Such was Hitler’s hatred of the Weimar government he decided to overthrow it. On the evening of 8 November 1923, he led a group of 600 Storm Troopers and together they burst into a Munich beer hall meeting. The 34-year-old Hitler fired two shots from his revolver into the ceiling, declaring that he was the new leader of the German government and that the ‘national revolution has begun.’
The Munich Putsch, 9 November 1923
Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-2007-0003 / Unknown / CC-BY-SA
Meanwhile, Röhm had seized the city’s war ministry. Hitler had expected the support of the army and the Bavarian police and then to march on to Berlin. But the support never materialized and the following day, as Hitler led 300 Nazis through the streets of Munich to meet Röhm, the police blocked their way. The Nazis refused to stop and the police opened fired, killing sixteen and wounding many more. Hitler hurled himself to the ground, dislocating his shoulder, then tried to make a run for it, but was caught and arrested. It was later claimed he was trying to get a wounded child to a hospital. The Munich Putsch may have failed but Hitler learnt a useful lesson – that power could not be secured through force but would have to be earned through legitimate means and the ballot box.