The political police in Bavaria, 1919-1936


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The political police in Bavaria, 1919-1936
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x, 324 leaves : ; 28 cm.
McGee, James Heard, 1950-
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Subjects / Keywords:
Police -- Germany -- Bavaria   ( lcsh )
History -- Bavaria (Germany) -- 1918-1945   ( lcsh )
Politics and government -- Bavaria (Germany) -- 1918-1945   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis--University of Florida.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 300-322).
Statement of Responsibility:
by James H. McGee, III.
General Note:
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University of Florida
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Copyright 1980


James H. McGee, III

Dedicated to the memory of

Prof. Dr. Thilo Vogelsang

-- gentleman, scholar, friend --


During the five years of research and writing which has gone into

this work, I have incurred a long series of debts to be acknowledged.

I would first like to thank the three scholars who supervised this

work in its various stages, Dr. Max H. Kele, Dr. Alan Beyerchen, and

Dr. Charles F. Sidman. Dr. Kele provided the inspiration for this

work and guided it through its beginnings. In a larger sense, his

standards of scholarship have served me as a model throughout my

graduate career. Dr. Beyerchen's advice and assistance helped carry

me past critical obstacles in the intermediate stages of the work.

Dr. Sidman supervised the completion of my study. Through his

extensive knowledge of Bavarian history and his unfailing insistence

upon precision in interpretation and expression, he exerted a profound

influence upon every aspect of the work. My gratitude to these three

men goes far beyond what can be expressed in this brief compass.

Many others also contributed to this work. I am very grateful to

Professors David Bushnell, Geoffrey Giles, Helga Kraft, Neill Macaulay,

Harry Paul, Claude Sturgill, and Norman Wilensky, all of the University

of Florida, for their help, encouragement, and interest in my work.

A similar debt of gratitude is owed to Professor James M. Diehl of

Indiana University-Bloomington.

A number of German schoLars and archivists assisted me during the

course of my research. I am indebted to Prof. Dr. Karl Bosl of the

University of Munich for his advice based upon years of involvement

with the issues of Bavarian history. Dr. Hermann-Joseph Busley,

Dr. Joseph Lauchs, and Dr. Hermann Rumschottel, all of the Bavarian

State Archives staff, helped me to chart a path through the maze of

sources related to my topic. Their assistance was, quite literally,

invaluable. I would also like to thank Dr. Martin Broszat for

permission to use the unmatched facilities of the Institut fur

Zeitgeschichte in Munich.

Personal friends, both in the United States and in Germany,

helped in a variety of ways: in Germany, Paul Hoser, Edita Marx,

and Sarah Westphal; in the United States, Tina Komaniecka, Rosemary

and Gary Brana-Shute, and Blair and Vicki Turner. In this context I

would also like to thank my parents for their encouragement and support

over many years.

My research in Germany was made possible by a Fulbright-Hays

grant in 1976-1977. I would like to thank Dr. Ulrich Littman and

Dr. Barbara Ischinger of the Fulbright Office in Bonn for their

assistance, which went far beyond the simple provision of financial

support. At other times during my graduate school years the Departments

of History and Humanities at the University of Florida provided

financial support.

My greatest debt is to my wife, Sandy, whose love, understanding,

and support has sustained me throughout the years of research and

writing. I had originally intended to dedicate this work to her, an

intention which reflects the depth of her contribution. Her contribu-

tions, however, are ongoing; I will, I trust, have occasion in the

future to measure them in a dedication. The contributions of another,

however, have been stilled. I will never again have the occasion to

thank him for the many personal and professional kindnesses he showed

to me during my year in Munich, or to appropriately recognize his

influence upon my work. This work is therefore dedicated to the late

Prof. Dr. Thilo Vogelsang.

These individuals have helped make this a better work, and I am

deeply grateful to them all. In no way, however, should any of them

be held liable for the results of their assistance. The interpretations

are my own, and so are the errors they contain.



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.......................................................................... iv

ABSTRACT........... ......................... ........ ...................... vii

THE POLITICAL POLICE IN BAVARIA, 1919-1936.................... 1
Notes..................................................... 12

THE POLITICAL POLICE IN THE PiHNER ERA, 1919-1921.............. 13
Notes................ ............ ........ .......... 55

A CASE OF POLITICAL MURDER..................................... 62
Notes................................ ................. .... 104

Notes..................................................... 162

Notes................................ .................. .. 215

THE WAY TO THE GESTAPO, 1930-1936.............................. 223
Notes.................................... ........ ........ 280

CONCLUSIONS......... ... ........................................ 288

BIBLIOGRAPHIC ESSAY................................................ 293

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY...................... .... ................ 300
Archival Sources......................................... 300
Published Sources....................................... 316

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH......................................... .......... 323

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



James H. McGee, III

March 1980

Chairman: Charles F. Sidman
Major Department: History

This study examines the administrative, personal, and operational

history of the political police in the German State of Bavaria from

the end of the 1919 revolutions through the first years of the Third

Reich. It relates the Nazi political police organization, the Gestapo,

to one of its most important Weimar era predecessors. During the

Weimar years Bavaria was a focal point of political activity in Germany.

This was particularly true during the first years of the republic's

existence. The German radical right made Munich, the capital of

Bavaria, its headquarters in the period from 1919 to 1923. The

initial successes of the radical right were, in part, made possible

by the sympathetic attitude of the political police in Bavaria. After

the Nazi takeover in 1933, officers schooled in the Bavarian political

police formed an important part of the leadership cadre of the Gestapo.

Thus, the first theme of this work is the connection between the

Bavarian political police and the emergence of the powerful radical


right-wing movement in Germany after the First World War. The second

theme is that of the ties between the political police as it existed

prior to 1933 and the post-1933 Nazi police state apparatus. It has

been argued that the changes in the Bavarian political police

instituted after the National Socialist takeover comprised a revolution

in political police organization and practice and that this revolution

formed the basis of the Nazi police state. The present study contends,

in contrast, that the changes introduced in Bavaria in 1933 and after

represented an extension and an intensification of tendencies within

the political police system which dated back to 1919. In other words,

the changes which took place were evolutionary, rather than revolu-

tionary, and grew out of a pattern which predated the Nazi seizure of

power by many years. This study will also indicate how these two

main themes intersect, for the role of the political police in the

emergence of the radical right in Bavaria was related to the evolution

of the political police system both before and after 1933.

In a larger sense, this work is a case study in the evolution of

a bureaucratic agency within a particular historical framework. It is

meant not only as a contribution to the understanding of recent German

history, but also as a contribution to the study of bureaucracies.

It is a work of history, not social science, and is thus concerned

with the particular, the immediate, in some instances with the unique.

It makes no attempt to generalize systematically from the example of

the political police in Bavaria to other bureaucratic organizations,

even other political police bureaucracies. It should, however, in

the company of other studies from different historical and geographical

settings, provide a basis for more meaningful generalizations. This

study suggests, from the example of the political police in Bavaria,

that the historical development of state bureaucracies is as much

governed by dynamics internal to the bureaucracy itself--in this

case the political beliefs of the police bureaucrats--as by

external events.


This study examines the administrative, personal, and operational

history of the political police in the German state of Bavaria from

the end of the 1919 revolutions through the first years of the Third

Reich. It relates the Nazi political police organization, the Gestapo,

to one of its most important Weimar era predecessors. During the

Weimar years Bavaria was a focal point of political activity in

Germany. This was particularly true during the critical first years

of the republic's existence. The German radical right made Munich,

the capital of Bavaria, its headquarters in the period from 1919 to

1923. The Nazi party had its real beginnings in Munich, and Hitler

made his entry into politics there. The initial successes of the Nazi

movement in Bavaria were, in part, made possible by the sympathetic

attitude of the political police. After the Nazi takeover in 1933,

officers schooled in the Bavarian political police formed an important

part of the leadership cadre of the Gestapo; the head of the Gestapo,

Heinrich MUller, was only the most notable among many Bavarian political

policemen who built successful careers in the service of the Nazis.

The story of Nazism, from its birth amidst the hatreds of a defeated

nation to its death in battle against an aroused world, is central to

the history of the 20th Century. The story of the political police in

Bavaria, in turn, was a significant part of the larger drama of Nazism.

Thus, the first theme of this work is the study of the connection

between the Bavarian political police and the emergence of the powerful

radical right-wing movement in Germany after the First World War. The

second theme is that of the ties between the political police as it

existed prior to 1933 and the post-1933 Nazi police state apparatus. It

has been argued that the changes in the Bavarian political police

instituted in the aftermath of the National Socialist takeover comprised

a revolution in political police organization and practice. This

revolution formed the basis of the Nazi police state.1 The present

study will contend, in contrast, that the changes introduced in Bavaria

in 1933 and after represented an extension and an intensification of

tendencies within the political police system which dated back to 1919.

In other words, the changes which took place were evolutionary, rather

than revolutionary, and grew out of a pattern which predated the

Nazi seizure of power by many years. This study will also indicate

how these two main themes intersect, for the role of the political

police in the emergence of the radical right in Bavaria was not unrelated

to the later service of many political police officers in the Nazi regime.

In a larger sense, this work is a case study in the evolution of

a bureaucratic agency within a particular historical framework. It is

meant not only as a contribution to our understanding of recent German

history, but also as a contribution to the understanding of bureau-

cracies. a work of history, not social science, and is thus

concerned with the particular, the immediate, in some instances with

the unique. It makes no attempt to generalize systematically from

the example of the political police in Bavaria to other bureaucratic

organizations, even other political police bureaucracies. It should,

however, in the company of other studies from different historical

and geographical settings, provide a basis for more meaningful


The lack of such a basis is particularly evident in the realm

of the political police. By their very nature political police

institutions elude careful scholarly study. The standard synonym

for "political" police is "secret" police, and, in most societies,

the secrets of the political police are well-kept. Even long after

these secrets have passed from the sphere of current policy, they

customarily remain closely protected. For this reason, Germany in

the years prior to 1945 presents a special case and a rare opportunity.

The circumstances which surrounded the collapse of the Third Reich

and the generally held desire for a reckoning with the Nazi experience--

a desire evident within Germany as well as without--have combined to

make the records of the political police in Germany for this period

more accessible than those of any other modern nation. In virtually

no other case can one examine the operations of the political police

in a modern society from the inside, from its own records and secret

documents. Even in the case of Germany conditions are not ideal; many

important documents were destroyed or lost at the end of the Second

World War. What remains, however, is a collection of unparalleled

scope, more material, indeed, than any one scholar could absorb in a
lifetime. The extent of the available materials dictates the need

for a limited geographic and temporal focus. Studies which concentrate

upon the national level must, perforce, be limited in detail about

the pattern of specific developments. A regional study, however,

permits this kind of close analysis. Coupled with the intrinsic

historical importance of the political police in Bavaria during the

years in question, this practical consideration suggested the choice

of Bavaria as a case study.

The term "political police" admits of many definitions. In this

work, the political police will be viewed as the agency or agencies

specifically charged by the state with the surveillance of political

activity and the investigation and prosecution, as the executive arm

of the justice system, of political crime. As we shall see, the lines

between these specially constituted agencies and the regular, non-

political police frequently become blurred when one moves away from

Tables of Organization and into actual operations. Is the patrolman

who intervenes to stop a fight between political gangs a political

policeman? Is the homicide detective who investigates a political

murder doing political police work? This study will concentrate upon

the political police as a special part of the overall police force,

but it will also be attentive to these points of overlap. The political

police will be viewed as a police institution, not strictly as a

political agency.

The study of the political police, nonetheless, is intimately

related to political questions. One cannot understand the nature of

political police work or the attitudes which shape the behavior of

political policemen in isolation from the political context in which

political police operations take place. This study is not meant as

a history of Bavarian politics during the years from 1919 to 1936,

but, at the same time, the basic narrative would make little sense if

divorced from a consideration of larger political events. An attempt

has therefore been made to integrate the story of the political police

into a broader narrative of political developments.

A second set of definitions arises from the need for a shorthand

form for separating the various contending political groups into

meaningful categories. For simplicity's sake I have adopted the form

customarily used by the Bavarian political police themselves, which

followed popular usage in placing the different parties and political

groups along the conventional left to right political continuum. The

middle point is represented by those groups loyal to the Weimar republic

and to the republican constitution. The extremes are defined by those

groups fundamentally and violently opposed to the republic's existence,

with their placement to the left or right dependent upon the actual

terms of their opposition. Figure 1 provides a schematic representation

of this pattern of placement. Parties and other political groups are

identified on this table by their standard designations. Their actual

political positions will be discussed, where necessary, in the text.

It should be noted that Figure 1 records tendencies and not fixed

positions. Party positions shifted from issue to issue, and individual

attitudes shifted within parties. Moreover, there was a regular slippage

from one party or group to another. Thus, an Independent Socialist

might become a Communist, or a member of the right-wing DNVP might slip

into the Nazi camp. This slippage usually took place between adjacent

parties. Still, the extremists always had their extremism in common,

which provided a basis for movement between the extreme right and left.

The term "fascism" is avoided throughout, on the grounds that

it generates more heat than light. The term "radical right" is used to

describe that varied collection of political groups, some nationalist,

some particularist, some reactionary, and some revolutionary, which were

united by a common hatred of the republic and of the political left.

Little consideration is given to the "liberal" parties, because these

parties in Bavaria were extremely weak after 1919 and did little to

influence the political environment. The two main parties in Bavaria

were the SPD and the BVP. These parties dominated the Bavarian political

landscape during the period 1919-1933, and were thus the parties which

did most in shaping the political context for political police operations.









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The structure of this study has been dictated by the need to

combine the basic narrative of political and organizational developments

affecting the political police system with a close examination of the

actual operations of the political police and the formative professional

experiences of political police personnel. Chapter 1 sets the political

scene in the spring of 1919, explains the basic organization of the

political police at that time, and carries the political and organi-

zational narrative forward to the fall of 1921. Chapter 2 is a detailed

excursion into one of the special problems of the period 1919-1922,

the relationship of the political police to the phenomenon of political

murder in Bavaria. This chapter serves several distinct, but inter-

related purposes. It provides a close look at the inner workings of

the political police organization during this early period; it highlights

the links between the political police and the worst features of

radical right-wing extremism; it introduces a subsidiary theme of the

work, the exploration of the process of "indirect police terror" as a

method of political repression. Most of all, it fixes firmly the

tendencies of professional and political conditioning experienced by

political police officers in Bavaria in the first years of the Weimar

republic. Chapter 3 advances the narrative through the year 1923,

relating the changes in the political police organization to the

momentous political events of that year. The chapter culminates with

the Beer Hall Putsch of November 1923. The events of the putsch

itself have been thoroughly discussed elsewhere, and thus the chapter

confines itself to the impact of the putsch upon the political police.

