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The Kampfbund was a league of "patriotic" fighting societies and the German National Socialist party in Bavaria, Germany in the 1920s. It included Hitler's NSDAP party and their Sturmabteilung or SA for short, the Oberland League and the Reichskriegsflagge. Its military leader was Hermann Kriebel, and its political leader was Adolf Hitler. It was Captain Ernst Röhm who proposed that Hitler be the the political leader of the Kampfbund.1
The Kampfbund conducted the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 in Munich, Germany.
Kampfbund is German for "Battle League". The league was created on 30 September 1923 at Nuremberg, where Hitler joined other patriotic nationalist leaders to celebrate German Day, which marked the anniversary of the Prussian victory over France in 1870. The purpose was to consolidate and streamline their agendas and also prepare to take advantage of the split between Bavaria and the central government. The impetus of this consolidation was the ending of the clandestine Ruhr war by the Berlin central government which infuriated the freebooters and nationalists.
At this time, the German Workers Party (DAP), grew from a fringe sect to Bavaria's most powerful political force of 70,000 members. The SA, the private army of the Party, was about 15,000 strong. It was led by Ernst Röhm. A subgroup of the NSDAP was the Stosstrupp, an elite bodyguard unit under the command of a tobacconist Josef Berchtold. Another group was the party's youth group Jungsturm led by Adolf Lenk.
The Oberland League was a paramilitary organization led by Dr. Friedrich Weber. It had 4,000 armed troopers, practically all disgruntled war veterans. This unit was a Freikorps body.
The Reichskriegsflagge (Reich's Battle Flag) shortened to RKF society, was another private army of combat hardened veterans led by Captain Röhm who was a staff officer of Lt. General Otto von Lossow commander of the Seventh Division headquartered in Munich.
Pressure was applied to Hitler from the youth and young men to do something. They were restless. Gustav von Kahr meanwhile on 5 October 1923 closed the Nazi paper, Völkischer Beobachter for ten days. On top of this, von Kahr announced a surprise speech at the Bürgerbräu Keller. Afraid that von Kahr was going to define the struggle without him, Hitler decided to act and "coax these people into complicity".
The putsch was planned on 7 November in a hasty decision in Kreibel's apartment. Not all members were notified either. For the purpose of communicating, the party used two pieces of paper; one colored red meaning "the real thing" and the other white signifying a practise run. They chose to pass the white tag out. At the time of the putsch, only 3000 members of the Kampfbund were in Munich. Adolf Hitler was very secretive about many things and would tell one part to one member and later would tell a second part to another member, or he wouldn't say anything to another, thus leading to much confusion and lack of coordination on the day of the putsch.
SA unit and leaders
1st Battalion Karl Beggel
2nd Battalion Edmund Heines
3rd Battalion Hans Knauth
10th Company Friedrich Mayer
- Note 1: Der Fuehrer, Konrad Heiden, trans. by Ralph Manheim, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1944, pg 175.
For bibliography, see Beer Hall Putsch bibliography.