Ernst Röhm

Ernst Röhm

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Ernst Röhm'
Start a new discussion about 'Ernst Röhm'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Ernst Julius Röhm, was a German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 officer in the Bavarian Army and later an early Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 leader. He was a co-founder of the Sturmabteilung
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

("Storm Battalion"; SA), the Nazi Party militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

, and later was its commander. In 1934, as part of the Night of the Long Knives
Night of the Long Knives
The Night of the Long Knives , sometimes called "Operation Hummingbird " or in Germany the "Röhm-Putsch," was a purge that took place in Nazi Germany between June 30 and July 2, 1934, when the Nazi regime carried out a series of political murders...

, he was executed on Hitler's
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 orders as a potential rival.

Early career


Ernst Röhm was born in Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

, the youngest of three children (older sister and brother). His father, a railway official, was described as "a harsh man". Although the family had no military tradition, Röhm entered the Royal Bavarian 10th Infantry Regiment Prinz Ludwig at Ingolstadt
Ingolstadt
Ingolstadt is a city in the Free State of Bavaria, in the Federal Republic of Germany. It is located along the banks of the Danube River, in the center of Bavaria. As at 31 March 2011, Ingolstadt had 125.407 residents...

 as a cadet on 23 July 1906. He obtained his commission on 12 March 1908. At the outbreak of war in August 1914, he was adjutant of the 1st Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment König. The following month, he was seriously wounded in the face at Chanot Wood in Lorraine
Lorraine (province)
The Duchy of Upper Lorraine was an historical duchy roughly corresponding with the present-day northeastern Lorraine region of France, including parts of modern Luxembourg and Germany. The main cities were Metz, Verdun, and the historic capital Nancy....

, and carried the scars for the rest of his life. He was promoted to senior lieutenant (Oberleutnant) in April 1915. During an attack on the fortification at Thiaumont, Verdun
Verdun
Verdun is a city in the Meuse department in Lorraine in north-eastern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.Verdun is the biggest city in Meuse, although the capital of the department is the slightly smaller city of Bar-le-Duc.- History :...

, on 23 June 1916, he sustained a serious chest wound. As a result, he spent the remainder of the war in both France and Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 as a staff officer. He was awarded the Iron Cross First Class
Iron Cross
The Iron Cross is a cross symbol typically in black with a white or silver outline that originated after 1219 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order the right to combine the Teutonic Black Cross placed above a silver Cross of Jerusalem....

 on 20 June 1916, just before he was wounded at Verdun, and was promoted to captain (Hauptmann
Hauptmann
Hauptmann is a German word usually translated as captain when it is used as an officer's rank in the German, Austrian and Swiss armies. While "haupt" in contemporary German means "main", it also has the dated meaning of "head", i.e...

) in April 1917. In October 1918, while serving on the Staff of the Gardekorps, he contracted the deadly Spanish influenza and was not expected to live; however, he survived and recovered after a long period of convalescence.

Following the armistice on 11 November 1918 that ended the war, Röhm continued his military career as an adjutant in the Reichswehr
Reichswehr
The Reichswehr formed the military organisation of Germany from 1919 until 1935, when it was renamed the Wehrmacht ....

. He was one of the senior members in Colonel von Epp's Bayerisches Freikorps für den Grenzschutz Ost, formed at Ohrdruf in April 1919, which finally overturned the Red Republic in Munich by force of arms on 3 May 1919. In 1919, he joined the German Workers' Party
German Workers' Party
The German Workers' Party was the short-lived predecessor of the Nazi Party .-Origins:The DAP was founded in Munich in the hotel "Fürstenfelder Hof" on January 5, 1919 by Anton Drexler, a member of the occultist Thule Society. It developed out of the "Freien Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten...

, which soon became the National Socialist German Workers Party
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

 (NSDAP). Röhm met Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 and they became political allies and close friends.

Röhm's resignation from the Reichswehr was accepted in November 1923 during his time as a prisoner at Stadelheim prison. Following the failed Beer Hall Putsch
Beer Hall Putsch
The Beer Hall Putsch was a failed attempt at revolution that occurred between the evening of 8 November and the early afternoon of 9 November 1923, when Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler, Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff, and other heads of the Kampfbund unsuccessfully tried to seize power...

 on 9 November 1923, Röhm, Hitler, General Erich Ludendorff
Erich Ludendorff
Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff was a German general, victor of Liège and of the Battle of Tannenberg...