Chapter 4 outlines in detail the evolving political police organization

in Bavaria and explains through a consideration of illustrative examples

the workings of that organization after 1923. It parallels, in this

sense, Chapter 2 for the earlier period. If the examples considered

in Chapter 2 are lurid, then those in Chapter 4 are more mundane. The

combination of the lurid and the mundane, however, is characteristic

of political police activities, indeed, of all police work. In Chapter

2, I have endeavored to present the lurid aspects of political police

work with restraint, while at the same time making explicit the harsh

brutality of the era in political assassination. In Chapter 4, I

have tried to enliven the mundane without doing violence to the tenor

of much political police work. The concluding chapter, Chapter 5,

completes the narrative by relating the political police organization

of the Weimar years to its Nazi successors. The narrative concludes in

1936 with the formal integration of the Bavarian political police into

the national Gestapo system. My conclusions are summarized at the end

of the work. In addition to a formal bibliography and the running

historiographical commentary provided in the notes appended at the

end of each chapter, a bibliographic essay has been included as a

further guide to the sources upon which this work is based.

Many individual characters will pass through the following pages.

Two among them have been singled out for special attention, Ernst Pohner

and Benno Martin. The choice of Pbhner reflects his importance in the

growth of the political police system in Bavaria and his imprint upon

its values and attitudes. Martin is presented as an example of the

contradictory qualities of this system in the years after 1933.

The world has grown accustomed, perhaps too much so, to the political

police as a basic institution of the modern state. Liberal democratic

theorists have generally condemned the very .existence of the political

police as destructive to the exercise of political freedom. Yet few

modern states, no matter how liberal or democratic their pretensions,

have been able to do without some form of political police. A study

of one such institution, bound to a particular historical setting, cannot

answer all of the questions which arise from a consideration of the

role of the political police in modern society. It can, however, suggest

refinements to these questions and lead to their more precise formulation..

It is hoped that this study will contribute to this process.



1Shlomo Aronson, Reinhard Heydrich und die Fruhgeschichte von
Gestapo und SD (Stuttgart, 1971), p. 94.

2See the bibliographic essay for a more detailed discussion of
these sources.


In his blanket condemnation of the Weimar Republic's civil

servants, Adolf Hitler allowed only two exceptions, Ernst Pohner,

the Police President of Munich from 1919 to 1921, and Pohner's right-

hand man, Wilhelm Frick. Of PShner Hitler wrote:

Ernst Pbhner and Wilhelm Frick, his faithful
advisor, were the only high state officials who
had the courage to be first Germans and then
officials. Ernst Pihner was the only man in a
responsible position who did not curry favor with
the masses, but felt responsible to his nationality
and was ready to risk and sacrifice everything, even
if necessary his personal existence, for the
resurrection of the German people whom he loved
above all things.1

Hitler's words were not the only tribute paid by the Nazis to Ernst

Pohner. The party provided the honor guard at Pohner's funeral on
April 16, 1925. Two and one-half years later, on the occasion of the

transfer of Pohner's body to a new resting place, the leading figures

of the Nazi movement appeared to pay their further respects. At the

climax of the ceremony Adolf Hitler delivered a speech in which he

echoed the lavish praise bestowed upon Pihner in Mein Kampf. In a

ringing peroration Hitler declared: "Pohner sought the creation of a

nation of brothers, in order to smash the ch which bound us."
nation of brothers, in order to smash the chsa;.s which bound us.

Hitler's extravagance may well have been a product of the propa-

ganda opportunities offered by the occasion, but the debt which the

Nazi movement owed Pohner was real. As Police President, Pohner extended

a "sheltering hand" to protect the activities of the nascent Nazi

movement. In doing so he ensured its survival and gave it an oppor-

tunity for future growth. This passive image, however, does little

to convey the full dimensions of Pohner's commitment to both the radical

right in general and the Nazis in particular. As a key figure in

Bavarian politics during the post-war period, Pohner actively aided the

volkisch movement and occupied a central position in its highest

councils. At the time of the Beer Hall Putsch he threw in his lot

with Hitler, and after its failure stood trial alongside him. But

Pohner's contribution did not stop there. In shaping the post-war

Bavarian political police, he influenced both the spirit and the struc-

ture of that institution and of its successor, the Gestapo.

Ernst Pihner was born on January 11, 1870, in the small north-

eastern Bavarian city of Hof. After the traditional legal training

he entered the civil service, and rose through the ranks to a senior

judicial position.5 The Germany of Pbhner's youth and early manhood

was undergoing rapid and dramatic changes. Contemporaries frequently

identified the acceleration of economic growth and social changes with

the unification of 1870. In reality it was much more the other way

around, for the process of economic and social transformation had begun

much earlier and had contributed materially to the drive for political

unification. The years after 1870 were years of pride and of national


For Bavarians of Pihner's generation, however, the unification of

Germany produced a certain ambivalence. The preceding generation could

grow old and remain comfortably unequivocal in its hostility to a

Prussian-dominated German Reich. The following generation would

combine local pride with an acceptance of the Reich as part of the

natural order of things. Pohner's generation, however, faced in two

directions at once. While partaking of the general pride in things

German which was characteristic of the era, its members could not

help but know that Bavaria was different--German, and yet, something

both more and less than German.

During the years before the First World War, Bavaria changed along

with the nation as a whole, but at a slower pace. As Germany became

a nation of "smokestack" barons and industrial laborers, Bavaria

remained predominantly agrarian. In 1907 46.3% of those employed

in Bavaria worked in agriculture or in forestry; only 26.1% worked

in industry. As late as 1925 the figure for employment on the land

in Bavaria was 43.8%, in contrast to an average for Germany as a

whole of 30.5%. Moreover, the industries which did exist in Bavaria

tended to be smaller in scale or more traditional in structure than

in the rest of Germany. In 1907 36.6% of those Bavarians employed in

industry worked in large businesses, 24.8% in medium-sized businesses,

and 38.6% in small businesses; the comparable figures for the nation

as a whole were 45.5%, 25.0%, and 29.5%. Urbanization similarly lagged.

Although Munich and Nuremberg experienced substantial growth in the

two decades prior to the First World War, neither city witnessed the

population explosion which transformed Berlin and the cities of the

Ruhr. As Germany leaped headlong into the 20th Century, Bavaria ambled

comfortably out of the 19th.

Different political and social attitudes accompanied these struc-

tural differences. Bavarians tended to be more conservative than other

Germans. Bavarian Social Democracy, which had become a significant

political force by the turn of the century, had its own highly distinc-

tive "white-blue" cast. Remarking upon this in 1903, August Bebel

described Munich as the "Capua of German Social Democracy," and

expressed his fear for the political soul of any Social Democrat who

went wandering in the land of the beer mugs.7 The role and influence

of the Catholic church further helped to maintain the distance between

Bayaria and the Protestant north. In short, Bavaria remained an entity

in many ways unto itself, and Bavarians of the pre-war generation grew

up with a sense of "otherness" to conflict with their sense of being

German. This attitude had a vital impact on politics in Bavaria in the

years to follow.

*The preceding discussion does not take into account local vari-
ations within Bavaria. Some areas, particularly in Franconia, departed
from this pattern. In the very special case of the Rhenish Palatinate
these variations were substantial. Such variations will be discussed
in greater detail as they bear on the narrative.

With the outbreak of war in 1914, Ernst Pohner joined in the

general rush to the colors, accepting a commission as an infantry officer.

He successively commanded a company, a battalion, and a regiment.

As was the case for many Bavarians who saw military service, Pihner

found that the shared experience of front-line action brought him

closer to Germans from other regions. Similarly, the mobilization of

resources on the home front brought economic and social conditions

in Bavaria more closely into line with those prevalent throughout the

rest of Germany. The pace of industrialization accelerated in the

leading cities of Bavaria. Munich's pre-war industry, heavily

oriented toward the production of specialty items for the export

market, underwent a severe dislocation at the war's outbreak. This

soon gave way, however, to the growth which accompanied the establish-

ment of heavy industries for war production. The growth of war

industry, in turn, brought to Munich a steady flow of skilled workers

from the north, altering both the social and political make-up of

the city's population. Even before the war the pace of industrial-

ization in Nuremberg had been high, more comparable, indeed, to that

of cities in other states than to those of Bavaria. The war reinforced

this tendency, confirming Nuremberg's place among the leading industrial

cities of Germany.0 The other major cities in Bavaria all followed,

in broad outline, this overall pattern.1 But if the war brought

Bavaria more closely into step with the rest of Germany, the revolutions

of November 1918 and the months of upheaval which followed badly

disturbed the rhythm of the march.

On the afternoon of November 7, 1918, a large crowd assembled on

Munich's Theresienwiese, the meadow-park just south of the city's center.

The crowd had gathered to demonstrate for peace. By evening the demon-

stration had grown into a revolt, and by the following morning the

revolution was an accomplished fact. King Ludwig III had disappeared

into the night, and the state authority had been taken into the unlikely

hands of Kurt Eisner, the leader of the Independent Social Democratic

Party (USPD) in Bavaria. Working in ill-fitting harness with the

Majority Social Democrats (SPD) under the leadership of Erhard Auer,

Eisner sought to establish a republic in Bavaria. The initial

transformation had taken place with a minimum of bloodshed. The state

bureaucracy placed itself, however grudgingly, at the service of the

new regime. Amidst the echoes of change emanating from every corner

of Germany, Eisner, Auer, and their respective followers set out to

mold the old Bavaria in a new image.12

From the perspective of years the subsequent tale assumes the

dimensions of tragedy. Eisner's support had been based upon widespread

unity on a single issue--the desire for peace. With the Armistice this

unity dissolved, and the old party structures of Bavarian politics

re-emerged to test the changed political conditions. By mid-January it

had become apparent that Eisner was a leader without followers. The

state parliamentary elections held on January 12 demonstrated that

real popular support rested with Auer's SPD and with the Bavarian

*These two socialist factions issued from the 1917 split in the
German Social Democratic Party.

People's Party (BVP), the reconstituted Bavarian branch of the Center

Party.13 These parties had dominated state politics since the beginning

of the century, and seemed ready to resume their old roles in the new

republican setting. With the Landtag elections over, the prospects for

an early return to business as usual, the moderate Right against the

moderate Left, were encouraging. And then disaster struck.

On the morning of February 21, 1919, as Kurt Eisner was making

his way to the Landtag to announce his resignation, he was assassinated

by Count Anton Arco-Valley. An hour later a partisan of Eisner strode

into the parliament building and shot down Ernard Auer, leaving him

seriously wounded. The motives which led Arco-Valley to the murder of

Eisner have never been revealed. Certainly, he was in no way a

supporter of Auer and the Social Democrats; the shots of revenge which

took Auer out of politics for almost two years were aimed in the

wrong direction.

If the causes of the crime remained unclear, its effects were

only too easy to see. On the eve of the assassination a coalition

cabinet headed by Auer and the Social Democrats was ready to assume

power, with the BVP as its principal opposition. For these parties

the revolution had only served to confirm the process of reform which

had been brought to fruition in the last days of the monarchy. But

Auer's wounds deprived this coalition of an effective and moderate

leader, one who could have held his own forces together while dealing

reasonably with the conservative opposition. And Eisner's martyrdom

rejuvenated the radical Left, destroying all hope for a speedy return

to normality. The first attempts to form a government after the

assassination ended in failure. Auer's successor, Johannes Hoffmann,

finally assumed the leadership of an SPD-dominated cabinet on March 19.14

By.then it was too late.

The assassination of Eisner had worked as a solvent upon the

political consensus, such as it was, in Bavaria. The Hoffmann

government found itself caught between the advance of radicalism on

both the right and the left. The first round in the struggle went to

the radical Left. No longer able to maintain itself in Munich, the

Hoffmann government decamped on April 7, eventually coming to rest in

the northern Bavarian city of Bamberg. Authority in Munich was assumed

successively by two councils, the first led by an ill-assorted collection

of Independent Socialists and anarchists, the second by the Communists.

For the month of April Munich was ruled by these "Soviets" (the German

word Rate, for "councils," was adopted in direct emulation of the

Russian model).15

Outside Munich, and particularly to' the north, conservative forces,

army and Free Corps, gathered to overthrow the Communist regime in

Munich. Although nominally the agents of the Hoffmann government, they

were much more its masters, the sole possessors of effective power.1

The contestants in the struggle for power, the radical Left and the

radical Right moved to center stage, reducing the duly-constituted

Hoffmann government to a spectator's role.

By the end of April the feeble Red forces had been pressed back

into the environs of Munich itself. At this moment, with their backs

to the wall, elements of the "Red Army" executed ten hostages. Some

of the hostages were members of the right radical Thule Society; others

appeared to have been selected almost at random. None of the ten,

however, had done anything to earn so terrible a retribution. With

one gratuitous act, the leftist defenders of Munich had opened the

floodgates of violence. The aroused White forces poured into the city

on May 1, bent upon the eradication of the Bavarian Soviet Republic

and its supporters--in the most literal sense imaginable. The hardened

Free Corps and army troops coursed through the streets of the city,

shooting anyone who appeared even remotely suspicious. The orgy of

execution did not stop until May 7, when it was discovered that the

White forces had mistakenly murdered a group of 21 Catholic schoolboys.

These schoolboys were by no means the only innocents who fell before the

guns. Before this first wave of killing had come to an end over six

hundred individuals had been slain, many of them individuals with

no connection to the "Red Army" or the Soviet Republic.17 The revolution

which had begun so peacefully six months before had ended in a blood

bath; "order" had returned to Bavaria.

The events of April and May 1919 set the tone of Bavarian

politics in the years to follow. A rightward tendency had already

become evident during the war years; the Soviet episode and its

traumatic consequences brought this tendency into the political

mainstream. Although the most salient horrors of the period had been

committed by the White "liberators" of Munich, responsibility for the

tragedy was laid by most Bavarians at the feet of the leftist parties.

Little distinction would be made between the actual adherents of the

Soviet Republic and other leftists, including those moderate Social

Democrats who had actively opposed the Soviet excesses. Such distinc-

tions were too fine for the popular mood. In the aftermath of

revolution Bavaria became the center of counter-revolutionary

radicalism in Germany and the focal point around which hostility to

the new republic would gather. The moderate Hoffmann government would

remain in office for almost another year, but real power would reside

in the military and paramilitary forces and the political organizations

of the moderate and radical right. These groups would determine the

course of Bavarian politics for the next four years, and their

influence would be felt for many years thereafter. The lodestar in

the new Bavarian political constellation would be fear and hatred of

Marxism, of all forms of international socialism, and of republicanism,

along with a festering anti-Semitism--several leaders of the Soviet

Republic had been Jewish. In short, the dominant attitude in Bavarian

politics after 1919 would be hostility to the revolution in all of its

political and social manifestations.18

At this moment, when "order" headed the list of Bavarian political

desiderata, Ernst Pohner stepped to the center of the political stage.

Returning from military service to a world turned topsy-turvy by

revolution, Pihner's reaction had been one of rage. He despised

those officials who continued to serve under the Eisner regime. Yet,

ironically, P8hner soon found himself in the same position as the

director of Munich's Stadelheim prison--a position he would hold

from January 10, 1919 until the demise of the Soviet Republic. One

may accept Pihner's claim that he assumed the post only at the behest

of a trusted old friend and civil service superior, as well as his

claim to have carried out his duties in a spirit of defiance to the

party in power. But Pihner's ability to advance such justifications

for himself, while denying their validity for others, offered an

insight into the character of the man. Pohner, at age forty-nine,

was a man of imposing stature and austere coutenance, of formidable

intelligence, iron will, and unquestioned personal courage. He was

also politically single-minded to the point of self-righteousness,

doggedly anti-Marxist, and virulently anti-Semitic. These qualities

commended Pohner to the military authorities in charge of liquidating

the Soviet Republic and led them to appoint him to head the Polizei-

direktion Munchen (the Munich police force, hereafter PDM).19

On May 5, 1919 Pohner took up his position as Police President.

