Adolf Hitler didn’t always have his heart set on joining the Nazis, it seems. According to a newly uncovered document, the German dictator was denied membership of a much larger far-right party, forcing him to look elsewhere. The rest, as they say, is history.
How different it all could have been for Hitler, Germany and the rest of the world if the German Socialist Party had simply accepted the angry lance corporal’s membership request in 1919.
A previously unpublished document found at the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich shows that Hitler might never have risen to prominence at all, according to Thomas Weber, a history professor at the University of Aberdeen.
The document is based on the testimony of the Socialist Party’s founding chairman Hans Georg Grassinger, and reveals that the party refused to have Hitler as a member or to allow him to write for its paper. Given that the party was much bigger than the Nazis at the time, Hitler would likely have played a minor role in its ranks had he been accepted, depriving him of the Nazi platform that later brought him to power.
“Until a year earlier, [he] had not shown any leadership qualities and had been happy to follow orders, rather than to give orders,” Weber said.
Hitler’s rejection later made him vehemently opposed to any merger of the German Socialist Party and the Nazis, something Weber claims could also have changed the course of history.
“Had it not been for Hitler’s steadfast refusal of doing so – at one point, he even resigned from the party for that reason – the Nazi party would have been absorbed by the German Socialist Party and thus would have disappeared and history would have taken a different path,” said Weber.
“With Hitler’s rejection by the party, Hitler’s behavior at the time – which no one could really previously explain persuasively – finally makes sense.”
The document records: “In the autumn of 1919, around September, Hitler appeared in the office of the publishing house to see Grassinger and offered [to] write for the paper, and to join and work for the German Socialist Party.
“He didn’t have any money at the time and he also asked to borrow money from Grassinger. But they [told] him that they had no use for him in the paper and that they also did not want to have him in the party.”
On all three occasions when a merger between the two parties was proposed, “Hitler put up an absolute stink,” said Weber.
“The story of Hitler being turned down by one party and then his actions in the new party that did accept him – the Nazi party – are thus intimately linked,” he added.