"Röhm-Putsch" Wrongly called ‘The Night of Long Knives’; Purge of political opponents or National and social necessity.
Lies being taught;
Hitler purged his political opponents to remove all opposition to him.
Now the truth;
History of Stormtrooper;
The first official German Stormtrooper unit was authorized on 2 March 1915 when the German high command ordered the VIII Corps to form a detachment to test experimental weapons and develop tactics which could break the deadlock on the Western Front. On 2 October 1916, General quartiermeister Erich Ludendorff ordered all German armies in the west to form a battalion of stormtroops. They were first successfully used during the German Eighth Army's siege of Riga, and again at the Battle of Caporetto. Wider use followed on the Western Front in March 1918, where Allied lines were successfully pushed back tens of kilometers. The SA evolved out of the remnants of the Freikorps movement of the post-World War I years. The Freikorps were nationalistic organisations primarily composed of disaffected, disenchanted, and angry German combat veterans founded by the government in January 1919 to deal with the threat of a Communist revolution when it appeared that there was a lack of loyal troops. A very large number of the Freikorps believed that the November Revolution had betrayed them when Germany was alleged to be on the verge of victory in 1918. Hence, the Freikorps were in opposition to the new Weimar Republic, which was born as a result of the November Revolution, and whose founders were contemptuously called "November criminals".
What are Stormtrooper under Nazis;
The Sturmabteilung (SA or Brownshirts) originally functioned as the paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party. Brown-coloured shirts were their standard uniform. An advertisement was carried out in the Münchener Beobachter for a mass meeting in the Hofbräuhaus, to be held on 16 October 1919. Some 70 people attended, and a second such meeting was advertised for 13 November 1919 in the Eberlbrau beer hall. Some 130 people attended; there were hecklers, but Hitler's military friends promptly ejected them by force. The next year, on 24 February 1920, Hitler announced the party's Twenty-Five Point program at a mass meeting of some 2000 persons at the Hofbräuhaus. Protesters tried to shout Hitler down, but his army friends, armed with rubber truncheons, ejected the dissenters. The basis for the SA had been formed. Their main assignments were providing protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies from opposing parties particularly Communist Party (KPD), countering paramilitary units of the KPD and social democrats, protecting Nazi meetings from disruption by protesters, disrupting meetings of commies, distributing propaganda, recruiting, marching in the streets to propagandize by showing support for the Nazi cause, political campaigning, and brawling with Commies in the streets.
SA members saw their organization as a revolutionary group, the vanguard of a national-socialist order that would overthrow the hated Republic by force. Stennes leader of SA advocated use of force as legitimate means of taking over political power in February 1931 article published in Der Angriff. This was disturbing to the Nazi leadership as it contravened Hitler's strategy of gaining power through constitutional means only and forswearing violence as a means to power. In September 1930, Hitler invited Ernst Röhm to lead SA who took charge on 5th January 1931.
SA became National nuisance;
Hitler was elected chancellor in January 30, 1933. After Hitler's appointment as chancellor stormtroopers were deprived of attacks by or against commies. They would now run riot on streets after a night of heavy drinking. They would indulge in hooliganism or street fights between themselves and then attack the police who were called to stop them. Complaints of "overbearing and loutish" behaviour by stormtroopers became common by the middle of 1933. Stromtroopers attracted many former communists under their fold from their success in protecting Nazi meetings from commie disruptions. Rudolf Diels, the first Gestapo chief, estimated in 1933 Berlin that 70 percent of new SA recruits were former communists.
Under Röhm, the SA took the side of workers in strikes and other labor disputes, attacking strike breakers and supporting picket lines. SA had fought against left-wing parties during electoral campaigns, but its reputation for street violence and heavy drinking was a hindrance, as was the open homosexuality of Röhm and other SA leaders such as his deputy Edmund Heines. One American journalist would later write, "[Röhm's] chiefs, men of the rank of Gruppenfuehrer or Obergruppenfuehrer, commanding units of several hundred thousand Storm Troopers, were almost without exception homosexuals.[i]
After coming to power of NASDAP, the SA became increasingly eager for power and saw themselves as a replacement for the German Army, then limited by law to no more than 100,000 men. However In Hitler’s view, the proper functions of SA's which hence before had been to protect Nazi Meetings from disruption by protesters, propagandizing Nazi cause, did not advance to SA's functioning as a military organization. Hitler now wanted SA to do community service. Helping elderly, women children, canvassing or fundraising. This was resented by the SA as Kleinarbeit, "little work, trivia".
SA’s Conflict with Army;
Röhm lobbied Hitler to appoint him Minister of Defence, a position held by the conservative General Werner von Blomberg. Blomberg was not a Nazi, but from Prussian Nobility. Blomberg and many of his fellow officers regarded the SA as a plebeian rabble that threatened the army's traditional high status in German society.
