Eckart, Dietrich

(1868-1923)
   journalist, poet, and playwright; first editor of the Volkischer Beobachter.* Born in the Bavarian town of Neumarkt, he abandoned medical studies to become a writer and critic for a small news-paper*; it proved a short-lived endeavor. Following several years as a drifter, which exhausted his inheritance, he settled into the life of a small-time Berlin* writer. During roughly 1904-1912 he wrote poems, short stories, and novels; some plays were later performed during the Third Reich. He was perhaps best known for his free translation of Ibsen's Peer Gynt, a work that bore, in Eckart's version, many autobiographical themes. From 1913 until his death he led a bohemian existence in Munich, writing the dramas Lorenzaccio (1918) and Heinrich der Hohenstaufe (1915)—in which, it is speculated, the so-called Füh-rer concept was first introduced.
   Between December 1918 and mid-1921 Eckart published a weekly polemic entitled Auf gut Deutsch; he used the paper to assail the "November Crime" (the signing of the Armistice* and the overthrow of the Hohenzollerns) and to herald his racist and anticlerical convictions. His virulent anti-Semitism* and antirepublicanism led him first to the Thule Society* and then to the German Workers' Party (precursor to the NSDAP). When Hitler* joined the Party, Eckart exerted a powerful intellectual influence on him. Assisting socially and finan-cially with the December 1920 acquisition of the Munchener Beobachter,he became the newspaper's first publisher and editor when it was renamed the Volkischer Beobachter in 1921; he held both positions until he was replaced by Alfred Rosenberg* in February 1923. While his role in the November 1923 Beerhall Putsch* was minimal, he was nevertheless arrested and died shortly thereafter in prison of a long-standing, probably alcohol-related, illness. His pamphlet Der Bolschewismus von Moses bis Lenin (Bolshevism from Moses to Lenin), evidently coauthored with Hitler, was published in 1924. Hitler dedi-cated the second volume of Mein Kampf* to Eckart.
   REFERENCES:Bracher, German Dictatorship; NDB, vol. 4; Waite, Psychopathic God.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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