Hitlerjugend: An In-Depth History: 1923 - The failed Munich putsch
by Arvo L. Vercamer

Global politics now reared its fate on Germany. In January of 1923, France occupied the German Ruhr region because Germany defaulted on its war reparations payments to France. A major internatinal crisis was averted when Germany agreed to resume her war reparations payments to France in August of 1923. The "Jugendbund" also participated at the 28 January 1923 party rally in Munich; but as can be imagined, all of Germany was very nervous due to the potentially volatile international climate and this concern could also be seen on all of the rally attendents.

The French occupation of the Ruhr had a number of devastating and long-term consequences on life in Germany. As soon as the French moved into the Ruhr (Rhein) region, the Government of Germany found itself in a state of crisis. A strong feeling of uncertainty and further political humiliation seemed to grip all of Germany like a plague. In the fall of 1923, the states of Sachsen and Thüringen, as well as the city-state of Hamburg, experienced political uprisings and social disorders. These types of events were often orchestrated by the communist parties. Hitler and his NSDAP followers believed that the time was ripe for them to "take over"; the time was right to take advantage of the political chaos and seize power in Bavaria.

On November 8/9th, 1923, Hitler and his NSDAP associates led their abortive putsch in Munich. Lenk and the "Jugendbund" were not directly involved, though Lenk and many other "Jugendbund" members did act as messengers. One "Jugendbund" member, Kurt Neubauer, was killed by the Bavarian Police in the putsch attempt. Hitler was arrested. Specifically, he fled the scene shortly after the first few shots were fired and sought refuge in the attic of Ernst Hanfstängl's apartment in Uffing until the Munich police was able to track him down two days later. Gerhard Rossbach, Hermann Göring and Rudolf Hess fled to nearby Austria. The NSDAP suddenly found itself to be merely a shadow of its former self.

Government retribution came quick. The State of Bavaria essentially banned the NSDAP and its supporting "Jugendbund" youth organization on November 9th, 1923. Other German states quickly followed Bavaria's lead. In addition to closing down the NSDAP's "Jugendbund", the "Bund Oberland" and the "Reichskriegsflagge", which were also extreme right wing youth groups, all of these groups were similarly banned from further public activities. Lenk was not yet arrested at this point, but he would be a few short weeks later. Lenk, thinking quickly, established a "new" youth organization called the "Vaterländischer Jugendverband Deutschlands". Realizing the political subterfuge Gustav Lenk was orchestrating, the State of Bavaria banned this new youth group as well. In December of 1923, the Bavarian authorities also jailed Lenk for his efforts.