BY RICHARD MADDOX
WHILE RESEARCHING ANOTHER POST (and looking for something else!) I found a photograph I had bought many years ago in a general shop in a small English town. I remember that I paid very little for the small poor quality image mixed in with other old photographs in a small basket.
Dated 21 August 1934, it shows the Mahnmal der Bewegung at the Feldherrnhalle München (the Memorial to the Movement at the Field Marshalls’ Hall) in the Odeonsplatz in central Munich with guards, wreaths and four people with their arms raised in the Hitlergruß.
The memorial is in the form of two bronze plaques that commemorated the sixteen supporters of Adolf Hitler’s Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP or ‘Nazi’ party) that died in clashes with Munich police on 9 November 1923.
Interestingly a smaller plaque below the main one commemorates the names of the four police officers who died that day. (1) The large plaque is surmounted by a Reichsaddler or ‘Reich’s eagle’ that has an oak-leaf wreath in its talons. In the centre of the wreath is the NSDAP symbol, the Hakenkreuz or swastika.
The Reichsaddler would become a common sight across Germany in the years to come.
Kurt Schmid-Ehmen, one of the men who is credited with the memorial’s execution – from a design by Paul Ludwig Troost, an architect who would be favoured by Adolf when the NSDAP came to power – would produce many of them in various locations and different versions, including the Reichs Chancellery Eagle which can be seen at IWM London.
But for me the real interest is in what was written by an unknown hand in English.
After setting out the a brief description of the memorial and why it is there, how the photographer couldn’t get any closer, the wording notes that two SS men with rifles are always on duty and that passers-by are expected to give the Hitlergruß or NSDAP salute.
The final words are ‘A cause needs martyrs to succeed’.
As we now know despite many, many willing and unwilling ‘martyrs’ and victims the cause did not succeed.