The Rohm affair

Hitler was just about ready to consolidate his grip on the Third Reich – just three unresolved problems existed at the start of 1934:

  1. The radical party leaders and SA higher-ups unrelenting cries for a second revolution.
  2. The rivalry between the SA and the Army.
  3. The succession of President von Hindenburg.

Ernst Röhm and the SA

Ernst Röhm was a long time confidante of Hitler’s and he had been one of the founding members of the Nazi party.  Unfortunately, when 1934 rolled around their relationship was a little bit more strained.  Hitler was prepared to go to any length to usurp power, even if it meant having to kill his friend.

Röhm was a large, boisterous, gluttonous, and hedonistic man by all accounts.  His absolutely open and confirmed homosexuality certainly didn’t help things either.  The SA was a paramilitary group of Nazis who had swollen to a membership count of over 2,000,000 at the beginning of 1934.  There was a strangely occult group of elite in this group that were all known to have homosexual relationships and overall debauchery.

 The Fight For Control of the Army

There were many factions in the early days of the Third Reich, before it was consolidated to a one-party system.  The conservative politicians were on the side of Hitler, but didn’t necessarily approve of his rowdiness and his party’s low-brow reputation.  The conservatives were wealthy landed gentry and/or scions of military dynasties that had once ruled Germany back in the days of the monarchy.  On the flip side we have Röhm and his gang of guys who are also supporting Hitler, but they are more passionate about the “socialist” part of National Socialism.  They were violent and unprofessional and wreaking havoc all over the country – the conservatives were opposed to this savagery and were fearful that this paramilitary group would come to control the German Army.  The German Army had been reduced in size down to just 100,000 men whereas there were over 2,000,000 men in the SA by January of 1934.  This all came to blows when some of Hitler’s close advisors saw the impending clash and quickly chose the side that would further advance them and Hitler in the political arena.  The SA and Röhm had been out of control with their debauchery recently and the old-school conservatives had had enough – they needed the problem to be solved.  Hitler tried to work something out to save his old friend, but there was nothing he could do and so the Night of Long Knives (actually 3 nights) was realized.

Factors Contributing to the downfall of the SA and Ernst Röhm

  • The Army was against the SA
  • Ernst Röhm’s arch-rivals were Hitler’s advisors (Himmler and Goering)
  • Röhm’s flagrant homosexuality was not fitting for the Nazi doctrine
  • Ideological differences between the SA, who were typically more radical and lower on the socioeconomic ladder; and the SS, who were middle class men fully indoctrinated by Hitler’s radical beliefs.
  • The SA was exhibiting signs that they wanted to shake up the system with violence – whether or not they actually were planning on a coup is unknown.

 

The Night of Long Knives – Timeline

The SA was put on leave for the whole of July of 1934.  The Nazi fervor had passed and people were not as enthused about the new leadership – Nazis had failed to keep many promises and many people were disappointed.  The political police were now headed by Himmler, an ardent Nazi, and he used this power to manufacture evidence against the SA and other political opponents.  Local SS leaders were informed that they would have to kill some of these people if they resisted arrest.  Werner von Blomberg told the other generals about the plan and they immediately expelled Rohm from the German Officers League and put the army on high alert.  The plan was set for June 30.  

Hitler decided to quell any suspicions by going to a wedding reception in Essen.  From that reception Hitler phoned someone from the SA to make sure that all the leaders were going to meet him at the hotel in Bad Wiessee.  Still, though, the SA got wind of this and they started to become paranoid and a few even acted out. When Hitler found out that there was restlessness amonmgst the SA leeaders, he decided that he could not wait til the planned conference at the Hanselbauer Hotel.  Hitler drove right to the Bavarian Interior Ministry where they confronted the leaders of the protests that the SA had done the night before.  They were arrested and Hitler’s entourage continued on to the hotel to confront the leadership and Rohm.

Hitler marched up to the first floor of the Hanselbauer Hotel where he found the SA members sleeping.  He storms into Rohm’s room and arrests him.  Rohm would eventually be shot, although Hitler did give him the opportunity to shoot himself, Rohm insisted that they shoot him themselves.  In Berlin Hitler and his cohorts continued to order the murders.  The murders were not confined to just the SA – Himmler and Goering used this opportunity to take out their other opponents.  Adolf Hitler claimed in his speech in the Reichstag on July 13 of that year, that 61 persons had been shot during the action; 13 had died resisting arrest and three committed suicide. This understates the number killed. No prosecution occurred, actually, the citizens were enamored and impressed with Hitler’s decisiveness. 

