At the University of Munich, Hess studied political science and came under the influence of the Thule Society, a secret anti-Semitic political organization devoted to Nordic supremacy. Hess was also influenced by Professor Karl Haushofer, a former general whose theories on expansionism and race formed the basis of the concept of Lebensraum (increased living space for Germans at the expense of other nations).
After hearing Adolf Hitler speak in a small Munich beer hall, Hess joined the Nazi Party, July 1, 1920, becoming the sixteenth member. After his first meeting with Hitler, Hess said he felt "as though overcome by a vision."
At early Nazi Party meetings and rallies, Hess was a formidable fighter who brawled with para-military Marxists and others who often violently attempted to disrupt Hitler's speeches.
In 1923, Hess took part in Hitler's failed Beer Hall Putsch in which Hitler and the Nazis attempted to seize control of Germany.