Dietrich Eckart was born in Neumarkt, Germany (near Nuremberg) in 1868 as the son of a royal notary and law counselor.
His mother died when he was ten years old; seventeen years later, in
1895, his father died as well, leaving him a considerable amount of
money that Eckart nevertheless used up soon.
Eckart initially started to study medicine in Munich,
but quit in 1891, instead beginning to work as a poet, playwright and
journalist. He moved to Berlin in 1899, where he wrote a number of plays,
often with autobiographical traits; however, despite becoming the protegé
of Graf Georg von Hülsen-Haeseler, the artistic director of the
royal theatres, he never was successful as a playwright, a failure for
which he blamed society.
Later on, he developed an ideology of a “genius
higher human,” based on earlier writings by Lanz von Liebenfels;
he saw himself in the tradition of Arthur Schopenhauer and Angelus Silesius,
and also became fascinated by Mayan beliefs, but never had much sympathy
for the scientific method. Eckart also loved and strongly identified
with Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt.
Moving back to Munich, Eckart joined the Rudolf
von Sebottendorff's right-wing Thule Society in 1913 and became
politically active; in 1915, he also wrote the nationalist play "Heinrich
der Hohenstaufe" ("Heinrich of the High Baptism"), in
which he postulated a claim to world leadership for the German people.
Later on, between 1918 and 1920, Eckart was the editor
of the anti-semitic periodical Auf
gut Deutsch, which he published with the help of Alfred
Rosenberg and Gottfried
Feder. A fierce critic of the newly-formed Weimar Republic, he vehemently
opposed the Treaty of Versailles, which he viewed as treason, and propagated
the so-called Dolchstoßlegende, according to which the social
democrats and jews were to blame for Germany's defeat in World War I.
Eckart was involved in the founding Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (German Workers' Party) together with Gottfried
Feder and Anton Drexler in 1919, which later on was renamed Nationalsozialistische deutsche
Socialist German Workers' Party, NSDAP); he invented and published
the NSDAP's own periodical Völkischer Beobachter, and also wrote the songtext "Deutschland
erwache" (Germany awake), which became the anthem of the Nazi
Eckart soon met Adolf
Hitler as well, during a speech he gave before party members on
August 14 1919; he exerted considerable influence on Hitler in the following years, who later on described him as his “fatherly
On November 9 1923, Eckart was involved in the Nazi
party's failed Beer Hall
Putsch; he was arrested in Landsberg prison along with Hitler and other party officials, but released again soon due to illness.
He died of a heart attack caused by a morphine addiction in Berchtesgaden
on December 26, 1923.
Hitler later on dedicated the first volume of Mein
Kampf to Eckart, and also named the Waldbühne in Berlin
"Dietrich-Eckart-Bühne" when it was first opened for
the 1936 Summer Olympics.
In 1925, Eckarts unfinished essay, Der Bolschewismus
von Moses bis Lenin. Zwiegespräch zwischen Hitler und mir ("Bolshevism
from Moses to Lenin. Dialogues between Hitler and me"), was posthumously
published, although it has been shown (Plewnia 1970) that it the dialogues
were an invention; the essay was in fact written by Eckart alone.