterns always are in retrospect. But what of the future pattern I, as a German, had to help design?

{p. 17} I had the answer to that. The headquarters of the loyalist clement was rumored to be at Ulm, an old town about eighty miles from Munich. All means of communication and tran portation between these two places had ceased to exist, since all travel was now allowed only by permit - and there were no permits for demobilized soldiers. Yet the burning urge to act was mounting within me, now that I saw the way. I would get to Ulm - I was sure of that. Four years of the most brutal war in history had taught me how to be both hard and resourceful. Four years of hell, when a soldier's wits, his splitsecond thinking, his guile and cunning meant the dierence between life and death, had taught me many things of which the civilian will be forever ignorant. It was that training that told me I would get to Ulm.

When a small truck - a leiterwagon, filled with calves for the market - slowed to round the corner of my narrow side street, I catapulted my body forward from the wall of the building, grabbed the sides of the driver's cab and swung myself aboard, landing in the front seat. The Lueger slid from the holster and into my hand; I held it unobtrusively on my lap.

At first the driver's eyes hardened, quick anger tightening his lips, but the sight of my officer's uniform seemed to rea sure him.

"I am going to Ulm," I said calmly, my voice quiet.

"Ulm ?" he repeated. Something in his tone, his bearing, told me he had only recently been discharged from the army. "I am sorry, Herr Iutnant, there must be some misunderstanding. I'm not going to Ulm. I'm headed in the opposite direction."

"There is no misunderstanding," I said tersely. "That is, I hope there won't be. We are going to Ulm." I lifted the Lueger from my lap and felt something cold creep out of my heart and shine in my eyes.

The driver's glance dropped to the automatic, held there for a moment then raised slowly to meet my own steady gaze - he

{p. 18} understood my point "We will go to Ulm, Herr Jutnant," he said quietly.

"I know you have a permit for yourself and this truck," I pointed out, "but I also know you are not allowed a passenger. So we will drive by way of Schwabmunchen, not by the main road of Augsburg. That way, we will have more chance of getting through."

"As you say, Herr Jeutnant."

Two hours later we stopped in front of the small, ancient building that had been used as the local city hall, and in which General von Epp had established his headquarters. Alighting stiffly, with conscious deliberation of movement lest my weakness show before others, I strode toward the entrance to the hall.

In the dingy corridor inside was a desk behind which sat the recruiting officer - a corpulent man of medium height with a smooth boyish face that was almost round, and with cheeks whose rosiness seemed almost artificial. Advancing to the desk as briskly as possible, I did my best to come smartly to attention and salute; my heart was pounding with excitement under my shabby tunic.

"Ieutnant Otto Strasser, First Bavarian Artillery, sir," I said. "Reporting for active duty."

The captain behind the desk eyed me carefully; he did not speak for several moments, but I could almost read his thoughts. No doubt the hospital pallor of my face was as informative as my complete record could have been. He seemed to be thinking: "Must I raise my forces from the hospital wards? Can we fight the Communists with convalescents?"

"I am quite fit, Capitan," I said quickly. "The attending doctor pronounced me - "

"I am sorry, Jeutnant," he interrupted, shrugging his shoulders as though to brush aside my explanation. "But, you see, we don't need officers. Every second man who has already signed up now holds a commission."

{p. 19} But I couldn't be denied my right to defend my Fatherland - not after four long years of doing so; not after gaining this very threshold to the Loyalist ranks. My decision was immediate. "I don't care, Capitan - not about the commission. Sign me in as a private, if you wish."

The captain got to his feet, looking effeminate now rather than boyish and roly-poly. As he stood up, his unmasculine quality showed plainly. He extended an uncalloused, soft hand and I shook it gratefully, while he explained that my brother, Gregor, retained his regular rank of captain and that he had already taken a squad of men toward Munich. I should have known that Gregor would be on the march in this fateful hour.

It struck me as odd, then, that this captain in charge of recruiting a counterrevolutionary force should appear so strangely effeminate - the opposite of any German recruiting officer I had ever known. But I understood later when I learned who he was - Captain Ernst Roehm, von Epp's chief of staff.

In this crisis there was not a moment to lose; each new recruit was immediately assigned to a squad, and as soon as a squad was complete it was instantly dispatched to Munich by truck. An orderly led me at once to the main auditorium of the commandeered city hall and I was handed a rifle, ammunition and a bayonet, and assigned to my company. In a space of time that seemed only a few minutes, forty of us had been packed aboard an open motor lorry, which roared into the highway and swung in the direction of the "battlefront."

Darkness was beginning to fall when we reached the outskirts of Munich, and under its partial protection we continued to drive. All of us were tense, alert, silent - for we were soldiers; we knew what lay ahead. And it came as suddenly as we knew it would - a single rifle crack from nowhere. We scrambled madly from the truck and took cover in the roadside ditch, under the lorry's protecting body, behind near-by bushes

{p. 20} - all but one man, who flopped about helplessly on the truck's floor.

Again that hidden rifle cracked viciously, and this time we spotted the ambusher's lair: he was behind a heavily curtained window on the second floor of a house just ahead. A group of three men was delegated to handle the sniper while we covered their advance with a shielding fire. A few minutes later a volley of shots from within the house signaled the sniper's end and we rose to our feet.

We were told that our assignment was to mop up behind the forward column led by my brother Gregor, which was battling its way into the city from the northwest: down Schwabingstrasse and into Ludwigstrasse. A second column, smashing forward from the west, was to converge with Gregor's men at the city hall, headquarters of the Communist leaders. Once this nerve center of the revolution was taken, the two columns were to veer of, one to attack the Communist-held officers' building, and the other to encircle and lay siege to the Max II Barracks, should resistance continue there.

All that night we struggled forward, bitter yard by bitter yard. Those who opposed us were numerically superior, and they held the advantage of cover as well as the age-old advantage of the defense against the attack. Hidden in alleys, down which they could scurry in retreat; concealed behind curtained windows that lined the street; lying prone and secure on rooftops - every imaginable vantage point was a hiding place for death. ... During the animal desperation of those dark hours I forgot completely that the men whom I killed, and who were trying to kill me, wore the same uniform as I; I forgot, as did my comrades, that those men had once fought with us, side by side. We were soldiers again; we had been soldiers for years; we had a job of work to do and, if possible, our own lives to preserve.

Each house we came to had to be stormed and searched, with every Communist possessing firearms being executed on the

{p. 21} spot. That is the law of revolution, harsh but just. And with the coming of dawn we found that we had slashed our way a half-mile forward down the street of death. Fatigue and nearexhaustion lay heavy upon all of us, but there was no going back now. And with my own exhaustion came the added complication of my wounded leg beginning to give out under the strain. A man does not rise from a hospital bed to engage in deadly skirmish without paying a penalty in pain.

The second day we smashed into our fiercest opposition as we rolled forward into the enemy's most heavily held territory. Schwabingstrasse is an avenue of rotting, boxlike tenements - which, ironically enough, had been built as model homes for workmen during the prosperous year of 1890 - and it was here the Communists held out in force. A quarter of our men went down before the bullets of snipers and hit-run marksmen. Schwabinger-Kirche, a Catholic church, had been seized by the Communists and a machine-gun nest had been installed in its tower. There was nothing to be done here but wait for a light field gun to be brought up to blast the steeple away. Then we pressed forward again.

Evidence of Gregor's more heavily armed columns was plain in the smoldering ruins about us. Where street barricades had once bravely stood, now lay chaotic heaps of rubble, brick and the bodies of the men who had fought behind the improvised forts. Every block seemed to hold at least one smoldering house; and while our own rifle fire drowned out any distant volleys, the heavy rumble of field pieces could be heard from afar. None of us had to be told that as Gregor's fortunes went, so went our own - victory or death. The man-made thunder in Munich that day had an ominous note. It was the death knell of an old Germany, the birth cries of a new, bewildered and savage State.

By midday my wounded leg blazed with fiery agony; it felt as if the almost healed shrapnel gashes had reopened, perhaps were infected. My head was feverish and dizzy; my mouth, dry; my endurance about at an end. I knew I couldn't go for-

{p. 22} ward much longer - and I could see the same thought behind the pain-glazed eyes of the men that sunived. We all had the same fear: Are we going down to defeat?

Then, suddenly and almost miraculously, the soldiers who had sworn loyalty to the Red cause simply laid down their arms, ripped of their distinguishing armbands of red cloth, and returned either to the barracks or to their homes. A handful of Communist fanatics fought on, but it was hopeless; their liquidation was swift and harsh. The final page of the revolution was written when a white flag went up over the Justice palace and the leaders of the revolt surrendered unconditionally.

I have often thought about that capitulation. Outnumbered though we were, we were held together by an ideal for which we were willing to die - the ideal of a Fatherland and its traditions. But the soldiers recruited by the Reds were, many of them, men who had signed up as a convenience; when the pressure became too great, they had nothing to which to cling and they quickly succumbed.

That taught me a lesson I have never forgotten. Men - and nations - need an ideal if they are to fight a winning war.

Our victory parade was a drab afair, as far as the panoply of smart uniforms, pulse-stirring bands and precise maneuver is concerned. General von Epp, with Captain Roehm, Dr. Weber, leader of the Free Corps Oberland, and Gregor Strasser led the White Army's line of march. We were called the White Army, because our forces wore white armbands to distinguish them from the similarly uniformed Communists, who had worn bands of red.

The streets of Munich were flooded with cheering people that day. Sorry though we looked in our dress, gait and equipment, we had achieved the highest aim of the soldier - victory. And we had saved the populace from something they feared even worse than ignominious defeat - Communism. For that they cheered.

{p. 23} Fever burned in me as I rode near the tail end of the parade, lying flat on my back in an army truck. I couldn't possibly have marched with my wound, and the pain was getting more than I could bear. I kept urging someone to find an army surgeon and send him to me; and when he arrived at last his orders were brief and explicit. I must return immediately to the hospital, or risk the almost certain chance of losing my leg. He cleaned and dressed the wound, getting rid of much of the pain with that soothing treatment. I promised to return to the hospital, of course - but I had no intention of doing so right away. Too much of me had gone into this brief struggle to quit now; I wanted to be in at the finish.

The Red revolutionaries went on trial before the court-martial that same night - and this last act in the drama was what I wanted to see. Levine, the Russian agent, was tried first, convicted speedily and sentenced to immediate death - by Captain Roehm, head of the military tribunal. Gustave Landauer, a radical Bavarian who for years had predicted that there would be a political upheaval in Germany the like of which the world had never witnessed, was brought forward next. He proudly admitted he was a revolutionary - and was summarily condemned to death before the firing squad, along with Levine. Ernst Toller, however, next called before the court, gave cautious answers to all the questions the military prosecutor put to him, making excuses for most of his actions. He, too, was convicted without debate, but he was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment at hard labor.

I heard that Levine and Landauer, their eyes blindfolded, their wrists tied, were placed against a stone wall at dawn the next day. A firing squad stood there in the fast-fading night, and at a command the row of rifles sprang to the squad's shoulders, steadied; another barked order and the dawn's silence was shattered by the volley of death. As the two condemned men slumped to the ground, I was told, the second lieutenant who headed the execution squad pulled out his senice revolver,

{p. 24} leaned over the still, fallen figures and fired a shot into the brain of each of them. There could be no mistakes in this execution.

There was a fascination for me in this grim justice that would rid the Fatherland of such ulcerous thought and action. I returned to the court that evening, and the next day was promptly on hand to witness most of the trials. From that action grew one of the most vivid experiences of my life; and certainly, I can see now in retrospect, the trials of that evening were portentous of my future. Let me repeat the scene as I saw it.

Other than the condemned leaders of the Revolution, most of those standing trial there were ex-soldiers of Germany who had joined the Red forces and had taken the Communist oath. Against them the court-martial leveled the testimony of a star witness, a young corporal, perhaps twenty-five or thirty ycars old. There were other witnesses, of course, but this figure, in some peculiar, indefinable way, dominated the whole court session.

I gathered from his vehement testimony that throughout the entire period leading up to the abortive Red putsch he had remained in the Tuerken Barracks for infantry (called "Tuerken" because the Turks had built it, centuries ago, when they were Munich's prisoners). Since this entire regiment had taken the Red oath as a matter of course, it is inconceivable that this young corporal did not do likewise. He was either a turncoat who now pointed the finger of guilt at his ex-comrades in arms in order to save his own skin through prosecution's evidence, or he was a spy who had joined the Reds at the bidding of Captain Roehm. The job he performed as witness was the vcry lowest in the moral scale.

Yet there was something about the manner in which he gave his testimony that was arresting. Perhaps divining the unfavorable position he was in, he used, knowingly or by instinct, a shrewd psychological device to extricate himself. Instead of shrinking back with shamefaced apology, he puffed out his

{p. 25} chest, thrust out his chin and tore into each defendant with barely suppressed fury. There was venom and vindictiveness in his bitter, damning words - and those words he cast into the silence of the courtroom with all the deadly earnestness of a savage stoning a hated enemy. His black hair fell over his forehead with the intensity of his charges; his dark eyes flashed spite, and shone with the light of a crusader, while his comic mustache wriggled and danced as he spoke. He was more prosecutor than witness; and even Captain Roehm, hating the Communists though he did, several times had to caution him that this was a witness stand, not a soap box.

After some minutes of listening to this prosecution witness, two facts dawned on me with stunning clarity: The first was that this odd-looking little corporal had an amazing power with words when he addressed an audience. He used words much as a tennis player uses the ball in tournament play. He exhausted his opponents with the sheer brilliance of his play; he rarely used gentleness, and then only for deception and effect. Most of his verbal attacks were violent, powerful, overwhelming; and in the end he crashed forward for a smashing stroke to win his point. That is the only way I can think of to express this strange man's power over an audience - and those who were there that night will agree with me. I know that, because I could see them about me - engrossed, tautly attentive, slack-mouthed, breathless.

The second fact I saw that night explained the soldier's strange fury and aggressiveness toward the defendants. It was compounded, in part, of a deep-rooted, almost insane hatred of Communism, and in part of a sheer intoxication with his own ability with words; as though he became drunk, like his audience, with the emotional appeal of his own oratory. And that last speaks of an exaggerated vanity, a self-centered ego that comes close to outright madness. It is a dangerous egomania.

My first year in the war had been spent with the 20th Reserve Regiment of the 6th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Division - and

{p. 26} the insignia on the witness' arm told me he belonged to the I6th Reserve Regiment of the same division. I can see him still in his bedraggled, field-gray army-issue overcoat, with its ill fitting lumpiness and its exaggerated length that reached to his ankles. The figure he cut was ludicrous - but no one laughed. In the spell his oratory created that odd little bedraggled form faded into the background; there was only the sweeping power of the shouted words that rolled out to engulf us all.

I stayed at the trials far longer than I had intended, held there by an eloquence I hadn't expected to find, and it was only the dizzy faintness of approaching collapse that brought me back to the immediate present. I had to return to the hospital at once. Fortunately, a friend had offered to drive me around to the Garnison when I was ready, and now I hobbled weakly outside in search of his car. But still the power and force of the little man remained with me, even during that painful ride. There was a questioning wonder that remained persistently in the back of my mind.

No one told me then that the name of the man to whom I had been listening was Adolf Hitler. Nor did I know then that we would soon meet again and that he was to change

the entire course of my life. He was to change, also, the lives of every person in every civilized country on the face of the earth.

My absence from the hospital had probably been noticed by no one except the nurse in my ward - and I believe she hadn't bothered to report me. Report me for what ? To whom ? Would the exhausted nurses, the overworked doctors care about one missing man? But I was accepted back; though it was hardly with happiness that I returned to the depression, pain, filth and hunger.

While I was lying in bed again, the end of the revolt put the Social Democratic Party of President Friedrich Ebert back in

{p. 27} control of the Republic. Ebert, an ex-saddler from Heidelberg, had come into prominence as co-leader with Scheidemann of the moderate socialists. He defined himself in a speech as "a son of the working class, grown up in the world of socialistic ideas," and as president he promised to be "the authorized representative of the entire German people, not as leader of a single party." He worked hard, and under the most trying conditions, and he did try to be loyal to both the interests of his country and the working class. But his education was poor - though he rose to the highest position of state in spite of that handicap - and he was subjected to much public abuse. He was known as the man of the golden mean, who took a course between monarchy on the right and communism on the left. Perhaps it was the chaotic times and his own lack of formal education that caused many sincere thinkers to accuse him of being unable to make decisions, and through that very indecision to be hailed by the masses as a "middle course" president. In any event, he did his best to guide the nation through six trying years - until his death in February, 1925.

I was satisfied for the time being - satisfied with my own slowly improving health and lulled into a false sense of security for the nation itself through the simple and uneventful life in the hospital. Then, when convalescence gave me suficient strength, I returned to the Oberreal-schule, or high school, to complete my last year of studies there. It was strange for a man who at twenty-one was old beyond his years - who has lived for four and a half years with pain and death, who had killed many men, even as many had tried to kill him; who has seen his friends twisted with agony, even as he had felt agony himself - to be again attending high school. The youngsters who sat in class with me - children, I thought them - seemed so far away. There was an unbridgeable gulf between us; we looked at each other as strangers would, strangers who spoke a different tongue. Had I once been as innocent, as na;ve as that? I couldn't believe it. But though I knew the art and

{p. 28} science of war, there were other arts and sciences of which I was ignorant - and here was where I would learn them.

The highlight of this period was, of course, that week end when I was first able to return to my home in Deggendorf, in Lower Bavaria, to visit my parents. How can I express the emotions that were in me then? I was like a man returning to a beloved sanctuary he had left decades before; I was a modern Enoch Arden returning from a land of despair. But with the happiness of reunion, there was mingled a bitterness too. My mother and father had aged far more than those intervening years warranted; their fortune and property had sufered enormously; and there was hunger and want in this household, as there was in all the rest of Germany.

At home with my parents day followed day in monotonous succession, as in the days of my childhood. My father was still an official of the town court; he still went to Mass on Sunday and still talked politics on the way home from church regularly every week. But there were some inevitable changes in the family, for the house had gradually emptied, and the famil were scattered.

Gregor, a graduate of the University of Munich, where he majored in chemistry and pharmacy, was married to his childhood sweetheart and had become proprietor of a drug store. This gay, good-humored brother of mine - my senior by five years - was a man of the people, loved by all who met him. And within a few years his marriage was to be blessed by twin boys - Helmuth and Gunther. But we could not know that then, just as we could not even dream that Adolf Hitler would be godfather to both of them. Or that Gunther would fall mortally wounded in the last battle before the gates of Moscow in November, 194I. But I am glad we could not see the future - his or mine. I might not have had the courage to go on.

My older brother, Paul, had joined the Benedictine order; I will have more to say of this fine man later. But let me add here that he had served in the front line trenches as an officer

{p. 29} throughout the war, was badly wounded and, sickened by the bloodshed and following his ideals, had turned to religion.

My sister, Olga, three years younger than myself, had married Georg Hoefler, the chief of police of Landshut, in Lower Bavaria. Today, Georg is a general in the German Army and the last I heard about him was that his command was operating on the Russian front.

The last member of my family, my youngest brother, Anton, who was just twelve years old at that time, was then away at boarding school.

The visits to the home of my brother Gregor were what I looked forward to most. Married to a girl with money, and in comfortable circumstances himself through his drug business, Gregor's life was more or less settled. Certainly he had no personal cares, and it was because of this that he was able to throw all his surging energies into politics.

On one of the visits to his home, we strolled one evening down to the Bratwurst-Glockle, a local brauhaus, for a glass of beer and a leisurely talk. Naturally, our conversation turned to politics, as did the conversation of all thinking people in Germany during those times. But in one way my brother's talk differed: inevitably, by no matter what circuitous route, he returned to one subject, to one dominating personality - Adolf Hitler. It irritated me that he should be so taken by such a person - a bedraggled little corporal, whom I now knew to be the turncoat witness at the revolutionaries' court-martial. However, I did my best to keep my feelings to myself.

As Gregor told it, this was the state of afairs in the kingdom (actually, that was what it was) of Bavaria. When General von Epp turned the reins of government over to the Social Democratic Party, he did so with considerable misgivings. He had no guarantee that a second uprising would not follow the original attempted putsch. But by the terms of the armistice he was forced to disband his own army; there could be no com

{p. 30} promise. To do so - even though he had little to fear from the practically helpless central government of Germany - would be to invite fulfillment of the Allies' threat: invasion. But, his army disarmed and disbanded, General von Epp would find his individual position and personal influence no stronger than that of an ordinary countryman. This state of aflairs was in. tolerable; the general had to find some middle course. It was his adjutant, Captain Roehm, who took it upon himself to rectify it.

As a result of the services he had rendered Captain Roehm in the past, Corporal Hitler enjoyed high favor - even admiration - from his superior. Now, in this moment of crisis, Hitler again came to the captain's rescue, this time with a plan that was perhaps a bit too astute for either of his superiors to see through; for Adolf Hitler, ragged and unknown, was even now dreaming majestically of the future for himself which he believed predestined.

It would be a simple matter, Corporal Hitler pointed out to Roehm, for General von Epp to retain his power if he could transfer his authority over his men from a military command to a political command. The armistice prohibited only armed military bodies; it said nothing about political parties. Obviously, then, the General must assume leadership of some political group.

But - and here the adroit reasoning and quasi-logical persuasion of Hitler is beautifully shown - since generals were out of favor at that time with the public, von Epp should not assume such authority himself, but had better select some person with a pleasing personality and a persuasive manner to act as a "front."

Captain Roehm wasn't too quick at Hitler's form of dialectics. "Splendid !" he enthused. "It's exactly what we must do. But where can we possibly find such a figurehead as you speak of ?"

It is easy to imagine Hitler here; it's simple to construct his

{p. 31} reply. "You necdn't look further, Herr Captan. I am that man."

Hitler's suggestion was readily accepted by both Roehm and von Epp, and from that day he became the political contact man for them both. It might be said, too, that his rise to power can be dated from that day.

As a result, Hitler covered the meetings of all political parties in and around Munich. Picture him in this activity - imagine this beginning: He is an unemployed Austrian housc painter, whose real name is Adolf Schickelgruber; he is unimpressive in stature, and his rather homely face is made almost ludicrous by the comic mustache; he still wears his illfitting, anklelength army overcoat, for he can afford no other; and he haunts political rallies, standing quietly in the rear of the crowd, listening intently, black eyes burning with an almost fanatical fire as he dreams of ermine, a scepter and a crown. It would have seemed fantastic then, but it led to world tragedy and horror.

One day Hitler walked into a small room in the Augustine Brewery in Munich where were gathered three or four hundred members of the Nationalsozialistiche Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers Party), an outfit that had been founded by two men, Drexler and Harrer, who presided as co-leaders.

Anton Drexler was speaking at the time, and Hitler, as always, stood quietly in the rear of the crowd and listened. Drexler was an indifferent speaker, but somehow the spirit of his words bridged the gap between speaker and audience. It was his message rather than his delivery that put force in what he had to say. These men and women, poor and rich, young and old, were spiritedly with him because of his ideas of social justice. He brought them a message of hope; he promised them a future of Right, built upon the ashes of the past's Wrong. And what he said made sense.

Hitler's gaunt face tightened; his nostrils quivered. He could

{p. 32} sense, almost as though he breathed it in, the reactions of the people. He had an uncanny sense of "the mob"; it would have been easier for him to harangue, sway and persuade ten thou sand listeners than to carry on a logical discussion with onc or two intelligent men. He appealed not to the reason but to the emotions; he was so persuaded of his own intellectual infallibility that he could tolerate no contradictions such as might occur in debate. And in the program which Drexler outlined now, along with the promising reaction of the crowd, Hitler saw he had found what he had been seeking. This would be his party.

Without a moment's loss, Hitler rushed to Roehm with the news. He had found a ready-made set of principles that carried a punch; he had found a sizeable group of converts who already exhibited a fighting spirit - in short, he had found the NSDAP, which must shortly become their own party.

At Captain Roehm's suggestion, Hitler became a member of the NSDAP, and General von Epp furnished funds with which he was to work. The unemployed house painter immediately used part of this money to purchase the Volkischer Beobachter (People's Observer), a small weekly sports paper with a circulation of two thousand. It was read mainly by the horseracing crowd in Munich, and the only excuse it had for existence was the race track at Daglfing, just outside the city.

Inherited through purchase of the paper was one Christian Weber - an uncouth, ignorant and brutal bouncer in a low dive who was also the bookie who computed the track odds each day for the sheet. This same Weber, with the incongruous given name, was to prove himself an effective butcher of human beings in the service of his new master. He was the man who later was entrusted with Hitler's personal murder assignments, and he enjoyed the dubious distinction of being one of the first recruits to the ruthless gangster horde that would butcher all decency.

The purchase of the paper was no political blunder, for on

{p. 33} the strength of it Hitler was installed as propagandist in the new party, a position seventh in importance in party leadership. However, this still left Captain Roehm with two problems: one was how to make Hitler president of the party, and the second was how to keep him in ofce. The latter was more diicult than it sounds, for the party constitution specifically stated that no president could serve more than one term, and that term of office could last but one year.

Again it was Adolf Hitler whose shrewd political acumcn found the slyly effective solution. At the end of the war many of the veterans had banded themselves into local groups, or clubs, much as the veterans of the United States had formed their own American Legion posts all over the country. There was one diference, however. In Germany each of these groups functioned as a separate, independent unit with no central authority. Throughout South Germany there were several of these veterans' organizations, and Captain Roehm's own FrontBann was the largest of these, while my brother Gregor's Verband Nationalgesinnter Soldaten Niederbayerns was second both in size and importance. Then there was Captain Erhardt's Veterans and Lieutenant Rossbach's Brown Shirts.

Why not make a deal with these groups, Hitler suggested; why not have them, along with their entire memberships, join the NSDAP, and at the following election, being then in the majority, simply vote Hitler into supreme control. But to accomplish such a feat was even more difficult than it soundcd when urged by Hitler's glib tongue.

Captain Erhardt was an out-and-out Monarchist; Captain Roehm was an avowed Fascist; Gregor Strasser was an idealistic, patriotic Socialist. Of Lieutenant Rossbach it would be best to say he was an opportunist. All four had been "educated" to the fact that this party was the one that could best further his individual personal aims and beliefs. It was another case of promising all things to all men. Could such a problem be solved ?

{p. 34} Hitler did it. The first year found him installed as president; and in the second year, under a changed party constitution, his office was made permanent. How different a position from that of the bedraggled, insignificant corporal who had stood quiedy in the rear of the crowd and listened!

Hitler did three things to popularize the party and quiet the threatening clash of wounded vanities. He shortened the name from Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei to the letters NSDAP; he adopted the brown shirt of Lieutenant Rossbach's veteran organization for the entire party; and he assumed the all-too-familiar swastika from Erhardt's group.

The term "Nazi" did not come into use until much later, and it was one important factor that was not of Hitler's choosing - it was of foreign importation. The manner in which this came about is interesting. The letters n-a-z-i are the first four letters of the word for national socialist, as written in Italian - nazionaile. The English and American press picked up this term, and because of its wide usage it was in turn picked up by the German papers; then by the party.

It was of these developments that Gregor told me over our beers on the many occasions we talked together at the Bratwurst-Glockle. During this time I finished my last year in high school, afterward attending the University of Berlin, where I studied for my doctorate in law. My extracurricular activities were many, since the love of the political arena was strong in my blood. I founded and was president of the National Union of Students, and this organization I kept within the ranks of the Social Democratic Party.

One student I remember particularly - Wilhelm Conti, a medical student and leader of the reactionary element in the university. Before he could complete his course Conti was expelled for attempting to substitute false papers at the end of an examination. Before leaving, however, he was made to confess his crime publicly - and then he disappeared. But he has

{p. 35} been heard from within recent years. He is now Dr. Wilhelm Conti, father of sterilization and Hitler's chief mouthpiece for that theory.

During those collcge years I read nothing in the Berlin press about the new National Socialist Party (NSDAP), so for some months I lost sight of its development. It should be remembered, however, that Hitler's party aspired to but one thing - dominance in Bavaria. There was no thought in the minds of any of the party leaders at that time that it was one day to be national in scope; except, perhaps, in the mind of Hitler himself. The membership, too, was limited to citizens of that area.

Thus, news of National Socialism scarcely interested the rest of the country. When they were referred to at all in the press they were called the "Racists," because Julius Streicher's anti-Semitism and Alfred Rosenberg's theory of Aryan superiority had already crept into the party plank.

These were days of dark uncertainty. Events moved so rapidly that it was impossible to predict what was going to happen next. With depression hanging like a black pall over the country, there was uncertainty and confusion, and the everpresent menace of strikes and revolution. Men struggled for power against a background of human misery. Starvation was common - indeed, it was rare to see a person who was not suffering from obvious malnutrition. Men like Barmatt, Sklareck and Kutisker exploited this misery by profiteering in foodstufs. Kutisker used government money for his nefarious schemes. The postmaster at Munich, a man named Hoefle tapped the till to furnish this vicious profiteer with funds.

Money was worthless. Earlier, the German government had decided to meet its obligations and running expenses by the simple process of printing numbers on worthless paper and calling the banknote so obtained "money." Due to this ridiculous process, the mark that already had stood 160,000 to the dollar early in July, 1923, fell to more than I,000,000 to the dollar at the end of the month. With the demand for notes that

{p. 36} followed, the printers found it diicult to keep pace. For instance, it required 30 paper factories, I33 printing oices and I783 printing presses working at top speed to meet the demand.

Late in 1923 the government owed the Reichsbank about 190 quintillion (190,000,000,000,000,000,000) marks. The mark was now quoted at 2.5 trillion to the dollar in Berlin, and at 4 trillion in Cologne and one should always bear in mind that before the war a single mark was worth 23.82 cents. One quart of milk at this time cost 250 billion marks, and an ordinary postage stamp cost 12,000,000,000 marks. The government ceased printing notes on both sides because the cost of printing alone was more than even the astronomical numbers indicated on the face of the billand citizens used these notes for scratch paper and memoranda slips because it was cheaper than buying such paper in the stores! Baskets were used now instead of wallets.

The people cried for a change in government. They did not know what they wanted, but anything was better than what they had now. Hatred boiled up against the foreigners who traveled through the country buying up art objects, property, even ancient, historic Rhine castles for a song - for only a few dollars in American money. The scandals that surrounded the names of Galician Jews such as Kutisker, Barmatt and Sklareck aroused indignation that paved the way for exploitation for political expedient. Atavistic instincts broke out; hatred for the Jews; a thirst for vengeance - against anybody, for anything; a crazy longing for change - any change.

It is such situations that the Communists find easy to convert to their own uses. And the Monarchists tried to capitalize on it too. They were backed heavily in this with funds from such business tycoons as Baron Krupp von Buhlen, Fritz Thyssen and Hugo Stinnes, all of whom sought a strong central government that would protect their vast industrial holdings.

Recognizing this danger to our republic, I set about recruit. ing members for a home guard, a semimilitary organization that would assist the armed forces in case of revolt. The idea

{p. 37} caught on like wildfire, and all over the country similar unit were started, which so displeased President Ebert that he issued orders that all such units be disbanded. It didn't matter to him that we were all members of his own party. We paid no attention to the order, and nightly I drilled the five hundred men under me in the fields near the city of Steglitz - and during the following days we were able to arm ourselves through having recourse to the black bourse which dealt in bootleg firearms.

We all knew a bloody explosion was coming; when or where it would erupt was the only question. We had our answer early in March, 1920. General Walther von Luttwitz, commandant of Berlin and ranking officer of the army, and a Major Waldemar Pabst, urged on by the banker, Dr. Wolfgang Kapp, decided on a forceful restoration of the monarchy. The three men mustered 8,000 men from the barracks outside Berlin and marched on the city on the morning of March 13. Noske, the Majority Socialist strong man, had only a force of 2,000 men to meet the "invaders," and the government fled to Dresden and then to Stuttgart.

Unopposed, a monarchist regiment under General Luttwitz and Captain Erhardt marched triumphantly through the heart of the city, past the Brandenburg Gate and into the very halls of the Reichstag. The overthrow of the government was complete

The ceremony marking the change of power was a simple one. General von Luttwitz said to Dr. Kapp: "Governor Kapp, I place your foot in the stirrup. It is up to you to ride !"

News of the uprisings came to my lodgings in the suburbs of Berlin, and I rushed posthaste to Steglitz to issue a call to arms.

The following morning, at the head of 400 men armed with rifle, bayonet and machine gun, I arrived at the west side of the city and halted there in the hope that other home guard units would join us for the attack. My intelligence corps were posted in the city, and our means of communication was the telephone, which, surprisingly enough, was still in operation. Over this I received word that a cavalry division was moving to meet

{p. 38} us, the present government evidently having been warned of our approach.

While we waited the cobbled street was frantically torn up and hasty barricades erected. Half my men scattered into the houses that lined the street, and the rest of us crouched behind the makeshift bastions we had thrown up.

Tense moments of waiting followed. There was a hollow, aching feeling in my stomach, as there must have been in the rest of my men. Here we were, 400 brazenly facing a trained army of a possible 8,000. But there was always the hope of other units joining us; no one spoke of retreat.

And then we saw von Luttwitz' men - and they came charging. As they closed the distance, my own men met them with a withering hail of fire. Chattering machine guns, barking rifles, defiant shouts, the cries of the wounded, the screams of horses in pain - the whole bedlam of sound thundered in our ears; no thoughts could occupy us now but those of defiance and self-preservation.

Then, when it seemed that by a miracle they would withstand our annihilating fire and press on to overwhelm us, the charge faltered and broke. They reformed their lines out of range of our guns and waited. I knew what that meant. Reenforcements! I kept trying desperately to secure reenforcements of my own, but all my appeals went unanswered. We were alone.

There was no other choice now. I gave the order for my men to fall back quickly. Fighting a rear-guard action, we retreated from the city and scattered; by nightfall we were all safely back in Steglitz.

Now the Communists saw an opportunity to seize the initiative and thrust themselves into power. At an order, the Reds arose en massc throughout Germany. To add further to the confusion, President Ebert, backed by the labor unions, called for a general strike - the best blow against the military clique. At the end of three days, when no rush of new adherents came

{p. 39} to join their cause, Governor Kapp and General von Luttwitz knew that the revolt was a failure. They fled to Sweden.

The Communists still fought on, however, so President Ebert urged all loyal home-guard units to organize and suppress them. As vice-president of the Republicanische-Fuehrer Bund of officers - which included the home-guard leaders in its membership - I called a meeting and we decided to meet President Ebert's request under certain conditions. We asked only two things: the purging of the Monarchist elements from the army, and the socialization of heavy industry. It was my honor to deliver these demands to Ebert himself.

The acceptance of our terms was promptly put into formal writing and Herr Karl Severing, the Prime Minister, signed what has come to be known as the Bielefeld Agreement.

Then, no sooner were the Communists put down than the government repudiated the agreement, President Ebert claiming that Herr Severing had no authority to sign. Let it be said here that the Betrayal of Bielefeld had much to do with making the people ripe for Hitler and his NSDAP. It seemed that only to the Nazi Party could a person with progressive or socialistic thoughts turn now; there was no other choice. ... In disgust I left the Social Democratic Party, along with almost a million other disillusioned voters.

But I did not give up my leadership in either the home-guard unit or the National Student Federation. Since both organizations were of a semipolitical nature it was impossible for us to remain adrift, as it were, in a sea of predatory political parties. We were not strong enough to remain independent units; we had to tie up our forces with some larger group.

I pondered this problem going home to Deggendorf for a brief visit with my family; if I thought about it long enough the solution would come to me. My father, an old-fashioned German who still wore a fierce Kaiser Wilhelm mustache, greeted me warmly. The family had been concerned about my

{p. 40} safety ever since the news of my part in the "Battle of Berlin" had reached them.

It was while I was unpacking my bag that my father came suddenly into the room. "I almost forgot, Otto," he said. "Gregor asked me to tell you to telephone him as soon as you got home."

I finished my unpacking, bathed and had dinner, and then put through my call to Gregor. There was a pleased, almost proud note in his voice when he responded.

"Otto ! I'm glad you got home tonight. I'm giving a luncheon party tomorrow and I especially want you to come."

I was planning to spend my few days' vacation right at home, and told him so.

"You don't understand!" he said. "Adolf Hitler is coming, and I'm giving this luncheon so that you two can meet."

There was nothing prepossessing to me - far less exciting - about the slim man with the funny mustache. In fact, from what I had seen and heard of him, my impression was far from favorable. I told Gregor flatly that Adolf Hitler was hardly enough reason for me to give up a day of vacation.

Gregor insisted that Hitler had the makings of a great man and that I was underestimating him. Hitler was very anxious to meet me, Gregor said, because he knew about my work in the Social Democratic Party and he was anxious to enlist my services in his own cause.

I was on the verge of giving a final refusal when my brother, in a manner that was too casual not to have been studied, said that General Ludendorff, who was also greatly impressed by Hitler, would be there too. A meeting with the great Ludendorff ! That was a different matter. What young German of icer wouldn't have jumped at this opportunity to meet one of the world's greatest military figures?

"I'll be there!" I told Gregor. "You can count on it."

Gregor's reply was almost smug in his pleasure at my quick reversal. "I'll send a car around for you tomorrow, Otto."

{p. 41} I was already waiting when the car drove up for me. The chauffeur was my brother's secretary, and as a result of this and many subsequent meetings I got to know him extremely well. His name was Heinrich Himmler.

Heinrich Himmler was the typical non-commissioned German oflicer, with an almost masochistic inclination to subordination. But with the same degree that he fawned upon his superiors, he bore down cruelly on those under him. A remark he made later, which is typical of the man, is worth quoting: "If the Fuehrer commands that I shoot down my own mother I shall obey and be proud that the Fuehrer has such confidence in my obedience!"

Even though I had intended coming early, I could tell from the crowd in front of my brother's chemist shop on the Bahnhofstrasse that General Ludendorff and Corporal Hitler had already arrived. Feeling somewhat self-conscious, I pushed through the throng. My brother's living quarters were one flight above the shop, and as I mounted the steps I straightened the ribbon on the Iron Cross that was pinned to my lapel.

Ludendorff and Hitler were standing when I entered. Himmler, who had accompanied me to the door, saluted my brother, turned sharply on his heel and marched out. Gregor greeted me effusively and introduced me to his guests.

This was the first time I had ever seen the General in person. He looked much older than he did in his photographs that were published in the newspapers. He had heavy features, a firm double chin, and a pair of penetrating eyes that gazed out from under bushy eyebrows. Although he was dressed in civilian clothes, there was no mistaking his imperial manner. He was still a general - a leader of men.

Hitler, standing beside the General, seemed to pale into insignificance. He wore a single-breasted blue suit and a high stiff collar, and his hollow cheeks and the pallor of his face seemed to indicate a lack of fresh air and physical exercise.

{p. 42} Gregor's wife, Elsa, announced that luncheon was servcd, and we all took our places at the table in the dining room. We drank a toast in wine to the regeneration of Germany. But I noticed that Hitler's glass contained only a colorless fluid - and afterward Gregor explained that Hitler was a teetotaler and a vegetarian.

General Ludendorff noticed my Iron Cross and he asked me how long I had been in the army.

"From August 2, 1914 until June 30, 1919 sir," I replied.

"How about that, Leutnant?" He pointed to the medal.

I told him that the incident happened on March 2I 1918 during an attack just south of Saint Quentin. I was an artillery liaison officer charged with the duty of maintaining communications between the infantry and the heavy guns behind them. Our advance had taken the first and second British lines when suddenly we found ourselves but four hundred yards from a deadly British battery. Our commander halted his men and called for volunteers. I was one of them. With a squad of seventeen men under me, we crawled forward and captured the position. We then swung the cannon and used it to silence two machine-gun nests.

"Bravo!" Ludendorff exclaimed, and I flushed with pride.

My sister-in-law came in with the roast and served the General a liberal helping. She then put the serving plate in front of Hitler. Gregor looked up quickly at her and in this manner tried to convey to her that Hitler was a vegetarian. Hitler made no attempt to reach for a helping.

"I know" - and Elsa heavily accented the word "know" - "that Herr Hitler will not offend me by refusing my cooking."

Adolf Hitler ate meat that afternoon. I know of no other occasion since then when he has done so.

During the early part of the meal Hitler maintained a discreet silence. His attitude toward the General was obsequious; he was in agreement with everything Ludendorff said. Following the meal we went into the living room and the General

{p. 43} took a seat in a comfortable arm chair. Hitler could not keep still and insisted on pacing up and down the room.

Finally he stopped in front of me. "or a long time now, Herr Strasser," he said abruptly, "I have wanted to ask you how it is possible for a loyal soldier like yourself, who did such heroic service during the Red revolt, to have fought against the Kapp putsch"

"However I may feel about the issues involved," I replied, "I fought in support of the legal government of Germany. I wasn't a rebel. Kapp's soldiers were."

Hitler flicked his right hand impatiently, as though to brush aside my words. He didn't seem to be able to tolerate disagreement even in small matters.

"You are right only if you are satisfied merely with the letter of the law. But that is not enough for Germany today! We must try to penetrate and interpret the spirit of the law. We must, through whatever means come to our hand, overthrow the Versailles government!"

This was the way Hitler referred to the Weimar Republic of President Ebert.

Here General Ludendorff interrupted. "The Kapp pusch was a mistake," he said. "He and his associates should have realized that first they needed the support of the people in order to make the revolt a revolution."

Hitler bowed slightly. "Exactly, Your Excellency! That is what our National Socialist Party is trying to do. We shall gather the support of the common people before we make our bid for power. We shall wipe out the Jew, who has brought the Communist peril to this world!"

I smiled at that statement, realizing the inadequacy of Hitler's scholarship. I learned during this discussion that Hitler is at a terrib!e disadvantage when he attempts to argue with a single individual. Whereas he could mouth fine-sounding theories, he was often at a loss if he tried to explain them. Unlike the intellectual, he reasoned from the emotional to the factual,

{p. 44} twisting facts to suit and prove the emotion that had prompted his thought. When he was then confronted by eontradictor facts, he was left floundering.

Now Hitler drew himself erect and by the far-away look in his eyes showed plainly that he was not speaking merely to me; he was addressing an imaginary audience that stretched far beyond the walls of the living room.

"We can discuss niceties and details until dawn, but it will not change the all-important fact that Germany is in the mire, that her people have never known such bitter degradation

Only a strong ideal, a strong leader will lift her to her proper place again!"

"Bravo !" General Ludendorff exclaimed.

I had to admit to myself that what Hitler said and the manner in which he said it was most effective. He had a gifted tongue.

My brother and I followed Hitler and the General out to their car and we all shook hands in the street. As I took Hitler's soft hand, he said: "Your brother has not underestimated your intellectual attainment. We must have you in the service of National Socialism."

The General and Hitler drove off and I stood looking after them. I was bursting with pride because I felt I had acquitted myself in good fashion before the General.

I knew that Hitler was the political front man for four men: Ludendorff, von Epp, Roehm and von Kahr. In Adolf Hitler they saw the perfect foil to carry forward their own designs. In the end he destroyed them all. ...

{p. 45} Chaper II

As THE BAl'rERED limousine containing Hitler and Ludendorff vanished from sight, Gregor, his face alight, turned to me and said: "Well, what do you think of him now ?"

It was di;cult to answer. Certainly, as I thought back, Hitler had grown in stature since the day I had seen him giving testimony before Captain Roehm and the court-martial. Despite his servile attitude before the great Ludendorff, it was possible to catch a faint glimpse of the power of his personality. When he merely spoke or argued, Hitler was dull. But when he orated, he was a matchless spellbinder. I found him quick in argument and adept at the art of isolating his opponent.

"I stin think he is a person who bears watching - with caution," I said.

Gregor threw his head back and laughed, as though at the words of a child. I bridled, and it was on the tip of my tongue to say that Hitler had no political convictions other than those of personal expediency for the moment and that his eloquence was that of a loudspeaker.

"He has the makings of a great man !" Gregor stated categorically. "You'll see. All he needs is direction; someone to guide his footsteps."

"Ludendorff evidently thinks so," I observed noncommittally.

But Gregor was seized by a sudden thought. "What a fine thing it would be if we could employ your talent for expression, Hitler s eloquence, Ludendorff's fame, and my organizing

Then, as though by unspoken agreement for the sake of harmony, we began to talk of other matters: of the new addition to Gregor's household; of our younger brother Anton, and what profession he was best suited for; of other personal prob-

{p. 46} lems. But in the end, inevitably, we came back to politia. Strangely enough, it was I who reintroduced the subject.

I observed that I hadn't witnessed anything like success from the National Socialistic Party. After all, it was only a small provincial group that gave little promise of growing - which wasn't surprising, it seemed to me, in view of the fact that the majority of its leaders were reactionary Monarchists parading in the guise of liberal Socialists. It was a polyglot group with a platform so broad and elastic that even Communists could find room to stand upon it.

Gregor spoke with great feeling as he warned me that I would be making a terrible mistake if I jumped to any conclusions now. The way he said it - his s;ncerity and unshakablc convictionled me to believe he had something specific in mind.

"Why do you say that, Gregor?" I asked.

"I can't tell you now. Just watch, that's all. There are big things brewing, brother."

From that time on I began keeping a close watch in the National Socialist group. During that period I received my doctor's degree in law at the University of Wurzburg and secured a minor post in the Ministry of Foods, but despite these activities still kept my hand in politics and managed to maintain control of my two organizations - the Home Guard and the National Students Federation - which was a most difficult task without a political party as an anchor.

As director of the National Students Federation, I was looked upon by the progressive students throughout the Reich as their nominal leader, and I did not betray their trust but was always on the lookout to bring a synthesis between the national and the social idea. And in addition to these concerns, there was always the further duty springing from my office in the Republikanischer Fuehrerbund, a band of ex-officers of the Im-

{p. 47} perial Army. ... Those were busy days; the weeks sped by with surprising rapidity.

It was Christmas time before I saw Hitler again - and, a before, it was at Gregor's home that we met. On this occasion - at a Christmas celebration! - I took the first fateful step toward associating myself with the Nazi Party.

Gregor's secretary, Heinrich Himmler, the brutish ex-soldier with the bully-toady manner, was present at the celebration, as was Hitler's secretary, Rudolf Hess. I found Hess sympathetic. He was dark-haired, tall, rather handsome and somewhat serious-looking. There was a sensitivity in his eyes, and I knew without asking that he was a scholar. Compared to the cesspool-spawn that most of the other leaders of the party were, he took on enormous stature. But oddly enough he was completely sold on Hitler; his utter devotion and loyalty to him were a by-word in the party - a case of a jewel and a swine. So close was he to the Fuehrer that foul-minded men like Julius Streicher and Goebbels called him - behind his back - Fraulein Hess. So far as my personal knowledge is concerned, there is not the slightest truth in this implication.

Hess was one of Professor Haushofer's students at the University of Munich, and it was he who brought the professor into the party. Haushofer is the historian of the Nazi Party, but it will be remembered that this same Professor Haushofer was the General Haushofer who took no action against the Communists during the Red putsch. In fact, when the Reds seized control of the Bavarian government, General Haushofer took an oath of loyalty to the Red regime. Now he was a Nazi bigwig, despite the fact that hatred of Communism is the chief tenet of the Hitlerian doctrine. In addition, at the time, Kurt Haushofer was married (and still is) to a wealthy Jewess. I did not share Hitler's racial theories, but his friendship with Haushofer showed me that he was willing to overlook principles where immediate benefit was concerned. Furthermore, in his position as party historian, Haushofer was responsible for the

{p. 48} National Socialist foreign policy which, at that time, was to throw off the Versailles Treaty (or Versailles Dictate, as Hitler called it) and to search for other nations with parallel interests who might be counted on as allies to back up Germany's hand. Even then, I know, Hitler was dreaming of the day when Germany would again stand before the world mighty in arms - and would have her will, or fight. ... But to return to my brother's home and the five men who met there that Christmas time - Hitler, Hess, Gregor, Himmler and myself.

The moment I entered the room, Hitler came to his feet and strode forward to meet me, greeting me warmly as we shook hands, his soft palm gripping mine firmly enough. I noticed then, as in the future, that his palm was clammy and moist, which is probably a sign of his nervous inner tension and emotional excitability.

"I hope our young intellectual is ready to join us," Hitler said in a condescending tone, "now that he has discovered that the members of his own party are traitors."

"They are not traitors," I said quietly. "They are misguided, yes. They have lost sight of their basic aims, it is true. But they are not traitors."

Hitler's eyes blazed with anger at my contradiction; his slight figure tightened all over. "Herr Strasser," he began in a harsh voice, "you are convinced, as are all the others of your peculiar political belief, that all mankind is good and worthy - and that it is the duty of intelligent leaders to work for the welfare of all mankind. I tell you, that is utter rot! There are only two groups of people in this world - the masters and the slaves. Superior racial endowment makes the master; the slave is born that way and he can never be anything else. The German people are a master race; it is up to them ruthlessly to ensure this heritage by making the slave masses bow before them! If you will attend some of our meetings you will be convinced of this. You will come?"

{p. 49} I was astounded at the man's brutal, illogical thinking, and at the intensity of his emotion. But this was a Christmas party at Gregor's home; I didn't want to indulge in an unpleasant political argument. So I promised Hitler to think about attending one of his meetings.

" 'Think' !" he sneered, as though the very sound of the word were distasteful to him. " 'Think' ! This is no time for thinking. This is a time for action! You feared the reactionary Junker and industrialist, and now you wake up to find that your own leaders are in their pay!"

Which was partly true, and I admitted it.

"But there are many large industrialists who are interested in the Nazi movement, also," I reminded him.

Surprisingly enough, Hitler's temper didn't flare up again; instead - in a manner characteristic of the man - he went to the opposite extreme and became the soul of agreeability and soft sincerity.

"Stay with us, Herr Strasser. Take my word for it - there are big things in the offing."

Again that hint of coming big events, without my having any inkling as to their nature. My curiosity was aroused, but nobody would satisfy it. I was keenly aware, of course, that what Germany needed for her salvation was a strong political party with a forceful and level-headed policy that would lead the people, as well as industry, in the gigantic task of reconstruction. It was either that or chaos - or Communism. I knew that Hitler's political theories were those of an egocentric - but he was not the whole party. There was my straightthinking brother Gregor, and there was Ludendorff, and Hess. Could it be possible that, in spite of Hitler, such a movement as I prayed for was really in the making ? There was but one way to find out, and that was to investigate for myself. Before we parted that day I had made arrangements to attend the next Nazi meeting.

{p. 50} On a bitterly cold March night I gathered, along with six Nazis, in my brother's chemist shop by prearranged agreement. These men still wore their army uniforms, threadbare and ragged though they were, because the Nazi Party, like its individual members, was unable to purchase any others in its present impecunious state. On their right arms, however, these men wore the Nazi emblem of the hooked cross which Hitler had borrowed from Captain Erhardt's organization.

Finally Gregor came hurrying into the room, apologizing for being late, and a moment later we were in his car speeding toward Munich. We parked the car outside the Circus Arena - which is roughly comparable to New York City's Madison Square Garden, and is used for big rallies of all kinds - and the men in uniform remained outside to join other party members while I entered the hall alone.

Almost four thousand spectators jammed the drafty hall to the ceiling and the air was blue with heavy clouds of tobacco smoke - smokc that at first was choking after the clean, cold air outside. The scraping of chairs, the scuffling of feet, the mingling pandemonium of a thousand simultaneous conversations - all these sounds became the single voice of the crowd, and it was like listening to a distant, continuous roll of thunder. In spite of myself, I began to feel an inner sense of excitement. Here might be the voice of a bewildered Germany; here was the power, the might that, properly directed, could lead her again into the paths of light.

Suddenly, with thrilling abruptness and force, a drum and bugle corps in the rear of the auditorium whipped a stirring march out into the vastness of the hall. Immediately long rows of Nazis, marching two abreast with heads held fiercely erect, swung down the aisles and toward the platform. The tempo of their coordinated step drummed a brave call that echoed in the rafters and accelerated the heartbeat of every spectator present.

There was nothing particularly new about opening a mecting

{p. 51} with marching men in uniform, yet I felt a thrill as I came to my feet - as the rest of the audience did, unconsciously - and watched those swinging lines pour down the aisles. These men, straight, stif and military, were my countrymen. Whoever had directed their appearance had done an excellent job, for no one could look at these erect marching soldiers without feeling a glow of pride in Germany and its youth.

Gregor opened the meeting with a few words of welcome to the audience: to its rich, its poor, its young and old, for it was in reality a cross-section of the people. Again I felt a glow of pride, this time that a member of my family had a post of such responsibility. Gregor was built along massive lines, but his quiet words were in sharp contrast with his powerful appearance. Speaking smoothly and sincerely, he said he hoped that those in the audience who were not already members of the Nazi Party would, after hearing Hitler speak, feel as he, Gregor Strasser, did - that the salvation of Germany lay in this party's hands.

Then it came time for Adolf Hitler to appear. A hush seemed to come over the crowd as they waited motionless for him to walk on the stage. Suddenly he was on the platform, walking slowly to his place behind the speaker's table.

Hitler, the speaker, was always sure of himself; of that there could be no doubt in anyone's mind. In those days he rarely prepared a speech, but stood looking out over his audience until the words welled up within him. On this occasion his slimness was accentuated by a dark suit; his right hand was held stiffly across his abdomen, the palm pressed tightly against his body. As he surveyed the audience and stood silently waiting for the words to come, a brilliant light grew in his eyes. His nostrils fairly quivered, as though he were breathing in through some superacute sense of smell the temper, the very soul-quality, of his listeners.

He started speaking slowly, gradually increasing the smooth rhythm and volume of his voice until he was shouting in bitter

{p. 52} anger. The change was not even noticed; there was a certain indefinable quality in his voice that seemed to grip the listener and carry him along with it. I can only describe the power of his voice in this manner: Most novelists write stories in which there is a strong central character; the reader identifies himself with the hero, and as he reads through the story suffers the trials and misfortunes of that fictional character. So it was with Hitler's audience. They seemed to identify themselves with his voice, to lose themselves in it, casting aside their own weakness and blind groping to adopt its strength and sureness. It was not the voice of Hitler speaking out to them; it was their own voice, the voice of Germany.

Hitler began with scornful denunciations of the venal politicians who had sold &ermany into slavery at the "Versailles Dictate": the people were being ground into the mire; the heavy heel of the foreign oppressor was upon their necks; when would this Germany awake, he screamed in appeal.

"It's my Germany!" he howled, his fist beating against his chest. "It's your Germany !" he yelled, a forefinger stabbing out to shame the crowd. "We are the German people, whose blood is the most precious thing in the world, a people who have a right for a place under the sun! And a right to more than that! For we are endowed by God with blood so rich that merely by being alive we are of inestimable benefit to the world !" Then he stood motionless for a moment, tense, silent, gazing deep into the collective face of his audience. Suddenly, his hands quivering high above his head, he screamed: "Germans, when will you hear me? Germans, when will you arise7"

An explosion of emotional hysteria greeted this. Men whis tled, howled, danced, shouted, applauded; not one of them now remaining seated - while Hitler stood stiffly before them, head thrown back, arms akimbo in proud acceptance of their adulation, a soft smile playing about the corners of his mouth.

To the poverty-stricken German youths who faced a black future those words came as a divine revelation. To them it was

{p. 53} a logical explanation that bridged the gap between their own fierce pride and their wretched condition. And here was a man who was telling them they need be humble and subservient no longer; that they could arise and strike! It was a clarion call to action. Hadn't he said: "Rise up and right this terrible wrong, for it is a disgrace before God - else He never would have put the precious blood of leaders in Aryan veins!"

I found myself breathing heavily too, standing like the rest, swept out of myself by the audience's delirious joy, with its psychological mob-influence that affected everyone present. I actually felt uplifted - but not for a second did I forget that Hitler hadn't said a single sentence that had any real meaning I had listened hopefully for words about socialism, about an economic program, about unemployment, about a cure for the most deadly threat of the hour: inflation. But there weren't any. There was only fine-sounding rhetoric and courageous defiance delivered by a genius of the art of rabble-rousing. But perhaps this orator would work around to more concrete matters in the last half of his speech.

His overstrained voice hoarse now, Hitler began to speak of the Communists and their menace to Germany. To be enslaved by the Moscow Bolshevists, he warned dolefully, would complete the degradation of the Fatherland, would seal its doom forever. But - and here his voice began its upswing again - May first was coming, and that was the celebration day of the Communists. With outrage dripping from every word, he told how the Communists all over the world planned to flaunt their power in the face of decent people. Why, even here in Catholic Bavaria, he shouted, the Communists were planning a gigantic demonstration! What if the local authorities should prove too weak-spined and corrupt to prevent it? And again he paused to let his listeners ponder the enormity of such a thing. It was the dramatic pause he liked so well - and used so efectively

"What then?" he roared at them. "I'll tell you what then I, Adolf Hitler, in the name of the National Socialist Party teli

{p. 54} you that this crowning disgrace shall never take place." He began to pound the table in a frenzy of eloquence until the blows of his fist had it dancing on the platform. "I pledge you on my sa.red honor," he screamed, "tha such a parade will take place only over my dead body!"

Again there was pandemonium. The crowd came to its feet as one man, wildly cheering their martyr; for in their eyes Hitler had already assumed that role. It was a terrifically dramatic close to the meeting. Four thousand spectators thundering a frenzied ovation; Hitler again standing before them stiff and straight, his arms folded across his chest this time; and the long rows of uniformed troopers marching smartly out of the auditorium to the quick tempo of the faintly heard band. And the voice of the troopers was prophetic, too; their shout was to be heard all through Germany in the days to come: "Die Strasse frei den braunen Battaillonen ... " ("Clear the street for the brown battalions ... !")

Now I knew what my brother had in mind when he told me that the party was planning big things, for with consummatc skill Hitler had maneuvered both himself and the party into a position from which they could rehearse for the coming revolution. If they succeeded in forcibly seizing part of the sovereign power of Bavaria, which is what they would be doing if they could stop the Reds, it would be the first step toward seizing all of it. And if the authorities should fight, Hitler would be a great hero - if not, indeed, an actual martyr - since he would be battling to put down the vastly unpopular Reds. He would then be fighting the people's fight against the rising tide of Communism.

Standing in the rear of the hall, I watched as the audience filed out in the wake of Hitler's uniformed marchers, and I was particularly interested to observe the expressions on their faces as these people shuffled slowly, close-packed, past me. Some seemed blank and dazed, as though still shocked by the force of Hitler's words, as though still trying to digest the

{p. 55} "truths" he had roared to the rafters; others were ecstatic, up in the clouds, as they had been in that last moment of howling ovation; still others had a grim, determined look on their faces - a fighting look.

My observation was interrupted when I felt a touch on my arm and turned to face two men. One was Rudolf Hess; the other was a stout, round-faced man whose uniform was too tight for his corpulent body. He wore the Prussian order Po.r le Me'rite over his heart. Hess introduced him to me and we shook hands, neither with much enthusiasm. His name was Hermann Goering.

I knew Captain Goering by reputation as having been the commander of the famous Richthofen Air Squadron, named for the famous ace, Manfred von Richthofen, "the Red Knight of Germany." Goering's record while the squadron's commander was really impressive, for it showed that he had downed some eighty-odd enemy planes. It was common knowledge in Germany, however, that Goering had used arithmetical legerdemain as well as a machine gun in amassing this large number of victories. Whenever an Allied plane was shot down by some member of his flight, and it was not clear which airman was responsible for the victory, Goering, as the squadron commander, simply took the credit for himself in writing out his reports. This, however, in no wise reflects upon his personal bravery, for Goering was known to be brave, but is meant as a comment on his moral scruples.

After exchanging the usual polite greetings that night, Goering asked me how I had liked the speech. Measuring my reply with care, I said: "It certainly stirred the audience tremendously, even though there was no mention of National Socialism in it," I said. "I would think - "

"We are not here to make National Socialism," Goering cut in bluntly. "We are here to make history!"

Goering has the face and body of a clown, and this has led many people to regard him as a rather bluff, easy-going sort of

{p. 56} person, when quite the opposite is true. I, too, might have becn misled if I had not seen his eyes; but they were cold and hard as steel, and they regarded me now with open hostility, their pale blue color having all the warmth of ice.

I smiled back at him, unperturbed. "Sometimes, Herr Goering, it is necessary to have an economic plan for history. Enduring movements have always had such a plan. I would advise National Socialism to concentrate upon some such program, if it wishes to be either national or social, and particularly if it aspires to be both!"

Goering's lip curled and his voice became that of the bully. "I should have known you were Gregor Strasser's brother even if we had not been introduced."

"I can only regard that as a compliment," I answered quickly. "And I'm sorry if the intellectual in conversation offends you. It must, or you wouldn't avoid it so scrupulously."

The corners of Goering's mouth whitened and his hands clenched at his side. I met his gaze, ready for anything, and in that tense second the diplomatic Rudolf Hess quickly stepped between us with a laugh and some inconsequential quip that served to ease the situation. Immediately afterward, though, he contrived to bid Goering a pleasant good night and walk away with me, his hand gripping my arm.

"It's useless to argue with him," Hess said when we were out of earshot. "He's very impatient with economic theorists and social planners; also, as you unfortunately pointed out, he is ill at ease in intellectual discussion. You'll find that he is strictly a man of action. He will be very useful to the party."

Despite these words, I felt that Rudolf Hess did not like the fat, gross-mannered aviator. Subsequently I learned that Hess and Goering entertained a strong dislike for each other.

Hitler's blunt promise that the Communists would march "only over my dead body" was the talk of Munich from that night on. Word spread from mouth to mouth until everyone,

{p. 57} the authorities included, knew of the savage defiance. The people wondered: "Have we at last found a man and a party strong enougl to champion our cause against the Communists ? Will he really fight and defeat them ?"

By the time May first 1 came, interest had blazed to fever pitch. All eyes were on Hitler and his National Socialists. A queer kind of expectant hush settled over the people of Munich. They were waiting to be shown. We all knew - as Hitler himself knew - he might stand or fall on this one issue; it could make or break him overnight. The next few hours would tell.

I was in Gregor's chemist shop the night of April thirtieth. The small store was filled with Nazi Brown Shirts in their army uniforms and an almost electric tension held the members present. Cigarettes were smoked incessantly in a nervous, jerky fashion; tempers were short under the strain. It was unlike any other gathering here preparatory to a political rally - and it differed in another way, too. In addition to wearing their field-gray uniforms, the men tonight had their steel helmets and their rifles. They were in earnest.

When the telephone shrilled, every member gave a start and every eye became riveted on the instrument. Himmler jumped to answer it; he listened for a moment, and his end of the conversation consisted of a single word: "Yes." Then he slammed back the receiver and spun to face my brother in strict military fashion. Only his voice gave away his excitement.

"Sir, we march to Munich tonight !" he reported. "The orders just came through from headquarters. We are to muster three thousand men."

Gregor took the news quietly. He rose to his feet, glanced at the men seated about the room, said, "Let's go, men. This is it." The others followed him silently as he walked out into the street. The tension was broken; only anticipation was present now and the ex-soldiers were like schoolboys in their horseplay as they trooped through the darkness.

1 The year was 1923.

{p. 58} A number of old lorries had been offered for the use of the insurgents, and these we manned now to drive about the town of Landshut and pick up our cohorts - as the other villages of Lower Bavaria were mustering theirs. Our ramshackle conveyances, lighted only by lanterns, rolled up and down the streets, pausing here and there to pick up a member. It was never necessary to send in a summons. No sooner had we come to a halt than the door of the house would open and closc swiftly and a dark figure would come running down to climb aboard. How long had these men waited for just such a day as this? How often had they cleaned and oiled their rifles, caressing them with impatient hands, waiting for this big occasion of the Revolution ?

Then, our complement gathered, we set out on the road that crosses the flat plain from Dachau to the neighborhood of Munich. How eerie Gregor's little army must have seemed as it made its lantern-lighted way through the moonless night to keep an appointment with destiny on tomorrow's battlefield. Three thousand tatterdemalion ex-soldiers who dared fate and swore to change the course of history!

Gregor and I were seated alongside the driver in the lead truck, listening to the men as they sang lusty barrack-room ballads to express their surging sense of power and indomitability. Suddenly the night was filled with the raucous sound of motor horns blowing violently. From behind our convoy the road was brilliantly lighted by the headlamps of a number of fast police cars, which rapidly overtook our slowmoving line of trucks.

"Schuppos! Police!" Gregor exploded with an oath.

The lead police car pulled up beside our truck and waved U5 to a halt and the whole convoy ground to a stop. Gregor jumped down to the road and I followed him, as did others from the line of trucks. A police lieutenant strode forward to face Gregor, and the two stood silently looking at each other for a moment. A hush had settled over the rest of the trucks;

{p. 59} the tense tableau held for two or three nerve-racking seconds; then Gregor broke the silence with unexpected violence.

"You! Gooheavens!" he broke out. "Where did you come from ?"

"From Landshut, like you, Gregor," the police lieutenant told him, and I recognized the voice. It was that of Georg Hoefler, my sister's husband.

There was another moment of silence. "And where are you bound for, Georg?"

"To Munich, like you," Lieutenant Hoefler replied quietly.

Gregor put the all-important question then: "Are you with U5 or against us - friend or foe?"

"I don't know - and I won't know until I've been given my orders at Munich. It may be the authorities intend to restrain the Communists. Or they may have decided to see that the Communists are not interfered with. Who knows? I stopped you to tell you that."

For a long moment Gregor and Georg stood face to face, staring at each other in the weird light of the flickering lanterns, surrounded by the still, dark figures of the police and the exsoldiers. All eyes were on the two leaders: from them would come the cue to further action. One - Gregor - was a blond giant with muscles of steel; the other thinner and more delicate, but with a strong bronzed face stamped with courage.