In so doing he attained control over the most important police agency

in the entire state and an impressive base of personal political power.

The PDM originated in the first decades of the 19th Century, but only

began to assume its modern structure toward the end of that century.

Prior to 1861 the PDM consisted of little more than an urban gendarmerie.

Only a tiny "Security Bureau" performed the specialized detection

and intelligence functions of a modern police organization. In 1867

this office still had fewer than a dozen personnel. Expansion and

successive internal reorganizations in 1873, 1879, and 1896 established

the general organizational patterns which would dominate into the Weimar

era. These patterns were set in the table of organization of September
1, 1913, which remained in effect, with amendments, until 1932. In

assessing the dimensions of PBhner's new domain, this 1913 table of

organization deserved careful attention.

The 1913 decree called for the subdivision of the PDM into eight

departments. Department I was the Kriminalpolizei, the criminal

detective squad. Its primary task was the investigation of murder,

robbery, and other crimes against persons and property. Department II

supervised a variety of internal administrative tasks, including the

operation of the police lock-up. It was also charged with the control

of male beggars and vagrants. Department III dealt with morals

offenses and juvenile delinquency, an administrative unity common in

European police practice. Its responsibilities included the supervision

and control of female beggars and vagrants, of prostitutes and pimps,

and of homosexuals. It was also concerned with the location and return

*The term used in the 1913 table of organization is Referat; the
term Abteilung was substituted later. In both instances the best English
equivalent equivalent is "department," which will be used throughout.

of missing children and runaways, with combatting the traffic in

children and other forms of white slavery, and with all other police

matters relating to minors. Department IV had as its primary task

the maintenance of records, including the registration of addresses

(again in accordance with normal Continental practice whereby all

residents must register their address and all changes of address with

the police), the provision of passports, and the supervision of

resident aliens and tourists. Health and medical matters, including

the collection and transport of corpses, were handled by Department V.

Department VII dealt with traffic, building permits, and other

miscellaneous chores. Department VIII was the Schutzmannschaft, the

body of uniformed patrolmen. Department VI was the political police.21

The tasks of the political police, as defined by the 1913 decree,

were threefold: the observation of political activity, the administrative

control of this activity, and the investigation of crimes of a political

nature. Specific assignments included the observation and control of

the press, or demonstrations and public gatherings and of the theaters

(in conjunction with other departments); the control of political

activity among resident aliens, of strikes (in the 1913 decree these

were still termed "worker revolts") and of lockouts; counter-espionage

in cooperation with the military authorities; and the investigation of

treason cases. During the First World War and the years following,

tasks were added to the list: the supervision of the Border Police,

undercover surveillance of rail and air passengers, desertion, and

the police radio service, which connected the PDM with other police
agencies in Bavaria and the other German states.

To facilitate the performance of its mission, PDM VI was sub-

divided into five Dienststellen, identified by the letters a, b, c, d,

and N. The various duties of the department were apportioned among

the five Dienststellen (hereafter "desks," the closest equivalent in

standard English or American police usage). Desk VIa provided the

headquarters staff for the entire department, coordinated the work of

the political police with the other departments of the PDM and with

other police agencies, and carried out the actual investigation of

political crimes, in all cases save espionage, the special province of

the counterespionage police of Desk VIb. Desk VIc performed the more

mundane function of administrating the various regulations governing

the press. Perhaps appropriately, the activities of this desk consisted

largely of routine paperwork. Desk VId maintained the register of

political parties and organizations--all such groups had to be registered

in conformance with statute law. It supervised public and private

political gatherings and controlled all political demonstrations.

Under this heading it also concerned itself with those cultural, economic,

and business organizations whose activities had a political dimension.

The fifth desk, VI/N, was a creation of the Pghner era. VI/N was the

*The use of lower-case letters for the first four and an upper-case for
the fifth follows the standard practice at the PDM for the period

political intelligence service, charged with the overt and covert

observation of the radical political movements and with the preparation

of regular reports concerning the activities of these movements.23

Under the leadership of the Police President, his principal

subordinate, the Police Director, and the presidial staff, the eight

main departments of the PDM performed the primary police functions

within the city of Munich. But the role of the PDM was not limited

to Munich alone. Although its formal position remained that of a simple

municipal agency until 1933, theoretically in no way superior to any

other such agency in Bavaria, in practice it had already by 1913 begun

to acquire the status of a central coordinating office for police

matters throughout the state. In 1899 it had become the central office

for the surveillance of gypsies. In 1911 it became the state-wide

collection center for fingerprints. A 1912 decree gave the PDM similar

responsibility in the area of counterfeiting. The most important of

these measures, however, came in 1904, with a decree establishing the

PDM as the Bavarian central office for counterespionage activities, a

step presaging the extension of the PDM's political police role through-
out the entire state.2

The outbreak of the First World War lent a special significance

to the counterespionage mission, and helped accustom Bavarian authorities

at every level to the extraordinary position of the PDM. In wartime

the tasks of the counterespionage officers of PDM VIb were many and

varied. Working alongside the counterespionage section of military

intelligence, the central office devised strategems to expose the

operations of Entente spies and saboteurs. It served as a clearing-

house for counterespionage information, and coordinated the efforts

of police agencies in every part of the state. Finally, as the

war dragged on and war weariness increased, the central office

received orders to investigate the leakage of government documents

whose publication might harm public morale, lead to political disorders,

or diminish Germany's image in the eyes of neutrals. The measures

undertaken by PDM VIb pursuant to this order established an important

precedent for the use of the counterespionage central office as the

executor of explicitly political tasks. This precedent would contribute

materially to the postwar expansion of the PDM's political police
role in other areas.

The importance of the office of Police President found its

basis in developments such as this. Ernst Pohner was well aware of

the potential power of his new position. But before this potential

could be fully realized, a purging and rebuilding operation would

have to take place. If the war had strengthened the powers of the

Munich police, it had also weakened it in terms of personnel, as

scores of experienced officers were drawn away into military service.

The successive regimes of the revolutionary period had further weakened

the PDM, by introducing politically undesirable officers. The political

police had suffered a particularly heavy blow during the last days of

the Soviet Republic. As the White forces pressed to the outskirts

of Munich, the police headquarters building was torn inside out, at

least partially in an effort by the Soviet authorities--insofar as

authority can be said to have existed in this final stage of collapse--

to destroy or disorder the personal files accumulated over a score

of years by the political police.26 Pbhner took immediate steps to

put his new house in order. The destruction within the headquarters

building was repaired, and the police files were laboriously

reconstituted. Officers suspected of too-ready collaboration with

the revolutionary regimes--including, ironically, the regime of

Johannes Hoffmann, still nominally the ruling government in Bavaria--

were removed from their posts. PShner moved quickly to fill key

administrative positions with politically reliable and experienced

civil servants. He gave particular attention to his choice of an

officer to head Department VI--the leader of the political police,

after all, would be his most important single subordinate.27 Within

a week of assuming office he entrusted this post to Dr. Wilhelm Frick.

Frick, like Pihner, had come up through the ranks of the royal

civil service. From 1907 to 1917 Frick had been a county assessor

(Bezirksamtsassessor) in the town of Pirmasens. In 1917 he was trans-

ferred to the PDM to head the War Profiteering Office. He stayed at

the PDM throughout the remainder of the war and during the revolutionary

period which followed. Frick, nonetheless, made little secret of his

hostility to the revolution, and thus earned the enmity of the

revolutionary authorities--a powerful endorsement in Pohner's eyes.

The two men soon found that they had much else in common. Both were

ambitious. Both shared the same political views. Later, when Frick

had become a leading Nazi and Hitler's Minister of the Interior, he

would be satirically described as the "Royal Bavarian Nazi," a

characterization which captured the combination of traditional

conservativism and counterrevolutionary radicalism exemplified by Frick

and Pohner. Together these two men would shape the political department

of the PDM in their own image.28

Even as the rehabilitation of the PDM continued, Pohner and Frick

joined the military in eliminating the last vestiges of the Soviet

Republic. With the passing of the first week of May, wholesale and

often indiscriminate massacre gave place to a more systematic process

of suppression. Department VI of the PDM, working alongside a

specially created political police section of the military headquarters

staff, undertook the job of sifting through the mountains of denunciatory

letters, identifying and locating those adherents of the Soviet Republic

still at large, and coordinating the work of the soldiers and policemen

who made the actual arrests. Serving as liaison officer between the

military headquarters and the PDM was a pre-war member of the Munich

political police, Dr. Christian Roth--the first of his many appearances

in the role of ally to P8hner and Frick. The flood of arrests proceeded

apace. The number of prisoners taken into custody far exceeded the

capacity of Munich's jails and prisons, and not even the highly summary

course of justice could move rapidly enough to reduce the overcrowded

conditions. Temporary prisons were erected in schools and other

public buildings. The treatment of prisoners was at best callous and

frequently viciously brutal. When room could no longer be found in

Munich, prisoners were transported to the city of Ingolstadt, a

garrison town some fifty miles away. Still the denunciations, house

searches, and arrests continued, abating only gradually during the month
of June.29 Finally, by the end of the summer, the new regime had

firmly established itself. The Hoffmann government returned from

Bamberg to Munich; the real masters in Bavaria would tolerate its

existence for yet a while longer.

In looking back to the events of the summer of 1919, Wilhelm

Frick took particular pride in two of the PDM's accomplishments. One

was, of course, its contribution to cleansing Munich of undesirable

political elements.30 The other was the creation of the fifth desk

within Department VI, the political intelligence service. This desk,

created in response to the needs of the summer, had proved its worth.

With it, Frick expressed confidence in his ability to prevent the

recurrence of another Soviet episode.31 For his own part, Pohner

professed himself highly pleased with the performance of Frick and his

political policemen. In a year-end report to the Bavarian Ministry of

Interior, Pohner expressed his pride in the work of the political police

and his confidence that this organization would continue to grow in


This confidence was scarcely misplaced. Before such growth could

occur, however, certain obstacles had to be removed. The suppression

of the Soviet Republic had spawned a welter of political information

services in Munich and other parts of Bavaria. Allies though these

agencies might be in the struggle against the Left, they were frequently

bitter rivals in the bureaucratic struggle for authority. To understand

this struggle, one must first of all understand something of the

competitors and of the bureaucratic field on which the game was played.

Although Bavarian officials made much of the federalist idea in

their dealings with the national government, authority within Bavaria

itself was highly centralized. The people elected the Landtag or state

parliament; the Landtag selected the governing ministry. This cabinet,

in turn, stood at the head of an extensive administrative bureaucracy,

which conducted the actual business of governing. The most important

agency of internal administration was the Ministry of the Interior,

which stood at the apex of the bureaucratic pyramid. The intermediate

administrative unit was the province (Regierungsbezirk), at whose head

stood an appointive provincial president; Bavaria was divided into eight

such provinces. At the base of the pyramid were the Bezirksgmter, the

offices which administered the smallest unit of governmental authority,

roughly equivalent to an American county. The larger cities stood to

one side of this administrative pyramid, with their own elective

municipal governments and their own police forces (rural areas were

policed by the gendarmerie, a state agency which for executive purposes

was normally controlled from the county offices). Final authority in

internal security matters, however, rested with the Ministry of the

Interior and, ultimately, with the cabinet. The Ministry of the Interior

could assume control of the municipal police forces during a state of

emergency by appointing a special commissioner for this purpose.

Similar emergency powers could be vested in the provincial presidents.

Although the PDM's position conformed outwardly to this overall pattern,

its special relationship to the Ministry of the Interior was assured

through its assigned central office functions and the practice of

designating the Police President as a special commissioner.33

Each of the above mentioned agencies performed certain political

police functions. In addition to their regular duties, the gendarmerie

stations in the countryside were responsible for observing political

activities in their area and reporting on such activities to the

respective county offices. Each county office had a political officer

(in the smaller offices, of course, this duty might be one of several

performed by a single official), who reported, in turn, to the political

officer in the provincial presidium. Each of the presidia prepared

fortnightly reports on the political situation in the province for

the Ministry of the Interior. These fortnightly reports were

customarily general situation reports--in a sense, a form of public

opinion research. Only rarely did they draw upon covert sources. Still,

such basic research was an indispensable component of political police

The various municipal police agencies also possessed political

police sections, whose functions on the municipal level paralleled

those already outlined for the PDM. In theory, the political police

in the cities were responsible to the elected city governments;

outside of Munich, practice corresponded with theory. After 1919,

however, the Interior Ministry would use the device of the special

commissioner to remove the political police from the control of a

city council whose politics differed from that of the state government.

The most noteworthy example of this practice occurred in Nuremberg

in 1920.35 In the case of Munich, Police President Pbhner rarely

recognized any power higher than himself, and never the power of the

left-leaning city government.36 His successors, while more willing

to acknowledge their dual responsibility to city and state, also tended

to exploit the special status of the PDM to retain their independence

vis-a-vis the city authorities--easy to do since the police section of

the Ministry of the Interior preferred this arrangement.37

Other state agencies, the armed forces, and a variety of private

and semi-private groups also conducted political police operations.

The first of these agencies was the Polizeistelle Nordbavern ("Police

Office for Northern Bavaria," hereafter PSNB). The flight of the

Landtag and the Hoffmann cabinet from Munich to Bamberg had created

special police problems in that city. The security of the state

government itself had to be assured. Having, in effect, been evicted

from its own capital, with its hold on state authority tenuous at best,

the government wanted to avoid being caught by another revolution. Cut

off from the PDM, the Ministry of the Interior set about the task of

creating a temporary replacement in Bamberg. Thus, a special political

police section was established within the Ministry, charged with

overseeing the actual physical security of the government, with

the surveillance of the political situation in the Bamberg area, and,

most important of all, with anticipating any further revolutionary
disturbances. During the government's Bamberg exile, these tasks

were successfully performed.

Plans for the government's return to Munich on August 15, however,

raised the question of the office's continued existence. After a series

of discussions during the month of July, a special commission appointed

by the Interior Minister recommended the authorization of a permanent

state police office in Bamberg, to carry on the work of the police
section.39 The arguments advanced by the commission revealed much about

the government's current conception of the political police mission.

The report first called attention to the circumstances which had led

to the government's transfer to Bamberg, and expressed concern for the

possibility of yet another leftist uprising in Munich. With this fear

before them, the commission's members suggested that the government

should take special care to ensure the continued availability of

Bamberg as a place of refuge. The report concluded that the existing

police agencies in northern Bavaria were unsuited to the task of

controlling the activities of left-wing radicals in the region. A secret

police intelligence service, capable of operating throughout the area

and of coordinating the information from city, county, and military

sources, could better fill this need. For administrative purposes this
office would be regarded as a branch of the PDM. The Ministry of the

Interior concurred in the commission's findings, and on September 13 the
PSNB was officially established by ministerial decree. Within two

months the new office was producing regular weekly reports on the

activities of the radical movements in northern Bavaria. These reports

were circulated to the PDM, the police referent in the Ministry of the

Interior, Josef Zetlmeier, and the military staffs in Munich and Nuremberg.

