5 January 1919

The German Workers Party is founded. It later becomes the Nazi Party.

On 5 January 1919, the German Workers’ Party was founded in Munich in the hotel Fürstenfelder Hof by Anton Drexler, along with Dietrich Eckart, Gottfried Feder and Karl Harrer. It developed out of the Freier Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten Frieden league, a branch of which Drexler had founded in 1918. Thereafter in 1918, Harrer, convinced Drexler and several others to form the Politischer Arbeiterzirkel. The members met periodically for discussions with themes of nationalism and antisemitism. Drexler was encouraged to form the DAP in December 1918 by his mentor, Dr. Paul Tafel. Tafel was a leader of the Alldeutscher Verband, a director of the Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg and a member of the Thule Society. Drexler’s wish was for a political party which was both in touch with the masses and nationalist. With the DAP founding in January 1919, Drexler was elected chairman and Harrer was made Reich Chairman, an honorary title. On 17 May, only ten members were present at the meeting and a later meeting in August only noted 38 members attending.

After World War I ended, Adolf Hitler returned to Munich. Having no formal education or career prospects, he tried to remain in the army for as long as possible. In July 1919, he was appointed Verbindungsmann of an Aufklärungskommando of the Reichswehr to influence other soldiers and to infiltrate the DAP. While monitoring the activities of the DAP, Hitler became attracted to founder Anton Drexler’s anti-Semitic, nationalist, anti-capitalist, and anti-Marxist ideas. While attending a party meeting at the Sterneckerbräu beer hall on 12 September 1919, Hitler became involved in a heated political argument with a visitor, Professor Baumann, who questioned the soundness of Gottfried Feder’s arguments against capitalism and proposed that Bavaria should break away from Prussia and found a new South German nation with Austria. In vehemently attacking the man’s arguments, he made an impression on the other party members with his oratory skills and, according to Hitler, Baumann left the hall acknowledging unequivocal defeat. Impressed with Hitler’s oratory skills, Drexler encouraged him to join. On the orders of his army superiors, Hitler applied to join the party. Although Hitler initially wanted to form his own party, he claimed to have been convinced to join the DAP because it was small and he could eventually become its leader.

In less than a week, Hitler received a postcard stating he had officially been accepted as a member and he should come to a committee meeting to discuss it. Hitler attended the committee meeting held at the run-down Altes Rosenbad beer-house. Normally, enlisted army personnel were not allowed to join political parties. In this case, Hitler had Captain Karl Mayr’s permission to join the DAP. Further, Hitler was allowed to stay in the army and receive his weekly pay of 20 gold marks a week. At the time when Hitler joined the party, there were no membership numbers or cards. It was in January 1920 when a numeration was issued for the first time and listed in alphabetical order Hitler received the number 555. In reality, he had been the 55th member, but the counting started at the number 501 in order to make the party appear larger. In his work Mein Kampf, Hitler later claimed to be the seventh party member and he was in fact the seventh executive member of the party’s central committee. After giving his first speech for the DAP on 16 October at the Hofbräukeller, Hitler quickly became the party’s most active orator. Hitler’s considerable oratory and propaganda skills were appreciated by the party leadership as crowds began to flock to hear his speeches during 1919–1920. With the support of Drexler, Hitler became chief of propaganda for the party in early 1920. Hitler preferred that role as he saw himself as the drummer for a national cause. He saw propaganda as the way to bring nationalism to the public.

The small number of party members were quickly won over to Hitler’s political beliefs. He organized their biggest meeting yet of 2,000 people for 24 February 1920 in the Staatliches Hofbräuhaus in München. Further in an attempt to make the party more broadly appealing to larger segments of the population, the DAP was renamed the National Socialist German Workers’ Party on 24 February. Such was the significance of Hitler’s particular move in publicity that Harrer resigned from the party in disagreement. The new name was borrowed from a different Austrian party active at the time, although Hitler earlier suggested the party to be renamed the Social Revolutionary Party. It was Rudolf Jung who persuaded Hitler to adopt the NSDAP name.

28 September 1919

Race riots start in Omaha, Nebraska.

Race riots rocked Omaha, Neb., on Sept. 28–29, 1919. The result of the riots was the lynching of Will Brown, an African American, and the death of two white men. The angry mob also attempted to hang Mayor Edward Parsons Smith, and it burnt down the Douglas County Courthouse in downtown Omaha. The Omaha riots were just one of many that took place throughout the United States in the summer of 1919, known as Red Summer.

Background

The troubles in Omaha began on Sept. 25, when Agnes Loebeck, a white woman, claimed that she had been assaulted by an African-American male. The next morning, the newspapers blasted the story with headlines referring to the black man as a “Black Beast.” The newspaper accounts of the incident fueled the anger of the white citizens of Omaha. Later that afternoon, the police brought a black man, whom they believed was the suspect, to Agnes Loebeck’s house for identification. Agnes identified the man, Will Brown, 41, who worked in a local packinghouse and suffered from a severe case of rheumatism, as the attacker.