"Well, at least we'll know tomorrow," Gregor said at last. "Why should we worry about it now, eh ?"

Hoefler's serious expression didn't change. He extended his hand and the two men shook hands. "Good luck, Gregor!" he said.

le police cars started of again in a cloud of dust, and the lorries full of storm troopers pursued their way more leisurely behind them. But the men didn't sing so much now. ...

During the rest of that night Gregor was tormented by the thought that either Hitler had secretly made a deal with the

{p. 60} schuppos of Munich to support his putsch - in which case the glorious revolution of the Nazis would fade into a simple ; punitive action by the established authorities, aided by the forces of the National Socialist Party in an inglorious "me too" role - or Hitler's secret was out (which seemed to me obvious from the start), in which case the insurgents would lose their greatest weapon, surprise, and could expect to be imprisoned that same night.

At eight o'clock the next morning, however, the convoy arrived unmolested at the big Munich parade ground of Oberwiesenfeld to find the three other paramilitary formations already waiting. The big force of storm troopers, under Captain Goering, was there, as was Dr. Weber's Oberland Freikorps and the Reichsflagge, led by Captain Heiss. The forces of revolution had arrived.

General Ludendorff was the supreme commander, while Adolf Hitler assumed the political leadership, and the military command was in the capable hands of Lieutenant Colonel ! Kriebel, veteran of many campaigns.

In spite of the date, the sun beat down with midsummer force. Twenty thousand steel helmets reflected its rays, and twenty thousand threadbare Imperial uniforms, which had seen far more glorious gatherings, absorbed its sweltering heat. But amidst that sea of field-gray cloth stood the brown-shirted storm troopers from Munich, led by Lieutenant Rossbach.

All the big and little actors destined to play roles in the Hitlerian drama were there that day: Hermann Goering in a uniform much too tight for his rapidly expanding girth; Dr. Wil helm Frick, future Minister of the Interior for the Nazi Party; Rudolf Hess; Julius Streicher, former schoolteacher from Nuremberg and sexual penert; the idealistic Gregor Strasser and his inseparable Heinrich Himmler.

Twenty thousand impatient, suffering men stood before their nervously expectant leaders that day, waiting, waiting. ... Time passed with agonizing slowness, but still no Commu-

{p. 61} nists came. The sun climbed into the sky - eight o'clock ... nine ... ten ... eleven. ... Adolf Hitler paced a jittery path before his lieutenants, occasionally removing his steel helmet to wipe the rivulets of perspiration from his face and forehead, gazing often and long toward Munich, the sceneto-be of his great triumph - much as Napoleon may have gazed from the shores of Elba toward a distant France. But no word came.

Then, shortly after eleven, a strong Reichswehr detachment swung into view, flanked right and left by the green-uniformed forces of the police. At sight of them Hitler's face contorted with rage; his body crouched forward, as though he would spring at these men who interfered with his destiny and whip them single-handed. For a moment I thought he was on the point of a hysterical fit, and then he saw Captain Ernst Roehm, at this time a member of the Reichswehr's officer staff.

A soft cry sounded behind Hitler's clenched teeth and he leaped toward Roehm like a maniac, seizing him by the tunic with trembling hands. "Have you betrayed us?" he screamed in a frenzy. "Explain! Why are you with these traitors? What has happened?"

By that time the demonstrators of the Oberwiesenfeld had been surrounded by the military; the situation was already hopeless, and Roehm seemed unimpressed with Hitler's fury. He looked at him coldly, and took his time before he said in a superior manner:

"Control yourself. The time is not yet ripe."

The two men gazed into each other's eyes, and Hitler was the one to give way. Perhaps the ingrained military training of years, his subconscious acceptance of their corporal-and-captain relationship, had something to do with it. In a moment his hands fell from Roehm's uniform and Hitler dropped his eyes. He turned away.

"The time is not ripe," he was explaining to his followers a few moments later, as though it were his own decision. "The

{p. 62} Government and the Reichswehr are tolerating the May First demonstrations. We must bide our time."

Lieutenant Colonel Kriebel and Gregor urged hotly for action; they were all for firing upon the Reichswehr and starting a pitched battle, but Hitler was adamant in his surly refusal. All morning he sulked, taciturn and glowering, but he wouldn't listen to those of his leaders who favored a pitched battle - and in this I think he was right, from his point of view.

"How could I foresee that my own supporters in Munich would let me down ?" he complained. "And if I carry on alone, if I fight now, I must spill the blood of regular soldiers, which will forever alienate public sympathy; it will doom the Nazi cause. No, we must not fight the Reichswehr!"

That afternoon Hitler's battalions were ordered off the field - and shortly afterward the triumphant parade of the Communists entered the Oberwiesenfeld for their grand celebration. Mutely, with rancor and hate eating them inwardly, the Nazi stood about the field, reading the marchers' signs as they passed: "WORKERS OF THE WORLD, ARISE!"; "FIGHT FOR THE UNITED COMMUNIST STATES OF GERMANY !"; "DOWN WITH THE NAZI PARTY !" And Adolf Hitler stood there too, mingled tears of hate and rage running down his sweat-beaded cheeks. He could have known no more bitter humiliation, and he drank his cup of defeat to its bitter dregs.

Surrounded by the forces of the law, the proud insurgents of the early morning were not allowed to leave the field until after dark. Then a tired, bitter and bedraggled army of storm troopers filed disconsolately toward their trucks for the inglorious exodus. There was no singing on the way home that night

The ridicule to which the Nazi Party had been subjected cannot be exaggerated. Hitler's proud boast, "On my sacred honor such a parade will take place only over my dead body!"; his mustered force of 7,000 armed, helmeted men; his "invasion" of Oberwiesenfeld - and then the supreme humiliation

{p. 63} of his armed legions being forced to witness that very parade of unarmed civilians, with their taunting signs of printed ridicule, that he had sworn to prevent at the cost of his life !

I am convinced now that the deep rancor Hitler nourished against Captain Ernst Roehm dates from that very moment on the field at Oberwiesenfeld.

A political party can live down past blunders in its conduct and action; it can sink to near-eclipse and still cling to-a hope of coming back; it can even live down the stigma of internal corruption and dishonesty - but there is one force it dare not face and still retain a reasonable hope of political recovery. That damning force is public ridicule. To be hated, to be feared, even to be exposed and condemned - all these things can be coped with in time. But to be publicly lauhed at is practically a death knell.

Reasonable men in politics would have realized this. They probably would have reorganized under another name and begun all over again. But Hitler and his followers were not reasonable men. National Socialism was more to them than a political movement - it was their religion. So, after the debacle of Oberwiesenfeld, they threw themselves into their movement again with all the blind fervor of fanatics. It was revenge they wanted now - a revenge ten times the magnitude of their humiliation. Every energy was bent toward that end; every thinking moment was devoted to it; all rational considerations of odds and probability fell before that all-consuming purpose. They were men possessed.

It was obvious to any intelligent man during those days that the government could not remain static; a change was inevitable. That meant one of two things: either the new government would be one of the far left - Communism - or it would be one of the far right - Prussianism. But just as Hitler and his party thought they saw conditions ripe for their putsch, a heavy blow fell without warning. The neighboring states of Saxony

{p. 64} and Thuringia suddenly overthrew their old governments and set up Communist regimes.

Now thoroughly alarmed by the progress of Communism in the North, the government tried to save what it could from the sinking ship by isolating southern Germany. Also, wishing to avert a civil war and knowing full well that the by-product of every Communist success was a counter-putsch attempt by the Nazis, it decided to allay that danger by removing from office all men of known Nazi sympathies.

On September 26, President Ebert removed General von Epp from the active list and replaced him by General von Lossow, thereby assuring the loyalty of the Bavarian Reichswehr. Also, ; an old monarchist, von Kahr was appointed State Commissioner for Bavaria. As a further precaution, General Ludendorf was forbidden to remain in, or ever reenter, Munich.

Ludendorff and von Epp were furious; Roehm, who saw his power and influence at an end, was livid with fear; while Hiler's reaction was typical of him when crossed - his hysterical, demoniacal rage brought him to the verge of utter collapse. Gregor, however, always the man of action, counseled immediate countermeasures rather than emotional acrobatics. And he had his way.

Within the week the Munich Conspiracy was born at a meeting held in a private room in the Burgerbrau, an enormous Munich beer hall and restaurant. Principal figures among the plotters were Scheubner-Richter, the Baltic conspirator who at this time acted as political adjutant to General Ludendorf; Dr. Weber, of the Free Corps Oberland; Lieutenant Colonel Kriebel, the military staff officer of the whole enterprise and military commander of the late abortive Oberwiesenfeld putsch; Gregor Strasser, leader of the best organization outside Munich (and my source for the facts concerning this famous conspiracy); and Alfred Rosenberg, editor of the Voelkischer Beobachtcr. In addition to Hitler, of course, were other veteran personalities

{p. 65} of his cause: Goering, Hess, and the erotic clown of the party, Streicher.

A word here about Streicher, whose diseased mind seemed to be reflected in his repulsive face. His abnormally erotic fancies could have been allowed unpunished indulgence in no other movement than Hitler's gangster regime. During the war he was degraded in rank for rape of a young French governess, whom he had first stripped naked and beaten unmercifully. The enormity of his conduct can be imagined when one considers how few were the punishments in the German army for rape alone.

Streicher's newspaper was simply a reflection of his own diseased brain, and he excused that printed filth on the grounds that it exposed the true nature of the Jews! He told me once that a hideous crime of sex printed on the front page of Dcr Sturmer was like serving his readers a delicious cocktail before their meal.

I remember one of those "cocktails" of his, after having read an issue out of sheer curiosity. "Jewish Sex-Fiend Executed in Brussels," the screaming headline read. Then followed, in great detail, the account of a Jewish householder who, finding himself alone with a pretty pantry maid one afternoon in his home, suddenly threw himself on the young girl and proceeded to rip her clothes from her body, garment by garment. "The tears of shame, the pleading words, the horrified cries and pitifully ineffective struggles of this pretty and innocent young girl meant nothing o this vicious, bestial Jew," the account ran. And the next sentence, true to the Streicher formula, read: "But her violation was not complete at the hands of this Jew !" Following were the lurid details of the criminal getting a carving knife from the kitchen and cutting his initials into the breasts of the girl, who then escaped and ran into the street nude and nearly insane. But the last paragraph was what an American would call "the pay-off." "This is a true story," the article stated,

{p. 66} "taken from actual court records, in which can be found, by the hundreds of thousands, examples of Jewish depravity. This particular Jewish monster was imprisoned for his crime, in Belgium, October 12 1867." In 1867!

Hitler saw in Streicher a kindred spirit and kept him high in the party councils until late in 1940 when even he could not stand the disgusting antics of this dangerous mountebank and forcibly removed him from public office.

The last of the conspirators who met in the beer hall that night - which has since become a patriotic shrine of the Nazis - was a lawyer named Wilhelm Frick. I found him to be honest and straightforward when I met him later. He was not a Nazi at the time, but in his official position as advisor to Munich's deputy chief of police, Poehner, he could render invaluable aid.

The plotters were compelled to replan their revolution, and it had to be done in such a way that on this occasion success would be assured. And so they gathered behind drawn shades and locked doors in the dank, cheerless room in the rear of the beer hall. Through the door came the confused sounds of the crowd outside - the meaningless rumble of excited chatter and loud laughter blending with clinking steins, pounding footsteps and scraping chairs. But the group hunched about the dark, beer-stained table in that stale-smelling room had no ears for the sounds of such healthy pursuits as beer drinking. They had a revolution to plan.

It was obvious to them that without the support of the new rulers of Bavaria the revolt would have no assurance of success. There remained but one course of action. The ranking men who represented the Bavarian authorities had to be won over to the Nazi cause first. There were three of them: Governor von Kahr, General von Lossow, and Bavaria's chief of police, Seisser, an official whose rank was, of course, higher than Poehner's. This triumvirate, Frick explained, was composed of ardent Monarchists who would like nothing better than to see

{p. 67} the Wittelsbacher line restored in Bavaria and the Hohenzol lern house in Prussia. Frick pointed out, too, that his own superior, Poehner, was also a rabid Monarchist.

For a moment after Frick had pointed out these obstacles there was consternation among the Nazis present. Questioning, hopeless glances passed from man to man. How could the National Socialists hope to win the support of out-and-out Monarchists when the aims of these political faiths were so directly opposed? And without their support, how could they hope to succeed in their present plan ? It appeared to be a hopeless impasse until Hitler, as usual, came forward with a typical solution.

He leaned far forward over the long table, his hands palm down, to look directly at Dr. Wilhelm Frick. "Please convey to Herr Poehner and Herr von Kahr," he said slowly and impressively, "the information that we in the National Socialist movement seek only the eventual restoration of our sovereign lord, the Kaiser."

Every Nazi present knew that was a flat lie; they desired no such thing, Hitler least of all. They sought power strictly for themselves, but if it was necessary to lie to gain it, Hitler was not averse to that method.

Night after night the revolutionists met in the private room of the Burgerbrau - to alter plans, to discuss, to scheme further. The results of these meetings were sent to Bavaria's ruling triumvirate - along with empty promises of any size or shape they demanded. Frick acted as the go-between here, relaying the intelligence directly to Poehner. He brought back messages indicating that Governor von Kahr, General von Lossow and Seisser were impressed with Poehner's further relays to them; they were definitely leaning in sympathy toward Hitler and the Nazi Party. And the fact that the great Ludendorff stood behind the former house painter was what eventually won them over completely.

{p. 68} Both von Kahr and von Lossow were now anxious to discuss plans directly with Hitler. They saw in this movement something that went far beyond the boundaries of Bavaria, for if the revolt succeeded - as indeed it had to with their support - it might easily sweep the entire nation. Von Kahr, who was ambitious and grasping for power, saw himself as the country's man of the hour. In fancy he saw himself dictating which son of Kaiser Wilhelm should mount the throne, and he could picture his own gracious hand placing the crown on the head of the new ruler. Consequently, he dispatched a crested note to ; Adolf Hitler inviting him to the Governor's chambers to settle the matter once and for all.

Hitler was jubilant - but, unlike von Kahr, he could picture only his own gracious hand placing the crown on his own noble head. So, dressed in a worn but neatly pressed blue suit, Hitler went to meet von Kahr, his faculties for promise-making well lubricated with the oil of ambition. It was a strange interview.

The meeting was held in the Governor's Palace, and for some time Hitler and von Kahr discussed amiably the details of the coming revolution. Although the future Fuehrer's enthusiasm was such that he was inclined to enlarge upon ideas that were sheer fantasy, Governor von Kahr did not care. He was concerned solely with the eventual result - restoration of the monarchy.

"Your concern for the Wittelsbacher and Hohenzollern lines has impressed me," he said softly after a while. "That is a subject very close to my heart."

Sincerity oozed from Hitler's expression. "It is close to my heart, too," Hitler assured him. "They must be restored; they must enjoy every social right they formerly possessed."

Von Kahr's eyes narrowed slightly, almost imperceptibly. "Social right," he repeated, as though to verify what he had heard. "Then you feel - "

"I feel," Hitler urged at his persuasive best, "that with the

{p. 69} country in its present chaotic disunity and internal disintegration, the task of successful rule is far beyond the capabilities of most men, no matter how strong. I feel, further, that within a group of ruling men we will find duplicated in miniature the very evils that beset the country now: internal strife and disunity. For a time at least - "

"Herr Hitler !" von Kahr interrupted, wearied by the circumlocutory oratory. He leaned back in his chair, placed the tips of his fingers together and took a deep breath. Then he asked the one all-important question. "In whose superhuman hands, Herr Hitler, do you intend placing the political control of Germany in the event the ptsch is successful ?"

"In my own!" Hitler responded without hesitation.

From that moment the Governor's enthusiasm waned. Up to that moment he had been as eager as Hitler to get the move under way, but now he found, from day to day, dozens of pretexts to postpone it. Finally, when he had no more plausible excuses to offer, he tentatively agreed to the night of November IO. Hitler was again in the executive chambers, as he had been often during those weeks, and the Governor's opinion of Hitler's guile and cunning had risen considerably as a result. It is easy to guess what his unspoken thought must have been, now that a date was set - a date that he did not intend to see go down in history. Knowing Hitler now, and knowing that Hitler sensed his reluctance to assist, he feared that Hitler mlght attempt an independent ptsch at an earlier date of which he would not be forewarned.

"Will you swear," von Kahr asked, "that your men will not act except in concert with mine, and then only on the tenth, unless otherwise mutually agreed?"

"I swear," Hitler replied with glib readiness.

But that did not satisfy the Governor. He produced a large book and held it in his hand. "Will you place your hand on this Bible," he asked gravely, "and swear to that statement, Herr Hitler?"

{p. 70} Hitler bridled at the suggestion, jumping abruptly to his feet. "I have already given you my sacred word of honor as a gentleman!" he snapped. "Isn't that sufficient assurance?"

Governor von Kahr was a suave diplomat. "Certainly!" he agreed without hesitation. "I take your word as a gentleman without hesitation, and since I know you intend to keep it inviolate, you surely have no legitimate excuse not to humor this whim of mine."

The Fuehrer gave the Governor a dark look. He placed his left hand on the Bible, raised his right hand and repeated sullenly after von Kahr an oath not to break his promise.

From the Governor's chambers Hitler hurried to the meeting room where his party leaders anxiously awaited him. He described the interview to them, not neglecting to enlarge angrily on the Bible-swearing scene, which tended to cast doubt on his integrity.

"There are fundamental differences between us," he concluded, "which no amount of argument or concession will succeed in ironing out. Governor von Kahr wants the power in his own hands - evidently only to pass it on to another." There was contempt in that last statement. "This we cannot and shall not permit!"

"What will we do?" the slow-thinking Goering asked.

Hitler's reply was immediate: "Strike at an earlier date!"

"But you have given your word," Hess interjected quickly.

Hitler drew himself up, as though about to bare his breast to an enemy's knife. There was the look of a martyr in his eyes. "That is a sacrifice I am willing to make for the National Socialist movement, great though the personal cost is!"

Shortly after this scene, Dr. Wilhelm Frick was let in on the secret and he made the deal for police deputy Poehner's cooperation. Poehner was to swing the Munich police into line at the proper time, and in return for this he was to have a real voice in the selection of the Nazi cabinet.

{p. 71} As I subsequently learned, the date and manner in which is revolution was to take place was dictated purely by circumstance. It so happened that less than one week afterward, on November 8, there was a large meeting scheduled at the Burgerbrau. This had been called by von Kahr, and present would be von Lossow and Seisser - the three men the Nazis feared most. The purpose of the meeting was to explain to the citizens the program Governor von Kahr hoped to follow during his term in office. It was in reality a bid for sorely needed public support.

With due solemnity the party leaders ratified November 8 as the historic date of the coming German revolution. And today all Germany has to celebrate November 8 as if it marked the date of their freedom.

I learned of these plans the night before the scheduled revolution and hurried ahead to Munich, there to be a witness of one of the most fantastic dramas in German history. Once again, as when Hitler attempted to prevent the Communists from parading at Oberwiesenfeld, he seemed to have laid his plans well - and this time he had the added advantage of secrecy and surprise. Furthermore, he was striking at a time when the three leaders of the government were together and absent from their posts. To capture them would be child's play, but upon what happened after that would depend the success or failure of the putsch.

Crowds started to arrive at the Burgerbrau at an early hour. At the far end of the enormous dining room was a bandstand which was being used that night as the speaker's dais. The audience, of course, occupied the beer hall proper, and many extra tables had been crowded onto the floor so closely that the waiters had dificulty in threading their way between them All the tables were filled quickly, and the overflow of patrons lined themselves about the sides of the room; evcry person,

{p. 72} seated and standing, was drinking from a huge stein of beer. Shortly before nine o'clock von Kahr, von Lossow and Seisser arrived, confident and smiling, sure that the majority of the people were with them and hopeful that the opposing few would be won over through this evening's session. Of Hitler they had no thought, much less fear, for had he not given his oath ? He was out of sight and out of mind.

Meantime, however, Hitler and Goering had secretly gathered 600 storm troopers from the Munich district - for Captain Roehm was anxiously and completely with them on this undertaking. Gregor Strasser was at the head of 350 Brown Shirts gathered from the Landshut area, while Captain Roehm headed 250 of his own Nazi followers.

These three groups made a junction at a point a mile from the beer hall. From there Roehm's men were ordered to attack the Officers' Club in hope of paralyzing the Reichswehr by seizing its commanders, and at the same time the remaining 950 storm troopers marched at double time behind Adolf Hitler.

At precisely nine o'clock the confident von Kahr arose to speak - and at precisely that moment, just as von Kahr opened his mouth to speak (the timing was perfect) a wild figure brandishing a heavy revolver burst from the entranceway and into the hall. It was Adolf Hitler, dressed in a moth-eaten black frock coat with the distinguished Iron Cross pinned to his lapel. Behind him strode Gregor Strasser, Hermann Goering and Rudolf Hess. Hitler vaulted to a table, fired a single shot into the ceiling and shouted, his voice half choked with excitement: "Citizens, the National Socialist Revolution has begun!"

The storm troopers, walking in pairs, marched swiftly down the center of the hall, thrusting roughly aside all customers, chairs and tables that blocked the way. "Die Strasse frei dcn braunen Battaillonenl" Other troopers formed a ring around the entire hall while the stupified audience looked on in bewildered silence. Hitler then climbed down from the table, walked up to the stage and mounted it. He faced the hall and

{p. 73} signaled with both hands for quiet, though it was an unnecessary gesture. It is probable that he had rehearsed it that way in his mind and now followed through automatically.

Then he began to talk, sure of himself now, reveling in his own oratory. He explained that the action he had just taken had been forced upon him; his only purpose, he said, was to save beloved Bavaria from the imminent peril of Communism. He begged the good citizens to go home quietly, secure in the knowledge that the National Socialist Party, which was henceforth to rule Bavaria, would safeguard their sacred interests.

Hitler then swung about to face the disillusioned Bavarian triumvirate. "Gentlemen," he said in a haughty tone that suggested they had broken their word of honor, "I believe we have important matters to discuss. A diplomatic council is in order." He motioned with the snout of the gun. "After you, if you please."

In an adjoining room, the four men seated themselves about a table, and Hitler was about to practice that form of diplomacy at which he is most adept. He lifted the revolver and pressed the muzzle of the gun against von Kahr's forehead.

"My friends," he announced threateningly, "there are four bullets in this gun. Either we are in agreement before midnight or none of us leaves this hall alivel"

How incongruous that Iron Cross must have seemed to those old-school army men as it dangled from Hitler's breast in that moment. It was the first occasion on which I had seen Hitler wearing that supreme decoration, and where he "won" the medal is a mystery he has never cleared up. Certain it is, however, that it wasn't for any sanguinary, single-handed victory. One will note that the only shot he had fired so far that evening was aimed at the ceiling.

{p. 74} Chapter III

GOVERNOR VON KAHR'S face was white with fear; he seemed to be trying to make his weazened body smaller than it was. His frightened eyes peered shortsightedly at Hitler through his heavy horn-rimmed glasses, and his long, bony fingers beat a nervous tattoo on the table. It was obvious he felt certain that Hitler, if thwarted, would have no compunctions about squeezing the trigger, and the wild, almost in. sane light in the revolutionist's eyes did nothing to quiet such a fear.

"You swore!" Governor von Kahr choked out at last. "You swore on your sacred honor not to ..." But the tardy and rather pointless concern over that detail must have seemed silly even to von Kahr. His voice trailed away to silence.

When Hitler spoke, his voice was rough, harsh. Ever the bully, he could be very tough when all the odds were in his favor. "A discussion of morals will gain us nothing at this stage!"

General von Lossow interjected quietly: "We might find it easier to reach a conclusion if you'd put that thing away." he nodded toward the revolver.

Hitler thrust the gun in his pocket and turned to one of his lieutenants, a man named Scheubner-Richter. "Fetch General Ludendorff to Munich at once!" he ordered. "Tell him that the putsch has succeeded. The National Socialists are supreme."

Scheubner-Richter hurried out to perform the mission.

Hitler turned back to the three men who had been, until only five minutes before, the rulers of the large state of Bavaria. Now they were merely three badly frightened men. Hitler had them in his power and decided that the best psychological approach would be the one whereby he could offer the beaten men magnanimous terms, so as to make future resistance on

{p. 75} their part both unwise and unprofitable. He explained to them gruffly that he did not come as a usurper. Rather did his legions march as protectors of the State.

"Here is my hand on it," he concluded with unctuous magnanimity. He extended in "friendship" the hand that but a moment before had been holding a gun at their heads. "I offer you the regency in the new national government!"

Governor von Kahr did not accept the proffered hand. "It will be impossible for me to accept what you offer," he explained, in spite of the fear that was in him, "except as a representative of the Monarchy and in behalf of the Monarchy."

What might have been an immediate deadlock for other politicians did not find Hitler at a loss. Always quick of wit in a tight place, his ingenuity did not fail him now. Hitler immediately struck an attitude. "That is precisely what I am, an agent for His Majesty, and in common with you three gentlemen, also seek to bring about the restoration!"

Actually, of course, Hitler had no idea of doing anything of the kind; he was simply striving desperately, promising anything, to avoid open conflict. Let them accede to his demands and put him in control for twentyfour hours, and he need never fear them again. That was all the time he needed to entrench himself. After that, Bavaria would belong to the National Socialist Party.

There was a moment of stunned silence, and afterward, when in a more friendly atmosphere the discussion began, Hitler was sure these three were about to capitulate. Imagine what that would mean to him! Adolf Hitler, Fuehrer of the Nazi Party and master of Bavaria! After years of heartbreaking struggle and failure he was now about to enter upon a magnificent success. Bavaria's leading triumvirate was melting; that much was certain. Is it any wonder that Hitler's exultation could scarcely be contained, that the tremendous excitement made him a bit light-headed - or that, in this supreme moment, unthinking, he called for a waiter and ordered refreshments served around?

{p. 76} And in a beer hall, "refreshments" means but one thing - beer. There they sat, the four of them leaning over a table as the restless crowd waited impatiently on the other side of the closed door - a stein of beer standing at each elbow. Now Hitler was in his greatest glory, outlining his regime; arguing pro and con with the others on matters of policy. He was at his most eloquent, his most persuasive best; and in the end they capitulated completely, Hitler giving in on only minor points. And he now named - as he must often have dreamed of doing - the men who should serve under him.

Von Kahr was to be Regent of Bavaria; His Excellency, General Ludendorff, was to be in command of the nation's armed forces; Poehner was to be Prime Minister; General von Lossow was to be Minister of War; and Seisser was to be Reich Minister of Police. In that moment Adolf Hitler's excitement soared to its greatest height. Unconsciously, he picked up the big stein of beer. Now came the biggest moment of all.

In his most ingratiating tone, Hitler said: "Your Excellency, I propose myself to assume ... (a long pull at the beer mug)

. . the political leadership of the National Government ... (another healthy draft) ... until we have dealt with the criminals ... (a long drink that required a number of swallows) ... who are leading our beloved country to ruin. I ask you if you are not in agreement?" And the empty stein thumped down on the wooden table.

Hitler, the vegetarian and teetotaler, had drunk a full stein of beer in his unthinking ecstasy! It was, undoubtedly, onc of the few alcoholic drinks he'd had in his lifetime - and he probably never remembered drinking it!

Scheubner-Richter arrived at that moment, bringing General Ludendorf. The General repaired immediately to the back room where Hitler's diplomacy and quick thinking had just won a signal victory. Even though Ludendor was breathless from having rushed so hard, he still maintained his militar dignity. With customary bluntness and without preamble, he

{p. 77} announced: "Of my own authority I declare that I put myself at the complete disposal of the new national government."

The newly appointed regent shook his hand and welcomed him into the new government. The success of this administration was now assured, and it was a jubilant Hitler who led the oicers onto the stage to face the packed hall. The greater part of the crowd remained, burning with curiosity, making wild speculations, passing unfounded rumors from lip to lip, ordering more and more beer, smoking endlessly, always watching the door at the far end of the hall. Then, when it opened at last, a sudden buzz of excitement welled up, only to die away as quickly as it was born.

Walking beside Hitler was ex-Governor von Kahr, looking drawn, exhausted and ill at ease. Hitler took his place on the speaker's podium and announced ringingly, exultantly, that the National Revolution had succeeded - then turned and shook hands with von Kahr as public proof of the fact. Afterward, von Kahr - now joined by von Lossow, Seisser and Ludendorff - seated himself, with them, behind Hitler.

Then, for half an hour, the leader of the Nazi Party stood before his shanghaied audience and harangued them - and he was at his oratorical best. I have never seen an audience listen to this man for any length of time and not end up by cheering him wildly. And this particular night meant so much to Hitler; he outdid himself, if that is possible. He was anxious for their applause; it was as necessary to him as food and drink is to the average person - perhaps more necessary. Nor did the audience disappoint him now. They were with him; it made little derence what he said - as far as logic and sensible thought is concerned. As usual, it was the way he said things that counted with the mob.

Flushed with his greatest triumph so far, Hitler turned to von Kahr and suggested that they formalize the new government here at the Burgerbrau. Why wait

Ex-Governor von Kahr hesitated. Then, almost pleadingly,

{p. 78} he said: "My colleagues and I are at the point of utter eshaustion. May I respectfully suggest that we be permitted to go home and get a few hours' sleep? We can then hold the ceremonies tomorrow at my oflices in the dignified manner which is fitting for so dynamic a movement as National Socialism."

Hitler bowed low. "I want you to feel that I shall alway be at your disposal and constantly have your best interests at heart. You will, of course, need rest before we formalize the government."

It was second nature with him to turn a good suggestion about and, adopting it for his own, make the person who had ofered it feel as though a favor were being done him.

Clapping his hands majestically, Hitler summoned a dozen of his storm troopers, who then formed an honor guard and escorted the three deposed leaders of Bavaria out to their onceofficial cars. With the lusty cheers of the spectators ringing in their ears, the triumvirate drove slowly away.

Dawn was long in coming, and while the hands on the huge clock moved with maddening slowness the Nazis became increasingly restive. The hall presented a strange scene: some were sprawled across chairs, trying to get an hour's rest; others sat dumbly, staring into the distance, dreaming of tomorrow and the tomorrows that would follow; still others were gathered in excited groups about the untidy, litter-laden tables discussing the unexpected measure of their success and speculating on future developments.

The day began. Eight o'clock came, and passed. Nine o'clock - still no sign of the honor guard that was supposed to escort Hitler to the Governor's Palace for the ceremony marking the new national government. Open signs of worry began to appear on the faces of the Nazis in the hall. The men began to mutter. Was it possible that the victory that had seemed so easy the night before could be only a delusion ? What made the waiting

{p. 79} even worse was the fact that Hitler gave no news of developments, if any, to his men. More rumors filled the hall: the Communists had started a counterrevolution; von Kahr had outlawed the Nazi Party and declared that all its members were guilty of high treason; the Bavarian authorities had appealed to Berlin for aid, and even now a powerful arm of the regular army was on its way to Munich to exterminate the insurrectionists. ...

Now Hitler stepped out on the platform and an immediate hush fell over the men. He looked pale and haggard, his eyes red-rimmed and bloodshot from lack of sleep. There was a tired note in his hoarse voice as he called: "Fritz! Reinhart!"

Two uniformed brown-shirted men stepped smartly down to the apron of the stage. Hitler leaned over and whispered to them for a moment; only those closest to the trio heard what he said. "Go to von Kahr," he ordered. "Find out the reason for this delay and report back immediately to me." The two Nazis turned on their heels and went back up the aisle at the double

A new feeling ran through the beer hall. This was action at last! Troopers tightened their belts, backs straightened, sleepheavy eyes opened to take on a new sparkle. The spirit of dull, passive waiting changed to one of eager, active anticipation; the feeling of uncertainty was gone.

But another long hour passed without further news. The messengers did not return, and Hitler sent out a second pair of Brown Shirts. More dreary waiting. The dark suspicion that von Kahr did not intend to go through with the plan now became a certainty. The Governor, the men now knew, was backing out of the deal; his pleading for sleep the night before and postponing the official ratification of the new government showed he never had intended to go through with it. He was doublecrossing Hitler: a case of the betrayer being betrayed.

Hitler was frantic. It was almost impossible for him to chart an accurate course of action without knowing what was happening on the outside. He could take for granted the fact that

{p. 80} Governor von Kahr was against him, but he had no way of telling what form the opposition would take. There were three lines of action open to him. He might call a halt to the entire proceedings, send his men home and face the ridicule of Bavaria once more. Hitler's pride and vanity made this unthinkable - and he was keen enough to realize such a move would sound the death knell for National Socialism, fanatical though his belief in the movement might be. On the other hand, he could attempt to take over the government of Munich by force, which would lead to bloody fighting in which Hitler's poorly armed legions could only come out second-best. Consequently he rejected that course in spite of the pleadings and fiery assurances of such hell-for-leather fighters as Ludendor, Kriebel and Gregor Strasser. The third choice - the middle course - was to march his Nazis through Munich and hope that such a parade would stir a mighty street demonstration into being; that government employees, laborers, clerks, men in the factories would leave their jobs and come flocking to his banner; that by sheer weight of numbers, by spontaneous public demand, the revolution would become an accomplished fact.

Yet Adolf Hitler must have known there was little merit in this plan; it had occurred to me, and I had at once realized it would be a stratagem of the last resort - which, indeed, is what it was used for now, since there was no other way.

At midday Hitler walked out onto the stage of the Burgerbrau and again silence fell immediately over the crowd. He had made up his mind, and the tired lines seemed to have been magically erased from his face. A new resolute light shone in his eyes and there was something in his manner that told the Nazis they were to see action. Almost as one man they surged forward and stood, cxpectant, in a closely packed mass before him. An electric moment of tension and utter quiet held the room.

Hitler raised a clenchcd fist in the air. "Comrades, we march!" he thundcred.

{p. 81} A tremendous roar of exultation filled the beer hall. That spontaneous shout shook the glasses on the tables, echoed from the ceiling and reverberated from the walls. It must have been deafening even in the street outside.

Hitler motioned to Gregor, and Gregor in turn gave the order to a squad of twelve burly storm troopers. They moved up the aisle like a human wedge and cut through the crowd of curious people jamming the entrance to the Burgerbrau. Close-packed at tneir heels came the vanguard of the Brown Shirt legions. They poured through the narrow entrance and spilled out into Marienplatz, the famous square on which the palace of the kings of Bavaria stands.

Troopers quickly formed in columns of fours. Banners went arrogantly aloft. Eyes were bright with the promise of coming excitement. Eagerness, youth and swashbuckling courage were the strongest weapons of this little army. Even the spectaton lining the curbs felt a lift from this picturc of men who dared

The Nazis were following their leader!

Hitler stood proudly at the head of the parade, Goering on his left, Ludendorf on his right. The Leader's right arm rose in the air, fell, and the columns, marching smartly four abreast, set out for Ludwigstrasse, Munich's main street. Leading from Marienplatz to Ludwigstrasse was Residenzstrasse, a narrow alley into which the marching storm troopers barely fitted, and which opened into the wide main street.

Swinging forward bravely, a spontaneous song now bursting from the ranks, the men squeezed through the alley and into Ludwigstrasse; windows were thrown open on all sides as the citizens were attracted by the full-throated song and the pound of marching feet; other spectators came running to line the walks of Ludwigstrasse just ahead. At the head of the column, Hitler was the first to see the armed squad of General von Lossows Reichswehr standing on the steps of Feldherren-Halle, the monument built following the Franco-Prussian war to

{p. 82} honor the Bavarian unknown soldiers of all time. His face went deathly pale. Instinctively, he threw wide his arms to halt the column; then, as quickly, started forward again.

There was no cheering from the grimly absorbed spectators, who stood well back from the scene of trouble. This was no march of triumph; it was tragedy in the making. And Hitler's storm troops, still cooped in the alley, were unable to see what was going on ahead. Their challenging battle chants struck a bizarre note now, like a blind man unwittingly singing at a funeral.

Hitler had taken no more than four steps forward when Lieutenant Ernst Brown, in charge of the small detachment of some eighty Reichswehr, called ringingly for him to halt. Hitler found himself looking into the business ends of machine guns and rifles; he stopped irresolutely.

Standing there, he must have thought fast and concluded that the soldiers would never dare to carry out the threat to shoot; von Kahr couldn't possibly have given such an order. Hitler stepped forward again, his courage stemming from an inner conviction of his own safety. Goering and Ludendorf followed willingly at his heels, proud of his action.

"Halt !" the command rang out again, and now rifles snapped to the shoulder position, leveling.

Hitler kept marching.

A third time - the last - Lieutenant Brown ordered them to halt, and this time there was no mistaking the menace in his voice. Rifles tightened against the shoulders of the troops and eyes took aim along the barrel sights. Machine-gun squads crouched more closely about their weapons. Again Hitler stopped short, his men close-packed directly behind him.

All this had happened so suddenly that he had had no opportunity to plan an escape from the trap. And it was certainly not courage that held him facing those menacing guns now; it was sheer vanity and pride. He couldn't allow himself to be faced down before all the onlookers, who were potential

{p. 83} party followers. Hitler's fear was great, but his greater concern was that such a fear would be shown publicly - and the result passed for heroism. But his dilemma was still unsolvable: his vanity wouldn't let him retreat, his fear wouldn't let him advance further, and circumstance certainly wouldn't let him remain where he was.

Although his own men outnumbered the loyalist soldiers by more than ten to one, they were still at a serious disadvantage. Only the first four rows of marching Nazis were aware of what was happening - and, should a pitched battle break out, they would be the only ones who could return the soldiers' fire. Now those farther back in the alley, finding themselves halted, started pushing forward.

Hitler faced Lieutenant Brown. He raised his right hand, pointed his forefinger at the officer and began to speak. All of which was simply a desperate stall for time; Hitler probably didn t even know what he was saying - anything would do - just so he could have a few seconds to form a plan of action or scheme a face-saving escape. But it didn't work - for at that moment the impatient shoves of the rear columns pushed the front ranks forward, Hitler along with them.

Lieutenant Brown would wait no more. Pivoting, he faced his troops with arm raised. "Fire !" he shouted.

There was a staccato burst of sound. Flame spurted from a score of muzzles. The chatter of a machine gun was drowned in screams of agony.

What followed is among the most tragi-comic episodes of post-war history.

Hitler, of course, was in the direct line of fire, but Ulrich Graf, a Brown Shirt in the front ranks of the marchers, threw himself in front of Hitler and with his own body protected the Nazi Fuehrer. A slug caught Graf in the side and he fell bleeding - and Hitler flung himself flat on the ground, allowing Goering and the aged Ludendorff to continue marching into the hail of death. All the versions that say anything else are

{p. 84} false. Adolf Hitler in his cowardice flung himself ignominiously to the ground. Goering, on his left, was hit in the thigh by a bullet and he staggered after Hitler, who was now crawling as fast as possible toward safety. But General Ludendort, head held proudly erect, marched directly toward those blazing ranks of guns.

For sheer dramatic power I have never secn anything that cqualed this act. There was the great and aging General, former idol of millions of troops, supreme leader of one of the finest fighting machines the world had ever seen, now marching at the head of a threadbare gang of insurrectionists - and doing it in a way that still retained every bit of nobility he had ever carried. Indeed, I think he was even more impressive in that moment.

Can you see him? He is old; the war years have added decades to his shoulders. His hair is gray and his step is not as firm as it once was. Even his proud military dress, with its ranks of beribboned decorations, is gone - for today he is dressed in a frock coat and carries a black cane instead of a bright sword. But he is a soldier still; he is a leader, a master of soldiers. He is a hero, because that is his very character. And he marches forward at the head of the last army he is ever to command - a pitiful little band of revolutionists. And he doesn't let them down.

General Ludendorff's magnificent disdain of death, his splendid courage and soldierly nobility, so disconcerted the loyalist ranks that they ceased firing as he drew close to them. What man among them, who had followed him for years, could have shot him down then ? And in that very moment, Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering had reached the sanctuary of a convenient alley - one sprinting down it, the other hobbling after as fast as his wounded leg would allow.

Still, the deadly mission of von Kahr's troops had been accomplished. The proposed revolution had been summarily broken and the ringleaders had been put to flight. Residenzplatz alley

{p. 85} had packed the Nazis in so closely that it was impossible for von Kahr's soldiers to miss. In the fighting - which was short, sharp and one-sided - thirteen Brown Shirts were killed outright and forty were wounded. The very first blast of gunfire had disorganized the Nazi ranks and the main body of troops had turned in panic and fled back to Marienplatz. Nor was that any reflection on the fighting spirit of Hitler's men; they knew their strategic position was hopeless, funneled as they were into a concentrated blast of gunfire.

Captain Roehm had taken possession of the oficers' club the night before and had remained there secure in the belief that the National Socialist revolution had succeeded. Being a skillful officer, the captain had been able to storm the sta oflicers' building and capture it and its occupants with the loss of but three men. The first he knew about the failure of the revolution was when a large detachment of regular troops surrounded the building and placed him under arrest.

Gregor succeeded in reforming a part of his Landshut contingent in Marienplatz, but without a specific objective and additional support it was useless and foolhardy to give battle. Since I was not a Nazi, I had joined none of the revolutionary groups but had remained well on the sidelines as an observer. After the sharp exchange before the Feldherren-Halle I was naturally greatly concerned about Gregor and rushed immediately to Marienplatz, where I found him with his reassembled troops. He was at that moment giving the order to return home when I joined him for the march.

It was a sullen group that tramped the miles back to Landshut; the men were in an ugly mood. Their comrades had been shot down and left dead and dying in the streets; their movement was completely smashed and beyond repair - or at least, so it seemed even to the most optimistic. What further oppressive measures Governor von Kahr would take they did not know, although they could assume that such measures would definitely be taken.

{p. 86} Hitler fled from Munich by himself. Not even Goering could keep up with him as he crawled to the corner, where he jumped up and took to his heels. A short distance from the scene of the shooting he commandered a private car at gun's point and forced the driver to take him to the small town of Ufing, where lived Frau Hanfstaengel, the mother of one of his financial backers. Her son was "Putzie" Hanfstaengel, the Harvard University graduate and Americanized Nazi who later became foreign press representative for the Nazi party.

For three days Hitler remained at this house, in hiding. On the third day there came a knock at the door, an insistent knock that had the sound of authority behind it. While Hitler rushed into the bedroom, Frau Hanfstaengel ran downstairs to answer it. Four uniformed policemen stood there.

One of them said stiffly: "We have reason to believe that Herr Adolf Hitler is hiding here."

"That is not so, officer!" Frau Hanfstaengel answered quickly.

"In that case," he said, pushing past her, "you can certainly have no objection to us looking through the house."

Frau Hanfstaengel planted herself in the doorway and said angrily: "I won't have you going through this house. I forbid it!"

One of the police ofhcers then produced a search warrant. His impatience showed in his abrupt tone. "Make way, frau!"

While one of the officers guarded the front door, three other police mounted the steps. Entering the bedroom in the course of their search, they came upon a door leading to a large wardrobe. An oficer pulled the door open and saw a woman standing within, straightening dresses on the hangers. The officer seized her and spun her around. "She" had a black stubby mustache!

So Hitler was placed under arrest wearing one of Frau Hanfstaengel's dresses - the last comic touch in a comic-opera revolution.

{p. 87} At the time Hitler was taken, Gregor, Himmler and I were seated at luncheon at my brother's house in Landshut. There was a knock at the door and my brother-in-law entered at Gregor's summons.

"You're just in time for lunch, Georg," Gregor said. "Pull up a chair and oin us.

My brother-in-law appeared nervous. "I - I can't."

"What do you mean ?" Gregor boomed in his hospitable way.

Georg told him somewhat apologetically, "I've come to arrest you. Orders from Munich, you know."

"Don't look so tragic about it, man," Gregor chided him, as he and Himmler got to their feet.

"How about me?" I asked. "Am I under arrest too?"

Georg shook his head. "No, Otto. Only Gregor and Heinrich."

Strangely enough, the efects of the Munich putsch on my mind was exactly the reverse of what ordinarily might be expected. Instead of alienating me entirely from National Socialism, it seemed to draw me closer to the party, to encourage any sympathy I may have had in the past.

I had always felt that this party's principles were closest to my own personal beliefs concerning the economic rehabilitation of Germany, at least. It was merely my distrust of Hitler's leadership that had kept me from joining the movement before; I feared he would sell out the party's principles to the highest bidder. The success of a Hitler-von Kahr putsch would have proved conclusively, to me at least, that the reactionaries had taken control of the party and were using it to achieve their own personal and selfish ends. The fact that von Kahr's men had blasted down scores of Brown Shirts, left them dead and dying, was definite proof that Hitler was not allied (perhaps only through lack of opportunity) to the forces of reaction.

Therefore I joined the party - and became a Nazi at the party's lowest ebb, at a time when it was scarcely a political

{p. 88} party any more. For a second time it had demonstrated that it was a loser, and hundreds of fair-weather members had deserted it. To make things worse, the party's leader was now locked in a cell in the fortress of Landsberg. Moody always, he had now fallen into a fit of deep depression - caused not so much by the deaths of his loyal followers as by the fact that his own power and influence appeared to be definitely at an end. Hitler could stand anything better than ridicule, as I have pointed out before, and now he felt certain that all Bavaria was laughing at him.

To make the outlook even more gloomy, there were no party leaders still at liberty to keep the disorganized members together. Also in the fortress of Landsberg, all awaiting trial for high treason, were Ludendorf, Poehner, Weber, Strasser, Himmler, Frick, Kriebel, Roehm and Hess. Hitler's sad state was made even worse when, three days after his incarceration, word reached him that his close friend and loyal supporter, Dietrich Eckhart, had died. Eckhart was the editor of the Volkischer Beobachter; his heart had given out as a result of the strain he had been under during the momentous days of the revolution.

Then, just when it appeared that Nazism must certainly perish, a peculiar, almost miraculous, change took place in the public's attitude. Sympathy swung toward Hitler. It is probable that some party members on the outside had carried on, independently, a propaganda campaign by word of mouth, but the wide scope of the public's change can be attributed only to Adolf Hitler's typical luck - a luck that seemed always to be either extremely good or extremely bad. And now the public had come to look upon him as a martyr; the people were saying that the blood spilled, which had been shed by his followers, was his own blood. Newspapers luridly described von Kahr as "the Ludwigstrasse butcher." Miraculously, Hitler's depression lifted, and in its place came a mood of extreme optimism. There was a chance, after all.

{p. 89} The triumvirate ruling Bavaria found this change in public sentiment alarming. Previously, they had been willing the conspirators should remain in jail to await trial on some future date; now they made every efort to have the matter disposed of before it reached too great proportions to be handled comfortably. Consequently, the Bavarian Minister of Justice, Herr Gurtner, placed the case on the court calendar and it went to trial in Munich in January, 1924, with all presiding justices having been cautioned by von Kahr not to press the Nazi leaders too hard.

Certain questions were not to be put to the defendants at all, since the answers to them might prove highly embarrassing to von Kahr and his cohorts. For instance, should Hitler decide to tell from the witness stand, in answer to a direct question, the circumstances concerning the intrigue that preceded the putsch, the central government in Berlin would almost certainly become most displeased. In view of this situation, there is little wonder that what should have been a serious and dignified judicial proceeding degenerated into a farce. It was a case of criminal prosecuting criminal for a crime that neither wanted aired publicly, and of which each side was equally guilty.

On the whole, Hitler enjoyed the trial immensely, for it placed him in the limelight and gave him a chance to orate about himself and his aims - subjects that always held first place in his aections. People who had never heard his name before were now listening to, and reading of, the fine principles for which he swore he was ready to die.

However, when the trial drew to a close the Nazi leader was filled with apprehension. What if the lenient attitude of the judges during the trial and the velvet-glove treatment of the prosecutor were just another von Kahr trick to catch him off guard ? It was with good reason that Hitler began to dread the coming verdict.

He was an Austrian national; but, not having done his mili-

{p. 90} tary service in that country, he had forfeited his citizenship. And, although he had served in the German army, he had not yet acquired German citizenship. A sentence by the court ordering his expulsion from the country as an undesirable alien would banish him from his adopted fatherland and would make him a man without a country.

Adolf Hitler was the first witness for the defense, and his face beamed with delight as he took the stand. In the brief moments before the first question was put to him, he consciously posed before the spectators; he postured ludicrously, seeking to impress them with his own importance and the importance of the things he had to say. And he found time to survey the scene before him, which he discovered much to his liking: the close-packed rows of benches were jammed with people; the big room seemed alive with the expectant tension of drama to come; the atmosphere whispered with the half-heard volume of muttered remarks and quick-tongued messages. The sympathies of the spectators were with him, that much was apparent; and the prosecutor was evidently going to allow him a remarkable degree of latitude in his statements from the witness box. Hitler himself couldn't have invented a better setting for a dramatic political speech.

It was, of course, obvious to any well-informed person that Hitler had actually conspired to overthrow the legal German government, for he had announced such a plan as an accomplished fact before five thousand spectators at the Burgerbrau. Yet before this court of law he blandly stated: "I did not plan a revolution. On the contrary, I wished to aid the authority of the State in creating unity within our country. If anything, I strove to prevent revolution!"

Truly these words were a masterpiece of dialectic evasion - and the prosecutor dared not explore any further, for "the authority of the State" clearly meant von Kahr, and von Kahr had no more right than Hitler to use force of arms without legal right "in creating unity within our country." If Hitler were

{p. 91} pressed, he would simply say that he was joining forces with von Kahr in order to "unify" all Germany, and this would place the stamp of revolution upon the Bavarian government. There was always Berlin's displeasure to keep in mind.

Hitler faced the judge now, his face grim and crossed with pain. "Our country is in a most unhappy state," he declared solemnly and portentously. Then his voice rose as he stated defiantly: "We were only determined to draw up a great common front so that we could be strong when we face the enemies of our people."

He came suddenly to his feet, leaving the witness chair, and his voice was a dramatic shout, cracking with the emotion he put into it: "I beg of you, I implore this most learned court - do not draw a final barrier between us who stand before you today and the great masses of people who, though they do not understand our purposes now, will join us in the later, greater struggle !

Hitler's arms waved in the air; his voice rose to a scream. "I know that those of you who think we are your enemies today will one day remember with respect those National Socialists who chose the bitter way of death - and chose it out of their great lotJe of the German people!"

Most of the Nazis on trial followed Hitler's lead, which was a wise move on their part, for their leader's impassioned oratory had deeply stirred the crowds. This time, as always when Hitler spoke, his words were ringing phrases, full of sound and fury, but meaning little, if anything. It was his bombastic, furious passion that seemed to give what he said the appearance of great and deep truth. And so the others on trial followed his lead They denied that the attempted putsch of November 8 was meant to be a revolution. They were simply "assisting" the "State authority" of Governor von Kahr.

But there was one man among them who was truly great, and who had always lived with dignity and nobility, as he understood them. That man was General Ludendorff. He did

{p. 92} not hold with what he regarded as a cowardly pussyfooting attitude on the part of the party leaders. He had been involvcd in a revolutionary attempt, and it was against his code of honor as an oicer and a gentleman to lie about it. Brushing aside the prosecution's efforts to keep him silent, he freely admitted before the court and the people that he was guilty.

Slightly bowed with age and the weight of defeat, but nevertheless proud and impressive of bearing, he spoke to the court in a quiet, firm and dignified voice that was filled with sincerity and deep with sorrow.

"I once had high hopes for the deliverance of my country," he said - and the court hushed, became motionless, as he went on. "But those hopes pcrished because Governor von Kahr, General von Lossow and Herr Seisser lost sight of the common goal." Now his voice became bitter, scathingly contemp tuous. "When the great hour came they turned out to be little men. Little men! All these happenings have brought me to the unhappy conclusion that our present rulers are incapable of inspiring the German people with the bright wish for liberty. Bitter experience has also taught me that Communism and Marxism cannot be killed with the rifle butt or the unsheathed sword. Only a new idea, a splendid new vision advocating so cial justice and the true nobility of man can destroy those twin scourges. Reflect now on what I have said. It has taken me many painful years to learn these things."

When General Ludendorff stepped from the witness stand and returned to his seat, the courtroom remained absolutely silent for several long, thoughtful seconds; this in spite of themselves and their pro-Hitler convictions.

Next came Captain Roehm, who stamped up to the witness box in an especially bitter mood, glaring at the court and at the prosecution with unconcealed fury. He was bitter not only toward the von Kahr forces but also toward Adolf Hitler. Ernst Roehm was the only one of the accused guilty of direct militar activity in attempting the overthrow of the old regime, since he

{p. 93} had stormed and taken the oicers' building, and had taken possession of it after a gunfight in which blood was shed and livcs lost. Now he blamed the fiasco that followed on Hitler's wcak and vacillating attitude on Ludwigstrasse.

It was a military mission, Roehm declared defiantly, and what was more, if Hitler had acquitted himself in the same brave and forthright fashion as some of his followers - meaning Roehm and his men - the revolution would have succeeded. But since these statements were even more embarrassing to the prosecution than they were to Hitler, the prosecutor did his bcst to slide over Roehm's admitted treason.

It might be of interest to mention here that Roehm and Hitler split completely as a result of this episode. After serving his sentence, Roehm wrote a book called Memoirs of a Man Gilty of High Treason, in which he described the Munich plot in great detail. Subsequently he went to South America, where he became military advisor to the General Staff of the Bolivian Army.

Now, with all the testimony and mild cross-examination completed, the accused revolutionists stood before the court to hear the dispositions of their cases. It was a foregone conclusion that they would be declared guilty of some charge, however small, and given "token" punishment. The big question was, of course, just how mild - or severe - those sentences might be. And Adolf Hitler had much to lose; he faced being shorn of citizenship in any country. I noticed that his face was pallid and that he trembled slightly as he stood before the judge's

Now came a remarkable rendering of justice; for Hitler, who had vehemently denied he was a revolutionist, was found guilty as charged - and General Ludendorff, who had freely admitted his guilt, was acquitted! All the other defendants were then declared guilty of high treason, along with their leader. Hitler drew fivc years' imprisonment in the Landsberg fortress; and Poehner, Weber and Kriebel were also given terms of five

{p. 94} years each. Gregor Strasser, Frick and Himmler and the other lesser participants were sentenced to eighteen months' imprisonment in Landsberg.

While the sentences were far more severe than the majority of the Nazis - and the spectators - expected, it was the ruling which accompanied the sentences that struck the real blow. Henceforth, the court declared, the National Socialist Party was to be regarded as an illegal organization, and Adolf Hitler was specifically forbidden ever again actively to participate in politics on penalty of immediate deportation. In addition, Prussia, the great sister state to the north, issued a like ruling, but went one step further when it forbade Hitler ever again to set foot within her borders.

It was consequently a gloomy collection of Nazis that were herded through the stone courtyard of Landsberg prison. The feeling that the people were on their side - and the State intimidated by the power of that support - had buoyed them up throughout the trial, but now that the entire movement was smashed, of what value was public sentiment? The world of politics they had known had come to an end for these crestfallen men; it was a new low for the Nazi Party - and it couldn't possibly sink lower.

Hitler carried his ludicrous pose of a resigned martyr into prison with him; indeed, I think he derived a certain masochistic satisfaction from that sense of illdeserved abuse and persecution. He orated eloquently and at great length - and at frequent intervals - to his associates, but there can be a surfeit even of eloquent oratory when the ideas and the message are always the same. In time, Hitler found his circle of listeners dwindling, until finally only the faithful Hess was there to lend a willing ear.

I entered into this depression atmosphere a few weeks aftcr the trial, along with Alfred Rosenberg, the Baltic German who

{p. 95} was then occupying Dietrich Eckhart's place as editor of the Volkischer beobachtcr.

The sight of visitors temporarily lifted the spirits of most of the men and they gathered quickly about us, anxious for news and the latest gossip from the outside world. I waited patiently until we had disposed of these small matters before I spoke, because I knew that what I had to say might change the course of all our lives - as indeed it did. I had found a way out for all of us, a new hope, and I tried not to be melodramatic.

"We are now in a more favorable position than we were a year ago," I told Hitler.

He looked at me for a moment in silence, his expression one that said plainly I lad taken leave of my senses. "We are doomed, Strasser," he intoned gloomily. "You must be mad!"

"There's a way out for all of us," I insisted. "I have thought it out carefully and I know it will work."

Hitler's interest was aroused now, as was that of the silent group that surrounded me. Hitler strode forward, pushing past Hess, and placed his arm around my shoulders in a great show of friendship. "Tell me, dear Otto, what will this plan do? How does it work?"

"It will place the National Socialist Party where it belongs and where it was always destined to be - on the top of the political heap!" And when I said that, even Hitler waited in attentive silence as I prepared to speak to them.

{p. 96} Chapter IV

ON THE MORNING we were gathered in Hitler's cdl for the conference I called, anxiety caused him to drop his mask. He was just a worried man who wanted the worst way to get out of prison. Some of his followers sat on the hard cots that were suspended from the stone wall by two chains, while the rest formed in a semicircle about me, sitting on threelegged wooden stools. Adolf Hitler was the only one standing, clasping and unclasping his hands nervously as he waited for me to give my plan.

First I explained that circumstances would make it comparatively simple for my scheme to work, provided we struck soon.

Hitler could not contain himself any longer. "What is the plan?" he cut in harshly. "For heaven's sake, tell it!"

"It's a very simple one," I replied, "which is a big point in its favor. Since the Nazi Party is legally banned, we merely change the name to, say, the Loyal Sons of Freedom Party. Of course, that is only a subterfuge, but legally we have every right to do it. That will give us a place on the ballot and we can run Gregor, Poehner, Hess and any of the rest of the prisoners for Parliament. Those who are elected will immediately benefit by the law that prohibits any member of Parliament being held in prison, and that nucleus of elected leaders could immediately start work unhindered in rebuilding the party. Further, they could start agitation for the release of any members still imprisoned."

Hitler followed closely what I was saying, his eyes alight now as he grasped the possibilities of my scheme. Brisk nods of his head showed that the words I spoke found strong favor with him. "Of course," I continued, "this could help you personally only

{p. 97} indirectly; since you are not a citizen of this country, you are not eligible to run for office."

I had expected some discussion of my proposal, but there wa none. Ordinarily, Hitler was not prone to accept the suggestions of others on party policy; he preferred to keep all such credit solely for himself, and, if necessary, would veto a good suggestion and later revive it as his own idea. But at this point in party history Hitler was just another man very anious to get out of pnson as quickly as possible. The others, too, were enthusiastic, and Hitler suggested we start work at once in laying the groundwork of the new organization.

Rosenberg and I enlisted the aid of General Ludendorf and, while discussing a new party name a few days later, chanced to run into Albert von Graefe, founder of the Popular Liberty Party. I believe all of us saw in him the solution to our dilemma before a word was spoken. For von Graefe's small party was of little consequence and we knew without asking that he would be more than willing that the National Socialist movement should merge with his. But the best aspect of the whole solution was that von Graefe's party name was already legally established and would attract no oflicial investigation upon entering the election. That very afternoon the National Socialist Party ceased to live as such, but it was reborn as the Popular Liberty Party.

During the campaign I became the principal political writer for the VolkiscHer beobachtcr, my numerous articles appearing under the pseudonym of Ulrich von Hutten. This was the name of an old German hero, a revolutionary thinker and 50cial reformer in the days of the Reformation; an appropriate name to select, I think, even if I was unconscious of its a propriatenesS, for this was the beginningjust the bare beginning - of my own reformation; I who was soon to become the leading writer of the Nazi Party.

Hitler was elated with our work: there was new spirit and fire in his blood. Once again he took to wandering about and

{p. 98} making speeches to the men in the prison - a sure sign of reawakened interest. To Adolf Hitler, two men constituted a suflicient - if not satisfactory - audience, and once again his tireless repetition soon outstripped the fascination of his fiery i eloquence. His fellow prisoners, who were given a wide range of freedom within the fortress buildings and grounds, soon learned to seek refuge in isolated spots on the grounds or on a lower floor which Hitler, for some reason, rarely visited. Shortly thereafter, it was Rudolf Hess, the long-suffering, and Emile Maurice, his handyman and chauffeur, a frequent visitor, who were forced to be the sole audience for all of Hitler's speechmaking seizures.

But the same audience becomes tiring, too, after a time - especially if the speaker realizes he can convince them of nothing with his magnificent oratory, since they are already convinced, and have been for a long time. So Hitler began to invade the privacy of the men on the lower floor, coming suddenly upon them unawares and haranguing them by the hour. However, the reluctant audience quickly learned to pay no attention to the howling, grimacing, wildly gesticulating little soapbox speaker; they continued conversations among themselves, calmly went about other pursuits of the moment, even learned to continue with their reading when he whirled abruptly into their midst.

It is probable, though, that Adolf Hitler was magnificently unaware that they were not clinging enthusiastically to his every word; it is probable that the grim imprisoning walls faded before his eyes and the ragged, ill-kempt prisoners were no longer with him. He must have seen himself standing on a high stone balcony, a great square before him, with splendid beribboned military men standing respectfully behind him as he addressed ten thousand uniformed followers who flooded the square and the avenue approaches. And he probably heard ten thousand throats roar in idolizing approbation as ten thousand battle banners waved in a frenzied show of triumph. No,

{p. 99} he couldn't possibly have seen himself, in reality, addressing a ragged and reluctant little group of convicts in a prison cell; not Adolf Hitler.

Then came a day when Gregor, in a sudden burst of impatience and temper, interrupted a long speech to shout derisively:

"Adolf, why in heaven's name don't you write a book about itl"

Hitler stopped in the middle of a sentence, his eyes wide and his mouth open in stunned surprise. But it was not the interruption that stunned him; it was the suggestion of writing a book. Such a thing had never occurred to him. Now he took that suggestion seriously - perhaps not appreciating the shorttempered ridicule that prompted it. Abandoning a speech in the middle, probably for the first time in his career, he went immediately to his room, got the necessary materials and began dictating to Rudolf Hess. Thus he began Mein Kampf.

In its original version, Mein Kampf was a rambling, almost incoherent expression of political commonplaces and hackneyed socialistic theory lifted from the philosophies of a dozen minor politicians and obscure statesmen. There were passages taken from Houston S. Chamberlain and Lagarde, men whom Dietrich Eckhart used to quote in conversation and writing. The finished manuscript was given to Father Staempfle, a priest of brilliant intellectual attainment who was also the editor of a newspaper at Miesbach, and he twice rewrote it for Hitler, editing it extensively and making it both coherent and readable.

Hitler chose a typical way to repay this debt to a man of the cloth. He ordered Father Staempfle put to death - murdered - on the night of the "blood purge."

At the parliamentary elections that were held in May 1924 we succeeded in voting Gregor and Poehner into of fice, along with twenty-five others, and they were all automatically released from the gloomy fortress of Landsberg. The members of the Popular Liberty Party were jubilant beyond description.

{p. 100} In all this there was one factor that some of us found disquieting, even though it brought new members flocking to our cause. A movement headed by two persons in particular, Julius Streicher and Herman Esser, was bringing in the lunatic fringe among the voters who were devoted to the policy of violent anti-Semitism. I feared that their membership and support would only drive away right-thinking individuals and utterly discredit our movement.

Seeing the danger ahead, I got in touch with Ludendorff, von Graefe and Gregor and discussed the problem at length. There was, of course, only one action to take: we decided to expel from the party the leaders of the anti Semitic faction.

Working swiftly, we contacted other leaders and within a short time had sufficient support to cause an expulsion order to be issued on the membership of both these men. There was trouble coming, though, and we all realized it. Hitler was fond of Streicher, and when the latter heard of our action he immediately rushed to the Fuehrer and poured out his woes - saying that we were persecuting him! Further, he told Hitler that nobody had a right to expel him from the party except the Fuehrer himself, and that consequently he would ignore the order.

It is obvious that Streicher was playing for Hitler's sympathy and support, which he hoped an abundance of gushing compliments would gain for him immediately, but in this quarrd Hitler took no part. He was canny enough to realize that any such decision from him, involving the policy and inner workings of a now-prominent political party, would immediately be seized upon by the authorities, should they learn of it. That deportation threat, should he ever involve himself in politics again, still hung heavy over Hitler's head. So, with no backing of any weight, both Streicher and Esser were expelled from the ranks of the Popular Liberty Party - and they remained on the outside until Hitler came back to public life. I mention this here because of the tremendous importance the quarrel assumed

{p. 101} in later history, with the final decision affecting millions of pcople.

At about this time I gave up my post, a minor one, in the Ministry of Foods, since the work of the Nazi movement was taking up my full time. Further, I had felt for a long time that the National Socialist Party as a local unit could never reach a position of real power. No provincial party could. Its adherents had to have a real goal to which they could look forward - and that goal could be but one thing: leadership of the nation. It was my purpose, therefore, to establish such a goal for National Socialism by making the party nationwide in scope.

There was only one way we could achieve this, and that was for us to move into Prussia. The importance of this great state can be judged by the fact that in area it covered the northern threeuarters of the nation. Within its boundaries it contained an even larger fraction of the nation's industry. In short, Prussia ruled Germany; and by the same token, those who ruled Prussia also ruled Germany.

In founding the National Socialist movement in Prussia Gregor and I could do it in my own fashion - and thus counterbalance Hitler's threat in the south. Under my plan, "social justice" rather than Hitler would be the rallying point.

With headquarters in Berlin, and with a group of assistants, one problem was to select a name under which we could work safely - for National Socialism was still under criminal ban in Germany. We finally decided on the name "Volkischer Block" and the groundwork was complete.

We had no interference from the police, for we organized carefully, dividing Prussia into population units, giving each leader a unit and charging him with the task of organizing a private club which was to hold itself in readiness to join the great Nazi movement when it became legal.

