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|Chairman of the DAP|
|Preceded by||Karl Harrer|
|Succeeded by||Adolf Hitler|
13 June 1884|
|Died||24 February 1942
Anton Drexler (13 June 1884 – 24 February 1942) was a German far-right political leader of the 1920s, he became instrumental in the formation of the pan-German and anti-Semitic German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei - DAP), the antecedent of the Nazi Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei - NSDAP). Drexler served as mentor to Adolf Hitler during his early days in politics.
Born in Munich, Drexler was a machine-fitter before becoming a railway locksmith in Berlin in 1902. He joined the Fatherland Party during World War I. He was a poet and a member of the völkisch agitators who, together with journalist Karl Harrer, founded the German Workers' Party (DAP), in Munich with Gottfried Feder and Dietrich Eckart on 5 January 1919.
At a meeting of the Party in Munich in September 1919, the main speaker was Gottfried Feder. When he had finished speaking, Hitler got involved in a heated political argument with a visitor, Professor Baumann who questioned the soundness of Feder's arguments against capitalism and proposed that Bavaria should break away from Prussia and found a new South German nation with Austria. In vehemently attacking the man's arguments he made an impression on the other party members with his oratory skills and, according to Hitler, the "professor" left the hall acknowledging unequivocal defeat. Drexler approached Hitler and thrust a booklet into his hand. It was My Political Awakening and, according to Hitler, it reflected the ideals he already believed in. Impressed with Hitler, Drexler invited him to join the DAP. Hitler accepted on 12 September 1919, becoming the party's 55th member. In less than a week, Hitler received a postcard from Drexler stating he had officially been accepted as a DAP member and he should come to a "committee" meeting to discuss it. Hitler attended the "committee" meeting held at the run-down Alte Rosenbad beer-house.
By 1921, Hitler was rapidly becoming the undisputed leader of the Party. In June 1921, while Hitler and Eckart were on a fundraising trip to Berlin, a mutiny broke out within the NSDAP in Munich. Members of its executive committee, some of whom considered Hitler to be too overbearing, wanted to merge with the rival German Socialist Party (DSP). Hitler returned to Munich on 11 July and angrily tendered his resignation. The committee members realised his resignation would mean the end of the party. Hitler announced he would rejoin on the condition that he would replace Drexler as party chairman, and that the party headquarters would remain in Munich. The committee agreed; he rejoined the party as member 3,680. Drexler was thereafter moved to the purely symbolic position of honorary president, and left the Party in 1923.
Drexler was also a member of a völkisch political club for affluent members of Munich society known as the Thule Society. His membership in the NSDAP ended when it was temporarily outlawed in 1923 following the Beer Hall Putsch, in which Drexler had not taken part. In 1924 he was elected to the Bavarian state parliament for another party, in which he served as vice-president until 1928. He had no part in the NSDAP's refounding in 1925, and rejoined only after Hitler had come to power in 1933. He received the party's Blood Order in 1934 and was still occasionally used as a propaganda tool until about 1937, but he was never again allowed any real power.
In popular culture
- Hitler, Adolf (1999) . Mein Kampf. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-395-92503-4.
- Kershaw, Ian (2008). Hitler: A Biography. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-06757-6.
- Mitcham, Samuel W. (1996). Why Hitler?: The Genesis of the Nazi Reich. Westport, Conn: Praeger. ISBN 978-0-275-95485-7.
- Shirer, William L. (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-62420-0.
- Stackelberg, Roderick (2007). The Routledge Companion to Nazi Germany. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-30860-1.
|Party political offices|
|Chairman of the DAP