As the police were about to leave Loebeck’s house, a large unruly mob began to gather in front of the house and threatened to grab Brown. A confrontation ensued, and after an hour, additional police arrived; police were able to transfer Brown to the Douglas County Courthouse. In order to prevent any trouble, 46 police officers were ordered to remain at police headquarters all night.

The Frenzy Increases

That night, rumors began to spread that a group of white people were once again planning to take Brown away from police custody and “take care of him.” On Sunday morning, Sept. 28, a group of young men began to march toward the courthouse. The angry crowd rapidly grew, and within a short period of time, the crowd swelled to between 5,000 to 10,000 people. They laid siege to the courthouse, and all city officials who were inside became prisoners and could not leave. Later that evening, the angry mob began firing into the courthouse, using rifles and guns that they had looted from nearby gun shops. In the gun battle, two people were killed. By about 8:30 p.m., the building was set on fire, and the mob refused to allow firefighters to come close to the building to extinguish the fire.

All the while Mayor Smith was at the scene of the courthouse and even went in several times to talk to town officials. At one point, he came outside and asked to address the crowd. He implored the crowd to remain calm, go home and forget about the prisoner. He begged them to let the firefighters get close to the building and do their job. The mob was furious, and suddenly the mayor received a blow to his head and was knocked to the ground. The next thing he saw was some people flinging one end of a long thick rope around a lamp post, and the other end was shaped into a noose and tightened around his neck. At that point he blacked out and had no recollection of what happened to him. He woke up in the hospital with head injuries. He remained in the hospital for several days. There are conflicting reports as to how he was rescued. One version is that a group of police personnel were responsible for the rescue. Others say that he was saved by a young bystander, Russel Norgaard. Once the mayor had been taken to the hospital, the mob turned its attention to Brown.

The wild crazed mob stormed the courthouse and got hold of Brown. They tore off his clothing, beat him until he was unconscious, dragged him outside and dropped him at a lamp post. The mob went into a frenzy and began shouting for the death of Brown. A rope was tightened around his neck, and he was hoisted to the top of the pole. As his body was spinning around, it was riddled with bullets. After he was lowered, his body was hitched to a car and dragged through the streets. At the corner of Dodge and 17th, his body was doused with fuel and set on fire. His burnt body was dragged through the streets of downtown Omaha. The rope that was used to hang Brown was cut into small pieces and sold for 10 cents a piece.

2 June 1919

A group of anarchists set off bombs in eight different USA cities.

In seven U.S. cities, on evening of June 2, 1919, all within approximately 90 minutes of one another, bombs of extraordinary capacity rocked some of the biggest urban areas in America, including New York; Boston; Pittsburgh; Cleveland; Washington; D.C.; Philadelphia; and Patterson, New Jersey. The bombings were a concerted effort among U.S. based anarchists who were most likely disciples of Luigi Galleani, a vehemently radical anarchist who advocated violence as a means to effect change, to rid the world of laws and capitalism.

Anarchism is a belief that society should have no government, laws, police, or any other authority. The majority of anarchists in the U.S. advocate change through non-violent, non-criminal means. However, a small minority, believes change can only be accomplished through violence and criminal acts.

On June 2, 1919, a militant anarchist named Carlo Valdinoci, a former editor of the Galleanist publication Cronaca Sovversiva and close associate of Luigi Galleani blew up the front of newly appointed Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer’s home in Washington, D.C. He also blew himself up in the process when the bomb exploded too early. A young Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, who lived across the street, were also shaken by the blast.

The bombs of June 2nd were much larger than those previously sent by mail in April. These bombs were comprised of up to 25 pounds of dynamite packaged with heavy metal slugs designed to act as shrapnel. Addressees included government officials who had endorsed anti-sedition laws and deportation of immigrants suspected of crimes or associated with illegal movements, as well as judges who had sentenced anarchists to prison.

28 September 1919

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Race riots start in Omaha, Nebraska.

A race riot occurred in Omaha, Nebraska on September 28, 1919. Three weeks before the riot started, federal investigators had noted that there had been a clash between white and black workers in the local stockyards. It then resulted in the lynching of a black worker, Will Brown; the death of two white men; as well as the attempted hanging of Mayor, Ed Smith; and a public riot thousands of whites who set fire to the Douglas County Courthouse in downtown Omaha. It was then followed by more than 20 race riots in major cities around United States during the Red Summer of 1919.

The Omaha Riot was severely condemned throughout the country. The arrest and prosecution of the riot mob leaders was widely called for in the media. Police and army authorities arrested many of the participants on charges that ranged from murder to arson and held them for trial. The Army presence in Omaha was the largest in response to any of the race riots. By early October, the emergency had passed and the Army presence was reduced by middle of October.

The district court ordered a grand jury to convene to further investigate the riots, and a grand jury was impaneled for this. After a 6 week session, the grand jury produced a report that criticized the Smith government administration for its ineffective leadership as well as the incompetence of the police. Witnesses from the army testified that they believed a more prompt police action could have controlled the riot. 120 indictments were handed down for involvement in the riots.

Of the 120 persons that were initially indicted for there involvement in the riot, most were never successfully prosecuted, and they all were eventually released after not serving any term of imprisonment.