Although professionally objective in tone, the reports reflected in

content the government's predominant concern with the revolutionary Left.42

Yet another state agency maintained a political police service,

the state Polizeiwehr, reorganized some months after its creation in

1919 and renamed Landespolizei. The Landespolizei, or LaPo as it was

usually called, was organized along military lines in companies,

battalions, and regiments, and equipped with military small arms and

machine guns. Its primary purpose was the preservation of public

order, and it was specifically viewed as the state's main line of defense

against armed insurrection. In pursuit of this mission the LaPo built

its own intelligence service, which operated both internally, as a

check against political subversion within the ranks of the LaPo, and

in the community at large through its own network of informers.43

Military endeavors in this field grew out of the army's deployment

in this suppression of the Soviet Republic. The existing intelligence

staffs merely redirected their efforts toward a new enemy. Later,

special sections for political police purposes were attached to the

General Staff of Army Group 4 in Munich and the staff of the 24th

Brigade in Nuremberg. These sections, too, combined an interest in

the threat of subversion within the ranks with activities directed at

the civilian community. They contributed still another set of weekly

situation reports to the already extensive list, reports based upon
the information supplied by yet one more string of agents.

Were this not enough, the Civic Guard, a semi-official militia

of distinctly right-wing orientation, added more agents and more reports.45

This boom market in political intelligence was further served by a

variety of private entrepreneurs, such as the Wirtschaftspolitische

Nachrichtenstelle Tank (Economic and Political Information Service Tank).

"Tank," as it was usually called, supplied economic and political

intelligence to the political section at Army Group 4 headquarters, which

then distributed copies to the PDM and other state agencies. Although

"Tank" prepared conventional situation reports, it was unique in that

it also allowed the circulation of the actual agents' reports, a

noteworthy lapse from accepted professional standards. These agent

reports allowed an outsider a glimpse at the underworld of political

police operations, the world of the paid informer.46

"Tank" began its work in June 1919; its reports, in a sense,

may be viewed as a more ordered continuation of the wave of political

denunciations in May. Some of the reports were simply sordid stories

of betrayal. Others were dull and inconsequential. Occasionally, a

"Tank" report would be ludicrous to the point of black humor. A July

1919 report chronicled the actions of an agent in Munich's Schwabing

district, then renowned as the home of the city's artists and literati.

The denizens of this district were regarded with deep suspicion by

the conservative officers and civil servants in power, a fact that the

agent apparently chose to exploit. After much cloak and dagger

derring-do, lovingly chronicled in the agent's report, the agent

concluded that he had uncovered three "undoubted members of the

Bolshevik elite." The evidence he managed to produce in this report,

however, admitted of a variety of alternative conclusions, ranging

from the possibility that the three men were simply army officers in

mufti, out for a night on the town, to the equally likely conclusion

that they were agents of one of the other political intelligence services.

Certainly, with the number of agents and informers being run by various

groups at this time, the odds in favor of their tripping over one another
were great.

Not surprisingly, the professional political policemen viewed the

work of "Tank" with considerable skepticism, and sometimes outright

contempt. One generously observed that the reports had, at first, been

useful, but had quickly deteriorated in quality; another officer dismissed

them as "not to be taken seriously."4 A third political policeman

saw the "Tank" reports as symptomatic of a larger problem, the growing

traffic in agents' reports, a traffic fed by the venality of many

informers and the competition among the intelligence agencies.4

Informers would sell the same information to more than one agency,

or milk their controlling officer with reports conjured out of thin

air. Worse, the plethora of competing intelligence services meant

that no secrets were safe--including the secrets of these services


Political intelligence flowed from too many sources and was of

too varied quality and reliability. Systematic evaluation of

material and the careful coordination of action suffered as well.

Finally, the responsible authorities could not count upon the timely

receipt of the kind of information upon which decision could be made.

In the aftermath of the revolutionary upheaval, when too many tasks

claimed attention, no steps were taken to rectify this problem. But

ongoing crisis and fear kept perceptions of the need for a more central-

ized political police network alive.

One of Police President Pohner's preoccupations during this phase

was the elimination of the Social Democrats from the government of

Bavaria. The continuation of the Hoffmann government at the head of a

state whose actual policies were determined by anti-socialist officers

and civil servants was, for Pohner and his compatriots, an anomaly

which cried out for removal. After months of behind-the-scenes

machination, the Kapp putsch provided the occasion for a move against

the remaining symbol of the November revolution. The attempt by

monarchist-conservative elements to overthrow the republican government

in Berlin foundered on the rock of a general strike led by the republic's

defenders. This strike, so effective in routing the Kapp conspirators

in the north, had precisely the reverse effect in Munich. Under pressure

from Pohner and Gustav von Kahr, the Provincial President of Upper

Bavaria, the army leadership delivered a vote of no confidence to

Hoffmann, claiming that it could no longer be responsible for security

and order so long as his government remained in office. Hoffmann

bowed to this representation and resigned from office. With the support

of Pohner, the Civic Guard, and the eminence rise of the BVP,

Dr. Georg Heim, Kahr became the new Minister President of Bavaria.

This step ushered in a new era in Bavarian politics, an era frequently

identified through its two leading political figures--the Kahr-Pohner

In the midst of his involvement with high politics, Pohner did not

forget about the political police--quite the contrary. He recognized

fully their importance to his own power position. Writing on April 5,

1920,to the Ministry of the Interior, he commended the staff of the

PDM's political department for its outstanding performance during the

Kapp putsch. The precise nature of this "outstanding performance" was

unspecified in Pohner's commendation, although Pohner's own activities

at the time might suggest that it had to do with the overthrow of the

Hoffmann cabinet. That Pohner attached a special value to the contri-

bution of Department VI, however, was beyond question, for his

commendation was accompanied by a request to the Ministry for extra

funds with which to reward his political policemen.51

Having established himself more firmly at the center of power,

Pohner could devote more attention to putting right the problems which

beset the political intelligence service. These problems, evidently,

had not receded with the consolidation of the new regime. On October

18, 1920 Wilhelm Frick circulated a letter on the subject to his

counterpartss in the provincial presidia and at the PSNB. In it he

raised the issue of reorganizing the political intelligence services

in Bavaria, and issued an invitation to a meeting on this subject to be

hosted by the PDM.52 Six weeks later, on December 7, Pohner convened

this meeting in the library of the PDM. Gathered under conditions of

tight security were representatives of the provincial governments, the

LaPo, the PSNB, and the PDM's Department VI.

Pohner opened the meeting with a few remarks concerning the weak-

nesses in the existing system of gathering and evaluating political

information. The present structure, in his view, could not supply the

necessary information when and where it was needed. He proposed

substantial changes, the details of which would be explained by his

aide, Frick. With a reminder that the proposal about to be presented

was highly confidential, he yielded the floor to Frick. After a short

historical summary, in which he laid the blame for the revolutionary

disturbances of 1918-1919 upon the lack of effective political

surveillance, Frick turned to a discussion of the contemporary situation.

The PDM had already consolidated its own efforts under Desk VI/N.

This, however, had not solved the main problem--too many agencies had

their fingers in the intelligence pie. Until the duplication of effort

had been eliminated, the quality of the political intelligence product

could not be improved. The military, in particular, had caused

problems through its invasion of the civilian sphere of responsibility.

In the future military operations would have to be confined to the

control of subversion within the ranks. This measure by itself, however,

would not achieve the desired result. Frick thus proposed the creation

of a new statewide political intelligence network.53

Frick's proposal placed PDM VI/N, the political information

service, at the center of the new organization. It would serve as the

coordinating body for the entire state and simultaneously as the

collection and dissemination center for the three provinces of southern

Bavaria. It would, of course, also retain direct responsibility for

Munich proper. Between the political information service of the PDM

and the four provinces of northern Bavaria stood the main state police

office in that region, the PSNB. It would serve as the collection and

dissemination center for these four provinces. The local agencies

would gather information through the overt observation of public

political activity and through covert surveillance with paid agents and

voluntary informers. Local agencies, naturally, could act directly on

information of purely local significance, but all information was to

be passed to the designated collection centers. There it would be

evaluated and then distributed throughout the system in a regular

series of comprehensive situation reports. Requests for information

from the Ministry of the Interior or from the various local agencies

would likewise be routed through the centers.54

After completing his proposal Frick invited discussion. All

participants agreed on the importance of centralization. The discussion

revolved around the prospect of continued liaison difficulties with

the military, the question of cooperation with the LaPo, and the

problem of finding suitable agents. The last of these provoked the

most concern. The representative of the Provincial President of Upper

Franconia piously suggested that dealing with paid undercover agents

was beneath the dignity of the provincial authorities; the PSNB could

adequately handle this dirty business in northern Bavaria. Frick pointed

to the existence of private political information groups, employed by

industrial concerns--an obvious reference to the "Tank" organization--

and complained that such groups often prepared intelligence reports

only to earn money. They would frequently accept employment from

more than one master at the same time. In order to avoid these

intelligence mercenaries, it would be absolutely essential that the

identities of all agents be filed with the Munich center. The problem

was not simply one of wasting secret funds; more seriously, the

reports of such agents could not be relied upon for accuracy, nor could

one fully trust such an agent--an agent who would serve two masters

might also serve three, and the third one might be the political

enemy. Pohner underscored Frick's observations with the sententious

pronouncement that in these matters the watchword must be "For the

Fatherland." The meeting closed with a number of issues left open,

not least among them the question of finances.55 Nothing definite had

been decided, but the issues had been thoroughly aired. With few

reservations the new organizational plan had been found acceptable.

Significantly, no one at the meeting challenged the assumption

that the police should keep a close watch upon political activity. Only

three years before, in the midst of war, revelations concerning

police surveillance of private citizens had provoked a furor in Munich,

and forced the government into a defensive posture.56 This, in part,

accounted for the secrecy of the December 7 meeting. More fundamentally,

the political climate had changed since 1917--what had been controversial

before the revolution had since gained widespread acceptance. It was

likewise significant that the central role assigned to the PDM in the

new proposal went unchallenged at the meeting; implementation of the

proposal would deliver unparalleled power into the hands of Pbhner and

Frick, since all political intelligence would be filtered through their

hands, and theirs alone. One can only conclude that those present at

the meeting shared fully the political goals of Pihner and Frick, and

were willing to accept their accretion of power.

Despite Frick's insistence that the issue was "burning," two

years elapsed before the centralization proposal received formal

ministerial sanction. This, however, was scarcely necessary--the

informal agreement reached among the parties at the December 7 meeting

sufficed as a basis for further developments.57 Pohner and Frick

could thus concentrate on their other political goals.

Gustav von Kahr's accession to power in March 1920 soon

brought the Bavarian government into direct conflict with the national

government in Berlin. The issue frequently appeared in the guise of

disagreement between Bavarian federalism and the unitary impulses of

the Reich leadership. Kahr thus presented himself as a defender of

the rights of the states against the encroachment of the central

government. This constitutional conflict, however, masked in high-

flown rhetoric the substantive issues of the struggle. Kahr and

his political allies--most notably P6hner and the state Minister of

Justice, Christian Roth--despised the moderate left-wing government

in Berlin as a creature of the revolution and an affront to the

sensibilities of all right-thinking Germans. If this government could

not be readily toppled, as the Kapp putsch had proven, then at least

its influence could be halted at the borders of Bavaria.58

Matters came to a head over the issue of the Civic Guard. The

Reich government, pressed by the Entente powers, insisted upon the

disarmament of this paramilitary body. The Kahr regime, whose political

base in Bavaria in part rested upon the allegiance of the Civic Guard,

repeatedly refused to comply. While Kahr argued with Berlin, Pohner

and Roth exploited their positions at the center of the police and

judicial administrations to frustrate fulfillment of the national laws

mandating disarmament--even to the extent of aiding and abetting murder.

For more than a year the battle continued, reaching its climax in the
summer of 1921.5

At the end of January German representatives had signed the Paris

agreement governing fulfillment of the Versailles Treaty disarmament

provisions. Kahr immediately condemned this step. Throughout the winter

and spring he hardened his position in defense of the Civic Guard. To

have done otherwise would have cost Kahr the support of his most

important political followers. The Civic Guard in Bavaria, unlike the

parallel organizations in other states, was a large and highly

centralized body with a substantial headquarters staff. As such, it

provided congenial employment to scores of former General Staff officers.

These officers had helped Kahr come to power; without their support

his days in office would be numbered. Naturally, these men regarded

the idea of dissolution with the utmost hostility and did everything

in their power to mobilize public opinion in Bavaria behind the hard

line approach. Kahr's other main base of support, the BVP, reacted

to the crisis with less unity. A minority in the party wanted the Kahr

government to yield, in order to prevent the application of sanctions.

*This aspect is examined in greater detail in Chapter 2.

The majority, however, adhered to a position of pushing the issue to

its limits, although few among them could agree on the probable

consequences of such a policy. Kahr's personal views mirrored those

of his hard line supporters.60

On May 5, the Entente powers presented the German government with

an ultimatum demanding the prompt dissolution of the Civic Guard. A

week later the Kahr government issued a strong statement calling for

the rejection of this ultimatum, a step which met with widespread

public approval.1 But as the crisis wore on Kahr's obduracy began

to lessen. On May 23, Kahr indicated to the Civic Guard leadership

that some sort of public accommodationwould be necessary.62 On June 1,

the British General Consul in Munich warned the Bavarian government

that failure to comply with the dissolution order would bring about

sanctions. That same day the Civic Guard leadership offered to disband

voluntarily. At the end of the month the Bavarian Civic Guard was

officially dissolved.63

On the surface the move for dissolution appeared to be an abrupt

about-face for the Kahr regime. The dissolution order, however, had

been a sham. Even as the leaders of the Civic Guard were offering

the voluntary disbandment of their organization, secret measures were

undertaken to ensure the continuity of a strongly-armed and politically

reliable force. The day after the Civic Guard was officially dissolved,

the secret Organisation Pittinger came into existence. The members of

the Civic Guard passed directly into the new formation or into one of

the many right-wing paramilitary bands, taking with them their carefully
protected stocks of weapons.64 The Civic Guard, in effect, had gone

underground. The Entente powers had been deprived of a pretext for

sanctions, but the substance of right-wing political and military

power in Bavaria remained intact.

Kahr had apparently weathered the storm. Then, on August 26, members

of the Organisation Consul, a Munich-based right-wing organization,

assassinated the former Reich Finance Minister, Matthias Erzberger.

Three days later the President of the republic issued a state of

emergency decree which granted wide-ranging powers to the central

government and temporarily nullified the independent police powers of

the states. The Bavarian government immediately protested. To concede

a power of intervention to the hated "socialists" in Berlin would

destroy everything that Kahr, Pohner, and Roth had worked to achieve.