Gregor, as a member of Parliament, worked desperately to get the ban lifted against both the party and Hitler - and in this

{p. 102} Hitler himself was fully cooperative, giving out dozens of newspaper interviews in which he humbly explained to the people that he was now converted. Never again, he swore, would he lead a revolt against the civil authorities. The only way to change a government, he said, was through the democratic process of the ballot; he had learned that lesson well and he was anxious for everyone to know it. And he reiterated these statements time and again.

Hitler also humbled himself before Heinrich Held, who was the leader of the Popular Catholic Party of Bavaria, and Prime Minister after Kahr's dismissal.

"Those who say I am an anti-Catholic, lie!" Hitler declared with every appearance of sincerity. "I want it known that I condemn the atheism of General Ludendorff and Rosenberg. I, myself, am a Catholic, and anyone who charges me with paganism is committing an infamous libel!"

Held was pleased with this fiery revolutionary who had suddenly become a tame politician. The Prime Minister's vanity was tickled that he had been able to accomplish it.

The order releasing Adolf Hitler from the Landsberg fortress arrived on December 20 ,1924, less than a year after he had been imprisoned. All the other party members were likewise released. Roehm, as I mentioned before, went to Bolivia, where he became military advisor to the army's General Staff. From there he sent back letters addressed to Dr. Heimsoth, who later showed them to me. It was these letters that formed the basis of the homosexuality charge against Roehm later - and they certainly seemed to substantiate such a charge.

One letter to Dr. Heimsoth (who was also killed in the "blood purge") I shall quote in part, as well as I remember it:

"You have no idea, dear doctor, what a delightful job this is. The lovely troops are more than magnificent. I find it hard to inspect my men without a twinge of passion. Their beautiful bronze bodies, tall, slim and straight; their lovely features and lithe, masculine strength! The only fault I can find is that they

{p. 103} are much too normal. With you here to assist me we could change them, I think! At times I do have moments of nostalgic regret - and for one thing, I miss those unforgettable nights with you at ..." And so on, for pages and pages.

The Nazi Party had reorganized under a "front" name and they had effected the release of their leaders - and now only one problem remained in the major plan: the legalizing of the party itself.

With the increasing aid of the Nazis elected to Parliament, the order lifting the ban against the National Socialist Party became effective January I 1925 although Prussia still forbade Hitler speaking or campaigning in any way in northern Germany - but that was not too serious a handicap in our present strength.

On January 2 Gregor issued a command to all the private circles to display their swastika emblem. This was to be our day of celebration. For this same day Gregor called a public mass meeting at Essen, the highly industrialized city in the important Rhine Valley. This was a vital, a crucial step for the party, for it was the first Nazi attempt to recruit the workingman. It was my own belief that all our power would come from this great source - the people.

I did not know at this time that Adolf Hitler had already compromised the party to further his own priate fortune by accepting I00000 marks from Fritz Thyssen, Germany's greatest industrialist, shortly before the Munich beer hall putsch. Thyssen himself admitted that General Ludendorff was the intermediary for the passage of this money.

Unaware of Hitler's change of heart, I went ahead and handled most of the details involved in planning the meeting with Karl Kaufmann, today Reichstadthalter in Hamburg, and Eric Koch, who is Reichstadthalter for East Prussia and Danzig. Kaufmann came from a wealthy family that was nationalistically inclined, and he had been one of the leaders in the passive

{p. 104} resistance to the French occupation of the Ruhr. A man of high personal integrity, he saw in the Nazi movement an opportunity for uniting all elements in the nation under a single strong leader. Koch, on the other hand, was a worker for a railway company, and he was more of a socialist than a nationalist. He is one of the few men from the working class who have risen to power under Hitler. Like Kaufmann, he was the leader of one of the private circles.

No sooner were our banners draped on house fronts and our signs pasted on billboards than I realized I had put my hand into a hornets' nest. There were two large groups of people who seemed extremely anxious that we should not gain a real foothold in this industrial area.

One group was composed of the owners of the steel mills and coal mines, who feared the organization of their workers. The other group was the Communist Party, which looked upon us as a predatory movement with selfish designs on its membership. The Communists felt that the working class belonged to them and that we were no more than poachers.

Here was a violently explosive situation: it was as though the whole Rhine Valley were one vast dynamite depot, and our coming mass meeting the explosive charge that would rock the world with its thunder. And, on the night of January 2, more than five thousand iron workers and coal miners crowded their way into Essen's largest beer hall to hear the first open address on Nazism ever given in Prussia.

There was an undercurrent of excitement and conflicting passions in the hall. I could feel the tension as I walked out on the bandstand which was to serve as the speakers' rostrum. There was a vast sea of grimy and weatherbeaten faces stretching before me, most of them regarding me with blank, expressionless faces.

On the platform with me were Gregor, the member of Parliament who was to be our principal speaker; three party deputies; Koch, who was acting as chairman; and Kaufmann.

{p. 105} The ex-railway employee, Koch, made a brief speech of welcome to the workers and then introduced me both by my own name and as Ulrich von Hutten, the leading writer for the National Socialist press and organizer of the Nazi movement in North Germany.

I walked up to the speakers' table and laid the notes for my speech before me. There was some applause - not much - and along with it an overtone of scattered boos. The thought ran through my mind that I was going to have trouble before I was through, but I thrust it aside, although with some difficulty. I spoke, looking directly at the audience, for my nota were there merely as a guide in case of need.

I explained in simple language to these people exactly what we hoped to accomplish for the wage-earner: greater securitr in his job, better wages, and better housing - in a word, economic security for every German.

I was telling them how this would be brought about, when a burly figure seated halfway back, on the right of the hall, suddenly leaped to his feet and shouted at the top of his lungs: "Capitalistic lies! Down with Strasser! Down with National Socialism!" There was a beer bottle in his hand and he hurled it at the stage, the bottle shattering in a burst of glass at my feet.

That was evidently a prearranged signal, for men sprang up from all parts of the audience. They had short, stout clubs in their hands, with which they beat and slashed their way down toward the stage.

This was the Communistic Party riot squad. The majority of the workers became panic-stricken and milled toward the exits, becoming entangled, in so doing, with the Communist wrecking crew, still fighting toward the speakers' rostrum. Clubs beat down on the heads and shoulders of the workers; skulls were cracked and bones broken. I hurled the speakers' table over and wrenched loose a murderously heavy leg, and the others on the dias did,likewise, smashing their chairs for de-

{p. 106} fensive weapons. Then we lined up across the apron of the stage to await the rowdies.

Luckily for us, many of the workers who had received the business end of a club in unprovoked attack came to our defense, although they had not the slightest inkling of the whys or wherefores of the battle. They simply pitched in with us in selfefense and in seething anger.

In the surging wave of furiously struggling men I noticed the ugly brute whose shout had been the signal for the uprising, and at that moment he was bearing down on me with an ominous singleness of purpose. He battled his way through club-swinging knots of men, around overturned tables and chairs until I lost sight of him as I beat off the attack of two of the thugs who had succeeded in reaching the stage - and then I suddenly saw him again, directly in front of me.

His cudgel lashed downward and I threw myself frantically to one side - but I was not fast enough. The blow caught me on the left shoulder, pain paralyzing my arm. But my right arm had already begun its reflective return of the blow, and I put legs and shoulders into the mighty swing, catching him flush across the side of the skull. He dropped like a pole-axed ox, unconscious before he ever hit the floor, and scuffling men trampled over his ponderous body.

Missiles kept flying through the air - mostly beer bottles and beer mugs - but fortunately for us the aim of the throwers was bad. More and more workers sided with us, now that they saw we were putting up a stanch fight, and others who had gained the outside returned with clubs to help us. After half an hour of hell-roaring melee and deafening pandemonium, the last of the Communists were driven from that shambles that had once been a beer hall. Then a line of ambulances drew up and the wounded were dragged out and speedily carried of to the hospital.

It was surprising to me that at no time during the fight did a single police officer show himself - either to protect us from

{p. 107} unprovoked assault or impartially to stop the riot. I later learned the reason for this. The police oficer in charge of the district, when informed of the riot raging, answered with unconcealed satisfaction and pleasure: "Fine! That's a good thing. Maybe if both sides kill each other off we'll have a little peace around these parts."

The battle, however, rather than destroying the purpose of our meeting actually strengthened it enormously. All those who still remained in the hall after the fight had taken our side in a sort of spontaneous partnership. The bitter struggle had brought about that spirit of camaraderie which is engendered when men go through physical conflict together. A short time before they had been doubtful of us, suspicious, as are all human beings of an ofer of something for nothing. Now that attitude was changed. We had become allies, even if only by force of circumstance.

Many of us nursing real wounds, and all with severe bruises, we completed the speeches scheduled for the rest of the evening and afterward passed out membership cards to the workers. That night more than two thousand joined our cause. The dues were but one mark a month, and only half a mark for the unemployed.

The Nazis in the North had served notice that they not only could talk tough; they could act tough too.

The newspaper reports of the meeting gave our recruiting drive added impetus, for it caused talk and propaganda on the part of the three or four thousand workers involved in the struggle with the Communists. It is natural for a man to talk of a riot he has been in, and of how he succeeded in defending himself; so if each of the 5000 workers at that meeting reported on the afray to only ten friends, that would jump the number of our sympathizers to 50,000 - who would keep the ball rolling by continuing to pass on the story. As a consequence, in the next few months our ranks swelled to an almost incredible figure - and men such as Baron Krupp von Bohlen and Herr Kirdorf,

{p. 108} who were virtual dictators in this highly industrialized area, showed their concern over our rise.

But the concern of these industrialists did not reach the state of active worry, for they had seen dozens of other attempts made by people like us, attempting to usurp what the industrialists considered their exclusive domain; and they had seen all these attempts fail before any real "damage" was done.

I was under no illusion about the industrialists, however. I knew they would take some countermeasures, and that such measures would be a good deal more subtle than any tried br the Communists. But when the first blow fell I was not prepared for it.

It was eighty-year-old Geheimrat Kirdorf, the director-general of the Rhenish-Westphalian Coal Syndicate, who was responsible for their first plan, and he stumbled on it quite by accident. At a dinner party one night, he was seated alongside the widow of a wealthy coal operator. The widow told him she had a young protege whom she was trying to help. Struck suddenly with an idea for using this "protege" (who was no more than a gigolo), Kirdorf told the widow that he had something in mind - a job that would be of great service to all the industrialists and to herself as well.

The widow agreed to send her young man around, and the next morning he presented himself at the home of the multi-millionaire. He was an unemployed bank clerk of about twenty-five, built along slim, slight lines and with straight black hair slicked back in the sleek Valentino tradition. His name was Josef Terboven. Today he is German Commissioner for Norway, the man who has ordered the summary death penalty for Norwegian workers who do not labor when and where they are told, or whose work is suspiciously "inaccurate."

Kirdorf's instructions were simple: Terboven was to join the Nazi Party and be a stool pigeon for the industrialists. He was to try as best he could to work his way into the party's councils in order to report the direction of every party move.

{p. 109} I remember him as a rather hard-working party member who sccmed to have a good deal of spending money on his person at all times. Since most of our members were poor, his frequent small gifts to them were not without effect - and at the first election he was voted leader of the Essen district.

From this new position as one of the leaders in the Nazi Party, Terboven did much to bring Hitler and the industrialists together. And this is why Terboven's treachery - and Hitler's treachery - was so costly to me and the ideals I strove for, since by the time I was aware of what was going on it was already too late. Hitler and the industrialists were already hand-inglove, and the Nazi Party's democratic principles were but a mockery. However, it was not until much later that I learned of Hitler's underhand machinations during this period.

Hitler did not forget Josef Terboven when he came into power. He first delegated him to the Council of Rhenish Industrialists, making him an equal of Kirdorf, Krupp and Thyssen. Now that Terboven had no further need of his elderly lady love, he cast her aside and married a young girl. Hitler and Goering were witnesscs at their wedding

Because our work was proceeding so well, I now founded the first of my chain of thirteen newspapers and periodicals devoted cxclusively to the spread of Nazism. This one was the Nationalsozialistische Briefe, which, while its appearance was not of world-shaking importance, managed in a quiet way to be a most effective organ for the dissemination of our propaganda.

One day a man walked into my brother's office and applied for a job. He was extremely short, and he had unpleasant fcatures and a club foot. His name was Paul Josef Goebbels, and my first impression of him aroused an immediate dislike, but as hc talked he sold himself to me completely. I discovered then - and it was always the same afterward - that he had an uncanny ability to say exactly the things I wanted to hear. At the time he was still secretary to a man named Wiegershaus, a membcr of Parliament attached to von Graefe's Popular Lib-

{p. 110} erty Party, from which we had split as soon as our own party rights were restored.

I remembered having seen Goebbels at times in the past when he proved himself to be a gifted speaker with an extremely brilliant flair for propaganda. I had seen him at work many times at meetings of the Popular Liberty Party, when he attacked the Nazis with a cunning fury that was most effective. I should have hired him when I first heard him, if only to bribe him into silencing his bitter attacks. I had always recognized in him a valuable party ally, for the same cold intelligence that he brought to bear in his attacks he could as easily employ in furthering our aims.

This particular time, when he walked into the ofice, I engaged him in conversation and found him logical and coldthinking, as well as disconcertingly, bitterly cynical, with a total absence of any belief. All of these qualities suited my present purposes, and as a result I hired him as editor of the Briefe on the spot. But, though I knew him to be a splendid speaker, I had yet to learn that he was an extremely poor writer.

His boyhood had been a most unhappy one. At the Catholic school in the little Rhenish town of Reidt, where he was a pupil, he was known as a tattletale, for he curried favor with his teachers by reporting to them the boys who made false confessions. He attended church every day, and this made a favorable impression on the priests, who took this piety at face value and failed to recognize the sham perpetrated by the future genius of hypocrisy.

I think the explanation of Goebbels' extraordinary character can be found in his crippled foot. His continual harping on racial purity can be traced to that club foot, which he considers a stigma of racial inferiority and impurity.

As a boy he could not participate in sports and was ridiculed by his playmates. He felt left out of everything that makes up a normal boy's world - and girls, of course, ignored him; with them, too, he was left out. His only way of escape was to amass

{p. 111} power much as a miser hoards gold. What was denied him because of physical appearance he gained by using that power; thus, power itself was his only method of full compensation. No sooner was it his than he became a notorious chaser of female cinema stars and actresses. This has resulted in a number of sensational scandals.

Adolf Hitler came to Berlin on numerous occasions to confer with me, and he stated quite flatly he was worried about the course the party was taking. Although the ban on his taking part in any political activity in the North was still in effect, the Prussian membership was already much larger than the Bavarian. It was disquieting to him that the Northern leaders were selling National Socialism not on the basis of Adolf Hitler, but on a set of economic principles and theories. Such a thing was heresy! Hitler was the party - according to him - and the party was Hitler ! Anything else was colossal effrontery. At the time he was too shrewd a politician to explain to me in so many words his principle of divine right to lead the party - in fact, his divine mission to the German people - but on later occasions, when he felt he was in the stronger position, he made no bones about it.

It was during this period that we came to know one another more intimately, and we often met in the home of Herr Bechstein, the famous Berlin pianomaker. Frau Bechstein, who was twenty years older than Hitler, lavished maternal affection on him. Hitler, seated at her feet, would lay his head against her while she stroked his hair tenderly and murmured, "Mein Wolfchen" (My little wolf).

In Frau Bechstein's salon Hitler and I argued endlessly and always with the same result - disagreement. I said that ours was a political party bound within the strict limits of our expressed creed: we were anti-Communists; we believed in a feudal state in which the government owned all the land and rented it in equitable amounts to individuals; we were against capitalism

{p. 112} in its present form and advocated a quasi-public operation of heavy industry.

Hitler summed up his own political beliefs in a single short sentence: "I am the entire party and the party is what I say it is."

In spite of his faults Hitler had a strength of which I never lost sight. His muddled thinking, his keen vanity and pride, his fear of making decisions, his continued deceit - these never kept me from recognizing his instinctive genius. His skill as a public speaker is without parallel. He responds to the mass vibrations of the human heart with the delicacy of a liedetector. He absorbs through every pore of his body the hidden intricacies of his listeners. It is, perhaps, some psychic power that even Hitler cannot comprehend and may not even be aware of; it is simply there.

To the industrialists he speaks of rugged individualism. He tells them that the masses are blind and stupid, that they need strong economic and political leaders, and that only through such leaders can Germany once again obtain greatness. The industrialists cheer him until they are hoarse.

These things are instinctive with him. He can cry on the public platform and the tears are real. In a speech, he can fall into an uncontrollable rage and storm hysterically for an hour - not because he mounted the platform with those emotions within him, or even that under ordinary circumstances he would feel anger about the things he now storms at; but because he knew beforehand his listeners felt that way, and consequently he has talked himself, has willed himself, into a very real and true fury. As I have said before, Hitler loses himself completely in a speech, forgets himself utterly. Thus, once he has determined the emotional and mental "vibrations" of his audience, the rest, for him, is easy. It is as though he could assume any character, any mental outlook, at will, living it completely during his oration.

Hitler is a physical coward, yet he has moments of seeming

{p. 113} great courage. He hates to be contradicted, and bad news, even of a most trivial nature, sends him into a raging fury; yet somehow he manages to take the sharpest blows of adversity and overcome them after his emotional explosion.

He likes to think of himself as an ascetic. This is not al together accurate, since the real ascetic renounces the pleasures of the flesh because of an ideal. Hitler's reasons for eschewing mundane joys are more materialistic. Meat, he feels, is harmful; liquor is a drug that dulls the senses; while normal relations with women are impossible for him for physical reasons.

The man is humorless, yet on occasion he will tell a joke. Invariably this occurs when everything is going his way and he is feeling benign and fatherly to those about him.

For some time I had been dissatisfied with the twenty-five points originally set forth in the National Socialist doctrine. Gregor, too, felt that the changing times demanded a streamlined platform, and he called a meeting in October, 1925, to be held in Hanover at the home of Dr. Bernhardt Rust.

Dr. Rust was a high school teacher of mathematics and was married to a wealthy woman. Today he is Reich Minister of Education. He is a violent anti-Catholic, and at that time was inclined to be contemptuous of Hitler because of the latter's promise to Cardinal Faulhaber that he would not attack the Catholic Church.

Although any one of us would have laughed at the sugge hon, this was to prove one of the most momentous gatherings ever held in the name of National Socialism; its aftermath certainly changed the lives of all present as it certainly changed the course of German history, and probably changed the history of the world.

But it was a cheerful, if seriously intentioned group that gathered in Dr. Rust's huge living room that afternoon. There were twenty-four of us in all, when we finally gathered, and before the meeting wine and cigars were served. All of us were

{p. 114} feeling cheerful because we felt a new, progressive platform was about to be constructed, and at the same time we were feeling serious because of the responsibility that rested on our shoulders. Each man present was a Gauleiter from the North (Gau meaning district, and Leiter meaning leader: district leader), and it had been agreed beforehand that only Prussian leaders should be asked to attend. Present, I remember, were Kaufmann, Koch, Rust and Kerrl, later to be Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs; Dr. Robert Ley, from the Cologne district, who is now leader of the labor front; Hildebrandt, the present Governor of Mecklenburg; Victor Lutze, the present Brown Army commander; Gregor Strasser, Josef Goebbels and myself.

We were seated and about to open the meeting when we heard someone at the front door; one of Dr. Rust's servants answered the summons. As we were wondering who it could be, Gottfried Feder, the Southern party deputy who had originally written the twenty-five points, strode arrogantly into the room. Goebbels jumped immediately to his feet.

"Excuse me, Herr Feder," he said with mock politeness, "but we are holding a private meeting of the Northern leaders. Would you be so kind as to - "

"I come here," Feder stated flatly, drawing himself up to his full height, "at the specific request of our Fuehrer."

"He's out of order!" a voice yelled. "Throw him out!"

"Wait!" Gregor called to the crowd. "Listen to me a moment. This man has a perfect right to be here. He's an accredited member of the National Socialist Party and this is a National Socialist meeting. I insist he's not out of order."

There was some further argument, but in the end the others gave in and Feder was seated. But his presence filled the other members with resentment and anger; we all knew he had been sent for but one purpose: to report the progress of the meeting, with any resolutions adopted, directly to Hitler.

In an atmosphere of tension I opened the meeting. I started the discussion by bringing up the key question of what position

{p. 115} we would take on the expropriation of the properties of the German royal family, since the first plebiscite had just been called. I knew that Hitler was accepting money from Fritz Thyssen and I knew that Thyssen, along with the other wealthy industrialists, was against the seizure of the ex-Kaiser's property. They regarded this as a step in the direction of Communism. The industrialists were also against it for another reason: self-defense. They feared that the next step would be confiscation of their own property by the government.

Hitler, however, had not as yet taken any public stand on this matter, and I didn't know to what extent the cash honorariums would influence his decision. This meeting was an effort to force him into the open and to let him know quite clearly how we stood, we of the powerful North.

I had no sooner proposed the subject than Gottfried Feder asked for the floor and I recognized him. He rose to his feet slowly, pursed his lips in a manner that clearly indicated his displeasure. He looked at everyone present before speaking.

"This meeting is entirely out of order," he said severely. "There can be no party line on this question until our Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, marks it for us."

Dr. Rust jumped to his feet. "Are we men or are we puppets, that we must be dangled on the strings of a master?" he shouted. "The National Socialists, at least in the North, are free and democratic men. We acknowledge no political Pope who can claim infallibility. Adolf Hitler can come to any conclusion he desires, but we here shall act according to the free dictates of our conscience!"

Quietly Gregor got up and reviewed the situation for the party leaders. "The inflation period is now over," he said, "and the mark has been largely stabilized. This, as you probably know, has been done at the expense of the small pensioner and that of the war-loan subscriber. Such being the case, should we restore to the Kaiser and the Princes their property, valued at some hundred million gold marks? Or should we use these

{p. 116} sequestered funds to pay off the obligations which the stabilization of the mark has caused the government to incur ?"

The latter course was by far the most popular. The overwhelming mass of German workers and middle-class businessmen were in favor of it. The monarchists and imperialists opposed it.

I put the matter to a vote, and all with the exception of Dr. Ley voted in favor of the expropriation. Feder, on the grounds that any such vote was illegal, had refused to take part. After the ballots had been counted, I announced the result.

Gottfried Feder leaped to his feet, shouted angrily: "I protest in the name of Adolf Hitler, our leaderl"

Before Feder had a chance to say more, Josef Goebbels was on his feet too. "You protestl" he sneered. "Well, I demand that the petty bourgeois, Adolf Hitler, be expelled from the Nazi Partyl"

Angry voices broke out, everyone talking at once, but Gregor Strasser quieted them in his masterful way and then turned to Feder.

"Herr Hitler is the head of our party," he said quietly. "What we have done here today is not to be construed as an attempt to wrest that control from him."

At last we got down to the main business of the evening and evolved a platform composed of five main points. We were for the federation of Germany, which meant actually the destruction of Prussia as a political unit. We were against Junkerism and for a more equitable distribution of land to the peasant. We wanted the nationalization of heavy industry and a greater share of the profits for the worker. We wanted a new administrative set-up for governmental agencies in order to eliminate bureaucracy. And, finally, we were for the federation of Europe, which meant the renunciation of the old diplomatic balance-ofpower theory and in its place the acceptance of a community of nations dominated by no one of them.

Propaganda was to be controlled by me through the Kampf-

{p. 117} verlag (Combat Publications) which I owned in partnership with Gregor. This was important, because it made us the oficial voice of the party. And the meeting broke up on one last happy note: Gregor was voted president of all Prussian Nazi organs.

Afterward, as we talked the meeting over before taking our leave, nothing but cheerfulness remained among us. Gottfried Feder had already left, but even his presence could not have dampened our spirits now. We felt that we had done a good job; we were pleased that so much unanimity and singleness of purpose existed among us; and we felt that our new fivepoint platform spelled a new day for the Nazi Party.

A new day ! How right we were in that - and how wrong we were in the kind of new day we expected to see dawn. ...

Adolf Hitler was furious when Gottfried Feder brought him a report of the meeting. He raged and ranted against the upstarts who had dared to question his absolute authority. When he quieted down, though, he asked Feder some shrewd questions and then, accompanied by Rudolf Hess, retired to his private office in the home of the photographer, Hofmann.

Feder had told him that the three big trouble-makers were myself, Bernhardt Rust and Josef Goebbels. Being an astute judge of human nature, Hitler had solved the problem of how to deal with each of us before he went to bed that night.

The publication of the Hanover program in my Briefe had its effect, also, on Thyssen and Kirdorf. Thyssen, especially, was upset over the fact that what we wanted was out-and-out socialism, for Hitler had already given his word, when he accepted money from Thyssen, that his party would never move in that direction. Yet here the major portion of the Nazi Party was already pledged by its leaders to work for these radical changes. Obviously, if Hitler could not control his own party, it was a waste of money to give him any more sums to keep his good favor.

{p. 118} Old Geheimrat Kirdorf was one industrialist who was not going to sit idly by while the Nazis amassed power for themselves and used it to his detriment. Even Kaiser Wilhelm in his prime had been unable to chastise Kirdorf. The story of the Kaiser's efforts to do so was one the octogenarian multimillionaire never tired of tellillg.

His mind made up, Kirdorf sent for Josef Terboven, now Nazi leader of Essen. Terboven reported the latest dissension in the party, was handed 5,000 marks and ordered to Munich at once.

The following night Terboven returned with Hitler and Hess, and the butler showed the men to their rooms in Kirdorf's handsome mansion. The following morning, when they had all breakfasted, they remained seated while the table was cleared, and afterward held a momentous conference with Kirdorf. When it was over the fate of Germany was sealed.

Geheimrat Kirdorf, part Jew, had sold his people into bondage. Into Hitler's hands went the power that was to make him master of Europe - and the power to challenge civilization for the mastery of the world.

{p. 119} Chapter V

THE HUGE DINING ROOM of the Geheimrat Kirdorf mansion was lovely that morning. The solid oak paneling that extended from floor to ceiling richly reflected the bright sun which threw its slanting morning rays on the deep-piled Persian rug. Against the wall stood a massive sideboard and the brightly polished silver service picked up and reflected the glowing Oriental colors of the rug; those reflected colors seemed to be vying with fresh-cut flowers in the crystal bowl that stood in the center of the great dining table.

It is probable the four men grouped at one end of the table had not noticed the bowl of flowers. They had no time for a new morning sun, no time for glowing colors, or even any time for gracious living or the gentle things of life. They had other things to talk of, for they schemed to wrest an empire from its people and make it their own; not only the empire, but the people within it must be theirs too.

These four men were totally dissimilar in background and in their aims of life, except for the one aim about which they now talked. Terboven was a former bank clerk, an opportunist who knew that entrenched wealth meant power, and who gravitated toward it. Hess was the dreamer and poet, a man with a single strange loyalty - Hitler. Kirdorf, the multimillionaire, was the man whose only concern was to safeguard his own wealth, who saw Communism as the greatest threat, not realizing that the man with whom he was dealing was an even greater one. And finally, Hitler, the man to whom no crime was too foul, no deceit too great, if it helped bring power to him.

Kirdorf never wasted words, any more than he wasted anything else that belonged to him; that morning he spoke briefly and to the point. He wanted to know whether Hitler could

{p. 120} control his entire party or whether he could not. If he could not, then no more need be said. If he could, then just how did he propose to do so?

Hitler responded with the quiet sincerity he could use to such good effect when occasion demanded. He said he needed only three things and the party would be firmly in his grasp once more.

"What are those three things ?" Kirdorf asked bluntly.

"I want a little time, a lot of money, and the ban against my political activities in Prussia lifted."

"And if I give you all those," Kirdorf asked softly, "what would the party line be then?"

"You and the other industrialists," Hitler said slowly, letting each word fall separately, as though it had much weight, "could dictate that party line insofar as it affected you and the properties you own." And with those words Hitler forever renounced the liberal planks in the National Socialist Party's platform. Indeed, it now no longer had any platform except as Hitler should sce fit to promulgate from day to day. That being so, it was no longer een a party; it was an embryonic dictatorship.

Hitler detailed his plan. He needed tne money immediately for the formation of a semimilitary unit whose loyalty to his own person was unquestioned. This body of men could be depended upon to keep even the most recalcitrant Nazi strictly in line. The wages and uniform-costs for this private army would be paid out of the money asked. Since unemployment was rife, it would be a simple matter to recruit thousands of youths who, though they were ignorant of the reasons for the struggle, would serve loyally because of the pay and the warm clothing.

Thus was born the Sturmabteilungen - the brown-shirted storm troopers - and it also marked the end of Hitler the demo crat and the emergence of Hitler the dictator.

The SA (abbreviation for Sturmabteilungen) was organized rapidly by former army officers. Youths were drafted from

{p. 121} beer halls, breadlines and street corners. The money and the ashy uniforms were enough to attract them, but they also had the promise of even greater reward in the future.

No sooner were the first thousand SA men trained into a military unit than Hitler called a mass conference of the entire German Nazi Party to be held at Bamberg, a town on the Main River in Bavaria, where Hitler's personal strength was greatest. Very carefully he selected a day in the middle of the week when it would be impossible for most of the workers, who were the principal members of the party of the North, to leave their jobs. Further, the very fact that the meeting was scheduled for a spot in Bavaria, far from the North, meant that few of the Northern members would be able to aford the train fare even if they were at liberty to attend on the day set. The loyal Southern members, however, were assured free transport by long lines of buses and cars hired by Hitler with KirdoRs money.

Hitler greeted me in high good humor when I arrived at the field just outside Bamberg where the mass meeting was to be

Smiling at me in his most affable manner, he predicted: "We shall now witness a unity that will serve as an example for the entire party!"

Though I had only an inkling of it then, it was simply a nicer way of saying that he had just rigged the ballot box.

With him were Hess, Streicher, Christian Weber and Emile Maurice, his chaueur. Weber extended his fat, moist paw. I couldn't refuse it. Touching it briefly, so as not to make a spectacle of myself, I hastily withdrew my hand. Weber was a combination pimp and bouncer who worked at Donisl's, a Munich brothel, before he joined the party.

The meeting itself, when it finally got under way, was nothing but a farce from start to finish. By their attitudes, expressions and blunt wisecracks, it was easy to see that not one

{p. 122} of Hitler's Southern members was unaware of the prepared landslide that was to take place that day.

Hitler was in brilliant form that afternoon. With the same fervor he had formerly employed in attacking the royal family, he now defended them. To confiscate their property, he shouted, was Communism, and the Nazi Party must face the world as the bulwark against Communism. This he told his followers on that day, because it suited his immediate purpose to do so - but on another day he was to confiscate the properties of industrialists, simple democrats and Jews, all without due process of law. By some strange political alchemy it was no longer Communism to do so.

Josef Goebbels, who only a short time previously had urged the dismissal of Hitler from the party, now rose to speak. He was dressed in a blue singlebreasted suit with knife-edge creases, and he wore built-up shoes, perhaps to help disguise his club foot or perhaps to make him taller. Altogether, he looked extremely well dressed (he is always the fashion plate) as he stood there.

"I have listened with intense interest to the words our Leader has spoken," he began in the manner of a man who is about to make a confession, "and I must admit that justice is on his side. We are men, and because we are men we must be big enough to admit when we make mistakes. At Hanover I was one of those misguided leaders who voted in a manner opposed to our great Fuehrer. I know now that I was wrong and I publicly bow down before the superior wisdom of Herr Hitler."

Though I was astounded at first on hearing these words coming from Goebbels, the reason for this reversal of attitude was not hard to find. Had I not bought his loyalty from another myself ? Goebbels did not return to Berlin with us that night but went to Munich instead, and there began work as Hitler's private propagandist at a salary of 500 marks a month, more than double what I had been paying him. Another part of the purchase price was the promise of a seat in Parliament

{p. 123} and a newspaper in Berlin - to run in competition with my own periodicals, which were the official party organs.

Hitler succeeded in winning over Dr. Bernhardt Rust by telling him that his reconciliation with the Catholic Church was more apparent than real. Hitler expounded at great length on the importance of fighting only one enemy at a time; and Rust, the rabid anti-Catholic, was reassured that Hitler felt the same way he did.

Hitler always had Gregor's loyalty, so it was a simple matter to maintain his status quo within the party.

Thus, neatly, I was isolated by Hitler.

The SA units were carefully built by Hauptmann von Pfeffer, a successful Free Corps leader in the Baltic States. Von Pfeffer was also corrupt, and one day he was caught by Gauleiter Kaufmann in the act of stealing 20,000 marks from the party treasury. Kaufmann immediately forwarded this information to General Heineman, who was chief of the Honor Court of the Nazi Party in Munich. The General, terribly upset, reported the facts to Hitler and told him that von Pfeffer must be immediately dismissed in disgrace from the party.

"We must not act too hastily, General," Hitler said slyly. "In politics we must be realists, and von Pfeffer is a very able man. This evidence will give us sufficient power to ensure his loyalty to us. So you see it is perhaps fortunate that he has attempted such a theft."

General Heineman was aghast at the Fuehrer's words. "I can not remain in the same party with a thief !" he exploded. "You must choose between von Pfeffer and me !"

Von Pfeffer remained in the party; Heineman kept his word. And Hitler retained a thief and lost an honest man.

With he formation of the Brown Shirts began the organized terror against Communists, Jews and those Nazis who did not believe in Hitler with the proper fervor.

The SA officers received regular salaries while the troopers

{p. 124} were paid on an assignment basis. This latter fact kept them in uniform and at all times hanging around party headquartcr - which, more often than not, was the local beer hall - so as not to miss a possible night's wages.

Hitler did another thing that tied the party leaders to him. The storm troopers were now recruited from the worst possible element of German youth: they were the unemployed streetcorner bullies who were given an opportunity to show off in snappy brown uniforms. The SA were not members of the Nazi Party; they had no political principles.

A snaking column of Brown Shirts tramping down a dark alley bound on a mission of destruction, shouting at the top of their lungs: "Die Strasse frei den braunen Battaillonen!" became familiar throughout Germany. Armed with blackjacks, knives, brass knuckles and guns, they recognized no authority but their own.

Kirdorf (his part in the rise of Hitler somehow has been subordinated to Thyssen's) kept his promise about restoring Hitler's freedom in Prussia. The Nazi leader had been denied the right to participate in any politics, as I have related, but when the multimillionaire industrialist cracked the whip, Preident Ebert, his cabinet and his Parliament immediately jumped through the hoop.

His full rights restored, the Nazi Fuehrer lost no time in taking full advantage of the opportunity. He denied Gaulcicr Koch the renomination for his seat in Parliament, and in his place named Goering, who had just returned from his cxtensie "trip" through Italy and Sweden with his popular wife, Countess Karin. In Goering's case, too, it was Kirdorf who had guaranteed that the authorities would not press the treason charge which had been pending since his flight after the Munich revolt.

Gregor was still leader of the Prussian Nazis and chairman of the National Socialists in Parliament. And, whereas I held no official position, I still exercised a strong voice in National

{p. 125} Socialist affairs. This was so not only because I was the original organizer of the Nazi Party in Prussia, but because I was pu lisher of the oflicial Nazi newspapers and magazines, of which I had seven.

It did not occur to me that Hitler was making his first move to unseat me when he appointed Goebbels Gaulciter of Berlin. But the connecting link was there. For Goebbels published Berlin's Der Angri, a daily newspaper adhering to the party line, but without official party recognition. And I published my own Berliner Arbeiter-Zeiung, the official party organ for the capital city. As Gauleiter, Goebbels would hold a good deal of authority - especially with the SA troops - and our two news, papers were rivals, his being more closely identified with Hitler's own view point. As I say, I didn't see it coming immediately - but it was not long before the whole plot was clear to me and the long, mortal struggle had begun. ...

One event, however, postponed the fireworks for a few weeks.

It is a bitterly cold afternoon, February 28 1925, in a nuring home in the West End of Berlin. The efficient and comforting hands of the nurses tremble in the mild, suppressed excitement that pervades the place.

In one of the quiet white rooms lies Friedrich Ebert, first President of the First German Republic, dying. Appendicitis has turned into peritonitis. His heart is giving out, and he lies in agony, as did the empire when he became Reich Chancellor. That was in the closing days of the World War. The Chancellor became overnight "People's Commissar," and the People's Commissar then blossomed into Reich President, although the process was never properly legalized. According to the Weimar Constitution, the president should have been elected by the people, but the fathers of this constitution did not quite trust their own handiwork. They feared that the popular election might become the starting point for counter-

{p. 126} revolutionary moves. They therefore continually renewed the ofice of the provisional president.

In a few hours the democrat who kept himself in office by decree instead of by votes dies. The newspapers of the Weimar Republic with thick black borders announce his end. Flags sink to half-mast over the public buildings.

Friedrich Ebert was no sooner buried in the cemetery at Heidelberg than the battle for his succession flared up. For the first time, a president of the German Republic was to be elected according to the provisions of the constitution of August II 1919. The entire adult population of some forty million men and women were to vote.

The machinery of the election, which was just four weeks away, was patterned after the American Constitution. The various factions began to scurry about for candidates who could draw support, irrespective of party. There was no previous experience to guide them in their choice.

The Social Democrats made a smart choice, selecting Otto Braun, the Prussian Premier, one of the few liberals who still had a good name. He came from peasant stock, had a ponderous head, a sharp-featured face and a firm tranquil gaze that was a mark of his character. He was a man who knew how to deal with men and problems. His reforms in the administration, the cultural activities and the economy of Prussia showed him to be a statesman of high ability.

The Catholic Center Party put forward Wilhelm Marx, a mediocrity who lacked all the qualities all the previous Center leaders had had.

The Bavarian People's Party, which was allied to the Catholic Center, felt that Marx was too colorless. They therefore split with the parent party and put forward their own leader, Herr Held, as a candidate. The Democrats named Willi Hellpach, a South German pro-

{p. 127} fessor and scholar who knew as much about politics as the average professor.

The conservative parties united and selected as their candidate Herr Jarres, the Mayor of Duisberg.

We were the only "Rightest" party in the Reich - though actually our Prussian membership was far more left than right. But the newspapers insisted, because of Hitler's pro-monarchist statements and industrial support, in calling us Rightists who did not agree to back Jarres. We named General Erich Ludendorf as our candidate.

The Communist Party named the former Hamburg dock worker, Ernst Thaelmann, an agitator whose loyal response to each change of course signaled from the engine room of the Comintern earned him the permanent post of party leader. And, later, the position of permanent prisoner in a Hitler concentration camp.

With the candidates posted, the election went into full swing. There was the usual fanfare and ballyhoo; there was electioneering, parades, torch processions and speechmaking. As in all elections, once in a while there was even a worthy and thoughtful speech. And finally the day arrived. There was remarkably little disorder at the polling places during the actual election. When the polls were closed and the votes tabulated, the results

were:

Jarres .....10,416,655 Braun .... 7,802,496 Marx .... 3,887,734 Thaelmann .... 1,871,815 Hellpach .... 1,568,398 Held .... 1,007,450 Ludendorf .... 285,793

If any of us in the Nazi movement were at all inclined to overrate our relative importance in the political scheme of things, these election figures would quickly have adjusted our

{p. 128} equilibrium. None of us was prepared for so poor a showing. Even the insignificant Held party had outvoted us by more than four to one; while the Communists, if the figures at the polls were to be believed, were almost ten times as important as we were.

Still, the results of this election were not decisive; the system laid down by the Weimar Constitution decreed a secret vote, as in the United States, but decreed also that, if no candidate received an absolute majority over all others, a second election be held, at which the candidate receiving a bare majority over the next higher would become president. Therefore this first balloting could be construed as nothing more significant than a dress rehearsal of an election to come. It was a practical impossibility, with so many parties in the field, for any one of them to obtain a majority on the first ballot.

Whereas Jarres led in the voting, a union of Braun, Marx and Thaelmann, the three candidates of the Left, could ensure his defeat. So the Conservative electors, counseled by wily old Elard von Oldenburg-Jannuschau and Fritz von Loebell, looked around for a candidate with whom they could replace Jarres, and who would at the same time cut heavy inroads into the liberal party. They found the man they sought in General Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg und Beneckendorf. The old field marshal was almost eighty and in an enfeebled state, but he was still a romantic hero to most of Germany.

It was Hindenburg who was the savior of his country when the "Russian horde" neared the Vistula River and threatened to overrun all Germany. Men retold the great deed of arms when von Hindenburg created the miracle at Tannenberg: how von Hindenburg had planned for this great battle ten years before it happened; how he had prevented engineers from draining the marshes surrounding the Masurian Lakes, and how during the great battle of Tannenberg he had swept the advancing Russians into these bogs and slaughtered them by the tens of thousands. They retold with relish how this great

{p. 129} battle and the two that immediately followed (Tannenberg, August 26-31 1914; Masurian Lakes, September 5-15, 1914; Augustovo February 3-7, 1915) had cost the Russians a million and a half men.

There never had been any existing plan for this great battle, drawn up by von Hindenburg or anyone else, and the actual strategy was dictated by General Max Hofman. The battle itself was fought under the direction of the corps commanders like Ludendorf, Francois and von Below. But the ordinary man in the street has no interest in history as fact; he likes heroes and legends.

Thus there were three candidates in the race of April 26: von Hindenburg received 14,655,766 votes; Marx, 13,751,615; and Thaelmann, 1,931,151.

Because of the small vote Ludendorf had received in the earlier election, Hitler had abruptly withdrawn his name and had thrown Nazi support to von Hindenburg. Ludendorf3: was not consulted on this matter, even though he was most anxious to run again "to redeem his honor" by making a better showing. He never forgave Hitler for the slight. In 1937, after Hitler had assumed power, Ludendorf on his deathbed brusquely refused the field marshal's baton Hitler sent him.

As a president, von Hindenburg left much to be desired. He did not have full command of his mental faculties, and his advisors became the real rulers of Germany. The cabinet selections showed clearly that the conservatives were in the saddle.

Our own miserable showing could be accounted for in but one way. Adolf Hitler, instead of following the liberal planks formulated by us at Hanover, followed his own, which were laid down at Bamberg. And a worker could discern little difference in what he preached and what the Conservative Party practiced. As a result, his potential vote went to the liberal, socialist or communist party candidates. And the real conservative found his own party exactly to his liking and so could never be induced to join the National Socialist group.

{p. 130} But the election figures were a green signal for me to go ahead with my work in building the socialist appeal of the National Socialist group. What my paper was printing was personally embarrassing to Adolf Hitler, and it was a far better paper than Goebbels' Der Angri. Characteristically, finding it hard to compete with me in editorial content and circulation, Goebbels resorted to violence. As Gauleiter of Berlin he had absolute control over the SA, and storm troopers dressed in rough clothing manhandled my newsboys. Delivery trucks were stopped and drivers beaten; important political news was withheld from my reporters and released to Goebbels' paper. The result of these tactics, particularly the last stratagem, was that my circulation began to fall off alarmingly. Party members who wished to be well-informed gave up reading the Berlincr Arbeiter-Zeitung in favor of Der Angri.

I lodged a protest against the violence with the Berlin police, but they took no action. Dr. Bernhard Weiss, a Jew, was head of the police department and any Nazi would have to be a starry-eyed optimist if he expected Dr. Weiss to intervene.

Next I wrote Hitler numerous letters complaining angrily about Goebbels' conduct, but the evasive and pseudo-naivc letters the Fuehrer wrote back all said about the same thing. There was no question but that I was putting out the oflicial organ in Berlin, he would assure me; still, there was nothing he could do to stop Goebbels from operating a private news. paper of his own. So far as the question of violence was con. cerned, he was certain Goebbels was not responsible for it. And the men I mistook for storm troopers were no doubt part of the Communist riot squad. In fact, it was really a compliment to my work that the Communists so feared my paper's force that they resorted to violence to prevent its getting on the street. He advised me to see Goebbels, who, as Gauleiter of Berlin, would assign SA men to me for protection.

I don't think Hitler really expected me to believe any of that what-can-I-do explanation. So, since the mail brought no

{p. 131} satisfaction, I went down to Munich to see him personally. Hitler's headquarters at that time was in the private dwelling of Heinrich Hofmann, the photographer, an undistinguishedlooking frame house. I went up a flight of steps and into the main hall. Straight ahead of me was the ofce of the VolkiscHer Beobachter, to the right was national headquarters for the SA, and on the left was Hitler's private sanctum.

Rudolf Hess, with whom I was on friendly terms, greeted me warmly and ushered me into the Fuehrer's office. Hitler had filled out considerably since the early days and his shoulders no longer had that pinched look. His cheeks, too, were fuller, but they still retained their pallor. He arose, smiling, and extended his right hand. "Well, Herr Strasser, what brings you to Munich ?"

I told him that I had come to emphasize my complaint concerning Goebbels' actions. He listened patiently while I ecplained the circumstances that made me certain the ruffians were in reality SA men. When I was through he said: "I shall write Herr Goebbels and tell him, since you are evidently too proud to do so, to have his Brown Shirts keep an eye out for your protection."

There I was, back where I had started from. I wondered if he thought I was naive enough to believe that Goebbels, who had released the terror and violence, would protect me.

As we spoke, a young blond girl entered the office unannounced. I recognized her as Angela Raubel, Hitler's twenty-year-old niece who lived with him. She was the daughter of Hitler's sister.

In the hallway I put on my coat, adjusted my hat and had reached for the doorknob when I heard a footstep behind me. I turned around and saw the girl.

"Are you leaving so soon, Herr Strasser ?" she asked.

I stood chatting with this attractive youngster, who seemed pathetically eager for the conversation to continue. We talked for ten minutes or so, and then I made a move for the door.

{p. 132} She reached out her hand and detained me. It was almost in self-defense that I invited her to go out with me that evening. Instantly her face lit up with joy.

At the time I couldn't understand her reaction to this invitation, but later that night while we were at the vaudeville show in a Munich beer hall, she told me that her Uncle Adolf was very stric with her and that during the last five months she had not been able to go out once. Tonight "Gely" - that was her nickname - was freed from restraint for the first time and she chattered away happily. We danced, sang old songs, drank beer and watched the artists perform. Both of us enjoyed ourselves tremendously.

As I drove her home that night I invited her to a masked ball for the following evening and again she accepted instantly. I took a carriage back to my hotel and turned in for the night, surprised that such a sweet, ingenuous girl could be Hitler's niece. The following day I spent visiting relatives and friends in Munich and at eight o'clock in the evening drove up to Hofmann's house.

I rang the bell. The door opened immediately and Adolf Hitler stood there, frowning.

"Good evening, Herr Hitler," I greeted him.

"I presume you're calling for Gely?" he said abruptly.

"That's right," I replied. I could see by the redness of his face and the thin line of his lips that he was in one of his moods of violent temper.

"I won't have her going out with you!" he shouted, his head bobbing angrily with his words. "Strasser, I'll have none of your filthy Berlin tricks in Munich!"

I told Hitler I saw nothing wrong in my invitation nor in her innocent desire to meet people and dance, as all girls should. I started to say something more; but Hitler, in a towering rage, ordered me to leave the house instantly.

The next day there was a loud knocking at my door and when I opened it I saw Gely standing there, red-eyed, her face

{p. 133} drawn and her manner nervous to the verge of hysterics. As soon as she was in my room, the door safely closed behind her, she fell into a chair and burst into tears.

"He locked me up again," she said between sobs. "He locks me up every time I don't agree to do what he says."

She wanted to tell the story to someone sympathetic; of her own accord she poured out the details of it. Like other party members close to private sources of information, I had heard all about the eccentric practices to which Fraulein Hofmann was alleged to have lent herself, but I had sincerely felt that the photographer's daughter was naturally a little hysterical and had a predisposition to invent enormous lies for the sheer fun of it. But not Gely. Further, she was completely ignorant of her uncle's former aair - yet now she confirmed it through her own experience, as she poured forth incident after incident.

To all practical purposes, her uncle kept her isolated from the outside world; she was rarely allowed to see a man. So one evening, almost out of her mind through this treatment, she had yielded to the importunities of Emile Maurice, Hitler's chauf3eur. Hitler had surprised them and afterward, through the door behind which they were closeted, Gely heard the angry words of the two men.

"You're through!" Hitler roared. "Get out! Get out of this house and never set foot in it again!"

"Fired, huh?" Maurice had sneered in Hitler's face. "Sack me, and I'll take the whole story about you and your niece to the Frankfurter Zeitung! They'll pay a price for it. Or will you?"

Shortly afterward, Emile Maurice, with a bank account of 20,000 marks, opened a little watch-maker's shop in Munich.

Nor was that the only blackmail Hitler had paid as the price of silence when discovered in one of his weird amours. Praulein Hofmann, like many girls in early womanhood, had talked - and certain information had reached her father's ears. Being a father, he had but one course of action: he went directly

{p. 134} to Hitler and faced him with the knowledge. No one but these two men knows what was said at that meeting; but Herr Hofmann, in addition to being a father, was also a businessman. When he left Hitler's presence that day he carried with him the exclusive world rights to the Fuehrer's photographs - a contract that has made him a millionaire several times over. And Fraulein Hofmann is now Frau Baldur von Schirach, whose young and eeminate husband is Reich Youth Leader.

I never saw Gely again. She died of a gunshot wound in her uncle's house in 193I. The events surrounding the shooting were very mysterious and the aftermath suspicious. It was not until 1935 that I learned the full details.

My brother Paul - now Father Bernhard, a Benedictine monk (his name having been changed, as is the custom of that order) - and I met in Austria in the spring of 1935. During a conversation that took place one day, Paul happened to say, half to himself:

"And to think that Gregor once stopped Hitler from committing suicide!"

"On what occasion was that ?" I asked.

"After Hitler murdered his niece Gely."

The statement astounded me. "Did Gregor tell you that?"

Paul nodded. "I swore to keep it a secret," he began hesitantly, "but it should be told. Gregor spent three days and nights with Hitler, who was like a madman. It was during a quarrel that he shot Gely, so perhaps he didn't realize what he was doing. Immediately afterward, he wanted to commit suicide, but Gregor prevented him."

I asked for further details.

"After Gely was found dead by violence, an inquest was opened in Munich. The public prosecutor, who has lived abroad since Hitler's accession to power, wished to charge him with murder, but Gurtner, the Bavarian Minister of Justice, stopped the case. It was announced that Gely had committed suicide."

"Did no one besides the prosecutor suspect murder ?" I asked

{p. 135} "Yes, there was someone else," Paul told me, "but he was disposed of in the usual Nazi way. You remember Gehrlich, the editor of the Right Way? He made a private investigation at the same time as the police, and collected overwhelming evidence against Hitler. Voss, Gregor's lawyer, no doubt knew all about it too. Like Gehrlich, he was put to death."

To make this accusation even stronger, I want to repeat one incident that happened in Paris in 1939 where I was writing articles for Le Journal, and when I happened to mention Gely's death, charging Hitler directly with the guilt. Three days later the editor of the Courrier d'Autriche called at my rooms.

"Do you know Father Pant?" he asked.

"No," I told him, "not personally; but I know that he lived in Munich, and that he was the brother of the prelate and Senator Pant, the former leader of the anti-Nazis in Poland."

"That's the man," he said. "Father Pant is now in exile, but he asks me to send you the following message, which I repeat verbatim:

"'It was I who buried Angela Raubal, the little Gely of whom Otto Strasser wrote. They pretended that she committed suicide; but I should never have allowed a suicide to be buried in consecrated ground. From the fact that I gave her Christian burial you can draw conclusions which I cannot communicate to you.' "

Upon my return to Berlin after my fruitless journey to Munich, I was told that the attacks upon my newsboys and delivery men had increased. Hitler's advice rankled in my mind as anger surged up in me: call in the SA for protection!

Well, if that's the way they wanted to play it, I was willing. I called in Gregor and told him my plan of action - and he wrung my hand, saying we should have done that very thing long ago. Then the two of us, aided by others on the paper, went out and started a recruiting campaign of our own, selecting the burliest and toughest thugs in town. These were our

{p. 136} flying squadrons of hell-for-leather bruisers who were going t take on Goebbels' storm troopers - and with a vengeance; for many, if not all of them, had private scores to settle with the arrogant, bullying SA men.

Throughout Berlin I posted lookouts for spotting purposcs and these lookouts immediately reported by telephone any suspicious gatherings of SA men. We had the headquarters posts of the storm troopers covered, too, and as soon as a party set out on a sortie the news was flashed to the paper. If the objective seemed to be either my delivery trucks or newsboys, squads of our flying thugs went out to intercept them.

This was a heavy financial drain, since the funds for their employment had to come out of the business. Goebbels' ruffians, on the other hand, were paid for out of party funds, and the losses incident to the publication of Dcr ,lngri were made good by Hitler himself. However, we had taken the only course open to us.

As I sat in my study one morning in the early spring of 1928 the door burst open and Hitler strode in unannounced. I hadn't even known he was in Berlin. He stamped up to my desk and, without a word of greeting, snapped, "This can't go on!"

I got to my feet. "I don't understand you," I said.

"Your fights - your incessant quarrels with my people! You must put an end to them at once."

"I still don't understand you, Herr Hitler," I repeated.

"You know very well what I mean," he snarled. "I'm speaking of your fight with Streicher, Rosenberg and Goebbelsl"

"I have absolutely no desire to fight with Streicher," I said flatly. "The man is a swine! His character and his newspapa, which is a reection of his character, are enough to disgust any healthy-minded person. The anti-Semitism which he uses as a mask for erotic literature is a disgrace to our party. And it is for the sake of the party that I shall fight to have that dangerous and depraved man expelled!"

{p. 137} Hitler made no attempt to defend Streicher. Our difference on this score was a matter of taste.

"I alwaYs felt Rosenber was Your friend," Hitler said, taking a new tack.

"He is," I replied readily. "I think that he is a very fine fellow, personally. It's only when he attempts to make his paganistic doctrines part of our party's ideology that I oppose

The blood mounted into Hitler's face; it was a sure sign that his anger was nearing the boiling point.

"Why do you insist on trying to place yourself as arbiter of the National Socialist movement ?" he exploded. "I define what our party shall be, and I say to you now that his ideology has a definite place in that structure!"

"How do you reconcile that view, Herr Hitler," I asked quietly, "with the publicized promises you made to Cardinal Faulhaber and Prime Minister Held?"

I knew, of course, that Hitler had made that promise without any intention of keeping his word. He had wrapped the cloak of Christianity about himself as a prudent measure for his own defense. Let the moment come when he no longer needed that protection, and he would cast it aside with all the regret of an actor removing his grease paint at the end of the show.

"Herr Strasser," he said in ponderous dignity, "you must learn that my actions are not open to question by any party member!"

ouring all this talk I knew that there was something else on the man's mind. Streicher and Rosenberg could not have been reason enough for him to have traveled all the way from Munich to Berlin to pay this visit. It wasn't long before he got down to cases - and, as I suspected, it was the Gobbels affair that was on his mind.

Due to the strong-arm tactics that we had adopted, taking a leaf from the Nazi handbook of "political education," Dr Angriff was rapidly losing what little circulation it had, and

{p. 138} the readers were flocking back to the Berliner Arbeiter-Zeitung - or the B. A. Z., as it was popularly known.

To make matters worse, from Hitler's point of view, the SA men were complaining that they were being beaten up by Strasser's hoodlums. This, obviously, was a situation that couldn't be allowed to continue - the foolish quarrel within the party had to be stopped at once.

I agreed with Hitler that it was an intolerable situation and told him that nobody would be happier than myself to see it come to an end. But, I reminded him, the Berliner rceiterZeitung was still the ofl;cial organ of the Nazi Party and that I was wholly within my rights in continuing the publication; more, that I was showing unusual zeal in expending every effort to see that the paper arrived safely on the street for sale to our loyal members.

Again the red mounted into Hitler's face. "It's not a question of right!" he thundered. "It's a question of might! What would you do, Herr Strasser, if a dozen Brown Shirts stepped through that door" - he pointed dramatically - "and set to work on you ? Where would your right be then ?"

I opened the drawer of my desk and pulled out my Browning automatic. "I should protect my right with this," I said, patting the barrel. "I have eight shots in this gun. Eight Brown Shirts would be permanently impressed with the sincerity of my word when I say I will fight to hold my rights."

Hitler's anger dissipated quickly. "You don't understand, Otto," he said, putting his arm about my shoulders and using my given name - one of the few occasions he ever did so. "Nobody is threatening you. We're comrades in a great movement, marching shoulder to shoulder. I want us to remain that way. I want you to be reasonable. For my sake, for your brother's sake - and for your own sake." He clasped my hand in both of his, turned around and walked out quickly.

But this interview with Hitler was an inconclusive one; it settled nothing and served only to make matters worse, for Hit-

{p. 139} ler is most dangerous when he is most friendly. He had come to me with a definite purpose in mind, of that I was sure. It was, I imagine, to make me give up control of the B. A. Z. He hadn't asked me to do so, and even if he had I should have refused. Either I had to capitulate and follow Adolf Hitler's instructions to the letter, or I had to be prepared to fight him to the last ditch. I wasn't prepared to do either, just then. Like most men who have dealt with Hitler, I felt deep inside me there was still a chance for a compromise. I had still to learn that with Hitler there is no middle course.

The visit had been so upsetting that it was impossible for me to do any further work that day, so I left the oflice. Feeling the exercise would do me good, I walked to the railroad station rather than take a street car or bus. There I laid a banknote on the cashier's desk and asked for a ticket to Oranienburg. Directly behind me in line I heard a girl's voice ask for a ticket to the same place, noting it half-consciously as I waited for the tlcket and my change. The agent slid both toward me - but before I could pick up either, a girl's arm slid past me, picked up both ticket and money, and disappeared. Turning quickly, I saw a slim young lady, tastefully dressed, walking toward the platform. I hurried after her and grasped her gently by the arm, and she turned quickly, her eyes wide with a mixture of surprise and resentment at my seeming liberty.

"Excuse me, fraulein," I said as politely as I could, "but you have picked up both my change and my railroad ticket by mistake. It is a mistake anyone might - "

"You are joking, mein Herr?" she asked, without the slightest show of confusion. "But I see you are not. It is you who are mistaken. You had already picked up your ticket and change. You were ahead of me in line, weren't you ? Of course."

That seemed to have settled the whole argument for her, but when she started to walk away again I grasped her arm once more. One of my outstanding traits - sometimes good and

{p. 140} sometimes bad - is a dogged stubbornncss. It was also a trait of the girl's, evidently. We faced each other squarely and the emphatic discussion began, both of us oblivious of the amused attention of the other travelers about us.

Such arguments do have a time limit; one can't keep insisting, "The money is mine, fraulein," to an endless retort of, "You are mistaken, mein Hew; it is mine!" But my perseverance proved the stronger. In the end, somewhat reluctantly - like a little child giving up a candy bar unwillingly - the girl handed over the ticket and change. With the victory, I immediately felt contrite, seeking for something pleasant and complimentary to say - but the girl spoke before I did.

She looked at the clock, stamped one small foot angrily, and said, "Now see what you have done! You've made me miss my train! You have very poor manners, mein Herr!"

Then, leaving me open-mouthed and at an utter loss for words, she turned and flounced away.

The spirit of the girl was attractive - and it was only now, when it was all over, that I began to appreciate how lovely she really was. Her chic black dress, her pretty brown hair and regular features - these came to my memory. Suddenly it dawned on me that she was beautiful and that I was strongly attracted to her. But what a way to begin a romance!

Since we were both headed for the same town, I knew she would be somewhere aboard the next train out. Once the train was under way I sought her out, walking from car to car until I found her. Bowing and smiling pleasantly, I sat down besidc her - and, although she was not pleased, she didn't ask me to move.

"Fraulein," I began apologetically, "I want you to believe I am not as gruff and unreasonable as I may have sounded. I'd like to be friends. We're neighbors, after all, you know."

She looked coldly at me. "Indeed ?" was all she said.

But, as I say, I'm persistent. Before the train ride was at an end I knew that her name was Gertrude Schutz; that her fa-

{p. 141} ther was a Prussian-type Landrat; that she lived in a twelveroom villa on Florastrasse in Lenitz on the outskirts of Oranienburgi and that she had a married sister.

"And your name ?" she asked me just before the train pulled up at Oranienburg station.

"Otto Strasser," I told her. "You may have - "

"Yes, I've heard of you, Doctor Strasser."

"Bad reports, I'm afraid," I remarked. "Many people feel that Hitler and all those who associate with him are worthless, if not exactly corrupt and criminal."

"I dislike that man Hitler intensely," she said straightforwardly.

"If we were ever to go out together, fraulein," I told her quickly, "I should never speak of Hitler or politics. I'm sure I'd have many more important and more interesting things to

But her silence and the cold look on her face made me lose all hope. Perhaps she saw my expression. When she got up to leave the train I remarked unhappily:

"Then it's good-by. I suppose we won't meet again, fraulein."

"I don't know," she replied with a half-smile. "After all, we're neighbors, you know, Doctor Strasser."

I don't know why my heart beat faster at that half-promise, but it did. Then I saw her parents meet her at the station. Her father was a tall, straight man with a Kaiser Wilhelm mustache - the typical officer type. Her mother was slim and aristocrat1c in appearance, beautiful in a patrician, gray-haired way - a German lady of the old-fashioned kind. A young man stood with them, and as I looked on he kissed her in a perfunctory way, then demanded, somewhat loudly: "Who was that man you were talking to, Gertrude ?"

That little scene almost floored me, and afterward I asked the stationmaster who he could be. The answer crushed my hopes; He was a lawyer from Konigsberg - and Gertrude's fiance!

{p. 142} Two weeks later I met Gertrude Schutz on the train again - and of course I joined her. We talked pleasantly throughout the trip, though mostly of general subjects, and it was not until the last moment that I inquired about her fiance. My answer was nothing more than an enigmatic smile. I hoped the fiance would see us leave the train together again - and he did - for I felt a perverse satisfaction in stirring up trouble.

During the weeks that passed, my hope of winning Gertrude's affection grew less and less. I saw her from time to time, but our conversations were always politely distant. And her father did not make things any easier: he had taken a strong dislike for me, and ordered Gertrude to avoid me in the future because I was a "kind of Communist."

Some months later I had to attend a conference, along with Herbert Blank, at a seaside resort that was popular with vacationists - and there I saw Gertrude again. That really marked the beginning of our romance; after that we had many opportunities to meet each other without the knowledge of her father - though with her mother's approval and consent. And I learned that her engagement to the lawyer had been broken - because of a quarrel over me !

What more could a romantic young man ask ? It was enough for me. When the conference was over, I arranged to stay on for the remainder of the month Gertrude's family was to spend at the beach. And by the end of that time we had acknowledged that we were in love with each other.

On December I2 1929 we were married at the little church in Oranienburg, with Gregor as the best man and Gertrude's sister, Anna, the maid of honor.

Gertrude's father had finally accepted me when he saw that my intentions were sincere and honorable, but, tragically, he died of cancer two months before the ceremony took place. Even so, I can imagine his Junkers' indignation had he been able to read some of the congratulatory telegrams - those from Hitler, Hess and Goebbels, in particular.

{p. 143} Gertrude and I spent our honeymoon in Munich - our transportation there being a wedding present from Goering, who sent us two tickets for travel on his Lufthansa.

Thus I ceased to be a bachelor and took on the cares of married life. For a man mixed up in chaotic Nazi politics, with their violent change of fortunes, that was a dangerous act indeed. ...

The struggle between Goebbels and myself continued unabated. It was evident that my countermeasures to his SA terrorism were effective, otherwise Hitler would have maintained a hands-off policy and pretended that he knew nothing of what was going on.

I was careful in the lead article I wrote for the B. A. Z. the morning after Hitler's visit (the morning after the chance meeting with the woman who became my wife), to keep the quarrel of a personal plane. There was more than a danger that this difference of opinion would deteriorate into something far more violent - and judging from the scurrilous attacks made upon me personally in Der ngrif, there was nothing that would please Goebbels more. He had Hitler on his side now and he wanted to keep him there.

The slush fund collected from the industrialists in the form of a five-pfennig tax on every ton of coal mined, every ton of iron ore smelted and every ton of freight shipped, put 2,000,000 marks into the Nazi cofers each year. It was that kind of money I had to fight with the meager funds available to me - yet, in a way, it was I who was responsible for Hitler having such enormous funds available for his use.

I was one of the bogey men Hitler used to pry old Kirdorf loose from the money. I was the "dangerous" socialistic element in the National Socialist Party that had to be excised at any cost. Stop the flow of money, and I would be the sort of man with whom they would have to contend.

I knew that the day had to come when my relations with

{p. 144} Hitler, already strained, would stretch to the breaking point. It came in April, 1930, when the trade unions in Saxony de. clared an industrial strike. There was nothing socialistic in the demands of the workers; they merely asked higher wages and better working conditions. I saw in this an excellent opportunity to recruit more followers to the Nazi cause, as I envisioned that cause.

The Sachsischer Beobachter (Saxon Observer), a daily newspaper that I owned, published in Saxony, threw itself into the battle on the side of the strikers. I moved into Saxony and handled the editorial battle myself. The paper infused spirit into the ranks of the men, and they in turn made the newspaper their rallying point.

The members of the Reich Federation of Industrialists were furious over my action. They were paying Adolf Hitler 2000ooo marks a year, yet here was the official party newspaper taking up the cause of labor against industry! Kirdorf, who was president of the federation, drafted the abrupt note that was sent to Hitler through Josef Terboven.

It said: "Unless the strike order is condemned and opposed by the National Socialist Party and its newspapers, notably the Sachsischer Beobachter, the entire Reich Federation of Industrialists will cease its payment to the party."

Whatever Hitler's feelings were toward me before he received this note, he hated me now. Up to this point he had been all things to all men. A political chameleon, his complexion would be governed by the political hue of his listeners of the moment.

