Sturmabteilung

Last updated
Sturmabteilung
SA-Logo.svg
SA insignia
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1982-159-21A, Nurnberg, Reichsparteitag, Hitler und Rohm.jpg
Adolf Hitler and Ernst Röhm inspecting the SA
in Nuremberg in 1933
Agency overview
Formed1920
DissolvedMay 8, 1945
Superseding agency
Type Paramilitary
Jurisdiction
HeadquartersSA High Command, Barerstraße, Munich
48°8′37.53″N11°34′6.76″E / 48.1437583°N 11.5685444°E / 48.1437583; 11.5685444
Minister responsible
  • see Leaders below
Parent agency Nazi Party (NSDAP)
Child agency

The Sturmabteilung (SA; German pronunciation: [ˈʃtʊɐ̯mʔapˌtaɪlʊŋ] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )), literally Storm Detachment, was the Nazi Party's original paramilitary. It played a significant role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s. Its primary purposes were providing protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies, disrupting the meetings of opposing parties, fighting against the paramilitary units of the opposing parties, especially the Red Front Fighters League (Rotfrontkämpferbund) of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), and intimidating Romanis, trade unionists, and, especially, Jews – for instance, during the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses.

A detachment is a military unit. It can either be detached from a larger unit for a specific function or be a permanent unit smaller than a battalion. The term is often used to refer to a unit that is assigned to a different base from the parent unit.

Nazi Party Fascist political party in Germany (1920-1945)

The National Socialist German Workers' Party, commonly referred to in English as the Nazi Party, was a far-right political party in Germany that was active between 1920 and 1945, that created and supported the ideology of National Socialism. Its precursor, the German Workers' Party, existed from 1919 to 1920.

Paramilitary Militarised force or other organization

A paramilitary is a semi-militarized force whose organizational structure, tactics, training, subculture, and (often) function are similar to those of a professional military, but which is formally not part of a government's armed forces.

Contents

The SA were also called the "Brownshirts" (Braunhemden) from the color of their uniform shirts, similar to Benito Mussolini's blackshirts. The SA developed pseudo-military titles for its members, with ranks that were later adopted by several other Nazi Party groups, chief amongst them the Schutzstaffel (SS), which originated as a branch of the SA before being separated. Brown-colored shirts were chosen as the SA uniform because a large number of them were cheaply available after World War I, having originally been ordered during the war for colonial troops posted to Germany's former African colonies. [1]

Benito Mussolini Duce and President of the Council of Ministers of Italy. Leader of the National Fascist Party and subsequent Republican Fascist Party

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician and journalist who was the leader of the National Fascist Party. He ruled Italy as Prime Minister from 1922 to 1943; he constitutionally led the country until 1925, when he dropped the pretense of democracy and established a dictatorship.

Blackshirts paramilitary wing of the National Fascist Party and, after 1923, an all-volunteer militia of the Kingdom of Italy

The Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale, commonly called the Blackshirts or squadristi, was originally the paramilitary wing of the National Fascist Party and, after 1923, an all-volunteer militia of the Kingdom of Italy. Its members were distinguished by their black uniforms and their loyalty to Benito Mussolini, the Duce (leader) of Fascism, to whom they swore an oath. The founders of the paramilitary groups were nationalist intellectuals, former army officers and young landowners opposing peasants' and country labourers' unions. Their methods became harsher as Mussolini's power grew, and they used violence and intimidation against Mussolini's opponents. In 1943, following the fall of the Fascist regime, the MVSN was integrated into the Royal Italian Army and disbanded.

Uniforms and insignia of the Sturmabteilung Wikimedia list article

The uniforms and insignia of the Sturmabteilung (SA) were Nazi Party paramilitary ranks and uniforms used by SA stormtroopers from 1921 until the fall of Nazi Germany in 1945. The titles and phrases used by the SA were the basis for paramilitary titles used by several other Nazi paramilitary groups, among them the Schutzstaffel (SS). Early SS ranks were identical to the SA, since the SS was originally considered a sub-organization of the Sturmabteilung.

The SA became disempowered after Adolf Hitler ordered the "blood purge" of 1934. This event became known as the Night of the Long Knives (die Nacht der langen Messer). The SA continued to exist, but was effectively superseded by the SS, although it was not formally dissolved until after Nazi Germany's final capitulation to the Allies in 1945.

Adolf Hitler Leader of Germany from 1934 to 1945

Adolf Hitler was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party. He rose to power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and later Führer in 1934. During his dictatorship from 1933 to 1945, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland in September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust.