, Lt-Colonel Kriebel and six others were tried in February 1924 on charges of treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

. Röhm was found guilty and received one year and three months in prison. However, the sentence was suspended and he was granted a conditional discharge. Hitler was also found guilty and was sentenced to five years imprisonment, although he would only serve nine months.

In April 1924, Röhm became a Reichstag Deputy for the völkisch National Socialist Freedom Party. He made only one speech, urging the release from Landsberg of Lt-Colonel Kriebel. At the 1925 elections the seats won by his party were much reduced, and his name was too far down the list for him to be returned to the Reichstag. While Hitler was in prison, Röhm helped to create the Frontbann
Frontbann
The term Frontbann refers to a reorganized and renamed version of the Sturmabteilung or SA. It was created in April 1924 in an effort to rebuild the Nazi party in the aftermath of the failed Munich Putsch. The Nazi party including the SA was outlawed by the German government following the Putsch...

 as a legal alternative to the then-outlawed SA. At Landsberg prison in April 1924, Röhm had also been given full powers by Hitler to rebuild the SA in any way he saw fit. When in April 1925 Hitler and Ludendorff disapproved of the proposals under which Röhm was prepared to integrate the 30,000-strong Frontbann into the SA, on 1 May 1925 Röhm resigned from all political movements and military brigades and sought seclusion from public life. In 1928 he accepted a post in Bolivia as adviser to the Bolivian Army where he was given the rank of Lt-Colonel and took up his duties after six months' acclimatisation and language tutoring. Following the 1930 revolt in Bolivia Röhm was forced to seek sanctuary in the German Embassy. After the election results in Germany that September, Röhm received a telephone call from Hitler in which the latter said, "I need you", thus provoking Röhm's return to Germany.

SA leader


In September 1930, as a consequence of the Stennes Revolt
Stennes Revolt
The Stennes Revolt, led by Walter Stennes , the Berlin commandant of the Sturmabteilung , erupted in the summer of 1930 and again in the spring of 1931...

 in Berlin, Hitler assumed supreme command of the SA as its new Oberster SA-Führer
Leadership ranks of the Sturmabteilung
Leadership ranks of the Sturmabteilung were the titles and positions held by the commanders of the Sturmabteilung of the Nazi Party between the years of 1920 and 1945....

. He sent a personal request to Röhm, asking that he return to serve as the SA's chief of staff. Röhm accepted this offer and commenced his new assignment in early January 1931. Röhm brought radical new ideas to the SA and appointed several of his close friends to its senior leadership.

The SA now numbered over a million. Its traditional function of party leader escort had been given to the SS
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

, but it continued its street battles with "Reds" and attacks on Jews. The SA also attacked or intimidated anyone deemed hostile to the Nazi programme: editors, professors, politicians, uncooperative local officials or businessmen.

Under Röhm, the SA also often took the side of workers in strikes and other labour disputes, attacking strikebreakers and supporting picket lines. SA intimidation contributed to the rise of the Nazis, breaking down the electoral activity of the left-wing parties. However, the SA's reputation for street violence and heavy drinking was a hindrance.

Another hindrance was the more or less open homosexuality
Homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

 of Röhm and other SA leaders such as his deputy Edmund Heines
Edmund Heines
Edmund Heines was a Nazi Party leader and Ernst Röhm's deputy in the SA.-Life:Heines served in World War I as a volunteer, and was discharged in 1918 as a lieutenant. In 1925, he joined the Nazi Party and the SA . In 1929, he was convicted of murder, but soon received an amnesty...

 (both of whom would later be sentenced to death on Hitler's orders). In 1931, the Münchener Post, a Social Democratic
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 newspaper, obtained and published Röhm's letters to a friend in which Röhm discussed his sexual affairs with men.


By this time, Röhm and Hitler were so close that they addressed each other as du (the German familiar form of "you"
T-V distinction
In sociolinguistics, a T–V distinction is a contrast, within one language, between second-person pronouns that are specialized for varying levels of politeness, social distance, courtesy, familiarity, or insult toward the addressee....