Ordinarily, a message containing distasteful information would not be delivered to Hitler by the men surrounding him. They would send the communication by a clerk or other underling. None of the more important Nazis dared brave the risk of throwing their master into a rage - which, in its illogical hysteria, might easily descend on them personally. This note,

{p. 145} however, was so vitally important that none of them would take the responsibility of its being mislaid or delayed.

Terboven handed the note to Hess, and Hess immediately handed it on to Hitler in his office in Munich. For an hour Hitler stormed and raged, showering down maledictions on the head of the "Bolshevist scribbler" and "conceited intellectual" who was responsible for the present dilemma. But this was a question he could not evade or delay, so he transmitted an order to me that night.

It read: "A resolution of the Reich Party executives has been passed and henceforth any member of the National Socialist Party is forbidden to take part in the Saxony strike. - Adolf Hitler."

The Gauleiter of Saxony, Mutschmann, who up to this time had been my most ardent supporter, suddenly turned tail and fled. He called a meeting of the Saxon Nazis without disclosing its purpose. Because of this, it was poorly attended except for Mutschmann's hand-picked followers.

At this meeting he jammed through a resolution approving and ratifying Hitler's action. That left me without even the barest excuse, legally, to avoid following the order. Any disregard for Hitler's dictum now would be out-and-out defiance both of Hitler and the whole Nazi Party. It could mean but one thing - a definite and irreconcilable break. My decision was immediate. I would continue to fight for the workers; I would fight Hitler - and, if necessary, I'd fight the whole Nazi Party, Brown Shirts and all.

Shortly after noon on May 2I 1930 as I was preparing to leave my office, the telephone rang. I picked up the receiver and a voice said abruptly: "Hess speaking. Is Strasser there?"

"How do you do, Herr Hess," I said formally. "You're talking to Strasser now."

"Herr Hitler would like very much to speak to you," Hess said, and I was puzzled by his short, unfriendly manner. "Can

{p. 146} you come at once to the Hotel Sans Souci for a vitally urgent discussion ?"

I wasn't surprised at the summons, although up to that moment I had had no idea that Hitler was in Berlin.

"I'll be there within the hour," I told Hess unhesitatingly, and hung up.

{p. 147} Chapter Vl

THE SANS SOUCI is a three-story structure of gray stonc, looking more like a middle-class boarding house than a hotel. I entered the lobby, with its faded carpet, potted palms and other typical depressing furnishings, and walked toward the clerk's desk on the left, meaning to ask for Hitler's room number. But then I saw him on one of the divans, and he saw me at the same time. He instantly jumped to his feet and strode forward, greeting me with an angry outburst.

"The tone of your papers is a public disgrace!" he snapped. "It infringes upon the elementary laws of discipline and is an insult to the entire party! I tell you, Strasser, my patience is completely exhausted."

We had been walking across the small lobby as he spoke, and now, at the foot of the dingy stairway, I decided to be arbi trary too. No purpose could be served by talking to the man in his present emotional state.

"I was under the impression this was to be a discussion," I said abruptly. "You, on the contrary, seem to assume it is an occasion for anger and abuse. I'm sorry this meeting had to be such a brief one."

I turned and started back toward the entrance, but I had taken no more than three steps before Hitler had grasped me by the sleeve of my coat.

"It is to be a discussion, Strasser," he urged in a somewhat milder tone. "I expressly came to Berlin with but one purpose in mind. I am most anxious to thrash this matter out with you."

"That's precisely what I want to do, also," I replied.

"Good!" Hitler said. "At least we start in perfect agreement. Why can't we be like that all the time, Otto ? My room is just on the second floor. Will you follow me?"

{p. 148} We quickly went to his room, which typically carried out the lobby's promise. Heavy, faded drapes wilted across the window, sagging under their own burden of dust; a single leather easy-chair huddled in one corner; on the big featherbed was an age-stained white coverlet. I sat in the chair and Hitler remained on his feet.

Clearing my throat, I said: "I ask now, and have always asked, only that I be permitted to preach the doctrine of National Socialism without interference from my own party."

Although I had checked Hitler's tirade in the lobby, he once again returned to his favorite tactic - the same one he used with Sir Nevile Henderson in 1939. "Aha !" he exploded.

"That is exactly the question! You have not always preached the doctrine of our party. More, you have treacherously put forward your own views under the protecting imprimatur of the National Socialist Party."

I asked Hitler to show me how siding with the Saxony strikers could in any way be construed as being contrary to the twenty-five points of our party.

"That is where you make your first blunder !" he began. "The party is not a set of principles, but a group of men! I, as the highest authority in the party, create my own staff, the members of which appoint their subordinate commanders. Each eommander is responsible for his behavior only to his immediate superior. That is the National Socialist Party - its very essence. Responsibility above, discipline below!"

Listening to this, I thought: here is a perfect description of how dictatorship operates. The man at the head is supreme. All orders issue from him. If, one month, he decrees that the party be liberal, all members forthwith become liberal; if, another month, he decrees that the party become conservative, the members perforce change their opinion at once. I began to tell Hitler that what he described was no more than the monarchial view of the divine right of leadership. A

{p. 149} leader, I said, might become ill or die or might deviate from the ideas that made his leadership possible and just. An idea, on the other hand, was eternal and would continue to live as long as there were men believing in it.

Hitler's body became rigid as he leaned forward toward me. The blood had flowed into his face, the suffusing redness was a rising barometer of his mounting anger.

"You haven't lost a single opportunity to stab me in the back, Strasser !" he shouted. "That article in the Nationalsozialistische Briefe is a perfect example of your treacherous methods!"

When I made no answer, Hitler continued: "Don't you see that I can't allow our organization to be disrupted by your crazy, unbridled scribblings?"

So we were coming back to the same point from which we had started! I was beginning to be impatient with this argument.

"Just how do you propose that we reconcile our views?" I inquired dryly.

Hitler's immediate reply almost floored me: "I have come here prepared, Strasser, to offer you three hundred thousand marks for the Kampfverlag!" That was my publishing concern. Here was an out-and-out attempt to bribe me.

I answered slowly, sparring for time: "There are two reasons for refusal that occur to me at the moment. First, I am only a one-third owner in the company; Gregor and Hans Hinkel are both partners, you know. Second, I have, up to this point, refused all party positions so that I could devote myself exclusively to the job of publicizing our movement and of instructing the masses in the true meaning of National Socialism." Hitler looked at me sharply when I mentioned "the true meaning.

Striding up and down again, Hitler seized on this. "I am also prepared to ofer you the post of Press Chief for the entire Reich! You shall come to Munich and work under my direc-

{p. 150} tion. You know I have always had a very high opinion of your talents and intelligence. I want to help you mold them and place them in the proper service of the Nazi Party."

"And what if I refuse your of er, Herr Hitler ?" I asked in a soft voice.

Hitler stopped short, clenched his right fist and raised it high, as though he were going to strike me; his whole body was trembling violently. "I'll smash you to bits!" he screamed. "I'll crush you, exterminate you! I'll force you out of business. The Kampfverlag will be declared an enterprise harmful to the party. I shall threaten with expulsion any member caught reading it!"

"I have heard you give many reasons for putting the Kampfverlag out of business," I observed quietly. "Up to now you have omitted the real one. It is your aim to stifle the social revolution because it is becoming embarrassing in view of your new collaboration with the industrialists!"

Now Hitler became truly violent; he seemed almost out of his mind. "How dare you question my socialism ?" he screamed. "Remember, I was once an ordinary workingman! And even now I don't eat any better than my own chauffeur!"

"But you do have a chauffeur, Herr Hitler," I couldn't help pointing out maliciously.

For seven hours the discussion continued, the two of us shut up in the cheap, stuffy hotel room. Our nerves frayed and our tempers short, we alternately threatened and argued with each other. Darkness had long since fallen and the hour for the dinner appointment I had with my wife had slipped by un. noticed. We were both exhausted, physically and emotionally, when finally I pulled out my watch.

"Can't we continue this discussion tomorrow?" I asked.

Adolf Hitler shook his head wearily. "No. I want your answer now. What is it to be ?"

"The answer must be no," I replied evenly, well knowing the step I was taking.

{p. 151} A few days later contributors to my various publications found themselves expelled from the party; and finally Richard Schapke, one of my principal supporters, was expelled, following an article in which he brilliantly attacked Hitler's political methods. The fact that they had written for the Kampfverlag was, of course, never given as the reason for expulsion.

As soon as I learned of this, I hurried to the Angri building where Josef Goebbels, Berlin Gauleiter, had his offlces. In a biting tone I told him I had just learned that certain members of the party had been expelled "for various reasons" but that he, as a just and honest man, would want to see such action accomplished in the proper fashion.

"You are as well aware as I, of course, Herr Goebbels," I told the pinch-faced little man with the built-up shoes, "that any such action, to be legal, must have the approval of all party offlcials as recorded by vote."

Goebbels agreed perforce, and on the night of July 2 a thousand party officers gathered in the Nazi meeting hall. A double row of Brown Shirts stood stiffly at attention, guarding the approach, and a hand-picked group of the burliest SA men among them formed a knot about the entrance, inspecting each newcomer and passing on his fitness to enter the hall.

I arrived late, but when I started to enter I found my way barred by three Brown Shirts with interlocked arms. "I am sorry, Herr Strasser," one of them said, "but you are not eligible to enter the meeting."

"On what grounds?" I demanded.

"You are not a resident of the Berlin district."

This was true, of course. I resided in Lenitz, which was near Berlin but belonged to Brandenburg, and I was a party member there. The excuse for not letting me enter was a flimsy one however, and I told the storm trooper so. I insisted that it was especially important for me to attend, since the meeting had been called at my instigation. But no amount of pleading would change their attitude.

{p. 152} I heard afterward what happened at the meeting. Goebbels, the chairman, explained his action in expelling Schapke by calling his article "an act of treason against the party," and cited the fact that he was merely following Hitler's personal recommendation in the matter. Major Buchrucker, one of my stanch followers, jumped to his feet to defend Schapke, but Goebbels summarily silenced him.

"Any remark you make," he threatened, "will be strictly out of order since an inquiry is even now being directed against your loyalty as a party member."

Major Buchrucker insisted that he knew nothing of any such action and Goebbels replied that the Major would undoubtedly receive notification in the following morning's mail. Whoever else stood up to defend Richard Schapke was treated in the same manner - a thinly veiled threat that anyone who stood by Schapke now would invite his own dismissal. As a result, one hundred and seventy of the party members, loyal to me, rose to their feet and left the hall as a sign of protest.

The meeting had been held in the Pharus Saele in North Berlin, a beer hall that rented meeting rooms on the ground floor. All the SA troops had turned out in uniform for the occasion, but I realized this was more than a "military" outing for the troops. It was a dress rehearsal for my own political funeral, as far as the Nazis were concerned. The end had finally come. The odds were there for all to read: one hundred and seventy of my own faithful followers as against a thousand-odd party-line members. Ten to one. I felt sorry only for Gregor's sake.

The following morning I visited him at his home to tell him that I could no longer remain in the party and that, since Hitler did not dare break openly with me, the only honest course was to break with him. For a few minutes I think Gregor was unable to comprehend that Hitler and I had really come to the parting of the ways; he kept staring at me blankly, perhaps a little skeptically, as though he expected me at any moment to

{p. 153} clap him on the back and tell him it was all a joke. But finally he accepted the truth - this faithful man to whom loyalty was the supreme principle of life.

"But what will you do now, Otto?" he asked in bewilderment.

"I'll pursue the ideals I've always fought for," I told him simply. "I'll continue fighting for Germany and her people, trying my best to help them according to my own honest lights. And we have always been together, Gregor. From childhood up we have fought our battles side by side." I dreaded this question I now had to ask. There was a lump in my throat; it felt tight and constricted and my voice was little more than a whisper. "What do you intend to do now, Gregor?"

He seemed startled by the question, as though it hadn't occurred to him. "Me, Otto? Oh, the things I've always done, I guess. Work on our papers, write for the magazines we're turning out, try to keep my chemist's shop going. ..." His voice trailed of into silence, suggesting that I was well acquainted with the things he had to do.

"I mean," I persisted, "if there's a break between Hitler and me - a clean, decisive break - and I continue to work for National Socialism, but strictly according to my lights, and Hitler continues to push his version of our doctrine, which one will you elect to follow, Gregor ?"

For a long moment we stood and looked deep in each other's eyes, brother to brother. It seemed to me this was another turning point in my life; another Sans Souci.

"I will follow Hitler," Gregor said simply, his voice low.

He held out his hand and I gripped it firmly, then turned away quickly and left his home.

I went directly to the nearest telegraph office and sent Hitler the following wire:

"Herr Paul Josef Goebbels has expelled certain of my colleagues from the party, as of yesterday's meeting. This action was taken on the flimsiest of pretexts. If these measures are

{p. 154} not officially revoked and the meeting repudiated within the next twenty-four hours I shall have to consider myself no longer a member of the National Socialist Party. - Otto Strasser."

I am a fighter; it never has been my intention or my choice to take a passive role in life. The stories I printed in my papers the following day created a sensation. A 2I6-point streamer (three-inch headline) announced a split in the party with the words, "NAZI RANKS SPLIT," while the body of the story carried an almost verbatim account of my last talk with Hitler, with a description of its aftermath as enacted at the Pharus Saele. I revealed in simple language that Hitler's promises to the workingman were made without any intention of being kept; I told straightforwardly how he tried to bribe me in order to silence the only one who dared speak the truth within the party. Der Angri and the Volkischer Beobachter both attacked me furiously, while the rest of the newspapers in Germany, none of which had any use for the Nazis, gleefully urged us on with editorials and reprints of our columns. And while all this went on, Hitler still continued to try to buy me out.

Gregor had agreed to sell his third share in the company to Hitler, and Hans Hinkel was also won over by Hitler's promise of a seat in the Parliament and a handsome profit from the sale as well. Those who saw the motion picture, The Grea Dictator, with Charles Chaplin, will remember that the Fuehrer's name in the film was Hinkel. I think Chaplin's choice of this name was more than a coincidence, for Hinkel is now Reich Commissioner for Jewish Afairs.

My interest in the newspaper chain was now a minority, but still I refused to relinquish control, the terms of ownership between Hinkel, Gregor and me being such that I was the publisher in complete control of the editorial policy of the paper. Since we had not foreseen what was now taking place, we had no legal provisions to take care of it. Consequently, if Hitler

{p. 155} wanted to get me out he would have to resort to lengthy and costly court procedure. Meantime, I published the newspapers and magazines to suit myself, while men from all political parties flocked to my support. Some who had been attracted to the National Socialist Party platform, but who also distrusted Hitler, now came out openly and joined me. Claus Heim, head of the Peasants Revolutionary Party, who had a strong following in Schleswig-Holstein, threw his membership into the new movement I was founding. I also drew members from the Jung Deutsche Orden, the Wehrwolf and the Stahlhelm. The leader of the Tatkreis (Action Group), Dr. Zehrer, a man who headed a group of intellectuals with a large following in military circles, joined me too. All men who were dissatisfied with the Weimar Republic and who felt that Communism on the one side and Nazism on the other were too extreme, added their support to the ranks of my growing movement.

Nor was that all. My greatest support came from the idealists within the Nazi Party itself. These various elements soon constituted that great underground movement within Germany that came to be known as the Black Front, an invisible but ever-present force that Hitler and his accomplices still had cause to fear even after its leader had been forced to leave his native land and live in exile.

The organization of such a secret society was attended by a host of problems. We were devoid of funds, and could not count on contributions from any of our adherents. Each of us remained in his own political group and was bound to the major "cooperative" movement by sympathy alone. It was a kind of freemasonry, with ramifications in every class, caste and party of the German people. The central organization, of which I was the head, consisted of trusted friends who had broken with the Nazi Party and belonged officially to the Black Front. The others were lost in anonymity. Hence the name Black Front, for "black" suggests to the German mind in-

{p. 156} visibility and intangibility. It was our purpose to influence the major parties to such a degree that they would dier but little from us and our beliefs.

With these faithful followers about me, I had the power to make myself heard. My ambition, however, was not to terrorize the country or to use the methods for which I condemned the Nazis. Obviously, of course, I had to be prepared to meet their attacks, but my primary object was to reeducate the true democrats of Germany and make my program and my ideas known.

The Black Front was to be "the school of officers and noncommissioned officers of the German Revolution." The emblem of official members was a tie-pin embodying a hammer and a sword, while our standard phrase of greeting was not "Heil Hitler!" but "Heil Deutschland!"

I have mentioned Dr. Zehrer's Tatkreis as part of our membership, and it was their monthly Die Tal that we planned to use as our official party organ for propaganda, but we soon found it inadequate for our needs. We needed at least a weekly, and we issued the first edition of such a paper (first called The German Revolution, and then simply The Black Front) without knowing if we would have enough money to pay for the second. Our boldness, however, succeeded beyond expectations, for not only did we never run into debt but we soon had a considerable circulation. In 1931 and 1932 we founded three weeklies, one after another, in Berlin, Breslau and Munich itself.

I came into contact only with the leaders of the various organizations in sympathy with us, and to them I distributed leaflets and pamphlets - in fact, all of the literature from which they could gain the first principles of the national regeneration at wh1ch I aimed.

We held our Black Front meetings secretly, of course, on the premises of the Tatkreis, and new members were carefully hand-picked by our local leaders. At the "Ring," as our secret

{p. 157} meetings were called, officers rubbed shoulders with trade unionists and ardent young intellectuals. There were various degrees of membership in the Black Front, as there are in Masonic lodges. There were, naturally, Rings in all big garrison towns and all industrial centers, where recruiting was of most importance.

Within one week after I sent my ultimatum to Hitler by telegram - which, being unanswered, automatically constituted my resignation from the National Socialist Party - my Black Front was already organized and gaining in influence.

Naturally, the activities of the Black Front were continually disturbed by the aggression of Hitler's hirelings. Our public meetings were often ferreted out, and the police declared themselves powerless to protect our men from Nazi violence. When we were few in number, Himmler's thugs would insinuate themselves into our midst, storm the platform at a prearranged signal and hurl themselves upon the speaker. Thus their attack would be completed before our own men could meet them in anything like even numbers.

At Bremen, Helken's right arm was broken and he received a knife wound in his chest and stomach. On one occasion I was clubbed severely, wounded in the eye and only saved from assassination by the intervention of some courageous Stahlhelm men. When I confronted these would-be assassins in court, one of them confessed that he had had orders to kill me while I was speaking but, not having succeeded in cutting of the electricity and plunging the hall into darkness, he had failed in the attempt.

There were similar incidents involving my followers at Hamburg, Frankfurt and Stuttgart.

I remember an exciting chase through the old town of Rostock. Coming out of a meeting, I found myself surrounded by a gang of Hitler's men who seemed to have materialized

{p. 158} from nowhere. Lunging at the nearest trooper, and drawing my gun as I did so, I slashed him across the side of the head with the barrel. He fell back, staggering, and the trooper behind him received the same ef3ective treatment - which allowed me to break into the clear, barely eluding the hands that clutched at my coat. A taxi happened to be passing at that instant and I threw myself into the rear of the cab while the storm troopers shouted threats and curses behind me. But they also managed to find taxis and the chase began, my driver trying to do three things at once: watch the road ahead, cast glances behind at the pursuing cabs, and give some attention to the automatic with which I waved him onward.

They were twelve to one, and every time I thought I had eluded the troopers in the traffic, I told the driver to slow down, thinking to jump from the cab in front of a restaurant. But a second later the others would come hurtling into view and I'd yell to the bewildered and frightened driver, "Go on! Step on it!" and off we went again.

Away from the business section of the city, the taxis behind began to gain on me. Then, abruptly, two staccato revolver shots rang out and shattered the taxi's rear window. The driver slammed on his brakes, abandoned the wheel with a leap, and fled for his life, yelling. I had only a minute's start on my pursuers, and my life depended on how I put that time to use.

I was outside the entrance to a block of apartments and I dashed up to the door and rang the bell. Luck was with me, for the porter, who had just locked up for the night, promptly opened the door, perhaps thinking me a prospective tenant.

"Yes, sir ? Can I help you ?" he asked.

Without wasting words, I pushed past him, slammed the door before the amazed man could recover himself, and went racing upstairs. On the second floor I rang at random the first bell I came to. A woman opened the door after what seemed to me an eternity - for the storm troopers were already pounding on the door below and ringing the bell violently - and after

{p. 159} I'd explained my perilous situation in a few breathless words, she let me in. I don't know why; perhaps my anxiety and my very real fear prompted her, or perhaps she feared for her own life if I were caught and slain there, after taking a few of the troopers along with me first. Anyway, she locked the door behind me and promptly telephoned the police precinct, asking for help.

After we had been waiting for several minutes, the door of the next room opened and a girl o£ about seventeen came in.

"Heil Hitler!" she greeted me in the approved Nazi fashion.

"The young lady admires Herr Hitler ?" I asked her mother.

The answer was yes.

In spite of my present predicament I found this circumstance piquant. I stood at attention and introduced myself to her in the German officer fashion:

"Otto Strasser, fraulein, leader of the Black Front."

She gave a cry and turned suddenly pale. "You!" she whispered in a terrified voice. "Herr Strasser in this house !"

"Hitler's men are waiting outside in the street," I told her quietly. "They intend to abduct me, perhaps with the further intention of allowing me to remain alive for a little while, but certainly not for much longer than that. Could you possibly wish them to succeed, no matter what my political views?"

The young girl's eyes had been minutely examining my face, taking in my every gesture. Evidently my quiet words and friendly smile helped my case. After several silent seconds, without a word, she went to the window and opened it, leaning out to look down at the street. In a moment she returned.

"Yes, they are there," she said gravely. "We will do what we can to keep you safe until the police arrive."

I told her and her mother about the chase through the streets, and spoke of my party and our aims, not omitting the eforts made by the Nazis to block us. Then we heard the noise of a car screeching to a swift halt in front of the house. Voices shouted: "This way! Don't let them escape!"

{p. 160} "It's the police," the girl said unnecessarily. Then she addcd quietly and sincerely, "You're all right now - and I hope they arrest them, every one!"

I continued for a long time to rcceive letters from this prett little ex-admirer of Adolf Hitler.

Politics is an imponderable mystery, and that, I suppose, is what makes it such a fascinating game. By all accounts, what I did to Adolf Hitler should have been a real blow to his ambitions. I thought so; he was positive of it.

But exactly the reverse happened when the people exhibited their own feelings. In common with most politicians, I could find ample reason for what happened after the event had taken place. The September elections of 1930 brought more than a hundred seats in Parliament to Hitler's Nazi Party.

Alfred Hugenberg, leader of the German National People's Party, which had inherited the Imperial Conservative Party of old, joined forces with the Nazi Fuehrer. He did this at the instigation of the industrialists who were the power behind his control. Again Hitler successfully used the industrialists for his own ends.

There was a second reason to account for this sudden rise in Nazi strength. A new generation had sprung up since the founding of the National Socialist Party at the conclusion of the war. Eighty thousand of these youths had been recruited in the SA and drilled along military lines of strict, unquestioning obedience. They were taught no political doctrine; their only training was in military discipline.

This shift in party strength in Parliament, while not decisive - it still left the Social Democrats as the dominant party - nevertheless showed that the people were in a mood for a change. President Hindenburg removed his Chancellor, Hermann Mueller, as a result, and replaced him with Dr. Heinrich Bruening. The new Chancellor was a man in the prime of life,

{p. 161} university-trained and world-travelled. In knowledge, capability, energy and the human graces he was probably the best Chancellor the Reich had had since Bismarck. But his appointment was a fatal mistake. Bruening did not realize that once a Hitler is tolerated there are no democratic weapons left with which he can be fought.

The Black Front and I didn't make that mistake. We sought out Hitler's weak spots and inconsistencies and pounded at them. I wrote that Hitler was a man who had no friends, only accomplices. I publicized the fact that one of his closest collaborators, Julius Streicher, had been arrested for rape, quoted the testimony given by the plaintif in the case, a French governess, and emphasized his admission that part of her charge was true. I also publicized him as the worst sort of sex panderer.

On Hermann Goering I concentrated my greatest attack. The fat, jolly exterior of this man was a perfect mask for onc of the most cruel and unscrupulous characters I have ever come across. His was the soul of a butcher. I printed the story of his life. I related how, shortly after the war, he stole a plane from Germany and flew it to Denmark, where he attempted to sell it. Turned down because he had no title to it, he flew to Sweden. It was here that he became involved in a spectacular love affair with Countess Karin von Kantzow, a woman of considerablc wealth whom he met at the home of Count von Rosen, in Rachelstad, northern Sweden. The only obstacle to this love affair was the Countess' husband, who was still alive.

The Countess had her husband committed to an insane asylum and married Goering immediately afterward. He then brought his wife to Germany and, using her money, bought himself a beautiful villa near Munich. Knowing no other occupation than war, he looked around for a similar fruitful field in which to exercise these talents and found it in the Nazi Party. In his first interview with Hitler he was named a party member.

{p. 162} Goering later explained to the Fuehrer that it wasn't membership he was after, but leadership. He said that he had a large sum of money at his disposal which he would willingly give to the party and which need not be returned until after the party had succeeded in seizing power. He laid one hundred marks on Hitler's desk to show he was in earnest. Hitler's fingers itched. He needed a hundred marks to pay for a speaking tour. Such a need was not unusual; in these early days the party treasury was always empty. As a result of this interview - and a hundred marks - Hermann Goering jumped from party member to storm troop leader.

Because of the Munich putsch, all of Goering's - or, rather, his wife's - property and wealth was confiscated and he and his wife made their way back to Sweden. The Countess Karin's family refused to let Goering sponge on them and demanded that she divorce him. They refused to do anything for a man who was against work as a matter of principle, turning down jobs out of hand. But both Goering and his wife were ill. She was an epileptic who suffered from a tubercular infection; he was a drug addict who was finally committed by government order to the Katherina Hospital. It was here that he attempted to strangle one nurse and knife another, and as a result of these incidents was transferred to a padded cell in the Longbro Insane Asylum in Sweden; official commitment papers proved the truth of all these assertions which I made in my papers.

Following Goering's release, the brother of Countess Kantzow brought legal proceedings against the Goerings for custody of Countess Karin's son by her first husband. The court took the child away from Goering and his wife on the ground that both were mentally and physically unfit. Among the depositions which were presented in court and which I later published was one by Dr. Karl A. R. Lundberg, the family physician for both the Goerings and the Kantzows. That wellknown doctor stated under oath:

"I hereby testify that Captain Goering is suffering from

{p. 163} morphinism and that his wife, Karin Goering, is suffering from epilepsy. It is my professional opinion that their home is an unsuitable environment for the upbringing of her son, Thomas."

Goering was allowed to return to Germany when he was granted amnesty by the government on the treason charge that hung over his head. Still penniless, he blackmailed Hitler into putting him up as a candidate for Parliament. He threatened, should Hitler refuse what he asked, to bring up open legal proceedings against him for damages of 50,000 marks which he incurred as a result of the putsch and for all costs accruing since then because of the wound he received in the battle of bloody November 8, 1923. He told Hitler: "I am willing to serve loyally as an officer, but I am also prepared to drag every scandal of the party through the courts and ruin you forever politically if you refuse my demands."

Hitler was personally in favor of granting Goering's thinly veiled blackmail, because for him there was never a question of morality or ethics in any situation; all he ever considered was the expedient, whether personal or political. However, he desired the stamp of party approval on such a question; it would relieve him of personal risk. Consequently, he called his party leaders to a conclave in Munich, at which he placed the problem before them, adding that he himself saw much justice on Goering's side.

At this time I was still a member of the National Socialist Party and I voted against Goering's suit. Hess, who hated Goering then with an intensity that has never abated, also voted against it, along with Gregor. In spite of this, however, Hitler controlled enough "yes-men" to carry the party's vote, thus placing the party's official approval on the granting of Goering's claim. Later Goering was able to cement his position in the party by establishing himself with the industrialists as a front-man for the Nazis.

With the publication of such revelations, the daily pounding in my newspapers began to take effect. Dissatisfaction spread

{p. 164} through the ranks of the storm troopers: for the first time they were reading how Hitler and his gang were making suckers of them; they learned that much of the millions poured into the party coffers in the form of contributions and dues stuck to the palms of Hitler, Streicher and Goering. They learned that hundreds of other minor Nazi Party leaders were working this movement as a racket for their own personal benefit. Resentment was sharpest in the SA; the men began muttering among themselves, exchanging views, unconsciously fanning the flames of each other's anger. As the days passed, the explosion point drew closer and closer; all it needed now was a single spark to detonate the seething emotions.

Finally, in one of the most dramatic and powerful scenes of post-war German history that explosion came about - though the Nazi Party has always tried to hush the whole episode. And the explosive spark was supplied by Walther Stennes.

{p. 165} Chapter VIl

WALTHER STENNES was a small, elegant man about thirtyfive years old - a blond with blue eyes, who was never seen out of his SA uniform. He was a typical son of a Junker family, rich in the tradition of that military caste, and during the war had earned many citations for valor, especially at Cambrai, where the English first threw tanks into the struggle. After the war he joined the Frei Korps Pfeffer, a Baltic unit, in which he was second in command to von Pfeffer. Consequently, when Pfeffer later became head of the SA, he appointed Stennes a commander in that organization. Amazingly, Stennes was allowed to accept that post without being required to join the Nazi Party. Later he became leader of the North German SA.

The growing unrest within the Nazi Party was first sensed by Goebbels, who felt that Hitler was slipping and that Germany was ready for a social and political change. Immediately - as always - Goebbels played the turncoat by veering to the left and betraying his erstwhile master. However, he needed a military force behind him and a guiding genius to direct that force. In Captain Walther Stennes he found that man, for Stennes was one of those malcontents acutely dissatisfied with the present shape of things, and behind him he had his loyal Northern Brown Army, a splendidly equipped force upon whom the wealthy industrialists had showered money and favors to protect their own selfish interests.

By Good Friday of 1931, Stennes and Goebbels had completed their plans and the day of the actual revolution had been set for ten days from that date. During that time, however, Goebbels the chickenhearted began to be plagued with doubt and fear. What if their movement fizzled out? What if their

{p. 166} legions did fight heroically only to be beaten to their knees on a bloody battlefield? Surely then Hitler would have no mercy; he was ever a vindictive man, quick to order execution, or a far worse death of a more leisurely nature. And as Goebbels grew nervous, his low-grade courage disappeared completely and a panic of fear replaced it. He could see but one ignoble course that would save his own skin - at the cost of the lives of most of the men who trustingly followed him in this movement he was largely responsible for setting in motion. Goebbels didn't hesitate - he betrayed his companions without a thought.

On the day before the actual revolt was to take place Goe bels quietly slipped from Berlin and flew to Munich, racing immediately to Adolf Hitler's side and reporting the entire plot, leaving out the important and embarrassing fact that he himself was one of the chief plotters. He told of scheduled mobilization points, of planned strategy, and revealed the hour and minute of the coming uprising.

Hitler immediately issued a proclamation to his men to stand loyal, ordered a large contingent of Munich Brown Shirts to reenforce the Berlin ranks, sending them racing to the scene of the coming'siege in long rows of military trucks, and publicly denounced Stennes and his lieutenants by name as traitors. Stennes, of course, had an intelligence corps covering Munich, and this sudden military activity was instantly reported to him. It was clear as a written declaration of war that Hitler had learned of his plans; his hand was forced and he must move immediately, a full day earlier than he had intended, and at a time when his plans were not yet complete.

This created an amazing situation that could only have occurred in the Germany of that year. The Nazi Party was built along military lines, hence Captain Stennes' revolt had to be a military one, which amounted to a private war of armed, uniformed soldiers within a political party. Guns instead of ballots were to be used. Furthermore, the police and the regular army stood on the sidelines, amused by the bloody antics of Hitler

{p. 167} and his followers. The Chief of Police of Berlin favored Stennes, Goebbels having made a vicious and slanderous attack on him in a pamphlet entitled "The Isidore Book."

I was not called in to any of the revolutionists' conferences, probably at the express suggestion of my ex-employee, Goebbels, and as a result didn't know about it until it actually exploded over the amazed country. Once under way, however, Captain Stennes sent for me and I responded at once. He told me that he knew little or nothing about political matters and suggested that I function as his guide in the present emergency. I reminded him that I was already the leader of a full-fledged political group and that we would be glad to welcome him and his followers into our existing organization.

Stennes couldn't see it my way; he wanted to keep the military aspect of his group in the forefront, and to merge them with the Black Front, he felt, would paint it with too great a political tinge. Although difering in method, we were in whole-hearted agreement on the necessity for his revolt. We both felt that the end he sought - Hitler's absolute overthrow - was necessary for the welfare of the National Socialist Party and for Germany. Hitler had to be stripped of every vestige of his power; I could see no other way in which it could be done.

I warned Captain Stennes that an armed revolt which does not turn into a revolution accomplishes nothing and is certainly doomed. The men must be given a principle, some guiding ideal as well as mercenary profit, to accomplish the purpose of the campaign. Hitler's men had such an ideal, the symbol being Hitler himself. Stennes' men had nothing to hold them together and fight for except mutual discontent. I assured Captain Stennes that the creed of the Black Front would accomplish it, but that, if in his opinion it wasn't strong enough, he was free to choose any other. But choose he must. His second in command, Bruno Fricke, sided with me and did his best to induce Stennes to follow my advice, but the leader of the revolt remained undecided.

{p. 168} "I'll wait a while longer," he said. "I'm a soldier, not a politician - and right now there's fighting to be done. When my men have had their baptism of fire they'll also have their common ideal. Captain Fricke, we attack!"

German citizens went each day to their work apparently oblivious of what was taking place about them; unless, of course, rioting and fighting broke out in their immediate presence. Even the revolutionaries, if they were employed (and many of them were), went to their jobs during the day and rushed home in the evening to change into their uniforms, snatch up their weapons, and join their assigned battalions for the night's fighting. In that respect, the private war resembled a comic opera, but in that respect only. Heads were broken, blood was shed, and men died in agony to maintain this "humorous" condition.

Captain Stennes' Brown Shirts, as I have said, possessed ecellent equipment and a splendid staff of command, and Stennes used both to perfection. The principal objective in the fighting was to gain control of the meeting places of the opposed Brown Shirts. For the most part these were beer halls where the troopers, the greater majority of them unemployed, spent their time while awaiting marching orders. But before any largescale series of assaults could be launched against the beer halls, a headquarters had to be established from which orders could be issued and to which reports could be made. Such a "fortress" was found in the five-story building near Wilhelmstrasse, in Hedemannstrasse newspaper quarter. Here Der Angri was published by Hitler's Nazis, and the building also housed the SA headquarters and the offices of the NSDAP - which prompted Stennes to select it without hesitation. It was a rich prize, for it put into the Captain's hands not only a newspaper with which to sound the rallying cry and to turn out propaganda, but a fully-equipped short wave broadcasting station

{p. 169} with which to maintain contact with the cruiser cars and troop transports, all of which had receivers.

As soon as Stennes gave the order on that fateful Good Friday eve, 80,000 men under him jumped to obey. The signal for all to go into action was given after 5,000 men had been sent to Berlin from Pomerania, that stronghold of Junkerism only twenty miles from the capital, and placed under the command of Oberleutnant Schultz. The commander then ordered the main body of his troops to hold themselves out of sight and in readiness. Then he, with a force of a single company, raced by truck to the Angrif building and stormed it boldly, taking the group of regular Nazi guards stationed there completely by surprise. Hitler's guards, of course, were heavily outnumbered, which was an additional factor against them, along with Stennes' powerful strategy of surprise. Goebbels hadn't known where Stennes' men intended to strike first, this having been decided at the last minute, and the out-generaled Berlin Nazis weren't competent to foresee the bold brilliance of this opening move.

The fight in the Angri building was short and sharp, every one of the guards being wounded or killed within half an hour of combat. Actually, the engagement was more like a barroom brawl than a battle. Stennes' men rushed the front of the building and the guards were hurled back, firing as they retreated. Other groups of the Captain's forces stormed the building from the side and rear, pouring through windows and doors, coming up by way of the cellar.

Surrounded, and in danger of complete annihilation, the guards then took to the second floor - those that still stood - and fought back bitterly as Stennes' soldiers stubbornly blasted their way upward. Then to the third floor; the fourth. And now the fighting was in the nature of small group against group, with some of the guards barricading themselves at the end of corridors, behind desks and other improvised breast-

{p. 170} works, and still others taking over rooms in an attempt to ambush or enfilade the advancing lines of Stennes' forces.

The fight was a hopeless one for Hitler's men from the opening shot. Within half an hour oppressive silence settled over the smoke-filled building, broken only by the groans of the wounded that littered the halls, stairways and bullet-riddled rooms. Upstairs in the broadcast chamber, Oberleutnant Schultz, in an atmosphere biting and heavy with the bitter fumes of cordite and sulphur, snapped out his commands to the main body of his forces who waited in trucks on surrounding side streets: "Advance and occupy!" Instantly the trucks were roaring toward the ngri building, converging from all sides. And before the hour was out, a force of 5,000 troops were barricaded behind its stout, yellow brick walls. The opening tactic of the major strategy was completely successful.

Captain Stennes himself now arrived at his "commandeered" headquarters and flashed terse orders to his waiting reenforcements. These orders sent other trucks roaring into motion, each filled with fifty heavily armed Northern Brown Shirts. The bands were the roving shock troops of Stennes' legions, whose purpose was to annihilate any of Hitler's armed followers they came across - and their short-wave sets could call for immediate assistance should the opposing force they met prove too powerful.

Hauptmann von Pfeffer, who had once been Stennes' superior officer, found himself outguessed and outgeneraled from the very beginning. Initiative and surprise rested with Stennes, and he was able to maintain the advantage. Von Pfeffer had prepared to meet Stennes' attack by placing his forces in possession of the many beer-hall headquarters scattered throughout Berlin. But now, besieged by roving bands of the enemy who could strike and retreat quickly with no cost to themselves, he hastily ordered his own men into their trucks.

Shouting bands of Hitler's men flooded from the headquarters buildings and piled into trucks, went thundering down the

{p. 171} night-shrouded streets as they howled the Brown Shirt Nazi song at the top of their lungs. People hearing the martial strains of "Clear the streets for the brown battalions" discreetly ducked back into doorways or jumped for the nearest shelter.

Meantime, Stennes' men had been accosting every Brown Shirt, or group of them, on the streets; and now in a quick change of strategy that again caught von Pfeffer flat-footed, Stennes ordered his men to take over the unguarded beer halls, which immediately became the main battlefield. Squadrons of burly storm troopers burst through the doorway, clubs and guns held ready, and ordered the startled, quaking patrons to line up against the walls. The men were searched and those who carried cards showing they belonged to the National Socialist Party were forced to swear allegiance to Stennes. The alternative was a severe beating.

Such tactics may sound foolish, since a man could easily swear up and down that he favored the Stennes faction and still remain privately a stanch Hitler follower. Indeed, many undoubtedly did "cry uncle" whenever called upon to do so. But the effect on morale was strong. If Hitler and his men couldn't protect them, why should they remain loyal to him? As a result, many others undoubtedly changed allegiance.

On the second night of fighting, Hitler's forces again adopted Stennes' strategy, centering their attention on the beer halls as their opponents were doing, and frightful bloodshed resulted when these squads of professional fighters happened to run into each other.

Both sides would leave a lookout in front of the beer hall they were taking over, and if he spotted a squadron of their opponents approaching, the alarm was quickly given. Tables were overturned for barricades while other troopers adopted any available place of comparative security. Then, when the enemy burst into the hall, they were met with a blast of gunfire that sent them reeling back and left many of them stretched on the floor. Counterattack was inevitable, of course - and they

{p. 172} adopted the strategy of firing through windows, taking cover in the darkness outside and blazing into the lighted interior.

Walls chipped and sprayed as whining slugs tore into them and blasted loose great chunks of plaster; windows shattered and spewed glass over the room; a beer mug, whole a split_ second before suddenly, almost miraculously, became a thousand jagged, flying pieces. Over the staccato roar of the gunshots and the screams of the wounded, the pitiful wails and hysterical screeches of the innocent patrons could be heard; most of them now cowering in corners or lying in trembling terror on the floor.

Then, one by one, the smoke-clouded lights would be shot out, either intentionally by the losing side or accidentally. With darkness, groups of dark running figures would be heard rather than seen, and a few sporaDie shots stabbed brief lightning in the black street outside. Seconds later a truck's motor would roar into life and the battle would be over - permanently for many who had taken part, but to be rejoined shortly by those who lived unwounded. Scores of such battles raged. It was a war of many "fronts" carried on by hundreds of miniature armies, but it was costly, bitter and bloody, as much so as any civil war, those bitterest of all wars.

For the first three days the Stennes faction maintained its strength. I knew the crucial moment was at hand, however, for if the reaction against him set in, all was lost. On the other hand, if that reaction could be started against Hitler, all the money in the world couldn't save the Fuehrer then.

That Adolf Hitler's position was precarious, that he was on the verge of political ruin, no one realized more clearly than he. He did not fly into the violent, hysterical rage for which he is noted; this was a luxury he could not afford in that moment of crisis when his very destiny hung in the balance

Instead, he set to work with a singleness of purpose and with such unstinting energy as would have exhausted younger men

{p. 173} in half the time. His first act was the obvious one: he examined the SA faction loyal to him and found that in discipline and leadership it was sadly lacking, especially when compared to the Stennes group.

Hauptmann von Pfeer, the corrupt storm troop leader, was chief of the Brown Shirts in all Germany, and to have a revolt spring out of the ranks without his knowledge certainly exposed his incompetence. Indeed, had not Goebbels sold out to Hitler at the last moment, the success of the Stennes putsch would have been assured. Hitler had evidence that the SA leader had embezzled a considerable sum of money from the party's treasury, but kept him on because he felt it gave him a better hold on his loyalty - a strategy he had used before with other corrupt party officials. Now he unceremoniously dismissed him from his position and called upon Captain Ernst Roehm for aid in his zero hour of need. Hitler pleaded with the man who was his first leader of the Brown Shirts to assume that command once more.

Roehm, recently returned from Bolivia, agreed to do so. A zealous, competent army ofcer, he organized the scattered remnants of Hitler's nearly demoralized followers and prepared for the great last stand in the form of a desperate offensive.

Roehm, who was a brilliant military analyst, saw immediately that the heart of the revolt was Berlin; smash it there and victory was assured. Uprisings in the other cities must die out once it was decided that the capital remained loyal and rejected Stennes. Further, von Pfeffer's strategy of scattering his forces in an attempt to meet Stennes at every point was a costly blunder, for in that way he could have absolute control of no one point. And Roehm not only reorganized the faulty conduct of the battle, but very wisely decided to play his highest trump card - the person of Adolf Hitler himself. He reasoned

{p. 174} that if Hitler had been able to organize and solidify the National Socialist Party in the early chaotic days, he must surely be able to do so again, other things being equal.

Roehm gathered all available SA men in Munich, called upon his Berlin legions to stand ready, and marched on the German capital with Adolf Hitler at the head of his troops. With his greatly reenforced Berlin troopers giving desperate battle to the Stennes men, Hitler and Roehm, backed by a single formidable detachment of 500 powerful hand-picked Brown Shirts, marched from beer hall to beer hall. Taking over at these various halls, his SA men maintaining order and requiring the customers to remain seated, Hitler would climb onto a table and speak to the enforced audience present. Never was he in better form; never had he a more pressing reason for eloquence.

Hitler pleaded with the National Socialists present to remain loyal to him in his hour of need; he urged the men who heard him to rejoin his ranks, now fighting unselfishly and heroically for their old leader. He begged, cajoled, wheedled, prayed, promised with tears in his eyes and choking emotion in his voice. He wept before them unashamed, his hands fluttering out to them in supplication as his strangled voice almost whispered his need and each of his hearers thought he was speaking directly to him. Hitler swore there would be no reprisals; he was a father, he said, and they were his children, the ones he loved and wanted to protect from selfish, scheming men. Reprisals? Did that time-honored Father meet the return of his prodigal son with a birch rod ? Or did He kill the fatted calf in thankfulness for an honorable and manly repentance? In humble emulation of that great Father of the Holy Bible, he assured them, he intended not reprisals but increased pay for all those who returned. How could they misunderstand such simple sincerity ? Weren't they all witnesses to his word, given on sacred oath? "Return to the fold that has protected yo!" he screamed in sudden wild supplication, like the best of the

{p. 175} revivalists of old and of today. "Repent and return, for it is the honorable and manly course!"

There could be no question of the effectiveness of that audience-wiSe professional tongue. The voice ... the gesture of subtle appeal ... the words that played on the strings of the hearers' innermost hearts ... the masterly "change of pace" of volume and emotion. Men who but a short hour before were his bitter enemies felt ashamed that they had deserted him in this urgent hour of his need. They weren't convinced immediately, but as the spell of his oratory settled over that room, many present had tears in their eyes, along with the Leader who implored them. The great majority of those present were now eager to manifest their repentant loyalty; they were fired as no other audience had previously been fired by this master of the emotional appeal.

Of course, the listeners had no alternative, although Hitler carefully did not mention that point, far less stress it. Anyone refusing to be swayed by that voice would, as a result, find himself turned over to the storm troopers present, whose efforts to convince a recalcitrant person could in nowise be construed as oratory, brilliant or otherwise.

Hitler's tongue turned the tide, though we did not learn of his presence in Berlin until nearly two o'clock on the morning of that fourth day. As soon as Captain Stennes learned of it, he ordered a staff car, broadcast over short wave for a large detachment of motorized troopers to meet us at a designated point in West Berlin where Hitler was reported last to have been seen. Then we raced down the steps and piled into the car, speeding to keep the rendezvous with our men.

In the back seat were five of us, including Stennes and Bruno Fricke. We maintained contact with our headquarters by short wave and they relayed to us any information coming in to them from the search parties roaming the city. In spite of the vigilance of our whole organization, a full half-hour went by before we received the news we sought so anxiously.

{p. 176} Our dispatcher gave us the name of the beer hall into which Hitler and Ernst Roehm had disappeared, with their formidable guard, only five minutes before. Swinging the car about on screaming tires, our chaufeur raced to pick up our escort and then we all made for the hall at top speed. Slithering and swaying perilously, our car jolted to a stop in front of the hall, with our line of trucks close behind us, and we leaped to the pavement in confusion, then burst through the entrance and into the hall.

Hitler was standing on a table in the center of the hall and I judged he was about halfway through his speech. When he saw us his words died away, his jaw dropped and he stared dumbly at us in paralyzed surprise.

It was hard to estimate the relative strength of the opposing forces, but at a swift glance I calculated we were each about five hundred men, similarly armed with rifles, revolvers and clubs. For a moment there was a dead silence, electric in its tension. The very air of the place was supercharged with drama. Something big was going to happen; it was bound to when a thousand armed and hostile men faced each other within a single room. But the diners themselves touched off the explosive charge. Finding themselves in the center of what would plainly become a raging battlefield, they jumped up from their tables and raced for shelter in a pandemonium of overturned tables, shouts, the crash of broken crockery and the hysterical screams of the women.

That sudden movement galvanized us into action, as though a whip had been brought down across the back of each soldier who had formed the previous unnatural tableau. The movement was not progressive; it was simultaneous, a host of actions and reactions occurring almost at once. A Brown Shirt standing alongside Stennes whipped out his Lueger and leveled it at Hitler, still standing paralyzed on the table and watching the move without the power to react; a dozen of Hitler's hench-

{p. 177} men bounded toward their leader in an effort to protect him; Roehm's revolver had appeared magically in his hand a split second after that first draw, and he drew an instinctive bead on the gun-bearer threatening the Fuehrer.

In that awful second the fate of Germany, if not the world, hung trembling in the balance. Then two orange spurts of flame licked out and a mad pandemonium immediately swept the hall. No one could yet know the outcome of that initial exchange of shots - and then, for a brief moment, I saw Hitler's head still showing above the heads of the crowd. But not for long did he remain there, for almost immediately afterward loyal Brown Shirts pulled him down bodily and hustled him toward a rear door. A solid phalanx of SA men barred the path of Stennes' men as they attempted to prevent Hitler's escape, intercepting with their own bodies the bullets that might have brought him down. When we saw that rescue party making good Hitler's escape, Captain Stennes, Bruno Fricke and I, with a group of close followers, started fighting our way toward the main exit in an effort to cut them off.

We were near the front entrance of the beer hall, but even so our path was difficult, caught as we were in that close pack of bodies, punching fists and swinging clubs. Every step was a major accomplishment, for underfoot was a confused mass of broken chairs, overturned tables, smashed crockery, tangling tablecloths, and the still forms of unconscious men, while above there was the constant threat of a broken skull coming from every side.

Yelling something to Stennes - a yell that was no more than an inaudible whisper in the thunder of battle about me - I managed to pick up a chair which I held over my head for what protection it might afford. One of Hitler's troopers, his back toward me, was swinging the broken leg of a table, intending to deliver a bone-crushing blow. Scarcely with conscious thought, I grasped the murderous weapon, now motionless

{p. 178} momentarily at the farthest point of its backward swing, ripped it from his hands and sent him pitching to the floor, pole-axed, as he swung to face me.

There was comparatively little shooting in that jammed room, since a friend might receive a bullet as well as a foe, and if it had not been for that fact I probably never would have gained the street. But after an eternity, breathless and, to my surprise, bloody too, I stumbled out into the night. The car that had been Hitler's was gone now and I knew that pursuit was out of the question.

When my companions joined me on the sidewalk we climbed back into the car and drove directly to headquarters, where Stennes left us, meaning to direct his armies from the shortwave control room. Bruno Fricke and I, with four others, roamed the streets of Berlin for the rest of that night, hoping to pick up Hitler's trail again. It was a hopeless mission - though we didn't know that - for, as we learned later, Hitler had been so unnerved by his close escape from the beer hall that he fled immediately back to Munich.

During the long hours of that search, covering and re40vering streets in which individual fights and large-scale battles were continually raging, we barely escaped with our own lives. On one occasion a large truck loaded with men, approaching us, suddenly swerved in its course to straddle the avenue and completely block our way.

"Halt or we fire !" a voice commanded.

A searchlight flooded our car and I could see the dull glint of rifle barrels trained upon us, a sight that sent chills running up and down my spine and evidently paralyzed our chaufeur, who jolted to an abrupt stop. There was no hope of escape now; we had only a fifty-fifty chance that we had run into a roving patrol composed of our own men.

"Identify yourselves!" the harsh command came now. "Are you loyal to the swine Hitler, or are you with Captain Stennes, our new leader?"

{p. 179} I let out a rush of breath that I had evidently been holding unconsciously; relief flooded over me. I was opening my mouth to shout something when Stennes, sitting beside me, suddenly swung open the door of the car, jumped to the street, snapped to the Nazis' raised-arm salute, and yelled defiantly, "Heil Hitler! Heil Hitler!"

"That man is mad!" I shouted. "We're with Stennes!" And sweat broke out on my forehead as I saw the end approaching.

But even as I shouted, my words - fortunately for all of us - were drowned out by a chorus of laughter, and immediately by a thundered return of Stennes' greeting: "Heil Hitler! Pass, friends !"

My mouth suddenly agape, numb with the shock of that sudden life-or-death situation and Stennes' action, I watched the truck draw aside to let us pass unmolested. Captain Stennes chuckled as we rounded the next corner, free and safe.

"The fellow's accent," he explained without waiting for the obvious questions. "It was well disguised, but I could catch the South German plainly enough, since accents are a hobby of mine. And his challenge - wasn't it a little too obvious in its attempt to have us breathe sighs of relief and admit our identity with the Stennes group? I thought so, anyway. Our own men would more likely have questioned our identity without first admitting their own."

And that little drama reveals nicely the cool, thoughtful reaction of the man when faced by a grave problem: the mark of a truly great soldier.

Our search continued unsuccessfullv until dawn, and in the end we had to admit we were licked. Exhausted, many of us bearing wounds and raw bruises, we returned to headquarters as the first rays of the sun lightened the sky over Berlin. It was full dawn when I threw myself, fully clothed, on my cot and fell immediately into deep slumber. Although this was the end of my "day," it was just the beginning for other men - 5,000 of them, all Hitler-loyal Nazis, who were even now

{p. 180} gathering at a prearranged rendezvous less than twenty miles from Berlin. It was not to be long before we would be aware of that army, which even now sang its battle songs and marched against us.

After but a few hours' sleep, I cleaned myself as well as I could at a small washstand and left the room which Stennes had designated as one of the "barracks" in the qngri building. The Captain, who had not slept at all was upstairs in the shortwave room, along with other members of his staff. All of them appeared worried, which puzzled me. As far as I could see, we were more than holding our own in the fight - although I wasn't yet fully aware of the extent of damage the Fuehrer's tongue had done to our cause; and in addition to outfighting the enemy, we had apparently driven Hitler from Berlin permanently.

"Trouble?" Stennes repeated in answer to my natural question. "That's just it, Otto. There isn't any - and that's suspicious. Hitler's men have apparently abandoned the beer halls; our trucks meet no enemy trucks on the streets and they roam, , unmolested, at will; not one of Hitler's Nazis is to be found. They've gone underground, in hiding. It's my opinion that they're waiting for some signal. We'll soon know." -

Stennes was both right and wrong in his surmise; right in his feeling that something was brewing but wrong as to the particular action Hitler had in mind. Looking back on it now it is dificult to see why Hitler's move caught us so by surprise. The only partial answer, omitting short-sightedness for the moment, is that the revolt was one carried out by force of arms and that Stennes' entire strategy was based on the further use of force against Hitler's minions.

Hitler was wise enough to see that from the military standpoint his position was inferior to our own. A frontal assault on our headquarters would cause such bloodshed that even were

{p. 181} such a desperate venture successful, it would without doubt alienate the entire German people from the Nazi movement.

On the morning that the courts reopened after the Easter Holy days Hitler went into the Berlin equivalent of the Supreme court and secured a legal statement of ownership of the party building and the party newspaper Der Angrif. His claim rested on good, although not incontrovertible, authority that as the duly elected and legal head of the party, his faction held clear title to everything pertaining to the party and that only through an election as set forth in the by-laws of the party constitution could a change be effected. Until such time as the duly prescribed election was held, Stennes was an interloper, a trespasser and Hitler received a dispossess notice to file against Stennes.

It provided a comic opera touch to the affair. We were in a building that fairly bristled with armament. We were prepared to withstand a long siege. Our strategy and tactics were planned down to the smallest detail.

Then a single uniformed Berlin policeman knocked on the door of Der Angri building and was admitted. He handed a dispossess notice of Stennes. The Captain's face went white. The entire plan to defend the building collapsed. While Captain Stennes had on objection to fighting a war against Hitler, he had no desire to antagonize the constituted authority since in the end this might result in the regular army being called out against him.

My surprise was boundless when I heard the order given for us to vacate the building. I hurried to Stennes and in a voice that clearly showed my amazement asked for the reason. When he finished I remonstrated with him that under no circumstance should we get out. I argued that we should sue to reopen the case, pleading that the building belonged to the Berlin branch of the party; that Stennes was head of the Berlin branch now and as such was legal owner of the property in

{p. 182} question. No matter how this effort succeeded in court, it was still a stall for time - time that was of vital importance to us if we were to drive Hitler out of the party.

Again and again I tried to convince him. Fricke and other olicers joined me in my argument that the move he contemplated might result in the failure of the entire enterprise but it was futile. We witnessed that phenomena repeated so often in history of a rebel who tries to be a "loyal rebel"; of a man who doesn't realize that his fear in becoming a real revolutionary dooms his movement to failure.

We knew the next day as we were seated in our new headquarters that things were going badly, especially since many of our men had failed to gather at the prearranged rendezvous. le answer to that was obvious: they had renounced allegiance to our cause and gone over to Hitler. To those men, such a move could not be called desertion or betrayal. Weren't they simply joining another faction in the Nazi Party, to which they all, both sides, paid allegiance? In a sense, it might be likened - as they saw it - to a soldier in the United States transferring from the infantry to the artillery. It is probable, too, that Hitler's promise of regular pay - and good pay - had much to do with their decision. And the loss of our headquarters, with all that it meant to Stennes' cause, was far from helpful.

Hitler was promising more money, and we had practically none. That was what hampered us most in pressing the revolt. It takes an enormous amount of money to finance a war, even on the small scale of the one we were waging. We couldn't go on without more money, much more.

We were seated in our new temporary headquarters arguing back and forth about that question when Captain Erhardt walked in. Erhardt was attached to the naval service, and he was faithful to the conventional traditions of that service. From his chin jutted a spitz beard, a spadelike adornment frequently affected by naval officers. I had never had a high opinion of

{p. 183} Captain Erhardt personally, and the knowledge that he was the head of an organization of strike-breakers whose vicious and brutal activities were an open scandal endeared him to me even less. The personal feeling between us, I might add, was mutual.

He shook hands with Captain Stennes and, seeing me, said: "Ah, you, Strasser! I'm afraid you'll try to lead our friend into some stupid Bolshevist mistakes."

I bristled angrily at the remark. "I find your words as offensive as your manner and person !" I snapped.

Captain Erhardt thrust out his chin, his eyes flashing. "I consider those words an insult - " he began.

I stepped up to him and he stopped speaking. "Just what are you going to do about it?" I challenged.

Captain Stennes stepped quickly between us, pushing us apart, and Captain Erhardt quieted down. He looked at me with a sneering expression on his face, then turned to Stennes and said:

"I am afraid Strasser can only offer you his ideas. I have come to offer you money."

Stennes seemed surprised at the timeliness of his offer, in view of our discussion just before Erhardt's entrance. "How much do you offer, Captain Erhardt?" he asked, obviously interested.

"I have been commissioned to pay you ten thousand marks a month," Erhardt replied.

He went on to explain that the owner of the Otto Wolff Iron Works was antagonistic to Fritz Thyssen and was anxious to remove Hitler from the national scene. Practically everyone knew that Thyssen had been financing Hitler and his Nazi movement from the start, so it was obvious that the only way to remove Hitler would be to defeat him - and Thyssen, automatically - through financing a second and antagonistic movement, thereby replacing the Nazis and Thyssen.

Otto Wolff, the owner of the multimillion-dollar concern,

{p. 184} a Jew converted to Christianity, saw in Hitler a grave threat to the peace and security of Germany. Obviously, then, when Stennes' strong faction arose to challenge Hitler's power - and seemed within an ace of making that challenge good - Otto Wolff was quick to see his golden opportunity.

Necessity forced Captain Stennes to accept this seemingly heaven-sent offer. Even though he dearly loved his freedom of action and his independence of thought, he was realist enough to know that now he would be beholden to a privileged group much the same as Hitler was - but that, even so, he would at least have a chance of achieving his present goal. His back to the wall, Captain Stennes accepted.

Nothing we could do in the following days seemed to stop the defections in our ranks. The movement I had feared so much had set in at last; party sympathy was swinging toward the Fuehrer. Even though I knew the odds were a thousand to one against us, I threw in my most frantic efforts with the others in an attempt to save our cause. Money was ours now, lavishly bestowed by Wolff, and with it we had at least a concrete, appealing offer. We enlisted the aid of every loyal Brown Shirt in our faction, empowering them to contact, if possible, alienated members of the cause and appeal to their honor and their old affection, just as Hitler had done so efectively. We authorized them to offer money, too - more money than Hitler had offered - in short, we did every conceivable thing that could possibly help us. And, at the end of eight days, I found that a miracle had come to pass. We were beginning to make headway in our drive - very little, to be sure, but still headway. A few hundred old members had returned to our organization. A handful ? Certainly. But such movements need only be started, and afterward they seem to roll forward of their own momentum. We were jubilant in that moment. We could strike again!

And on the eighth day the thunderclap came. That evening

{p. 185} Adolf Hitler returned to Berlin, with Hermann Goering, Ernst Roehm and Rudolf Hess. With the loyal members of our forces still underground and in hiding, too weak to fight openly any more and with Hitler's men in complete control of the beer halls, we were powerless to prevent what followed.

As always, Hitler depended on his silver tongue to smash all opposition. Again he went from beer hall to beer hall, bribing, promising, now even threatening; now there was thunder in his voice as well as tears. Occasionally, and briefly, in his speech he would weep - and then he would lash out at his listeners with a very frenzy of righteous wrath. His indignation would not be directed at them, certainly; he was too astute for such rhetorical browbeating. He would use such phrases as, "Those traitors to the Fatherland who would seize from you what is yours, you loyal Germans!" And at the end he would be greeted by thunderously wild applause. You may be sure that any in the audience who had been on the borderline of loyalty, who may have been swayed by our pleas, were among those who applauded most loudly, who stamped their feet and howled their approval.

For fifty-four incredible hours Hitler's stentorian voicc pounded, hammered, thundered at the Berlin storm troopers - and when he was through the original 45,000 followers of Captain Stennes had dwindled to a mere handful. The magic of Hitler's voice did not fail him during that fantastic oratorical marathon.

Nor did his wily tactics fail in their appeal. Whereas up to the time of the Stennes revolt only Brown Shirt oflicers had received pay, Hitler, in his first battle of speechmaking, had promised that all members should receive pay. Now, with the same disregard for truth or true intent that has always characterized the man, he promised that all men of all ranks should receive pay, the privates getting 2IO pfennigs a week, and swore awful vengeance against the leaders of the "Jewish Revolt" - blithely ignoring the fact that the revolt sprang from the ranks

{p. 186} of his own men, that it was Nazi through and through, and that there wasn't a single Jew involved in it.

Stennes saw defeat staring him in the face; the last to cling to even a faint hope, he now admitted it. In two weeks it was all over. Stennes stood alone, a valiant general without an army, without even a company of men at his command. On one memorable evening he shook hands with me in his underground "headquarters" and secretly left Berlin.

With much of the money to finance the revolt still in his possession, Stennes founded a camp for unemployed men. He might just as easily have put the money in his own pocket and left the country - or even remained in Germany - living like a king. There was no one to demand an accounting - surely, Otto Wolf would have been the last of all openly to admit his complicity with such a revolution when the Nazi Party was so rapidly becoming the dominant power in Germany. But Stennes wasn't made that way. He was not the type of Nazi of Hitler's camp followers.

One of the blackest pages in Nazi history is the story of Captain Stennes' fate after Hitler became supreme in Germany - a story of the concentration-camp horrors that have been endured by so many.

Immediately upon Hitler's seizure of power, he issued orders for the arrest of a long list of citizens whom he termed "enemies of the State," and among those names was that of Captain Walther Stennes, the man who had come within an ace of casting the Fuehrer into political oblivion. The dread Gestapo agents were not long in seizing the Captain, and he was immediately hustled of to a concentration camp.

Since Stennes represented one of the bitterest of Hitler's enemies, the Gestapo agents vied in outdoing each other in their

1 In the history books dealing with the Nazi Party published by the Minister of Propaganda and Enlightenment it is still called - because of Otto Wolff's tardy support - the Jewish Revolt,

{p. 187} inhuman cruelties toward him; they obviously felt that the extent of their brutality was to be the true test of their devotion to Hitler, and a sort of depraved rivalry sprang up among them.

Later in this book the dark inner workings of the Gestapo will be told, but here I will explain that one of the favorite forms of brutal torture used by that organization is known as Kaschumbo. A long, heavy whip known as a "blacksnake" is soaked in water for several hours until it becomes waterlogged. Then it is greased with vaseline, or a similar substance, so that the weighting water will not be jarred loose by the impact against human flesh and bone.

The victim of Kaschumbo is completely stripped, then handcufed, hands and feet, face down, upon a table. The biting lash cuts in three places - back, buttocks and thighs - in rotation and in long-spaced rhythm. One victim of this horrible beating who lived to describe it said that the unimaginable pain was so great that he felt as though his screaming brain was oozing out of his mouth, nose and ears.

Captain Stennes was subjected to Kaschumbo, during conscious intervals, for two solid days, but unlike less fortunate victims, he had too many powerful friends still in favor in the Nazi Party to be allowed to die under the lash. Stennes was taken to a hospital, where doctors found the tendon and cartilage of his back and legs laid bare as though by a surgeon's scalpel; the flesh, from repeated strokes of the whip, had been completely cut away, a bit at a time. The more fleshy part of his body was a ragged mass of blood, flesh and tissue. For weeks he lay in the hospital, even hardened Nazi doctors refusing to allow the impatient Gestapo agents to take him away for more torture. Finally, however, he had to be released, to be sent off to the dread Dachau Prison.

At dawn one morning, shortly after his arrival, Stennes was awakened by the brutal kicks of his guards. Jumping from his bed as quickly as possible and coming to attention (refusal to

{p. 188} have done so would have meant a merciless beating on the spot, since it was the rule for all prisoners) he was told to dress and follow his warders into the courtyard.

His filthy rags hanging loosely on his emaciated form, the brilliant military officer was marched out that day to where a squad of Brown Shirts, armed with rifies, waited in formation. No explanation of what was to follow needed to be given the prisoner. One of the warders thrust a spade into Stennes hands.

"Dig, you swine!" he ordered. "Make a pit seven by three feet, six feet deep."

And there, as the morning sun rose higher in the sky, Stennes shoveled laboriously, urged on to ever greater speed by the profane and indecent taunts of his guards. Twice he fainted from exhaustion, his tortured body refusing to stand more punishment, but each time he was revived with pails of ice water sloshed upon him. Finally the pit was finished, and he welcomed the release that soon was to come - a release he desired more than anything in the world.

