The story of Dietrich Eckart, the man who created the “Hitler myth”.
On On November 11, 1918, Germany capitulated, ending the First World War. Many Germans are shocked. How could their country accept defeat when the enemy had not yet set foot on German soil?
After the First World War, many Germans felt a sense of emptiness. In those gloomy times a poet in Munich fantasized about a “Messiah.” He introduced himself “Chosen one” to lead the German people out of their abyss.
The man was no ordinary poet, and his words should not inspire a hero to rise up from the people and help rebuild the country. His writings were riddled with anti-Semitism and racial superiority.
The poet was Dietrich Eckerta successful playwright.
He was right about the rise of a leader from the German masses. But it wasn’t for the better. The so-called “folk hero” emerged as one of the most brutal dictators in the world, responsible for the Holocaust and countless war crimes.
The man in question was none other than Adolf Hitler.
Eckart was a key figure in Hitler’s rise and was his mentor in his early days. The poet influenced Hitler’s ideas, which transformed him from a simple soldier into a ruthless cult leader. The dictator saw in Eckart the intellectual co-founder of National Socialism.
Eckart is one of the most important figures in understanding the birth of a tyrant.
The poet would not live long enough to see Hitler rise to power, take over German society and wreak havoc across Europe.
Eckart embodied post-war escapism, racism and the occult, and symbolized all that had gone wrong in Germany in the two decades following the “Great War”.
Let’s learn more about the man who helped create Hitler’s cult of personality.
Dietrich Eckart was born on March 20, 1868 in Neumarkt near Nuremberg. His father, Christian Eckart, was a royal notary in the Kingdom of Bavaria.
His mother Anna died when he was ten years old. In 1895 his father died, leaving him a considerable inheritance.
Eckart moved to Berlin in 1899 and became a dramatist at the Prussian Royal Theater. His move to Berlin helped him establish valuable contacts with the
His move to Berlin helped him establish valuable contacts with the
Eckart became known in 1912 with an adaptation of Henrik Ibsens play Peer Gynt. The play was a hit. German audiences loved it, and Eckart became famous and wealthy.
In Eckart’s interpretation of the play, the hero, Peer Gynt, is a traditional German hero taking on the world, but Jewish “trolls” stop him. Eckart’s play was anti-Semitic and full of racist allegory. Experts suspect that Eckart’s retelling of Peer Gynt gives us the earliest evidence of his racist thinking.
In Peer Gynt, Eckart first introduced the idea of a German superhero, which would later become a recurring theme in his writings. The Germans, he argued, needed a “Messiah” to lead them out of their troubles and onto a path of glory.
Eckart’s “Volksheld” violently creates a utopian world for the Germans. In Eckart’s imaginary universe, people forgive the hero’s sins because his mission is noble. For the poet, the end justifies the means.
This poisoned worldview formed the basis of the anti-Semitic weekly newspaper that Eckart created In good German (In plain language). In his publication, which began in December 1918, the poet presented the idea of a German “Messiah” for the first time.
Eckart’s opinions did not arise in a vacuum. He was a member of Thule Society, an occult group devoted to the theory that a race of superhumans called “Aryans” existed in ancient times. According to Thule, the Germans descended from the “Aryans”. But mixing with Jews and other races they considered “lesser” made the Germans weaker.
Members of the Thule Society met daily in Munich’s beer halls to discuss their inhuman views. The Thule Society also blamed the Communists for Germany’s defeat in the World War. They suspected a “Jewish-Bolshevik” conspiracy to take over the world.
But Eckhart and his colleagues realized that if they wanted to reach a wider audience, they had to create a party that would appeal to the masses. They started the German Labour Partywhich is also known as DAP or the German Labour Party. The DAP later became the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP), also known as the NSDAP.
The Bundeswehr was concerned about the rise of far-right and left-wing parties. So they sent a spy to a DAP meeting in Munich to find out what was going on.
The spy was a former infantryman who had served in World War I. He was one of many soldiers who could not accept Germany’s surrender. Eckart and the speeches of the DAP members fascinated the spy.
He decided not to report to his officers but to join the discussion.
The spy was Adolf Hitler.
Like the DAP, he blamed the Bolsheviks, Jews, and Marxists for Germany’s defeat in World War I. Hitler was a born speaker who could dominate everyone else in the room.
Hitler had the whole beer hall under his spell. The young man’s ability to captivate an audience with the power of his words impressed Eckart. He had just found his “German Messiah”.
