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Munich Putsch

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Rebellions were not uncommon in the Weimar Republic. Ever since the end of the First World War communists, socialists and nationalists all attempted to take power and rule weakened Germany. Yet, the people were tired. The constant fear of yet another rebellion worked negatively on the German public. The feeling of "This time it'll work" was not a sentiment shared by the people of Germany. Well, Adolf Hitler was not one of these people. He truly believed that maybe he could be the one to break the cycle of failed rebellions. But how did it go? Let's find out!

Munich Putsch Summary

9 November 1923. It's the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Weimar Republic, but Germany is in no mood to celebrate. Germans resent the Weimar government for signing the Treaty of Versailles and appearing to make the once-great German Empire weak and docile. In addition, hyperinflation has hit Germany, tearing the country's economy apart. Bread that cost 160 German Papiermarks in 1922 now costs 200,000,000,000. The United States Dollar is worth 4,210,500,000,000 German marks. The situation is dire.

Just a day before, on 8 November 1923, Adolf Hitler delivered a fiery speech at the Bürgerbräukeller, a beer hall in Munich, condemning the Weimar government for its incompetence. Hitler called for the establishment of a new German government with the Nazi Party at its helm. They would shape Germany as they alone saw fit. A Germany for Germans, and Germans only.

Munich Putsch, Assembly in the Bürgerbräukeller in 1923. StudySmarterFig. 1: Assembly in the Bürgerbräukeller in 1923

The speech at the beer hall was attended by some 2,000 men, which included both the members of the Nazi Party and Hitler's paramilitary organisation, the Sturmabteilung (the SA). Hitler planned to seize Munich which would become the base of operation of the Nazi Party. As the Nazi party gained more strength, march into Berlin and overthrow the Weimar Government.

Munich Putsch,The Sturmabteilung during the Munich Putsch in 1923. StudySmarterFig. 2: The Sturmabteilung during the Munich Putsch in 1923

With 2,000 men, Hitler took to the streets of Munich but was met with opposition from the Munich police, with support from the Reichswehr. The Nazi Party also attempted to gain the confidence of the German army but failed.

What was the Reichswehr?

Following the end of the First World War and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany's standing army was restricted to only 100,000 men. Reichswehr, meaning Reich Defense, was simply the official name for the armed forces of Germany.

A brawl broke out in central Munich between the Nazis and the Munich police. The brawl eventually turned into a firefight which cost the lives of over a dozen Nazis and about five policemen. The firefight disrupted the Nazis' march on Munich, many of whom disbanded, including Hitler, who escaped arrest, in Munich but was arrested days later in the German countryside.

In retrospect, the Munich Putsch failed because of a simple reason, mismanagement and disorganization. Hitler had a greater number of men following him than the police mobilised in central Munich, but he had failed to gain the confidence of the general public. Thus the Munich Putsch was a failure, despite Hitler's optimism.

Munich Beer Hall Putsch

The Munich Beer Hall Putsch is simply another term for the Munich Putsch. Don't be alarmed, as mentioned above, the movement of the Munich Putsch was instigated by Hitler in the Bürgerbräukeller beer hall. This was where the movement began marching. Thus, if you ever see come across the term 'Munich Beer Hall Putsch', remember that it is talking about the Munich Putsch of 8 November 1929.

Causes of the Munich Putsch

The main causes of the Munich Putsch are:

  • Treaty of Versailles seen as treason not only by Hitler but a large part of German nation;

  • overall weakness of the Weimar government;

  • French occupation of the Ruhr;

  • ongoing economic crisis and spiraling hyperinflation.

The Munich Putsch was Hitler's attempt to overthrow the Weimar government he believed to have been unable to run and govern Germany. A First World War veteran himself, Hitler took the Weimar republic's forced signing of the Treaty of Versailles very personally.

Munich Putsch, Corporal Adolf Hitler in 1921. StudySmarterFig. 3: Corporal Adolf Hitler in 1921

However, Hitler was not the only one who saw the Weimar government as treacherous to the German nation. No. The German people had even gone as far as calling the Weimar government the "Criminals of November", named so after the signing of the armistice on 11 November 1918 that was foundational to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

The hyperinflation that plagued Weimar Germany from 1921 was also one of the main reasons behind the German dissatisfaction with their government. In addition to hyperinflation, strikes and attempts to overthrow the Weimar government were not uncommon. Just three years ago, the Weimar Republic had survived the Kapp Putsch, an attempted coup d'état that in the beginning seemed to have been successful at overthrowing the government but ultimately failed. In the end, the Kapp Putsch only revealed how weak the German state was from within.