"Dog," a guard explained unnecessarily, "you have just dug your own grave. Soon you will lie in it!"

e was hurled against a stone wall, his body swaying uncertainly but trying to maintain at least the semblance of an officer's carriage. The squad of Brown Shirts marched briskly forward, lined themselves facing him. The officer in charge strode forward and ofered a white handkerchief to bind across

his eyes, but Stennes disdainfully refused it. Next a cigarette was offered, and this last favor Captain Stennes accepted. Standing there in the courtyard, proud even in his rags, he faced his execution squad n the midday sun with unblinking stare.

"Aim!" the command came, and guns snapped to shoulders.

A drum began to roll in the background, the prison's only concession to Stennes' rank as an officer. The executing lieutenant's sword was bright as he held it aloft; long seconds passed as this grim tableau was held.

At last it came: "Fire!" Stennes body involuntarily stif3ened

{p. 189} to receive the blast of slugs - and from the executioners' guns came nothing but a series of dull clicks. Not one of them had been loaded. Then, roaring with laughter at their macabre joke, the Nazis dragged the semiconscious man back to his reeking cell and hurled him inside.

Months later, at the intercession of several prominent Nazis who were still in good standing, and at the solicitation of General von Hindenburg himself, Stennes was released on his oath never to set foot in Germany again. A man without a country, he went to China, where today he is the head of the personal bodyguard of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, as well as informal advisor to the Chinese military staff.1

Up until the time the revolt broke out, Captain Stennes and Captain Roehm had been firm friends, but when Roehm took over the command of Hitler's storm troopers, Stennes' feelings toward him naturally changed. A famous nerve specialist, Dr. Heimsoth, an ardent Nazi, had joined the Stennes faction. Roehm had maintained a lively correspondence with the doctor when he was in Bolivia, these letters dealing largely with Roehm's homo-sexuality. Dr. Heimsoth, also at odds with Roehm, turned the letters over to Stennes, who in turn gave them to me with the request that I publish them in my newspapers. This was the first actual proof any of us had of the storm troop leader's abnormality. I refused on moral grounds to print these letters, so Stennes arranged that they be delivered to Dr. Weiss, the Berlin Chief of Police, who was anxious to strike a blow at the fast-rising Nazi movement. Weiss had them photostated and distributed to every newspaper in Germany. They made a sensational story.

The expose was played up from the angle of young Hitler youth who served under the absolute and unquestioned command of a self-confessed degenerate. But Adolf Hitler was un-

1 This will explain to those surprised spectators of recent newsreels the reason for a Chinese corps shown goose-stepping in review. In June 1942 Chungking reported that Colonel Wahher Stennes was captured by the Japanese when they invested Shanghai and that he was executed before a firing squad.

{p. 190} perturbed, outwardly, by the furor it created. Said he: "I don't want prattling churchmen and simpering nuns in my party. I want old warriors!"

When the moral and the expedient conflicted, he rejected the moral with a sneer. Later, as Captain Roehm was to find, Hitler reembraced the moral with the piety of a Judas - when it then furthered the expedient. That episode is a beautiful thumbnail sketch of Adolf Hitler's character.

{p. 191} Chapter VIII

Now THAT HE was in command of the Brown Shirts, Roehm's first order of the day made it imperative for party members to address the Nazi leader only as Mein Fuhrer, and all comunications, whether oral or written, were to be concluded with the words: "Heil Hitler"

The fact that Hitler had come so close to being thrown out of his own party had a strong effect upon Hitler himself. If it happened once it could happen again, so it became imperative that he take safeguards to prevent a recurrence. The Sturmabteilung had been organized in an earlier day to strengthen his grip on the National Socialist Party. Now he had to organize still another group to maintain his control of the SA. Consequently he formed the Sicherheit, or Schtt-Stael, meaning literally Security Staff. These men had no party affiliations or political beliefs; they wore black uniforms modeled after the Storm Troopers' and they were called the Black Shirts or SS men. These troops formed Hitler's personal bodyguard, their only creed being an intense, almost fanatical loyalty to the Fuehrer. The words imprinted on the handles of the daggers that dangled at their waists summed up their position: "Our code is obedience."

The man who had been Gregor's secretary, Heinrich Himmler, was appointed commander of this unit. Several years before, when my brother had assumed leadership of the Nazis in Parliament, he had turned over the command of his Landshut battalion to Himmler, which act constituted that worthy's first step in his rise to power. The five leaders of the Nazi Party were now: Captain Ernst Roehm, Gregor Strasser, Hermann Goering, Josef Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler. Roehm hated Goering and called him Germany's most stupid man; Goering

{p. 192} hated Goebbels; Goebbels hated Himmler, and Himmler conspired against Strasser.

Adolf Hitler thrived in this environment of mutual distrust, suspicion and fear: since these powerful figures hated each other he could be certain they would never unite against him. He was the magic catalyst that held these foreign elements together.

The Black Front gained 3,000 members when Bruno Fricke, second in command to Captain Stennes during the ill-fated revolt, joined forces with me. Fricke had always looked favorably on the policies and aims of the Black Front.

A few weeks after Stennes gave up the struggle, I called a monster mass meeting at the Hansa Brewery in Bremen, announcing it by posters on huge billboards throughout the city. I knew, however, that Hitler was bound to attempt some stratagem to head me of - though I didn't know just how far he would dare to go. There would be trouble, of that I was sure. Hitler and I were waging an undeclared war and wherever I happened to stand, there was the battlefield.

Arriving early at the meeting that night, I stood in the rear of the hall watching the audience pour down the aisles to their seats. There was an excited rumble of conversation, for a sense of impending action seemed to grip the people. Unrecognized, I was leaning on the railing at the rear of the auditorium, as I have said, when I noticed two men directly in front of me, seated in the last row, leaning their heads together and whispering. The unusualness of such an action caused me to strain my ears to catch what they were saying. I heard one of them say, "You're sure everything is set ?" and his companion replied, "There'll be no hitches. He dies tonight!"

As casually as I could, I stepped into the aisle and entered the row just in front of the two men, hoping to hear more of their plans. I was not disappointed. I gathered, from snatches of their conversation, that sometime during my speech an order was to be shouted and the light switch cut. Then, under cover

{p. 193} of darkness, one or more of the assassins was to stab me to death and make good his escape during the excitement and confusion that would follow.

aking my way up to the speakers' platform, I told Herr Pagel and Herr Helken, the local Black Front leaders, what I had overheard, then went to a phone booth in the hallway and called police headquarters and told the chief of police there could be no doubt but that an attempt was to be made upon my life by a Nazi execution squad sometime during the meeting.

"Surely you are mistaken about that, Herr Strasser!" he answered. "My party comrades would never do such a thing. It was a practical joke, perhaps, by two men who - "

"You mean you refuse to give me protection?" I broke in.

"You must be suffering from delusions," he replied. "Heil Hitler!" And he hung up.

It was too late to turn anywhere else for protection, so I walked out on the platform to be greeted by a scattered applause. The audience of roughly dressed folk, was for the most part composed of persons of Social Democratic, Monarchist, Stahlhelm and neutral sympathies. Judging by those I recognized, there were probably eight hundred SS and SA men scattered among the spectators, undoubtedly the ones charged with creating a riot. From what I had heard earlier, my executioners were seated on the right side of the house, and I thought I could spot them now, their apparent leader being a youth in his early twenties, with large nervous hands.

Hitler wasn't going to scare me off this platform, I decided, come what might. I stepped up to the podium, and was banging the gavel for order when Herr Pagel came hurrying up to me to tug nervously at the sleeve of my coat.

"Herr Strasser, I have just learned of the agreed signal that will start the violence!" he whispercd excitedly. "At your first mention of the name Hitler, the storm troopers will go into action. You will call upon them by your own words!"

{p. 194} I nodded, and turned to face the now expectant audience. The text of the talk I had prepared was a bitter denunciation of the Nazi Fuehrer, and I didn't intend changing it at the last moment. Indeed, what sort of a speech could I deliver that wasn't concerned with that all-important name? So I resorted to a neat trick. When I first came to Hitler's name in the text I substituted the phrase, "Oesterreichischer Schmieren-Kom adiant," meaning "a low provincial actor." The sympathetic members of the audience rocked with laughter, and the Nazis present glowered with impotent rage. Time after time I repeated this, always varying my insulting identification, and I found that the trick was actually improving my speech. I called Hitler a cheap phrase-maker, a rhetorical robot, an oratorical automaton; I referred to him as Germany's self-appointed drummer boy, as the Austrian opportunist, and as the corporal who would be king. And the scattered Nazis present had to listen with fury blazing in them, unable to act in concert since they had no agreed signal.

There was a sharp burst of applause when I finished the speech, but the greatest satisfaction to me was the fact that not only had Hitler failed to prevent my speaking, but that eight hundred of his picked troopers had had to sit silently and listen to a cutting denunciation of their revered leader.

Triumph came too soon, however; had I been wise I would have walked victoriously from the stage with the first ringing salvo of handclapping, for no sooner had the applause died away than an SA man leaped to his feet, then mounted his chair.

"Troopers, why do we wait ?" he shouted. "With Communist traitors we don't speak, we strike! Let's go!"

At those words the huge hall was plunged into darkness; screams and shouts welled up from the panic-stricken, milling audience; fists flew as men jostled each other in their frantic efforts to gain the exits; and, fighting viciously against the heaving tide of terrified humanity, the eight hundred storm

{p. 195} troopers fought to gain the stage where I and the other delegates stood.

Somehow the Nazi assigned to black out the hall had not succeeded completely; the switch controlling the lights on the left side of the hall had not been thrown, and this cast suficient illumination over the rest of the brewery for me to see what was taking place. It was easy to spot the Nazis, since they were the only ones fighting to gain the stage, and after a mo. ment I picked out the official "executioner," who was being aided to the stage by a phalanx of Brown Shirts. Escape was impossible, since two Nazis on each side of the hall, in the front row, had immediately leaped to guard the exits to the wings, though they made no move in my direction. Evidently the "honor" of murdering me was strictly allotted to but one or two men.

Inexorably, the executioner had twisted and fought his way forward until he was a scant thirty feet from the speakers' platform. Arming myself as well as I could, I grasped the carafe of water that had been provided for the lecturer and with my other hand swung my chair before me, legs foremost, as an improvised shield. He shouted to his companions to shove me from the stage - so that hundreds of pairs of eyes could not see him in the very act of murder. As Nazis swarmed from all sides I heard one of them cursing the lights that had delayed my death. As they closed in on me, I leaped backward to place the curtain directly behind me and jabbed at the foremost men with the legs of the chair. Three of them grasped the rung and began twisting and tearing to rip the chair from my hold. I released it abruptly and they staggered backward wildly, plowing into their onrushing companions.

Spinning and dodging now, I managed to break through the closing ring and raced across the stage, knowing my only hope was to break through the two guards and gain the wings. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Herr Pagel and my other delegates, each in the center of a snarling, cursing ring of Nazis

{p. 196} who beat and slugged them witn their short blackjacks. Pagd was already down and heavy boots were thudding into his body, though his cries were lost in the pandemonium of the hall.

As the first of the guards loomed up before me, arms stretched wide, I heaved the heavy water carafe straight at his head. He ducked nimbly, but the glass container exploded against the wall, close to his face, and the jagged shards ripped one side of his face to ribbons. Blood streaming down onto his chest, he turned blindly away and I had a moment of wild hope. But strong hands gripped me from behind and I was swung into the stone pillar at the end of the stage with stunning force. The clothing was ripped from my body as fists smashed into my face from every angle. I fought back desperately, furiously. Then someone hit me on the back of the skull with a blackjack, my knees sagged as I tried to straighten them, and I went down. ...

When I awoke in the hospital next day I learned what had happened. Thirty men had been severely injured. Herr Helken, stronger than Herr Pagel and able to put up a better fight, was in the hospital with a broken arm, suffered when it was twisted behind his back, and also with knife wounds in his chest and stomach. Herr Pagel had been kicked so severely it was feared he would die from internal injuries. Only the eventual arrival of the police had prevented further slaughter, my own included. Nine Brown Shirts, including the man charged with the responsibility of killing me, were under arrest and accused of assault. None of them was charged with murder or attempted murder.

Still in the hospital, I bought ads in all the local papers and announced in heavy black type that no terror was big enough to keep me out of Bremen, that no number of professional thugs would keep me from speaking to the people. In spite of Hitler's hell I would be back - and my voice would be heard. I signed it boldly: Otto Strasser, Leader of the Black Front.

{p. 197} Long hours of pain lay ahead of me after that. A full week went by before I was sufficiently recovered for my wife to have me carried to a hired car and driven to our home in a Berlin suburb. There I slowly regained my strength, meantime following the story of the "Hansa Trial" in the newspapers.

There was an interesting bit of testimony during that trial. One of the defendants, asked by the prosecutor whether it was true that he had been ordered to kill Otto Strasser, responded in a simple-minded fashion: "I wasn't going to kill anybody. He was the man supposed to kill Strasser." He pointed to one of the codefendants, the man with large, nervous hands. However, the sentences meted out to these cutthroats were mild, and the "man who was going to kill Strasser" became a hero among the Nazi Party members.

The day the trial concluded, I was suficiently recovered to hold another mass meeting at the Hansa Brewery, and it was a huge success. The government couldn't afford to allow any riots on this occasion - not with the same man holding a meeting in the same hall when the trial for the previous riot was at its climax and very much in the public eye. Accordingly, a cordon of the police was thrown about the building, with additional units posted inside, and Hitler's men dared not attack.

I prepared this speech very carefully, basing it upon Hitler's maneuverings, which was an easy matter to accomplish since so many highly placed Nazis were also ardent members of the Black Front. From them I learned that Hitler was about to reach out for the power to rule all Germany; he felt that his union with Hugenberg's Conservative Party and with the Stahlhelm put him in a position to seize such power. It was on the basis of this information that I was able to strike at his most vulnerable points, especially the public danger of his Napoleon complex, which I labeled "a deranged, lunatic egomania that would stop at nothing in accomplishment."

Now Hitler was certain beyond question that I had inside

{p. 198} information that came from his own ranks. The Black Front working within his own Nazi Party was an ever-present, fright_ ening menace that must be destroyed at all costs. When my words were repeated to him he fell into such a fury that men around him wondered whether he could long retain his sanity. The action he took was typical. To every storm troop headquarters - and to every member of the SS - went the same urgent order:

Kill Otto Strasser!

I closely followed Hitler's attempted plot to secure the Chan cellorship of Germany, as he tried to make a deal with Chani' cellor Bruening to perpetuate President von Hindenburg's term of office. A two-third majority in Parliament was necessary to amend the constitution so that the election in 1932 would be waived. Hitler's price for the support of this measure, which was necessary for its success, was that Bruening resign his position, Hitler be named in his stead, and that General Groener, Minister of War, be removed and a Nazi succeed him.

Groener was the imperial officer who had advised the Kaiser just before the fall of the monarchy to put himself at the head of his troops and expose his person to the fire of the enemy. The General told him it was the only way he could save his crown. When the Kaiser remonstrated that he himself might become a casualty, Groener told him that in that event he would die a hero. The Kaiser turned the suggestion down as too ; high a price to pay for the throne, and a few weeks later fled to Holland.

Chancellor Bruening refused to come to terms with Hitler, and a presidential election had to be held and strict party lines drawn. There were three principal candidates in the field: Field Marshal von Hindenburg; Ernst Thaelmann, the Communist; and Adolf Hitler, backed by new conservative forces.

The Nazis began a whispering campaign about General Groener. Shortly after his marriage his young wife gave birth

{p. 199} to a boy - too shortly afterward for the normal course of recpectable events - and the Nazis left room for no mistake in their broad meaning when they said that the General was naming the child Nurmi because of his unusual speed.

Backed by the full power of a major political party, Hitler became a real threat, and the attacks upon him by the Black Front increased. In the closing months before the election we had but one goal in view: the defeat of Hitler. When a man is on the way up, there is always the danger that there will be a bandwagon rush to join up with the coming winner. Our task was to see that such a rush never materialized.

That Hitler feared our activity could be seen by the lengths to which he went to silence us. Bloody riots flared throughout Prussia, where we had most of our strength. At a meeting at Itzhoe, Major Buchrucker was stabbed, while Dr. Grantz, a veterinary surgeon who had been a Nazi but had left the party after the Stennes revolt, was brutally beaten. Hitler himself had named Dr. Grantz as the hero of Woehrden because of his great bravery during a street fight with a Communist Party riot squad in which four stormtroopers lost their lives. At the funeral of these men Hitler embraced Dr. Grantz and said, "I chall never forget this moment. I shall never forget what you have done." 1

There were riots at Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Berlin and Hamburg. Groups of Brown Shirts would come racing up to streetcorner meetings in trucks, pile from their vehicles and set upon the listeners with clubs and fists. The speaker would be dragged from his stand and severely beaten, while all who had been listening would become the prey of the troopers, regardless of political affiliation. By this act the Nazis denied the German people, on their own authority and by violence, the right of &ee speech and assembly - and the police did little or nothing

ISince 1933 Dr. Grantz has been in a concentration camp. No charge has ever been preferred against him. The last news I had of him was in 1939; he was still tere. Whether he lives today I do not know.

{p. 200} to stop them. Their principal function was to call the ambulances to carry away the wounded.

At Stuttgart, where I made a speech on the necessity for Hitler's defeat, I quoted the Nazi Fuehrer's confidential words to me on an earlier occasion - that what the German people needed was not a government of the people but a government over the people.

When I left the hall it was necessary to walk through several groups of people, and inexplicably I found myself entangled with one of them, felt myself being forced slowly against a wall. Ordinarily I should not have regarded this with suspicion, for no hand reached out to detain me. At the risk of appearing ridiculous, I burst through the group, pretending to be anxious to hail a passing cab, and did manage to swing into a taxi. Immediately several men in the crowd ran to a waiting sedan: I knew then I was in a trap.

The driver of my car continued along the street as directed, and then his glance became a frozen stare as I pulled my automatic out of my pocket and laid it on my lap in readiness for what might come.

"Drive at your regular speed until we reach the next corner," I ordered. "Then turn off this avenue - and go like blazes ! The men in that sedan behind will exterminate both of us if they ever catch up."

We had almost a full block's lead when my driver swung around the corner and out of their sight, and he lost no time in jamming the accelerator down to the floorboards. Leaping ahead, he swung his cab recklessly around another taxi just ahead of us that was going in the same direction, a machine identical with ours, one of a large fleet that covered the city.

We were almost two blocks from the corner when it happened. Through the rear window I saw the black sedan swerve about in our pursuit - and then, mistaking the taxi we had left well behind us for the one I was in, the sedan deliberately

{p. 201} forced tke taxi over against the curb, up onto the sidewalk and straight into a streetlamp. There was a rending crash that cut off the driver's hoarse yell, followed by the crash of shattered glass. The streetlamp was extinguished by the impact, but in the dark street sudden flashes ripped out, accompanied by the hard, flat sound of automatics. After a fusilade of about twenty shots, silent darkness returned.

Neither of us spoke as I paid off my driver at the railroad station; we both knew what had happened, and I suppose we both felt slightly guilty that an innocent driver and passenger had suffered a fate meant for us, though we were actually in no way responsible and could have done nothing to prevent it.

The presidential election ended in defeat for Hitler, with von Hindenburg reelected. The Nazi Fuehrer was at party headquarters in Coburg, Bavaria, when the news reached him, and he immediately burst into tears, paying no heed to those about him while he wept. They were real tears that rolled down his cheeks. In his own heart Hitler was certain that he would be the winner. Actually, the National Socialist Party polled almost 13,000,000 votes and won 230 seats in the Reichstag - which was far from a defeat. The Nazi Party had risen to a position first in importance among the parties of the nation, but this did not assuage Hitler's hurt feelings and wounded vanity.

President von Hindenburg, however, was concerned over the startling increase of power of the National Socialists. To be more accurate, von Hindenburg's advisors showed this concern; for the old Field Marshal was now eighty-five years old and could no longer reason clearly. He could do little more than sign documents pushed in front of him by his son Oscar and his secretary, Meissner.

Hitler's strategy during the campaign had been to attack Chancellor Bruening, stating repeatedly that he felt no opposition to von Hindenburg, but ran against him solely that he could remove the "Red" Chancellor from office.

{p. 202} Von Hindenburg's advisors put their heads together and figured out a method whereby they could steal some of Hitler's thunder. The smart move, they reasoned, would be to get rid of Chancellor Bruening and replace him with Franz von Papen, a man upon whom Hitler looked with favor. Such things as Bruening's yeoman service in practically single-handedly assuring the reelection of von Hindenburg had no part in their; reasoning. As a sop, they would throw him the post of Foreign Minister.

On May 29 1932 von Hindenburg called in Chancellor Bruening and laid the proposition before him. The next da Bruening resigned his post - the diplomatic way of saying he was discharged - and turned down the foreign ministry because, he said, he could no longer serve with honor in the old Field Marshal's cabinet. Von Papen replaced him. General Groener was removed from the Ministry of War and replaced by General Kurt von Schleicher.

These moves told Hitler more clearly than did the results at the polls how great his power was. His Brown Shirt legion had been held in check largely because of his inflammator promises to give them a free hand to loot, plunder and kill on the day he got into power. Now that he had the power, he hesitated to unleash the violence.

In 1923 the regular troops had fired on the Nazis. Would the army hesitate to fire on them - and on Hitler - today? Would von Papen, the new chancellor, who owed his job as much to Hitler as to any man, dare give the order to fire on that man and on his followers? Hitler didn't think so.

He gave the order to the SS and SA men that this night was theirs. Terror stalked in Germany during those hours between dusk and dawn. A quiet home might be standing on a town's outskirts, friendly lamplight glowing in its windows, its only crime being that it was inhabited by Jews. Suddenly a band of singing men would come marching down the road - and

{p. 203} perhaps the inhabitants of the home would come to the door. They would not be frightened when they saw the men come marching up to their very door - puzzled perhaps, surprised, but not frightened. Then the husband, his wife and his children would be dragged down to the lawn, where the husband, ctripped to the waist, would be flogged in the presence of his family, vilifications meanwhile being heaped upon them all. If the wife went to her husband's aid, she would be knocked to the ground. If the husband attacked the uniformed men, he would probably be killed. But they were Jews, so what was pain or death to them? Hitler said they weren't human. Adolf Hitler said this treatment was all right.

Homes were burned, men and women flogged, one Jew was hanged, another burned to death. In all, that night, seven Jews were killed, one hundred and twenty severely wounded, hundreds bruised and beaten, a thousand stores and homes looted and destroyed.

A man named Hentsch was slain because he had been too ctanch a supporter of Captain Stennes during the revolt, and the local Brown Shirts remembered it. The most brutal of all was the murder of Pietrzuch at Potempa. The victim was a Nazi Party member believed to have committed some act of disloyalty. Five storm troopers in full uniform burst into his home at two o'clock in the morning. While one held his aged mother the other four set upon him, stabbed out his eyes, slit his tongue, and stabbed his body more than thirty times - all before his mother's horrified sight.

The nation was appalled at the brutality and bloodshed. General von Schleicher sent word to Hitler that he had given the order to shoot to kill the next time the storm troopers acted Von Papen, terrified of political repercussions as a result of the wide public indignation, then declared martial law and ordered the death penalty for all political murders. The murderers of Pietrzuch were named to the authorities, were speedily arrested,

{p. 204} tried, convicted and sentenced to be executed. Hearing of this, Hitler sent them a wire saying: "Your honor is my honor."

Shortly afterward he stormed into von Papen's office, slammed his fist angrily on the Chancellor's desk and delivercd an ultimatum that was brazen in its arrogance. If these men died for their crime, he threatened, he would set loose ever one of the 800000 SA and SS men under his command and the reprisal would make the bloody events of their first night of terror seem like a polite tea party by comparison. Von Papen backed down before this insane threat and commuted the sentences to life imprisonment.

In Parliament the Nazis assumed the position of dominant ' party, even though they were numerically inferior. Frick, ' who was the Nazi leader in the Reichstag, maintained excellent discipline. His party legislators voted in a solid block, something the other parties could not do. Frick maneuvered his parliamentary forces until the von Papen cabinet would have to fall unless it received Hitler's support. i

On August 13, at five o'clock in the afternoon, Hitler, Roehm and Frick appeared at the President's Palace in Wilhelmstrasse and were ushered into the General's presence. Hitler's slight figure paled into insignificance in the same room with the giant von Hindenburg. The frock-coated Field Marshal arose as his visitors entered and stood behind his desk, slightly bowed, supported by a heavy walking stick. In his presence, as ever, Hitler found himself embarrassed and unsure. He shifted uneasily on his feet and cleared his throat. "Greetings, Your Excellency," Hitler said

Von Hindenburg was silent, studying his visitors leisurely, in no hurry to open the conference. There were papers in his hand; papers put there by his son Oscar, which he would read with the same force as though the orders actually originated with himself. He was somewhat disdainful in this moment, for in the eyes of the Field Marshal, Hitler was never more

{p. 205} than "that Bohemian corporal." To the day of his death he never changed this view of the Fuehrer.

"You have come to me with demands designed to increase your power," von Hindenburg said at last in his deep voice. "Very well, Herr Hitler, I offer you the Post Office Ministry."

Hitler, about to say something, remained with his mouth open and at a loss for words. The oer of such a humble post, comparatively speaking, was so insulting it took the wind out of him. "That is hardly fitting in view of the support I have given your government," he complained lamely at last. Humiliation had reddened his face.

General von Hindenburg dismissed his words as though they had never been spoken. "You have promised to support Chancellor von Papen," he rumbled. "Now you are trying to break your word. Can there be any discussion of your course after I have reminded you of that ?"

The General stood before them, regarding his visitors from under lowered brows. No one had a word to say in reply. After a moment von Hindenburg tapped his cane to signify that the interview was at an end. As a secretary escorted the three Nazis to the door the President suddenly roared, "Halt!" as though he were again on the parade ground and addressing a group of rookies. The Nazis turned meekly to face the General, who was standing with his stick held aloft, as though it were a sword. "Remember this, and remember it well!" he thundered. "I will tolerate no acts of violence from any of you! That's an order!" And he deliberately turned his back on them, walking slowly to the window.

All over Germany young storm troopers waited impatiently for Hitler's signal. Their commanders had confidently told them that it was merely a question of hours before they could again set aside all legal and moral restraint. They were like a group of wolves who have justed tasted blood; after that first night of unrestrained pillage and senseless riot, nothing would do but

{p. 206} that they should have a holiday of violence again. After all, wasn't that their esprit de corps, the very basis of their foundattion?

Hitler, however, did not give them the signal. He was shrewd enough to sense that both von Hindenburg and von Papen were in deadly earnest. A move by him in defiance of the President's explicit orders would surely mean the declara-

tion of martial law for the nation; and it would mean bloodshed, with certain ignominious defeat - and probably death - for Hitler and his men. The risk involved in such a move would be out of proportion to any possible gain. Hitler knew that if violence might raise him to supreme power, violence might also destroy him. He bided his time.

To anyone who knew Hitler, it was obvious that he would never take such a humiliating rebuf without retaliation. He waited patiently, for he knew his day would come soon. And it did. He had a perfect opportunity to pay back the "wrong" in the September, 1932 session of the Reichstag.

Probably in all history there has never been a democratic session as grotesque as this one. The new Reichstag was opened by the woman Communist, Clara Zetkin, who read a long declaration, in which she proclaimed the coming of Soviet Germany. "The hour of the working masses is at hand!" she cried - and how real her Communist vision was, was shown when, immediately afterward, Hermann Goering was elected Reichstag President! The Nazi whose girth had expanded miraculously since the lean years when he was a fugitive from justice was expanding now in public prominence; and on September I2 he called for a vote of confidence on the von Papen cabinet, believing they would fall and would, perforce, submit their resignations. To facilitate this political move, Frick, leader of the Nazis in Parliament, displayed nice teamwork in forming a coalition with the Communists and Socialists, making a formidable voting bloc. The following vote of no confidence caused the fall of von Papen's ministry.

{p. 207} By themselves the Nazis were not strong enough to carry the ncw elections, which were scheduled for November 6, so coalition with another party was necessary. Once power was secured, is other organization could be absorbed into the Nazi movement, or so emasculated that its voting power remained while its strength at the council table was nil.

Hitler now faced the problem of selecting the right faction with which to combine. Gregor favored combining with the Socialists, because their principles were closest to those he advocated and because the majority of votes lay in that direction, but Goering and Goebbels favored union with the Conservatives because the money lay in their hands. As for the Fuehrer, he was in a quandary; he didn't know which way to turn. It was Fritz Thyssen, Germany's Croesus and godfather of the Nazis, who finally decided him. Hitler elected to make a common cause with the Conservatives.

The election of November 6, 1932, broke the rising tide of National Socialism, for in spite of the coalition the Nazi Party lost more than two million votes. The parties of the Left were jubilant, because the magic spell seemed to have been broken, and the unearthly certainty of the eternally rising election returns no longer obtained. Between July and November Hitler's following dropped from 13,732,779 to 11,705,256. His present total was but a little higher than that which he reached at the first vote for the Presidential election in March. A million and a half of the electors of July did not vote at all this time, but stood on the sidelines, embittered or hesitant. In them stood the Nazis' chief hope - but the question was whether the National Socialist Party could still fight another election.

I was jubilant over Hitler's crushing defeat. During all those preelection days I kept hammering at the Nazi group through my newspapers; and my Black Front had, of course, voted solidly against him. And there was another reason for my jubilation. The Nazis were a losing party and I knew that the

{p. 208} future would find their ranks thinning as defections took placc all along the line. Nothing is apt to fade so quickly as a loser.

When the new Parliament met it set out afresh to remove, von Papen from office, which was too much for von Hindenburg, who replaced von Papen with General Kurt von Schleicher. The relations between the von Hindenburgs and the von Papens, however, remained of the most cordial and 2 friendly, the von Papens continuing to reside in the President's Palace.

General von Schleicher's first act in office was an attempt to win over to his side the Nazis and the trade unions. He wanted to get rid of Hitler, at the same time preserving phases of National Socialism and the body of the voters behind it. For this reason he sought out Gregor Strasser and ofered him the vice chancellorship in the new cabinet he was forming. This post would normally go to the head of the party, and Gregor held an interview with von Hindenburg, for he didn't wish to accept the post if there was any chance of it being given to Hitler.

The old man reassured him. "I give you my word of honor," he declared firmly and with force, "that I shall never make that Bohemian corporal Chancellor!"

Gregor went directly to Munich and, at a meeting with Hitler in the Brown House, reported the conversation he had with President von Hindenburg, saying that he would abide by whatever decision the Fuehrer might make. At first Hitler was ' hesitant about giving his consent for Gregor to accept the job, but finally agreed in principle to it, promising to come to Berlin within the next few weeks to advise him anew. This he did, but he now attached three conditions upon von Schleicher before he'd give Gregor his permission. The Reich would have to assume responsibility for all the Nazi Party's debts; von Hindenburg must not dissolve the Reichstag without Hitler's consent; and the Reich's President must appoint three more Nazis as members of his new cabinet.

{p. 209} Chancellor von Schleicher agreed to these conditions. At the same time he made a deal with Herr Leipart, the leader of the German Free Trade Union, to accept a position in the cabinet and to support the regime.

The Schleicher-Strasser-Leipart coalition was all but an accomplished fact and Germany was about to have a powerful liberal government dedicated to internal reform. It was as positive a guarantee against Communism as was possible; and it would, I am convinced, have guaranteed the peace of Europe. It also had the cautious support of the Black Front, for it came closest to what I myself believed.

There, in the winter months of 1932 the peace of Europe hung in the balance. What happened later - the invasion of Austria, the conference at Munich, the partition of Czechoslovakia, the other steps to the final cataclysm - came after the die had been cast, and it was as a direct result of what occurred during these days. The responsibility may be laid squarely at the feet of von Papen, Goebbels and Goering. Through them, Adolf Hitler led Germany and the world into chaos.

The coalition government lacked only one thing: Hitler's signature on the formal pact. He was due in Berlin on December 8, at which time he would place his signature on the document at the Chancellory.

Before the deal could be concluded, three things happened The ex-Chancellor, von Papen, still living at the palace and deep in the intrigue which he hoped would put him back in power, visited Hitler secretly and told the Nazi leader that Oscar von Hindenburg had assured him that his father had never said he would refuse the Fuehrer an important cabinet post.

The second was that Fritz Thyssen, who looked upon this new coalition with as much favor as he might view a pack of brigands, wrote to Adolf Hitler that Gregor Strasser's action proved him disloyal to his chief and that the manner in which Strasser worked against Hitler was contemptible.

{p. 210} The third event occurred on the cold bleak morning on which Hitler was due to arrive in Berlin. Gregor Strasser, bundled to the ears in his heavy greatcoat, the drifting snow swirling about his ankles, stood waiting on the platform of the Anhalter Station. On schedule, the night express from Munich came thundering in, and almost before it had come to a halt; Gregor swung aboard. He hurried to Hitler's compartment, but found it empty; puzzled, he then sought out the conductor.

"I'm looking for Herr Hitler," he explained to the conductor. "He's on this train, I believe."

"He was on the train," the other replied, "but he must have had a sudden change of plans. He got off hurriedly at Weimar."

Unable to understand it, Gregor returned to his ofice, wherc he telephoned Munich and was told that as far as party headquarters knew, Hitler was in Berlin. Gregor then asked for Rudolf Hess, with whom he was on excellent terms, but was i told that Hess had accompanied the Fuehrer. Gregor replaced the receiver, knowing something was wrong; and whatever it was, it had happened between nightfall and dawn.

Two days passed without Hitler communicating with Gregor. Chancellor von Schleicher kept telephoning Gregor, demanding the reason for the delay, and Gregor could only say that the entire affair was as much a mystery to him as it was to the Chancellor.

On the third day Hitler arrived in Berlin unannounced, headed straight for Gregor's office and came storming through the door to surprise the two of us in a conference. I had never seen his usually pale face so red, his lips so taut that they almost trembled. His venomous eyes narrowed slightly as he held my gaze for a second, then swung back to Gregor.

My brother recognized these signs of anger, but feeling that he could not possibly be the cause, he arose and extended his hand. Hitler ignored it.

"Traitor!" he screamed. "You have tried to betray me be hind my back! You fool, did you think - "

{p. 211} "Herr Hitler!" Gregor interrupted, his face a picture of amazement"I don't understand you. There must be some mistake !"

"There's no mistake !" Hitler shouted. "You know very well what I'm talking about!" And then he went into a tirade, at times incoherent, accusing Gregor of conspiring with his enemies in an effort to strip him of his power.

For a long silent moment my brother regarded the man whom he'd served loyally for more than ten years. Hitler didn't give him a chance to speak; he turned on his heel and strode out of the room. Gregor seemed thunderstruck. When I tried to examine with him the cause for Hitler's action, he simply shook his head in bewilderment and refused to discuss the incident, as though he were at a loss for words. Thinking he wanted to be alone for a time in order to collect himself, I patted him affectionately on the shoulder and left his office. That night Gregor resigned all his offices in the Nazi Party, and likewise resigned as a member of Parliament, saying nothing to me about this action. Days went by before I learned that he had taken his family and returned to his pharmacy in Landshut.

I learned later what it was that changed Hitler's mind and caused him to accuse Gregor of treachery. As the night express carrying Hitler to Berlin pulled into Weimar, Goebbels and Goering leaped aboard and burst into Hitler's compartment. Both of these men saw an end to their power in the proposed coalition, so they furnished "proof" that Gregor was secretly fighting Hitler and scheming against him. They had only ten rninutes in which to convince the sleepy Fuehrer that they were accurate in what they said, for the train was scheduled to pull out for Berlin at that time.

Hitler believed them, and despite Rudolf Hess' advice that he continue on to Berlin and examine the proof further, he got of the train and permitted the pair of plotters to drive him

{p. 212} back to Munich. They both knew that it was easier to influence Hitler by appealing to his emotions than to his reason.

Thus the liberal coalition ended before it had ever been estab. lished in fact. The German government remained on a foundation of quicksand; any disaster might now happen.

Von Papen had laid the groundwork for Hitler's disagreement with my brother, his object being to keep the von Schleicher government weak so that it would be overthrown and he himself returned to power. His eforts, aided by the treacherous lies of Goering and Goebbels, completed the di aster for Germany.

Although von Papen worked secretly, the German Chancellor learned of his intrigues and set plainclothes police to, trailing his scheming predecessor. Shortly after this precaution, these police saw Adolf Hitler, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Franz von Papen enter the house of Herr Schroeder, head of the powerful banking interests in Cologne. Concealed near by, the secret agents took a photograph of this group as it left the house.

In a stormy session the Chancellor asked the man who up to this time had posed as his loyal friend whether it was true that he had attended a meeting with Hitler at Schroeder's home.

"It is false," von Papen answered immediately.

"Will you give me your word of honor?" the Chancellor asked. "I give you my word of honor!" von Papen replied.

Without a word General von Schleicher took the photograph out of his desk and laid it on the table before von Papen. Von Papen said nothing; he got to his feet and walked out. Speaking to von Papen's retreating back, the Chancello said sadly, "Remember, a German officer. I blush for our army! I blush for Germany!"

Von Papen blithely continued his conspiracy, and Oscar von Hindenburg worked closely with him. It was Oscar who whis-

{p. 213} pered to the old Field Marshal that his Chancellor's morals were low and that he was publicly and scandalously involved in flagrant love aairs. The aged President was shocked by this informationThen, to add to the President's concern, von Schleicher incautiously made a speech in which he expressed his faith as an extreme liberal. It frightened the capitalists as well as the aristocratic von Hindenburg; again von Papen and Oscar von Hindenburg whispered in the old man's ear, this time saying that von Schleicher was no more than the forerunner of Communism. Von Hindenburg weakened, succumbing to their lies and blandishments. He admitted reluctantly that his appointment was a mistake; von Schleicher would have to go. Von Papen and the President's son were jubilant; they could see results from their scheming.

That night at the palace, von Papen, Hugenburg, leader of the Conservative Party, Seldte, leader of the Stahlhelm, Dusterberg, a conservative-faction leader, and Hitler met for a conference. What started as a discussion changed rapidly as ambitions clashed, nerves became frayed and tempers rose; open battle was imminent. Hugenberg and Seldte, supported by Oscar von Hindenburg, wanted von Papen to be recalled to the chancellorship. Hitler refused to yield. He would not be pushed aside. As he argued, his voice was tremulous and his eyes watery. Here was the chance he had striven for all those bitter years and he must not fail. He thundered that he must be the next Chancellor or he would withdraw his support from the government, and that might easily mean Communism. In the end, his threats won.

There remained only the obstacle of von Hindenburg's dislike for Hitler. It was von Papen who handled this slight detail. At dawn, his assistant, Herr von Alversleben, burst into old von Hindenburg's bedroom in the Presidential Palace and announced in a breathless, tremulous voice that General von Schleicher had refused to leave the Chancellery, and that to enforce this refusal the General had mobilized the Potsdam

{p. 214} garrison, who were even now on a full war footing and await. ing any eventuality.

This news threw the old man into a panic. All that his mind could grasp was that if von Schleicher were successful it would mean a Red military dictatorship. Such a disaster had to be prevented. It didn't matter that there was not a word of truth in this startling announcement. Von Hindenburg accepted the a report as true and turned for advice to his ministers who had come in on von Alversleben's heels. They said there was only one course he could follow: there was only one man in all Germany who had a military force strong enough to put down this incipient revolution. That man was Hitler.

At dawn on the morning of January 30, 1933 President von . Hindenburg signed the decree that made Adolf Hitler Chan. cellor of Germany, and the Bohemian corporal whom he had sworn never to appoint to o;ce was at last in power. Hitler's long quest was at an end; only one thing was lacking. He did not yet have absolute authority.

In that gray dawn he must have recalled his old axiom that l absolute authority can be finally obtained through but one method. Violence.

{p. 215} Chapter IX

STANDING ON A STREET CORNER on Wilhelmstrasse late that night, I was buffeted by a wildly partisan crowd that watched 25,000 swaggering storm troopers who marched down the broad boulevard with blazing torches and roared their battle songs at the top of their lungs. They were men drunk with power, men who saw the future of which they had dreamed at last come true.

On a balcony of the Chancellery Adolf Hitler was standing, a deliriously happy smile on his face, his every gesture sharp, quick, as though stimulated by a powerful drug. At his feet lay the world: the pounding tempo of his marching legions; the challenge of their thundering songs; the ecstatic cheers and howls of the close-packed crowds that lined Wilhelmstrasse; the eerie effect of the flickering procession of torches. Hitler's right hand was held stiffly across his stomach, the palm flat against his coat. Repeatedly he moved his hand upward in a Nazi salute with one easy motion, as though there were a swivel joint in his elbow.

It was a cold, raw night and I shivered. If Hitler's henchmen had hounded me before, making attempt after attempt on my life, what might he not try now that real power was his? For months now I had been cautious in my every move. I knew that Hitler would never rest until the two of us had had the last showdown, and that showdown was fast approaching.

Standing in a window of the Presidential Palace was old von Hindenburg, nearing his eighty-sixth birthday. I wondered if the full meaning of his act penetrated his consciousness. I wondered if he knew what it would mean to Germany to appoint the hysterical pauper, once ejected bodily from a Viennese flophouse, the successor of Bismarck.

{p. 216} The ancient giant Paul von Hindenburg und Beneckendorf is now in the twilight of his life; as he stands immobile at his window it is obvious the scene below has little meaning for him. He is probably thinking of the stags in Rominten, and of those hunting breakfasts with his comrades in Neudeck. Perhaps he dreams of that sweltering July third in 1866 when he receives his baptism of fire as a young of};cer in the cornfields of Koeniggratz - how long ago is that? - why, yes, seventy-six years ago, three generations. He may recall the assault of Chlum, where an Austrian bullet, fired from one of those oldfashioned muzzle-loaders, tears the Pickelhaube from his head and ploughs a little furrow through his close-cropped scalp. Perhaps he is thinking of something nearer to his memory, of the bivouacs in France, of the proclamation of the German Emperor in the Mirror Hall of Versailles, which he attended as the representative of his regiment, when that other giant in the Cuirassier uniform, with the strangely thin voice, read the proclamation. But surely his mind is not here. In the end, weary and long past his usual bedtime, he turns to his son and asks simply: "Oskar, where did we make all those Russian prisoners again ?" It is thus that he dismisses Adolf Hitler's Brown Shirt legions.

Hitler's hold on his new job was no more secure than that of his predecessors. The last election had weakened his own party in Parliament and it only required a little organized opposition to push him back out of power. I tried through my newspapers and the Black Front to acquaint the German people with the necessity for such organization, and with each fresh attack the German Chancellor grew more furious.

Four days after Hitler's advent to power I was walking along Mohrenstrasse toward my office when I saw thirty SA men, accompanied by a handful of uniformed police officers, march into the building that served as my headquarters. From the corner a short distance away, I saw the five Black Front men

{p. 217} who served as my guard being hauled off, undoubtedly to be "interviewed" by the Gestapo and taken to a concentration camp. The storm troopers, using axes and iron bars, then destroyed the ofice, my papers and confidential files being baled and sent to party headquarters for examination. This was obviously Hitler's first move in open, declared war - though, as usual, he struck first and declared hostilities later. It wasn't for several days that I learned Hitler had outlawed the Black Front and had ordered all our publications either confiscated or destroyed.

All that day I kept carefully out of sight, spending most of my time in the dark of a moving-picture house. In the evening I slipped into the street, went to a public phone and called my wife at my home in Lenitz, on the outskirts of Berlin. She told me in a low voice that two storm troopers had searched through the house and were now stationed in front of the door. I knew I'd have to go into hiding immediately; there was no doubt but that I was wanted for "questioning" in connection with the Black Front, and that was an experience I wished to avoid at all costs. I called a loyal member of the Black Front organization in Berlin and he urged me to slip over to his house; I accepted that sanctuary gratefully, making the trip in a cab which I dismissed several blocks from his home, to avoid any back-trail.

Hitler's chancellorship was destined to go the same way as von Papen's and General von Schleicher's, and the Nazi Fuehrer knew it. But he wasn't going to lose the power he had labored and schemed for so long.

Goebbels set the stage; Goering executed the plan. Their machinations burst upon the German public with all the force of a bombshell when Goering ordered his storm troopers, under their authority as Hilfspolizei (police helpers) to make a raid upon the Karl Liebknecht House, Communist headquarters in Berlin. Then Goebbels "carried the ball" by getting his

{p. 218} propaganda mill rolling. The Nazi press, with the conservative papers joining in the chorus, ran big headlines over the stories announcing that the Hilfspolizei had uncovered startling evidence of a plot to overthrow the government. Not only were these treasonable documents found (to this day they have never been made public, leading to the inference, at least, that they never existed) but also found were strips of chemically treated material of a sort used by firebugs to start conflagrations. As a sort of set-up for future propagandistic skulduggery, Goebbels wondered in seventy-two-point type about the sinister purpose to which the Communists intended to put this highly inflammable material. That finished his work. Goering, the man of action, stepped in.

It was the night of February 27. The taxicab in which I was riding had just crossed the Breitenbachplatz when suddenly I saw flames leap up into the darkened sky. I shouted to the driver to stop, thrust a bill in his hand and leaped from the car. Down the Tiergarten I raced, the shadows caused by the flames casting strange patterns over the trees and the statues of the Prussian kings and princes that lined the broad boulevard. At the end of the street was the Reichstag building; tongues of fire were snaking out of the windows of the upper stories and licking at the roof. Lines of SA men, arms locked, strained against the surging crowds of spectators who had gathered as though by magic. In the distance the wails of the fire engines could be heard, and soon they roared upon the scene.

Afraid to approach the SA men too closely, I observed the activity from a safe distance. The entire building was a mass of flames before the firemen could even start to fight the fire; there was obviously no hope of saving it. For perhaps half an hour I stood in the background, certain the morning would find only a gutted ruin where the Reichstag building had once i stood.

I remained on the Tiergarten, feeling secure in the protection

{p. 219} afforded me by the swarming masses of people attracted by the blaze. Hitler appeared in a window of the Chancellery and screamed that a Dutch Communist was the guilty party and that he had already been placed under arrest; his complete confession, Hitler assured the listeners, was only a matter of hours. Goebbels and Goering then followed Hitler onto the balcony, each making a speech in turn, and each repeating the prepared story: Germany was in danger of being seized by the Communists. There was very little applause; the people listened in silence, and even the storm troopers appeared dazed by what had happened.

It was almost three o'clock in the morning when I finally started homeward - or, rather, started toward the hideout I'd arranged earlier for that night. The snow that had fallen during the day was already trampled hard - the way so many things in Germany were soon to be trampled underfoot.

Naturally the German people never knew it, but Hitler's indignant pronouncement that the conflagration was part of a Communist revolutionary plot was already rolling of Goebbels' presses at the very moment the words left the Fuehrer's lips. For the Communists to have done this, however, would have been an act of utter stupidity. If this were the signal for a Communist revolt, then how was it possible to account for the fact that nowhere in Germany did that party make a single attempt to usurp the authority of the State? To the intelligent person there was never any doubt but that the Nazi Party itself had set the fire.

All thinking Germans suspected the true origin of the blaze - all except von Hindenburg, too feeble now to realize what was going on around him. He accepted Hitler's story and became, as usual, greatly concerned at the threat of the Reds. He readily agreed to sign an emergency decree "for the protection of the people and the State," turning over to Hitler powers which made him virtual dictator of Germany. The last restraint

{p. 220} holding down terrorism and bloodshed and barbaric torture had been lifted. Hitler could act in any manner he saw fit and be answerable only to his own conscience - and to a God in whom he had no faith.

The early editions of the morning papers announced that Hitler had made his first mass arrests of political opponents. Three hundred organizers and leaders in the Black Front were included in the thousand-odd thrown into concentration camps. Among them were Major Buchrucker, who was with me during the Kiel attack; Schapke and Blank, my two closest associates; Dr. Grantz, the hero of Woehrden and former SA leader of Schleswig-Holstein.

Dozens of other close friends found themselves behind the hastily erected enclosures: Dr. Becker, the attorney who had been a Hitler youth leader, a follower of Stennes and had then joined my ranks, was put in the Koenigstein concentration camp, a converted fortress now set aside for "difficult cases." He is still there.

Thus the Hitler horror was born.

The man with whom I spent the remainder of the night of the Reichstag fire secured a black wig and a small "Hitler" mustache for me the next morning, and it was upon these hirsute additions, along with a pair of horn-rimmed glasses, that I gambled my life and freedom. After a warm handshakc - and after taking a deep breath - I stepped out of the housc that afternoon and made my way to the railroad station by a circuitous back-street route. My ticket had already been purchased for me, so I timed my arrival for but a minute or two before the train's scheduled departure, and my plans functioned like clockwork. Five minutes after I had hurried through the station to board the train, I was speeding on my way to Thuringia, where arrangements had already been made for me to be concealed at the home of Herr Schreck, a powerful po-

{p. 221} litical figure in this central German district and a man of such indomitable courage that he never reckoned the personal cost in remaining with me in my fight against Hitler and his Nazism.

The hideaway was a neat frame cottage on the outskirts of a little watering place, and it was from here that I issued orders to my followers to destroy all evidence of any connection with the Black Front. Those who had not been too prominently connected with my movement were ordered forthwith to join the SA and the Nazi Party. Our new policy was to bore and undermine from within the ranks that supported the Fuehrer.

Several loyal members other than Herr Schreck had been aware of my planned hideout in Thuringia and knew of the man who would conceal me, so my one chief worry now was that one of them, picked up in the wholesale arrest of Black Front members which was still going on, would crack under the tortures of the Gestapo and reveal the secret. I had no choice but to take that chance, however, and after several days had passed uneventfully I stopped worrying and felt secure and safe - which is the most dangerous pitfall any hunted man can fall into; it blunts his vigilance and leaves him mentally unprepared to react to a sudden emergency. And even as I felt this way, one of my followers in the Oranienburg concentration camp, in desperation after four solid days of torture and pain, gave the Gestapo the location of my hiding place.

Shortly past midnight on the fifth day at the hideout, a big car with lights out pulled up in front of the house. I had already retired, but Frau Schreck was in the darkened living room, making sure the house was locked up for the night. Two factors saved me from immediate capture: Frau Schreck's vigilance and the darkened automobile drawing up near the house; had the headlights been on she probably would have thought nothing of its arrival. As it was, however, this was far too suspicious to ignore. She rushed up to my room, where I had just dropped off to sleep.

{p. 222} "Herr Strasserl Herr Strasser!" she cried. "Quick, in the ' name of heaven! The Gestapo agents are here!"

The dread name "Gestapo" was like an electric shock to my brain. In a flash I was out of bed and, throwing a bathrobe about my shoulders, was raeing down the stairs for the eellar. So suddenly had the alarm eome that I had no time to devise a plan to save myself; I had simply reaeted to a primordial, ' animal instinct to run - somewhere, anywhere. Heading for the cellar was purely instinctive. My heart pounded madly as I groped in the pitch-black basement for a place of concealment. No one knew better than I the resourcefulness of the secret police in ferreting out even the most ingenious hiding places, so what chance had I of outwitting them by any concealment made at a moment's notice? Upstairs I heard Herr Schreek shouting that he would not open the door until the Gestapo agents had satisfaetorily identified themselves.

At that moment my blindly groping hands felt the coal bin, noticed automatically that it was full. There were some empty burlap sacks lying on the coal, so I tied a handkerchief about my face, climbed feet first into one of the sacks, and began burrowing frantically into the pile. Each clink of the moving, shifting anthracite sounded like the roar of thunder, but I had no choice other than to chance it would not be heard or interpreted by those upstairs.

Herr Schreck couldn't hold them of any longer; he had to open the door, and I heard the tramp of heavy Gestapo boots as they stalked into the house, angry at the suspicious delay. Pushing past Herr Schreck and without giving any reason for their presence in the house, they searched the main floor but failed to find anything incriminating. My clothing was already hanging neatly in Herr Schreck's closet, my shoes lined up with his, and the two of us were nearly enough of a size to complete the deception.

The leader of the Gestapo agents found one suspicious circumstance on the second floor. "Who sleeps in this room?" he

{p. 223} dcmanded jabbing a finger in the direction of the bed I had hastily vacated and which Frau Schreck had not had time to remake before the search.

"I do," Herr Schreck replied without hesitation.

"I thought you said your room was down the hall," the Gestapo man said, attempting to confuse Herr Schreck.

"That is not so. My wife sleeps in that room. My wife and I occupy separate rooms."

The men stared hard at Herr Schreck, but made no eomment when he met their gaze with unwavering eyes. Then, motioning the Schrecks to accompany them, they marched down to the cellar and snapped on the light. Lying motionless in the pile of coal, I fought against the irritating, near-sufocating air. One sneeze would cost me my life. As it was, it might cost me my life, anyway, to remain in that hiding place. Coal dust can be deadly - but it would be a more comfortable way of dying than to permit myself to be captured by Hitler.

The Gestapo men searched the cellar with methodical care, even tearing the soiled clothes from a large hamper in the laundry room and casting them haphazardly about the floor. One of them even took up a shovel and began to jab it forcefully into the pile of coal. One of the jabs narrowly missed my head, but just then the man was sidetracked from this pursuit by a call for assistance from one of his companions.

For some time they continued to search the cellar, leaving chaos behind them. They seemed to take delight, in a perverted sort of way, in needlessly disrupting and disordering. Frau Schreck was even commanded to remove all her bottled preserves from their shelves, though it was obvious this could in no way further the quest of the secret police. She did as ordered, and her patience only pointed out to the Gestapo agents that the nerves of the Schrecks could not be frayed by such tactics. When they failed to find any trace of me, the leader of the search party decided to adopt a diferent approach. Whirling

{p. 224} suddenly upon Herr Schreck, he seized him roughly by collar and shook him violently.

"All right," he growled angrily, "we can stop playing the game now. Out with it! Where is this precious traitor of yours, Dr. Strasser?"

Herr Schreck was a man with nerves of steel. Looking. blankly at the officer, his face the picture of innocence, he said quietly, "I don't understand you, Herr Leutnant."

"You know very well what I'm talking about," the Gestapo agent said slowly and ominously. "Pay attention now! I order you, in the name of the Fuehrer and by authority of the Geri man government, to produce Dr. Otto Strasser from his place i of concealment."

Herr Schreck managed a look of bewilderment. "You are mistaken about that, officer. Dr. Strasser is not here."

The Gestapo leader's hand gripped Schreck's shirtfront, twisted it, and drew the other's face close to his own with a powerful tug of his arm. "I warn you things will go doubly hard with you if you persist in your stupid and obvious lies! You want to go on living, don't you?"

The hand twisted tighter in its grip on the shirt, again rocked Schreck back and forth. "When you address me, say 'Yes, sir.' Understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"So you want to go on living, eh? Well, you won't if we bundle you off to a concentration camp - for special treatment. You'll beg for death then; you won't think life is so sweet!" One of the Gestapo men in the group laughed without humor; the leader went on: "Do you love your wife? Would you like to keep her from harm - and I mean harm?"

"Yes. Yes, sir."

"Then I won't have to enlarge on that. You look bright enough to understand without a verbal diagram. So I ask you again, and for the last time: WHere is Otto Strasser?"

{p. 225} Schreck seemed to crumble as he made a show of honcsty. "All right. I'll be very frank with you. I confess that Strasser was supposed to arrive here three days ago, but he never showed up. As a matter of fact, I sent word back to Berlin that I wouldn't receive him. I was afraid of this very thing happening. After all, I'm a married man; I can't take such chances. As for where he is now, that I truly don't know."

This was a shrewd response. Many Black Fronters knew that I was scheduled to head for Schreck's home, but none could say that I had actually arrived there. Only Schreck, his wife and I were aware of that fact.

The Gestapo agents, puzzled and half convinced, made a second search of the house and then, unable to find any incriminating evidence for even a technical charge, stamped out of the house and returned to their car.

The moment they were out of sight Schreck raced down to the cellar and shouted my name frantically. Feebly I dislodged some of the coal, and he dug furiously with the shovel, finally dragging me into the air, where I lay gasping, sick and only half conscious. After a few minutes, and with the help of some brandy, I was suficiently recovered to listen to the story of the visit and to praise the magnificent courage and quick thinking of my host. Then Frau Schreck brought me two blankets and a cushion, with instructions to throw them into the furnace if the Gestapo should return, and I bedded down beside the coal pile for the remainder of the night. I was taking no chance on the sudden surprise return of Hitler's secret police - a maneuver that is a favorite of theirs.

For the next three days I lived in the cellar, every moment one of apprehension, pacing the floor and swinging my arms as the only method of releasing the energy that pressed me to be out and fighting. But I dared not leave the security of the coal bin, for outside Gestapo agents maintained watch at infrequent intervals, and perhaps at other times when they were hidden from sight. Their obvious absence on many occasions

{p. 226} was probably an invitation to me to make a break for freedom - and walk obligingly into their arms.

At five o'clock on the morning of the eighth day I madc my play for freedom. Disguised as a night laborer returning, home, I slipped from the house after having shaken hands warmly with my host and with his heartfelt "Godspeedl" still in my ears, I crept through the back yards of the adjoining houses until I was a block away from my hideout, then I entered the street. Fighting down a strong impulse to run, I strolled as casually as possible to a prearranged meeting place, where I found a touring car waiting for me. Herr Schreck had arranged for the car by telephone; it was driven by a Black , Front member dressed in the uniform of the SA, a dangerous but effective disguise. No sooner had I set foot in the automobile than it lurched into motion - and I struggled out of my overalls and threw aside my ragged cap and lunch pail. The flight from terror had begun again.1

I ordered my chauffeur to drive directly to Bavaria, for although that province was the birthplace of Nazism, the Social Democratic government of Dr. Held was still in power. There I felt I would be safe, since the Gestapo would not dare pick me up without a formal complaint being sworn out against me.

We had covered thirty nerve-racking miles when the chilling sound of a powerful motor car going at top speed sounded I behind us. Twisting around, I peered cautiously through the rear window, warning my driver to maintain the same speed, and was surprised to see that the car was already close upon

1 I did not learn lmtil muh later that Schreck returned to the house from the yard where he had left me, only to walk into the arms of a party of Gestapo agents who . missed me by seconds. The telephone operator had listened in on his conversation arranging for my transportation and had reported the fact to local party headquarters. Herr Schreck was thrown into a concentration camp, but no charge was ever lodged against him. Luckily he managed a hair-raising escape and made his way to my headquarters, which were then in Prague. He was recaptured there when the Nazis overran Czechoslovakia, and was returned to Germany. He was placed in solitar confinement and that was the last lr anyone else outside the Gestaphave eva heard of him. He was one of the bravest men I have ever known.

{p. 227} us and was slackening its speed as it came alongside, its horn blaring the unmistakable call of the Berlin police. I felt certain they were ordering us to the side of the road and momentarily I was at a loss for words or ideas. It was then that my driver, with rare presence of mind, shot his arm through the window in a stiff salute and shouted, "Heil Hitler!"

For seconds that trembled with suspense the heavy machine hung at our side, and we continued on our way as nonchalantly as possible. I struggled against the urge to yell at my chauffeur to step on it, and lit a cigar instead, trying to appear unconcerned. Finally I heard a guttural voice give a command and a second later the police car picked up speed, leaving us behind.

"Were they after us?" my driver asked, nervously mopping his face with a pocket handkerchief.

"I don't know," I said, "but I want to congratulate you on the cool way you handled the situation."

"I felt anything but cool, and I still feel the same way - burning all over. What do we do now, Herr Strasser?"

"Keep going. We've got to make Bavaria!"

I still couldn't figure out why a Berlin car was so far from the district it patrolled. The action might be compared with a New York City police car being seen riding on apparently official business through the streets of Baltimore, Maryland.

Twice we passed the police car parked at the side of the road, and twice it overtook us again and zoomed past at high speed. I never did learn what, if anything, the four police dressed in the uniform of the SS were up to.

Mile after mile clicked off as we continued at that agonizing leisurely pace which is fitting for a touring pleasure car, and I heaved a grateful sigh when at last we pulled up in front of the post office in the little Bavarian town of Eichstaedt. The nervous tension of that ride, coupled with the strain of the last eight days, left me limp and weak, but I wanted to telephone my wife and tell her I was all right. There was undoubtedly a telephone for public use right here. Inside the post

{p. 228} ofiice stood an excited group of citizens, and all of them seemed to be talking at the same time. It was obvious that some big, event had just occurred, though whether of local or nationa importance I didn't know. I tugged at the sleeve of one man ' and asked him politely what had happened. He looked at me in amazement. "Haven't you heard?" he asked incredulously.

I couldn't tell him I had spent the last eight days underground and that the news of the world hadn't reached me. When I shook my head in answer to his question, he said: "Himmler and Roehm have overthrown the Bavarian government in favor of Adolf Hitler. The official proclamation has just reached us here."

My spirit sagged. Was there any use in trying to fight back ? In order to rally the anti-Hitler forces, I had fled Nazi-dominated Thuringia - only to land in this newly created stronghold of National Socialism. In a daze I wandered dispiritedly back , to the car. The Black Front driver saw the strange look on my face.

"Hitler has just taken Bavaria," I told him lifelessly as I climbed into the car and slammed the door shut.

"So?" the chauffeur remarked, greeting the bad news without emotion. "Where to now ?" he asked stoically.

"Go back," I told him. "We must return. What else can we do?"

The machine swung about and we began to retrace the long miles that had once promised comparative freedom and peace - and that now threatened only more sufering and harried flight. All Germany was falling into the palm of Hitler's clutching hand. Was there nothing we could do to stop it ? We could try!

We stopped once to refuel and to buy food, which we ate as we drove, scarcely tasting it. To this day I can't remember what it was we bought and ate that evening. But as we drove along circumstances ceased to look so black and I began to think logically again about the future. There was a large map

{p. 229} of Germany in the car and I studied it carefully, selecting the Teutoburg Forest as a likely place to hide away.

Early the next morning we pulled up in front of an inn on lovely Lake Steinhude, a vacation resort deep in the woods not far from the Netherlands border. I left the car and strolled around the town, carefully observing its people; and finding nothing that suggested danger, I returned to my chauffeur and told him I would register at the hotel and spend some days here. I ordered him to reveal my whereabouts to but one man - a senior leader in the Prussian Black Front - and told him that the two of them must remain in constant communication, with a minimum of one telephone call a day. Should either of them fail to get a response to these prearranged calls, I was immediately to be notified so that I could flee Lake Steinhude. Failure to maintain communication, of course, would mean that the Gestapo had caught up with the absentee - and the seized man need feel no hesitation in naming my hiding place, since I would no longer be there. I also asked the chaufeur to tell the Prussian leader that I would get in contact with him as soon as I had formulated plans, which I hoped would be soon.

After shaking hands and wishing each other luck, the car drove away, while I stood watching it disappear in the distance. With it gone, I felt a sense of acute isolation. Here I was, deep in the Teutoburg Forest, one man against the entire German Gestapo. My followers ? Yes, I had them - but each one was just as alone as each had to fight his individual battle. We were all lone wolves, with a price on our heads. Indeed, it was only my leadership and unquestioned orders that kept us functioning as a unit which maintained the semblance of an organization at all.

Uneventful weeks passed after that and, with the town in the grip of winter, I had little to fear from the outside world. I was secure here - and I dreaded the coming of spring, with

{p. 230} its influx of visitors and tourists, any one of whom could be a deadly enemy of mine. When the weather became more pleasant, I knew I would have to move on. In mid-April I left Lake Steinhude - having grown a mustache during my stay - and once on the train, went directly to the washroom ; before even removing my cap. There I dyed my hair with a preparation mailed me by a Berlin member for just such a necessity. To have bought hair dye in Lake Steinhude, even if it were to be had, would have been too dangerous.

On May 7, I was in Chiem-see, a vacation resort in the Bavarian Alps, near the Austrian border, where I stayed at a , chicken farm run by a young woman intellectual and her; husband, both of whom had been my followers from the early days of the Black Front movement. A day after my arrival the Black Front leaders of Bavaria and Wurttemberg, and my Austrian representative, Gritsche, made their appearance at my request. This meeting was an important one, necessitated by the appointment of Josef Goebbels as Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.

Further than that, we had found that a reorganization was necessary, as far as the inner workings of the Black Front were concerned, now that we had been driven into the "criminal" underground in Germany. Our old party order no longer functioned smoothly. Besides adopting several important organizas tional readjustments, we decided at this first meeting in Chiemsee that no Black Front member who had once been picked up by the Gestapo should be readmitted to membership in our ranks. This decision was in no way intended to reflect upon the loyalty or ability of such victims of the Nazi secret police, but rather was intended as an "honorable discharge" after faithful and valuable service. They had done their bit - and now, after release by the Gestapo agents, they were marked men.

The manner in which the cunning Goebbels managed to snare this position for himself is worthy of mention, for it had

{p. 231} been Hermann Goering, the bulky buffoon, whom Hitler had appointed press chief and leader of the Berlin Gestapo on the same day the Fuehrer had assumed power.

Vain as a peacock, Goering's first move was typical of the man: he decided to publicize himself. He notified Herman Ullstein, senior member of the House of Ullstein, largest publishing concern in the world, that the latter was to have the privilege of publishing his, Goering's, memoirs in the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, which at that time had the largest magazine circulation in Germany. This Ullstein family were Jews, and being anxious to mollify the Nazis in any way possible - even to the extent of attacking me as the arch enemy of the German people - they accepted the dubious privilege, and the first installment of the article was announced on huge six-sheet posters. The treacherous Goebbels exploited this situation by creating a storm within the Nazi Party, and hundreds of letters poured in on Hitler protesting the scandal of Nazi memoirs appearing in a non-Nazi, Jewish magazine. Hitler fell for the trick, and ordered the publication of the serial stopped after the first installment hit the press, Goebbels replacing Goering as press chief. After all, to start out immediately to advertise himself was not the way for Goering to be an efficient publicity man for his boss, Hitler.