). Röhm was the only top Nazi that Hitler addressed as such. In turn, Röhm was the only Nazi who dared address Hitler as "Adolf," rather than "mein Führer."

As Hitler secured national power in 1933, SA men became auxiliary police, and marched into local government offices to force officials to hand over authority to Nazis.

Second revolution


Röhm and the SA regarded themselves as the vanguard of the "National Socialist revolution." After Hitler's takeover, they expected radical changes in Germany, with power and rewards for them. However, Hitler's use of the SA as storm troopers was a political weapon he no longer needed.

Along with Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

, Gottfried Feder
Gottfried Feder
Gottfried Feder was an economist and one of the early key members of the Nazi party. He was their economic theoretician. Initially, it was his lecture in 1919 that drew Hitler into the party.- Biography :...

 and Walther Darré, Röhm was a prominent member of the party's "socialist
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

" faction. This group took the words "Sozialistische" and "Arbeiter" ("worker") in the party's name literally. They largely rejected capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 (which they associated with Jews) and pushed for nationalisation of major industrial firms, expanded worker control, confiscation and redistribution of the estates of the old aristocracy
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

 and social equality. Röhm spoke of a "second revolution" against "reactionaries
Reactionary
The term reactionary refers to viewpoints that seek to return to a previous state in a society. The term is meant to describe one end of a political spectrum whose opposite pole is "radical". While it has not been generally considered a term of praise it has been adopted as a self-description by...

" (the National Socialist label for old-line conservatives), as the National Socialists had previously dealt with the Communists and Socialists.

All this was threatening to the business community, which had supported Hitler's rise to power. So Hitler swiftly reassured businessmen that there would be no "second revolution." Many "storm troopers" were of working-class origins and had expected a socialist programme. In fact, it was often said at the time that members of the SA were like a beefsteak — "brown on the outside and red on the inside". They were now disappointed by the new regime's lack of socialist direction and also failure to provide the lavish patronage expected. Röhm even publicly criticized Hitler for his failure to carry through the National Socialist revolution.

Furthermore, Röhm and his SA colleagues thought of their force (now over three million strong) as the future army of Germany, replacing the Reichswehr
Reichswehr
The Reichswehr formed the military organisation of Germany from 1919 until 1935, when it was renamed the Wehrmacht ....

 and its professional officers. Although Röhm had been a member of the officer corps, he viewed them as "old fogies" who lacked "revolutionary spirit." In February 1934, Röhm demanded that the Reichswehr (which under the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 was limited to 100,000 men) be absorbed into the SA under his leadership as Minister of Defence.


This horrified the army, with its traditions going back to Frederick the Great
Frederick II of Prussia
Frederick II was a King in Prussia and a King of Prussia from the Hohenzollern dynasty. In his role as a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire, he was also Elector of Brandenburg. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel...

. 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 gave the army commanders even more concern. The entire officer corps opposed Röhm's proposal, insisting that honour and discipline would vanish if the SA gained control. However, it appeared that Röhm and the SA would settle for nothing less.

Hitler privately shared much of Röhm's animus toward the tradition
Tradition
A tradition is a ritual, belief or object passed down within a society, still maintained in the present, with origins in the past. Common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes , but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings...

alists in the army. Nevertheless, he had gained power with the army's support, and he wanted the army's support to succeed the ailing 86-year-old Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

 as President
President of Germany
The President of the Federal Republic of Germany is the country's head of state. His official title in German is Bundespräsident . Germany has a parliamentary system of government and so the position of President is largely ceremonial...

.

Meanwhile, Hitler had already begun preparing for the struggle. In February he told British diplomat Anthony Eden
Anthony Eden
Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, KG, MC, PC was a British Conservative politician, who was Prime Minister from 1955 to 1957...

 that he planned to reduce the SA by two thirds. Also in February, he announced that the SA would be left only a few minor military functions.

Röhm responded with further complaints about Hitler and began expanding the armed elements of the SA. To many it appeared as if the SA was planning or threatening a rebellion. In March, Röhm offered a compromise in which a few thousand SA leaders would be taken into the army, but the army promptly rejected it.

