Dietrich Eckart (23rd March 1868 – 26th December 1923) was a German journalist, playwright, poet and politician who was one of the founders of the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (German Workers’ Party – DAP), which later evolved into the Nationalsozialistische deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP). Eckart was born in Neumarkt, Germany (near Nuremberg) in 1868, the son of a royal notary and lawyer. He initially studied medicine in Munich, but quit in 1891 to work as a poet, playwright and journalist. Interested in Germanic mythology Eckart was a successful playwright, especially with his 1912 adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, one of the best attended productions of the age with more than 600 performances in Berlin alone. In Eckart’s version, the play became “a powerful dramatization of nationalist… ideas“, in which Gynt represents the superior Germanic hero, struggling against implicitly Jewish trolls. As Ralph M. Engelman says, “Eckart meant his adaptation of Peer Gynt to represent a racial allegory in which the trolls and Great Boyg represented what [Otto] Weininger conceived to be the Jewish spirit.”
Between 1918 and 1920, Eckart edited the periodical Auf gut Deutsch, published along with Alfred Rosenberg and Gottfried Feder. A fierce critic of the Weimar Republic, he vehemently opposed the treaty of Versailles because constructed by the Social Democrats and Jews who were to blame for Germany’s defeat in WWI, it represented treason against the German people. Eckart was involved in founding the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (German Workers’ Party) together with Gottfried Feder and Anton Drexler in 1919, later renamed the Nationalsozialistische deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers’ Party, NSDAP); he was the original publisher of the NSDAP newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, and also wrote the lyrics of “Deutschland erwache” (Germany awake), which became a Party anthem. Eckart met Adolf Hitler during a speech he gave before party members on August 14th, 1919. He became good friend and college of Hitler in the following years and is strongly believed to have established the theories and beliefs of the National Socialist party.
On November 9th, 1923, Eckart was involved in the Munich Putsch; he was arrested and placed in Landsberg Prison along with Hitler and other party officials, but released shortly due to illness. He died of a heart attack in Berchtesgaden on December 26th, 1923. He was buried in Berchtesgaden’s old cemetery, not far from the eventual graves of party official Hans Lammers and his wife and daughter. Hitler dedicated the second volume of Mein Kampf to Eckart, and also named the Waldbühne in Berlin as the “Dietrich-Eckart-Bühne” when it was opened for the 1936 Summer Olympics. In 1925, Eckart’s unfinished essay Der Bolschewismus von Moses bis Lenin: Zwiegespräch zwischen Hitler und mir (“Bolshevism from Moses to Lenin: Dialogues Between Hitler and Me”) was published posthumously. A major thinker and writer he will not be forgotten.