Secret Meeting of 20 February 1933
The Secret Meeting of 20 February 1933 (German: Geheimtreffen vom 20. Februar 1933) was a secret meeting held by Adolf Hitler and 20 to 25 industrialists at the official residence of the President of the Reichstag Hermann Göring in Berlin. Its purpose was to raise funds for the election campaign of The National Socialist German Workers’ Party.
The German elections were to be held on 5 March 1933. The National Socialist German Workers’ Party wanted to achieve two-thirds majority to pass the Enabling Act and desired to raise three million Reichsmark to fund the campaign. According to records, two million Reichsmarks were contributed at the meeting.
The meeting was attended by the following business representatives:
- Ernst Brandi, chairman of Bergbauverein
- Karl Büren, director general of Braunkohlen- und Brikettindustrie AG, board member of Deutschen Arbeitgeberverbände
- August Diehn, board member of Wintershall AG
- Ludwig Grauert
- Guenther Heubel, director general of C. TH. Heye Braunkohlenwerke AG, board member of Deutschen Arbeitgeberverbände
- Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach (Krupp)
- Hans von und zu Loewenstein, executive member of Bergbauverein
- Fritz von Opel, board member of Adam Opel AG (Opel)
- Günther Quandt, major industrialist, later appointed Leader of the Armament Economy (Wehrwirtschaftsführer) (BMW and Altana)
- Wolfgang Reuter, director general of Demag, chairman of Vereins Deutscher Maschinenbau-Anstalten, presidential member of Reichsverbands der Deutschen Industrie (Demag halftrack military vehicles).
- August Rosterg, director general of Wintershall AG
- Hjalmar Schacht
- Georg von Schnitzler, board member of IG Farben
- Eduard Schulte, director general of Giesches Erben, Zink und Bergbaubetrieb
- Fritz Springorum, Hoesch AG
- Hugo Stinnes Jr., board member of Reichsverband der Deutschen Industrie, member of the Supervisory board of Rhenish-Westphalian Coal Syndicate
- Ernst Tengelmann, CEO of Gelsenkirchener Bergwerks AG
- Albert Vögler, CEO of Vereinigte Stahlwerke AG
- Ludwig von Winterfeld, board member of Siemens & Halske AG and Siemens-Schuckertwerke AG (Siemens)
- Wolf-Dietrich von Witzleben, head of the office of Carl Friedrich von Siemens (Siemens)
According to historian Gerald Feldmann were also present:
- Kurt Schmitt, board member of Allianz AG
- August von Finck, served on numerous boards and committees.
Georg von Schnitlzler said in his 10 November 1945 statement before the Office of US Chief of Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality that Dr. Stein, chairman of Gewerkschaft Auguste Victoria, a mine owned by IG Farben, and member of the German People’s Party was also present at the reunion.
Sequence of events
First Hermann Göring gave a short speech in which he emphasized the importance of the current election campaign. Then Hitler appeared and gave a ninety-minute speech. He praised the concept of private property and argued that The National Socialist German Workers’ Party would be the nation’s only salvation against the communist threat. The basis of The National Socialist German Workers’ Party is the national idea and the concern over the nation’s defense capabilities. Life is a continuous struggle and only the fittest could survive. Concurrently, only a militarily fit nation could thrive economically.
In his speech, Hitler declared democracy culpable for the rise of communism. The following is a translated excerpt of what remains of his speech:
We are today facing the following situation. The Weimar Government imposed upon us a certain constitutional order by which they put us on a democratic basis. By that we were, however, not provided with an able governmental authority. On the contrary, for the same reasons for which I criticized democracy before, it was inevitable that communism, in ever greater measure, penetrated the minds of the German people.
Then Hitler declared that he needed complete control of the state to bring communism to bear:
We must first gain complete power if we want to crush the other side completely.[…]In Prussia, we must still gain another 10 seats, and in the Reich proper, another 33. That is not impossible if we exert all our strength. Then, only, begins the second action against communism.
After Hitler’s speech, Krupp expressed thanks to the participants and put special emphasis on the commitment to private property and to the nation’s defense capabilities. Hitler then left the meeting. Göring gave a short speech in which he pointed out the emptiness of The National Socialist German Workers’ Party‘s campaign war chest and asked the gentlemen present to help remedy this shortage. Then Göring left and Hjalmar Schacht took the floor. Schacht requested three million Reichsmark.
The money was made out to Nationale Treuhand, Dr. Hjalmar Schacht and deposited in the Bank of Delbrück Schickler & Co. A statement from the IG Farben Trial indicated a total of 2,071,000 Reichsmark had been paid. The money then went to Rudolf Hess who transferred it to Franz Eher Nachfolger.
The total contributions made to The National Socialist German Workers’ Party totalled 2,071,000 Reichsmark. Below the sum is broken down by transaction.
|23 February||Bergbauverein||200,000 Reichsmark|
|24 February||Karl Hermann||150,000 Reichsmark|
|Automobil-Ausstellung, Berlin||100,000 Reichsmark|
|25 February||Dir. A. Steinke||200,000 Reichsmark|
|27 February||Telefunken||35,000 Reichsmark|
|28 February||IG Farben||400,000 Reichsmark|
|1 March||Hjalmar Schacht||125,000 Reichsmark|
|3 March||Dir. Karl Lange,
Berlin Dessauer Str.
|March 7||Fritz Springorum||36,000 Reichsmark|
|Accumulatorenfabrik AG, Berlin
(Owner: Günther Quandt)
|13 March||Bergbauverein||300,000 Reichsmark|
|Final Balance||2,071,000 Reichsmark|
According to Marxist researchers, including Kurt Pätzold, this meeting provides further evidence of the financing of the Nazi Party by big business. On other hand, Historian Henry Ashby Turner pointed out that the contributions were not entirely voluntary, designating that meeting as a “milestone: the first important material contribution of organizations of the big business to the Nazistic cause. British historian Ian Kershaw, in his biography of Hitler, sees the contributions as “political blackmail.”
British historian Adam Tooze writes, however:
The meeting of 20 February and its aftermath are the most notorious instances of the willingness of German big business to assist Hitler in establishing his dictatorial regime. The evidence cannot be dodged.