Although Nazism is seen as a political phenomenon and a unified and cohesive doctrine , the truth is that it emanates a series of movements that somehow diverge, so Adolf Hitler sought to synthesize it into just one for his personal benefit, even resorting to force for his obtaining. Night of the Long Knives
This is the story of the most significant episode of this search for a single thought on the part of the German dictator and his group of collaborators: the so-called “Night of the Long Knives”.
The Night of the Long Knives (German “Nacht der langen Messer”, although it is known as “Röhm-Putsch”, Röhm’s coup) was an internal elimination of the Nazi party to guarantee its power in the German state organs as well as undo rid of all the troublesome elements for the personal power of Hitler and his group, held from 30 June to 2 July 1934.
This event is directly associated with the fall of the SA (Sturmabteilung), more specifically, of their chief Ernst Röhm.
Röhm wanted to continue with the National Socialist revolution by gaining power, something that did not convince Hitler, as once he had achieved the objective of leading Germany, he sought internal order to expand Germanic domains.
The primitive Nazis, many of the SA components from the Freikorps, who after the defeat in World War I fought to prevent the triumph of a communist revolution in Germany (even beyond the borders of the country), fondling the ideals of the burgeoning far right. Night of the Long Knives
These veterans participated in all kinds of abuse and street fights against Jewish citizens and their businesses, as well as against Communist Party supporters.
Politically – and paradoxically – the members of the SA were the most socialists of the Nazi movement (they were called National Socialists), so they demanded that electoral promises of a left nature be fulfilled, for example, nationalizing high aristocratic companies and putting an end to speculation by large banking entities.
The violent street exerted by the SA, which continued even after the rise of Hitler, threatening to destabilize the system.
In particular, all this concerned the factual power of the army, with whom the SA maintained an inflamed rivalry. Indeed, Röhm and his men saw a future in their militia to replace the army, constituting a popular armada to overcome the former Prussian aristocratic leader , whose weight was felt in the armed rank.
The SA and Röhm had another powerful enemy among the Nazi organizations: the SS led by Heinrich Himmler, a conspirator who knew how to secretly manipulate much better than Röhm overtly
All these enmities, together with Röhm’s philosophy, which directly attacked a large part of social power and those who had reached the top of power, allowed to create an anti-SA and anti-Röhm climate that the regime took advantage of to make a “cleaning up”. ” between their factions. Night of the Long Knives
German President Paul von Hindenburg’s ultimatum (who would pass away two months after the events) sparked an offensive against the dissidents.
On the morning of June 30, 1934, Hitler ordered SS members and the police to arrest the main SA leaders, including Röhm.
In front of the public, Röhm’s homosexuality – a sexual condition not accepted by Nazi ideology – was used to justify the purge as an action against “immoral people”. Like Röhm, others from the SA were also homosexuals, so there were rumors that at the time of the arrest they were found in full gay orgy. In fact, it is customary to say that Röhm, despite being disagreed by many historians, cite this information to the propaganda elaborated by the SS to justify the coup.
There was no action against the SA, but against its leadership, as the organization had at that time about three million members, too large a number to liquidate and not cause incidents. Night of the Long Knives
In the future, the SAs would continue to exist, but with a much lesser weight than they had until that moment.
Once the top of the SA was liquidated, Hitler and his faction were dedicated to the persecution of other indigestible political elements
This was the case with Vice Chancellor Franz Von Papel, a moderate right-wing politician who helped to elevate Hitler to power, thinking it would be a good solution to end a difficult situation. And that by being in a position immediately below Hitler, he could control him.
Von Papen – who after the war would be tried at Nuremberg and acquitted – was arrested, but released days later, stripped of his post, and sent as ambassador to Austria.
On July 2, the events were explained to the German people, saying that Röhm and the SA leadership had led a coup attempt, but that it was stopped. Night of the Long Knives
Röhm himself was murdered in prison, along with many other SA superiors who were captured on the same day or the following.
The elimination of internal political opponents left Hitler and his supporters free to operate in Germany. In this way, Pan-Germanist National Socialism could speak spontaneously through the voice of its Führer.