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He fought with the Freikorps during the German Revolution of 1918–19; according to Time, as a member of the German 1919 Armistice delegation, his parting words were "See you again in 20 years." and in 1923 became the military leader of the Kampfbund, the league of nationalist and fighting societies that included Adolf Hitler's Nazi party and SA; the Oberland League; and Ernst Röhm's Reichskriegflagge. Kriebel was, with Hitler and Erich Ludendorff, the key figure in the 8–9 November 1923 Beer Hall Putsch and was convicted with Hitler in 1924, serving his sentence in the Landsberg prison.
After his release from prison, he maintained his ties with the Nazi party and the Oberland League but did not benefit from Hitler's rise to power. He became the German consul general in Shanghai.