The Ullsteins made the mistake that the democracies made; they felt that by giving in to Hitler's demands they would eventually satisfy him. They learned, however, that each time they gave in it so weakened their position that in the end they were unable to fight him when he grasped for everything.

The Ullstein brothers accepted the editor sent by Hitler from Nazi Party headquarters. The uniformed doorman who had dutifully opened the doors of the building for the Jewish owners and other visitors suddenly became their boss, for he was the local Nazi Party leader. Next came word to the Ullsteins from a semiofficial agency that they would have to sell their publishing company. The brothers protested that this was

{p. 232} impossible, since there were no corporations or individuals in all Germany who could afford to pay the 60,000,000 marks at which the business was conservatively valued; but they were told bluntly that a purchaser satisfactory to the government had been found, and that the price would be 12,000,000 marks. There was always the alternative, the order added, that if this proposition was not completely satisfactory, they could expect out-and-out confiscation.

There was nothing for the Ullsteins to do but accept, and even at that, the money received in that swindle was taken from them by various subterfuges in the years that followed.2

Stringent censorship restrictions placed on the press by Goebbels made it imperative for the men meeting with me in Chiem-see to do all in their power to get the widest circulation for our pamphlets which were being printed in Austria. Ours would be the sole organ that would disseminate the truth that Hitler suppressed. Our problem was to arrange methods of distribution and to arrange for additional border crossing sta tions.

Rather than risk remaining in the house, which might give some ground for suspicion, we packed our notes and pertinent files in luncheon baskets and, pretending that we were picnickers, tramped to a small hut six thousand feet up the mountainside. So hot was the May sun at midday that we wore sport shirts and athletic shorts. The spot where we lay sprawled . on the turf discussing our plans was a scant two hundred yards from the Austrian line - a distance that might just as well have been two hundred miles, because of the heavy guard maintained along that border.

I was in the middle of a sentence when a sudden frozen look in the eyes of one of my companions stopped me short. I heard footsteps behind me and I turned my head about slowly, trying

2 Today, Adolf Hitler, through a dummy publisher, is th owner of the former House of Ullstein properties.

{p. 233} to appear at ease. Two men dressed in the black-belted uniform of the SS troops regarded us with expressionless faces, their hands resting lightly on the stocks of their holstered revolvers. Suspicion showed in their attitude and I felt sudden panic. My fear passed, however, when I saw that they did not draw their guns, a precaution they certainly would have exercised had they had any suspicion of my identity.

"Your identification papers and passports," one of them said abruptly. "Produce them for examination."

I got to my feet in a leisurely fashion, though not too slowly. My only disguise was dyed hair, horn-rimmed glasses and the small mustache I had grown. If they saw through it, I was a man with but a brief and unpleasant future.

"None of us has brought his papers with him," I said, trying to sound somewhat surprised, with just a shade of impatience in my voice. "There are no pockets in these sports outfits and we couldn't very well carry the documents in our hands. We had thought it perfectly proper to leave our identification back in town."

"What are you doing here ?" the other SS man snapped.

"Picnicking, as you can see," I replied, waving a hand toward the lunch baskets which, fortunately, were still closed. Inside those baskets were lists of my followers, along with their present addresses, as well as detailed information on the Black Front's intimate organization. Hitler would have paid a king's ransom to have gained possession of them - for it would have meant the end of Otto Strasser's resistance.

One trooper asked me my name and I gave him a fictitious one, saying that I was staying at a local inn. He noted down the names my friends and I gave, along with the name of the inn, then spun on his heel abruptly and walked away toward the border. I heard him blow a whistle several times, the blasts evidently a signal to the border guards to be on the alert for us should we make a sudden dash for the Austrian line.

It was now imperative for us to get back to the chicken

{p. 234} ranch as quickly as possible and to disperse immediately afterward, for when the SS men checked on the information we had given them and found it to be false, they would start a wide search.

When we returned I saw a car parked in front of the house. l, I kept on walking, as if I knew nothing of the house or its occupants, but as soon as I was out of sight of the car I cut into the woods and circled back, approaching the house from the rear. My hostess had already arranged a shade in the kitchen window according to an agreed signal that meant the coast was clear. I strode forward quickly and she admitted me to the house.

As soon as I was inside the door she said: "The chauffeur outside was the only occupant of the car, and he had a letter addressed to Otto Strasser, which he claimed was desperately important. I was afraid of a trick, though, Otto. I told him I knew of no person by that name, though it was possible my husband might have made his acquaintance. The driver's outside now, waiting for my husband's return. Otto, what's the best thing to do ?"

"Let me see the letter," I said. "The handwriting may help."

She pulled a letter from the pocket of her apron and I immediately recognized Gregor's script. Tearing it open quickly, I read a warning from Gregor to flee for my life. He had just met Minister Frick, he said, who told him that Goering was sending out two death squads to murder me, and that the Gestapo had somehow found out just where I was in Chiem-see. The waiting chaueur, he added, could be completely trusted; I was to use the car in making my escape, without wasting a moment.

My comrades had returned to the cottage by this time, and I shook hands with them now. None of us knew whether we would ever see each other again, but each one had his individual task and I was certain that none of my men would shirk his responsibility. The driver started the motor before I had set

{p. 235} foot in the car; I could see he knew the danger of our position "Can you take me to the man who gave you this letter?" I asked as he looked back at me inquiringly for instructions.

He looked surprised but he made no comment; he simply nodded his head afirmatively.

"Then take me there at once," I said, slamming the door.

A little more than an hour later we were in Munich, pulling up to the curb a block away from my brother's house. I got out of the car and sauntered to the corner, pausing there in apparent irresolution, as though at loose ends for the evening, while I quickly examined the pedestrians in the vicinity. None of them looked like Gestapo agents so I strolled along, pausing in front of Gregor's home to light a pipe. When no one seemed to be looking in my direction, I ducked quickly into the doorway and rang the bell, using our old identification signal. Gregor lost no time in opening the door - and he recognized me at once in spite of my disguise.

"Otto!" he exclaimed, both apprehension and rebuke in his tone. "In heaven's name, man, why did you ever come here? Of all the most likely places to look for you, this house - "

I interrupted him with a friendly punch on the chest. "I couldn't leave without first saying good-by, Gregor."

He gripped my arm and hustled me into the kitchen, where the shades were drawn against prying eyes. The two of us then prepared a meal and afterward sat talking as we consumed a huge pot of black coffee. Finally dusk came - time to leave if I were to cross the border before dawn.

Gregor put his arm about my shoulders. "Take care of yourself, Otto," he warned for the twentieth time. "And for goodness' sake don't take any more foolish chances !"

"Why don't you come with me, Gregor?" I urged. "Once Hitler gets his taste of blood, nothing will satisfy him. He'll murder you just as sure as he's trying to murder me. You must understand that! Come along with me now, while it's not too

{p. 236} Gregor shook his head slowly, a half smile on his lips. "I can't leave my family," was his simple reply. "They're safer without you !" I countered. He shook his head again. "It's more than my family." "Hitler, I suppose," I said sarcastically. "No," he told me with a weary sigh, "not Hitler. It's Ger' many; it always was Germany. Life would be useless for me anywhere else, Otto." He opened the door now and held out his hand. As I gripped it firmly he said, "God speed you, brother." I said good-by to him with a look.

The same car that had taken me to Gregor now drove me to a prearranged spot in an Alpine pass. The chauffeur pulled off the road and parked, then cut his headlights and flashed them on in an irregular series. After this, for fifteen minutes - a quarter-hour that seemed an eternity - we sat there in utter darkness and quiet, not even daring to light a cigarette. The black night and heavy silence seemed to press down with a palpable physical force; it was a living presence all about us. Abruptly, terrifyingly, a figure loomed beside me, materializing from nowhere, and I jumped unconsciously, giving out a little gasp.

A deep voice said: "Doctor Strasser will leave the car now and follow me. We make the rest of the trip on foot." Then, as I stepped from the car and a hand grasped my arm, the same voice added: "It is almost midnight; we have no time to los. Quickly, please."

In that way began the long, weary trip across the mountains to Austria. Step after step, minute after minute, hour aftcr hour - stumbling and sprawling in the black woods, straining with aching lungs and muscles up mountainsides, sliding forward breathlessly into valleys - the forced march went on. My blistered feet seemed on fire; my pounding heart must soon burst; my muscles couldn't go any farther; dawn would certainly find us still in German territory; the guide obviously

{p. 237} couldn't find his way in this Stygian night - all those certainties were in my mind. But we made it. I don't know when we actually crossed into Austria; there was no line of demarcation, cven had we been able to see it. Weary hours later we stumbled from a wood and into a clearing, where we found ourselves on a crest overlooking a valley. I could see in the first light of dawn the picturesque village that nestled below like a toy town - the Tyrolese village of Kufstein.

"You won't have any trouble from here on, Doctor Strasser," the guide said. I pulled a roll of marks from my pocket and thrust them into his hand. With a broad smile and a bow he turned and started the journey back.

For long minutes I stood there in the clearing, breathing deeply of the clear, cool air and feeling in it that indefinable something that is freedom. I had left Dr. Otto Strasser back in Germany; I was a man without a country, a fugitive from my native land because I fought to save it from the terrible menace of Nazism. I was another in the already long and growing list of people and nations who discovered too late what it meant to trust Adolf Hitler.

{p. 238} Chapter X

IT WAS NOT MY INTENTION merdy to find a safe refuge and stagnate there in hiding. Freedom was precious to me largely because I could utilize it to further my fight against Nazism. So two days later I made my way by train and bus to Vienna, completing the trip without incident, thanks to my forged passport - supplied thoughtfully by Gregor, who had also arranged for the automobile and guide that had made my escape possible. The passport described me as Dr. Franz Baumann, an engineer, and it was as Dr. Baumann that I went directly to 9 Latzarettgasse, the local address of the Black Front's headquarters. There I prepared to pick up the threads of the Austrian struggle to date.

I was only deluding myself, however, when I thought that Austria would aford me some measure of protection and safety. The then little-known fifth column was already at work, and the Austrian Nazis, in the pay of the German parent body, had already loosed a campaign of terror. Jewish shops were stoned and bombed, opposing factions were stabbed and beaten, trains were wrecked, theaters and cinemas gassed.

Chief of Police Steinhausel was an ardent Nazi and his work in apprehending the thugs and vandals was purposely slipshod and ineffective. His sole contribution to the task of cleaning up the Nazi hoodlums was to order a raid on one of my Black Front of}ices in Vienna. Luckily I wasn't there when it happened - in fact, I didn't learn about it until I opened my newspaper on the morning of July 5. On the front page, in large black type, I read:

Yesterday, July fourth, the police discovered the perpetrators of the bombing outrages that have lately terror-

{p. 239} ized this city, among others in Austria. They are members of Otto Strasser's general staff of the Black Front. Seventeen men and two women have becn arrested, but Otto Strasser, the leader, unfortunately remains temporarily at liberty. His arrest, however, is expected hourly.

Again I was forced to go underground, while-my bitter reflections in Herr Schreck's cellar struck me with new force: I would never know peace so long as Hitler lived.

Meantime, the situation for the Fuehrer in Germany was none too pleasant. The persuasive voice that had in it the magic note of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, lured the workingman to him with the promise of the socialization of landed estates and heavy industry. Fritz Thyssen and the other industrialists, of course, would have been horrified at the mere suggestion that even a word of such promises was true. And a third group - such men as von Papen, Hugenburg and Schacht, who had combined to give him the chancellorship - expected him to be a pillar of conservatism. Up to now Hitler had managed, like an adroit juggler, to keep everyone satisfied, but it was inevitable the day of reckoning would come - and soon.

I took advantage of this dissension by distributing millions of copies of a pamphlet I wrote in which I asked the German people to choose between Socialist revolution or Fascist war. Germany had but two courses to follow if it were to exist as a nation: one was to reform from within, which meant Socialism; the other was to attempt to exploit the remainder of the world so that the tremendous gains accruing to the few who ruled Germany would spill over and eventually reach the little man. But world domination and exploitation are reached in only one way. I reduced the problem to a simple common denominator - inner revolution or a second world war.

Hitler swayed first to one side, then to the other, with characteristic indecision. Most of the SA members favored revolution; they had everything to gain and nothing to lose through

{p. 240} a realignment of society and property. Men like von Papen, Goering and Thyssen favored the course that led to war; they had either commodities to sell during wartime, with enormous profits, or the proper political contacts to assure them wealthy properties when the war was won and rich booty wrested from the prostrate foe.

As a result, Roehm's SA turned on the pressure to sway Hitler toward the course of Socialism - and Franz von Papen counteracted it in a characteristic manner. That master intriguer sent word to Mussolini in Italy concerning the alarmingly dangerous turn events had taken. As von Papen well knew, Il Duce was most anxious that Germany remain conservative, for to have a liberal government so near his own borders - and so potentially strong - might imperil his own dictatorship. Il Duce was Europe's strong man; he was an estalished power. Upon receiving von Papen's intelligence about internal German affairs, Mussolini summoned Hitler for a conference and the Nazi Fuehrer obeyed. On June 13 1934 Hitler proceeded to Venice to keep the humiliating interview.

On June fourteenth and fifteenth he was with Il Duce. Mussolini regarded himself as the protector of Austria, and he reminded Hitler of this, recalling that on numerous occasions he had warned the German government that any move they might make toward Austria would call down the might of the Italian army on their heads. This threat, in the year 1934, was regarded as a most formidable ultimatum. Further, the Nazi terrorism in Vienna must cease, the Duce warned; there must be no threat to Austria and her independence and, as a friend, he was advising the Fuehrer that it might be wise to restrain the radical speeches of the left wing of the National Socialist Party.

Mussolini's words only threw Hitler into a new frenzy of indecision, complicated now by the fact that he knew he must make an immediate decision one way or the other. It was Cap-

{p. 241} tain Roehm who communicated to Hitler what he, Roehm, considered the perfect solution of the situation. The conservative industrialists, he said, wielded the real power. Why not kill them off and usurp that power? Nothing could be simpler. A dead man has no power.

The outline of the scheme found some merit in the Fuehrer's cyes and he sent Goebbels to carry on the negotiations with Roehm. These meetings had to be conducted in the utmost secrecy, for what they now talked of - meeting in the Bratwurst-Glockle - was charged with dynamite.

In the closing days of June, General von Blomberg, Minister of War and commander of the Reichswehr, Germany's standing army, forced Hitler into an even more anxious and unpleasant position. Von Blomberg told Hitler that President von Hindenburg was apprehensive about internal conditions in the nation as reported to him by his intimates, and that if there was not an immediate relaxation of national tension, martial law would be proclaimed.

The news struck Hitler with stunning force. For years he had frantically struggled for power and now, in the final moment when it appeared he had that power within his reach, he was threatened with having it snatched away from him. The actual declaration of martial law would elevate the army to a supreme position in civil affairs and reduce Hitler to the function of a mere figurehead, to be cast aside at will.

The Fuehrer's face was set in serious lines during the days that followed. Even a stupid politician could have understood that the man responsible for these recent tactics was the man who stood to gain most. That meant that it was von Papen and his crowd of Herren Club arch-conservatives who were responsible for Hitler's present dilemma. First they had managed to have Il Duce try to head him off. Now von Papen was telling Hitler, in effect, that if any conservative minister resigned from

{p. 242} the cabinet, the army would step in and take over control of the nation. In the final analysis, it was the army that was the stumbling block in his path toward absolute power.

Captain Roehm had foreseen this danger and had urged Hitler on numerous occasions that he devitalize the armed forces in either of two clever ways. One entailed the dissolution of the Stahlhelm, the paramilitary formation of the Reich wehr; the second called for the incorporation of the Brown Shirts into the regular army, with the Nazi Party members retaining their rank. Goebbels recognized the merit of this plan and was enthusiastic in arguing its merits before Hitler. Hitler could see no harm in the first proposal and put through an order ruling the Stahlhelm out of existence. But he balked at the second stratagem, saying that he feared an open quarrel with von Hindenburg. Actually, as has been pointed out, he feared placing supreme command of the united forces in the hands of an accomplished revolutionary like Roehm. Only one alternative remained: liquidate the radical elements in his own party.

From previous talks Hitler knew that Goebbels was much in favor of "diplomacy by liquidation" in the present predicament; it didn't matter that at the very moment he was up to his neck in scheming with Roehm to liquidate the conservatives. ' Goering, too, was of a similar mind. He had, from the start, argued that the way to power lay in close association and co. operation with men of money - and had proved his point through his own private life. In fact, earlier that month he had b, warned Hitler that Baron Krupp and Fritz Thyssen were threatening to withdraw their support of the Nazis unless the "National Bolsheviks" in the party were silenced.

In the silent night hours of solitude Hitler reached his decision; he would lift himself by his political bootstraps through , uncompromising "diplomacy by liquidation." Next day, Hitler was no longer the wavering, indecisive politician; he becamc a man of action with an inexhaustible store of energy that was

{p. 243} fed by a fanatical belief in the righteousness of his cause. he had a task to perform - somewhat distasteful, perhaps, since it involved the cold-blooded murder of many of his comrades-inarms who had fought at his side since the early days of the movement - but whatever his feelings, he never swerved from what he considered his "duty" once his mind was made up. Such abstract considerations as gratitude, friendship, fair play and loyalty were signs of weakness and decadence.

There were four principals who had to be killed - but their deaths alone would not suffice, since some were men of ideas who had organizations behind them. They and their supporters had to be eliminated in such a manner that the present danger to Hitler's Reich would never occur again.

The men marked for death were: Gregor Strasser, the spiritual leader of all the Nazi Party members who joined the movement because of its social aims; Captain Ernst Roehm, because he controlled the Brown Shirt army; General von Schleicher, because he loomed as the only possible successor to Hitler's chancellorship; and Otto Strasser, because his Black Front was the only vigorous opposition to Hitlerism and because his scheme of action was to sow discontent within the very ranks of the Nazis.

So close-mouthed was Hitler in his scheming that not an inkling of his plan leaked out. Not a victim was aware of the impending blood bath that was to drench all of Germany. To set the final stage Hitler sent out telegrams that read: "All leaders and subleaders of SA groups will attend a meeting at General Headquarters of the Chief of Sta at Wiessee on une thirtieth, at ten o'clock. Adolf Hitler."

In the early hours before dawn on that fateful June 30 1934 a score of silent men crowded tensely about Hitler in his room at Godesberg. In this grim-lipped group were Goering, Goebbels, Himmler and the master murderers Weber, Maurice, Esser and Heydrich.

{p. 244} The ostensible reason for the gathering of these men in this Rhineland city - there had to be a reason so as not to excite suspicion - was the marriage of Josef Terboven at which Hitler and Goering were to serve as best men. It was here that final plans were laid. Hitler himself would lead a squad of executioners against Rochmand and the S.A. leaders in Munich and Wiessee. Goering would be in charge of the action in Berlin against Gregor Strasser and General von Schleicher.

The conspirators were waiting word from Munich, where a special banquet of high Nazi functionaries was then taking place. This banquet had been arranged by Gauleiter Wagner - who also held the portfolio of the Ministry of the Interior - for the purpose of receiving Hitler in state on his projected visit to the southern city. Wagner had had the place cards so arranged i that a pair of killers flanked each intended victim, these execu tioners having been drawn exclusively from the ranks of the Black Guard.

Hitler and his men secretly left Godesberg and hurried to Berlin where word was flashed through to Hitler that all the expected members had arrived at the Ministry to attend Wagner's banquet, and Hitler himself gave orders for the function to get under way. Immediately afterward, Hitler and his party hurried from the Chancellery and jumped into three black limousines that stood waiting, motors running and chauffeurs ready. Once loaded, the cars were instantly in motion.

On the runway of a Berlin airport there was bustle and activity - and the center of attention was a mammoth transport plane that loomed against the floodlights behind it like a giant black bird of prey, its idling motors giving forth an impatient deep-voiced muttering. The arriving limousines came forward swiftly across the dark field, their lights casting grotesque shadows behind the ground crew and pilots who stood abcut the waiting plane. As the automobiles skidded to a halt on the turf, their doors burst open and other dark forms jumped to the ground to hurry toward the transport. A brief time later lt, '

{p. 245} the giant door of the plane slammed shut and locked; the motors of the ship roared triumphantly in a higher key; the ground crew retreated briskly. Then the huge wheels began to turn slowly on the runway, gathered speed, and the ship rose toward the heavens. Adolf Hitler and his retinue were off for Munich.

The agreed signal for the massacre to begin was to be the arrival of Hitler's transport at the Munich airport, and an anxious-eyed Nazi stood near a telephone at the airport, his attention fixed on the dark sky. When he saw the landing lights of the plane circling above, calling for ground lights, the sentry's hand darted for the telephone receiver, and when the wheels of the ship first touched the earth he rattled out his call to the operator.

Gauleiter Wagner jumped to his feet when a waiter tapped him on the shoulder and whispered in his ear; then he hurried after the waiter and left the banquet hall. He returned shortly to assume his place at the head of the long table and rapped loudly for silence. Slowly the conversation of his forty guests died away and Wagner clicked his heels smartly, his right arm snapping forward in the Nazi salute. Instantly his guests were on their feet.

"Heil Hitler!" he shouted.

Forty arms whipped forward. "Heil Hitler!" the chorus of voices thundered back.

Wagner looked carefully around the table as his guests reseated themselves - and it was odd that his face should have appeared so grim on this festive occasion; it was odd that beads of sweat glistened on his brow when the smoke-filled atmosphere of the room had been full of beery good fellowship but a moment before. Hadn't a big group of loyal Nazis waited expectantly into the small hours of the morning - singing Nazi songs, drinking beer, smoking luxuriantly after a splendid feast, talking grandly of the great days to come - waited expectantly

{p. 246} for the arrival of their supreme leader? But other faces about the table were grimly tense too.

"I have just received word," Gauleiter Wagner began, and his voice sounded strangely calm, "that our Fuehrer is now at the Munich airport. We shall wait no longer but shall proceed with the important business of the evening."

It was the signal for hell to break loose. Strapping SS men, professionals at their art, leaped to their feet, their chairs crashing to the floor behind them - two men to each unsuspecting, unprepared victim. Some used beer bottles to stun the marked men; others, fists or butt ends of guns.

Shouts of alarmed surprise rang out; yells of anger; screams of terror and pain. Struggling figures rolled on top of the table, crashed to the floor amid shattered plates and glassware, and then flailing arms quickly reduced each victim to a limp, bleeding mass. A few men bolted for the door, having miraculously twisted away from their executioners, but they never made their escape. Staccato blasts from Luegers immediately halted them, stiffly erect for a second, and then they sank limply to the floor.

Horrible as it was, the actual murderous riot took only a few minutes to accomplish its purpose. If a war on the battlefield can be likened to a long rolling rumble of thunder, beginning softly, rising to an ear-splitting climax, then slowly dying away in the distance, this event was like a stupendous thunderclap - terrible, instantaneous; and as sharply ended.

When Hitler arrived at the Ministry the place was a bloody shambles. A stalwart blond-haired man, blood streaming down his face from an ugly gash on the side of his skull, wandered unsteadily through the corridor, his eyes dazed; the only mn to escape the massacre, and he had managed it through sheer physical power, quickness and fighting skill. His name was Ernst Udet, the man who was Germany's Lindbergh and the leader of the SA air squadron. As his eyes slowly focused on

{p. 247} Hitler a look of relief spread over his face and he leaned weakly against the wall.

"What has happened in there, mein Fuehrer?" he asked, an incredulous note in his voice. "Have they gone out of their minds ? God, it was awful!"

Hitler swallowed nenously. "Nothing is wrong, absolutely nothing," he assured him quickly. "Please leave here at once and no harm will come to you. You have my word for it." With that he brushed past the dazed, groping aviator and hurried into the banquet room, his followers behind him.

The dominant note of that scene was blood, terror and pain. SS men were moving about, bending over bodies and listening for a heartbeat. Where a spark of life still stubbornly existed, they placed their Luegers against the wounded man's skull and delivered the coup de grdce.

Hitler stepped over the bodies of Schneidhuber and Schmidt, which lay directly across the entrance, and the SS men saw that their leader had joined them. Their right hands stretched out stiffly as they faced the doorway, the salute being given almost as one man.

"Heil Hitler !" they chorused in unison.

The Fuehrer raised his right hand. "Heil Hitler," he responded automatically.

The SS Black Shirts went back to their task, but Hitler had seen all he could stomach; his sole purpose in coming, anyway, had been to witness with his own eyes the accomplishment of the deed. He turned on his heel and, accompanied by the large contingent, hurried back to the waiting motor cars.1

1 At the precise moment of the slaughter at the Ministry of the Interior, twelve SS troopers burst into the Bratwurst-Glockle in another corner of Munich and murdered the landlord, the wine steward and a waiter named August Holt. I can find only one reason for this act, since none of these men was involved in any way in Nazi Party activities. This hostelry was the scene of several conferences held by Captain Roehm and Goebbels when this pair schemed to do to the reactionaries what was now being done to the radicals. It seems evident that Goebbels was taking no chances on any word of these meetings or their purpose slipping out from that source

{p. 248} Maurice, Dietrich, Schaub, Bruckner and Hitler got into the lead car and headed the procession that drove rapidly toward Wiessee, where Captain Roehm and many of the SA sub-leaders were already assembled in anticipation of Hitler's coming visit, as announced by his telegram. During the dark ride no one spoke - each, perhaps, remembering the scene at Munich, a scene that resembled an abattoir rather than a festive banquet hall. Hitler and his followers knew that Germany's coming terror had that night only just begun.

Hitler's bullet-proof machine pulled to a halt in the courtyard in front of the Wiessee Inn, the others circling to pull up beside it, and the chauffeurs sprang to open the doors. Scattered about, expectantly and silently waiting, were plainclothes Gestapo agents, uniformed SS troopers and forty Berlin police officers in full uniform.1

Detailing a contingent of the Berlin police to guard the outside of the building and the approaching roads, Hitler and a handpicked group silently entered the hotel and mounted to the second floor. It was almost dawn now; all the delegates gathered for the meeting were asleep. From the register downstairs the Fuehrer had learned the rooms of the various victims, and when he came abreast of room five he held up his hand and simply pointed at the door. The gesture was self-explanatory. Heydrich motioned two assistants to follow him, then opened the door noiselessly and stepped into the dark room. Asleep in bed lay Count Spretti, Chief of the Munich Standarte. Heydrich - elaborating for the sheer joy of it a deed that otherwise might have been done quite simply - tapped Spretti sharply on the

1 The presence of the Berlin policemen can only be compared, in the action that hllowed, to a situation such as this: A group of New York City police officers drive up to the main hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. In full uniform, they burst into several rooms, shoot and kill a number of people against whom no charge has ever been lodged, and then with impunity drive back to their home city, where they take up their normal functions once more.

{p. 249} shoulder. The Count opened his eyes sleepily, not yet awarc of what was happening.

"Heil Hitler!" Heydrich greeted him ironically.

"Heil Hitler!" Spretti responded instinctively, sitting up.

At the moment the words left his lips, Heydrich laughed grimly and the arm he had outstretched in the Nazi salute - and which, appropriately, also held a blackjack - suddenly whipped downward. There was a dull, soggy sound and Count Spretti moaned once as he fell backward on the pillow, unconscious. The two SS assistants then began trussing the limp form with heavy cord as Heydrich, Hitler and the others continued down the corridor.

Room number nine was occupied by group leader Heines, who slept in the same bed with his chauffeur. Years of underworld danger and dirty street fighting had taught this "converted gangster how to react in the face of danger. Awake the moment the door opened, he saw that his visitors had the drop on him: two round, black gun muzzles covered the bed unwaveringly. His instinctive reaction was to stall for time; Maurice, his friend in the past, was the obvious opening.

"Maurice!" he exclaimed, bewilderment nicely simulated. "What is happening? What do you want here?"

"Get up." Maurice's command was short, cold, ominous.

"You must explain to me!" Heines protested. "You are my old friend. I have a right to know!"

Even as he spoke, his right hand slid covertly under the pillow - his fingers sought, found and gripped the stock of a heavy forty-five caliber automatic. Cursing, he snapped the gun free, jerked it upward - but Maurice had been waiting for that move and his gun blasted a slug into Heines' chest when the movement began. Then, his automatic trembling in his fastweakening grip, blood beginning to dribble from the corners of his pain-wrenched mouth, Heines fought to pull the trigger

{p. 250} - but he hadn't the strength left. Maurice laughed mirthlessly as the automatic slowly lowered to the bed despite Heines' frantic effort - effort that brought beads of sweat to his brow. At last, only semiconscious, Heines sat looking at Maurice as his executioner deliberately raised his gun and shot him be tween the eyes.

The chaufeur, hands aloft and trembling, sat beside the dead body, covered by the guns of Maurice's aides. His life was ended by a pair of slugs that caught him in the face and he was dead even before his limp body fell backward into the bedpost.

It was Hitler himself who entered the room occupied by Captain Roehm. When he knocked on the door of room number seven, Roehm's sleepy voice asked querulously:

"Who's there ?"

"It is I, Hitler," was the reply. "Open the door at once."

The tense men in the hall heard the bedsprings creak as Roehm, only half-awake, got out of bed and opened the door.

"Come in, Adolf," he invited, his voice expressing pleased surprise. "I didn't expect you until midday, so you must forgive this informal reception."

Hitler carefully closed the door behind him and faced the one man who, more than any other single individual, was responsible for his rise to power. By now Hitler's face was purple with a fury he could turn on and off at will, and with that fury an angry torrent of violent words began to cascade from his lips. The suddenness of the verbal assault shocked Captain Roehm into silence. His soft, paunchy form - even more ridiculous now as he stood in his nightclothes - remained transfixed in the center of the small bedroom; his eyes stared in bewildered amazement at the Nazi Fuehrer. The little blond

mustache on his round face quivered as he heard Hitler accuse him of a multitude of crimes, principal of which were many "instances" of treason against his leader.

{p. 251} At last Captain Roehm caught his breath. "Wait!" he pleaded. "What proof have you that I have been disloyal ?"

Hitler didn't even pause in his tirade. He had the uncanny ability, through the very heat of self-induced passion, to deafen himself to the words or defensive arguments of others and to hypnotize himself into believing every wild charge he might hurl. Hitler's shouted abuse ceased as quickly as it had started. He strode across the room, flung open the door and, pointing a dramatic finger at the national commander of the Brown Shirts, shouted: "Seize this man! Bind him!"

Captain Roehm offered no resistance as four husky Black Guard men grasped him by hand and foot and threw him upon the bed, then manacled his hands behind his back and bound his feet with rope.

The fat landlord of the inn, startled by the sound of the shots fired in Heines' room, wheezed heavily up the steps and came puffing down the corridor. He saw four men carrying Captain Roehm by head and feet out of the room, and after a dumbfounded few seconds he began demanding an explanation. he was in the middle of his indignant questioning when his eyes lighted upon Adolf Hitler and his words died away miserably. He extended his pudgy right arm upward and outward and said, "Heil Hitler," but his quaking voice certainly lacked con viction.

As oblivious to him as to a yapping puppy, the men brushed past him, hurried down the steps and bundled Roehm into the car, next to Hitler's lead car in the cavalcade of twenty vehicles heading back to Munich. In these cars more than a score of SA sub-leaders, surrounded by Berlin police oicers and Gestapo agents, were now Hitler's helpless prisoners. At the Brown House, national headquarters for the Nazi movement a phalanx of SS men had overpowered the SA guard and had taken possession of the building. Upon arrival, Hitler ordered all those found on the premises hauled ofl to a concentration camp. Then, with a word of congratulation to the SS men for their

{p. 252} efficient work, he hurried out to the waiting cars, one last im. portant job still to be done. An ancient grudge still burned in Hitler's memory - and this was his night of nights.

On the outskirts of the city in retirement lived old General von Kahr, the man who had been governor of Bavaria more than ten years before; the same man whose quick action i 1923 had brought an abrupt end to Hitler's beer-hall putsch It was to that home Hitler drove now, and when the cars had pulled up in front, he dispatched a very special pair of Black Guards to repay the elderly retired offlcial for his actions of a decade ago.

Von Kahr was seated in his garden reading his morning newspaper when the pair of killers walked up to him. The General looked up in surprise, and then his eyes narrowed as he recognized the uniforms his visitors were wearing.

"Your business here ?" he asked unceremoniously.

"You," one of them said insultingly.

"We came to hear you repeat 'Heil Hitler,"' the second added. "We want to hear you say it ten times. Shout it, in fact."

Von Kahr came to his feet as quickly as he was able. His face slowly drained of color until it was livid with rage. "I have never had anything but scorn for Hitler and all he stands for - and you two are obviously precisely what he stands for! As far as - "

The palm of one of the SS men cracked viciously across the old man's face, cutting off his words and knocking him to the grass. The other straddled the prone figure and twisted the old general's arm behind his back, pressing it up toward his neck.

"Shout 'Heil Hitler!' " he commanded, edging the arm ever further upward as von Kahr writhed on the ground with the pain. "Shout it, you old fool, or by - "

His words were blotted out by the piercing shriek that left von Kahr's throat, and a dull cracking sound followed, leaving the arm limp and unresisting in the SS man's hands. The bone

{p. 253} had broken under the strain. With a curse he flung the arm down and rolled von Kahr over on his back. The General's features contorted with pain so great that his mouth gaped open as he dragged in gasping lungfuls of air. The second SS agent stepped forward now and coldly thrust the muzzle of his gun directly into the semiconscious man's mouth and pulled the trigger. With that instantaneous death von Kahr's head rolled limply to one side, as though even in death he preferred not to look upon these two specimens of Hitlerism.

"The assignment is completed," the SS men reported to Hitler when they returned to the car.

"Good !" the Nazi Fuehrer complimented them. "Direct the chaufeur to return immediately to Berlin."

In the old red prison building at Stadelheim near Munich, Captain Roehm was deposited in a cell in the guard house that faced on the dismal courtyard. His feet were unbound, the manacles taken from his wrists and a rumpled SA uniform thrown to him. He got out of his pajamas and into the uniform, tossing the nightclothes into a corner of the room. One of the men guarding him withdrew Roehm's revolver from its holster, broke the cartridge chamber and removed all but one shell. He snapped the cylinder back in position and lay the gun on a tiny table that stood at one side of the cell. "You are an offlcer and a gentleman," he said stiffly. "You know what is expected of you." He turned on his heel and, followed by the remainder of the guards, stamped from the cell and down the stone corridor.

Roehm rushed to the steel-barred door, grasping the bars with both hands and thrusting his face through as far as possible. "You can tell Adolf I shall not render him that service," he shouted after them. "If he wants me dead, let him kill me himself! That is what I expect of himl" The door at the end of the cell block clanged shut and a heavy lock rumbled as it was turned into place.

{p. 254} Turning back to his cell, Roehm for the first time noticed the sound of gunfire in the courtyard. Standing on the bare cot which was placed directly under the small, barred window, he looked out and saw five men dressed in the uniform of the SS who were obviously functioning as an execution squad, sincc they faced a concrete wall that was pockmarked with bullets and splattered with blood. The door of one of the barracb buildings opened and Roehm saw a mixed company of SS men, and Gestapo agents march Ritter von Krausser, a World War hero who had been decorated with the order of Max Joseph, across the yard and place him in front of the stained wall.

"Face the wall!" the leader of the executioners shouted.

Von Krausser ignored the order; the humiliating suggestion j that he was to be shot in the back seemed to have no meaning for this former hero of the Fatherland. His teeth clenched, his $ head held high, he faced the six executioners and their six re-, volvers.

"Fire!"

For a brief second he remained there, still standing. Then his knees sagged and he slid down the wall. Two men carrying a wicker basket sprinted out of the barracks, placed the basket alongside the dead man and raised the lid. Picking him up by the head and feet, they dumped the body of Ritter von Krausser '! unceremoniously into it, slammed shut the lid and hurried o with their gruesome burden.

Group Leader Ernst, a powerful SA leader from the early days, - of whom it was said, with truth, that he was a homosexual who found in the Youth Movement of the Nazi Party the means of satisfying his perverted desires - was hustled into the courtyard next. Ernst had been picked up by Gestapo agents as he boarded a ship in Bremen and was rushed directly to the prison. No one bothered to tell him the reason for this act, and since he recognized none of the men who picked him up it is reasonable to assume, in the light of what followed, that he believed a revolution against Hitler was taking place. As he

{p. 255} was thrown against the stone wall in front of the firing squad hc shouted defiantly, "Heil Hitler!" an instant before his body collapsed, torn by the bullets of his executioners. As with the others, his body was dropped into a wicker basket and carted away.

Peter von Heydebreck, a brave army officer who was the hero of Annaberg, followed Ernst to the wall to be cut down; and seconds later his place was taken by Wilhelm Hayn, another army officer, who had distinguished himself in the bittcr fighting in the Baltic.

A hot sun was high in the sky and its merciless rays beat down on the courtyard as a seemingly endless procession of men were marched out of the barracks, across the drill ground to the bullet-gutted, crimsoned concrete wallall paying with their lifeblood that Hitler might rise to power.

Roehm was still standing on his cot watching the scene when a harsh clanging of metal behind him caused him to swin about. Four SS troopers stood at the cell door, three with unholstered revolvers carried muzzle down, the fourth using the heel of his gun to hammer the bars and attract Roehm's attention. One of them cocked an eye at the suicide gun that still lay on the small table.

'You make it very difficult for us," he said. "Were you, perhaps trying to summon enough courage, Captain Roehm? In that case - "

"I gave you a message for the Fuehrer," Roehm replied shortly.

"And we havebrought you his answer!"

The four guns snapped up and fired in unison, the four shots blending into one explosive roar. Roehm received the slugs in his chest and abdomen, the force of them hurling him flat against the wall, the excruciating pain bringing him high on his tiptoes. Then he toppled slowly, rigidly forward, like a tree felled in the forest. Pitching head foremost from the cot's high perch, he struck the stone floor with such force that his

{p. 256} head split open. The ubiquitous men with the wicker basket appeared silently, like stealthy ghouls, dumped the body into it and loaded it onto the truck where it joined scores of others on the swift trip to the crematory.

Stadelheim Prison was only one of the many sites set aside for mass executions on that bloody day. At one of them - Lichterfield Barracks - Adolf Hitler himself looked on as the bloody parade passed in review. He was in the grip of a 'terrible emo

tion, his dank hair hanging in his face, his eyes blazing hatred, his features contorted with hate. For hours he stood there; his screaming voice could be heard as each man, or group of men, was brought before the firing squad. "Schweinhundl Traitors! Filthy scum! Let them die!" He was not a pretty sight, but he was a fitting salutatorian for the coming regime.

It was afternoon and Gregor was seated with his family around the luncheon table of his home. Wild rumors were abroad concerning the bloody deeds of that hot June 30, but Gregor Strasser was one of the many who had as yet no inkling of what was happening. The bell rang and six burly men in plainclothes who were pushed past a protesting senant. They were of heavy build with thick, cruel Teutonic features - obviously Gestapo - but Gregor was not particularly alarmed. He called to his servant to let them pass, then leaned back in his chair and studied the approaching men, his expression questioning. The foremost caller removed his straw hat; his face gleamed with a sheen of sweat and there was an ugly red welt where the hatband had pressed on his forehead.

"You will please come with us, Herr Strasser," he said stiffly.

"Why?" Gregor countered.

"We have orders to bring you to headquarters for questioning. That is all I know."

"Please let me see your credentials."

The man produced his identification, showing him to be a

{p. 257} Inember of Hermann Goering's Prussian unit of the secret police, but this only partially satisfied Gregor.

He held out his hand again. "Undoubtedly you have a warrant for my arrest. Let me see that too, please."

"This is not an arrest, Herr Strasser," the spokesman persisted, shaking his head stubbornly. "You will please accompany us to headquarters immediately."

When Gregor showed no inclination to obey, the trooper pulled out a revolver and stated in a harsh tone, "Strasser, we are only following orders - that is our job - and our orders now are to bring you in! It will be easier for all of us if you will be reasonable."

Gregor shrugged his shoulders and arose to his feet with a laugh, amused by the tragi-comic antics of the men. Surrounded by his "warders" he walked from his home, accompanying his callers to the local Gestapo headquarters. Downstairs were four more Gestapo agents and two chauffeur-driven cars. The party got into the two cars, Gregor being seated between two agents, and facing two agents who sat on the jump seats, and they drove off in an easterly direction. This was not the direction of the Gestapo headquarters, and Gregor said so. One of the agents glibly explained that they were on their way to contact another citizen wanted for an interview. To Gregor, who had observed the eight secret police members with their two cars and drivers, this sounded logical enough.

On the outskirts of the city the cars swerved onto a dirt road which was little more than a single-track wagon trail leading through a thick wood. Now Gregor knew what was coming, but he kept his nerve and his wits about him, saying nothing and trying to appear at ease. A half-mile farther on a large sedan containing six uniformed SS troopers was parked squarely in the center of the road, making it impossible to pass. The Gestapo cars drew up behind it and came to a halt.

The SS men came forward to surround Gregor's car as it

{p. 258} came to a stop; the door was swung open and rough hands gripped Gregor by the shoulders to thrust him out. But Gregor was ready. Pretending to go willingly, he suddenly threw his hands backward and grasped the wrists of the man who was shoving him and, ducking low just as his feet touched the ground, swung the Gestapo man over his head with a mighty heave of his powerful shoulders. The flying body of the agent crashed into the lead SS trooper, flattening him and leaving the two of them breathless and temporarily dazed. His way clear for a second, Gregor jumped to the side of the road and placed the woods at his back, assuming the best strategic position in this enormously unequal fight. He drew his big, powerful body to its full height and doubled his massive fists, determined to give as good an account of himself as possible, come what might. It was during this momentary pause that he recognized the troopers as belonging to a corps headed by Heinrich Heydrich, most dreaded of the professional thugs.

The biggest SS man, roaring with anger at Gregor's temporary success, came charging at him, blackjack in his right hand. As he lunged forward, Gregor suddenly stepped in toward him - a surprlse maneuver, since the SS men were accustomed to having their victims retreat - and the charging man tried to bring himself up short to avoid a collision and use his black-

jack to good effect. But he was off balance - and Gregor, who had enjoyed boxing as a young man, feinted with an adroit left, then brought over a powerful right which sent his assailant unconscious to the ground, as limp as a sack of potatoes and probably with a broken jaw as well.

But the other SS men and Gestapo agents were not idle. Gregor danced back to his former position as two other thugs charged him from either side. He wheeled to face the first taking the numbing blow of a blackjack on his forearm as he pulped the man's nose with a spinejarring straight left, but meantime the second had hurled himself upon Gregor, his right

{p. 259} arm locking about his throat and bending him backward over the SS fighter's hip. In this position Gregor was momentarily helpless - and one of the Gestapo agents, who had until then stood discreetly in the background, leaped forward to swing a vicious boot into Gregor's groin. No man could have stood that. A groan wrenched itself from his throat and his body writhed and twisted so violently that he involuntarily tore himself from the imprisoning grasp and fell to the ground as the butt of a revolver slashed down at his head, catching him just behind the ear and cutting a swath alongside his head as far as the eyebrow. Shaking his head, and with blood streaming down his cheek, Gregor got halfway to his feet before a boot smashed into his mouth and he toppled over on his back, spewing blood and teeth through torn and swollen lips. Rolling over, he raised himself painfully onto all fours, then struggled upright, there to stand weaving before the gang of men who had purposely allowed him to come back for more.

No longer did they have to attack in packs, no longer did they need blackjacks, gun butts and hob-nailed boots to ovacome this one man. He was fighting now only on raw courage - something that none of them had and that all of them therefore hated with a jealousy that amounted to a sheer insanity. One after another they stepped in to pound Gregor's body and face, and occasionally one of them would hurtle into the dirt road as the dazed victim of those crushing fists that fought by instinct alone.

Gregor took a horrible beating. In the end he could no longer rise, try though he did. One eye was completely closed; his lips were ballooned, the taut blue skin showing through the blood; his face, ripped and bruised, was swollen to twice its size; his gasping breath came only with pain because of the splintered ribs on the right side of his body; even the sweat of exhaustion that bathed his crimson face bit into the lacerated skin. Three times he tried to rise from the dirt, the taunts of Hitler's pro-

{p. 260} fessional street fighters digging like barbs into his splendid pride, but it was no use. Each time he collapsed again with a groan - and on the third try he fainted.

When he regained consciousness he found himself lying in a cold, damp cell, sprawled on the floor where he had been thrown. Though he didn't know it, he was in the dungeon . designed for solitary confinement in the Prinz Albrechtstrasse Prison. The walls about him seemed to recede, then come sweeping back again as though to crush him. The whole world throbbed with the beat of agony; everything he looked upon was blurred and tinged with red - blood red. Half-crazed with pain, he began to curse, to cry, to beat the rough stone flagging with his torn fists - and his despair and fury came only from the fact that he was still alive!

Gregor remained in the small dark cell for twelve hours, dur ing which time the medical attention he so desperately needed ' was denied him. When he heard footsteps outside the darkness of his windowless cell, heard them as though in a dream, he would beg, cry, plead for one great favor, one heavenly gift - a drink of water. He might as well have asked for freedom and title to half the world.

At the end of twelve hours, when Gregor's magnificent body had again gathered sufficient strength, he crawled over to the steel cot and hauled himself upon it - a fact that was immediately reported by the warder who peered into the cell at regular 'd' intervals. Not fifteen minutes later there was the resounding -. tramp of boots in the stone corridor outside, and the door of Gregor's cell was unlocked and thrown open. With a herculean effort my brother swung his legs over the side of the cot and labored to a sitting position, but the light from the small, dim bulb in the hall outside was enough to blind what little sight he had left. He held one puffed hand in front of his eyes until he gradually became accustomed to the light, those at the door waiting silently while he did so.

{p. 261} There were three men inside the cell now, facing him; that was the first fact Gregor gathered. Then he could distinguish faces. The first he didn't recognize - but the other two were Reinhardt Heydrich and his assistant, Herr Eicke (who is now in charge of all the concentration camps in Germany), and each one carried a revolver at his side. Gregor must have known in that final moment what was coming: he must have read it in the sadistic leer on the face of Heydrich; he must have read it in the cold eyes of the other two executioners.

Heydrich advanced first toward the cot, his revolver at his hip. Somehow Gregor found the strength to rise to his feet and retreat before Heydrich - to retreat until his back was against the damp wall of the cell. Heydrich squeezed the trigger and a vivid flame cut the darkness, rolling thunder accompanying it to reverberate up and down the long corridor - but Gregor still stood.

Unsteady on his feet, and aided by the gloom, Gregor was a poor target. He tried to say something, but only a hoarsc croak came from his parched throat. All three men stood facing him at that moment and he raised a swollen hand as though to ward them off, perhaps to supplicate, perhaps to do battle again. Again Heydrich shot - and this time the bullet tore through Gregor's hand and lodged in his side, the force of the heavy slug whirling him in a halfcircle so that he faced the wall. Then all three guns blasted in unison and Gregor slumped in a heap beside the wet wall. The merciful end had come at last.

But Heinrich Heydrich wasn't satisfied. With his foot he kicked and prodded the inert body into the center of the cell, rolled it onto its back and placed a shot through the forehead. There could be no question now.

After they had gone, with the cell door now swinging half open when no escape was possible, Gregor's bloody body remained huddled on a crimsoned floor. There was only silence, only gloom and dampness to bear witness to this aftermath

{p. 262} of Hitler's bid for a new order. But perhaps there was something else; some other presence. I know there was. A presence that could balance the good Gregor had striven for, which was the good of all common people; a presence that understood the ideals that were his; a presence that knew that the Frankenstein now abroad in Germany was not the creature Gregor had spent his life, and given his life, to create.

I have good reason to remember Reinhardt Heydrich. There was a day when I prayed only to meet him without a corps of killers at his back - just that one chancc to even the score. Recently, when I read of his assassination, I was sorry in a negative sort of way, because the privilege of killing had been denied me. But now I realize I was only one of hundreds of thousands of bereaved relatives throughout Europe who nursed an undying hate for "the hangman." It was when he was appointed Administrator of Czechoslovakia - replacing Baron Konstantin von Neurath, who had failed in his "diplomatic" mission to make the Czechs love the German yoke - that one of those carelessly strewn secds of hatred flowered with death.

I knew Heydrich in the early days of our work in the Nazi Party and despised him even then. He was a tall, blond, handsome youth whose father had been a composer of considerable notc. But the ethereal art of music had no appeal for Heydrich; he made a scientific study of sadism and its practices, and some of the ingenious methods of inflicting torturc which he had devised make the medieval inquisitions pale in comparison. He was cruel not only to attain an end, but as an end in itself, since the suffering of others gave him inestimable pleasure.

I first met him in Breslau, where he was enrolled as a student, although he never took an examination. He used his privileges as an undergraduate as an aid to recruiting the other students to National Socialist membership. Later he became local treasurer of the Nazi Party, but soon was brought up on charges by Helmuth Brueckner, the local leader, who accused him of

{p. 263} misappropriating party funds. Although Heydrich was acquitted at the trial - through pressure from above - his post was shifted to Koenigsberg in East Prussia.

Whilc occupied in this work, the handsome Heydrich madc lovc to the young wife of Erich Koch, Reichstadthalter of East Prussia; and the woman fell in love with him. But it was not long before there was another shortage in the treasury - a shortage of 20,000 marks - and Koch, who was instructed to investigate, traced the theft to Heydrich. During the investigation he learned also of the affair between his wife and the good-looking embezzler, but before Koch could proceed against him, Heydrich blackmailed him into silence, threatening to confess to the affair with Frau Koch and to have the ensuing scandal pull them both down, with the destruction of Frau Koch's rcputation an incidental result. Also he would expose the Reichtadthalter for having maintained a correspondence with me after Adolf Hitler had proclaimcd this strictly verboten. To these threats Koch capitulated, and Heydrich was free to continue his thieving and murdering until some unknown hero in Czechoslovakia finally rid the world of the "hangman of Europe."

When Gregor did not return Elsa tried to trace him through the secret police. She made repeated inquiries at the local ofl;ce, but was told on each occasion that they were ignorant of her husband's whereabouts. As nightfall came and word spread through the land of the wholesale slaughter of men who were supposedly enemies of Hitler, her worry grew to panic. Early the next morning she visited the office of Dr. Frick, Minister of the Interior, but that official refused to see her. Himmler would not see her; General Daluege, head of the uniformed branch of the Gestapo, turned her down also. Elsa even tried to get an audience with Hitler, the godfather of her twins, but, needless to say, she failed. There was nothing more she could do; disconsolate, she returned home.

{p. 264} Six days later a small package was delivered to her, wrapped in heavy manila paper. Inside she found a small bronze urn stamped with the number sixteen. On top it bore the legend: "Gott Mit Uns!" and under that was written "Gregor Strasser, born 31-5-92 at Greisenfeld; died 30-6-34." Inside the urn were Gregor's ashes.

On the hot morning of that June 30, General von Schleicher was seated in the living room of his large villa at IO Alsenstrasse, in Wansee, a pleasant Berlin suburb, smoking his midmorning cigar, when six armed thugs pushed past the startlcd maid and entered the room. The General's back was toward them and he turned to learn the reason for the sudden commotion.

One of the men asked, "Are you General von Schleicher?"

The General eyed them for a moment in obvious disapproval before answering. "I am. And may I ask just who - "

His words were drowned by the roar of the guns in the hands of the two foremost killers. Two bullets entered the General's !'l back, high up, one cut a deep gash through the side of his neck, and the others embedded themselves in the framework s of the chair. Von Schleicher straightened to his feet with an s effort, then stumbled forward toward the murderers, as though to thrash them with his bare hands. But he took no more than two steps before the second blast of gunfire caught him in the chest and abdomen and he pitched to the carpet on his face.

The sound of gunfire aroused his young and attractive wife, who came running into the living room. She saw her husband's crumpled body lying in a crimson pool on the rug and she seemed to know immediately what had happened.

"Kurt! Kurt!" she screamed, dropping to her knees and pillowing her husband's bloody head in her lap.

The killers advanced into the room and stood in a semicircle about Mrs. von Schleicher and her dead husband. But

{p. 265} she was a woman of courage and there was not the slightest fear in the look she gave them. As the truth impressed itself upon her through her dazed mind, a seething fury grew with it; she was like a wounded tigress at bay. She started to get to her feet, her mouth open as though to speak, when the leader of the gang raised his revolver in an indolent fashion, thrust it directly into her face and pulled the trigger. Mrs. von Schleicher slumped across the body of her husband.

Twenty additional shots were fired into the bodies of the dead couple before Hitler's assassins were satisfied that their work was well done. Then they strode rapidly out of the house, unchallenged by the cowering servants, and disappeared down the street.

General von Bredow, von Schleicher's assistant, heard rumors that Hitler had launched a violent blood purge against all of his enemies. Fearful for the safety of his superior, he tried to telephone the von Schleicher villa, but was told that service had been discontinued. He hunted through the various ministries and clubs where von Schleicher could usually be found, but without success. Finally, a member of the Nazi Party with whom he was intimate confided what had happened to the General and his wife, strongly advising General von Bredow against going to the von Schleicher residence.

Late that evening the General turned his footsteps homeward. Two Gestapo agents stood on his doorstep. There was no mistaking their profession.

"Did you wish to see me ?" von Bredow asked.

Wordlessly the men shot through the pockets of their jackets, never giving von Bredow the slightest warning. Three bullets smashed his midsection, spinning him around. He tried desperately to run from his assassins - the way one tries to run in a nightmare - but once again tongues of flame ripped the darkness. General von Bredow staggered and fell face forward

{p. 266} onto the pavement, blood streaming from nine wounds in h body and running down the street to spill over the curb and into the gutter.

With this murder Hitler felt tnat von Schleicher's influence was at an end.

{p. 267} Chapter Xl

AT TWO O'CLOCK that afternoon, two men appeared at my home in Oranienburg, a house that I now avoided but where my wife still lived. They tried the lock, found that it wouldn't give, and used a skeleton key to release it. One of them remained outside the door while the second stepped inside and quietly climbed the carpeted stairway to the second oor.

My wife was bending over the crib in which our two-year-old daughter, Hannelore, was asleep, when she heard a noise behind her. Without straightening up she turned her head and saw a strange man framed in the door of the nursery. Inrtantly, she stood upright, her eyes wide with terror. Her lips moved as she tried to speak, but no sound came from them.

The man, who was in his early thirties, wore a black suit that looked oppressively uncomfortable on that hot day. There vas no mistaking his mission, since Gertrude instantly recognized the uniform he wore, nor was there any mistaking the threat of his tight-lipped, sinister expression.

"You are Frau Gertrude Strasser," he stated rather than asked.

The reaction of anyone faced by sudden, unexpected danger can never be accurately foretold in advance. But Gertrude had lnown for a long time that the Gestapo would bring her in for questioning and she had carefully rehearsed in her own mind the answers she would give to their inquiries. However, the sudden appearance of danger in the nursery of her defenseless little daughter made her panicky.

"No, I am not Frau Strasser," she denied impulsively.

The man strode over to her, seized her arm and held it in a viselike grip, twisting slightly.

{p. 268} Gertrude stifled a scream of pain. Hannelore stirred un-, easily in her crib, began whimpering. Gertrude, still held by the arm, spoke quietly to the child, then was led out of the , nursery and downstairs. Her captor told the other Gestapo agent who was guarding the door that she had denied being Frau Strasser.

An amused smile played about the second man's lips. "If you are not Frau Strasser, then what is your name - and what are you doing in the Strasser home ?"

My wife had regained some of her composure. "I'm sorry I lied to you; I was so very startled when you made your sudden appearance."

"Really?" the second man said sarcastically.

"You will accompany us to Gestapo headquarters," his companion ordered abruptly.

"But my child - " Gertrude pleaded. "I can't leave her in the house alone. Couldn't I - "

Both men gripped her by an arm and whisked her through the front door, pulled her across the sidewalk and into a waiting car, which set out immediately for Berlin.

"Am I under arrest?" my wife asked a few minutes later.

Her question was ignored, the two men staring stonily ahead.

"Have I done anything wrong?" she tried again. "What is the charge against me ?"

This also was met by silence.

In the huge gray building that served as Himmler's headquarters my wife was led into an elevator which took the party up to the fourth floor. There they walked down the corridor and into an offlce at the end of the hall, where they were greeted by a short, stocky, bald-headed man who was seated behind a desk. He had watery blue eyes and wore a straw-colored mustache trimmed like Adolf Hitler's.

"This is the prisoner requested, sir," one of the Gestapo men reported formally. "Frau Gertrude Strasser."

{p. 269} "So," the official said, rising from his chair. The manner in which that single word was spoken implied that at last they had caught up with a dangerous criminal. The Gestapo offlcer then riffled through some papers on his desk, withdrew a sheaf labeled "Strasser, Dr. Otto and Frau Gertrude," glancing quickly through the contents. Finally he uttered the single exclamation, "Ah!" It was a pleased sound.

His office was a small, disorderly room jammed with files and desks. In one corner sat a young girl working at a typewriter, unconcerned with this familiar routine. Near the window was a small bare table with short-backed wooden chairs around it. In one of them sat a uniformed SS trooper, slouching idly and looking surlily into space. He carried a short, solid rubber truncheon which he slapped absently against his thigh, the monotonously regular sound a terrifying beat in Gertrude's ears. The official led her over to the table now, ordering her to be seated beside the SS trooper. The bald-headed official stood over her, his protruding, watery eyes peering at her cruelly. "Did anyone beat you, Frau Strasser?" he asked.

She shook her head. "No."

A smile spread over his loose features. "So," he said. "Did anyone mistreat you in any way ?"

Again she shook her head.

"Ah! Then why do you look so nervous? What have you got on your mind that makes you so nervous? You have no cause for apprehension. Or have you, Frau Strasser ?"

"I must return home quickly. My little girl is all alone and there is no one else to take care of her."

"We will remedy that very quickly, I am sure. I will simply ask you some questions. You will answer them - oh, I'm certain you'll answer them! - and then you will be free to return home at once. I'll even have you driven home. Now, is your part clear?"

My wife nodded her head, for her throat was too constricted to speak.

{p. 270} The oficial rubbed his pudgy hands together in evident satisfaction. "I'm glad to see you are cooperative, young woman. I'm sure we can be the best of friends." He opened his case and offered her a cigarette, but she refused it. He tapped the end of one on the cover, stuck it in his lips and lit it, exhaling the smoke through his nose.

"Would you like some water, Frau Strasser?"

"No, thank you."

"All right, then let's get down to business. I know you're anxious to have this unpleasant matter settled quickly." He pulled a chair and sat directly in front of her, his knees touch. ing hers, his face only a few inches away from her own.

"When did you last see your husband?"

"It is almost a year since I have seen him. He left me soon after the activities of the Black Front were declared illegal. I don't know exactly where he went."

"Do you know that he is a traitor to Germany ?"

"No."

"Do you know what we will do to him if we can find him ?"

Fear was bright in Gertrude's quick glance. "No, I don't know what you'd do. Murder him, perhaps."

"Murder? That's an ugly word - but it certainly isn't what we'd do, even legally. No! We'd treat him very kindly, Frau Strasser. I give you my word, my sacred word. He misunderstands our intentions, that's why he keeps running from us. All we want is certain information he possesses. Once he has given us that, he would be free to live anywhere in Germany, at peace. Wouldn't you like to have a real home again, Frau Strasser ?"

"Oh, yes!" There was no mistaking her sincerity.

"Then you must help us to have Dr. Strasser redeem himself in the Fuehrer's eyes and so obtain a full pardon for the traitorous crimes he has treacherously - though perhaps unintentionally - brought to pass. As a first step in saving your husband: When did you hear from him last ?"

{p. 271} "I have not heard from him since he went away."

"Neither by telephone or letter?"

"By neither - nor any other agency."

The oily smile suddenly dropped from his face. "Do you know what I could do to you if I wanted?"

"Yes."

"Tell me what."

"You could have me beaten."

His short, harsh laugh startled Gertrude. "That would be the very least," he told her in a vindictive tone. "Use your imagination, young woman ! How would you like to spend the night as the guest of the SS troopers, in their barracks?" One of his fat hands suddenly darted out, gripped the neck of her dress and ripped it down to the waist. Involuntarily Gertrude screamed, one hand quickly gathering the torn silk and holding it together in front of her. "I could have you stripped naked, girl. I could have you - never mind! I am going to repeat my question once more. When did you last hear from Dr. Strasser? I want the truth now! When did you last hear from him ?"

"I was telling the truth," my wife persisted, her voice trembling. "He has never written to me."

Her interrogator's hand suddenly lashed out, hitting her across the face in a quick, vicious slap. Gertrude screamed again and tried to rise, but the SS trooper with the truncheon reached over to take her by the shoulders and hold her fast. Blood was trickling from the corners of her cut lips when her questioner stopped striking her.

"I am a very patient man," he said quietly, "but even my patience can give out if you persist in lying. We know that you have received three letters from your husband from Vienna."

My wife was startled. That happened to be the precise number of letters I had sent her, although in each instance the

{p. 272} mail had been directed to a Black Front office, the letters in turn being delivered to her by trusted messenger. She knew she was trapped, but tightened her jaw for what was coming. "I received no letters from my husband," she repeated. The Gestapo agent strode up and down the length of the room before reseating himself in front of her. "You are a very obstinate young woman. I can see that we must cast aside our manners and treat you as you are asking to be treated. I do regret that such a thing is necessary." With a lightninglike motion he seized her wrist, pulled her arm toward him, and deliberately crushed his cigarette on tne skin of her forearm. Writhing and struggling, she was held by the waist and shoulders until the cigarette was extinguished. Then she was hurled back into the chair. "That is only the beginning," the officer told her. "Now, then, we will pass that question for the moment; you will tell us the truth before long, I am sure. The next question: Who directs the activities of the Black Front in Berlin?" "I do not know." "What is the address of the main Black Front office in Berlin ?" "I never knew that there was an office here. I always thought that they had been closed up after the government had declared them illegal. I'm sure they were closed." "Where is your husband now?" "I don't know." The official's face reddened, as though at a personal affront. "You insult my intelligence!" he shouted. "Stop this lying at once !" J "But I am telling the truth." The rubber truncheon lashed out viciously, catching Ger trude across the breasts. She screamed in agony, coming upright in a flash, the muscles of her body taut with excruciating pain. Rough hands seized her arms and legs, held her motion-

{p. 273} less as the heavy rubber truncheon lashed down again and again, until her screams faded to mere wails and when unconsciousness was not far away she was released to fall into the chair. Her head dropped forward as sobs shook her whole body; then the trooper seized her by the hair and jerked her head upright.

"Where is your husband?" the Gestapo oficial repeated ominously, remorselessly. "Answer me!"

There was no reply.

"Do you love your child?"

Gertrude nodded her head weakly, unable to speak.

"Then listen carefully to what I have to say. I only ask you to tell me the truth and you shall go home to her. Persist in lying and you shall never see her again. Now, for the last time: where is your husband?"

Through sobs, Gertrude said stubbornly, "I don't know."

Again the truncheon struck out at her; she saw the blor coming and tried to dodge it, but it cut like a hot iron across her cheek, then snapped back to tear the other side of her face. Repeatedly, her hands held by the official sitting in front of her, the heavy whip crashed against her tender flesh, bruising, drawing blood, splitting the skin, until at last a whirling dizziness mounted into her head and she toppled out of the chair to the floor.

The questioner kicked her in the ribs with his heavy boot. "You may rise, Frau Strasser," he said. "We have more, many more, questions to ask you - and more of similar rewards for evasive answers. Get up!"

Gertrude lay where she had fallen without the strength to rise, though she struggled to do so once or twice. The young typist, who had until now continued with her work and taken little apparent interest in the proceedings, arose now and dre a tumbler from a drinking fountain near the door. She poured the water over Gertrude's face, and the men lifted the dazed

{p. 274} woman back into her chair, but almost immediately afterward she toppled helplessly to the floor again. This time no attempt was made to help her.

The Gestapo ofl;cer stood over her, teetering on the balls of his feet. "Your stupid and persistent lies are tiresome. Please understand that my colleagues resent this. If you do not abandon your foolish denials I shall not be answerable for the results."

Gertrude nodded her head, signifying she understood. The trooper continued slapping the truncheon against his thigh. It made a maddening sound.

"I am giving you your last opportunity!" the Gestapo questioner thundered. "Where is your husband? Where are the Black Front headquarters in Berlin ? What is the name of the man who directs their activities in your husband's absence? Take them one at a time. First, your husband's whereabouts."

There was no reply. The inquisitor nudged her roughly with his toe. Still no response.

The truncheon smashed across her shoulders, her neck, her legs and buttocks. A half-dozen strokes caught her on the spine. Rather than send her deeper into semiconsciousness, the pain seemed to arouse her protesting nerves, wrench her painracked brain back to terrible sufering. She began to scream at the top of her lungs.

"Perhaps that will refresh your recollection," the Gestapo man sneered. "Can you answer now ?"

Still no words came.

The ol'ficial suddenly laughed tauntingly. "Why have you been so stubborn? You have only taken needless punishment. We know very well where your husband is. He is in Vienna and he lives at number nine Latzarettgasse."

Gertrude gave a start in spite of herself.

"Ah-ha! So the address registers with you. You see, we have known all along where your husband lives and where the Black Front's principal headquarters is located."

{p. 275} Gertrude took her hands away from her bleeding, swollen face. Through sobs, she asked, "If you knew all the time, why did you have to torture me so?"

"Because our men who are covering the house report that he left home last night and has not returned since - nor can he be located elsewhere. We want to know where he went from his Latzarettgasse hideout."