It would undermine any further attempt to circumvent disarmament by

permitting agents of the national government to operate within Bavaria,

and would allow these same agents to proceed legally against a variety

of important right-wing figures. Some of these, most notably Hermann

Ehrhardt, the leader of the Organisation Consul, had evaded trial for

treason after the Kapp putsch by taking refuge in Munich, where Pohner's

police could protect them.65

Worst of all, the new national emergency decree called into question

the legal basis of the Bavarian state of emergency, which had existed

since the time of the Soviet Republic. The Kahr government had taken this

Bavarian decree and used it as the basis for its repressive measures

against the left. Neither Kahr nor Pohner wished to sacrifice such a

useful legal instrument. Kahr resolved to fight the new decree.66

But this time he had overreached himself. Kahr's defiant stand

won him further credit with the extreme right, but separated him from

the moderate element within the BVP. Although no less jealous of

Bavarian rights and no more sympathetic to the republic than Kahr, the

BVP was not willing to continue the fight with Berlin without at least

exploring the path of negotiation. The BVP moderates pushed through

a resolution offering the sacrifice of the Bavarian state of emergency

if the national government would agree in return to leave the fulfillment

of the national state of emergency in the hands of the state authorities.

Such a compromise would preserve the principle of states' rights and,

of greater significance, prevent the unwanted intervention of national

agents within Bavaria. Kahr himself had resolved the Civic Guard

issue in a similar manner, yielding in form to the national government

while retaining the substance. This time, however, Kahr allowed himself

to be influenced by the extremists, who wanted all or nothing. The

BVP withdrew its support from his government. Having opened a gulf

between himself and the dominant party in the state, Kahr took the only

course left open to him and resigned. Ten days later, on September 22,

1921, Count Hugo Lerchenfeld, the choice of the moderates, formed a

new government in Munich.67

Pbhner's fall followed close upon the eclipse of Kahr. No political

figure as strong-willed and as free with expressions of contempt as

P8hner could avoid making enemies, and Pohner had collected his share.

His relations with the socialist majority in the Munich city council

had been frigid at the best of times; by September 1921, a state of

open warfare existed between them. The PDM's special position as a

joint state-municipal agency meant that the city of Munich, according

to an 1898 agreement, bore one-half of the costs for its upkeep. In

1921 the city council refused to vote its share of the expenses, as

an emphatic protest against Pohner's continuance in office. On August

26, 1921, the SPD, USPD, and KPD members of the council gave their

unaminous approval to a resolution condemning Pihner's conduct in office

in the strongest possible terms. Even the representatives of the

moderate parties of the middle, however, were by this time ready to

censure Pohner--not, to be sure, on account of the one-sided political

interventions of the PDM, but because Pihner had insulted the city

None of this, in itself, would have led to Pihner's removal; the

new government, like its predecessors, was little inclined to follow the

lead of a leftist influenced city council. Pohner's real problem lay

with the new Minister of the Interior, Franz Schweyer. Kahr had

combined the office of Interior Minister with that of Minister President,

and in the former capacity had acknowledged Pohner's independence.

Schweyer, however, embodied more moderate political course, one which

varied sharply with Pbhner's own extreme right-wing sentiments.

Schweyer was no leftist--his statements at the time and later made

clear his unalterable opposition to socialism in any of its forms--but,

because of his moderation and his suspicion of the radical right, he

was regarded as "left-leaning" by his colleagues in the BVP.69 Deep

political differences thus separated the two men. Furthermore,

Schweyer, as the former senior State Secretary in the Ministry of the

Interior, knew well Pbhner's habits and his tendency to evade or defy

unwelcome attempts at outside control. The new Interior Minister had

little desire to work with such an unruly subordinate. On the eve of

his assumption of office Schweyer summoned Pohner and Frick for a

discussion. He bluntly informed them that their attitudes toward the

radical right and on the Jewish question did not coincide with his own,

and left them to draw the proper conclusions.70

On September 28, 1921, Pohner resigned his position at the PDM and

returned to his permanent civil service station in the judiciary.

Although Schweyer had wanted PNhner to leave the PDM, he could scarcely

have been pleased at the manner of Pihner's departure. As a parting

blow against the new government Pohner had the text of his letter of

resignation printed as a placard and posted throughout the city. In it

he condemned the Lerchenfeld cabinet and the BVP for yielding on the

issue of the Bavarian state of emergency. Calling attention to the

exceptional police powers that the emergency decree had permitted, he

hinted broadly that their removal portended the imminent revival of

the Soviet Republic. With memories of 1919 still fresh in the public

mind, such an appeal was a carefully calculated attempt to undermine

support for the Lerchenfeld government.7

Frick remained at the PDM, but gave up his post as head of the

political police. He was succeeded by his deputy, Friedrich Bernreuther.

Bernreuther, one of Pbhner's 1919 appointees, shared Frick's political

views and had been deeply involved in some of the most questionable

political police activities, He would, nonetheless, prove himself

more flexible than Frick and more capable of moving with the political

To replace PShner, Schewyer appointed Eduard Nortz, who had served

as Commissioner for Disarmament during the Civic Guard crisis. Having

conscientiously--albeit ineffectually--discharged this thankless task,

Nortz now embarked upon a similar endeavor: making the PDM responsive

to the demands of the new regime. Nortz, although an able man and a

dedicated worker, was unfortunately neither the man for a critical post

in troubled times, nor a man capable of effacing Pihner's imprint upon

the PDM. The events of 1923 would prove Nortz's weakness in the face of

political pressure and demonstrate his regime's lack of impact upon

the political attitudes of the Munich police. Long before Nortz was

dismissed in May 1923, Schweyer would rue the day he had placed this

man in charge of the PDM.73

The passing of Pohner from the PDM gave the Bavarian public cause for

uneasy reflection. Months before, in the midst of a Landtag debate on

P~hner's performance as Police President, Kahr had defended PShner

against leftist attacks by describing him as the man who had brought

order out of chaos in Munich. Expanding on this theme, Kahr credited

P8hner with having rebuilt the PDM, making it a powerful and effective

instrument of the state authority. Kahr's statement prompted stormy
applause from the right-wing delegates. This applause was echoed

widely throughout Bavaria. On the day after Pohner's resignation,

the representative of the government of Wirttemberg in Bavaria, a keen

observer of the Bavarian political scene, took time to reflect upon

the significance of P3hner's departure. In earlier reports he had

characterized Pohner's personality and recounted specific actions which

demonstrated the political one-sidedness of Pihner's conduct in office.

On this occasion, however, the observer approached Pihner's behavior

from the standpoint of its impact upon popular opinion in Bavaria.

P~hner, in the popular view, had been very much as Kahr had described

him, the man who had supervised the restoration of order and who

symbolized Bavaria's triumph over the horrors of the Soviet Republic.

Without Pohner, a prevention of the recurrence of 1919 seemed less

assured; the public regarded the future with unease.7

But in its anxiety the public could well have found comfort in Kahr's

earlier reflections on Pihner's work at the PDM. Pihner had indeed

rebuilt the Munich police force and shaped it in his own image. He had

strengthened the political police and initiated measures giving PDM VI

a powerful tool for the repression of the political enemy. These measures,

moreover, would serve as guidelines for all future developments in this
area. The political police would remain largely as Pohner and

Frick had made them. And Pihner's departure in no way meant his

withdrawal from political life. He moved instead from the forefront

into the political background, where his talents for intrigue would

find even greater opportunity for fulfillment.7 As his enemies and

friends alike would discover, Ernst Pihner had merely resigned an office;

he had not given up the fight for his own conception of "order."


Adolf Hitler, Meim Kampf, trans. by Ralph Manheim (Boston,
1943), p. 367.

2Hans Buchheim, "The SS--Instrument of Domination," trans. by
Richard Barry, in Helmut Krausnick, Hans Buchheim, Martin Broszat,
and Hans-Adolf Jacobsen, Anatomy of the SS State (New York, 1968),
p. 141.

See the 1927 collection of documents relating to the transferral
of P~hner's body in M Inn 71881.

The reference to the "sheltering hand" comes from Frick's
testimony during the 1924 Hitler-Putsch trial. See H. Francis
Freniere, Lucie Karcic, and Phillip Fandek, trans., The Hitler Trial,
Vol. 1 (Arlington, Va., 1976), p. 319. This three volume translation
of the complete stenographic report of the Hitler trial will hereafter
be cited as Hitler Trial, Vol. 1, 2, or 3.

5See the 1925 collection of Pihner materials in M Inn 71880.

The figures cited are from Falk Wiesemann, Die Vorgeschichte
der nationalsozialistische Machtubernahme in Bayern, 1932-1933 (Berlin,
1975), pp. 48-49. The most detailed analyses of Bavarian social and
economic development down through 1918 are the following works, upon
which the general conclusions in this paragraph are based: Axel
Schnorbus, "Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft in Bayern vor dem Ersten
Weltkrieg," in Karl Bosl, ed., Bayern im Umbruch (Munich, 1969),
pp. 97-164; Hans Fehn, "Das Land Bayern und seine Bevolkerung seit 1800,"
pp. 679-708; and Pankraz Fried, "Die Sozialentwicklung im Bauerntum
und Lankvolk," pp. 751-775, and Wolfgang Zonr, "Bayerns Gewerbe, Handel,
und Verkehr, 1806-1970," all in Max Spindler, ed., Handbuch der
bayerischen Geschichte, Vol. IV/2 (Munich, 1975). Hereafter, Spindler,
Handbuch, Vol. IV/1 or IV/2.

Ernst Deuerlein, ed., Der Hitlerputsch: Bayerische Dokumente
zum 8./9. November 1923 (Stuttgart, 1962), p. 12.

8Hitler Trial, Vol. 3, pp. 254-255.

Heinrich Hillmayr, "Minchen und die Revolution von 1919/1919,"
in Bosl, Bayern im Umbruch, pp. 463-465.

1Klaus-Dieter Schwarz, Weltkrieg und Revolution in Nurnberg
(Stuttgart, 1971), p. 274.

11Hans Fehn, "Das Land Bayern und seine Bevdlkerung seit 1800,"
in Spindler, Handbuch, Vol. IV/2, pp. 679-684.

12Allan Mitchell, Revolution in Bavaria (Princeton, 1965),
pp. 92-109.

13Ibid, pp. 213-230.

14Ibid, pp. 271-290.

1Albert Schwarz, '"Die Zeit von 1918 bis 1933. Erster Teil:
Der Sturz der Monarchie. Revolution und Ratezeit. Die Einrichtung
des Freistaates (1918-1920)," in Spindler, Handbuch, Vol. IV/1,
pp. 425-434.

16Horst G. W. Nusser, "Militarischer Druck auf die Landesregierung
Johannes Hoffmann vom 1919 bis zum Kapp-putsch," in Zeitschrift fur
bayerische Landesgeschichte 33 (1970), pp. 818-850.

1Heinrich Hillmayr, Roter und Weisser Terror in Bayern nach 1918
(Munich, 1974), pp. 21-23, 164-167, 131-132.

18Hans Fenske, Konservativismus und Rechtsradikalismus, in Bayern
nach 1918 (Bad Homburg, 1969), pp. 62-63.

19For the circumstances surrounding Pohner's appointment to the
Stadelheim position, see his own statement in Hitler Trial, Vol. 1,
pp. 91-92. The remarks on Pihner's appearance are based upon contemporary
photographs; concerning Pohner's height, see Konrad Heiden, Der Fuehrer
(Boston, 1969), p. 189. Further descriptions of Pohner may be found in
Kurt G. W. Ludecke, I Knew Hitler (New York, 1937), pp. 80-81. Ludecke
also describes the first meeting between Hitler and Pohner, at which
he was present. Pihner gave expression to his anti-Semitism in his
various utterances during the 1924 Hitler trial and in the attitude he
adopted toward the Ostjuden. For the attitude of the military
authorities toward P6hner, see Hillmayr, Roter und Weisser Terror,
pp. 164-167.
2This summary is based upon an historical sketch by Reg. Assessor
Dr. Jacob, prepared in 1915 for internal use at the PDM, M Inn 71880.
Many of the 19th Century documents relating to the early developments of
the PDM may be found in two other files, RA 58111 and RA 58113.

211913 PDM Table of Oganization, M Inn 71880.

2Compare the 1913 PDM Table of Organization cited above with the
1929 and 1932 Tables of Organization in M Inn 71881.

24"Verzeichnis--Die Polizeidirektion Miinchen als bayerische
Landeszentrale," M Inn 71880.
2See the series of 1916 and 1917 documents concerning PDM
counterespionage activities during the First World War in M Inn 71789.

2"Zusammenfassender Bericht der Polizeidirektion Minchen an die
Staatsanwaltschaft Minchen I fiber die Umsturzbewegung in MUnchen 1919,"
StAnw. MU. I 3124.
27PDM to M Inn, Dec. 14, 1919, M Inn 71880.

2Frick biographical material, BDC--NSDAP Hauptarchiv Mappe 1221.
See also, Testimony of Wilhelm Frick, Hitler Trial, Vol. 1, pp. 317-318;
the phrase "Toyal Bavarian Nazi" comes from the thumbnail sketch by
Albert Krebs in William S. Allen, ed. and trans., The Infancy of Nazism:
The Memoirs of Ex-Gauleiter Albert Krebs, 1923-1933 (New York, 1976),
pp. 259-262.
29Hillmayr, Roter und Weisser Terror, pp. 123-131.

3Testimony of Wilhelm Frick, Hitler Trial, Vol. 1, p. 318.
3See the "Protokoll liber die am y. Dez. 1920 Sitzung betr. den
Ausbau des Nachrichtendienstes," Reg. v. Mfr., Kdl, Abg. 1968, 11/228.

32PDM to M Inn, Dec. 14, 1919, M Inn 71880.

33The basic points of Bavarian administrative structure atthis time
are conveniently summarized in Harold J. Gordon, Jr., Hitler and the
Beer Hall Putsch (Princeton, 1972), pp. 165-166. The institution of the
special commissioner is discussed in Heinrich von Jan, Verfassung und
Verwaltung in Bayern, 1919-1926 (Munich, 1927), pp. 39-44.
3For examples of these reports for the period covered in this
chapter see MA 102 135 and MA 102 136.

35Provincial President of Middle Franconia to M Inn, April 16, 1920,
M Inn 71879.

3For Pohner's relations with the Munich city council, see Peter
Steinborn, Grundlage und Grundzige Munchner Kommunalpolitik in den
Jahren der Weimarer Republik (Munich, 1968), pp. 229-230.

37Aronson, Reinhard Heydrick und die Fruhgeschichte von Gestapo
und SD, pp. 94-95.

38Special police commission to M Inn, Aug. 5, 1919, PDN-F 108/1.



4PSNB to Police President Pihner, Sept. 19, 1919, PDN-F 108/1.

