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Eckhart around 1920

Dietrich Eckart (23 March 1868 – 26 December 1923) was a German politician, one of the important early members of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP, or Nazi party) and a participant of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch.

Contents

Biography

Eckart was born Johann Dietrich Eckart in 1868 in Neumarkt, Germany (which is about twenty miles southeast of Nürnberg/Nuremberg), the son of a royal notary and lawyer. His mother died when he was ten years old; in 1895, his father died also, leaving him a considerable amount of money that Eckart soon spent.

Eckart initially studied medicine in Munich, but decided in 1891 to work as a poet, playwright and journalist. He moved to Berlin in 1899, where he wrote a number of plays, often autobiographical, becoming the protégé of Graf Georg von Hülsen-Haeseler, the artistic director of the royal theatre. Eckart was a very successful playwright, especially for his adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt, one of the best attended productions of the age with more than 600 performances in Berlin alone. It was this success that not only made Eckart a wealthy man, but gave him the social contacts needed to introduce Hitler to dozens of important German citizens of the day. These introductions proved to be pivotal in Hitler's ultimate rise to power.

Later on, he developed an ideology of a "genius superman", based on writings by Lanz von Liebenfels; he saw himself following the tradition of Arthur Schopenhauer and Angelus Silesius. He also became fascinated by the Buddhist doctrine of Maya (illusion). Eckart loved and strongly identified with Peer Gynt, but never had much sympathy for the scientific method.

Between 1918 and 1920, Eckart edited the anti-Semitic periodical Auf gut Deutsch, published along with Alfred Rosenberg and Gottfried Feder. A fierce critic of the Weimar Republic, he vehemently opposed the Treaty of Versailles, which he viewed as treason, and was a proponent of the so-called Dolchstoßlegende, according to which the Social Democrats and Jews were to blame for Germany's defeat in World War I.

Eckart was involved in founding the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (German Workers' Party) together with Gottfried Feder and Anton Drexler in 1919, later renamed the Nationalsozialistische deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers' Party, NSDAP); he was the original publisher of the NSDAP newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, and also wrote the lyrics of "Deutschland erwache" (Germany awake), which became an anthem of the Nazi party.

Eckart met Adolf Hitler during a speech he gave before party members on 14 August 1919. He exerted considerable influence on Hitler in the following years and is strongly believed to have established the theories and beliefs of the Nazi party. Few other people had as much influence on Hitler in his lifetime.

It was Eckart who introduced Alfred Rosenberg to Adolf Hitler. Between 1920 and 1923, Eckart and Rosenberg labored tirelessly in the service of Hitler and the party. Through Rosenberg, Hitler was introduced to the writings of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Rosenberg's inspiration. Rosenberg edited the Münchener Beobachter, a party newspaper, originally owned by the Thule Society. In the pages of the Münchener Beobachter, Rosenberg published the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

To raise funds for the party's newspaper, Eckart introduced Hitler into the influential circles that would eventually fund the Nazi party. While staying in the house of a wealthy manufacturer in Berlin, Hitler was given instruction in public speaking by a teacher of drama.

On 9 November 1923, Eckart was involved in the Nazi party's failed Beer Hall Putsch; he was arrested and placed in Landsberg Prison along with Hitler and other party officials, but released shortly due to illness. He died of a heart attack in Berchtesgaden on 26 December 1923. He was buried in Berchtesgaden's old cemetery, not far from the eventual graves of Nazi party official Hans Lammers and his wife and daughter.

Hitler dedicated the second volume of Mein Kampf to Eckart, and also named the Waldbühne in Berlin as the "Dietrich-Eckart-Bühne" when it was opened for the 1936 Summer Olympics.

In 1925, Eckart's unfinished essay Der Bolschewismus von Moses bis Lenin: Zwiegespräch zwischen Hitler und mir ("Bolshevism from Moses to Lenin: Dialogues Between Hitler and Me") was published posthumously, although it has been shown (Plewnia 1970) that the dialogues were an invention; the essay was written by Eckart alone. "However, this book still remains a reliable indicator of [Eckart's] own views."[1] The historian Richard Steigmann-Gall quotes from Eckart's book:[1]

"In Christ, the embodiment of all manliness, we find all that we need. And if we occasionally speak of Baldur, our words always contain some joy, some satisfaction, that our pagan ancestors were already so Christian as to have an indication of Christ in this ideal figure." – Dietrich Eckart

Steigmann-Gall concludes that, "far from advocating a paganism or anti-Christian religion, Eckart held that, in Germany's postwar tailspin, Christ was a leader to be emulated."[1]

Portrayals in popular culture

A fictionalized, female version of Eckart (Dietlinde Eckhart) appeared as the main villain and head of the Thule Society in the 2005 anime movie Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa.

References

  1. ^ a b c Steigmann-Gall 2003: 18

Works

Sources

  • Above text lifted nearly word-for-word from: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Eckart.html
  • Plewnia, M.: "Auf dem Weg zu Hitler. Der 'völkische' Publizist Dietrich Eckart", Bremen, Schünemann Universitätsverlag, 1970.
  • Rosenberg, Alfred. Dietrich Eckart: Ein Vermächtnis, Munich, 1928 ff.
  • Steigmann-Gall, Richard: The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919–1945. Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 978-0521823715, esp. pp. 17–19

External links








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