Anton Drexler : biography
Anton Drexler (13 June 1884 – 24 February 1942) was a German far-right political leader of the 1920s, instrumental in the formation of the anti-communist German Workers’ Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei – DAP), the antecedent of the Nazi Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei – NSDAP). Drexler served as mentor to Adolf Hitler during his early days in politics.
In popular culture
In Harry Turtledove’s Southern Victory Series of alternate history novels, the character Anthony Dresser appears to be based on Drexler.
In the 2003 film Hitler: The Rise of Evil, British actor Robert Glenister plays Drexler, although Drexler is portrayed without his trademark spectacles and moustache.
Born in Munich, Drexler was a machine-fitter before becoming a railway locksmith in Berlin in 1902. He joined the Fatherland Party during World War I. He was a poet and a member of the völkisch agitators who, together with journalist Karl Harrer, founded the German Workers’ Party (DAP), in Munich with Gottfried Feder and Dietrich Eckart on 5 January 1919.
At a meeting of the Party in Munich in September 1919, the main speaker was Gottfried Feder. When he had finished speaking, Hitler got involved in a heated political argument with a visitor, Professor Baumann who questioned the soundness of Feder’s arguments against capitalism and proposed that Bavaria should break away from Prussia and found a new South German nation with Austria. In vehemently attacking the man’s arguments he made an impression on the other party members with his oratory skills and, according to Hitler, the "professor" left the hall acknowledging unequivocal defeat. Drexler approached Hitler and thrust a booklet into his hand. It was My Political Awakening and, according to Hitler, it reflected the ideals he already believed in.Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf, 1925. Impressed with Hitler, Drexler invited him to join the DAP. Hitler accepted on 12 September 1919, becoming the party’s 55th member. In less than a week, Hitler received a postcard from Drexler stating he had officially been accepted as a DAP member and he should come to a "committee" meeting to discuss it. Hitler attended the "committee" meeting held at the run-down Alte Rosenbad beer-house.
By 1921, Hitler was rapidly becoming the undisputed leader of the Party. In June 1921, while Hitler and Eckart were on a fundraising trip to Berlin, a mutiny broke out within the NSDAP in Munich. Members of its executive committee, some of whom considered Hitler to be too overbearing, wanted to merge with the rival German Socialist Party (DSP). Hitler returned to Munich on 11 July and angrily tendered his resignation. The committee members realised his resignation would mean the end of the party. Hitler announced he would rejoin on the condition that he would replace Drexler as party chairman, and that the party headquarters would remain in Munich. The committee agreed; he rejoined the party as member 3,680. Drexler was thereafter moved to the purely symbolic position of honorary president, and left the Party in 1923.Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, p. 41