German Workers' Party

German Workers' Party
German Workers' Party
Deutsche Arbeiterpartei
Leader Anton Drexler
Founded January 5, 1919
Dissolved February 24, 1920
Preceded by None (de jure)
German Fatherland Party (de facto)
Succeeded by National Socialist German Workers' Party
Headquarters Munich, Germany
Ideology Proto-Nazism
Political position Far-right

The German Workers' Party (German: Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, abbreviated DAP) was the short-lived predecessor of the Nazi Party (German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, abbreviated NSDAP).



The DAP was founded in Munich in the hotel "Fürstenfelder Hof" on January 5, 1919 by Anton Drexler, a member of the occultist Thule Society. It developed out of the "Freien Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten Frieden" (Free Workers' Committee for a good Peace) which Drexler had also founded and led. Its first members were mostly colleagues of Drexler's from the Munich rail depot. Drexler was encouraged to found the DAP by his mentor, Dr. Paul Tafel, a leader of the Alldeutscher Verband (Pan-Germanist Union), a director of the Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg, also a member of the Thule Society, and his wish was for a party which was both in touch with the masses and nationalist, unlike the middle class parties. The initial membership was about forty people.[1]

On March 24, 1919, Karl Harrer (a sports journalist and member of the Thule Society) joined the DAP to increase the influence of the Thule Society over the DAP's activities, and the party name was changed to the "Political Workers' Circle". The membership was as scarce as the original DAP's and the meetings were reduced to the local beer houses.

Adolf Hitler's membership

Hitler's DAP card with the later forged membership number 7

Adolf Hitler, then a corporal in the German army, was ordered to spy on the DAP on September 12, 1919 during one of its meetings at the Sterneckerbräu, a beer hall in the center of the city.[2] While there, he got into a violent argument with one guest. Following this incident, Anton Drexler was impressed with Hitler's oratory skills and invited him to join the party. After some thinking, Hitler left the army and accepted the invitation, joining in late September. At the time when Hitler joined the party there were no membership numbers or cards. It was on January 1920 when a numeration was issued for the first time: listed in alphabetical order, Hitler received the number 555. In reality he had been the 55th member, but the counting started at the number 501 in order to make the party appear larger. Also, his claim that he was party member number 7, which would make him one of the founding members, is refuted. However, in his work Mein Kampf, Hitler claims that he received a membership card with the number 7. After giving his first speech for the Party on October 16 in the Hofbräukeller, Hitler quickly rose up to become a leading figure in the DAP.[citation needed]


The small number of party members were quickly won over to Hitler's political beliefs. In an attempt to make the party more broadly appealing to larger segments of the population, the DAP was renamed on February 24, 1920 to the National Socialist German Workers' Party. The name was borrowed from a different Austrian party active at the time (Deutsche Nationalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei, German National Socialist Workers' Party), although Hitler earlier suggested the party to be renamed the "Social Revolutionary Party"; it was Rudolf Jung who persuaded Hitler to follow the NSDAP naming.[3]


As stated above, Hitler was the 55th member of the party. The following are well-known earlier members:


  1. ^ Hitler: a study in Tyranny by Alan Bullock
  2. ^
  3. ^ Konrad Heiden, "Les débuts du national-socialisme", Revue d'Allemagne, VII, No. 71 (Sept. 15, 1933), p. 821

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