That was a question she honestly couldn't answer, but the Gestapo agents, now convinced that she was being evasive in every answer she made, gave up any slightest pretense of humanity. Four times the inquisitor repeated his question: "Where did your husband go after he left number nine Latzarettgasse?" Each time Gertrude could only reply, in all sincerity: "I don't know." Then the Gestapo officer turned to the typist, still working unconcernedly on her machine.

"Summon a doctor," he ordered. Then he swung to face the two arresting officers who had brought her in. "Strip her," he commanded. "Handcuff her arms around that filing cabinet. We will get to the bottom of this matter right now. We have no more time to lose."

Gertrude's garments were torn from her body and she was forced to a kneeling position, her arms locked firmly about a heavy steel filing cabinet, two pairs of interlocked handcuffs being used to complete the circle. Meantime the SS trooper had gone to a closet and taken out a long black whip, which had been soaking in a pail of water, and now he greased its waterlogged length with a handful of petroleum jelly. Gertrude shuddered, her eyes alternating between the threatening lash and the commanding Gestapo officer. But she might have saved her mute supplication; there was no pity for her in that room.

"You may change your mind about answering," the Gestapo leader said tonelessly. "You have until the doctor arrives, and I would advise you to reflect well. You can save yourself a lot. I'll break you under the whip, anyway. Why be stubborn when you have nothing to gain but a merciless beating? Young

{p. 276} woman, I assure you I can break anyone - even the strongest men. In time they all tell me anything I want to know - their deepest secrets - they beg to be allowed to tell them after a while."

The SS man was cracking the whip experimentally in the background; Gertrude flinched with each explosive snap of its greased, dripping length. She realized the biting, flesh-slashing cut of such an instrument.

"How can I tell you what I don't know?" she asked wildly. "How could I possibly know ? Would my husband decide upon a new hiding place and immediately telephone me his new plans? Can't you see you're asking the impossible? I swear I can't answerl"

"You'll answer. They all do."

My absence from the flat at 9 Latzarettgasse was purely accidental. It so happened that I had no advance information concerning the blood purge, and while I knew that murder was the least of the crimes to which Hitler would resort in order to maintain his power and, while I was certain he could remain in control politically only through ever-increasing acts of repression and violence, I wasn't prepared for such wholesale murder. Nor did I know the exact date when he would act.

The Black Front meeting which was held at the home of an Austrian sympathizer extended far into the night and, rather than go across Vienna to my own flat at that late hour, I accepted my host's invitation to sleep at his home.

The next day was spent at our printer's office, readying handstickers for distribution throughout Germany. These are slightly larger than postage stamps and bear on one side a printed slogan asking for the overthrow of Hitler, with the reverse side glued. These stickers are so small they can easily be concealed in the palm of the hand to be plastered on the windows of busses and trains, restaurants and beer halls, tele-

{p. 277} graph poles and fences, government agencies, and all other places where they would be likely to attract public notice. The best part of spreading propaganda in this manner is that the person doing it is almost never caught. Many a high Nazi official has had his day ruined by coming into his oflice and seeing his neat desk plastered with stickers that warn him that the Black Front is on its way to pay him - and all Nazi officials - a visit.

It was several hours after nightfall the following evening when I finally started for home, and by this time rumors had already come out of Germany that murder was running riot. There were no exact details and there was nothing in the information which indicated that these slayings were a matter of offcial politics directed toward a specific goal. In my own mind I set it down to another orgy indulged in by the hooligan element of the SA and SS; an orgy in which the victims were Jews, Communists and those against whom the party harbored grudges, and the principal purpose was the looting of homes and stores.

For that reason I was no more concerned about my own safety on this night than on any previous one. I walked from the tram to Latzarettgasse and, as I turned down my street, I was struck by the fact that it was curiously, almost ominously, dark and quiet. Then I noticed that the overhead street light near my house was out, accounting for the gloom, but this explanation did not quiet my feeling of danger - a kind of premonition, developed on the Western Front during the war, that had so often in the past saved my life. The click of my leather heels on the concrete pavement echoed strangely through the silent street; I knew that a man who is fleeing from terror has a heightening of all the senses that seems to give him an atavistic acuteness.

When I was halfway down the street a figure moved out of the heavy shadows of a doorway on the opposite side, the

{p. 278} merest suggestion of movement, a shadow among shadows. As I drew abreast he crossed the street diagonally toward me, his black suit, unusual for this summer night, blending well with the darkness. I sensed rather than heard the approach of someone from my rear and every nerve and muscle in my body drew taut, though I successfully fought down the instinct to run. At all costs I had to pretend unawareness, hoping for some opportune "break."

With the slowness of a frightful dream motion, I accomplished the remaining paces down the street; at last I was only ten yards from my entranceway. In a streak of movement a figure came hurtling out of the dimly lit hallway of 9 Latzarettgasse and I ducked instinctively to one side just as a blackjack swished murderously past my ear. The force of my dodging sidestep flattened my back against the stone wall of the apartment building with a jarring thump, and my leg immediately lashed out at the attacker, my foot catching him on the point of his jaw, crouched as he was, to send him rolling limply toward the gutter. Meantime my hand had been digging frantically in my pocket, clutching for the stock of my forty-five, for my quick glance had caught sight of the man who had come up from the other side of the street, revolver in hand. In spite of the darkened street and his black clothing, I had a reflected warning from the nickeled steel of the gun which picked up some faint rays of light, but before I could release my own automatic an orange bolt of flame ripped from the muzzle of his gun, exploding the darkness and quiet - and burning a knifelike slash through my thigh. Again there was an explosive roar and a lead slug splattered against the stone wall near my head, whipping burning particles of lead and concrete into my face.

As that last bullet ricocheted into the night, I finally freed my gun from my pocket and shot it three times in rapid, panicky fire. A yell of pain mingled with the sharp thunder of

{p. 279} my automatic, and the onrushing gunman dropped in the center of the street.

The man who had swung at me with the blackjack still lay where he had fallen, dead to the world from an uppercut that must have felt like a mule's kick. But the man who had been trailing me from the rear, to prevent a retreat from the trap, now stood on the sidewalk twenty yards away, confused by the lightninglike action. I sent a shot in his direction, missed, -and fired again as he leaped for the sanctuary of a neighboring areaway.

As I backed quickly toward the corner from which I had come, never daring to turn my back on my assailants, I spent my last three slugs at the two sprawled figures lying in the street - the one I had slugged and the one I had shot - but whether I hit either of them I had no way of knowing. When I reached the corner I wiped the stock of the automatic carefully against the sleeve of my coat, removing all traces of fingerprints and, flinging it away, turned and raced toward safety.

I was conscious of no pain from my wound during the hectic minutes of the gunbattle; my first awareness of it came when I felt the warm blood running down my leg, but I couldn't stop to examine it then. Using dark back streets and keeping in the shadows, I put as much distance as I could between myself and my flat, for it was a foregone conclusion that once the Gestapo learned of my whereabouts the whole district would be one maze of deathtraps. Cold anger spread through me like a physical drenching, leaving me incapable of any emotion but hate - a hate so strong that it seemed to leave me giddy. I staggered once, lurching badly, and then I realized there was a more practical explanation for my giddiness: loss of blood. My wound was worse than I had first thought, numbed by shock.

As soon as I came to a likely-looking building I ducked into the hallway and hid under the stairs, first making sure there was a back exit. Then I dropped my trousers and examined the jagged wound made by the bullet. The slug had

{p. 280} caught me in the fleshy part of the thigh, midway between the knee and hip, an in-and-out wound, with holes in the front and back of my leg clearly showing the path of the bullet. It had bled a lot already - too much - so I took my jacket off and, squirming about, ripped the back out of my shirt and tore it in strips. From my handkerchief I fashioned a pad and used the broadcloth strips to bandage my thigh tightly. With the cloth that was left I wiped up the blood as best as possible, dressed again and walked back to the entranceway. I looked cautiously outside, searching the street; it was deserted. I ducked through the doorway and continued my flight, but now a twinge of pain shot through my leg at regular intervals, growing worse with every step until at last it became a throbbing ache that tortured my nerves. And the torn muscles of my leg began to stiffen now, so that I walked with a bad limp.

I was acutely aware of my precarious position. To report the attempted assassination to the police was, of course, out of the question; I would be signing my own death warrant. Dr. Steinhausl, chief of the Vienna police, was not only a believer in the Nazi ideology, but a co-worker in their ranks. Any questioning would certainly disclose that I was in Vienna on a false passport - so that ruled out a voluntary request for aid. Furthermore, if the police should pick me up - and I had no doubt that they were seeking me at that moment - I would be de-

ported back to Germany where the ghouls in the Gestapo had reserved for me a special form of torture and death. It would be nothing as simple as they dealt out to my friend Kaiser.

Hermann Kaiser, my Black Front leader in Silesia, had been an SA organizer who joined the Stennes revolt and, following its failure, had joined my forces. Seized by the Nazis and locked up in the Koenigsten Concentration Camp, his jailers proceeded to beat him severely each day, with the added refinement of knocking out one tooth every day - until, on the twenty-second day, Hermann Kaiser leaped head first out of a third-floor window, committing suicide.

{p. 281} Nor could I expect from Hitler anything as considerate as the treatment dealt out to Herr Heilmann, leading member of the Social Democratic Party. A powerfully built man, member of the Prussian Parliament, World War veteran wearing the Iron Cross; Jewish, but married to an Aryan wife, and the father of three children, he was arrested in April, 1933 and taken to the Oranienburg Concentration Camp. Here he was put in a dog house, naked, and chained to it by one foot. Forbidden to speak on penalty of horrible punishment, he was forced to bark for any attention, including his food, which was served to him on a tin plate and which he had to eat without using his hands. Through the summer and into the winter he lived before going insane.

My own salvation now, I realized as I hobbled along, lay in getting out of Vienna as quickly as possible. I needed medical attention but didn't dare visit a doctor lest I be reported. Nor did I dare go to the homes of any of the Black Front members. It was obvious to me that one of my followers had turned traitor, although I had no way of knowing which it was. Since he had turned me in, I could take it for granted that he had also revealed the names and addresses of those who made up the Vienna organization.

Under the stress of danger, my mind became wonderfully clear. A dozen possible plans of action came to me, only to be rejected. The fact that I had only about fifty Groschcn in my pocket ruled out many otherwise practical plans.

There were two things I needed immediately - money and a change of clothing; in anything but darkest night my bloodstained trouser leg would make me an object of suspicion immediately. Limping along, I found what I thought was the solution. The man I wanted to see was Dr. Wolff, a Jewish journalist who was head of the Vienna office of the Ullstein publications. It wasn't that I knew him so well - he was only a casual acquaintance from my early days in German political life - but I felt that he would be a safe source of revenue. Then

{p. 282} came the realization that the hour was late; I would have to wait until morning and approach him in his office. In an hour or so, anyone seen loitering about the deserted streets would be picked up for questioning; I had to get off the streets. I didn't dare present myself at any rooming house or hotel, not because I couldn't pay the bill, but because of my stained, bullet-torn trousers.

My head light with the loss of blood and continuing pain, I suddenly noticed with some surprise that I was in a public park - though I had no recollection of entering or walking through it. But it was a lucky route my haphazard steps had taken me, for all at once I saw the familiar dark green public lavatory. Whether or not this one would be locked up at midnight I didn't know, so I hurried over to it and found that I could enter. The best sancutary inside, I decided, was within one of the private stalls. The door carefully closed behind me, I waited for the dawn that lay a lifetime away - and my thoughtt turned to Czechoslovakia and Rudolf Formis, for both of those names promised me sanctuary, freedom; they were now my only hope.

With money in my pocket I could set out for Czechoslovakia, which seemed a perfect haven. Set up by a democratic people, it remained a democracy, and Hitler and all he represented was alien to its spirit. Here the Gestapo would find no tolerance from oflicial quarters - and in Prague, in charge of the Black Front office at 89 Copernicus Street, was the resourceful Rudolf Formis, a man whose loyalty to the cause could not be ques tioned. Short, fat, moon-faced, with a cheerful, happy-go-lucky disposition, a bachelor because he was jealous of his personal freedom, he was the last person anyone would expect to give up a comfortable way of life to carry on an arduous ideological fight.

In the last war Formis was an officer and fought with great distinction on the Turkish front, was captured by the English

{p. 283} and released when the armistice was signed. In civil life he was a radio engineer of prominence, being in charge of the Stuttgart radio station, but he was discharged from this position when the station, one of great technical excellence, developed a mysterious mechanical malady which caused it to emit screaming waves of static every time Adolf Hitler spoke. Try though they might, the electrical experts were unable to discover the cause of the allergic connection between Hitler's screaming gutturals and static's caterwauling howls. Although it was never proved that Formis was responsible, he was relieved of his post on a suspicion that the directors felt was not misplaced, especially since there was no recurrence of the strange behavior after his dismissal.

As an ardent Black Fronter, he was chosen by me to be in charge of the Prague ofice, and, like many of our members, he held a regular job in the daytime, doing his political work at night. He worked for the Czechoslovak branch of the Western Electric Company, where he was in charge of the installation and repair of sound equipment in moving-picture theaters - at a time when the German firm of Tobis Klangfilm, aided by a Hitler subsidy, was trying to monopolize the industry so as to make it an effective means of furthering Nazi propaganda.

I knew that my best chance for security lay in getting to Formis' apartment as soon as I could. I couldn't feel certain of anything - life included - until I was actually there, and my every thought as I waited through the interminable night was directed toward that goal.

At last day came. Every muscle in my body ached when I walked out into the open again at seventy-thirty the following morning. I was weak and feverish, and I could barely drag my injured leg along. Workers were already hurrying through the streets and I was thankful for the protection their numbers

{p. 284} and their preoccupied minds afforded me. Somehow - I'll never know just how - I located Dr. Wolff's ofice and managed to climb the steps.

A secretary asked me whether I had an appointment, eyeing my twenty-four-hour beard and my disheveled condition, but I said yes and pushed past her before she could say another word. The journalist's jaw dropped, the sight of me leaving him momentarily speechless.

"Strasser!" he exclaimed at last, incredulously. "In heaven' name, what are you doing here?"

I managed a wan smile. "Did I startle you, Dr. Wolff ?"

He gulped hard. "I received a report from Berlin last night that you were dead!"

"A Nazi exaggeration, as always," I told him with a wave of my hand. "They can't help exaggerating good news, you know.

For the first time he noticed the condition I was in - the bloody trousers, wilted shirt, pale face, and feverish, bloodshot eyes.

"I won't take much of your time," I said, "but I'll take a little of something else. I want some money. I want one hun dred marks."

"You're insane!" he cried, coming to his feet and pounding the desk. "Get out of here! Get out of here at once!" ;

"I won't move a step until I get it."

"If you don't get out I'll call the police!" He scooped up the phone, as though threatening me with a gun.

"Call the police and I'll tell them I'm a friend of yours and that you are a member of my Black Front." ,

Dr. Wolf's face went white. Being a friend of mine naturall made a man an eligible candidate for a cell in a German concentration camp - and if he was a Jew, no mercy would be shown.

"It's blackmail," Dr. Wolff said grirnly.

I gave a short laugh. "Let's call it a loan, shall we?"

{p. 285} He opened a drawer and took out the money, threw it across the desk to me. "Take it and get out as quickly as you can!"

I began fumbling in my pocket for a pencil and a slip of paper. "I'll give you a receipt. When I reach safety I'll send you the money."

"For God's sake don't bother with a receipt! I just want you to go - now!"

"One last favor," I said. "I need a pair of trousers."

Without a word he got up from his chair, opened a closet that served as an emergency wardrobe, and threw me a pair. I changed into them in his ofice, bundled mine under my arm, thanked him for his hospitality and left.

In the street I flagged a passing taxicab and was driven to the tramway station. I got on the Bratislava trolley car and paid the conductor the mark fare. It was an old-fashioned vehicle with a pot-bellied wood stove that stood behind the motorman in the front. Most of the seats were taken by laborers on their way to work in the many new industries that had sprung up in the old city of Bratislava after the first World War. Bratislava was just over the boundary line of democratic Czechoslovakia, and so heavy was the daily traffic between that country and Austria - Viennese laborers going to Bratislava and Sudeten German clerks going to Vienna - that neither of the two countries had ever bothered to erect a customs station at the border.1

I squeezed into a seat at the far end of the car, between two burly workmen, and buried my face in the morning newspaper - though it was more than I could do to focus my eyes on the type. The pain in my leg was worse than ever, and daggers seemed to be stabbing in discordant rhythm through my right side from my toes to my brain. My throat was parched to the point of cracking and my mind had a terrifying way of

1 The condition could be likened to that which exists in North America, in peacetime, between the city of Detroit, Michigan, and the city of Windsor, Canada, where a large section of the male population of the Canadian city travels daily to the United States industrial center with little if my supervision by customs officials, and returns at nightfall.

{p. 286} wandering far off in spite of all my eforts to remain alert. Then a sudden thought brought me upright in my seat, gritting my teeth. If the Gestapo had foreseen this avenue of escape - and it was the simplest and most obvious - I could expect more

than minor trouble at the border. The motorman clanged the starting bell and the car slowly moved of. Keeping tne newspaper in front of me as a protection, I occasionally turned the pages to simulate reading; but I remained tense and jittery.

Then the big moment came - the car came to a halt on the Austrian side of the border. Through an eternity I watched the open passenger door, but, miraculously, no one got on and no one got off. It wasn't until we were under way again and were actually in Czechoslovakia that I amazed myself and those sitting near me by releasing an explosive lungful of air. Unconsciously I had been holding my breath during that whole stop - and it must have been four or five minutes.

The buildings slid past in a hazy sort of way. On a hill above the beautiful Danube, looming high over the small city, was the ancient and magnificent castle of Ottokar. That very building had been the seat of power that kept the Czechs free until Rudolf von Hapsburg of Austria stormed it to win the battle of Bratislava and annex the Czech State to his own Austrian Empire. At the Bratislava station I ate a light breakfast which I had to force down, bought two chocolate bars and stufed them in my pocket, then purchased a ticket to Prague. I had but a short time to wait before my train was scheduled to leave.

Soon the train was steaming out of the station and I settled back in my second-class compartment to face the last leg of my flight - a five-hour, hundred-and-sixty-mile journey, and I called up every last ounce of strength to help me last out. My head felt as though it were being held inside a furnace and the wound in my leg was an intense, steady pain that was sheer torture. As I grew weaker I slouched down in my seat so as not to topple to the floor.

{p. 287} When we pulled out of the Brno station I was conscious of movement in the compartment as passengers disembarked and others climbed aboard. I didn't have the strength to be suspicious of the half-seen images moving about before my eyes; and presently everything suddenly went black. The next thing I knew a hand was on my shoulder, shaking me. My eyes opened slowly, the lids literally being forced apart by sheer physical efort, and I saw brass buttons on a blue uniform. I shook my head in an efort to clear my brain, and then I discovered that the man who had awakened me was the conductor.

"Are you ill, sir ?" he asked in German.

"I'm all right," I mumbled. "Fell asleep - is all. I'm - "

He looked at me with narrowed eyes. "Excuse me, but I think you need assistance."

"Please," I said quickly, "I tell you I'm all right. Where are we now?"

"In Prague."

I tried to get to my feet, was halfway up when my strength gave out abruptly and I collapsed heavily in the seat.

"You are a very sick man," the conductor said, his manner indicating he was going to get me immediate medical attention.

"I'll be all right," I told him. "I must get to my own doctor. Just help me to my feet and put me in a taxi."

The conductor put his arm around me and helped me get up. I managed to get down to the platform and, with his assistance, out to Wilson Station, through the gate and into enormous Wilson Square, which is dominated by a huge statue of Woodrow Wilson - the Czechoslovak Statue of Liberty. There stood a line of taxis, most of them of American make, and I crawled into one, nodding my thanks to the conductor who had helped me up to that point. The taxi driver faced around.

"Where to, mister?"

"Eighty-nine Copernicus Street. Hurry, please!"

{p. 288} He shoved the car in gear and swung about to face toward the northern end of the city. By now I could feel no specific, local pain. All the pains of my body were fused into a whole that possessed every inch of me; I had no strength left, but I made the last stage of the journey on sheer nerve.

Copernicus Street is located in a cheap section of Prague and consists mainly of small shops and lower-middle-class homes. It was almost dusk and the huge orange ball of the sun was in the far west, its slanting rays throwing long shadows over the city when the driver pulled up in front of a three-story gray stone house that looked precisely like the ones that flanked; it and the ones on the opposite side.

"Here we are, sir," he said cheerfully.

Stumbling from the cab, I limped across the narrow sidewalk, staggering like a drunken man. I turned the latch and opened the front door. There was a short, narrow corridor that led to an even narrower staircase. I hung onto the railing with both hands and dragged myself up to the first landing. Apartment number seven - Formis' flat - was at the head of the steps. I knocked on the door with one fist, using the other hand to steady my swaying form with the support of the door jamb. Here was sanctuary at last; this was the moment toward which my brain had directed its every thought.

For a moment there was silence, and I had the wild fear, which hadn't occurred to me before, that Formis might have left town for a few days or might at least be absent for a few hours. Then I heard the welcome sound of scuffling feet; there followed the clicking of a lock being opened and the door swung inward. A young, attractive woman in her middle twenties stood there. In that first flash of vision I was aware only of her scarlet slash of a mouth and her voluptuous breasts, whose bold lines were accentuated by her tight-fitting white blouse.

The sight bewildered me. This was the apartment of Rudolf Formis. I knew he lived alone. Half-formed thoughts raced

{p. 289} through my mind; I opened my mouth to speak. I wanted to ask her who she was - I wanted to explain what I was doing there - I wanted to ask whether or not she knew Rudolf Formis - and whether she could direct me to his apartment. I tried to say all these things at once, but no word left my lips. My knees buckled and, my body sagging forward, I felt a blackness descend over me that brought with it sweet relief from my misery. I fell unconscious across the threshold.

{p. 290} Chapter Xll

WHEN I OPENED my eyes again I had the feeling that I was in some fantastic, strange world. I was lying in a large bed in a dimly lit room, the shades of which were so tightly drawn that for a moment I could not tell whether it was daylight or dark. Then, realizing what it was that had been troubling me, I noticed that I no longer felt pain - a strange absence of sufering.

There was someone moving about the room, and when I could see more clearly I recognized the woman who had admitted me to the apartment. She saw me looking at her and she came over to the side of the bed, moving with a smooth, easy grace.

"How do you feel, Doctor Baumann ?" she asked.

"Much better," I said. "Worlds better, thank you."

She leaned over me at that moment to arrange the covers on my bed and I could not help but be struck by the splendid contours of her body, nor could I escape the haunting perfume she was wearing.

"Who are you?" I asked abruptly.

"Anna," she said simply.

A shade went up and sunlight streaked warmly across the carpet and onto my bed. There was a heavy tread on the opposite side of me and I turned my head. Rudolf Formis stood there, smiling.

"Welcome home, Otto!" he exclaimed happily.

No face ever gave me the comfort that Formis' did at that moment. I grinned back at him, feebly waved a hand in return greeting, then closed my eyes and sank into the luxury of contentment and peace among friends.

{p. 291} "You had a close call," Rudolf said finally. "Do you feel like talking about it yet ?"

I nodded my head without opening my eyes.

"What happened, Otto?"

I told him about the attempt that had been made on my life; how I was wounded; how I had managed to get funds; and, finally, how I had managed to slip out of Vienna and come to Czechoslovakia. I told him it was of the utmost importance that we make a character check on every Black Front member who was aware of my Vienna hiding place. It was of vital importance that none of our new plans be projected until we had discovered the traitor in our ranks.

Formis made a motion with his hand as though to brush my words aside.

"All that can wait," he said. "We've got to get you well first and on your feet again."

Anna came to the side of my bed with a glass of water which she held to my lips while I sipped slowly. Formis told me that when I had passed out Anna had seized me under the armpits and dragged me into the apartment, afterward running to the apartment next door, where he was visiting, to tell him about the strange visitor. Returning with her at once, Formis immediately telephoned a trusted physician. While treating my wound, the doctor told them that if I had delayed treatment another few hours my leg, if not my life, would have been lost. It was Anna's prompt action, plus the fact that she did not get panicky and call the police, to which I owed my present liberty.

As we talked that evening - my friends doing most of the talking - I learned that Anna was a salesgirl in one of the large Prague department stores, and that she was Rudolf Formis' mistress. This shouldn't have surprised me, for the sight of a pretty woman moved Rudolf as irresistibly as the urge to breathe. And Anna was more than pretty; she was lovely, both in the haunting beauty of her face and in the femininity of her

{p. 292} superb figure. In addition, she had affection, courage and loyalty.

On the tenth day, as I lay propped up in bed eating the; luncheon that Anna had served, feeling almost completely recovered now, my wife walked into the room with our child in her arms. I was so startled, so dumfounded, that for a long moment I could only stare at her openmouthed, not believing my eyes. Anna took the child from her arms, and without a word Gertrude dropped to her knees beside the bed, buried her face in the covers and began weeping. I could only run my hand through her hair and call her foolish, endearing terms.

Presently I saw that Gertrude was ill, that she was more the invalid than I; and then she told me of her frightful experiences with the Gestapo, of Gregor's death and of Hitler's orgy of murder. I learned that up until the afternoon before she had been in a prison hospital. Still far from well, she was escorted home and ordered to make herself ready for internment in a concentration camp. That was her single chance during her whole imprisonment, and she made the most of it. Through a ruse and using an unguarded service stairway, she had managed to slip quietly out of the rear of our house while two Gestapo agents waited impatiently for her to pack a few simple belongings she would need during internment.

In constant flight, literally only a step ahead of her pursuers, she had managed to make her way to Bavaria and from there across the border and into Czechoslovakia. Now, having her in my arms again and knowing she was safe lifted a great weight from my mind - for so long as I fought against Hitler, her life had been as much in danger as my own.

On the following day I got out of bed and dressed in the suit Formis had managed to get for me. Then I alternately read the papers and paced the apartment, waiting impatiently for him to return - a wait that was not over until almost two o'clock in the afternoon. But it was worth it. As soon as he

{p. 293} came in he tossed me a heavy parcel wrapped in brown paper. I quickly undid the strings, tore off the wrapping, and took out a thirty-eight caliber revolver with a rough wooden stock and a shiny blue steel muzzle. Gripping the stock, I broke open the chamber to make sure there were no bullets in it, then aimed and dry fired out of the window. I opened the chamber again and slipped seven blunt-nosed slugs into place, afterward sliding the gun into my right hip pocket and patting it.

"I feel undressed without it," I remarked.

Leaning heavily on my cane, I got to my feet. I was disobeying the doctor's orders in going out, since he had told me to stay in bed another week to give my leg a chance to heal completely, but the inactivity was maddening. With the passing of each day Hitler was becoming stronger as he consolidated his gains, and by the same token our task of defeating him was growing that much greater. I waved good-by to Rudolf Formis and hobbled out of the flat.

Downstairs I hailed a taxi and was driven to police headquarters, an old, yellowish building streaked with dirt, located in the heart of the city on a narrow alley just of3 National Street. I walked up the worn stone steps and down the gloomy main corridor, seeking the office of the chief of the Czechoslovak political police. The door of the outer office was open and I stepped inside. A skinny, mild-looking man, sitting behind a receptionist's desk, looked up at me inquiringly.

"May I see Monsieur Benda ?" I asked.

He examined me carefully. "What is your name?" he demanded.

Hastily I jotted a note on the back of a card: M. an benda, I wrote. May I have the pleasure of a brief interview Otto Strasser. I put it inside an envelope I took from the receptionist's desk and sealed it. He took the note, disappeared for a moment, then came back. "Monsieur Benda will see you. This way, please."

{p. 294} He led me into a large, high-ceilinged room with a thickly carpeted floor. A pair of semicircular windows faced on the street and the chief of the political section of the police was lolling back in a swivel chair, his back to the light. As I approached his desk he came to his feet and extended a hand.

"Welcome to Prague, Doctor Strasser," he said hospitably.

I grasped his outstretched hand and said, "I have been looking forward for a long time to the pleasure of meeting you, Monsieur."

The clerk withdrew discreetly and closed the door with a soft click behind him.

M. Benda was an arresting personality; tall, broad-shouldered, his stif-backed posture indicated previous military training. He was an energetic man of about fifty, dark-visaged, with bushy black eyebrows shadowing sharp brown eyes.

"Please have a seat, Doctor Strasser," he invited, motioning with one hand. "I have been anticipating this visit of yours from day to day. I'm glad you have come to see me."

I didn't know whether I was reading the right meaning into his words, so I looked at him somewhat sharply and said, "Do you mean you knew I was in Prague ?"

"Oh, yes," he replied easily. "I was aware of it from the first day you showed up on Copernicus Street."

I was amazed. "There isn't much your men miss."

He passed of the compliment with a depreciating smile and a shrug of his shoulders. Then, becoming serious, he told me he was greatly shocked and distressed to hear of the murder of my brother at the hands of the Nazis. I knew that Benda was a close friend of President Edouard Benes, and that the latter leaned heavily upon him for reports on European intelligence. Now Benda asked me for my opinion about internal conditions in Germany, and I told him in emphatic words that Adolf Hitler had ceased to be a local German problem and had become a vital one which concerned all the other nations of the world.

{p. 295} "You speak very strongly on the subject," he said when I had finished. The manner in which he smiled as he said that told me he felt that because of Hitler's importance in my personal life I was exaggerating his importance to the outside world.

"You must listen to me!" I insisted. "Everyone is prone to look upon Hitler in one of two ways, both equally dangerous. On the one hand, some people insist Germany's new master is a crackpot who won't last long, anyhow, but that in the meantime he is overcoming the Communist menace, which will consequently be dead by the time Hitler has committed political hara-kiri - a case of 'evil eat evil.' Others declare that Hitler had adopted his present methods only through force of circumstance, in order to meet radicalism on its own ground, and that once this element is wiped out, he will become a moderate democrat. Both views are absolutely wrong! Hitler will not rest - cannot rest, if he wishes to continue in power - until he has destroyed every democracy in the world! Monsieur Benda, it is the sine qua non of his chosen political way."

"That is an interesting view, Doctor Strasser," he murmured, and it was easy to see he was far from convinced. His hand went to the desk to press a buzzer connected in the outer officc. "By the way, Doctor Strasser, it had already occurred to me that you might be in need of a new passport. I have already arranged one. It is made out in the name of Doctor Otto Loerbrocks, you will notice," he explained, "and your home town is Hermannstadt, in Rumania. As you doubtless know, Hermannstadt is a German-speaking village - and all its records and files were conveniently destroyed during the war. I think you will have no difficulty with that document; no one can disprove it through checking back."

"The one I have now, in the name of - "

"Baumann," Brenda broke in, smiling, and finishing the sentence for me. "Yes, I know. We were asked to be on the lookout for you. The German authorities were very earnest in their

{p. 296} insistence that you be picked up and turned over to them. And now, Doctor Strasser, what are your immediate plans ?"

"First of all, I want to rebuild my connections with the Reich," I told him. "I intend to intensify my anti-Hitler movement without a moment's loss."

"Do you feel the need of protection while you're with us?" was his next question. "I could assign - "

"I already have protection," I interrupted, taking out the revolver Formis had given me and balancing it on my palm.

Benda laughed at my self-assurance. "With that gun," he said - and there was more than humor behind his words - "and a respect for our laws, you'll get along well in Czechoslovakia. In the meantime, my friend, God go with you."

I shook warmly the hand he offered, then turned and left the office, knowing I had made a friend.

We started broadcasting - "The Voice of the Black Front" in October, 1934 - and put out real broadcasts. Pretending to be located in the middle of Germany, we went on the air five times a day from Zahori, on the Moldau River, offering musical hours, world news (which we reported from uncensored sources, particularly Czechoslovak, English and American), reports of Black Front activity, and strong propaganda. Our most effective weapon was the daily period during which we taunted and ridiculed Hitler and his vaunted SS and SA, stress ing the fact that we were freely disseminating the truth and defying them to throttle this "Voice of Freedom."

To accomplish this miracle of engineering,l it was necessary for Rudolf Formis to move to Zahori, and the work itself called upon his genius to the highest degree. Not only did the wave length have to be such that it could not be traced by either the German or Czech officials, which meant it had to be changed daily, but the sending apparatus had to be concealed

lThe technical marvel of his work is revealed by the fact that, after seizure, it became one of the chief exhibits of the Czechoslovak Postal Museum in Prague.

{p. 297} so cleverly that it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find in case of a raid. This Formis accomplished by cunningly building the set itself into the rafters of the loft, while only the microphone was to be seen in his bedroom, which became the oficial broadcasting "studio."

Then, during November and December, I noticed a curious change in the clientele at the Zahori Inn. Numerous German couples began arriving for week ends, and from their accents I knew that they were not of Sudeten but of North Reich origin. When I spoke of it to Formis he laughed at my fears.

"It is nothing," he insisted. "They are simply the usual winter travelers from Germany. We have only to be cautious in our week-end broadcasts - and you must refrain from calling your secret meetings while they are here."

The last of these, three days before, had been held at Fran ensbad, but three miles from the German border and linked to Saxony by a street car. Hence my Black Front men could attend without a passport. At this meeting, and others, most constant in attendance were Fritz Beer, my Munich leader; Will Simon, Bavarian head; Otto Witt, from Kiel; and Richard Schapke, from Berlin. Franzensbad was a favorite spot for our meetings, not only because of its convenience of access, but because a Black Fronter there, a Jewish doctor, had thrown open his sanitarium to us. I might add that Franzensbad was farnous for its fertility baths, a fact that made it a women's resort with a constantly changing patronage, which added to our security from detection.

But in spite of Rudolf Formis' warning for me to be careful, he seemed to have little concern for his own safety - a matter that I decided to take as my own responsibility. Consequently, during the next week I visited Prague and arranged for several Black Front members to spend as much time as possible at Zahori, hoping that at least one armed bodyguard would be in attendance during those times when it was necessary for me

{p. 298} to be elsewhere. This was a poor arrangement, as it turned out, but it was the best I could do at the time.

Several weeks later a beautiful blonde put in appearance. Arriving in Prague late one evening, Rudolf Formis came to my room bubbling ecstatically with a description of this new beauty in his life.

"She's wonderful, Otto! Magnificent!" he told me for the hundredth time. Then, his face clouding, he added, "But I'm afraid I shall have a time getting anywhere. She has a man with her and they both seem very much in love - on the brink of marriage, I'd say. But you never can tell. ..."

I didn't say anything to him then, but the next morning I made it my business to look up Formis' ideal young couple. The man proved to be one Hans Mueller, a businessman from Kiel, while his sweetheart was Edith Kersbach, a gym teacher from Berlin. That seemed harmless enough, even though they were both from Germany, but to make doubly sure I asked the local authorities to check carefully on their passports. A painstaking examination followed and the report came back that the couple's papers were in perfect order. However, I was still un easy. The girl was just too unbelievably beautiful, and I was well aware of Formis' weakness for the opposite sex, especially now that he was temporarily separated from Anna. I breathed a sigh of relief when Hans Mueller and Edith Kersbach de_ parted on Sunday evening.

It was at this time that a violent personal attack was made on me in the Volkischer Beobachter, with particular reference to my "intolerable secret sender" and I forgot other matters in the danger such an attack presaged. I well knew that Hitler always prepared any murderous move, whether against an individual or a nation, by such a selfjustifying press campaign. All this meant that Formis and I would have to be doubly careful.

The reappearance of Hans and Edith, the blonde, the fol-

{p. 299} lowing week end did little more than remind me of my former distrust, and I mentioned the fact again to Rudolf. But on Sunday night they departed once more in their big, powerful Mercedes, as circumspect as ever. By now, Edith Kersbach had become quite friendly with Rudolf, but the relationship seemed innocent enough and I decided I had been too impressed by the spy stories I had read, in which there appears the inevitable "irresistible siren" who vamps her man and leads him to his death.

The following week end it was necessary for me to travel to Prague, where I intended to spend the next two or three days, lodging at a rooming house where I was known and where I had stayed on similar occasions in the past. Thus it was that I did not see the beautiful Edith and her companion arrive for their third romantic week end at Zahori; nor could I know that they had been joined by a third, one Gerhard Schubert, according to his passport, who now waited in the near-by town of Stechovice.

It was nearly midnight of January 24 1935 when the two lovers arrived at the inn. Rudolf Formis and Jan Graf, the innkeeper, had been sitting up late in front of the open fire, enjoying a few tankards of ale, smoking and talking, the few other guests of the hotel having long since retired. Rudolf and his host received the newcomers with friendly hospitality, and it was obvious almost at once that Hans and Edith had been making a round of the cafes in Prague before driving out - rather extensive rounds, apparently. However, Rudolf and Jan Graf were feeling mellow themselves at this point and they had only a cheerful sympathy for the two bibulous guests.

Edith particularly was gay this night; she immediately called for a bottle of chilled wine, which Jan hurried to fetch. But during his absence Hans Mueller confessed that he could handle no more; he was terribly sleepy, he said, and, apologizing profusely, retired to his bedroom on the second floor. Jan

{p. 300} returned with the cold bottle and the three of them had several drinks together, both of the men charmed by Edith's wit and gaiety as well as by her fascinating beauty. There was no mistaking the light in the girl's eyes on this occasion; indeed, Edith made sure that her host did not miss the point. So, treating to a second cold bottle, he quietly retired to his own wing of the inn.

Now Edith and Rudolf sat close together before the fireplace. Then it was time for them to retire, too. Together they mounted the stairs and paused before Edith's room - number two - for a last good-night kiss. Behind the door Hans' snora were clearly audible, and it is possible that Edith made a little face of disgust when she heard them, a mannerism which would have pleased the romantic Rudolf. In any event, when Rudolf turned reluctantly to go to his own room - number seven, two doors farther down the corridor - Edith accompanied him with an easy naturalness that made her partner's heart quicken.

Rudolf opened his door, then stood aside for Edith to pre cede him, but just over the threshold she turned and gripped his outstretched hand as it groped for the light switch, whispering, "No, darling. We don't need the lights."

It was only natural for Edith to throw her arms about Rudolf's neck then, but something must have warned him: his partner's strange tenseness, a slight noise behind him - who can tell He wrenched the girl's arms from about his neck, twisting against her when the first shot blasted through the darkness. It missed. The jagged hole through the wall bore testimony to that later. But Rudolf was at a great disadvantage. His assassin's eyes were accustomed to the darkness, while his were not; and in addition Edith's struggling body - her beautiful siren's body - hampered his movements. He did get his gun out at last, for it was still clutched in his hand later, but by then it was too late. Whirling suddenly away, the girl screamed, "Take him, Schubert! Now! Slug him out!" Three rapid-fire

{p. 301} blasts thundered in answer to her command and a dead weight crashed to the dark floor. Rudolf Formis had kept his last assignation with a beautiful, romantic girland her name was Death.

Hans Mueller stood in the doorway now, fully dressed, as he had been all the time; and Edith Kersbach had snapped on the light to reveal Gerhard Schubert and the crumpled, crimsoned figure of Rudolf Formis lying at their feet with two bullet holes in his chest and one in his head. But neither of them noticed until then a cowering waiter in the corridor outside who had been attracted by the first shot and who had arrived in time to witness Formis' end, and who had also heard the last words a sweetheart ever spoke for Formis to hear: "Take him, Schubert! Now!"

Other feet on the stairs - those of a chambermaid, her hair done up in metal curlers, her frightened eyes as wild-looking as her hair - made Hans Mueller swing about, catching her and at the same time the trembling waiter. A gun in each hand, he herded the two servants downstairs and back into the kitchen quarters, ordering them down into the cellar. By the time Mueller had returned, Edith and Schubert had swung Formis' lifeless form onto the bed, and the girl was now engaged in soaking his clothes with kerosene while Schubert adjusted two delayed-fuse incendiary bombs to insure the destruction of the hotel. When everything was prepared, the three retreated to the hall and Edith lighted a match, made sure it was burning well, and then deposited it in the bed close to the kerosenesoaked sheet. Seconds later they were rewarded by seeing the whole bed enveloped in flame.

Rolling waves of black, stifling kerosene smoke forced the terrified servants to rush from their cellar prison, the only lock on which had been their own fear. The waiter, sure now that the gunmen had left, raced to his master's wing - which was beyond earshot even of gunfire - and returned with him to beat out the fire. Fortunately, the three murderers were no chemists;

{p. 302} in that closed room, filled with dense smoke, the prepared incendiary bombs had failed to ignite because of lack of oxygen. For that reason, and that reason alone, the hotel was saved.

Meantime, the chambermaid had remained in the Gastzimmer, too frightened to follow, and from the windows there she observed the last act in the mad and senseless tragedy. Hans Mueller had gone to the parking space for the trio's speedy Mercedes while his two companions waited for him in front. Backing the automobile out, he called Schubert to him for a whispered conference, and that very fact brought the lovely Edith to the alert. But by then it was too late.

Wheeling, the two men advanced toward her, Hans, her erstwhile lover, calling something to her as though to allay her fears. But she knew; it is certain she knew. She started to back from them slowly, as though half hypnotized with the horror of what was to happen. It was Hans himself - brave, courageous Hans, who built his love on a lie and ofered murder with a smile and a treacherous word - who drew his automatic. Edith must have known she couldn't escape by running, and she faced Hans squarely, betting on the one trump card that had always won for her, a trump card that had even led a wary, trap-wise campaigner to his death: her breath-taking beauty. She didn't even try to win through words; she just stood there facing the two, her magnificent body and beautiful face her only defense. Her features were dead white in the soft moonlight of that crisp January morning, but they did not sway Hans. Lifting his gun with the methodical precision of a robot, he watched her quietly as she cried: "No, Hans, in God's name ! No! Don't, please! You can - " -

The silence was shattered by the roar of the gun and the girl's body stilened, swayed, but she remained on her feet. Her hands had come up to grasp her left breast - and there was blood on them, blood that welled through her fingers and ran down to stain the whiteness of her dress. She looked in be-

{p. 303} wildered disbelief at Hans, at Gerhard, and at her own ebbing lifeblood. Then she made a queer little noise in her throat - perhaps it was one last attempt to speak, which was never accomplished - and she fell forward, crumpling like a doll carelessly tossed aside, just as she herself had been tossed aside. Her usefulness was past.

Gerhard and Hans picked her limp body up and swung it into the rear of the car without a word. The two Gestapo agents rammed the gears home and went rolling out of the hotel enclosure, the rear wheels spinning urgently in the graveled yard.

Much of this story was not pieced together until later. For instance, the fact that Rudolf Formis, the week end before, had consented to have his picture taken arm in arm with Edith - to "get the old grouch jealous and teach him not to be angry with me." And the fact that the photograph had been flown to Berlin's Gestapo headquarters for final identification - with a death sentence its answer. Or the fact that a Jewish waiter at the hotel - his name was Zabriske - had bargained with the Gestapo for "rehabilitation as an Aryan" in return for revealing Formis' whereabouts in the first place. But all these building-blocks of death came out later, through my Black Front intelligence from the Reich.

The events of that week end at Zahori were unknown to me, of course, until later. Meantime, I conducted my business in Prague: Black Front organization, which meant mostly the receiving of regular reports from my various cells for later correlation and mental digestion. Routine though it was, I returned to my rooming house that night utterly exhausted. I turned in immediately upon my arrival and fell at once into a deep sleep. It was then eight o'clock in the evening.

To the fact of my dawn-to-dusk activity that day, which accounted for my exhaustion, I owe my life. By three o'clock the following morning I was completely rested, although I still

{p. 304} slept. Perhaps it was the sound of voices beneath my window; perhaps I had awakened naturally and the voices simply focused my consciousness and brought me fully awake. In any event, hearing my landlady's voice, and knowing she wouldn't ordinarily be up and about at that hour, I slipped out of bed and crossed the room to the window. An official car stood at the curb, two uniformed Czech policemen standing beside it; two other police had mounted the short flight of steps and stood before the door.

"I tell you there's no one here by that name!" my landlady was insisting. "Doctor Otto Loerbrocks? I have never even heard the name before! You are mistaken, officers."

She was speaking loudly, obviously in the hope of awakening me - a stratagem that was also apparent to the police. Without further ado they pulled her out of the doorway and walked into the house, paying no attention to her loud demands to be shown a search warrant. Their heavy boots could be heard clumping up the stairway.

For a second I stood still. According to what Benda had told me, I had nothing to fear from the Czech authorities - so long as I obeyed Czechoslovakia's laws. That being so, my wisest course would be to show my passport to the officials, explain my presence in the house and then clear up any misunderstanding. But years of flight, in constant danger of losing my life, had taught me to be doubly cautious in all matters - and to take no man, nor his word, at face value. Furthermore, there was the question of my secret broadcasting station. Had Benda somehow learned of that ?

"What do you want in this house ?"

It was the voice of my landlord I heard now, speaking from the head of the stairs.

"We want Otto Strasser, now known as Otto Loerbrocks. We have a warrant for his arrest. Will you point out his room?"

"What is the charge against him, please ?" was the next question.

{p. 305} "Murder!" The reply was short and emphatic. "Stand aside." Murder! That one word wiped away all indecision on my part. There could be but one explanation: somehow I had been framed - and there was but one power that could be responsible. The Gestapo!

After that my action was swift and sure. With one leap I was beside my clothes, taking my revolver from a pocket of my jacket. Then I jumped toward the closet that stood opposite the bed - but stopped suddenly as a new thought came to me. I had no intention of being arrested on a false charge. I intended to get the drop on the police from behind when they entered the room and surrounded the bed, afterward cscaping by the back door. But the sight of an empty bed would certainly warn them of a trap, so now I thrust the two pillows under the covers, lengthwise, shrugged out of the top of my pajamas and draped it at the head of the pillows. A moment later I had stepped into the closet, leaving the door open a crack, cnabling me to see into the room - which was faintly illuminated by a dim night light by the bureau.

"Strasser!" a booming voice called out from the hall. 'is is the police! Raise your hands and keep them raised after we enter the room! We'll shoot at your slightest movel"

"Come in!" I called back.

The door burst open then and the two policemen charged into the room. One of them, without halting his original charge, deliberately dumped over a table, sending a lamp crashing to the floor, then seized an armchair and hurled it over on its side. The whole thunderous action took but a second - and it sounded like a brawl of the first water - and then the second officer opened up with his gun, sending shot after shot into the figure outlined under the covers. Retreating to the door again, satisfied now that I was surely dead, the second man tossed an automatic on top of the spread - the gun, undoubtedly, with which I was supposed to have greeted them,

{p. 306}making it necessary for them to shoot in self-defense. The door closed behind them.

In spite of my stupefaction - for it was unlike the Czech police to adopt these Nazi methods - I jumped from the closet and got to the window just as the two running figures emerged from the house and leaped into the waiting police car, which immediately swung away from the curb. As the vehicle passed under a near-by street lamp I saw its identifying license plate: a white II-A in white letters on a black plate. The car itself could have been any oflicial police car. But white letters on a black background belonged only to the German authorities - and the II-A even identified the locality of its home force: Munich.

There was no time to be lost now that the Gestapo had located me again. I was already dressed in my trousers and shirt by the time my landlord and landlady had summoned sufficient courage to open the door of my room and peer in.

"Doctor Strasser!" they exploded in unison.

"Still going strong," I said with more assurance than I felt.

Then, as I completed my dressing and my host packed my other clothes in an overnight bag, his wife asked: "But why the uniforms, the masquerade, the pretended resistance, the planted gun ?"

"They were stalling for time," I explained. "If you were convinced they were regular police of this country, and if you believed I had put up a struggle - as the disarranged furniture

and the planted gun would indicate - you would delay some hours, at least, before calling headquarters and inquiring what should be done with the corpse they had left in the bedroom. By that time the murderers would have been over the border. As it is, I will call the Czech authorities as soon as I have arranged for another hideout. We may still be able to catch them."

{p. 307} Fifteen minutes later I was down by the front door, then the door opened and closed behind me and I set out down the street, the first streak of dawn tinting the sky. I had taken no more than a dozen steps, however, before the quick sound of footsteps sounded behind me. I whirled about as soon as I was aware of them - but it was too late. Strong hands grabbed both my arms and I faced three uniformed men - dressed in the outfit of the Czechoslovak authorities.

"Doctor Loerbrocks, you're under arrest," one of them said. "Come quietly, please. I have a warrant, if you'd care to see it."

"A warrant!" I said in disgust, my heart sinking literally to my boots. "It would be as genuine - and promise as much justice - as the fraudulent uniforms you're wearing! By heaven, I never thought you'd have the nerve - "

"Come on!" another commanded in an impatient voice.

The four of us turned and started walking in the opposite direction - toward a rendezvous I could guess at, but which I tried desperately to keep from thinking about.

I was the most amazed man in the world when my captors actually took me to Czech police headquarters and lodged me in a cell with no further explanation. No charge would be made against me in my hearing, so I spent what remained of the dark hours trying to figure out how I had been framed, or for what legitimate reason the Czech officials could want me. When day finally arrivedj I got my answer. After a meager breakfast of coffee and doughnuts, or the Czech version of both, my cell was unlocked by a guard and I was ordered to follow him. He ushered me into the office of Jan Benda. Had I been able to dictate to whom I should be taken, I could have asked no better favor than this.

But Benda did not greet me with the friendliness he had shown on my former visit. His face was grave as he motioned me to a chair, and after I was seated he kept silent for a long minute, as though he were mentally framing his words.

{p. 308} "I'm afraid I have some bad news for you," he said at last, abruptly. "Last night a friend of yours was killed. I know it will hit you hard. He was Rudolf Formis."

That information hit me with the force of a physical blow, leaving me dazed and badly hurt. Benda understandingly remained silent for some minutes while I tried to pull myself together; he arose from his desk and stood looking out of the window, his back to me. Finally he faced me again.

"As you have doubtless guessed," he continued then, "this most unfortunate - tragedy - took place up at Zahori. My men i were called in because of the discovery of a powerful broadcasting outfit illegally located at and operating from that point. Doctor Strasser, I don't think we need dispute the responsibility J for that installation."

I shook my head when he paused. "It was mine," I admitted.

"You will remember," Benda went on, "that I told you you'd get along in this country until you overstepped our legal barriers. As it is, I have had no choice but to place both you and Jan Graf under arrest, with an automatic conviction against you upon confession. Your sentence, and his, will be two years at hard labor."

Even with the tragic news of Rudolf's murder still hammering in my brain, his words struck me with painful clarity. Two years! During that time the Black Front and all I had labored so many years to build would be wiped away irretrievably. It couldn't be!

"However," Benda was continuing, "if you appeal the decis sion to a higher court, such an appeal, whatever its disposition, would necessitate BenesV' signature before the sentence could be carried out." The manner in which he spoke told me more clearly than words that the document would never receive a signature.

A wave of relief swept over me; for a time I was unable to speak, and even when I could, my words scarcely expressed my gratitude. Shortly after that I told Benda about

{p. 309} the attempt on my life a few hours before, and he at once threw himself into a fury of activity, though it was now too late, in all probability, to catch the Gestapo men at the border. Within an hour I was dismissed from his of;ce - and from custody. But a most important piece of business still remained to be done that day. With both Zahori and my Prague headquarters known to the Gestapo, I had to locate elsewhere immediately - and had to nform all my followers of the danger surrounding our old meeting places.

By noon that day I had arranged for new quarters in Wenzelsplatz, and by evening my key leaders had gathered in a restaurant, where we took a private room and conducted our business after the meal. One of them was able to supply me with a passport, a function at which he was very adept, and before we broke up I had ceased to be Otto Strasser, alias Otto Baumann, alias Otto Loerbrocks, and had now become Otto Muller, a respectable journalist from Memel.

Much of our business that evening was concerned with the Saar district, for that League of Nations Protectorate was soon to hold a popular plebiscite to dictate its future, as directed by the Versailles Treaty. For months past, consequently, my Black Front had been showing particular interest in the grooming of public opinion in this area. Hundreds of my followers were actively engaged there now, and all of the reports I received were glowing in their terms of our strength - provided we could find a way to make that strength count. And it was then the big plan occurred to me - a plan I meant to follow up, even though it meant enlisting the aid and cooperation of onc of Europe's major powers.

As soon as I could get booking the next day I took a plane to Paris, and within a few hours had arranged an appointment for the following day with Pierre Commere, Under Secretary for Foreign Aairs, whom I had met in the past and whom I

{p. 310} knew to be somewhat radical, as well as violently opposed to Hitler.

The building housing the Foreign Office stands on the bank of the Seine, and when I presented myself there the next day I was shown immediately into Commere's elaborate office. Rather than depend entirely upon our former introduction, I had brought with me two letters of introduction from friends in Prague, and these I now handed to Commere. W,hile he read them I sat in a comfortable leather chair and smoked.

"So," he remarked finally, laying the letters on the desk. "And from the tone of these communications, Herr Strasser, I understand you are particularly concerned with the coming Saar plebiscite. That is so?"

I nodded. "That was my sole reason for leaving Prague," I told him. "Through you, I had hoped to reach other officials with my proposal - eventually, perhaps, being granted an audience with Georges Bonnet, your Foreign Minister."

Commere said nothing, but from the expression on his face I could see he was wondering if I was slightly cracked. "You have my entire attention," he remarked noncommittally.

"You are aware, of course, of my continent-wide organization, the Black Front," I began, speaking slowly. "Consequently, what I say now is said in the name of thousands upon thousands of men, all loyal to the same aim - the destruction of Hitler. In the Saar problem we see the possibilities of a powerful blow to be struck against that man. To achieve it, we need the help of France."

"Go on," Commere said.

"The psychology of the Saar population is simple, once the background of all their thinking is examined. They are essentially Germans; they will always be Germans. It is ridiculous

to expect them to favor France in a free choice between that country and their own fatherland - even though the choice of France as their dominating power might promise greater eco-

{p. 311} nomic and personal freedom. Their German blood would not tolerate, their pride would not allow, such a decision. Therefore we had better accept the fact that the Saar will favor Germany over France.

"But the Saar population, as a whole, is opposed to Hitler - even though they will accept him in the absence of any other alternative - and would strongly favor any other Gma authority. But that alternative choice must be German!"

"And your solution to that dilemma?" Commere prompted, his attention now wholeheartedly mine.

"Revolt! Revolution!" I said. "With the Black Front organization that already exists within the Saar at this moment - aided, perhaps, by a certain leniency on France's part in granting passports to the enemies of Hitler - I can bring a successful revolution into actual fact within twenty-four hours. My members will be but the nucleus; thousands and thousands of antiHitler citizens of the Saar will flock behind us. I promise you I can have the Saar proclaim itself an independent German state before the coming plebiscite takes place. It will then become the Piedmont of Germany - richj independent, and still offering its vitally important mining resources freely to Francc. Coal is the life blood of industry. Without it, no modern country can exist; with it, a warlike nation might sweep the earth. Will you let that tremendous weapon become Hitler's sole property ?"

Commere's fingers were drumming on the desk pad as he looked at me thoughtfully. "And Hitler's Reichswehr? His SA troops? You have not forgotten them, Herr Strasser?"

"That is where France enters the picture," I said. "Immediately I have caused the revolution to become an accomplished fact and the independent German state of the Saar is proclaimed, France must recognize her legal existence. Hitler will not dare march against a republic recognized by the French nation - and should he do so, it would be in direct violation of

{p. 312} the Versailles Treaty. He isn't supposed to have more than a token army, and any aggression on his part with that army, or an illegally larger one, could immediately call the repressive measures of the League of Nations upon him.

"Think!" I urged. "Will you abandon the Saar and its resources to Hitler's Germany? Will you allow it to remain a stepchild of the League? Or would you have it a neighbor, grateful for your country's help?"

"Tell me more of the Black Front's organization in the Saar," Commere asked.

For more than two hours we talked. In the end he seemed more than convinced I could do what I said; his enthusiasm was plainly apparent. He made an appointment with me for later that day, in the meantime intending to call in certain associates for consultation on the matter. Much of that afternoon was spent with Commere and other oficials from the Ministry and Foreign Office. Among those present were Maurice Dejean, secretary to Prime Minister Paul Reynaud;1 Marcel Deat, a Socialist Party deputy; 2 Professor De Man, leader of the Socialist faction in Belgium; 3 Gaston Bergery, leader of the Radical Socialists; and two army oficials who were not introduced, but who stood silently in the background.

As I repeated and elaborated my plan, I could tell by the expressions of my listeners their reactions to my words; and of those who seemed skeptical, Marcel Deat was the most outspoken. I realized that I'd have to sway him to my side before success could be obtained. It was he who constantly attempted to throw cold water on my optimism, to enlarge on possible slips and the consequent danger to France. When we broke up that day no decision had been reached.

During the days that followed more inconclusive conferences were held. And as the stalling continued I grew more and more

1 Dejean is now Foreign Minister for General Charles De Gaulle. 2 Deat is now chief of the Paris collaborationists. 3 De Man, like Marcel Deat, favors collaboration with Hitler.

{p. 313} impassioned in my plea for action, for the date of the plebiscite was drawing closer and closer. Then, at long last, Commere called me one morning and said that Georges Bonnet had important news for me concerning the Saar question. Could I appear at the of lice of the Foreign Ministery that afternoon ?

Commere looked very solemn when I arrived; by the atmosphere I could see that they were about to make some important concession and my pulse quickened at the thought of success.

"Herr Strasser," he began, "your proposal to proclaim a free Saar Republic has met with the approval of the French government - with but one resenation. To remove any obstacle this reservation might place in your path, we are offering you five hundred thousand francs to use as you see fit in the accomplishment of your projected - secession - from the German yoke that threatens the Saar."

"And that reservation, Monsieur Commere ?" I asked quickly, everything depending on his answer.

"The Prime Minister and I, along with others, feel that immediate French intervention in the form of recognition, such swift recognition, would entail grave danger for the Republic. Wih the sum you will receive, you can set up an independent republic; and once that state is established beyond doubt, the recognition of France will be fortheoming."

My heart sank. "You of er the impossible," I said quietly, and my spirit seemed to be gone. "With half a million francs, or five million, for that matter, I could do nothing but stir up unavailing strife and bloodshed. The recognition of France, and immediate recognition, is the key of the whole plan. Danger for France? My own personal danger is all that is apparent to me. I urge you to reconsider, gentlemen!"

"The French government can go no further. That is final."

I walked to the door, paused there with my hand on the knob. "Then God help the Saar," I remarked softly. "God help France - and Europe too!"

{p. 314} On January 13 1935 the people of the Saar voted on their future - and their answer was emphatic. Over ninety per cent selected Hitler's Reich as their own. There was no question of preferring Hitler or not preferring him; they simply in. dicated their desire to have an identity among the family of nations again, any identity - even Hitler and his Nazism. After all, they were Germans.

It was all over. The Nazis now only waited for March first, when they would march triumphantly into the Saar, thus accomplishing conquest of one of the richest areas of land in all the world, accomplishing it without the shedding of a drop of blood! This was Hitler's first great victory for the German people. It tended to stabilize and strengthen his still shaky regime; through it, as I had foreseen, he solidified and enlarged his power, multiplying his menace to me and all other free men.

As I returned to Prague, defeated, I could visualize the long gray lines of troops marching down the streets of the new German province. I could see the huge swastika banners, hear the blaring bands that played to the thunderous tempo of marching feet while heavy cannon rumbled past the wildly shouting populace. There would be diving, screaming aircraft overhead too - that brave new weapon of the Nazis, fast-growing child of Hermann Goering - and in the display of all that might the Saar people would forget Hitler's base and treacher ous ways. They would only identify themselves with the vast panoply of might before them.

I knew that now, more than ever, it was a question of Hitler killing me first - or of me killing him. I decided that I must take violent action soon; I had no choice. As it turned out, Hitler had the first chance.

{p. 315} Chapter XIII

ON MY RETURN to Prague I decided first to take my wife to a place of safety. I knew now that no conceivable restraint would be upon Hitler; he would translate any wish into instant action - and the death of such opponents as my followers and I was far more than a vagrant wish of his. Further, Gertrude had already told me that, some months hence, she would present me with another child. For those two very good reasons I took her to a place of safety and peace - and the personification of those two qualities are to be found in the Greek island of Zamos, the sanctuary I had decided upon.

At this time, as a matter of policy, I again char.ged my quarters and, as usual, my name. I was now known as Hans Hildebrandt, and in the face of Hitler's repeated desperate attempts on my life I had taken the precaution of appointing two husky Black Front members to be on constant guard in the nteroom of my apartment. Since my present rooms were so arranged that any visitor, after ringing the bell and being admitted, had to walk down a long corridor, these two sentinels had ample time to observe each caller. And each caller was searched for weapons.

One day a stranger was admitted who brought me a strange proposition. "I sent in my name as Reinhardt," he said easily, after we had greeted each other and he had been seated. "That isn't my name. I am really HeiNich Grunow. I was afraid either you or your guards would recognize the name, since I am a member of Hitler's secret bodyguard at his Berchtesgaden retreat."

"And your purpose in coming to me ?" I prompted.

"I intend to kill Adolf Hitler," Grunow said straight-

{p. 316} forwardly. "I have come to enlist your help - the help of your Black Front - in that mission. That's the whole story."

I hadn't heard a crazier story in many a day, but perhaps that was the very reason I continued to listen to Grunow. Surely a trap would be more subtly arranged than this explanation seemed to indicate. Still suspicious and on my guard, nevertheless, I said, "It's hardly necessary for me to point out that you are in a perfect position to accomplish that aim right now: you are in a position of trust in Hitler's presence, and you have a gun. Further, one man is more likely to succeed than a group less SUSpiCiOUS. Now, then, you must answer to my satisfaction two very important questions: First, just exactly why should you, evidently a man whosc background has been minutely examined by the Gestapo, suddenly desire to kill your Hitler? Second, why haven't you selected the obvious way in stead of coming to me for aid that you do not need ? If you can answer those to my satisfaction, you'll be doing a lot to lull my present active suspicion."

Heinrich Grunow didn't answer right away; he took his; wallet out and withdrew a photograph from it, tossing the picture in front of me. There was no mistaking the two men shown there, arm in arm. One was Heinrich Grunow and the other was Captain Ernst Roehm.

"Roehm was my best friend," Grunow explained. "It was he . who first found a spot for me with the SS troops, and later even elcvated me to the highest position of trust in Hitler's household: the private Berchtesgaden guard. He built me all the way. When he was killed I knew what I'd do as soon as the time was appropriate. The time is nowl"

"Assuming all that to be true," I told him, "I can see your motivation clearly enough. Now - why did you come to me?"

"Because I want his death to be more than a mere act of violence - an isolated assassination, a sudden crime of passion. I want his death to mean something to the German people; through the spectacular event I want them to examine further.

{p. 317} In other words, I want the death identified with some movement, so that the principles of that movement will be emphasized as a result. Then his death will mean something; it will serve a purpose."

The man's reasoning surprised me. If I found what he said to be true, I had no objection to his identifying himself with my Black Front - nor, indeed, supplying him with funds and weapons to make his try.

I asked more questions in an attempt to catch him on some point, but everything he said was straight enough - even his contact through which he had located me in Prague, something the Gestapo would have been glad to be able to do. He named an old follower of mine, a man above suspicion, and I decided to check back that night, accepting him at his word if his story stood up.

It proved valid in every detail, so when he presented himself the next day I was prepared to talk business with him. I had also summoned a Black Front member who was detailed to accompany &runow on his mission if the former SS man's plans sounded reasonably safe and workable.

"I'm in a better position than most people to work out a mission like this," Helnrich Grunow began. "I know Hitler's routine. I know, for instance, that they're building a new road to Berchtesgaden - have completed it, in fact - and I know, too, that in its present condition it doesn't allow for fast driving. Now, there's a bad curve along the way, at which point Hitler's car slows down to fifteen miles an hour. A man concealed beside the road with a rifle wouldn't have to be an expert marksman to pick off a moving target at that point. And that's my strategy. It's wild country and escape afterward wouldn't be dificult, especially if a fast car were parked near by, but on some other highway, to avoid being spotted beforehand. Hitler's chaueur, should he escape, could never summon help before I was miles away. With no possible way of identifying me, how could I then be searched for and apprehended ? I can

{p. 318} see no objection to the plan myself. What do you think about

"Well, Eitel ?" I asked the Black Front man.

"It's good," he said without hesitation.

"Then I commission the two of you to carry it out as a Black Front project," I pronounced. "Expenses and necessary equipment can come out of the organization's funds. But one last matter. When will you leave, Heinrich?"

"Tomorrow," he said immediately. "Hitler will leave for his week-end visit the day after. And I assure you, Herr Strasser, it will be a journey he will never complete."

The two days that followed were anxious ones. It is difficult to sit quietly at a desk, carrying on everyday business, when you know world-shaking events are taking place. Finally a telephone call came from Eitel Sturm, saying he was back in Prague and the mission was complete. I urged him to hurry immediately to my ofl;ce. He was with me in twenty minutes

"Quickly, let's have the story," I urged impatiently. Then; noticing he was alone, I asked, "But where is Heinrich Grunow ?"

"Grunow is dead," Sturm told me flatly. "But I have something better to add. Hitler is dead, too!"

The news almost floored me. I came slowly to my feet without being conscious of the move, leaned my arms on the desk and bent toward Sturm. "The details," I demanded.

"Grunow knew his business," Sturm reported. "Just as he'd said, we found that twist in the Berchtesgaden road. We left our own car, hired in a false name, parked about a mile away, arriving just about dusk and taking no chances that we'd miss Hitler when he passed, for we had no way of knowing when he'd leave Berlin. For weary hours we remained there, crouched in the bushes, armed with high-powered rifles. I can't tell you of the suspense, the silent, motionless waiting. Every

{p. 319} car that swished past on the highway below might have been the one we were waiting for; each one that passed brought with it a separate climax. Grunow's personal hate seemed to make him a man of steel, without nerves. He never once even shifted position, as I was forced to do, but simply crouched there, silent, unmoving.