Many stormtroopers returned the feeling, seeing the army as insufficiently committed to the National Socialist revolution. Max Heydebreck, a SA leader in Rummelsburg, denounced the army to his fellow brownshirts, telling them, "Some of the officers of the army are swine. Most officers are too old and have to be replaced by young ones. We want to wait till Papa Hindenburg is dead, and then the SA will march against the army."
Röhm, wanted the SA to become the core of a new German military. Limited by the Treaty of Versailles to one hundred thousand soldiers, army leaders such as General Werner von Blomberg, the Minister of Defence, and General Walther von Reichenau, the chief of the Reichswehr's Ministerial Department watched anxiously as membership in the SA surpassed three million men. Ernst Röhm who had been given a seat on the National Defence Council had began to demand more say over military matters. On 2 October 1933, Röhm sent a letter to Reichenau that said: "I regard the Reichswehr now only as a training school for the German people. The conduct of war, and therefore of mobilization as well, in the future is the task of the SA."
SA's National conflict;
In January 1934, Röhm presented Blomberg with a memorandum demanding that the SA replace the regular army as the nation's ground forces, and that the Reichswehr become a training adjunct to the SA. Röhme viewed member of the officer corps as old fogies who lacked "revolutionary spirit." He believed that the Reichswehr should be merged into the SA to form a true "people's army" under his command. At a February 1934 cabinet meeting, he demanded that the Reichswehr be absorbed into the SA under his leadership as Minister of Defense.[ii]
This horrified the army, with its traditions going back to Frederick the Great. The army officer corps viewed the SA as a brawling mob of undisciplined street fighters, and were also concerned by the pervasiveness of homosexuality and "corrupt morals" within the ranks of the SA. Further, reports of a huge cache of weapons in the hands of SA members raised further concern among the Reichswehr leadership. The entire officer corps opposed Röhm's proposal, insisting that discipline and honour would vanish if the SA gained control.
Preparation of a Secret dossier;
Blomberg and von Reichenau began to conspire with Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler against Röhm and the SA. Himmler asked Reinhard Heydrich to assemble a dossier on Röhm. Heydrich recognized that in order for the SS to fully gain national power the SA had to be broken. He manufactured evidence that suggested that Röhm had been paid 12 million marks by the French to overthrow Hitler.
Hitler liked Ernst Röhm and initially refused to believe the dossier provided by Heydrich. Röhm had been of enormous help during early years of Nazi party. The SA under Röhm's leadership had also played a vital role in destroying the communist opposition during the elections of 1932 and 1933.
Talks of Second Revolution;
Röhm spoke of a "second revolution". Röhm alongwith Gregor, Otto Strasser, Gottfried Feder and Walther Darré, belonged to radical faction. This group put emphasis on the word "socialist" and "workers" in the party's name; putting them ideologically closer to the Communists. They capitalism and pushed for nationalization of major industrial firms, expansion of worker control, confiscation and redistribution of the estates of the old aristocracy, and social equality.
Simultaneously Former Chancellor, General Kurt von Schleicher began criticising the current Hitler cabinet while some of Schleicher's followers such as General Ferdinand von Bredow and Werner von Alvensleben started passing along lists of a new Hitler Cabinet in which Schleicher would become Vice-Chancellor, Röhm Minister of Defence, Heinrich Brüning Foreign Minister and Gregor Strasser Minister of National Economy.
Pressure from Vice Chancellor Von Papen;
On June 17, 1934, conservative demands for Hitler to act came to a head when Vice-Chancellor Franz von Papen, gave a speech at Marburg University warning of the threat of a "second revolution". Von Papen, a Catholic aristocrat with ties to army and industry, threatened to resign if Hitler did not act. Von Papen's resignation as vice-chancellor would have been an embarrassing.
Pressure from President Chancellor von Hindenburg;
Matters came to a head in June 1934 when President von Hindenburg, who had the complete loyalty of the army, informed Hitler that if he did not move to curb the SA then Hindenburg would dissolve Hitler's Government and declare martial law.[iii]
In Last week of June 1934, Röhm and several of his companions were on holiday at a resort in Bad Wiessee. On 28 June, Hitler phoned Röhm and asked him to gather all the SA leaders at Bad Wiessee on 30th June for a conference.
At about 04:30 on June 30, 1934, Hitler and his entourage flew into Munich. From the airport they drove to the Bavarian Interior Ministry, where they assembled the leaders of SA and lambasted them on the rampage that had taken place in city streets the night. Enraged, Hitler tore the epaulets off the shirt of Obergruppenführer of SA August Schneidhuber, and chief of the Bavarian Police for failing to keep order last night. Hitler shouted at Schneidhuber that he would be shot. Schneidhuber was executed later that day. As the stormtroopers were hustled off to prison, Hitler departed for the Hanselbauer Hotel in Bad Wiessee, where Ernst Röhm and his followers were staying.