42For background material relating to the preparation and circulation
of the PSNB weekly reports, see PDN-F 331. For the reports themselves,
see PDN-F 332-337/2.
For the LaPo in general, see the two standard works: Georg
Sagerer and Emil Schuler, Die bayerische Landespolizei von 1919-1935
(Munich, 1964), pp. 1-32. These works have not been superseded by
Johannes Schwarze, Die bayerische Polizei, pp. 10-49, although Schwarze
covers much the same ground. For the LaPo's political police work
see the December 1923 correspondence in M Inn 71786 and the circular
letter from M Inn to the Provincial Presidia, the Police President in
Munich, and the Police Director in Nuremberg, Dec. 5, 1923, in Reg. v.
Mfr., Kdl, Abg. 1968, 11/228.
4Deuerlein, Der Hitlerputsch, p. 27; Wiesemann, Die Vorgeschichte
der NS-MachtUbernahme in Bayern, p. 71; Friedrich Rau, Personalpolitik
und Organisation in der vorlaufigen Reichswehr (Munich, 1970),
pp. 158-171. For difficulties between the civilian and military political
police, see PDM to PSNB, May 11, 1921, in PDN-F 316. For an example of
the military performing civilian political police functions, see Bayer.
Gruppenkmdo 4, Abt. Ia to BA Starnberg, Oct. 24, 1919, in RA 57804.
Examples of the military situation reports may be found in MA 102 135
and PDN-F 318.

4Civic Guard leaders frequently claimed not to have an intelligence
service, citing their close relationship with PDM VI/N as a reason why
this would be superfluous. For this claim, see Testimony of Walter
Schenk, July 28, 1924, St Anw. MU I 3081d/l. The Civic Guard,
nonetheless, prepared political situation reports, copies of which are
collected in PDN-F 318.

46See the collection of "Tank" reports in PDN-F 407.

4"Tank report, July 31, 1919, PDN-F 407.

48Testimony of Heinrich Mayer, October 1, 1924, StAnw. Mu. I 3081d/3;
Testimony of Eduard Seubert, October 28, 1924, StAnw. Mu. I 3081d/3.

4Testimony of Carl von Merz, October 24, 1924, StAnw. Mi. I 3081d/3.

5Schwarz, "Die Zeit von 1918 bis 1933. Zweiter Teil: Der vom
BUrgertum gefUhrte Freistaat in der Weimarer Republik (1920-1933),"
in Spindler, Handbuch, Vol. IV/1, pp. 454-457.

51PDM to M Inn, April 5, 1920, M Inn 71996.

52PDM to the Provincial Presidia and the PSNB, Oct. 18, 1920, Reg.
v. Mfr., Kdl, Abg. 1968, 11/228.
5"Protokoll fiber die am 7. Dez. 1920 Sitzung betr. den Ausbau des
Nachrichtendienstes," Reg. v. Mfr., Kdl, Abg. 1968, 11/228.



56For this episode, see the March 12-March 22, 1917 collection of
documents on political surveillance in M Inn 80352.

5The PSNB, as a branch of the PDM, came under the ultimate control
of P6hner and Frick. Thus, the willingness of the provincial authorities
to allow the PSNB to handle the running of agents in northern Bavaria
placed this vital activity directly in their hands. In southern Bavaria,
the manifold contacts of the PDM were similarly sufficient. The key
issue at this juncture was agreement in principle, which was attained
at the Dec. 7, 1920 meeting. As Fenske points out, one of the most
important bases of Pohner's political power was his monopoly over control
of effective political intelligence. The only competing sources of
intelligence of any consequence were the fortnightly reports of the
provincial presidia, but these were neither so detailed, nor so
influential as the political police reports. By filtering political
intelligence according to his own political lights, Pihner could shape
the political responses of his ministerial superiors. See Fenske,
Konservativismus und Rechtsradikalismus, p. 141.
5Schwarz, "Die Zeit von 1918 bis 1933. Sweiter Tell," in Spindler,
Handbuch, Vol. IV/1, pp. 454-465.

5Ibid., pp. 462-464.

60These conclusions are based upon the observations of the diplo-
matic representative of the state of Wirttemberg in Bavaria, Carl Moser
von Filseck. Moser's judicious reports to his superiors in Stuttgart
are among the most useful and important sources for the political
developments of the period. Many of the most worthwhile reports from
Moser have been gathered in a published volume edited by Wolfgang Benz.
The reports cited here are from Wolfgang Benz, ed., Politik in Bayern,

601919-1933: Berichte des wurttembergischen Gesandten Carl Moser
von Filseck (Stuttgart, 1971), pp. 77-80.

61Ibid, pp. 81-82.

62Horst G. W. Nusser, Konservative Wehrverbande in Bayern,
Preussen, und dsterreich, 1918-1933 (Munich, 1973), p. 209. Nusser's
work is the best single study of the Bavarian Civic Guard and its
related organizations. Although frequently strident in tone and marred
by occasional exaggerations, this study compels attention simply by
virtue of the massive research it reflects.

6An overview of this sequence of events may be gained from the
political chronology appended to Karl Schwend, Bayern zwischen Monarchie
und Diktatur (Munich, 1954), pp. 553-557.
6Nusser, Konservative Wehrverbande, pp. 208-212. See also Fenske,
Konservativismus und Rechtsradikalismus, pp. 144-145.
6Gotthard Jasper, Der Schutz der Republik: Studien zur staatlichen
Sicherung der Demokratie in der Weimarer Republik, 1922-1930 (Tubingen,
1963), pp. 43-45.



6Steinborn, Grundlage und GrundzGge MUnchner Kommunalpolitik,
pp. 229-230.

69For Schweyer's attitude toward the left, see Fenske, Konserva-
tivismus und Rechtsradikalismus, pp. 62-63. For the BVP perception of
Schweyer as left-leaning, see Deuerlein, Der Hitlerputsch, pp. 46-47.

70Frick described this interview in his testimony during the 1924
Hitler Putsch trial. See Testimony of Wilhelm Frick, Hitler Trial,
Vol. 1, p. 319.

71The text of Pohner's resignation announcement is reproduced in
Benz, Politik in Bayern, p. 87.
7For Bernreuther's appointment to the PDM, see the M Inn order
of Oct. 26, 1919 in RA 58128. Some of Bernreuther's activities as
Frick's deputy are chronicled in Chapter 2; his role in the events of
the Beer Hall Putsch is discussed in Chapter 3. Despite his close
association with Frick, however, Bernreuther managed to remain as head
of PDM VI until his promotion in 1929 to head the newly-created
Polizeidirektion Regensbure.

73The events leading to Nortz's 1923 dismissal are discussed in
detail in Chapter 3.
74Kahr's remarks are taken from a copy of the published transcript
of the Landtag debates for March 15, 1921. This copy may be found in
M Inn 71880.

7Benz, Politik in Bayern, pp. 85-88.

76The relationship between the guidelines established at the meeting
to discuss the future of the political information on Dec. 7, 1920 and
subsequent developments in this area is discussed in Chapter 3.

77Fenske, Konservativismus und Rechtsradikalismus, p. 141.


On the afternoon of March 4, 1921, a farmer named Josef

Kuchenbauer went to work in his field just north of the Bavarian

village of Zusmarshausen. Shortly before four in the afternoon,

he took a break from his labors and walked down to the banks of the

nearby river Zusam to look for duck eggs. As he poked through the

bushes at the water's edge he noticed something white shimmering in the

water. Looking more closely, he saw what appeared to be an old jacket

floating just below the murky surface of the stream. Then he

recognized the white object as a human hand. With his pitchfork he

speared the jacket and attempted to draw it toward the bank. As the

jacket surfaced so too did the corpse to which it was attached. Kuchen-

bauer called for help from friends in a neighboring field, and with

their assistance succeeded in dragging the body to the bank of the

river. A combined effort was necessary, for the corpse had been weighted

with two fifteen-pound paving stones, strapped to the neck and to the

legs with wire.1

Kuchenbauer's discovery opened the investigation of a murder case

which would come to exemplify, in the popular view, the flaws in the

Bavarian system of justice during the Kahr-Phner era. The inquiry
Bavarian system of justice during the Kahr-Pahner era. The inquiry

into the death of Hans Hartung (for such was the victim's name), along

with the subsequent disposition of the case, illustrated the ties

between right-wing politics and political police activity which charac-

terized this period. In the company of other, similar cases, it

fostered the impression that the PDM had become, under Pohner, a

"central office for murderers." The strongest criticisms of the PDM

came, not surprisingly, from Pohner's enemies on the left. But the

pattern of events was sufficiently disturbing to worry thoughtful

conservatives and to embarrass the less stridently right-wing officers

of the Munich police.3

The brutalization of Bavarian politics arose from the experiences

surrounding the suppression of the Soviet Republic. The language of

political discourse during the Kahr-Pbhner era was the language of war,

which reflected directly the animating sentiments of political action.

The leading figures of the Kahr regime saw themselves as occupying a

beleaguered outpost in the war against the left, against the leftist-

tainted Reich government in Berlin, and against the recent wartime

enemy, France. In this they represented the sentiments of many ordinary

Bavarian citizens.

The Kahr regime rested upon three bases of support: the BVP, the

Bavarian branch of the DNVP, which served with the BVP in Kahr's

coalition cabinet, and the Civic Guard. The broadly-based BVP embraced

a wide variety of political opinion; it included both moderate conser-

vatives and radical right extremists in an ever-shifting internal

balance. The Bavarian DNVP, represented in the Kahr cabinet by the

Justice Minister, Christian Roth, aligned itself more closely with

the radical right, as did the Civic Guard. Behind the scenes many

leading officers of the Bavarian Reichswehr lent their support to Kahr;

the ties between the army and the Civic Guard in particular were close,

for most Bavarian staff officers shared the political attitudes of those

former colleagues and wartime comrades who provided the Guard with its

leadership cadre. Each of these groups differed with the others on a

variety of specific issues. All, however, were united in their hostility

to the left and in their distaste for a central government which,

in their eyes, was both the product and the prisoner of the hated

socialists. And all of these groups shared a single, overriding

political goal--the transformation of Bavaria into a "cell of order"

(Ordnungszelle Bayern). Bavaria, purged of all traces of the socialist

interregnum, would become the base from which the counterrevolution would

be launched.

Attainment of this ultimate goal presupposed the fulfillment of

two conditions, the preservation of the Bavarian base and the accumulation

of power at that base. "Power," in this context, meant military power;

the Bavarian leadership, anticipating a later philosopher of politics,

believed that political power grew out of the barrel of a gun. Pohner

himself expressed this attitude best. In an interview with a visiting

Prussian civil servant he presented his own model of political

negotiation in his customary, pithy fashion:

He who resists, must be shot, not the masses, but
the leaders. Then resistance ceases. If your
Berlin government is confronted with a strike, what
does it do? It negotiates. One must do it dif-
ferently. One calls the strike leaders to a con-
ference and demands that the next morning their fol-
lowers be back at work. If the first one says no,
then shoot him and ask the second. If he says no,
then shoot him as well. The third will most cer-
tainly say yes. But one must shoot, not just
threaten. When we came into Munich after the Soviet
terror, I had these Red hounds shot. When one
of these dogs comes, one must be ready to shoot.5

Pbhner's approach to labor relations reflected his, and his political

compatriots beliefs about the way to deal with their political enemies.

With such a political conception, their desire for control of a strong

military force was logical.

This desire, however, brought Kahr, Pohner, and their allies

squarely into conflict with the less sanguinary leaders of the republic

in Berlin. The Reich government faced a quandry. The centrist and

moderate socialist leaders who shaped policy there did not wish to

see Germany reduced to a 100,000 man army, and to this end had supported

the creation of citizen militias. But the Bavarian Civic Guard had

grown far beyond the strength of the militias in other states, and

its political leadership was virulently hostile to the republic itself.

The weapons in the hands of the Civic Guard might not be reserved,

as intended, for use against a foreign enemy.

Indeed, one foreign enemy already shared the republican leadership's

fear of the Bavarian Civic Guard. The French, after struggling for the

inclusion of drastic limitations on German military power in the Versailles

treaty, observed the formation of a powerful militia in Bavaria with

considerable dismay. In the French view, such an organization subverted

the entire structure of armaments limitation, and presented the spectre

of resurgent German military power. In this the French were not far

wrong, for the more far-seeing among the right-wing Bavarian leaders

were already looking beyond the showdown with the republic to the great

war of revenge against the enemy across the Rhine. In response, the

French exerted heavy pressure upon the Reich government to do something

about these militias. In those states where the state government stood

loyal to the republic, accommodation was reached on the militia question.

In Bavaria, however, the issue led to an open conflict between the state

government and the Reich.

It was common knowledge that massive quantities of weapons left

over from the army's wartime stocks were in the possession of the

Civic Guard and other right-wing paramilitary groups--the National

Socialists, for example, had their own small share. The French

government threatened sanctions if the Reich government did not live

up to its treaty obligations and disarm the militias, and the French

military officers on the Entente Disarmament Commission were prepared

to insist that the letter of the treaty be observed. To meet this

demand and to insure itself against the growing threat from the armed

legions of the right, the republican leadership resolved to act. In

August 1920, the Reich government passed laws mandating the confiscation

of military weapons in private hands and the supervised destruction of

these weapons. Other laws required each citizen to report the discovery

of illegal caches of arms to the proper authorities.8

The paramilitary organizations, not surprisingly, were unwilling

to cooperate in their own disarmament. Nor was the Kahr government

willing to allow its own power base to erode in such a manner. The

government therefore resisted the enforcement of the disarmament laws

with every legal means at its disposal, while covertly supporting the

efforts of the Civic Guard and the Bavarian Reichswehr to illegally

circumvent the enforcement of these laws. The instrument of this covert

support was Pohner's political police.

In theory, one of the first tasks of the political police under

the disarmament law would have been to seek out and confiscate illegal

arms caches. In practice, this was done only when the caches belonged
to leftist groups. From the outset close ties existed between the

political police and the Civic Guard; for example, membership appli-

cations for the Civic Guard were customarily vetted by the political

police.0 This close cooperation extended to the protection of the

Civic Guard's weapons. Once an illegal arms collection was brought

to public attention little could be done to preserve it. The law was

clear, the Social Democrat press stood ready to cry "foul" should a

cover-up be attempted, and the French loomed in the background to insist

that the law was observed. The trick was to prevent discovery in the

first place.

To accomplish this subversion of the law, the political police

resumed their wartime counterespionage role against the French, and

added to this a close watch against spies from Berlin and from the

various leftist groups. In one recorded instance, PDM VI even placed

an informer in the Munich office of the Entente Disarmament Commission.

Reserve Lieutenant-Colonel Hermann Kriebel, the senior military figure

in the Civic Guard, described the results of such police activity in

the following terms:

Close cooperation existed between the police and
the Civic Guard in the matter of preventing the
betrayal of weapons to the Entente Commission. As
soon as the police discovered that a weapons cache
had been betrayed, this information was communi-
cated to us. We then had time to remove the weapons
to a new hiding place. The police also warned us
whenever they discovered hostile informers in our

Evading the consequences of betrayal, however, was not enough. The

betrayers had to be deterred through effective punishment.