Night of the Long Knives purge that took place in Nazi Germany from June 30 to July 2, 1934

The Night of the Long Knives, or the Röhm Purge, also called Operation Hummingbird, was a purge that took place in Nazi Germany from June 30 to July 2, 1934, when Adolf Hitler, urged on by Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler, carried out a series of political extrajudicial executions intended to consolidate his hold on power in Germany, as well as to alleviate the concerns of the German military about the role of Ernst Röhm and the Sturmabteilung (SA), the Nazis' own mass paramilitary organization. Nazi propaganda presented the murders as a preventive measure against an alleged imminent coup by the SA under Röhm – the so-called Röhm putsch.

Allies of World War II Grouping of the victorious countries of World War II

The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.

Rise

The term Sturmabteilung predates the founding of the Nazi Party in 1919. Originally it was applied to the specialized assault troops of Imperial Germany in World War I who used Hutier infiltration tactics. Instead of large mass assaults, the Sturmabteilung were organised into small squads of a few soldiers each. The first official German Stormtrooper unit was authorized on 2 March 1915. The German high command ordered the VIII Corps to form a detachment to test experimental weapons and develop tactics that could break the deadlock on the Western Front. On 2 October 1916, Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff ordered all German armies in the west to form a battalion of stormtroops. [2] They were first used during the 8th Army's siege of Riga, and again at the Battle of Caporetto. Wider use followed on the Western Front in the Spring Offensive in March 1918, where Allied lines were successfully pushed back tens of kilometers.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Oskar von Hutier German general

Oskar Emil von Hutier was a German general during the First World War. He served in the German Army from 1875 to 1919, including war service. During the war, he commanded the army that took Riga in 1917 and was transferred to the Western Front in 1918 to participate in the Michael offensive that year. He is frequently but mistakenly credited with inventing the stormtroop tactics his forces employed to great effect during the Michael offensive. After retiring from the Army in 1919, he presided over the German Officers' League until his death on 5 December 1934.

Infiltration tactics Military tactics

In warfare, infiltration tactics involve small independent light infantry forces advancing into enemy rear areas, bypassing enemy front-line strongpoints, possibly isolating them for attack by follow-up troops with heavier weapons. Soldiers take the initiative to identify enemy weak points and choose their own routes, targets, moments and methods of attack; this requires a high degree of skill and training, and can be supplemented by special equipment and weaponry to give them more local combat options.

The DAP (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, German Workers' Party) was formed in Munich in January 1919 and Adolf Hitler joined it in September of that year. His talents for speaking, publicity and propaganda were quickly recognized, [3] and by early 1920 he had gained authority in the party, which changed its name to the NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or National Socialist German Workers' Party) in February 1920, [4] although "Socialist" was added by the party's executive committee, over Hitler's objections, to help the party appeal to left-wing workers. [5]

German Workers Party predecessor of the Nazi Party

The German Workers' Party was a short-lived political party established in Weimar Germany after World War I. It was the precursor of the Nazi Party, which was officially known as the National Socialist German Workers' Party. The DAP only lasted from 5 January 1919 until 24 February 1920.

Munich Capital and most populous city of Bavaria, Germany

Munich is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria, the second most populous German federal state. With a population of around 1.5 million, it is the third-largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, as well as the 12th-largest city in the European Union. The city's metropolitan region is home to 6 million people. Straddling the banks of the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps, it is the seat of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Bavaria, while being the most densely populated municipality in Germany. Munich is the second-largest city in the Bavarian dialect area, after the Austrian capital of Vienna.

Propaganda Form of communication intended to sway the audience through presenting only one side of the argument

Propaganda is information that is not objective and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is presented. Propaganda is often associated with material prepared by governments, but activist groups, companies, religious organizations and the media can also produce propaganda.

The precursor to the Sturmabteilung had acted informally and on an ad hoc basis for some time before this. Hitler, with an eye always to helping the party to grow through propaganda, convinced the leadership committee to invest in an advertisement in the Münchener Beobachter (later renamed the Völkischer Beobachter ) for a mass meeting in the Hofbräuhaus , to be held on 16 October 1919. Some 70 people attended, and a second such meeting was advertised for 13 November in the Eberl-Bräu beer hall. About 130 people attended; there were hecklers, but Hitler's military friends promptly ejected them by force, and the agitators "flew down the stairs with gashed heads". The next year, on 24 February, he announced the party's Twenty-Five Point program at a mass meeting of some 2,000 people at the Hofbräuhaus. Protesters tried to shout Hitler down, but his former army companions, armed with rubber truncheons, ejected the dissenters. The basis for the SA had been formed. [6]

<i>Völkischer Beobachter</i> periodical literature

The Völkischer Beobachter was the newspaper of the National Socialist German Workers' Party from 25 December 1920. It first appeared weekly, then daily from 8 February 1923. For twenty-four years it formed part of the official public face of the Nazi Party until its last edition at the end of April 1945. The paper was banned and ceased publication between November 1923, after Adolf Hitler's arrest for leading the unsuccessful Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, and February 1925, the approximate time of the rally which relaunched the NSDAP.