Kapp Putsch

The Kapp Putsch was an attempt by Wolfgang Kapp and Walther von Lüttwitz to overthrow the Weimar government on 13–18 March 1920. Following the humiliation of defeat and the subsequent signing of the Treaty of Versailles Germany was reduced to only a shell of its former self. Many Germans, especially the soldiers, were ready to go back to war and take back the territories that had been lost. This could only be done if the Weimar government was out of the picture.

Commanded by von Lüttwitz, the Freikorps and the Reichswehr marched into Berlin forcing the Weimar government to flee. But despite their efforts, the city called for a general strike and Berlin was paralysed. No electricity, no running water, no natural gas.

No doubt Hitler and the Nazi party believed that they could be the ones to overthrow the incompetent government and establish their own. A strong government, superior to its predecessors.

Hitler, however, was not inspired by the Kapp Putsch in Germany, but rather by the March on Rome in Italy. Hitler saw an opportunity that maybe it was time to change the tactics of a putsch, maybe it was time to gather public support not only by circumstance but also by force. This was exactly why Hitler like to. use the SA. The SA was an armed paramilitary organisation during his speech in the beer hall stood with machine guns intimidating all present to listen to Hitler's speech.

The March on Rome

The March on Rome was a coup d'état that took place in Italy on 27-29 October 1922. The coup was headed by Benito Mussolini, creator of the National Fascist Party. He along with his followers known as the Blackshirts (due to their distinct sporting of black shirts and black ties), began occupying key strategic locations around Italy.

Subsequently, Mussolini and the Blackshirts began their March on Rome which was almost met with hostility from the local authorities. But, King Vittorio Emmanuele III ordered the authorities not to intervene. Instead, he chose to appoint Mussolini as Prime Minister. With this move, political power was bloodlessly transferred to Mussolini and his National Fascist Party.

Ultimately, the cause of the Munich Putsch was simple. As stated many times over, the Weimar government was seen as a poor example of German governance and to many, an insult to what Germany used to represent. Might. Germany no longer inspired fear in its neighbours, nor did it evoke respect from them. And Hitler believed it to be him to break Germany out of this prison of decrepitude.

Munich Putsch Failure

Unbeknownst to Hitler, the Munich Putsch was destined to fail. Despite a larger number of putschists, with the arrival of the much more well-organised Munich police and the Reichswehr, the attempted coup d'état was subdued following a firefight that followed a mass brawl in Central Munich.

With over a dozen dead on the Nazi side and about 5 on the Munich police side, the Putsch failed after the firefight began showing real casualties. Though Hitler also fled, he was arrested days later in the German countryside and sentenced to 5 years in the Landsberg Prison for treason.

Munich Putsch, The Landsberg Prison. The yellow arrow indicates Hitler's cell. StudySmarterFig. 4: The Landsberg Prison. The yellow arrow indicates Hitler's cell

Yet, despite everything, the Munich Putsch failed not only as a coup d'état but also in gathering public support. After the Kapp Putsch, public opinion regarding rebellions was not all that positive. Yes, the German people were dissatisfied with the Weimar government, but no plan to overthrow the government since the end of the Great War had succeeded. It was hard to blame the public for not rallying around Hitler, to them he was just another man dissatisfied with the government.

The Great War

The First World War

Munich Putsch Consequences

The Munich Putsch proved that the German people were not yet ready to rally around one leader. However, the putsch itself proved to be advantageous to Hitler himself. But why, wasn't he imprisoned and charged with treason? Yes, he was, but it goes a bit deeper than that.

We can list the main consequences of the Munich Putsch below:

  • imprisonment of Hitler and his collaborators in Landsberg;

  • temporarily banning Nazi Party in Bavaria and Hitler from public speaking;

  • strenghtening Hitler's position within the Nazi Party;

  • change in Hitler's strategy of taking over power in Germany.

When Hitler was sent to the Landsberg prison to serve five years, he was joined by some of his closest companions such as Rudolf Hess and Emil Maurice. The prison was anything but a prison, it was more like a dorm room filled with Hitler and his colleagues.

