When I entered the circle of those men there was not yet any question of a party or a movement. I have already described the impression which was made on me when I first came into contact with that small organization. Subsequently I had time, and also the occasion, to study the form of this so-called party which at first had made such a woeful impression. The picture was indeed quite depressing and discouraging. There was nothing, absolutely nothing at all. There was only the name of a party. And the committee consisted of all the party members. Somehow or other it seemed just the kind of thing we were about to fight against--a miniature parliament. The voting system was employed. When the great parliament cried until they were hoarse--at least they shouted over problems of importance--here this small circle engaged in interminable discussions as to the form in which they might answer the letters which they were delighted to have received.
Needless to say, the public knew nothing of all this. In Munich nobody knew of the existence of such a party, not even by name, except our few members and their small circle of acquaintances.
Every Wednesday what was called a committee meeting was held in one of the cafés, and a debate was arranged for one evening each week. In the beginning all the members of the movement were also members of the committee, therefore the same persons always turned up at both meetings. The first step that had to be taken was to extend the narrow limits of this small circle and get new members, but the principal necessity was to utilize all the means at our command for the purpose of making the movement known.
We chose the following methods: We decided to hold a monthly meeting to which the public would be invited. Some of the invitations were typewritten, and some were written by hand. For the first few meetings we distributed them in the streets and delivered them personally at certain houses. Each one canvassed among his own acquaintances and tried to persuade some of them to attend our meetings. The result was lamentable.
I still remember once how I personally delivered eighty of these invitations and how we waited in the evening for the crowds to come. After waiting in vain for a whole hour the chairman finally had to open the meeting. Again there were only seven people present, the old familiar seven.
We then changed our methods. We had the invitations written with a typewriter in a Munich stationer's shop and then multigraphed them.
The result was that a few more people attended our next meeting. The number increased gradually from eleven to thirteen to seventeen, to twenty-three and finally to thirty-four. We collected some money within our own circle, each poor devil giving a small contribution, and in that way we raised sufficient funds to be able to advertise one of our meetings in the Munich Observer, which was still an independent paper.
This time we had an astonishing success. We had chosen the Munich Hofbrau Haus Keller (which must not be confounded with the Munich Hofbrau Haus Festsaal) as our meeting-place. It was a small hall and would accommodate scarcely more than 130 people. To me, however, the hall seemed enormous, and we were all trembling lest this tremendous edifice would remain partly empty on the night of the meeting.
At seven o'clock 111 persons were present, and the meeting was opened. A Munich professor delivered the principal address, and I spoke after him. That was my first appearance in the role of public orator. The whole thing seemed a very daring adventure to Herr Harrer, who was then chairman of the party. He was a very decent fellow; but he had an a priori conviction that, although I might have quite a number of good qualities, I certainly did not have a talent for public speaking. Even later he could not be persuaded to change his opinion. But he was mistaken. Twenty minutes had been allotted to me for my speech on this occasion, which might be looked upon as our first public meeting.
I talked for thirty minutes, and what I always had felt deep down in my heart, without being able to put it to the test, was here proved to be true: I could make a