The price one paid for obeying the Reich laws governing illegal

armaments was only too frequently arrest by the Bavarian police and

trial for treason in a Bavarian court. During the Kahr-Pohner era

five individuals were convicted of treason on these grounds and received,
on the average, prison sentences in excess of four years apiece. Yet

these were the lucky ones; for others, a more summary form of "justice"


On October 6, 1920,the body of a nineteen year-old woman was found

in a forest preserve south of Munich. The young woman, identified as

Maria Sandmayer, had been brutally strangled. The political motivation

of the crime was unmistakable, for the perpetrators had left a note

above the body proclaiming that Maria Sandmayer had been executed for

treason. Her act of treason had begun with a compound error. Trained

as a cook and a house servant, the young woman had come to Munich from

her home in the country, searching, in the time-honored way, for better

prospects. Shortly after arriving in the city, she came upon a placard

on the street, calling all citizens to report all illegal arms caches

to the Reich government's disarmament commission. Here she made her

first error, for she decided to obey the law and report the arms hidden

at her former place of employment in the country. Her second error

followed immediately upon the first. Misreading the placard, she

reported her information not to the office of the disarmament commission,

but to the printers who had prepared the placard. The foreman there

passed her report and her identity to friends in the Civic Guard. On

October 6 a young man called for her at her new place of employment

in Munich, presenting himself as a member of the disarmament commission

interested in her information concerning illegal weapons. Shortly

thereafter she departed with him, never to be seen alive again.14

Only a little more than a week passed before a similar incident

occurred. A Reichswehr soldier by the name of Dobner reported an

illegal arms hoard to the Entente Disarmament Commission. Unfortunately,

the translator who received his report there was also in the pay of the

political police. Several days later, on October 20, 1920, Dobner was

picked up by three men in a car and, in the course of a wild ride

through the streets of Munich, leapt from the automobile just in time

to escape from being beaten to death.15

In the Sandmayer case, witnesses identified her mysterious caller

as a certain Lieutenant Schweighart, a member of the Civic Guard.

The police investigation proved that a car belonging to the Civic

Guard had been used in the killing.6 Schweighart could produce no

alibi for the night in question. Nonetheless, Kriminal-Kommissar

Friedrich Glaser, the head of PDM VI/N, ordered the preparation of a

passport for Schweighart. Passport in hand, Schweighart fled the


Justice was done in even more topsy-turvy fashion in the Dobner

case. Learning that Dobner had escaped the clutches of his would-be

assassins, the informer who had betrayed him to the police, a man

named Pracher, panicked. To clear himself, he turned to a Social

Democratic Landtag deputy, Karl Gareis, who had made a name for himself

through his outspokenness in the matter of illegal armament. After

hearing Pracher's story, with its implication that the political police

had been accessories in a murder attempt, Gareis demanded proof. He

prevailed upon Pracher to call his contact man in the PDM's Department

VI, tell his story, and ask for protection. As Gareis listened, Pracher

telephoned his contact, who proved to be none other than Kriminal-

Kommissar Glaser. Telling Glaser that Dobner had been "eliminated,"

Pracher then asked that he be protected by the police from the consequences

of his role in the affair. Glaser gave his assent to the request, not

suspecting that the entire exchange was being recorded by a third

party. With this confirmation of police complicity, Gareis and his

colleagues brought the matter before the Landtag--a step which would

eventually lead to Gareis's own assassination. Dobner, Pracher, and

Glaser all testified before the hastily assembled investigatory

commission, the latter only after extreme pressure had been exerted

by the Commission in the name of the Landtag. After a promising

start, however, the work of the Commission was thwarted by a withdrawal

of support on the part of the BVP delegation--a gesture of unmistakable

political significance. In the court case growing out of the attempt

on Dobner's life, the court chose to accept without question the

testimony of Dobner's assailants, who were charged with assault rather

than attempted murder, and who, upon conviction, received only nominal

punishment. Dobner, in turn, was charged with perjury, although the

charge could not be made to stick. Pracher's final reward in the

matter was a fifteen year sentence for treason--the authorities did

not forgive him for turning to Gareis.18

Despite ongoing pressure from Berlin and Paris, the efforts of the

Civic Guard and the Bavarian authorities to circumvent disarmament

continued. And despite the object lessons provided in the Sandmayer

and Dobner cases, certain individuals continued to make the error of

reporting, or threatening to report, illegal weapons to the disarmament

officials. One such individual was the waiter Hans Hartung.

Hans Hartung arrived in Munich from his home in Halle in

February 1921. After service as a non-commissioned officer during

the war, Hartung had returned to Halle in time to participate, as

an active Communist, in the political disturbances which marked the

winter and spring of 1919. He then turned upon his comrades, betraying

several of the leading local Communists to the police. In revenge,

a group of his former compatriots fell upon him and subjected him to

a severe beating. His cuts and bruises, however, provided ample

endorsement of his political change of heart, and solidified his

position with his new-found friends of the political right. Hartung

thus came to Munich with letters of recommendation and introduction

from his political friends in Halle.19

In February 1921, Hans Hartung was twenty-four years old, a young

man of impressive height (over six feet, three inches) and correct

manners, whose bearing convinced at least one Munich acquaintance
that before him stood a former army officer.20 Armed with the right

manner and his introductions from Halle, Hartung quickly won access

to leading right-wing circles in Munich. He first approached Reserve

Lieutentant Otto Braun, the head of the Civic Guard's Economic Office--

the office concerned with illegal weapons transactions--and asked for

employment. In applying to Braun, Hartung demonstrated clearly that he

had not come to Munich to continue his earlier career by waiting on

tables. He had discovered in Halle that the right-wing groups, amply

provided with money, paid well for confidential information. Unwilling

to work for a living, he slid readily into the life of a professional

informer, the lesson of his beating at the hands of the Communists

evidently unlearned.21

Braun gave Hartung money and introduced him to other leading
figures in the Civic Guard.22 On his own initiative Hartung endeavored

to widen his field of activity by presenting himself to various Munich
industrialists with an offer to spy upon their employees.23 Sometimes

he presented Braun as a reference; on other occasions he intimated that

he worked for the Political Information Section of the PDM.24 His

varied and sometimes conflicting self-representations, however, soon

undermined the initial impressions of trustworthiness fostered by his

manner and outward appearance. After receiving several approaches from

Hartung, one businessman, who also happened to be a leading figure

in the Civic Guard, called a friend at PDM VI to report Hartung's

behavior and ask for information concerning his bona fides.25 This,

and other questions from Civic Guard representatives concerning

Hartung's activities led to an order by the political police for the

arrest and interrogation of Hartung on March 5.26 But by this point

Hartung was already past questioning.

On March 2 Hartung had called once again upon Lieutenant Braun at

the latter's office in the headquarters of the Civic Guard. Having failed

in his efforts to broaden his connections, Hartung asked for more money

from Braun. Braun refused. To this Hartung responded, "Herr Lieutenant,

I know a great deal; are you not afraid?" Confronted with this scarcely

veiled attempt at blackmail, Braun ordered Hartung out of his office.27

That evening Hartung assisted another right-wing paramilitary

group in the clandestine transport of illegal weapons to a hiding place

near Bad Tolz. The following day he spent sitting with friends in the

'Cafe Bristol. During the course of the conversation he bragged that,

of all the participants in the previous night's exercise, he had been

the only one not to have held commissioned officer's rank in the recent

war. To underscore this self-important pronouncement, he hinted broadly

that he would be participating again that evening in yet.another secret

transferral of weapons.2

The body found the following afternoon by farmer Kuchenbauer was

not immediately identified as that of Hartung. After the corpse had

been pulled to the bank of the Zusam, one of Kuchenbauer's companions

ran to the local gendarmerie station to report the discovery. The

gendarmerie station in Zusmarshausen was very small, manned by only

three officers. Thus the leader of the station himself, Sicherheits-

kommissar Josef Zghnle, responded to the call. He searched the body

for some form of identification, but found only a pocket comb. Soon he

was joined by the local judge, who brought with him a photographer to

take pictures at the scene of the crime. After conducting a rudimentary

examination of the area and seeing that the requisite photographs had

been made, the two officials supervised the removal of the body to the

local clinic.29

On the following day the autopsy was performed in Zusmarshausen.

Present at the inquest were the local officials from Zusmarshausen and

the Public Prosecutor from Augsburg, Wilhelm Krick, to whom responsibility

for the prosecution of the case would fall.30 The autopsy revealed

six bullet wounds, two in the head and four in the chest. The bullets

recovered from the body indicated that pistols of 7.65 mm and 9 mm had

been used in the murder. The results further suggested that Hartung

had been shot down with a fusillade of five shots, all delivered more

or less simultaneously, and then finished off with a shot fired from

a range of a few inches into the inner edge of the right eye, alongside

the nose. There was no indication that he had struggled to defend


Several clues were immediately evident. The river Zusam was,

in the area around Zusmarshausen, quite shallow; along most of its

course a body submerged in the river would not disappear completely

from view. Only at several scattered points did it deepen sufficiently

to adequately conceal a corpse. The body had been disposed of at one

of these points--only the failure of the murderers to toss the heavily-

weighted body far enough out from the bank prevented it from disappearing
in the muck at the bottom of ten feet of water.32 No stranger to the

locality could have selected such a suitable spot. Moreover, only

some three hundred-fifty meters away, at the edge of the main road from

Munich to Ulm, stood a small cluster of buildings, used at that time

by the Civic Guard for the storage of illegal munitions. These buildings

provided a place where a vehicle could easily be screened from the view

of a passerby along the highway, and a nearby wooded hill offered
further concealment.

But if these indicia pointed clearly in the direction of local

involvement, others pointed equally clearly against it. The paving

stones had not come from the Zusmarshausen area. Nor had the corpse.

Although no positive identification had been made, it was unquestionably
that of an outsider.3

Yet another clue was discovered on the morning of March 5. A

railway worker walking along the tracks of the rail line connecting

Munich with Ulm found a cheap leather briefcase lying discarded along-

side the tracks. Inside the briefcase, wrapped in a newspaper, was a

blood-soaked soldier's cap. Both the briefcase and the cap were later

identified as items that Hartung had carried with him everywhere.35

With these clues Public Prosecutor Krick, who had been placed

in charge of the investigation by his superior, Kraus, ordered a number

of measures. In the company of the local gendarmes he conducted a more

precise examination of the areas where the various clues had been found.

He ordered an inquiry into the source of the paving stones. Finally,

in the absence of a positive identification of the body--this would

have to wait until fingerprints could be taken and sent to the experts

at the PDM--he attempted to identify any strangers or strange vehicles

which had passed through Zusmarshausen on the night in question.3

With the assistance of the Schutzmannschaft in Augsburg, which

routinely examined the papers of all vehicles passing through the city,

and with confirmation provided by other witnesses, Krick determined

that three motor vehicles had driven through Zusmarshausen during the

night of March 3. The testimony of two local witnesses quickly called

special attention to one of these vehicles. The witnesses, one of them

a local gendarme, testified independently of one another to having heard

a truck pass through the village heading in the direction of Ulm.

One witness has noted the time of its passage at 2:30 in the morning.

Both witnesses agreed that it had sounded very much like one of the

military vehicles which frequently passed through Zusmarshausen carrying

illegal weapons--the clandestine activities of the Civic Guard and

other paramilitary groups were an open secret to the villagers, who

lived along one of the most heavily employed routes for the transfer

of weapons. A few minutes after the truck had passed out of hearing--

which placed the truck approximately at the buildings near where the

corpse would be found--both witnesses heard the sound of a shot from

that direction.37

The forensic examination of the paving stones suggested that they

came from Munich; later investigations would confirm this and demonstrate

that the stones had probably been taken from a construction site in
the courtyard of a Munich army barracks.38 On March 8, an Augsburg

police detective contacted the headquarters of the Civic Guard in

Munich to check on the Schutzmannschaft report that the military truck

which had been checked through Augsburg travelling toward Ulm had

belonged to the Civic Guard. The call was taken by Lieutenant Braun,
who answered in the affirmative. A further comparison of witness

reports indicated that this had been the truck heard passing through
Zusmarshausen in the early morning hours of March 4.4

On the morning of March 9 the fingerprints taken from the corpse

in Zusmarshausen arrived at the office of the Criminal Investigation

Service (Department Ib) of the PDM. Within a couple of hours the

experts at Ib identified the prints as belonging to the missing Hans

Hartung, who had been wanted by the political police for questioning

since March 5.

At that time Kriminaloberkommissar Eduard Seubert of PDM VIa had

issued orders that Hartung be taken into custody and questioned about

his activities in Munich. Seubert's initiative came in response to a

letter from the leadership of the Civic Guard given to him by Frick,

the head of PDM VI. Hartung was suspected of spying on the Civic Guard
for the benefit of the Communists. Seubert detailed three officers

from VIaF, Kriminalsekretar Johann Gehauf, Kriminalsekretar Johann

Feil, and Oberwachtmeister Heinrich Becher. Gehauf and Feil were

experienced political policemen, "old cops" in the customary sense of

the term. Becher was younger, a member of the Schutzmannschaft detached

for temporary duty with VIaF. After securing Hartung's address, a

pension only a few blocks from police headquarters, the three officers

went to bring him into custory. Hartung, of course, was not to be

found. The officers searched Hartung's belongings, confiscated some of

his papers, and questioned the hotel porter concerning his whereabouts.

The porter, who had just finished reading the article in the morning

paper about the discovery of an unidentified murder victim in

Zusmarshausen, remarked to the officers that the description of the

victim in the paper could be that of Hartung. Although the remark

aroused Feil's immediate interest, the lead was not followed up at

that time. The three officers returned to police headquarters where

the two officers turned to more pressing tasks, leaving Becher to write

up the report of their morning's work.43

The political police inquiry into Hartung's affairs continued

in a desultory fashion until the morning of March 9. With the identi-

fication of Hartung as the murder victim, however, the investigation

immediately accelerated. That afternoon Kriminalsekretar Gehauf

returned to Hartung's pension to question the staff. The following

morning he was confronted by the appearance of Lieutentant Braun of

the Civic Guard, who came to police headquarters with a prepared

memorandum concerning his relations with Hartung. At the instructions

of his superior, Seubert, Gehauf questioned Braun more closely about

his connection to Hartung. During the course of this interrogation

Braun admitted that Hartung had threatened him and the secrets of the

Civic Guard. But the most suspicious item of all--the passage of a

truck belonging to the Civic Guard through Zusmarshausen on the night

of the murder--remained unexplored; Gehauf had not yet received the

information from Augsburg concerning this matter and unwittingly let

it pass. Still, the session with Braun caused Gehauf and Seubert to

look more closely at the links between Hartung and Braun. In Seubert's

words: "After the interrogation Gehauf and I agreed that Braun had to

be involved one way or another."44

The news that a Civic Guard truck had been within a few hundred

meters of the murder site and that its occupants all had ties to Braun
fortified Gehauf's suspicions.45 His colleague Fell believed that Braun

should be recalled and grilled vigorously.46 The three political

policemen on the case-Seubert, Gehauf, and Feil--all shared the
conviction that they were on the threshold of breaking the case.

At that juncture, however, Police President Pohner intervened to take

the case out of their hands.