Hofbräuhaus am Platzl beer hall in the city center of Munich, Bavaria, Germany.

The Hofbräuhaus am Platzl is a beer hall in Munich, Germany, originally built in 1589 by Bavarian Duke Maximilian I as an extension of the Staatliches Hofbräuhaus in München brewery. The general public was admitted in 1828 by Ludwig I. The building was completely remodeled in 1897 by Max Littmann when the brewery moved to the suburbs. All of the rooms except the historic beer hall ("Schwemme") were destroyed in the World War II bombings. The reopening of the Festival Hall in 1958 marked the end of the post-war restoration work.

The National Socialist Program, also known as the 25-point Program or the 25-point Plan, was the party program of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP). Originally the name of the party was the German Workers' Party (DAP), but on the same day as the announced party program it was renamed the NSDAP, Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei. Adolf Hitler announced the party's program on 24 February 1920 before approximately 2,000 people in the Munich Festival of the Hofbräuhaus. The National Socialist Program originated at a DAP congress in Vienna, then was taken to Munich, by the civil engineer and theoretician Rudolf Jung, who having explicitly supported Hitler had been expelled from Czechoslovakia because of his political agitation.

Hitler and Hermann Goring with SA stormtroopers in front of Frauenkirche, Nuremberg in 1928 Hitler 1928 crop.jpg
Hitler and Hermann Göring with SA stormtroopers in front of Frauenkirche, Nuremberg in 1928

A permanent group of party members who would serve as the Saalschutzabteilung (meeting hall protection detachment) for the DAP gathered around Emil Maurice after the February 1920 incident at the Hofbräuhaus. There was little organization or structure to this group. The group was also called the Ordnertruppen around this time. [7] More than a year later, on 3 August 1921, Hitler redefined the group as the "Gymnastic and Sports Division" of the party (Turn- und Sportabteilung), perhaps to avoid trouble with the government. [8] It was by now well recognized as an appropriate, even necessary, function or organ of the party. The future SA developed by organizing and formalizing the groups of ex-soldiers and beer hall brawlers who were to protect gatherings of the Nazi Party from disruptions from Social Democrats (SPD) and Communists (KPD) and to disrupt meetings of the other political parties. By September 1921 the name Sturmabteilung (SA) was being used informally for the group. [9] Hitler was the official head of the Nazi Party by this time. [10]

The Nazi Party held a large public meeting in the Munich Hofbräuhaus on 4 November 1921, which also attracted many Communists and other enemies of the Nazis. After Hitler had spoken for some time, the meeting erupted into a mêlée in which a small company of SA thrashed the opposition. The Nazis called this event the Saalschlacht ("meeting hall battle"), and it assumed legendary proportions in SA lore with the passage of time. Thereafter, the group was officially known as the Sturmabteilung. [9]

The leadership of the SA passed from Maurice to the young Hans Ulrich Klintzsch in this period. He had been a naval officer and a member of the Erhardy Brigade of Kapp Putsch fame, and was, at the time of his assumption of SA command, a member of the notorious Organisation Consul (OC). [11] The Nazis under Hitler were taking advantage of the more professional management techniques of the military. [9]

In 1922, the Nazi Party created a youth section, the Jugendbund , for young men between the ages of 14 and 18 years. Its successor, the Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend or HJ), remained under SA command until May 1932. Hermann Göring joined the Nazi Party in 1922 after hearing a speech by Hitler. He was given command of the SA as the Oberster SA-Führer in 1923. He was later appointed an SA-Gruppenführer (lieutenant general) and held this rank on the SA rolls until 1945.

The SA unit in Nuremberg, 1929 Bundesarchiv Bild 147-0503, Nurnberg, Horst Wessel mit SA-Sturm.jpg
The SA unit in Nuremberg, 1929

From April 1924 until late February 1925 the SA was reorganized into a front organization known as the Frontbann to circumvent Bavaria's ban on the Nazi Party and its organs (instituted after the abortive Beer Hall putsch of November 1923). While Hitler was in prison, Ernst Röhm helped to create the Frontbann as a legal alternative to the then-outlawed SA. In April 1924, Röhm had also been given authority 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, Röhm resigned from all political movements and military brigades on 1 May 1925. He felt great contempt for the "legalistic" path the party leaders wanted to follow and sought seclusion from public life. [12] Members of the SA were, throughout the 1920s and into the 1930s, often involved in street fights called Zusammenstöße (collisions) with members of the Communist Party (KPD). In 1929, the SA added a Motor Corps for better mobility and a faster mustering of units. [13]