Munich Putsch, Hitler and some of his closest comrades including Emil Maurice (next to Hitler holding the lute) and Rudolf Hess (second from right) in Landsberg prison, 1924. StudySmarterFig. 5: Hitler and some of his closest comrades including Emil Maurice (next to Hitler holding the lute) and Rudolf Hess (second from right) in Landsberg prison, 1924

It was here, in Landsberg Prison, where Hitler authored his infamous memoir, Mein Kampf.

Despite his sentence of five years, Hitler only served nine months. It turned out that there were 'some' people of power who were sympathetic to Hitler's cause. Thus the Bavarian government decided to release the architect of the Munich Putsch much earlier than his sentence.

Though Hitler was released, the Nazi Party was banned and Hitler was forbidden to make public speeches. The Nazi Party also dissolved, but only until 1925, when Hitler decided to re-establish the party and take power. Only this time, he wouldn't do it through revolution. No, he would do it by gaining public approval and winning elections.

Munich Putsch - Key takeaways

  • The Munich Putsch is also known as the Munich Beer Hall Putsch.
  • The Munich Putsch was instigated by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party.
  • The Munich Putsch began at the Bürgerbräukeller, a beer hall in Munich.
  • The putsch was meant to occupy Munich and then overthrow the Weimar government in Berlin.
  • Hitler and his accomplices were met with resistance from the Munich police and the Reichswehr.
  • A brawl broke out in central Munich. The Brawl was followed by gunfire which took the lives of over 20 men on both sides.
  • Hitler escaped to the German countryside to avoid arrest but. was found and arrested regardless days later.
  • He was sentenced to 5 years in the Landsberg prison but only served nine months.


  1. James Cross Giblin, The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler (2002)
  2. Fig. 1: Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1978-004-12A, NSDAP-Versammlung im Bürgerbräukeller, München (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1978-004-12A,_NSDAP-Versammlung_im_B%C3%BCrgerbr%C3%A4ukeller,_M%C3%BCnchen.jpg) by German Federal Archive licenced by CC-BY-SA 3.0
  3. Fig. 2: Bundesarchiv Bild 102-13373, Neustadt, Bewaffnete SA (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_102-13373,_Neustadt,_Bewaffnete_SA.jpg) by German Federal Archive licenced by CC-BY-SA 3.0
  4. Fig. 3: Hitler 1921 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hitler_1921.jpg). Unknown author, image is a public domain
  5. FIg. 4: Landsberg Prison (west side) (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Landsberg_Prison_(west_side).jpg). Unknown author, image is public domain
  6. Fig. 5: Hitler, Maurice, Kriebel, Hess, Weber, prison de Landsberg en 1924 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hitler,_Maurice,_Kriebel,_Hess,_Weber,_prison_de_Landsberg_en_1924.jpg). Unknown author, image is public domain

Frequently Asked Questions about Munich Putsch

Hitler and his Nazi Party intended to take power from the Weimar government. Their objective was to march on Berlin, and destabilize the German government. They aimed to form a new administration to supervise the establishment of a new German Reich.

The Munich Putsch, also known as the Munich Beer hall Putsch took place between 8 and 9 November 1923.

The Munich Putsch effectively put Hitler and the Nazi party on the political radar. Thanks to Hitler's efforts, the Munich Putsch demonstrated that the actions of the Nazi party were seen positive upon positively by a significant percentage of the German population that was unhappy with the current state of Germany.

The main reason the Munich Putsch failed was due to the fact that the Nazis lacked the necessary firepower to launch a successful takeover of the German government. The putsch was unsuccessful, and 16 Nazis were killed in the process.

Final Munich Putsch Quiz

Munich Putsch Quiz - Teste dein Wissen


What was the Reichswehr?

Show answer


Following the end of the First World War and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany's standing army was restricted to only 100,000 men. Reichswehr, meaning Reich Defense, was simply the official name for the armed forces of Germany.

Show question


Who was Hitler inspired by who in 1922 Marched on Rome?

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Benito Mussolini and his National Fascist Party

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What other putsch took place before the Munich Putsch that also envisioned the overthrow of the Weimar Government?

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The Kapp Putsch of 1920

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How long was Hitler sentenced to prison, what was the charge?

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5 years, treason

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How many men took part in the Munich Putsch on Hitler's side?

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What was the name of the beer hall that was the beginning point of the Munich Putsch?

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How many years/months did Hitler actually serve in prison?

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9 months

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What happened to the Nazi party after the failure of the Munich Putsch?

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It was outlawed and disbanded

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What infamous book was written in Landberg Prison?

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Mein Kampf

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