Hitler's Mentor Dietrich Eckart and the Steinschneider Family
Hitler's biographers have difficulty answering a seemingly easy question:
How did Hitler become an anti-Semite? Ian Kershaw writes, "In truth,
we do not know for certain why, not even when, Hitler turned into a manic
and obsessive anti-Semite" (Kershaw, Hitler: 1889-1936 (London) 1998,
p. 60). Brigitte Hamman shows that Hitler, during his period in Vienna,
was not yet an anti-Semite, but that he first became one in Munich. (Brititte
Hamann, Hitlers Wien ("Hitler's Vienna", Munich) 1998, p. 502.
In Munich in 1918, Hitler, as a visitor to the Thule Club, met Dietrich
Eckart (1868-1923). Eckart was a poet and journalist. He drank excessively
and was addicted to morphine. He introduced Hitler to better society,
taught him some style, and raised money for him to purchase the Münchner
Beobachter (the "Munich Observer)", which later became the "Völkischer
Beobachter [the "People's Observer", the notorious anti-Semitic
newspaper-Trans. N.]. In brief, Eckart was Hitler's mentor. Mein Kampf
is dedicated to Eckart. In 1943, Hitler banned the Frankfurter Zeitung,
Germany's most famous newspaper, because it had published an article critical
of Eckart. Eckart's Der Bolschewismus von Moses bis Lenin ("Bolshevism
from Moses to Lenin," 1923), and Zwiegespräch zwischen Adolf
Hitler und mir ("Dialogues between Adolf Hitler and Me"), also
Eckart's, early on became the canons of Nazi anti-Semitism.
Amongst the Adolf Steinschneider papers is an informative article with
the title "Reminiscence," that Steinschneider had sent in the
late 1930's to a German-language exile paper in Paris, which had declined
to print it.
His father Max Steinschneider had, at the turn of the 20th century, founded
a residential subdivision in Döberitz, near Berlin, in which Dietrich
Eckart's brother Wilhelm, a failed lawyer, had bought a lot. Adolf Steinschneider
describes Willy Eckart as a Quartalsäufer,[one who guzzles by the
quart.] Dietrich Eckart came from Munich to the residential subdivision,
where he hung around with his brother drinking at the Emperor of Germany
inn. As neither of them could pay his bar bill any longer, they cut some
timber in the little forest belonging to the subdivision, and sold the
lumber. Steinschneider warned him and when he caught them cutting down
trees again, Steinschneider bought Willy Steinschneiderhim expelled him
from the subdivision.
"And then began the nightly witches' carnival outside our villa.
Regularly, a quarter of an hour after closing time was announced at the
Emperor of Germany, the Eckart brothers had no sooner reached our house
than they they would launch their wild oratorical attack, the contents
of which were limited to 'Raus mit dem Juden! Beat them to death! Bring
out the Jews!', etc."
In a letter of Sept. 25, 1933, Steinschneider writes to his brother Gustav
"that the feud [of the Steinschneider family] with the Eckarts began,
when we accused Willy E. with some justification of stealing timber from
us. Shortly thereafter he was paid off and thrown out by Papa and that's
when the anti-Semitic rackets in Döberitz began... Just imagine,
what might possibly amount to nearly RM 100,000 in compensation they got
out of us later might have been used for Hitler and his "Völkischer
Further Reading on Eckart:
Margarete Plewnia, Auf dem Weg zu Hitler: der "Volkische" Publizist
Dietrich Eckart" ["On Hitler´s Road: the "People's"
Publicist Dietric Eckart"] (Bremen) 1970.
[Translated from the German by David M. Fishlow, Washington
DC, USA, a distant relative of Steinschneider's mother Léopoldine,