On the 1st April 1924, Adolf Hitler was found guilty of treason for his role in the Beer Hall Putsch and sentenced to five years in jail. His comfortable Festungshaft (which translates as fortress confinement) in Landsberg Prison lasted for only eight months before he was released for good behaviour. His detention provided him with the opportunity to write Mein Kampf, his blueprint for power, and to rethink the tactics he would use to take that power in Germany.
The Beer Hall Putsch, also known as the Munich Putsch, had begun on the 8th November 1923 when Hitler led an attempted coup against the Weimar Government by trying to seize power in the Bavarian city of Munich. Despite a successful first evening, however, the coup was quickly stalled the following day after the police and army engaged the relatively small Nazi Party in open street fighting.
Hitler hid in a friend’s house, and his arrest for treason two days later could have been the end of his political career. However, he chose to defend himself during his public trial which acted as a propaganda platform. Hitler openly admitted trying to overthrow the government but claimed that he was not guilty of treason since, in his words, “There is no such thing as high treason against the traitors of 1918.”
The trial secured Hitler enormous media attention, and catapulted him and the Nazi Party to national prominence. Despite being imprisoned and banned from public speaking, Hitler was able to rebuild the Nazi Party following his release along less revolutionary lines that eventually saw him appointed Chancellor in January 1933.