Partial List of Victims 

  • Otto Ballerstadt 
  • Fritz Beck (Director)
  • Karl Belding (SA Standartenführer)
  • Erwald Kuppel Bergmann (KPD)
  • Veit Ulrich von Beulwitz (SA Sturmführer. Executed in Lichterfelde 1 July 1934) 
  • Alois Bittman (SA-Scharführer)
  • Franz Blasner (SA-Truppführer)
  • Herbert von Bose (Franz von Papen’s Secretary)
  • Ferdinand von Bredow (Major General in Reichswehr)
  • A. Charig (Executed in Hirschberg 1 July 1934)
  • Georg von Detten (SA-Gruppenführer, SA political chief, NSDAP Reichstag deputy.)
  • Kurt Engelhardt ( SA-Sturmbannführer.)
  • Werner Engels (SA-Sturmbannführer, acting Police President of Breslau.)
  • Karl Ernst (Freikorps Roßbach, ex-hotel doorman, homosexual protegé of Paul Röhrbein and Ernst Röhm, SA Gruppenführer, NSDAP Reichstag deputy.)
  • Ernst Martin Ewald 
  • Hans Joachim von Falkenhausen (SA-Oberführer.)
  • Gustav Fink 
  • Dr. Walter Förster (A Hirschberg lawyer who had taken part in legal proceedings against National Socialists)
  • Fritz Gerlich (anti-Nazi Catholic journalist.)
  • Daniel Gerth (SA-Obersturmführer, member of staff SA Gruf Ernst.)
  • Dr. Alexander Glaser 
  • Freiherr von Guttenberg
  • Dr. Haber
  • Hans Hayn (Black Reichswehr, Fehmemord, SA-Gruppenführer. NSDAP Reichstag deputy.)
  • Edmund Heines (SA-Obergruppenführer in charge of Silesia 1931, NSDAP Reichstag deputy.)
  • Oskar Heines (Brother of Edmund, SA-Obersturmbannführer. He turned himself in to Gestapo.)
  • Robert Heiser (KPD.)
  • Hans Peter von Heydebreck (SA-Gruppenführer, NSDAP Reichstag deputy, the “Hero of Annaberg.”)
  • Anton Freiherr von Hohberg unt Buchwald 
  • Edgar Julius Jung (Journalist, Speech writer for von Papen.)
  • Gustav Ritter von Kahr (Staatskommissar for Bavaria at the time of the Beer Hall Putsch.)
  • Eugen von Kessel (Hauptman Polizei)
  • Dr. Erich Klausener (Head of Preusischen Ministerie Polizei, Center Party, Catholic Action.  Left to bleed to death, he managed to telephone for a priest, but the SS men wouldn’t allow the priest to enter and give Klaussener the Last Rites of the Church)
  • Willi Klemm (SA-Brigadeführer in Berlin) 
  • Hans Karl Koch (SA-Brigadeführer.)
  • Heinrich Konig (SA-Oberscharführer)
  • Ewald Koppel (Communist.) 
  • Fritz Ritter von Kraußer  (SA-Obergruppenführer. Associate of Röhm. NSDAP Reichstag deputy.)
  • Friedrich Karl Laemmermann (Hitler Youth Führer.)
  • Gotthard Langer (SA-OberTruppführer.)
  • Dr. Lindemann
  • Karl Lipinsky (SA Reiter-Sturmführer)
  • Dr. Hermann Mattheis (SA-Standartenführer.)
  • Walter von Mohrenschildt 
  • Edmund Neumeier (SA-Rottenführer.)
  • Heinrich Nixdorf 
  • Lambeardus Ostendorp 
  • Otto Pietrzok (SA-Sturmbannführer.)
  • Fritz Pleines
  • Adalbert Probst (Catholic youth leader in Munich.)
  • Hans Ramshorn (SA-Brigadeführer, Police president of Gleiwitz.)
  • Robert Reh (Communist.)
  • Ernst Röhm
  • Paul Röhrbein ( Homosexual associate of Röhm)
  • Wilhelm Sander (SA Stabsführer.)
  • Emil Saasbach
  • Wilhelm Sander (SA–Brigadeführer.)
  • Martin Schätzl (Painter, homosexual associate of Röhm, SA-Standartenführer)
  • Gaiseric Scherl (SA Standartenführer, homosexual associate of Röhm, NS Studentenbund, Harvest Commando. Executed with wife.)
  • Erich Schieweck (SA-Obertruppführer)
  • Elisabeth von Schleicher (Shot dead along with her husband, General von Schleicher, at their house at Neu-Babelsberg.)
  • Kurt von Schleicher (Former Chancellor of Germany.)
  • Hans W. Schmidt (SA-Obersturmführer.)
  • Dr. Wilhelm Schmidt (Music Critic. Mistaken For SA-Gruppenführer Schmid. Hess later apologized for the mistake.)
  • Wilhelm Eduard Schmidt (SA-Gruppenführer )
  • August Schneidhüber (SA-Obergruppenführer, Munich Police Chief, NSDAP Reichstag deputy.)
  • Walter Schotte
  • Konrad Schragmüller (SA-Gruppenführer, NSDAP Reichstag deputy.)
  • Dr. Joachim Schroder (SA-Obersturmführer.)
  • Max Walter Otto Schuldt (SA-Sturmführer.)
  • Walter Schulz
  • Max Schulze (SA-Obersturmführer.)
  • Hans Schweighardt (SA-Standartenführer.)
  • Emil Sembach
  • Hans graf von Spreti–Weilbach (SA–Standartenführer, SA-Führer zur besonderen Verwendung, associate of Röhm.)
  • Father Bernhard Stempfle (Catholic priest, former associate of Hitler, found in a forest outside of Munich with a broken neck and three bullets in his heart. Probably killed because of what he knew about Geli Raubal)
  • Gregor Strasser (Arrested in his Berlin, taken to Prinz Albrechtstrasse Gestapo jail and shot.)
  • Otto Stucken (SA Obersturmführer.)
  • Julius Uhl (SA-Standartenführer. Associate of Röhm.)
  • Dr. Erwin Villain (SA-Standartenarzt, SA medical officer.)
  • Kurt Gildisch
  • Max Vogel 
  • Gerd Voss (Attorney to Strasser.)
  • Karl Eberhard von Wechmar (SA-Gruppenführer.)
  • Udo von Woyrsch 
  • Karl Zehnter (Proprietor of the “Nürnberger Bratwurstglöckl” restaurant, Homosexual.)
  • Ernestine Zoref 
  • Jeanette Zweig 
  • Alex Zweig