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Why did Hitler purge the SA on the Night of the ‘Long Knives’ June 30th 1934? The SA were becoming a liability. There were key groups who Hitler wanted to have support from: The Army The Industrialists The Junkers The Army Ernst Rohm wanted a Nazi army in which the Reichswehr (traditional German army) would play a subordinate (less important) role. The Reichswehr were absolutely appalled. Rohm said: “The grey rock must be drowned in brown blood” Hitler tried to reassure the Reichswehr that the army would be the: “Sole bearer of arms in the nation”. The Industrialists The SA wanted: Destruction of chain stores and co-operatives. Abolition of cartels & monopolies. Restructuring of banking and industrial corporations. Hitler reassured the industrialists in July 1933: “The ideas in our programme do not oblige us to act like idiots and overturn everything”. Schacht said that: “Spinning wheels and folk dancing were very nice and pretty but only big business could produce guns and machines”. ------------For a few months Hitler issued statements that the: “Revolution was over and that evolution was the order of the day”. Goering and Frick hinted at: “Concealed Bolshevik elements within the Nazi movement”. ECONOMIC Hitler needed support from the Industrialists for Economic motives. Once his political levelling was complete he wanted to firm up his economic programme and needed the support of the Industrialists as his base. The SA were attacking department stores and proving a problem for him. POLITICAL Guise of Legality Hitler’s Gleichschaltung was under the guise of ‘legality’ and ‘respectability’. Propaganda talked of restoration of order and stability. The violent actions of the SA had played its part in the background of his consolidation of power. However, he was keen to gain support of the traditional elites and leave behind the ‘socialist’ elements of his programme. Hitler distanced himself from revolutionary Nazism and had support from the traditional elites who were appalled by the SA. Rohm a Threat Hitler wanted to get rid of a potential threat to his power. Rohm was critical of Hitler for leaving behind the ‘socialist’ and ‘permanent revolution’ aspects of the programme. Hitler now wanted to stabilise the economy and focus on ruling Germany. The SA were a thorn in his side, demanding a more socialist set up. SA wanted a permanent Revolution The 2 million SA members saw themselves as “Watchdogs of the revolution” and refused to submit to the bureaucratic controls and demanded the removal of the old elites from power. They swore to continue the struggle for the creation of a new National Socialist Germany. They had been devoted in helping bring Hitler to power. Terrorising opponents and street fighting. Once Hitler was chancellor, they were a liability. Events in the Night of the Long Knives 30th June – 2nd July 1934 Before 22nd June: Himmler & Gestapo chief called the SS leaders and told them to work with the Reichswehr to destroy the SA. A fabricated (made up) list of the SA’s intended victims was produced. This included several prominent generals. This helped persuade the army to join them. Hitler made much of Rohm’s treachery and homosexuality. A lurid and partly fabricated story unfolded which shocked respectable Germans. Events 30th June: The SS and the Army waged a ‘coup’ against the SA. Many prominent SA leaders were at a meeting in Bad Wiesee. The meeting was raided and then there was a spate of killings across Germany. Victims Mainly SA leaders. Sundry opponents of the regime across Germany. Many old scores were settled. Some unfortunates were killed by mistake. Hundreds were killed. Von Schliecher, his wife and General Von Bredau (his right hand man). They were army Generals but the army still supported the coup. Edgar Jung and Von Bose (conservative critics of the regime). Erich Klausener (head of the Catholic regime in Berlin). Outcome of the Night of the Long Knives The Will of the Fuhrer became law: Carl Schmitt (Germany’s leading legal expert) argued that in a state of emergency the true leader could use virtually limitless power to destroy the enemies of the nation. Ended myth of ‘legal’ changes: It set the precedent that from now on Hitler would depend on a permanent state of emergency. There was now nothing to stop the use of coercion and terror. It was to open the way to the later systematic attack on the Jews which really took off in 1935 with the Nuremberg laws. No longer was everyone to have the right of trial. It opened the way for future persecution of groups who the Nazis deemed a ‘threat’ to their cultural beliefs or power. The SA diminished They dwindled into little more than a sporting and social club. They were unleashed in the ‘Night of Broken Glass” – a pogrom (killing and violent spree) against helpless Jewish people. The SS became powerful The SS were the real winners. They had originally been formed as Hitler’s bodyguard. Heydrich: Founded the SD (Security Service) which acted as a secret police force. Himmler: Control of all secret police forces across the states. The SS and the Gestapo officially united in 1934 providing a firm base for the regime. The Army supported Hitler Delighted despite the fact that two distinguished generals had been brutally murdered. Reichswehr Minister Von Blomberg talked of Hitler’s: “Soldierly determination and exemplary courage” in destroying “traitors and mutineers”. He ordered no officer attend the funerals of their murdered colleagues.