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Hamburg Schoolteacher Louise Solmitz on Hitler’s Seizure of Power (January-February 1933)

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We were drunk with enthusiasm, blinded by the light of the torches right in our faces, and always enveloped in their vapor as in a cloud of sweet incense. And in front of us men, men, men, brightly colored, grey, brown, a torrent lasting an hour and 20 minutes. In the wavering light of the torches one seemed to see only a few types recurring again and again, but there were between twenty-two and twenty-five thousand different faces!

Next to us a little boy of three kept raising his tiny hand: ‘Heil Hitler, Heil Hitlerman!’

An SA man said to Gisela that morning: ‘One doesn’t say Heil Hitler any more, one says Heil Germany.’ ‘Death to the Jews’ was also sometimes called out and they sang of the blood of the Jews which would squirt from their knives. (subsequent addition: Who took that seriously then?)

Opposite the Eimsbüttel Sports Hall (what a pity we could not see it) stood the leader of the Hamburg National Socialists—and beside him with his hand touching his hat, the leader of the Hamburg Stahlhelm, Lieutenant-Commander Lauenstein, who a few months before had been stabbed by SA men (ten minutes from where he now stood) and now saluted the procession of the SA, just as the SA leader saluted that of the Stahlhelm.

What moments!

What a marvelous thought

The National Socialists have much more new blood and young people than the Stahlhelm. Good looking, fresh, gay youths in the procession.

When everything was over, it was actually not yet over, for the last SS men were joined by a crowd of gay people with left-over torches, who made their own procession, happy to join in the occasion.

Finally, the torches were thrown together at the Kaiser Friedrich embankment, after a march from the Lübeck Gate. It was 11.30 p.m. before all was over.

Unity at last, at long last, but for how long? We are after all Germans.

What must Hitler feel when he sees the hundred thousand people whom he summoned, to whom he gave a national soul, people who are ready to die for him. Not only metaphorically speaking but in bitter earnest. [ . . . ]

And these floods of people in Hamburg are only a small fraction of Hitler’s support in the whole Reich. [ . . . ]

Source of English translation: Jeremy Noakes and Geoffrey Pridham, eds., Nazism 1919-1945, Vol. 1, The Rise to Power 1919-1934. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1998, pp. 129-31.

Source of original German text: “Louise Solmitz: Auszüge aus den Tagebüchern,” reprinted in Werner Jochmann, ed., Nationalsozialismus und Revolution: Ursprung und Geschichte der NSDAP in Hamburg; 1922-1933. Frankfurt: Europäische Verl.-Anst., 1963, pp. 421-24.

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