The “Hitler myth” was born.
Hitler fitted the definition of a “folk hero” perfectly. He was a commoner, teetotaler and non-smoker. Although Eckart was twenty years older than Hitler, there was an immediate mutual admiration between them. The poet became a father figure to the young soldier.
Eckart introduced Hitler to German high society. Hitler had no manners and babbled on about Jews and communists while stuffing his face with food. Hitler’s diatribes and bad table manners shocked the hostesses.
The former playwright knew he had a lot of work to do to make Hitler a character that all classes of German society would accept. He was soon preparing Hitler to dress better by gifting him a suit and a trench coat. Eckart also provided Hitler with several books to read and tutored him in conversation and dining etiquette.
The German people had not yet been indoctrinated into believing that Jews were the primary cause of their downfall.
Jews were assimilated into German society and served in World War I. They were successful professors, government officials, entrepreneurs and artists. Winning support for a nationalist cause while alienating Jews was not seen in a positive light.
So where did it all go wrong?
The answer lies in Eckart’s role in using the media as a tool to brainwash the masses. The Nazis later used Eckart’s propaganda playbook to control the media and set the stage for the Holocaust.
In the early days of the Nazi movement, Hitler did not see himself as a leader. He envisioned himself as an evangelist tasked with spreading the Nazi Party’s message to the populace. You could say he was the mouthpiece of the party. The aim of the Nazi movement was to increase public acceptance of racist ideologies.
In December 1920, Eckart used his contacts to finance the Nazi Party’s official newspaper, the National observer. He was appointed editor-in-chief. He coined the sentence “Germany-Erwake”, means “Germany awake”.
Eckart envisioned Hitler as a Germanic chief who would restore the German people to their former glory and free them from the yoke of oppression. In the newspaper he called Hitler the “chosen commander”.
This was a fatal error.
Hitler received a massive ego boost when he saw himself described in almost divine terms. An unsuccessful artist was now viewed by others as a “messiah”.
In June 1921 the chairman of the NSDAP, Anton Drexler, proposed a merger with the Socialist Democratic Party. Hitler was angry about the move. He resigned from the party. But that was a bluff; Hitler knew he was the star of the party. His ego was at an all-time high thanks to Eckart’s play.
Hitler’s resignation served as a warning to the NSDAP. They could lose him if they refused to comply with his wishes. Anyone could see the early signs of a megalomaniac despot. Unfortunately, influential people in German society chose to ignore Hitler’s dangerous transformation into a lunatic.
Hitler’s game paid off. After being persuaded by Eckart, the NSDAP elected Hitler as its leader. The merger with the SDP was cancelled. But the poet soon regretted appointing Hitler leader of the Nazi Party.
Although both Hitler and Eckart were anti-Semites, they held opposing ideas. Eckart saw Jews as the polar opposite of Aryans and claimed that one required the other to exist. In his opinion it would be so “the end of all times when the Jewish people perish.”
Hitler’s goal was to annihilate all Jews from the face of the earth. Eckart was too pessimistic for him and caught up with words. He began to view the former playwright as a rabble-rouser.
Hitler wanted to act. Speeches and editorials were not enough.
On October 28, 1922, Benito Mussolini and 30,000 fascists seized power in Italy. The coup served as a model and inspiration for the Nazis. The plan was to seize power and then justify it.
Herman Goering, a decorated World War I veteran, encouraged Hitler to organize a coup d’état in Bavaria. Goering later became one of Hitler’s chief advisers and the chief of the German Air Force, Luftwaffe.
The coup plan shocked Eckart. He had doubts. He accused Hitler of: a “Messiah Complex”, Which was ironic since Eckart was the one who instilled it in Hitler.
Sick individuals with twisted and extremely anti-Semitic views like Julius Streicher joined the Nazi movement. Streicher later played a role in the Holocaust by inciting hatred against Jews through his diary. The striker. The Allies executed him after the Nuremberg Trials after World War II.
People like Streicher horrified Eckart. The poet wanted to control madness. But things were out of his hands.
Hitler was in charge of the NSDAP. Eckart had been a heavy drinker from his early days, which Hitler saw as a problem.
Hitler and Eckart had met by November 1923, on the eve of Beer Hall Putscha failed Nazi attempt to seize power in Bavaria.
Although the master and student no longer agreed, Eckart took part in the putsch in Bierhalle on November 9, 1923 Landsberg Prison along with Hitler.