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The German Workers' Party becomes the "Nazi" Party

In August 1920, the German Workers' Party acquired a new name: the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), which some people were to shorten to Nazi. With Hitler as the party's star speaker, the party's founder, G. Feder, was alternately tolerated and ignored. By the end of 1920 the party's membership stood somewhere around 3000, with many of its new members being former members of the Free Corps looking for a new home.

Between 1920 and 1922 the National Socialist Party grew to around 6,000 members. Perhaps with the loss of the war in mind, they declared "hail victory" often – "sieg heil" in German. New party members tended to be younger than those in Germany's traditional parties, and some of them were students. They were a German 1920's version of the cocky 1960s student activists in the United States, except that they were racist and nationalistically gung-ho. They were impatient and enthusiastic for change. They tended to be dissatisfied with the older generation, either for having stumbled into the war or for having failed to win it.

No more war demonstration in Berlin, 1922

A "No More War" demonstration in Berlin, 1922

The National Socialists had their rallies and their marches, but they also had violent confrontations with the opposition – no polite sit-downs as had been learned in the US civil rights movement. National Socialists had to escort their fellow party members home through hostile blue-collar neighborhoods where Social Democrats, union people and Communists lived. The "Nazis" fought street battles against Leftists, battles that were sometimes initiated by the Leftists and sometimes by the Nazis.

In Munich's unionized factories, any worker who spoke in favor of the National Socialists or other Rightists might be expelled or beaten. This happened elsewhere in Germany as Hitler's small organization spread thinly across the nation. The disturbances that these few caused led some states to outlaw the National Socialist Party. In 1922 the state of Baden forbade the party to carry on its activities. The states of Thuringia, Prussia, Schaumburg-Lippe, Hesse and Brunswick followed Baden's example. So too did the city of Hamburg. To counter these laws, the National Socialists in these areas changed the name of their organization, and they continued their propaganda campaigns with less violence.


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