The first steps in this direction had been taken within hours of

the identification of the murder victim. At eleven in the morning on

March 9, the head of the political police, Pohner's close associate

Frick, contacted Carl von Merz, the director of the homicide squad in

Department I, and communicated Pohner's order that the homicide squad

assume responsibility for the case in cooperation with the Public

Prosecutor in Augsburg. Merz immediately objected. While recognizing

that the ramification of the case into Munich made the active involve-

ment of the PDM necessary, he believed that the Munich end of the case

should remain in the hands of PDM VI. The political police, after

all, already had their investigation underway--as a matter of procedural

principle a transfer would be a mistake, causing needless delay and

complicating the rapid apprehension of suspects. Merz made these

objections clear, not only to Frick, but also to PBhner himself. In

response Pohner insisted that Merz take over the case on a temporary

basis until such time as a permanent solution could be found. Merz

acquiesced and left that same afternoon for Augsburg to consult with
Public Prosecutor Krick.4

The political policemen involved in the case were likewise dis-

contented with this turn of events. Upon hearing that they had been

taken off the case, Feil and Gehauf were angered and frustrated. Gehauf

went directly to Seubert and asked him to arrange an interview with

Pbhner; he wanted to make certain his complaints were known. Pbhner,

however, denied the request. Not willing to give up the case completely,

Gehauf continued for several days thereafter to follow up certain leads
on his own initiative.

Merz's conversation with the Public Prosecutor in Augsburg eased

his objections to the transferral--the Public Prosecutor appeared to

be cooperative, and offered Merz essentially a free hand. Upon his

return to Munich he brought Franz Ott, the PDM's leading homicide

specialist, into the case and proceeded with the investigation. The

political policemen also swallowed their anger and worked with Merz

and Ott to ease the problems of transition. On the morning of March 11
Pohner made the temporary transfer to Department I permanent. The

common interest of the lower officers in seeing the case brought to a

successful conclusion had overcome the threat of delay. Merz, Ott, and

Krick, the latter having come to Munich to participate in the wider

investigation, set up shop in Ott's office and proceeded with the

interrogation of suspects.5

With some reluctance--Ott was himself a member of the Civic Guard,

and Merz sympathized politically with the Guard's aims--the three

officials agreed with Gehauf and Fell that the track of the murderers

led in the direction of the Ringhotel, the Munich headquarters of the

Civic Guard. Suspicion centered upon the occupants of the Civic Guard

truck which had passed through Zusmarshausen. The police inquiry

yielded a list of five names representing the occupants of the truck:

Richard Bally, August Beurer, Franz Brandl, Max Neunzert, and Jakob

Schwesinger. All were active in the Civic Guard and had served with

the army or one of the Freikorps; Neunzert held the post of Disarmament

Commissioner with the Civic Guard, and had played a leading role in

preventing weapons from being surrendered to the Berlin authorities.

Beurer and Neunzert were questioned on March 11 and 12. On March 13

Brandl was brought in for questioning. At the very outset Merz won

the impression that Brandl was holding something back. Merz pressed

him further with a combination of sympathy and firmness which disarmed

Brandl's resistance. The young man then confessed that he had not

been among the participants in the ride to Ulm on the night of March 3,

and that he had been pushed by his friends into presenting himself

thusly in order to cover the participation of yet another individual,

Hermann Berchtold.52

The mere mention of Berchtold's name quickened the interest of

the interrogators. Berchtold had been implicated in the Sandmayer

affair and had been identified as one of Dobner's assailants--as had

Neunzert, who had driven the car used in the abduction of Dober.

Beurer and Neunzert, moreover, had been caught in a direct lie

concerning their activities on the night of March 3, and their pressure

on Brandl to present himself in place of Berchtold took on the

dimensions of a deliberate conspiracy of silence. Beurer was immediately

brought back in and, confronted with Brandl's statement, conceded

that Berchtold had in fact been the fifth member of the group. Both

Ott and Merz believed that a milestone in the case had been passed.

Merz later went so far as to say, "With the mention of the name

Berchtold, the case was, for me, as good as broken."53

Prosecutor Krick evidently agreed; that same day he signed

warrants for the arrest of Bally, Berchtold, Beurer, Neunzert, and

Schwesinger. Later that same day Lieutenant Braun's name was added

to the list--the leads developed by Gehauf and Feil had finally born

fruit. The next morning Krick returned to Augsburg, leaving what now

appeared to be merely a follow-up investigation in the hands of Merz.54

At this point the case against the six suspects rested firmly

upon the juristical pillars of motive and opportunity. Hartung's threat

to Braun, coupled with the more generalized doubts which had gathered

around Hartung in Civic Guard circles, provided a clear motive. The

evidence of opportunity was equally transparent. The five main

suspects--the arrest warrant against Braun had named him only as an

accomplice--had departed by truck from Munich on the night in question

and had been in the immediate vicinity of the murder scene during the

course of the evening. All five had been armed with pistols of the

calibers used in the murder. Their truck was at the murder scene at

approximately the time that two witnesses identified the sound of a

shot coming from that direction. The paving stones used to weight

the body came from Munich, quite probably from a barracks courtyard,

to which they all had access on the afternoon of their departure. One

of the suspects, Beurer, was a native of Zusmarshausen. Known through-

out the village as a zealous duck hunter, he was thoroughly familiar

with the course of the Zusam and undoubtedly capable of locating those

rare spots where its depth permitted the concealment of a body.

Moreover, Beurer had repeatedly used the cluster of buildings at the

murder scene as a hiding place for illegal weapons-his affinity for

the spot was virtually a byword in the village. Finally, Bally,

Beurer, Berchtold, and Schwesinger had returned by train to Munich on

March 4 along the route where Hartung's blood-soaked cap and briefcase

were found.55 Granted, some of this evidence was circumstantial. Still,

coupled with the known involvement of Braun and Berchtold in the Sand-

mayer case, the grounds for arresting the six and holding them in

investigative custody appeared overwhelming.

Nonetheless, within twenty-four hours of having signed the arrest

warrants, Public Prosecutor Krick returned to the PDM and countermanded

them. The suspects were allowed to go free. Krick's new directive, to

be sure, required that they hold themselves available for further

questioning, but, once they were free there was no effective means

of enforcing this provision. The suspects could flee, or go underground,

as some of them ultimately did.5 If PBhner's earlier transferral of

the case from PDM VI to PDM I had threatened to delay the investigation,

this latest move threatened to destroy it completely.

What accounted for Krick's change of heart? Shortly after his

return to Augsburg on the morning of March 14, a certain Dr. Gademann

called at his home. Gademann explained that he had come by car from

Munich to fetch Krick and take him back to the Ministry of Justice.

Gademann indicated that the Minister desired a consultation on the

progress of the Hartung case. Gademann evidenced a great need to

hurry, against which Krick protested that he had just come from the

train and was preparing to sit down to lunch. After some discussion

Gademann agreed to come back at one-thirty in the afternoon. Gademann

returned at the appointed time, drove Krick by his office to get some

papers on the case, and then picked up the other Public Prosecutor,

Kraus, on their way out of town.5

Both Krick and Kraus had assumed that Gademann was a representative

of the Ministry of Justice. During the drive back to Munich, however,

Gademann remarked that he was the legal advisor to the Civic Guard and

that the car belonged to Georg Escherich, the head of the Civic Guard.

Krick felt a certain surprise at this--his assumptions about Gademann's

connection with the Ministry had been based upon the latter's evident

familiarity with Krick's work on the Hartung case. His colleague Kraus,

however, saw nothing untoward in Gademann's mission. The Civic Guard,

after all, was a semi-official organization--in his own Augsburg

jurisdiction Guard volunteers served on the staff of the local jail,

and Kraus himself felt a great deal of admiration for Escherich's

work. More impressed than uneasy, Kraus thought nothing more about

the possible impropriety as the car pulled up at the Palace of Justice
in Munich.5

Once inside, both Kraus and Krick experienced disappointment.

They had been led to expect an interview with the Justice Minister

himself, Dr. Roth. Instead, they were ushered into the presence of

Oberregierungsrat GUrtner, Roth's deputy and later successor. Krick

presented his report to GUrtner and then departed in the direction of

police headquarters, leaving Kraus to consult further with GUrtner.59

Krick went directly to Merz and, after hurriedly recounting the

events of the afternoon, walked over to a lectern in the corner of

Merz's office and wrote out the order lifting the warrants for arrest.

Merz protested with all the vigor he could muster. Nothing had changed

since the night before, when the warrants had been issued; their

withdrawal would destroy the prospects for further progress in the case;

this sudden step made no sense. Krick listened stonily, and then

reaffirmed his order.6

For Merz, the memories of this episode would still rankle years

later. The case had been thrust upon him by P6hner, against his

professional objections. And now, with success within his grasp,

the basis of the investigation had been cut from under him. If the

case failed now, it would most certainly be a black mark against him

and against the reputation of Department I, hitherto unbesmirched by

charges of political bias. Throughout the next day he mulled matters

over and then went to Police Director Ramer, second-in-command at the

PDM and head of Department I, stated his feelings, and asked to be

removed from the case. Ramer promised to take this request under

advisement. The next day Merz was summoned to Ramer's office, where

he found Ramer and Krick's superior, Kraus. Ramer explained that he had

already conveyed the substance of Merz's objections to Kraus. Kraus

then sternly reminded Merz that, as a police officer, he was duty-bound

to obey the instructions of the prosecutor's office. He professed

himself satisfied with Merz's conduct of the case up to that point,

but wanted to make certain Merz would continue in the right direction;

this final remark passed without further explanation. Ramer then

warned Merz not to hurt himself and his career by doing something stupid

(". .. Ramer redete mir zu und meinte, ich solle keine dienstliche

Dummheit machen ."). The interview concluded with a direct order

from Ramer to Merz to continue as head of the investigation.61

But the case had clearly collapsed. Hamstrung in his efforts to

move against the most likely suspects, Merz soon lost interest in

pursuing the futile exercise.62 The investigation continued in

desultory fashion into 1922 and then faded into nothingness, only to

be revived when political circumstances changed some years later.

The case against the suspected slayers of Hans Hartung had been

murdered, just as surely as Hartung himself. But why? And by whom?

The proximate cause had been the prosecutor's unwillingness to uphold

the arrest warrants. Krick's sudden change of heart, however, had not

come unbidden. Here was the real mystery in the case.

Both Krick and Kraus later swore that Gurtner had made no attempt

to influence their disposition of the case. Questioned later about the

interview at the Justice Palace, Krick insisted that Gurtner had only

requested a progress report and had made no attempt to influence the

course of the investigation. His impression had been that the dispatch

*In the summer of 1924 the investigation was reopened under the
supervision of Investigating Judge Kestel of the Landgericht MUnchen I.
In March 1925, Max Neunzert and Richard Bally were formally tried for
the murder of Hans Hartung. The other four suspects were also sought
for trial, but could not be brought before the court. Beurer had
successfully gone underground; Berchtold, who in the meantime has been
sought by the Austrian police for yet another murder, had likewise
disappeared. Schwesinger was hiding out in the Saarland. Braun had
found asylum in Admiral Horthy's Hungary, where he effectively resisted
extradition in connection with the Hartung case by presenting himself
as the victim of political persecution--the request for extradition had
also been based on a second indictment against Braun, issued for his
complicity in the Sandmayer case.
In its verdict the court concluded that it was "highly probable"
that "as participants in the truck ride to Ulm, the two defendants had
participated in the murder of Hartung." Neunzert and Bally were none-
theless set free--high probability not being adequate for a conviction.
One may respect the court's adherence to strict standards of law in
this case, while at the same time noting that such strict standards had
not often been demanded when leftists were being tried in Bavarian
courts. One may also question the court's treatment of evidence in
expressing its reasons for doubt. For example, in rejecting the indict-
ment, the court laid great stress on the fact that no traces of blood

of Gademann to Augsburg to bring back the two prosecutors was the simple

consequence of GUrtner's desire for fresh information. Kraus described

the incident in much the same language. To explain his sudden volte-

face in the matter of the arrest warrants, Krick stated that it had not

been sudden at all, that he and Kraus had agreed on this measure shortly

before leaving for Munich that afternoon. The discussion took place

when Gademann and Krick stopped at the door of Kraus's home to pick him

up for the ride to Munich. Krick walked to the door, leaving Gademann

to wait with the chauffeur. Walking back to the car with Kraus, Krick

reported briefly on the developments during his three-day stay in

Munich. In the course of the discussion he began to wonder if he had

acted too hastily in issuing the arrest warrants--perhaps Kraus

expressed certain reservations on this score. The evidence against the

suspects was not absolutely conclusive. Worse, all of the suspects were

had been found on the clothing of the defendants--this in spite of
the fact that a week elapsed between the night of the crime and the
first examination by the police of any of the suspects, and in spite
of the further fact that Neunzert himself admitted under oath that he
and his four co-riders had all taken changes of clothing with them on
the trip. The court also dismissed out of hand a statement of Bally's
to a friend that he had participated in the murder of Hartung,
largely on the grounds that Bally had been drunk at the time of this
confession. In vino veritas clearly did not count for much with the
court. For these and other details of the later case against Neunzert
and Bally see the verdict of March 30, 1925, in the case in StAnw.
Mu. I 3018d/7.

respectable individuals and members of the Civic Guard, an organization

with close ties to the state. One would have to proceed very carefully,

for a mistake could have a serious effect on public opinion.

Krick's version of this exchange was the only one available--

Kraus recalled later that Krick had made his report, but could remember

nothing of its content.3 Nonetheless, Kraus's version of the interview

with Giirtner suggested that he and Krick had already come to have

second thoughts on the subject of the arrest warrants before the inter-

view began. As Kraus recalled the interview, it began with a general

report by Krick. At the conclusion of the report the question of the

arrest warrants arose. Apparently without being pressed by Girtner

on the matter--Kraus refused to attribute any comment to Girtner--Kraus

indicated that he was well aware of the significance of the case, that

*The original of Krick's statement read as follows:

".. Ich berichtete meinem Amtsvorstand fiber meine
Tatigkeit in MUnchen und den Gang der Erhebungen in grossen Ziigen.
Hiebei werde ich auch gegussert haben, dass ver Verdacht auf die
Beschuldigten gefallen ist, gegen die ich Haftbefehl erlassen hatte,
dass aber noch kein abschliessender Beweis da sei, well man noch nicht
wisse, wo Hartung ermordet wurde und ob er iberhaupt lebend auf dem
gleichen Lastauto fuhr, wie die ibrigen Beschuldigten. Die Annahme,
dass er in MUnchen ermordet wurde und in einen Personenkraftwagen als
Leiche zur Zusam befordert wurde, war meines Erachtens nicht ganz
ausgeschlossen. Ich weiss nun nicht mehr, ob bei dieser Unterredung
mir Bedenken aufstiegen, ob ich mit meinem Haftbefehl nicht etwa
deneben getappt hatte, oder ob vielleicht Staatsanwalt Kraus derartige
Bedenken aussprach. Ich glaube eher, dass das letztere der Fall
gewesen sein mag. Die Bedenken mogen nach der Richtung gegangen sein,
dass die Beschuldigten anstandige Leute und Angeh6rige der Einwohnerwehr,
also einer sozusagen staatlichen Einrichtung waren, und das man wegen
des Eindrucks, den in diesem Fall ein Misgriff auf die iffentliche
Meinung machen misse, Grund zu besonderer Vorsicht habe. ." Testi-
mony of Wilhelm Krick, July 29, 1924, StAnw. Mu. I 3081d/l.

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