The German Workers' Party was centered in Munich which had become a hotbed of German nationalists who included Army officers determined to crush Marxism and undermine or even overthrow the young German democracy centred in Berlin. Gradually they noticed Adolf Hitler and his growing movement as a vehicle to hitch themselves to. Hitler traveled to Berlin to visit nationalist groups during the summer of 1921 and in his absence there was an unexpected revolt among the DAP leadership in Munich.
The Party was run by an executive committee whose original members considered Hitler to be overbearing and even dictatorial. To weaken Hitler's position they formed an alliance with a group of socialists from Augsburg. Hitler rushed back to Munich and countered them by tendering his resignation from the Party on July 11, 1921. When they realized the loss of Hitler would effectively mean the end of the Party, he seized the moment and announced he would return on the condition that he was made chairman and given dictatorial powers. Infuriated committee members (including founder Anton Drexler) held out at first. Meanwhile an anonymous pamphlet appeared entitled Adolf Hitler: Is he a traitor?, attacking Hitler's lust for power and criticizing the violence-prone men around him. Hitler responded to its publication in a Munich newspaper by suing for libel and later won a small settlement.
The executive committee of the DAP eventually backed down and Hitler's demands were put to a vote of party members. Hitler received 543 votes for and only one against. At the next gathering on July 29, 1921, Adolf Hitler was introduced as F?hrer of the National Socialist Party, marking the first time this title was publicly used. Hitler changed the name of the party to the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP).
Hitler's beer hall oratory, attacking Jews, social democrats, liberals, reactionary monarchists, capitalists and communists, began attracting adherents. Early followers included Rudolf Hess, the former air force pilot Hermann G?ring, and the flamboyant army captain Ernst R?hm, who became head of the Nazis' paramilitary organization, the SA, which protected meetings and attacked political opponents. He also attracted the attention of local business interests, was accepted into influential circles of Munich society and became associated with wartime General Erich Ludendorff during this time.
The Beer Hall Putsch
Main article: Beer Hall Putsch
Encouraged by this early support, Hitler decided to use Ludendorff as a front in an attempt to seize power later known as the Beer Hall Putsch (and sometimes as the Hitler Putsch or Munich Putsch). The Nazi Party had copied the Italian Fascists in appearance and also had adopted some programmatical points and now, in the turbulent year 1923, Hitler wanted to emulate Mussolini's "March on Rome" by staging his own "Campaign in Berlin". Hitler and Ludendorff obtained the clandestine support of Gustav von Kahr, Bavaria's de facto ruler along with leading figures in the Reichswehr and the police. As political posters show, Ludendorff, Hitler and the heads of the Bavarian police and military planned on forming a new government.
However on November 8, 1923 Kahr and the military withdrew their support during a meeting in the B?rgerbr?ukeller, a large beer hall outside of Munich. A surprised Hitler had them arrested and proceeded with the coup. Unknown to him, Kahr and the other detainees had been released on Ludendorff's orders after he obtained their word not to interfere. That night they prepared resistance measures against the coup and in the morning, when Hitler and his followers marched from the beer hall to the Bavarian War Ministry to overthrow the Bavarian government as a start to their "March on Berlin," the army quickly dispersed them (Ludendorff was wounded and a few other Nazis were killed).
Hitler fled to the home of friends and contemplated suicide. He was soon arrested for high treason and appointed Alfred Rosenberg as temporary leader of the party but found himself in an environment somewhat receptive to his beliefs. During Hitler's trial, sympathetic magistrates allowed Hitler to turn his debacle into a propaganda stunt. He was given almost unlimited amounts of time to present his arguments to the court along with a large body of the German people, and his popularity soared when he voiced basic nationalistic sentiments shared by the public. On April 1, 1924 Hitler was sentenced to five years' imprisonment at Landsberg prison for the crime of conspiracy to commit treason. Hitler received favoured treatment from the guards and had much fan mail from admirers. As he was considered relatively harmless, Hitler was released on December 20 1924.
While at Landsberg he dictated his political book Mein Kampf (My Struggle) to his deputy Rudolf Hess. The book, dedicated to Thule Society member Dietrich Eckart, was both an autobiography and an exposition of his political ideology. It was published in two volumes in 1925 and 1926 respectively, but did not sell very well until Hitler came to power (though by the late 1930s nearly every household in Germany had a copy of it). Hitler spent years dodging taxes on the income from his book. By 1934 he had accumulated about 405,500 Reichsmarks (6m euros) in backtaxes, all of which were waived once he became chancellor..
The rebuilding of the party
At the time of Hitler's release, the political situation in Germany had calmed down, and the economy had improved, which hampered Hitler's opportunities for agitation. Instead, he began a long effort to rebuild the dwindling party.
Though the Hitler Putsch had given Hitler some national prominence, his party's mainstay was still Munich. To spread the party to the north, Hitler also assimilated independent groups, such as the Nuremberg-based Wistrich, led by Julius Streicher, who now became Gauleiter of Franconia.
As Hitler was still banned from public speeches, he appointed Gregor Strasser, who in 1924 had been elected to the Reichstag, as Reichsorganisationsleiter, authorizing him to organise the party in northern Germany. Gregor, joined by his younger brother Otto and Joseph Goebbels, steered an increasingly independent course,