Marc Schulman

 


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June 1934 Night of the Long Knives

Rohm with Himmler

On the night of June 30th, Hitler eliminated embarrassing friends and foes alike. Seventy-seven people were executed, including SA leader Ernst Roehm, General Von Schleicher and his wife, former premier Gregor Starsser, a radical Nazis and Erich Klausenere, a prominent Catholic.

1934 was a year of Hitler’s consolidation of power. Ironically the greatest threat to Nazis power in the first part of 1934 was coming from SA or the Storm Troopers, a key element in the Nazis rise to power. The SA had grown exponentially after Hitler’s rise to power with its membership totaled 4.5 million including 1.5 million members of the Steel Helmets who were incorporated into the SA. This number overwhelmed the 100,000 regular army troops that Germany was allowed to have under the Versailles agreement. Ernest Rohm who headed the SA began to develop an almost cult like following eerily similar to Hitler. He also called for the Brown shirts to become the army of Germany. The actions of the Brown shirts which was destabilizing the country resulted in calls for Hitler to take action against them by the military and conservative politicians. In addition member of his close entourage, such as Goebbels, Goring and Himmler, began urging him to take action- In April Hitler reached an agreement with the military to curb the SA. In June things came to a head when Vice Chancellor Papen made well received speech simultaneously attacking the cult of personality that had developed while at the same time calling for an end of the calls for a second revolution. Papen threatened to resign, and despite the contempt Hitler felt toward Papen he refused his offer to resign and promised to meet President Hindenburg to discuss the situation. When he met the ailing Hindenburg, the general threatened to declare martial law and put the army in charge of the country unless the SA was brought under control.
Hitler finally decided to act.

Night of the Long Knives

June 30th was the day that Hitler had decided on to crush the SA. He decided to personally supervise the arrest of Rohm and the dismantling of the SA. Hitler flew to Munich were the SA leader and his entourage were staying at a nearby resort of Bad Wiesse. He went to the Hanselbauer Hotel and personally arrest Rohm and many of his direct entourage. Hitler accused them of plotting against him. Rohm was placed in a jail cell, and the next day despite being one of Hitlers first supporters was told to shoot himself. When Rohm refused Hitler sent Theodo Eickle the commander of Dachau to execute him. How many were killed in the 24 hours between the 30th and July 1st is not known but the number runs into the hundreds. The Nazis used there crackdown on the SA as cover for attacking all potential critics of the regime- former German Chancellor General Kurt von Schliecer was assassinated as was 73 year old Gustav von Kahr who had led the troops against Hitler Munich Beer Hall Putsch- Fritz Beck the director of the Munich Student Welfare fund was also killed. Gregor Strasser one of the founders of the Nazis party was killed as were two of Papens close aids, a clear warning to him not to stray from the party line. By the end of the day it was clear there was only one leader in Germany and that was Hitler.