Munich, Hitler's stomping grounds, became a hotbed of fervent German nationalism. Munich calls to mind beer and Octoberfest, and much of Hitler's speaking and rabble rousing took place in beer halls. Munich beer halls of the time held hundreds, sometimes thousands of people. Basically, the idea is to get people, who are downtrodden and dissatisfied with the government, drunk and rowdy and then scream at them over and over and over about how change was needed, change they could believe in. Then one would begin ranting at the scapegoats: socialists, traitors, inefective government, Treaty of Versailles, and, of course, Jews.
Hitler's Nazi party grew and grew. There was no end of destitute Germans looking for a messiah. Ummm... make that savior. The disgruntled teabaggers grew until they were a force to be reckoned with. Early followers included Rudolf Hess; former air force pilot Hermann Goering; future leader of the party's paramilitary "protection" organization (the SS Storm Divison) army captain Ernst Rohm. And, very importantly, former general of the German Army Erich Ludendorff. Ludendorff's presence gave Hitler the appearance of legitimacy. The crowds grew. The rhetoric escalated. The party grew larger.
By 1923, Hitler and the party leadership had determined to form their own government. With the tacit support of Bavaria's ruler, Gustav von Kahr, Hitler and his boys, and Ludendorff, along with the Bavarian police and army, waited for the right time.
On 8 November, 1923, Kahr was holding a meeting at a large Munich beer hall. Hitler and the SA stormed the meeting and demanded, at gunpoint, that Kahr and the local military establishment support a march on Berlin, for the destruction of the Berlin government. Kahr got cold feet and refused. The police and military wouldn't go against him. When Hitler and his followers marched on the Bavarian ministry the next day to take over, they were repulsed. 16 of Hitler's followers were killed. Hitler was arrested and put on trial for treason.
Unfortunately, during Hitler's trial, he was given almost limitless time to speak. His popularity soared as he reiterated his nationalist sentiments in his famous defense speech. What had been merely a thorn in the side of a local government suddenly became a national figure. Nonetheless, Hitler was convicted and sentenced to 5 years at Landsberg Prison.
While imprisoned, Hitler wrote most of volume one of Mein Kampf. He received favored treatment from the prison guards. He was a hero. He received much fan mail. In the end, he was pardoned due to public pressure and served little more than a year of his sentence. From that point forward, Hitler did everything by the book. Legal Hitler.
The beer hall putsch.
A putsch is simply German for a coup, or governmental takeover attempt.
Beer halls in Germany were (and the tradition continues) places where political and social debates were held - even political rallies. One of the largest beer halls in Munich was the Burgerbraukeller. That is where Hitler tried his putsch.
Von Kahr, the Bavarian commissioner, was making a speech in front of 3000 people when Hitler and his brownshirts marched into the beer hall. No one was allowed to leave (a machine gun was set up pointing at the auditorium doors.)
The three Bavarian leaders, commissioner von Kahr, Bavarian state police head, colonel von Sessier, and general Otto von Lossow, were taken into a side room by Hitler and his party leaders (including Rudolf Hess) and given a chance to come out openly to their side. During this time, speeches were held in the adjoining hall, by Goering and others. No one was allowed to leave, not even to go to the bathroom. Hitler was irritated when von Kahr refused, but left the room to speak to the crowd, as he had promised them 15 minutes earlier.
Within seconds, the mood of the crowd changed over to Hitler. Dr. Karl Alexander von Mueller, professor of modern history and political science at the University of Munich, a supporter of von Kahr, was an eyewitness:
"I cannot remember in my entire life such a change in the attitude of a crowd in a few minutes, almost a few seconds. Hitler turned them inside out, as one turns a glove inside out, with a few sentences. It had almost something of hocus-pocus, or magic about it."
Hitler knew the exact buttons that needed to be pressed. He pressed them.