"At last we saw the car, far below, its headlights sending their beams from side to side as the car lurched and twisted up the hill. We could hear the low groan of climbing gears. They would have to pass at a snail's pace on the curve directly at our feet. At this moment Grunow made the one sound of that entire period: his breath came out in a long shuddering sight.Ó

"Grunow got the first shot - the first two shots, in fact. His muscles seemed to react more quickly than mine, cramped as I was. When Hitler's car was directly below us - occupied only by two men, the Fuehrer and his chauffeur - Heinrich Grunow bounced to his feet, snapped the rifle to his shoulder, and let go twice. The ear-splitting roars of those shots were like the twin cracks of doom - and I guess they were that, actually, for Hitler.

"He was only a shadow in the seat beside the chauffeur - though we could make out his features, his mustache, easily enough - and simultaneously with the shots he came to his feet in the moving car, screaming and clawing at the air. The chauffeur slowed without thinking - and that's when I let him have it with my own gun. You know I'm a perfect shot, Herr Strasser. At that range I couldn't miss. Outlined against a moonlit sky, standing, I drew a bead on his head the way I would on a clay pigeon - and shot with as little compunction.

"The screaming stopped abruptly then. The standing figure flopped over into the back of the car, and the chauffeur, panicky, jammed the gas pedal down and the car lurched and skidded out of sight."

{p. 320} I was breathing heavily when he ceased speaking. I could not take it in; it was too good to be true.

"And Grunow ?" I asked at last.

Eitel Sturm was looking out the window into the dingy court. "I turned to him to shake his hand," he reported. "As we did so, he said something about a mission being complete. Then, before I realized what he intended to do, he pulled a revolver from his jacket pocket, rammed the muzzle against the roof of his mouth and pulled the trigger. He was dead when his body hit the ground. I left him where he had fallen. The Gestapo can't do anythingto him now - and it was his own wish to die."

After Sturm had gone, I spent the rest of the day pacing the floor. Twice I sent out for newspapers, but there was no announcement of the assassination yet - as I had suspected there would not be. Surely there would be party conferences and intrigue within intrigue before any announcement was made. But, somehow, I couldn't believe Sturm's story until I actually saw, in black and white, the oficial Nazi admission of the execution.

The story broke two days later - during the first part of October, 1935 - but what a different story from the one I had expected! How tragic for the world that one little, seemingly harmless, twist of fate!

Das Schwarzc Korps carried the report, but it was a "report" for none but me and the few others concerned in the event as i t actually occurred. Hitler's faithful chauffeur, Schreck, a onetime Munich detective, had died of an infection, the newspaper lamented. Jealously possessive of his right to drive the Fuehrer and unwilling to relinquish that "honor" for even one night Schreck had insisted the week end before on taking the wheei for the usual drive to Berchtesgaden even though he was suffering intolerable pain from an "infected tooth." During the drive, he had all but collapsed, and Hitler himself had taken the wheel - something that he frequently did on any long drive.

{p. 321} But it was too late to save the loyal Nazi, Das Schwarze Korps went on. The infection burst and spread, so that even Hitler's personal physicians and dentists had been able to do nothing.

An infected tooth! Inevitable death! I could see the whole scene now. Schreck and Hitler looked very much alike - the chauffeur even affecting a small mustache like his master; he had at times in the past even doubled for Hitler. During the drive Hitler had undoubtedly decided to take the wheel. Since both he and the chauffeur wore leather jackets and peaked caps, and even resembled each other, it would have been easy to confuse them in broad daylight. Consequently, Eitel Sturm and Heinrich Grunow had assassinated the wrong man.

Shortly after that episode, it was announced that Herr Schreck had been elevated posthumously to the rank of Oberfuhrer, and Adolf Hitler simultaneously issued an order of the day naming an SS unit the Schreck Brigade.

Through a secret contact in the Nazi Party I later received a report on the quiet autopsy which was held on Schreck. He had been shot once through the shoulder, the bullet deflecting into the chest; another bullet had penetrated his jaw, and a third had pierced his right temple.

Though the tragic attempt depressed me for days afterward, it also served to quicken my determination to succeed without question when I should try again. One of these days chance would favor me rather than Hitler, and my greatest mission would have been completed - if Hitler didn't get me first.

It was toward the close of February, 1936, that another strange visitor came to my ofce. He gave his name as Franz Steinberg. He was a shy little man, his sparse brown hair, flecked with gray, indicating approaching middle age. When I asked him his purpose in coming to me, he seemed at a loss for words. At last he blurted out:

"I want to join the Black Front. I've heard of your work, I've

1 I mention his real name since he is no longer alive.

{p. 322} read the lies they've written about you and have been able to appreciate the real truth between the lines. The Nazis killed my brother, my parents are in a concentration camp, and my business in Essen has been seized. Anything I can do to combat Hitler will make my remaining days worth while - even if they end tomorrow."

I studied Steinberg for a moment. "The Black Front isn't a sort of social club," I pointed out. "Men don't come to me and just 'join up' by signing a paper or paying some dues. There s a lot more to it than that."

"I know," he said. "I expected you to say something like that. As a matter of fact, there are two of us who would like to become part of your movement, and between us we have decided to place ourselves completely at your command. Give us any assignment, no matter how dangerous, and we'll prove ourselves to you by successfully carrying it out. Can you ask a better offer than that?"

I liked the little man's sincerity - and he sounded like good material. "What have you done for a living?" I asked, meaning to get a line on the applicant's abilities.

"I was a construction engineer," Steinberg said. "My friend, Eberle, is unemployed at present, but he was a railroad dispatcher. You should be able to find some use for him."

It was right then I knew what I would ask these two to do - but I hesitated in spite of the splendid opportunity offered me. Franz Steinberg saw the hesitation and was pressing in his insistence that I tell him what had occurred to me

"Very well," I agreed at last. "I received some advices this morning from Berlin and one fact was that Adolf Hitler intends to travel to the Speyer Cathedral, the site where the old German emperors were crowned, to celebrate the Rhineland occupation which was achieved several days ago. He is scheduled to leave Berlin by train at ten o'clock tomorrow morning. Along the way his train will have to cross the Mannheim railroad bridge - "

{p. 323} "The bridge!" Steinberg exclaimed. "That's it! I know enough of explosives and bridges to bring it down without fail - and Wolfgang Eberle knows his railroad organization. That's our mission."

And so it was agreed. Late that afternoon Steinberg returned with Wolfgang Eberle who, on questioning, assured me he knew all about Hitler's routine for railroad travel. Just ahead of the train that carried the Fuehrer and his uniformed, be-medaled escort, ran a guide car to test the track the official train had to run upon. Any tampering with the rails, any explosives or other impediments that might bring death, would first be struck by the guide car - much as the kings of old maintained royal tasters for their food to guard against poison. In addition to the guide car there was, of course, a constant and vigilant force of men observing and inspecting the right of way - especially when it was known that Hitler was to travel over a certain route.

Those two precautions might prove diicult for the two men to circumvent, but Eberle felt certain he knew enough of railroading and railroad men to carry the plan through safely. All Steinberg asked was a ten-minute chance at the girders of the bridge with a rack of dynamite sticks, some wire and a detonator - which equipment I found a way to supply. And that evening they left Prague to keep their rendezvous with Hitler's train on the following day.

Hitler's train was scheduled to go over the Mannheim bridge the next morning; but I was not worried when I didn't hear from Eberle and Steinberg that afternoon. There could easily have been a change of time - or the two men, their mission successful, might have found it necessary to stay in hiding for a while. As far as I could see, if they weren't caught by the railroad guards they weren't in imminent danger of capture. Their plan, as outlined to me, consisted of allowing the guide car to cross the bridge and then setting

{p. 324} off the dynamite just as Hitler's train nosed onto the bridge, it then being too late for it to stop. And the charge, naturally, could be detonated from some distance away, with means of escape ready at hand.

There was no word from them that night - or all the next day. Nor could I find in any of the papers any reference to an attempted railroad dynamiting or an actual wreck. Then I did become worried, and in the end I dispatched a Black Front member to the vicinity to see what he could find out, either from observation or local gossip. He learned the whole story.

The two men had reached the bridge undetected and had succeeded in accomplishing the technical part of their scheme. One whole section in the center of the bridge now gaped emptily, its girders dragging in a stream below; that much was plain to be seen. The rest of the story had to be pieced together bit by bit. Steinberg and Eberle had waited for the guide car and had let it pass safely, as planned; then, on the approach of the second train, had sent a section of the bridge rocketing into the air when it was too late for that train to stop. The train had hit the gap; the locomotive, tender and two cars went over the brink and crashed to the rocks below. But unfortunately it wasn't Hitler's oficial train. On one chance out of a hundred, an important troop train bound for the Rhineland had been allowed to cut in ahead of the official train. Of course, when it was wrecked, there was still plenty of time to flag the other train pulling up in the rear.

How Steinberg and Eberle were caught so promptly will never be known. But they were caught. Their bodies in the near-by woods, each with his hands tied behind him, bearing the signs of a frightful beating, and each riddled with bullets. It was obvious they were executed without even the usual Nazi pretense at a trial, and for that reason the news of their deaths was withheld from the papers.

{p. 325} It was toward the end of 1936 when I first met Helmut Hirsch, a young, handsome Jewish boy of twenty, who came from Stuttgart. Like so many others, he appeared in my office one day asking to become a member of the Black Front.

"I was a member of the Buendische Yugend, in Stuttgart," he told me, anticipating my question. "I thought that would be a good recommendation; I hoped you'd let me join you, give me something really important to do. You know, the Black Front unit at home has sometimes let me help them."

I knew that was probably true, though the Black Front took in only grown men, not youths. I knew that the Buendische Yugend, a youth organization with a wide membership, was sympathetic to the aims of the Black Front.

"It's not only me," he went on, as though to convince me. "There are a whole group of us - some Jewish, some not. But we've often talked of the way the Jews suffer, of the way they take all the abuse the Nazis give them, and take it in silence. Many of these unfortunates seem to think that it's the Jewish lot to bear hardship and adversity - that if the Nazis didn't mete it out, some other agent would - and they eem to feel that it is part of their religion to suffer in abject silence. That isn't so! We must fight back! We must become more aggressive! My friends and I have planned a demonstration of militant Jewry. We are going to blow up the Nurnberg building of Der Sturmer. That's why I've come to you - for help in obtaining the dynamite."

For some time Helmut Hirsch and I talked - with most of the conversation made up of my questions and his answers. First I roughly checked his statements by asking the name of the leader of the Black Front in Stuttgart, the name of the leader of his youth group, and similar questions. His answers were prompt and accurate. After that I inquired into his background and was surprised to learn that his father was an American citizen who had returned to the Reich. That fact, I felt - since it made Helmut technically an American

{p. 326} citizen, too - would doubtless protect the boy from Nazi highhandedness.

"How much do you know about these friends of yours?" I asked him finally. "When you become involved in any counterrevolutionary movements, opposing a vicious power, the very first thing to learn - and never forget - is to trust no man on his word alone. Investigate to your own absolute satisfaction. Even one traitor among you, or one weakling who might desert, will mean the doom of all the others Now, I want you to return to Stuttgart and examine minutely those who are to be your associates. When you've done that, come back and report to me here in Prague."

After he had gone I checked back with Stuttgart, and young Hirsch was given a clean slate, with additional praise on the work he had already done. That checking was simply routine, for I had no way of knowing I'd ever see the young man again, and after a fortnight had passed I had forgotten him completely. Two weeks from our first meeting he appeared again in my office.

Again he asked membership in the Black Front, saying that he had carefully investigated all his friends and found each one loyal beyond doubt. I told him he would have to carry out a few missions to prove himself before admission to our ranks, and to this he enthusiastically agreed. So I gave him an empty suitcase to deliver to someone in Essen; and on another occasion asked him to deliver a package to Munich - the contents of which would have caused him no involvement with the police. Each time, of course, he knew nothing of the matter entrusted to him for delivery. But he kept constantly pleading with me to supply him with arms and dynamite to complete the project he had set his heart on: the blasting of Der Sturmer. In the end I gave in.

Rather than have Hirsch risk his neck by transporting such stuff across the border, I sent word through to one of my men

{p. 327} in Stuttgart to pack the required equipment in a black suitcase and check it at the railroad station in Leipzig, mailing the check back to me. I then instructed Hirsch to carry a similar bag packed with innocent articles, to leave the train at Leipzig and pick up the checked suitcase, substituting his own. From there he could continue safely to Nurnberg. In all this, of course, the Stuttgart agent knew nothing of Hirsch or of the use for which the dynamite was intended. Further, since he had checked the TNT at Leipzig, he would not be likely to connect a Nurnberg bombing with the mission he had been ordered to undertake. In any such plan as that, no matter how loyal the people involved, the fewer who know the entire plot, the better. Sometimes a man can be made to speak.

When Hirsch left Prague I considered him perfectly safe from the police, no matter what happened, until he actually had the Leipzig suitcase in his hand. But he never got as far as Leipzig. He just succeeded in crossing the border. The Gestapo picked him up the moment he set foot in Germany, accused him of a plot to murder Julius Streicher, and threw him into jail. I wasn't alarmed at that move, knowing that Hirsch hadn't yet gone anywhere near Leipzig and had undoubtedly been clever enough to get rid of the incriminating check, as he had been instructed. However, I sent through instructions that Hirsch be given all the legal help he required to set him free.

It was a few days later that the astounding news came through to me. The Gestapo had confronted Hirsch with a black bag containing dynamite and bombs, claiming it had been the one he had been carrying - when I knew for a fact that the incriminating suitcase was still resting in the Leipzig railroad station! The whole evidence against Hirsch was a deliberate plant!

With Hirsch now in jail awaiting trial, there was little I

{p. 328} could do. I pulled every string I knew, but to no avail. For months-he remained in custody, unable to see anyone from the outside. And it doesn't require much imagination to realize what the boy went through during those months - but stoutly refused to confess to his captors. He bravely continued to insist he was innocent. So finally a date was set for his trial before the dread People's Court. The whole thing was a farce from beginning to end - for everyone but the prisoner. For Helmut Hirsch it was the grimmest sort of tragedy. He was sentenced to death under the headsman's axe.

After the death sentence, Ambassador Dodd - because of the prisoner's technical American citizenship - did everything in his power to prevent that travesty. In spite of untiring and repeated efforts, he failed. On June 4, 1937 Hirsch knelt before the headsman and accepted death, unflinching.

I never discovered - or even guessed - the agent who had somehow learned partly of Hirsch's mission. Or could it have been simply coincidence? Could he, having been seen in my company and being suspected of Black Front activity, have been framed by the Gestapo to get rid of him quickly? That will never be known, I suppose. But I do know ... and this is the first time the true story of Hirsch has been revealed ... that the only incriminating evidence against Hirsch never reached the Gestapo's hands. I know that because on September 7, 1937 I retrieved that checked suitcase at Leipzig, retrieved the dynamite that was in it - and put it to good use. In memory of Helmut Hirsch.

Some months later - in September, 1938 - I found an opportunity to visit my wife, who was now living in peaceful Switzerland. The reunion took place in Zurich, and for a few days thereafter the outside world, with its intrigues and surging turmoil, ceased to exist. There was only harmony and peace within my own little sphere.

It was on the third day, as I recall, that a note was de_

{p. 329} livered to me by hand, its sender only an acquaintance of mine, but a close friend of my wife. The message asked if I could call that evening to meet someone of importance, and I sent a reply by the same messenger that I would be there.

My host, who was a short, pudgy French Swiss, seemed tremendously excited when he admitted me to his home that evening. The man who was evidently the reason for my being summoned stood in the living room, a tall, straight figure with the unmistakable military bearing of the German Junker class. My host, with a fatuous smile, introduced him as "Johann Schmidt" - obviously a false name - and in that way suggested that the real name of our distinguished visitor remain unspoken. And indeed I did recognize him. He was an important German army general, high in the councils of the war lords.1

After some minutes of polite talk my host discreetly withdrew from the room, leaving General X and myself to discuss more important matters privately.

"I understand, Herr Strasser," he began, "that you enjoy tne confidence of the Czech government more than most outsiders, and are acquainted with the internal state of that country.'

I smiled faintly. "That's true, to a certain extent. But I am certainly not their confidant in any secret matters."

General X waved his hand impatiently. "I am not after secrets. My question is simple - and anyone reasonably close to the government should be able to answer it. Will Czechoslovakia fight if Hitler sends his troops into the Sudetenland? The answer to that is important, because if Czechoslovakia fights to prevent seizure of the Sudetenland, then France and England must fight, too. What is the answer?"

"Czechoslovakia will fight," I replied without hesitation. "Every official statement, public and private, that has come to

1 He is presently leading one of the German armies on the Russian front, a general in good standing.

{p. 330} my ears indicates that without a doubt. They depend strongly on the support of their allies."

General X let out a .ong breath. "Fourteen days ago the general staff was ordered by Hitler to prepare plans for such an invasion, and Hitler does not have plans prepared unless he means to use them. But, as you know, the Czechs have a pact of mutual assistance with Russia, which would mean that Germany would have to face the armies of England, France and Russia, and the not inconsiderable Czech force. Against such an agglomeration we could not hope to prevail; defeat would be certain. Hitler, however, swears on his word of honor that England and France will not march. He promises a bloodless conquest, much as in Austria, and he insists that with this conquest he will have a finger, a salient, into Czechoslovakia, and the whole will fall into the palm of his hand. Thus buffered, he claims, he will be ready to attack, and defeat, Russia. But if England and France march immediately ..."

"They will," I repeated, "because I know Czechoslovakia will fight - in spite of Lord Runciman's appeasement and his attempts to sell his country short; and then the honor of Czechoslovakia's allies is at stake. So what do you propose to do to prevent this war which you feel you cannot win?"

General X's reply was immediate. "The German General Staff will not send its armies to defeat on the command of an ex-corporal turned politician! We are agreed on what we will do. Once the allies of the Czechs rise, we will revolt against Hitler. We are prepared to seize him, place him under arrest and take over the rule of the country ourselves. After such a coup d'etat, peace can be negotiated."

"Hitler will be arrested?" I repeated incredulously.

"Under those conditions, you may count on it!"

I could not return to Prague quickly enough. Taking only time to explain matters to my wife and pack my bag, I raced to the airport and caught the midnight plane to Czechoslovakia.

It was impossible to get in touch with anyone until the next

{p. 331} morning, but at seven o'clock I put through an urgent call to the home of my friend, Wenzel Yacksch, and shortly after eight I was meeting him in his office. As soon as he heard the barest outline of what I had to report, he put through a call to the Foreign Minister, Krofta, and the two of us immediately repaired to his ofice. There the two men listened in silence as I repeated my whole interview with the German general, even mentioning his name. After my revelation of the Austrian danger, which they had failed to heed, they now listened to my words with more respect - especially to my plea that the Czechs resist any aggression.

Foreign Minister Krofta looked bewildered when I had finished. "I can't believe it!" he kept insisting. "Germany wouldn't dare risk war with France and England - and for two very good reasons. Its army isn't ready for any such colossal struggle, and its people are anything but war-minded. Oh, I've listened to Hitler's public speeches, like everyone else - his rantings, ravings and insulting fury. It's only a tempest in a teapot - a madman pounding on the drum of his vanity and ego, trying to frighten us all. He won't fight. But if he does, Czechoslovakia will resist, because she is strong in her allies. We will fight!"

Those were the words I wanted to hear. And, should Germany attack, would the present leaders of that unhappy country at last have the wisdom to see the source of their misery - and the awful threat to their future ? Would Adolf Hitler be jailed for the criminal he was ?

I watched anxiously the events of the days that followed - events that exploded with rapid-fire, bewildering succession. The chilling headlines of September eleventh: HITLER REPORTED MASSING 200,000 ON AUSTRO-CZECH BORDER; September twelfth: HITLER VILIFIES CZECHS IN NUREMBERG SPEECH; September thirteenth and fourteenth: CZECHS REJECT HITLER'S SUDETEN ULTIMATUM - RIOTS, SHOOTING WIDESPREAD;

{p. 332} September fourteenth: CZECH POLICE QUELL NAZIINSPIRED SUDETEN REVOLT; September fifteenth: CHAMBERLAIN FLIES TO BERCHTESGADEN TO CONFER WITH HITLER; September eighteenth: CZECHGERMAN TENSION GROWS; September twenty-third: HITLER AND CHAMBERLAIN CONFER IN GODESBERG; September twenty-sixth: HITLER ULTIMATUM GIVES BENES TILL OCTOBER I TO SURRENDER SUDETENLAND; September twenty-eighth: HITLER INVITES MUSSOLINI, CHAMBERLAIN, DALADIER TO CONFER IN MUNICH; September twenty-ninth: CHAMBERLAIN SACRIFICES CZECHOSLOVAKIA; October first: GERMAN ARMY MARCHES INTO SUDETENLAND.

What a tragedy! What perfidy! I was scarcely able to restrain my furious resentment against those who had crucified Czechoslovakia and the Sudetens. Couldn't they realize that the Czechs were next; then, perhaps, Poland - that finally, and certainly, the whole of Europe must fall beneath the Nazi heel? Could those be statesmen who pretended to believe that Hitler would keep his word, that he would seek no further territorial aggrandizement ? I was literally sick with the whole horrible business. Only Winston Churchill, addressing the English Commons, seemed to understand the criminal magnitude of what Chamberlain and the Allies had done:

"We have sustained a total, unmitigated defeat. ... We must expect that all the countries of central and eastern Europe will make the best terms they can with the triumphant Nazi power. ... It seems to me that all the countries of Mittel Europa and the Danube Valley, one after another, will be drawn into the vast system of Nazi politics ... radiating from Berlin."

I knew that the little rump state of Czechoslovakia - the "token" land left by Hitler - would soon be gobbled up. And the people of the butchered Czech nation seemed to realize it,

{p. 333} too. Wherever I went in Prague there were long faces, defeated spirits, cynical, pessimistic talk. And why shouldn't they have been cynical and pessimistic? Hadn't the sacred word of their allies been ruthlessly repudiated? Hadn't they seen what happened to small, defenseless groups ? They knew they would be taken over within a matter of days.

Wenzel Yacksch and I decided to flee Czechoslovakia and go to France, for we knew what would happen to antiHitlerites once the Nazis stepped in. Provided with a Spanish passport Yacksch had been able to obtain for me, we drove to the Prague airport and embarked - on the last plane that was to leave the country unsupervised. Within a matter of hours the Nazis issued a strict law that no Czechs or Germans were to leave the country on any pretext whatever, but by that time we were in midjourney - perhaps over Germany at that very moment - and bound for France.

As Dr. Otto Baumgartner, I landed in Strassburg that afternoon - which was October I 1938 - and breathed deeply of free French air. Here I would be safe; I felt that strongly at the moment. The massive, indomitable greatness of the Maginot Line - backed by millions of soldiers, the finest army in the world - was almost a living, tangible strength and support. My flight from Hitler had come to an end.

That's how I felt the morning I landed in France. ...

{p. 334} Chapter XIV

FROM STRASSBURG I traveled to Paris by train, finding quarters in the Place de l'Odeon Hotel. Upon arrival, my first move was to call on the Spanish Ambassador to thank him for the courtesy - a courtesy that had saved my life - of issuing a Spanish passport in my name. He assured me that both Yacksch and I could depend on the continued support of the Spanish government.

France was not long a sanctuary, however, for only three months later the government of Spain fell before Franco's hordes. Madrid and the rest of republican Spain surrendered on March 29 1939. My passport was invalid.

Rather than risk being picked up by the French and turned over to the new fascist order in Spain, which would mean being handed over to the German Gestapo, I wearily took flight again, this time to Switzerland to see my family once more. Each time I saw them I experienced a deep pain; I couldn't help wondering if that time would prove to be the last.

As always, I managed to find peace and utter contentment with Gertrude and at times I found myself wondering why I had elected to spend my life fighting Hitler when I could have enjoyed such days as these always. There was no easy answer to that, but I knew that I would only repeat what I had done had I my life to live over again.

High in mountainous Switzerland, I sat like a god on Mount Olympus watching tension, uneasiness, distrust, intrigue spread over the whole of Europe. France fought desperately to maintain peace, even to the point of seeming will-

{p. 335} ing to humble herself - how unlike the France of oldl Poland after sharing with Germany the carcass of fallen Czechoslovakia, now quaked in mortal fear as she saw her own time coming for the sacrifice. English leaders vacillated behind empty phrases, while the English people distrusted Germany, distrusted France, and distrusted those at the helm of their own destiny.

Then, in April, England suddenly signed a pact with Poland, thereby guaranteeing support to the Poles in the event of a Hitler attack. But was it any more dependable than the guarantee given to Czechoslovakia? For some reason Europe seemed to believe it was. Hitler thought so too, for he went into a towering rage when he heard of it. Since the German nature is such that it cannot compromise and will not retreat, the new opposition to Hitler seemed to forecast but one result: war.

It was during May, 1939 that I tried for a conference with General X. I sent word to him, but the reply was disappointing; he was unable to leave his military post. However, he did send his adjutant, a short, wiry man of precise manners and short, clipped phrases. We spent one whole evening together exchanging information and views.

"England's guarantee of Poland?" the adjutant said at one point, in answer to an obsenation of mine. "It will amount to just as much as her guarantee of Czechoslovakia! I can tell you two facts that are as certain as day and night: first, that Hitler will invade Poland; second, that the conquest of that country will be little more than a police action, with England no more than an interested onlooker." He held up his hand when I started to object. "General X and I have not forgotten your forecasts in the Czech crisis. We both remember it well!"

"And I trust there is one other little matter you have not forgotten," I pointed out. "Russia."

{p. 336} I hd expected the adjutant to receive that remark with either bluster or confusion. He showed neither. Instead, he smiled like the cat who has eaten the canary.

"We have not forgotten Russia," he said confidently.

"You mean you will take her on, too!" I exclaimed incrcdulously.

"We will deal with Russia," he said smugly, "though not, perhaps, in the way you suspect."

In that last statement, meaning to tell me nothing, he had told me everything. Had Germany been prepared to fight Russia, he would certainly have said so. Instead, with typical Teutonic heaviness, he had attempted to evade, to sidestep, which could mean but one thing. An alliance!

Hours later, our talk finally ended, I rushed home so full of speculation and half-seen truths that I was unable to sleep. I at once sat down at my desk and began to write. During the days that followed I polished and elaborated the theme of that message, finally mailing it to an agent in England. Then, on July I5 1939 in the New Statcsman and Naion, of London, that warning message appeared under the title: "Hitler's War Plans." It is interesting now to consider certain brief passages from that warning:

"The course of events since March I5 1939 [when Prague was invaded] shows clearly that our old forecast, 'Hitler means war,' is rapidly approaching realization. Important signs, particularly the question of food supplies, suggest that the war will not break out until late summer; an earlier or later moment is possible, but this is irrelevant to the main development."

Then, forecasting the alliance between Stalin and Hitler, I went on:

"Even if Italy should fight at Germany's side, it may confidently be anticipated that the French and British fleets will quickly secure mastery of the Mediterranean. With the collapse of Poland, a new political and military stage in the war

{p. 337} will be reached. Hitler will have no more success than Ludendorff had in 1917 in obtaining the hoped-for separate peace, and will, whether he likes it or not, have to prepare for an attack against the West. Whether he try the direct attack on the Maginot Line, or his darling idea of a landing in England, or the indirect form of attack through the northern neutral States, or a combination of these, is unimportant. The decisive thing is that he can no more avoid the attack in the West, after the crushing of Poland (and possibly Rumania) than Ludendorff was able to avoid it after crushing Russia and Rumania, and that this attack is just as certainly doomed to failure."

The document then went on to give a forecast of the coursc of the Polish campaign - a concentric attack by four German armies, planned to bring about a Polish collapse and to overrun Warsaw within three weeks. This would enable Hitler, I pointed out, after fortifying his new frontier, to transfer the bulk of the German Army to the west. About the summer of 1940 I forecast, the inevitable "great war" would begin with the lightning-like occupation of Rumania and Denmark, as sources of oil and food supplies, and with an attack on Holland.

Did England heed that warning? No. Henderson and Chamberlain continued to chant the dreary litany of 1933I939; events rolled on toward the inevitable modern Philippi; the last warning to the world was buried and forgotten.

Then, with the explosive thunder of the Last Judgment, three successive events literally shook the entire world:

On August 23 the Russo-German pact was announced.

On September I Hitler invaded Poland.

On September 3, France and England declared war.

For two months after that I remained in Switzerland, seeing in wretched helplessness the great nations of the world facing each other for the showdown, sparring, feinting,

{p. 338} grimacing as they waited for an opening. Some people labeled it a "phony war"; I knew it wasn't. I felt like a man who must watch impotently as a sputtering fuse burns closer and closer to a powder keg while others stand about and comment on how little noise the fuse is making. But I was truly thankful for one blessing: my wife and children were in Switzerland, and I was with them. Then, with the characteristic abruptness of all events those days, even that small solace was torn from me.

On the evening of November 8 I was listening to European broadcasts, idly turning the dial as I picked up one country '! after another, when I suddenly became arrested by the unmistakable sound of Adolf Hitler's raucous, browbeating tones. It was a surprise, for no announcement had been made of any speech by the Fuehrer that night, and I left the set tuned in. He was broadcasting from the Burgerbrau Keller in Munich, evidently celebrating the anniversary of his beer-hall putsch of 1923. It was a typical Hitler speech, and when it was over I thought nothing more of it. It wasn't until the following day that I found out I was supposed to have been present at that celebration - very much present!

"Last night," the radio announced to me and my startled wife, "a bomb explosion shattered the Burgerbrau Keller a where our Fuehrer had just finished speaking! Fortunately indeed, the Fuehrer had left the hall - though it was but nine minutes before the explosion occurred! This base, cowardly attack killed seven loyal Nazis and wounded sixty-three!

"Investigation has revealed that the yellow murderers who planned and executed this incredible outrage were Doctor Otto Strasser and a British intelligence officer. The guilt is clearly and indisputably traced to them. Attention, all Germans! These two men, and especially Strasser, must be made to pay for their crime! So anxious is our heartbroken Fuehrer that they atone for the dead that he is offering a reward ..."

I could scarcely believe my ears; but that evening, when

{p. 339} I was able to buy the daily German papers, I found whole pages filled with my exploits, both actual and imaginary. I was described as the most dangerous criminal in Europe, and a reward amounting to $500,000 was offered for my arrest and surrender to the Gestapo! Half a million dollars! Although this was undoubtedly an out-and-out propaganda trick to whip up flagging German war spirit - as was the Nazi-planned explosion itself1 - I knew it could have but one unfortunate result for me. Flight again. ...

The very next day Switzerland received a German ultimatum to surrender Otto Strasser - and I was given four hours to get out of the country. There was nothing I could do. Miserably I said good-by to my dear family and took the next plane for Paris. At that moment I felt it was as safe a place as Switzerland, though not nearly so comfortable to live in. Didn't the Maginot Line and the whole French army stand between Hitler and me?

For the next six months my existence was one of aniety, wild rumor and restless inactivity, but at least I was still at liberty. During that time, and the years before it, I had witnessed the tragedy of Europe. I had seen bloody oppression in Germany followed by bloody oppression abroad: the march on Vienna, the annexation of the Sudetenland, the violation of Prague, the destruction of Warsaw, the onslaught on Copenhagen, the occupation of Oslo, the burning of Amsterdam, the submission of Brussels.

The panic of the incompetent gripped France. Chauvinist politicians, short-sighted generals, treacherous members of Parliament staged the tragi-comedy of the agitation against the "emigrants"; imprisoned the convinced enemies of Hitler, along with Hitler's own Germans, in concentration camps; and celebrated this miserable farce as "a victory over the Fifth

1 Hitler and the other big Nazi leaders, contrary to custom, this night suspiciously rushed from the hall upon conclusion of the speeches, thus indicating knowledge of the coming explosion.

{p. 340} Column." I, who for more than ten years had been Hitler's enemy, who for seven years had been hunted from country to country by Himmler's Gestapo and Ribbentrop's foreign agents, was interned as a suspected fifth columnist! On May I4 1940 the French government seized me and put me in the Bufalo Concentration Camp, holding five thousand people, of whom ninety-five per cent were Jews. This had previously been a great sports arena and was located on the northern outskirts of Paris. Like the Yankee Stadium in New York, the arena was surrounded by closed stands, and it was in these stands we spent the night, the days being passed out in the open.

The squalid misery of this makeshift prison defies description; nor did the authorities do anything to alleviate conditions. On the first day of my internment, which was also the day that saw most of the prisoners arrive, not one scrap of food was served. The second day was a foodless repetition of the first. There was no water for washing, drinking or sanitary purposes, and these conditions of starvation and thirst, aided by the unseasonably cold nights, caused the complete collapse of many of the emaciated unfortunates who had been brought in already half sick. Their number was great, and

we knew this, for each day the roll was called and the silence that greeted name after name was eloquent testimony.

On the third day two colored men arrived and built three little outhouses as a sanitary convenience for five thousand men ! So preposterously inadequate was this arrangement

that the guards stood about, roaring with laughter. But we who had to sufer didn't laugh, not even when the original three units were increased to one hundred. It isn't pleasant nor laughable to have to rise at four in the morning and stand in line for hours in order to use a primitive makeshift that had been some incompetent's idea of a comfort station.

The guards that watched over us were members of the blue-uniformed Gendarme Nationale, most of them ex-

{p. 341} sergeants of the army; and a hard-boiled, brutal lot they were. About the walls of the arena, machine-gun nests had been erected in typical penitentiary style, as though we were the most dangerous of hardened criminals. Even graft, on a big scale, sprang up overnight. A strict order was issued that no smoking would be permitted, on the severest penalty, and all tobacco and smoking equipment was confiscated. But immediately afterward the guards came forward with their own smokes, which could be purchased at outrageous prices, the high cost not only covering the tobacco supply, but permission from the guards to use it openly.

For nine days I remained at the Bufalo Concentration Camp, my weight falling steadily and my physical resistance ebbing. Constantly in my mind during those days was the fear of an epidemic breaking out - typhus, dysentery, or any of the other legion evils that follow on the heels of huddled filth and unsanitary congestion. Surely three-quarters of us would be dead by the time the authorities had taken one step to halt the plague. I'm sure it was only a merciful God who prevented such a tragedy from developing.

A week after my incarceration, I was able to get word to a friend in the Foreign OlSce, begging him to do something right away. But, even at that, it was some time before his efforts brought results. In the meantime, I made one strong friendship, a fact I later was to realize more than made up for the whole month's misery and sufering. Far more! Without the help of Hans, I would not be alive today to write these words.

Hans (whose last name shall remain discreetly blank) was a pudgy, heavy-set, stolid Hollander - and a man of astounding resourcefulness. Taciturn to an extreme, a fact that his twinkling blue eyes seemed to belie, he was a gem among friends; one in a million.

When my release from the camp was finally arranged during the closing days of May, 1940, I immediately set about

{p. 342} effecting Hans's discharge too, and through good luck managed it a day or two later. Then the two of us took rooms at a little family hotel, there to watch the destiny of the world be resolved - or so we thought. As it was, that destiny was far too great and we were much too close to the vortevx to remain onlookers. We were to become microscopic parts of the surging tide of hysterical humanity that flooded in confusion and madness across the face of Europe.

It was Monday morning, June IO, when I left the hotel to keep an appointment with Reynaud's chief of cabinet, intending to discuss with him the problems of internment and the care of prisoners after being interned. As soon as I reached the street the strange atmosphere struck me. At the door of the hotel the proprietor, tears running ashamedly down his cheeks, held out his hand to stop me.

"I am sorry, Herr Strasser," he said brokenly, "but you will have to leave the hotel. I am forced to close up. My wife and I must leave Paris at once."

I nodded without saying anything, not understanding, and passed on. The next thing I noticed was the total absence of taxicabs, though there were endless columns of vehicles of every other kind - handcarts, heavily laden horse-drawn wagons, luxurious limousines, all full of human beings, luggage, bedsteads, baskets of washing, packages of food. It was a gigantic flight of the people of Paris to the country, to the south, to safety.

Even more alarming were the rumors about the advance of the Germans to the Seine, about an Italian declaration of war on France, about the treason of senior generals, about the overthrow of the government, about parachutists. It was as if great clouds of stormy petrels were over Paris, portending the coming tempest.

I consciously refused to let myself be carried away by this tidal wave of pessimism. much less to be submerged by it, but

{p. 343} the walk to the Ministry of War showed me that the authorities, too, were resolved to flee Paris. The green army lorries stood in long rows in the Government quarter and were being feverishly laden with documents, typewriters and even - I still wonder why - tables and chairs from the various ministries. An empire was crumbling and the citizens thought only of saving some odd tables and chairs! How typically French!

The Ministry of War ofered the same picture. Strangely, I saw General Weygand there, as I had seen him once before, going up the stairs through a silently waiting throng of officials, officers and police. Before he had been jaunty, smiling, quick-stepping. Today he went slowly, neither looking to right nor left, and tapped his riding crop thoughtfully against his high leather boots. The press conference had just finished, the last held in Paris; I exchanged a few words with an old acquaintance - Burr, of the Associated Press - and sent in my name to Reynaud's cabinet chief, M. Dejean.

"You still in Paris?" he greeted me in surprise. "You didn't think I was still keeping appointments, I hope!"

"As a matter of fact, I did," I told him. "What's so strange - "

"Too late, mon ami, all too late," he interrupted. "Save yourself; leave Paris at once. We are going south in half an hour."

"Leave Paris!" I repeated. "Even if I wanted to, I have - "

Again he interrupted me in his impetuous way, having anticipated my needs even before my arrival. "You'll want papers, of course, you and Hans. Here, Otto."

He handed me two special safe-conduct forms, exit permits for England, and two passes for all war zones, then put his arm about my shoulders and guided me over to the door, impatient to be leaving himself. A minute later and I was out in the street again.

My stay in Paris was oflicially at an end - in theory. But

{p. 344} I was still in the city, without an automobile, without railroad tickets and without suficient money. Returning home, I pooled my resources with Hans and sent him for any kind of railroad ticket - a southwestern or southern, or, if no other was to be had, a southeastern direction. I went in quest of money. My bank account was still impounded (as a result of my arrest and internment on May fourteenth); and my publisher, Bernard Grasset,1 on the same grounds refused to pay me the twenty thousand francs standing to my account. Fortunately my literary agency, the Opera Mundi, was of a diferent stripe, for they not only paid me a balance owed, but advanced an additional sum of comfortable size. Thus fortified, I rushed back to the hotel to meet Hans.

He also had been successful. He had obtained two tickets in the direction of the Swiss frontier - as far as Lausanne - and on the very last train to leave Paris! We immediately set to packing the things we thought were essential.

So far, so good; but the events of that afternoon in Paris have had no like in history. The last vehicles, which were of all kinds, surged in tens of thousands through the streets, repeatedly jammed by the hundreds of thousands of pedestrians of all ages and both sexes, most of them heavily laden, pushing perambulators in front of them or dragging burdened animals behind. The noise, the confusion, the stark fear and panic defy description. The Italian declaration of war, which had been officially announced, and the flight of the Government, which in the meantime had become unofficially known, had caused such panic that more than a million Parisians, as if whipped on by furies, were striving toward the south ... the south, the south, only the south!

No taxicabs were to be had, but fortunately our landlord took pity on us and drove us in his car. After a zigzag journey through small and smaller byways and back streets, we

1 He is now one of the unenvied French collaborationsts.

{p. 345} reached the station, the approaches to which were blocked for a radius of two miles or more. There we were deposited, tvo miserable human beings, laden with bags, standing desolately in a sea of others on the broad square in front of the Gare de l'Est. I'll never know how we managed to force our way through to the station steps, which were guarded by heavily armed troops, but after we had finally made it everything seemed to have been in vain. In the background huge loud-speakers kept repeating: "Railway travel has been suspended. No more trains. Move along, please.

Hans was utterly incapable of believing anything but good news, and fought his way through the outstretched bayonets of the Garde Civile, up the stairs and again through the

econd cordon to the entrance. Ten minutes later he reappeared and, semaphoring wildly, urged me forward, a feat that I managed only at the loss of several pieces of luggage. But the last train still stood at the platform, already under steam. The same fight was repeated at the entrance and at the ticket-barrier, but at last, after two full hours of violent efort, we stood packed in a train, concerning which no one could say whether it would leave, when it would leave or where it was going; much less, if, when and where it would arrive.

It went to Dijon and the Swiss frontier, but we only knew that the next morning, for during the night the completely blacked-out train seldom halted, and then only in open fields. These halts were made because troop trains or hospital trains blocked the track; or, once, because burning oil tanks alongside the line threatened to set us on fire; or, another time, because German bombers were prowling overhead, and by being stationary we could best escape their deadly notice.

That ride was a long night of hell. Scarcely able to move, our muscles screaming in pain against the cramped strain,

ve breathed the stifling air, heavy with the odor of the perhaps good but certainly unwashed Parisians who were packed

{p. 346} in the car like cattle. We were tortured by the uncertainty of the night and the greater uncertainty of the morrow, as the long hours dragged by. There was no question of sleep.

At last, on the morning of June II we reached the Sw frontier, which had, of course, been closed the day before - though that made no difference in my case since I had been expelled from Switzerland and could not return. We discussed what was to be done, and finally hired a taxicab, which took us to Dijon, both of us sleeping during the ride. From there we hoped by railroad or car to reach a little place near the Atlantic coast, to which we had been invited by a friend, the managing director of a Paris publishing house. On that June eleventh, no one dreamed that Hitler's armored divisions would ever pass the bridges of the Loire. Fighting was still in progress north of the Seine and Marne; and the bulk of the French Army, as well as the entire Maginot Line, had not yet come into the battle.

The next morning, we started off early by overland taxi - a big car in which we could sleep, if necessary - making for the west. Our driver, a fat Frenchman of about sixty years, had a tariff system that increased in direct ratio to the distance between him and his home base. We started with a rate of two francs a kilometer, then were informed that the rate had jumped to five francs, and finally to seven francs a kilometer. But we were covering ground; that was the big thing. Through old Autin, once the episcopal seat of the not so episcopal Talleyrand; then to Nevers, which we reached about midday. Rather, we reached its outskirts, because there, for the first time, the monstrous wave of fugitives surged toward us which, beginning in Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and northern France, and reenforced in Paris, Rheims and Chalons, was overflowing the whole land. It was blocking every road and street and path, filling every town and village and house, making any kind of regulation impossible.

The police took the line of least resistance in this over-

{p. 347} whelming crisis by sending all vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians "to the south," ourselves among them. This compelled us to make long detours, but did not halt us in our projected journey to tne west. For two days and nights our cab ride continued, right across France, and the glimpses it gave us of the condition of the public morale, of organization, and of the army, were stark and frightful. Nevertheless I still hoped, when we reached our destination on June 14 to be able to wait there until the Battle of France fought itself to a standstill, and then to resume at last my former plans.

I was misled in this confident feeling by the fact that, while there were now no newspapers to be had, the official radio announcements wallowed in optimism. A classic example of this was the specific denial, given out by the official French communique, of the London radio report about the sending of French emissaries to German headquarters. Similarly dishonest was the announcement about Reynaud's resignation, which came at this time, and about the advance of the German army. Only from the incessant, despairing, lost stream of fugitives could one gain some inkling of the course of events at the front, but that was fragmentary - and frequently faulty - and gave no coherent picture of the whole. There was one way to find out what were the real conditions. I went to the town commandant of La Rochelle, where we were stopping at that time, and asked him point blank for the truth.

"Yes, France is lost, Monsieur," he said heavily, seeming vaguely surprised to hear his own lips utter such words. "If you can get a car, I'll give you enough gasoline from our army stores for you to continue your flight. It is the only way. Go to Bordeaux or Bayonne, and from there to England. England is our last hope, for all of us! God speed you, Monsieur."

As it turned out, the daughter of our host out of sheer kindness and human affection offered to drive at least part of the way to the coast. She had only an ancient Ford, with

{p. 348} a top speed of thirty miles an hour. So, with the commandant's gasoline and Yvonne's car, we swung sedately out of town.

A brave man, that town commandant of La Rochelle, who held out at his lost post to the bitter end. As we left La Rochelle we were accompanied for miles by the heavy clouds of smoke from burning oil tanks - fired at his order. And a few hours later La Rochelle was in German hands.

Yes, France was lost - and we too, perhaps, with it.

The distance to Bordeaux was only I25 miles, but we had to avoid all main roads, some of which were already held by the most advanced of the German motorcycle patrols, and this compelled us to go by the smallest and remotest bypaths, so that it was ten o'clock in the morning when we eventually crossed the great bridge over the mouth of the Gironde, and this bridge, the largest in France, was already prepared for demolition by huge powder barrels, one every fifty yards, over each of which a soldier stood on guard.

Bordeaux, normally a town of 265,000 inhabitants, had swollen to one of 1,5O0,000; most of these people without lodging, many without food, all frantic with fear and bewilderment. The police were powerless, the authorities dazed, the troops in disintegration; all this completed a picturc of chaos the like of which I never saw at the German collapsc in 1918 either in Munich, or in Kiel, or in Berlin. It was impossible and senseless to stay in Bordeaux, especially as investigation showed that the British consulate was already closed and the staff departed, while in front of the Spanish and Portuguese consulates the police held back a crowd of many thousands which would otherwise have stormed the

buildings. Fortunately, I learned from the Bordeaux office of my literary agency that the head of the firm was staying in the neighborhood of Biarritz.

Once more we chose the remotest of obscure ways through that strange and uncanny district, where there are cork woods,

{p. 349} where rare marsh plants grow and where the few inhabitants walk on stilts. It was night when we reached the little place on the Atlantic coast and, happily, found my friend there. We held a short council of war, which also filled my pockets again, and decided that, with the conclusion of the GermanFrench armistice on that very evening (which, it is true, was only to enter into force when the still-pending FrenchItalian armistice had been completed), my situation had become hopeless. Only the most rapid flight to England offered a hope of salvation.

How right this decision was was shown next day. Hans and my host had gone ahead to Bayonne to seek there an exit permit from the prefect, to whom my host was known. I followed a little later in the old car, but only reached the outskirts of Bayonne. The policeman on duty there declared that my papers, issued under the Reynaud government, were invalid and, while volubly abusing the "emigrant riffraff" which had egged on France against Hitler, ordered that I be placed under arrest! Both he and an armed soldier climbed into the car and directed me to the headquarters of the gendarmerie. But after we stood in the outer hall of the gendarmerie, the soldier and I, while the policeman went into another room on routine business, became friendly, and he declared quite frankly that he detested all policemen and gendarmes who had evaded military service while tyrannizing over the civilian population, and adding that he wished fervently he could have nothing to do with them.

"For my part," I remarked dryly, "I have exactly the same desire, only maybe more so."

"However," the soldier said, "if I were to see you make an attempt to break away it would be my duty to shoot you."

And then he deliberately turned his back, examining a bulletin board with elaborate interest. I didn't have to be invited twice. With a bound, a dozen strides and a leap, I was in the car. That old car never got under way so quicklyl

{p. 350} Bayonne offered the same picture as Bordeaux, but or a smaller scale. All the streets, cafes, houses and squares were full of panic-stricken human beings, all of whom seemed to, be rushing to some destination the location of which they; hadn't the slightest idea. Their only concrete thought was the vague destination of England or Spain. The consulates of both these countries were closed, and the Portuguese, who were still oiciating, said they were awaiting instructions from Lisbon.

Through my host, who had some influence with the oficials, we gained admittance to the prefecture that afternoon, and the prefect finally issued us a vise entitling us to leave France by ship to go to England. This permission, unfortunately, said nothing about the practical possibility. We were acutely aware of this when we tried to reach the harbor commandant's office, for thousands of people surrounded the building, which was guarded by a high railing and troops. The best we could do was gain an entrance card for the following morning - "providing the Germans aren't here by then," one of the officials remarked.

The next morning we said good-by to Yvonne in the little fishing village on Cape Bretagne, where we had spent the night, and she set out on the lonely three-hundred-mile drive back to her home, which, she was to find, had been held by the Germans for the past twenty-four hours. Then, with our host, we started for Bayonne to storm the harbor commandant's office once more. There, in spite of fearful rain stood thousands of people who implored, screamed and threatened in many languages to be admitted. They climbed the high iron railings only to be prodded down again by the soldiers bayonets; they held out fistfuls of francs as bribe money; they invented fantastic stories of desperate necessity, none of which were believed. Once more my host succeeded, after hours of effort, in fighting his way through and procuring stamped tickets for the voyage in a small freighter

{p. 351} (the S.S. Elise) to Casablanca. All the ships to England, we were told, had long since left.

"The ship sails promptly at six o'clock," we were told. "Be on board by four o'clock." But the ship was far prompter than we had expected. We were there by two o'clock, luggage in hand, only to see the ship in the process of warping from the pier, leaving us and many other passengers standing helplessly on the shore. I can't express what my feelings were as the ship moved out of the harbor. Far better had it been gone completely by the time I arrived! For half an hour I stood there watching that last hope, that tangible promise of freedom, slip slowly from sight.

Our whole struggle began once again, and this time we found the harbor commandant's office surrounded by marines and the public completely barred, so great had the mob become. But again we were lucky, thanks to our host's connections, and we received passage on the very last (and even smaller) freighter, which was also bound for Casablanca. By one of the armistice clauses, ships were no longer allowed to make for England.

But what good was a ticket in the face of the howling mob that surged on the pier in near-riot? Only twenty-four passengers were to be allowed on board; more than twenty-four hundred stood on the quay by the tiny vessel and thronged against the ladder, which was guarded by six burly members of the crew, clubs in hand. But I knew that in my case not only my life and freedom were at stake, but that all those tortures awaited me which Hitler and Himmler had long prepared for me. I was determined to be among those twenty-four fortunates even though it cost me all my luggage and all my money. The luggage I divided into two parts - the valuable, which I kept with me; and the less valuable, which I checked at the customs office.

When I returned to the thousand-ton fruit boat Marannc I found that the six inadequate sailors had been replaced by a

{p. 352} cordon of heavily armed marines. The frantic people were still trying to make the members of the crew understand that they - each one especially and specifically - must at all costs be taken aboard. In many languages, despair in every voice, they oered fantastic sums for a place in "the last ship to leave France." Trunks, cases and bags fell, under the frantic surging of the turbulent mob, splashing into the sea. And to top everything, a torrential rain gushed from the heavens, adding the last touch to the misery of the scene, the despair of the people, the hopelessness of that hour.

I shall never forget the expression on the face of a Spanish Republican who, by a desperate exertion of strength, fought his way to the side of the ship, was summarily hurled back by the sailors and marines, and then, screaming like a madman, launched himself through the air to grasp the rail with one hand while using the other as he battled insanely to climb aboard. After repeated blows in his bloody face, and brutal club strokes over his clinging hand, his fingers loosened and he fell howling into the sea.

Shortly after that, our tickets having been relayed to the captain for checking, we were allowed aboard, just in time. For it was at that moment that the captain announced by megaphone that the passenger list was complete - and all hell broke loose below. In a second the marines were hurled aside or into the sea and the foremost of the crowd began to fight their way up the gangplank, shinnying like monkeys up the hawsers and ropes, or jumping to catch the rail and haul themselves aboard. Furious with rage the sailors beat the boarders on heads and hands with bars, hammers, axes - anything handy. The hawsers were cast off, the gangplank hurled overboard - and with them went the crazed men and women who clung to them.

In this precipitous sailing Hans and I lost our entire remaining luggage - the valuable luggage - which was looted before our eyes. But we were safe! We were at sea, where the swift-moving mechanized columns of the Nazis could not follow us.

{p. 353} What did we care for the torrential rain, for the hostility of the crew, who denied the "damned emigrants" entry to any room with a roof over it and openly declared that they would give us neither food nor water ? That was all unimportant compared with the feeling of blessed freedom! Spain - the world - lay ahead.

This was June 24 1940; by now it was evening and the tide was favorable. Adversity and bad luck lay behind us. We all shook hands in mutual happiness and gratitude, and some of us ofered prayers of thanks for deliverance.

Then suddenly - about three o'clock in the morning - the pulsing engines of the old ship stopped; we rapidly lost way, and at last rolled heavily, drifting, in the long ground swell. Then we saw the soldiers who were aboard to serve the antiaircraft gun dismounting the weapon and tossing aside their steel helmets. "C'est fini!" they yelled. "La guerre est fini!"

At midnight, with the signing of the French-Italian armistice, the previously concluded German-French armistice had entered into force. This meant, for us, that we could not continue on our way, but must return to Bayonne. For Hitler, in his ambition to gain as much French tonnage as possible (and to prevent both tonnage and political enemies from getting away) had ordered that no more French ships should leave port and that all those on the high seas should put about for the nearest French port after receiving radioed instructions.

The captain would not listen to our entreaties that he sail under full steam for England, there to place his ship in the British service; indeed, he seemed sadistically pleased that the Germans were now in control. "You'll be received by the Germans when we get there," he told us with savage delight. "They've already occupied the harbor."

For the rest of that night we could think of nothing but the coming day; what wretched misery and heartbreaking despair must have dwelt in the hearts of all those refugees during the long hours. But thank God, the captain's boast was not true.

{p. 354} When we reached Bayonne, about eight o'clock on the morning of June 25, that chaotic interlude prevailed to which I was so often to owe my safety: the French authorities and officials functioned no longer, but the Germans functioned not yet. All kinds of desperate characters were now abroad, and despairing fugitives requisitioned food at knife's point. The scene was one of chaos worse than any I have ever witnessed.

My situation was desperate: at any moment the Nazis might come; there was no further hope of a ship; my identity papers were no longer of any help to me, but were a direct source of danger. But I had another passport in reserve, in a different name and a different nationality. The Spanish frontier now became our goal, the more because one of the soldiers aboard our ship had told us that two big British steamers still lay at anchor off St. Jean de Luz, to take off the remnants of the

British, Polish and Czech troops. Once more we were lucky The uncommonly clever Hans discovered a taxicab which, for much money, brought us to St. Jean de Luz about noon, taking with us the remnant of our luggage, the part that we had checked.

St. Jean de Luz is the southernmost port of France, lying about two miles from the Spanish frontier town of Irun, to which a great bridge led, strongly guarded by troops. The harbor offered the same picture as that of Bayonne. Tens of thousands of human beings were there. Some of them unavailingly besieged the harbor commandant, some stared with burning eyes out to sea, where two great British steamers were in fact visible on the horizon; while others schemed how they could avoid the guarded bridge and reach the Spanish border. It seemed hopeless; but in the crowd we met a captain of French artillery whom I knew, and he saved me from a fatal blunder. I knew there was a flying field on the outskirts of the town and mentioned a new plan of mine to hire a plane to drop us across on Spanish soil. But the captain shook his head emphatically, smiling somewhat sadly as he did so.

{p. 355} "Can't be done," he said shortly. "I tried it myself a little while back, hoping to get some plane to fly me to De Gaulle and I barely escaped arrest. The Germans are already in possession of the field; first place they struck for, in fact."

And before we parted, he gave us another vital piece of information. The Germans were soon to occupy the whole Atlantic coast to a depth of sixty-five miles inland, so only one hope remained to us - to reach unoccupied territory before that curtain of steel dropped to cut us off.

At that moment something incredible happened. A patrol of ten or twelve German soldiers marched along the harbor street. The great crowd stared spellbound, immovable, as if paralyzed by this little troop of men in field gray, which, looking neither to right nor left, made its way through the throng, between the groups of armed French soldiers. Perhaps in this small detachment the French people saw the symbol of their whole enslaved future. Then the spell broke! As if scourged by demons, these tens of thousands raced over the bridge, overpowered the guard by sheer numbers, and rolled shrieking, roaring, cursing toward the Spanish frontier, which had long since been closed by the Spaniards and in addition was now guarded by the Germans.

This certainly seemed the end. Airfield, harbor, town hall were occupied by the German troops; Spain was closed, Nazi legions were momentarily to occupy the whole coast, and we two stood alone and friendless in the midst of pandemonium. Afoot, it would be impossible to reach unoccupied territory, for within twenty-four hours the Germans would cut us off. It was now six o'clock and all our efforts to find a car had been in vain. How would that be possible now that German patrols were already entering the town ?

But my tough Hans did not lose hope. While I crawled into hiding, he ransacked the town hour after hour, looking for a driver who would risk the journey. I would rather not speak of that night. I have many bad and dangerous nights behind me, but that night of June 25 in St. Jean de Luz seems to me the

{p. 356} worst of them all. Yet Hans once more found a way out. I had already made up my mind to do away with myself rather than fall alive into the hands of Hitler and Himmler, when Hans turned up with a Belgian chaufeur, a fugitive himself, who would drive us for the tidy sum of one hundred francs a kilometer. By seven o'clock in the morning he was at the door with his car and we set out.

It was an exciting journey. At every highway intersection, at every approach to a village and at every exit still stood the barriers. But they were unmanned! The French had ceased to hold them, and the Germans had not yet taken them over. Only to that gap did we owe the fact that we got through, but nevertheless each time we approached a village we experienced the same chilling fear.

There was no traffic on the roads. Everything was dead. Soon we would have the hundred-kilometer zone behind us - and, if we reached our destination, Oloron, we would be fifty kilometers beyond the occupied zone. Luck rode with us. About eleven o'clock we drew up in the market place of Oloron, took our leave of the Belgian, along with the better part of our cash, and breathed once again. Hans and I looked at each other, beaming. We were both thinking the same thing:

"This time we are really safe !"

At the beginning all went well. In that little place, crowded with fugitives in uniform and civilian clothes, we found a car whose owner was ready to drive us to Pau for five francs a kilometer. But Pau was so full of troops who had fled the zone of occupation to avoid captivity that entry to the town had been forbidden by the police, so our chauffeur cheerfully drove us further on to Tarbes, a bigger town, near world-famous Lourdes. There, in spite of the appalling overcrowding, he found lodging for us in an inn.

So on the evening of June 26, 1940, we were happily in Tarbes, about one hundred kilometers from the German zone,

{p. 357} which had been occupied by them punctually at noon that day - just two hours after we had passed through. Everything looked promising, until I read a newspaper for the first time in several days. There I found the full text of the armistice that Hitler had dictated to the French, and one of the paragraphs struck me like a blow in the face. It was that which imposed on the French government the obligation to surrender to Hitler all refugees on French soil wanted by him for any reason. I knew what that meant: I would be among the first of those "dangerous criminals" called for. True, I had my incognito passport, under another name and nationality, but this passport had one great defect: it did not record my sojourn in France. And above all, my identity card bore my right name But as martial law prevailed and all travelers in any part of France were under the strictest obligation to report to police (to say nothing of the frequent police raids on hotels and restaurants), this meant that for the duration of my further stay in France I would have to live in hiding, pursued not only by Himmler s agents but also by the entire French police.

Now, for days and weeks, I dared not show myself in public resort or in any frequented place. In the fearful summer heat of southern France I had to spend the days in cellars or garrets, the only places we could find, while Hans went out to buy food and settle with officialdom: his papers, thank God, were all right. At night we discussed our further plans. Tarbes had proved hopeless. It was not near enough to the Spanish frontier to serve as a base for an illegal crossing to Spain, nor did it contain any consulate where we could apply for the necessary vises for a legal departure. What does an old soldier do when his surprise attack fails? He entrenches and prepares a new venture, thought out in every detail. That was my position. Now that my escape by illegal means had failed, a carefully prepared legal attempt had to be studied and carried out To that end, Hans and I journeyed to Toulouse as the most likely base of operations.

{p. 358} Eight days passed before we found, at last, a lodging in that humanity-flooded city. Ten days passed before we could obtain even a card of admission to an inteniew with the Portuguese consul. For I had now to obtain the following things in the following order: first, a vise to enter Portugal; second, a transit vise to travel through Spain; third, a French exit permit to ' enable me to leave France.

Do you know what it means to wait in the street every day from eight o'clock to noon, in blazing summer heat, before a consulate guarded by soldiers who continually beat back the throng that surges against the doors ? Yet at last I stood before the little, portly Portuguese, who told me in the most friendly way that I would first of all need the entrance vise of some American country, before Portugal would grant a transit vise.

Now I did not know what to do. An entrance vise to an American country seemed impossible, because my passport was not in order: it lacked, as I have said, the entries to prove my , sojourn in France. Moreover, there was in Toulouse only a Chilean vice-consulate, which had no authorization to give entrance vises. After long reflection we came to the conclusion that a journey to Vichy alone might still solve both problems. In Vichy I still had good friends in the government, and in Vichy all American countries were represented. Since the journey was too dangerous for me, I stayed under cover while the indefatigable Hans set out on this difcult mission. |

He left on July 1O - and was not seen again for eight days! I waited in my room, living frugally on bread, cheese and red wine, not daring to venture forth to buy anything, for my last piece of identification paper had gone to Vichy with Hans. A man without a passport in the Europe of today is not a man, but an outlaw and outcast. Those days used up my nerves more than weeks under the worst shellfire I had known on the Western Front in the last war. There was the constant fear of arrest; the slightest noise on the stairway outside the door

{p. 359} brought tense panic and wild hope. The police - or the missing Hans back at last ?

And at eight o'clock on the evening of July eighteenth Hans returned, bringing no vises, but he did bring money! All my friends implored me to get out of France somehow, for my extradition to German territory had already been demanded. In spite of that, none had any longer the courage to give me the trumpery exit vise and thereby make an honest document out of my incognito passport, or to make it at least proof against the suspicious eyes of the police.

So, after weeks of exertion, this way out too seemed to be closed, and the more dangerous in that the progressively deteriorating government knew no better way of ingratiating itself with Hitler than by taking drastic measures against "emigrants and Jews" who were pilloried as "the enemies of France" to the applause of a servile press.

In utter despair, I was walking one night - my only time to venture into the open - along the quiet bank of the canal when I ran into the friendly man from the Portuguese consulate who had interviewed me in the first place. To him I again told my tale of frustration after repeated effort, without revealing my identity, of course. And, miraculously, the man knew a way out!

"Go tomorrow to number eight Avenue Strassbourg and get a tourist's vise for Curaao; then we can book the ship's passage by telegraph, and after that I can give you the Portuguese transit vise.

Puzzled but hopeful, next day I went to the address - and it proved to be the Netherlands consulate which was still functioning "half officially." (Afterward it was closed at Hitler's order, with all other legations and consulates of occupied countries.) The official there was an angel of salvation. Without an indiscreet word, I obtained - together with dozens of Jewish immigrants who had followed the same tip - a tourist's vise for the Dutch island of Curacao.

{p. 360} Now the Portuguese and Spanish transit vises were quickly obtained, though a black cloud loomed in the background - the French exit permit still had to be procured. It was impossible for me to go in person; even the excursions of those latter days had already brought me several disagreeable encounters. No less than three times was I accosted by former fellow-internees from the concentration camp; each time, of course, in my right name.

Hans once more achieved a masterly stroke by making friends with a woman oficial in the competent quarter, within three days, with the result that my passport received the exit vise. One danger still remained. The gendarmerie had still to put their rubber stamp on the already granted exit vise, for there is no collapse of a state so complete that Saint Bureaucratius does not survive it. The gendarmerie expressed misgivings about granting this endorsement and demanded a further application the following day.

That was an abominable night, the night of July 30! But even this danger was passed. Shortly before noon the next day Hans reappeared triumphantly waving the now completely up-to-date passport. At one-fifteen we left Toulouse for Narbonne and Perpignan.

After that, all was simple. I spent a last night on French soil, in Gerbere, and took leave of Hans, who for family reasons wished to stay in France yet a while.

There was a last frontier examination, and French friendliness, in spite of regulations, allowed me, and all other travelers, to take their money with them. On August 1, 1940 at two o'clock in the afternoon, I reached Port Bou, the Spanish frontier station.

Men who are born free and have lived their lives in lands free from oppression will find it hard to visualize the feeling in my heart as the ship neared the port in Bermuda. The great

{p. 361} Atlantic separated Hitler, the Gestapo and the Nazi party from me. Even the war was but a distant echo in my mind.

Through ten long years I fought Hitler. It was a personal fight as well as a political one. Hitler tried to kill me and I tried to kill him. Neither of us succeeded in his task, although many of the men and women around us lost their lives as a result.

On the beautiful, peaceful island of Bermuda, far from the scene of carnage, the emotional tension that accompanied my flight from terror lifted and in its place, by all rights, there should have been a feeling of well-being and gladness over my escape. But there wasn't. All I felt was chagrin over my failure and a deep-rooted desire to continue fighting so long as a single breath remained in my body.

Today I am in Canada. I have had time to marshal the few resources still at my command. Members of the Black Front are scattered throughout the world. Their hatred of Hitler and what he stands for are as great today as they were the day they first joined the battle against him. They need only direction to make them valuable adjuncts in a renewed fight. Members of the Black Front are still within the borders of Germany. Today their value is negative because of the iron control the Nazi party wields over the entire nation. But this control is bound to weaken at the first signs of defeat in the German army.

The movement that furnishes this direction is Free Germany, an organization with offices in all South American countries that has proved its value in unmasking Nazi agents in the American republics. It is only the first step. Others will follow. I pray that the effectiveness of this work will be of real assistance to those forces throughout the world that seek to put Hitler on an equal footing with the millions of men and women in Germany whose lives he has ruined.

I work for the day when Hitler is put on an equal footing with me and I pray that we may then meet face to face. I know Gregor will approve the outcome. {end}

Otto Strasser's earlier book Hitler and I tells the first part of the story: otto-strasser-hitler.html.

Write to me at contact.html.

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