On 11 April 1934, Hitler met with German military leaders on the ship Deutschland. By this time, Hitler had learned that the ailing Hindenburg would die before the year's end. Hitler informed them of Hindenburg's declining health and proposed the Reichswehr support him as Hindenburg's successor. In exchange, Hitler offered to reduce the SA, suppress Röhm's ambitions, and guarantee the Reichswehr would be Germany's only military force. William L. Shirer
William L. Shirer
William Lawrence Shirer was an American journalist, war correspondent, and historian, who wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a history of Nazi Germany read and cited in scholarly works for more than 50 years...

 asserts that Hitler also promised to expand the army and navy.

However, both the Reichswehr and business conservatives continued their anti-SA complaints to Hindenburg. In early June 1934, defence minister Werner von Blomberg
Werner von Blomberg
Werner Eduard Fritz von Blomberg was a German Generalfeldmarschall, Minister of War and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces until January 1938.-Early life:...

, on Hindenburg's behalf, issued an ultimatum to Hitler: unless political tension ended in Germany, Hindenburg would likely declare martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 and turn over control of the country to the army. Knowing such a step could forever deprive him of power, Hitler decided to carry out his pact with the Reichswehr to suppress the SA. This meant a showdown with Röhm. In Hitler's view, the army and the SA constituted the only real remaining power centres in Germany that were independent in his National Socialist state.

The army was willing to submit. Blomberg had the swastika
Swastika
The swastika is an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles, in either right-facing form in counter clock motion or its mirrored left-facing form in clock motion. Earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization of Ancient...

 added to the army's insignia in February and ended the army's practice of preference for "old army" descent in new officers, replacing it with a requirement of "consonance with the new government."

Death


Although determined to curb the power of the SA, Hitler put off doing away with his long-time comrade to the very end. A political struggle within the party grew, with those closest to Hitler, including Prussian premier Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

, Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

 and SS Chief
Reichsführer-SS
was a special SS rank that existed between the years of 1925 and 1945. Reichsführer-SS was a title from 1925 to 1933 and, after 1934, the highest rank of the German Schutzstaffel .-Definition:...

 Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

 positioning themselves against Röhm. As a means of isolating Röhm, on 20 April 1934, Göring transferred control of the Prussian political police (Gestapo
Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

) to Himmler, who, Göring believed, could be counted on to move against Röhm. Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

, Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich , also known as The Hangman, was a high-ranking German Nazi official.He was SS-Obergruppenführer and General der Polizei, chief of the Reich Main Security Office and Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia...

 and Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

 used Röhm's published anti-Hitler rhetoric to support a claim that the SA was plotting to overthrow Hitler. Himmler and his deputy Heydrich, chief of the SS Security Service (the SD), assembled a dossier of manufactured evidence to suggest that Röhm had been paid twelve million marks
German mark
The Deutsche Mark |mark]], abbreviated "DM") was the official currency of West Germany and Germany until the adoption of the euro in 2002. It is commonly called the "Deutschmark" in English but not in German. Germans often say "Mark" or "D-Mark"...

 by France to overthrow Hitler. Leading officers were shown falsified evidence on June 24 that Röhm planned to use the SA to launch a plot against the government .

By this time, these stories were officially recognised. Reports of the SA threat were passed to Hitler and he felt it was time to act. Meanwhile Göring, Himmler, Heydrich and Victor Lutze (at Hitler's direction) drew up lists of people in and outside the SA to be killed. Himmler and Heydrich issued marching orders to the SS, while Sepp Dietrich
Sepp Dietrich
Josef "Sepp" Dietrich was a German SS General. He was one of Nazi Germany's most decorated soldiers and commanded formations up to Army level during World War II. Prior to 1929 he was Adolf Hitler's chauffeur and bodyguard but received rapid promotion after his participation in the murder of...

 went around showing army officers a purported SA execution list.

Meanwhile, Röhm and several of his companions went away on holiday at a resort in Bad Wiessee
Bad Wiessee
Bad Wiessee is a spa town on Lake Tegernsee, Bavaria, Germany. The name "Bad" means for "spa" or "baths", while "Wiessee" derives from "West See", meaning "western part of the lake"....

. On June 28, Hitler phoned Röhm and asked him to gather all the SA leaders at Bad Wiessee on June 30 for a conference. Röhm agreed, apparently unsuspicious.

