The march to Coburg in October 1922
by ADOLF HITLER
“Folkish” associations planned to hold a so-called “German Day” in Coburg. I myself received an invitation to it, remarking that it would be desirable for me to bring an escort. This request, which I received at 11 o’clock in the morning, came very opportunely.
An hour later the arrangements for attending this “German Day” had been issued. As an “escort” I appointed 800 men of the SA. We arranged to transport them in approximately 14 companies by special train to the little city that had become [part of the state of Bavaria]. Similar orders went out to National Socialist SA groups which had meanwhile been formed in other places.
It was the first time that such a special train was used in Germany. At all towns where new SA men got on, the transport aroused much attention. Many people had never seen our flags before; the impression they made was very great.
When we arrived at the Coburg station, we were received by a delegation of organizers of the “German Day,” which conveyed to us an order from the local trade unions—in other words from the [Marxist] Independent and Communist Party—to the effect that we were forbidden to enter the town with flags unfurled, or with music (we had taken along a 42-piece band of our own), or to march in a solid column.
I at once flatly rejected these disgraceful conditions and did not fail to express to the gentlemen present, the organizers of this congress, my surprise that they had carried on negotiations with these people and entered into agreements. I declared that the SA would immediately line up in companies and march into the city with resounding music and flags flying.
And that is just what happened.
On the square in front of the railroad station we were received by a howling, shrieking mob numbering thousands. “Murders,” “bandits,” “robbers,” “criminals,” were the lovely names which the model founders of the German Republic affectionately showered on us. The young SA kept exemplary order. The companies formed on the square in front of the station, and at first took no notice of the vulgar abuse.
In the city that was strange to all of us, frightened police officials led the marching column, not—as arranged—to our quarters, a shooting gallery situated on the outskirts of Coburg, but to the Hofbräuhauskeller, near the center of the city. To left and right of the procession, the uproar of the masses of people accompanying us increased more and more.
Hardly had the last company turned into the courtyard of the Keller than great masses, amid deafening cries, tried to crowd in after us. To prevent this, the police locked the Keller. Since this state of affairs was intolerable, I had the SA line up once again, gave them a brief speech of admonition, and demanded that the police open the gates immediately. After a long hesitation, they yielded.
To get to our quarters, we marched back the way we had come, and now at last a stand had to be taken.
After they had been unable to disturb the poise of our companies by cries and insults, the representatives of true socialism, equality and fraternity had recourse to stones. At this our patience was at an end, and so for 10 whole minutes a devastating hail fell from left and right—and a quarter of an hour later, there was nothing red to be seen in the streets.
In the evening there were serious clashes again. Some National Socialists had been assaulted singly, and patrols of the SA found them in a terrible condition. Thereupon we made short shrift of our foes. By next morning the Red terror, under which Coburg had suffered for years, had been broken.
With real Marxist-Jewish lies they now attempted to harry the “comrades of the international proletariat” back into the streets, by totally twisting the facts and maintaining that our “bands of murderers” had begun a “war of extermination against peaceful workers” in Coburg. The great “demonstration of the people”— which it was hoped, tens of thousands of workers from the whole vicinity would attend—was set for half-past one.
Therefore, firmly resolved to dispose of the Red terror for good, I ordered the SA—which had meanwhile swollen to nearly one and a half thousand men—to line up, and set out with them on the march for the Coburg Fortress, by way of the great square on which the Red demonstration was to take place. I wanted to see whether they would dare molest us again.
When we entered the square, only a few hundred were present, instead of the announced 10,000, and at our approach they kept generally quiet, and some ran away. Only at a few points did Red troops—who had meanwhile come from the outside and who did not yet know us—try to pester us again.
But in the twinkling of an eye, all their enthusiasm was spoiled. And now it could be seen how the frightened and intimidated population slowly woke up and took courage and ventured to shout greetings to us, and in the evening, as we were marching off, broke into spontaneous cheering in many places.
At the station the railroad men suddenly informed us that they would not run the train. Thereupon I notifed a few of the ringleaders that in that case I planned to round up whatever Red bosses fell into my hands, and that we ould run the train ourselves. We would, however, take along a few dozen of the brother of international solidarity on the locomotive and tender and in every car.
Nor did I fail to call it to the gentlemen’s attention that the trip with our own forces would, of course, be an extremely risky undertaking and that it could not be ruled out that the whole lot of us would break our necks and bones. But anyway, in that case, we would be delighted to leave for the Hereafter, not alone, but in equality and fraternity with the Red gentlemen.
Thereupon the train departed with the utmost punctuality, and we were back in Munich safe and sound the following morning.
Thus, for the first time since 1914, the equality of citizens before the law was re-established in Coburg. For if today some simpleton of a higher official ventures the assertion that the state protects the lives of its citizens, this was certainly not the case at that time; for at that time the citizens had to defend themselves against the representatives of the present-day state.
From Mein Kampf, pp. 548-551, Houghton Mifflin edition