The 14 February Conference
Bamberg was chosen as it was situated as close to the northern Gau as possible, while still remaining on Bavarian soil; additionally, a Sunday was probably chosen to make the conference more convenient for all, but in particular for the northerners, who would have longer distances to negotiate.
Streicher had also done a good job in gaining support in the area for the party, and the Bamberg branch was both large and devoted to the authority of Munich. Hitler of course could use the popular support as a further weapon in his propaganda to coerce the rambunctious northerners into line. The local Nazis turned out to demonstrate in favor of Hitler, which must have impressed the northern visitors.
There was no debate; Hitler was not in the habit of debating with his entourage in any event and he had no intention of engaging in any such quasi-democratic practice at Bamberg. The conference was a typical lengthy Hitlerian monologue.
At the conference, Hitler drew from Mein Kampf, the first volume of which was principally written while he served his time in the comforts of Landsberg Prison. And his rejection of the Working Community's programme was complete, oblique and effective.
- Foreign Policy. Alliances were purely pragmatic, according to Hitler. The Community had suggested alliance with Russia. This, Hitler emphasized, was impossible. It would constitute the "bolshevization of Germany" and "national suicide." Germany's salvation would come instead by acquisition of living space in the East: Germany would have Lebensraum, at Russian expense. This colonial policy would be accomplished, as in the Middle Ages, by the sword.
- Expropriation. He stated without equivocation that the uncompensated expropriation of the princes was contrary to the party's aims. "There are for us today no princes, only Germans.... We stand on the basis of law, and we will not give a Jewish system of exploitation a legal excuse for the complete plundering of our people."
- Sectarianism. Furthermore, the objections of the mainly Protestant northerners to the toleration of Catholicism by the Bavarians would be studiously ignored. Religious questions such as this had, according to Hitler, no place in the National Socialist movement. The party aimed to create a people's community, a 'Volksgemeinschaft' in which all true Germans would bond together for national unity.
The Twenty-Five Points would not be changed. It was the foundation of all Nazi ideology. "To tamper with it would be treason to those who died believing in our idea."
But Hitler's major thrust was not programmatic. He offered the dissidents an alternative methodology. The party was based not on program, but on the principle of the leader. The party leadership therefore had a simple choice: either accept or reject him as the unquestioned leader. Toland astutely places Hitler's ultimatum in Messianic terms: "National Socialism was a religion and Hitler was its Christ. Crucified at the Feldherrnhalle and risen after Landsberg, he had returned to lead the movement and the nation to salvation."
The dissent evaporated after this. Strasser made a short statement in which accepted the Führer's leadership and Hitler put his arm around Strasser in a show of comradeship. Strasser agreed to have the recipients of the alternative program return their copies to him. Goebbels did not speak at all, dismaying his fellow northern delegates.
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