The date of June 30 marked the beginning of the Night of the Long Knives
Night of the Long Knives
The Night of the Long Knives , sometimes called "Operation Hummingbird " or in Germany the "Röhm-Putsch," was a purge that took place in Nazi Germany between June 30 and July 2, 1934, when the Nazi regime carried out a series of political murders...

. At dawn on 30 June, Hitler flew to Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 and then drove to Bad Wiessee, where he personally arrested Röhm and the other SA leaders. All were imprisoned at Stadelheim Prison
Stadelheim Prison
Stadelheim Prison, in Munich's Giesing district, is one of the largest prisons in Germany.Founded in 1894 it was the site of many executions, particularly by guillotine during the Nazi period.-Notable inmates:...

 in Munich. From 30 June to 2 July 1934, the entire leadership of the SA was purged, along with many other political adversaries of the Nazis.

Hitler was uneasy authorizing Röhm's execution and gave Röhm an opportunity to commit suicide
Forced suicide
Forced suicide is a method of execution where the victim is coerced into committing suicide to avoid facing an alternative option they perceive as much worse, such as suffering torture or having friends or family members imprisoned, tortured, or killed...

. On July 2, Röhm was visited by SS-Brigadeführer Theodor Eicke
Theodor Eicke
Theodor Eicke was a SS Obergruppenführer , commander of the SS-Division Totenkopf of the Waffen-SS and one of the key figures in the establishment of concentration camps in Nazi Germany. His Nazi Party number was 114,901 and his SS number was 2,921...

 (then Kommandant of the Dachau concentration camp) and SS-Obersturmbannführer
Obersturmbannführer
Obersturmbannführer was a paramilitary Nazi Party rank used by both the SA and the SS. It was created in May 1933 to fill the need for an additional field grade officer rank above Sturmbannführer as the SA expanded. It became an SS rank at the same time...

 Michael Lippert
Michael Lippert
Michel Hans Lippert or Michael Lippert was an SS Standartenführer, Police officer and a German soldier who served in both World War I and World War II. During World War II. Lippert commanded several concentration camps, including Sachsenhausen, before becoming a commander of the SS-Freiwilligen...

, who laid a pistol on the table, told Röhm he had ten minutes to use it and left. Röhm refused and stated "If I am to be killed, let Adolf do it himself." Having heard nothing in the allotted time, Eicke and Lippert returned to Röhm's cell to find him standing. Röhm had his bare chest puffed out in a gesture of defiance as Lippert shot him in the chest at point blank range. He was buried in the Westfriedhof (Western Cemetery) in Munich.

The purge of the SA was legalized the next day with a one-paragraph decree: the Law Regarding Measures of State Self-Defence. At this time no public reference was made to the alleged SA rebellion; instead there were generalised references to misconduct, perversion, and some sort of plot. John Toland
John Toland (author)
John Willard Toland was an American author and historian. He is best known for his bestselling biography of Adolf Hitler and for his Pulitzer Prize-winning World War II history of Japan, The Rising Sun.Toland was a graduate of Williams College, and he also attended the Yale School of Drama for a...

 noted that Hitler had long been privately aware that Röhm and his SA associates were homosexuals; although he disapproved of their behaviour, he stated that 'the SA are a band of warriors and not a moral institution.'

A few days later, the claim of an incipient SA rebellion was publicised and became the official reason for the entire wave of arrests and executions. Indeed, the affair was labeled the "Röhm-putsch" by German historians, though after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 it has usually been modified as the "alleged Röhm-putsch" or known as the "Night of the Long Knives." In a speech on July 13, Hitler alluded to Röhm's homosexuality and explained the purge as chiefly defence against treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

.

See also


  • Nazi Germany
    Nazi Germany
    Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

  • Glossary of Nazi Germany
  • History of Germany
    History of Germany
    The concept of Germany as a distinct region in central Europe can be traced to Roman commander Julius Caesar, who referred to the unconquered area east of the Rhine as Germania, thus distinguishing it from Gaul , which he had conquered. The victory of the Germanic tribes in the Battle of the...

  • List of Nazi Party leaders and officials
  • Allegations about Rudolf Hess