Events from diary of Erich Kempa Chauffeur of Adolf Hitler;
“I run quickly up the stairs to the first floor where Hitler is just coming out of Röhm’s bedroom. Two detectives come out of the room opposite. One of them reports to Hitler: ‘My Führer, the Police-President of Breslau is refusing to get dressed!’ Taking no notice of me, Hitler enters the room where Obergruppenführer Heines is remaining. I hear him shout: ‘Heines, if you are not dressed in five minutes I’ll have you shot on the spot!’ I withdraw a few steps and a police officer whispers to me that Heines had been in bed with an 18-year-old SA Obertruppführer. At last Heines comes out of the room with an 18-year-old fair-haired boy mincing in front of him. ‘Into the laundry room with them!’ cries Schreck.
Meanwhile, Röhm comes out of his room in a blue suit and with a cigar in the corner of his mouth. Hitler glares at him but says nothing. Two detectives take Röhm to the vestibule of the hotel where he throws himself into an armchair and orders coffee from the waiter. I stay in the corridor a little to one side and a detective tells me about Röhm’s arrest. Hitler entered Röhm’s bedroom alone with a whip in his hand. Behind him were two detectives with pistols at the ready. He spat out the words: ‘Röhm, you are under arrest.’ Röhm looked up sleepily from his pillow: ‘Heil, my Führer.’ ‘You are under arrest’ bawled Hitler for the second time, turned on his heel and left the room.
Meanwhile, upstairs in the corridor things are getting quite lively. SA leaders are coming out of their rooms and being arrested. Hitler shouts at each one: ‘Have you had anything to do with Röhm’s plans?’ Naturally, they all deny it, but that doesn’t help them in the least. Hitler usually knows about the individual; occasionally, he asks Goebbels or Lutze a question. And then comes the decision: ‘Arrested!’ But there are others whom he lets go. Röhm’s doctor, SA Gruppenführer Ketterer, comes out of a room, and to our surprise he has his wife with him. I hear Lutze putting in a good word for him with Hitler. Then Hitler walks up to him, greets him, shakes hands with his wife and asks them to leave the hotel; it isn’t a pleasant place for them to stay that day.”[iv]
Hitler decided to pardon Röhm because of his past services to the movement. On 1 July after much pressure from Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler, Hitler agreed that Röhm should die. Hitler insisted that Röhm should first be allowed to commit suicide. However, when Röhm refused, he was killed by two SS officers, Theodor Eicke and Michael Lippert.
Hitler used the occasion to move against some persons close to Vice chancellor Von papen. In Berlin, on Göring's personal orders, an armed SS unit stormed the Vice-Chancellery where they shot Papen's secretary Herbert von Bose. The Gestapo arrested and later executed Papen's close associate Edgar Jung, the author of Papen's Marburg speech; The Gestapo also executed Erich Klausener, the leader of Catholic Action, and a close Papen associate. The vice-chancellor Papen was arrested at the Vice-Chancellery, but later released. Both Kurt von Schleicher, Hitler's predecessor as chancellor, and his wife were murdered at their home. Others killed included Gregor Strasser, a former Nazi who had angered Hitler by resigning from the party in 1932, and Gustav Ritter von Kahr, the former Bavarian state commissioner who crushed the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923.
"Röhm-Putsch" cannot be equated to or called “Night of long knives” since only about eighty-five are known to have died as against strength of three million members of SA. As against these eighty five, in June 1932, one of the worst months of political violence had resulted in 82 deaths.
Social and National Necessity;
The President Hindenburg, Germany's highly revered military hero, sent a telegram expressing his profoundly felt gratitude as he congratulated Hitler for “nipping treason in the bud”. The army unanimously applauded the Purge. Germans saw Hitler as the one who restored order to the country.[v] Luise Solmitz, a Hamburg schoolteacher, echoed the sentiments of Germans when she cited Hitler's personal courage, decisiveness and effectiveness in her private diary. She even compared him to Frederick the Great, the 18th-century King of Prussia.[vi]
After the Night of the Long Knives, the SA continued to exist under the leadership of Viktor Lutze, but the group was significantly downsized. The SA officially ceased to exist in May 1945 when Nazi Germany collapsed.
In 1946, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg formally judged the SA not to be a criminal organization.[vii]
[i] Knickerbocker, H.R. (1941). Is Tomorrow Hitler's? 200 Questions On the Battle of Mankind. Reynal & Hitchcock. p. 34.
[iii] Wheeler-Bennett (2005), Nemesis of Power: The German Army in Politics 1918–1945, pp. 319–320.
[v] Kershaw, Ian. Hitler (2008), p. 315
[vii] "The Sturmabteilung or SA". History Learning Site. Retrieved 22 September 2013.