In September 1930, as a consequence of the Stennes Revolt in Berlin, Hitler assumed supreme command of the SA as its new Oberster SA-Führer. He sent a personal request to Röhm, asking him to return to serve as the SA's chief of staff. Röhm accepted this offer and began his new assignment on 5 January 1931. He brought radical new ideas to the SA, and appointed several close friends to its senior leadership. Previously, the SA formations were subordinate to the Nazi Party leadership of each Gau . Röhm established new Gruppen which had no regional Nazi Party oversight. Each Gruppe extended over several regions and was commanded by a SA Gruppenführer who answered only to Röhm or Hitler. Under Röhm as its popular leader and Stabschef (Staff Chief), the SA grew in importance within the Nazi power structure, growing to thousands of members. In the early 1930s, the Nazis expanded from an extremist fringe group to the largest political party in Germany, and the SA expanded with it. By January 1932, the SA numbered approximately 400,000 men. [14]

Many of these stormtroopers believed in the socialist promise of National Socialism and expected the Nazi regime to take more radical economic action, such as breaking up the vast landed estates of the aristocracy once they obtained national power. [15] By the time Hitler assumed power in January 1933, SA membership had increased to approximately 2,000,000—twenty times larger than the Reichswehr (German Army). [16]

Fall

The SA unit in Berlin in 1932 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-P049500, Berlin, Aufmarsch der SA in Spandau.jpg
The SA unit in Berlin in 1932

After Hitler and the Nazis obtained national power, the SA became increasingly eager for power itself. By the end of 1933, the SA numbered over three million men and many saw themselves as a replacement for the "antiquated" Reichswehr. Röhm's ideal was to absorb the army (then limited by law to no more than 100,000 men) into the SA, which would be a new "people's army". This deeply offended and alarmed the army, and threatened Hitler's goal of co-opting the Reichswehr. The SA's increasing power and ambitions also posed a threat to the other Nazi leaders. [17] Originally an adjunct to the SA, the Schutzstaffel (SS) was placed under the control of Heinrich Himmler in part to restrict the power of the SA and their leaders. [18] The younger SS had evolved to be more than a bodyguard unit for Hitler and showed itself better suited to carry out Hitler's policies, including those of a criminal nature. [19] [20]

Although some of these conflicts were based on personal rivalries, there were also key socio-economic conflicts between the SS and SA. SS members generally came from the middle class, while the SA had its base among the unemployed and working class. Politically speaking, the SA were more radical than the SS, with its leaders arguing the Nazi revolution had not ended when Hitler achieved power, but rather needed to implement socialism in Germany (see Strasserism). Furthermore, the defiant and rebellious culture encouraged before the seizure of power had to give way to a community organization approach such as canvassing and fundraising, which the SA resented as Kleinarbeit ("little work"), normally performed by women before the seizure of power. [21] Rudolf Diels , the first Gestapo chief, estimated in 1933 Berlin that 70 percent of new SA recruits were former Communists. [22]

In 1933, General Werner von Blomberg, the Minister of Defence, and General Walther von Reichenau, the chief of the Reichswehr's Ministerial Department, became increasingly concerned about the growing power of the SA. Röhm had been given a seat on the National Defence Council and began to demand more say over military matters. On 2 October 1933, Röhm sent a letter to Reichenau that said: "I regard the Reichswehr now only as a training school for the German people. The conduct of war, and therefore of mobilization as well, in the future is the task of the SA." [23]

Blomberg and von Reichenau began to conspire with Göring and Himmler against Röhm and the SA. Himmler asked Reinhard Heydrich to assemble a dossier on Röhm. Heydrich recognized that for the SS to gain full national power the SA had to be broken. [24] He manufactured evidence that suggested that Röhm had been paid 12 million marks by French agents to overthrow Hitler. Hitler liked Röhm and initially refused to believe the dossier provided by Heydrich. Röhm had been one of his first supporters and, without his ability to obtain army funds in the early days of the movement, it is unlikely that the Nazis would have ever become established. The SA under Röhm's leadership had also played a vital role in destroying the opposition during the elections of 1932 and 1933.

Night of the Long Knives

The architects of the purge: Hitler, Goring, Goebbels, and Hess. Only Himmler and Heydrich are absent. WWII, Europe, Germany, "Nazi Hierarchy, Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, Hess", The Desperate Years p143 - NARA - 196509.jpg
The architects of the purge: Hitler, Göring, Goebbels, and Hess. Only Himmler and Heydrich are absent.

Hitler had his own reasons for wanting Röhm removed. Powerful supporters of Hitler had been complaining about Röhm for some time. The generals opposed Röhm's desire to have the SA, a force of over three million men, absorb the much smaller German Army into its ranks under his leadership; [24] having built the Reichswehr into a professional force of 100,000, they believed that it would be destroyed if merged with millions of untrained SA thugs. [25] Furthermore, reports of a huge cache of weapons in the hands of SA members gave the army commanders even more concern. [24] Industrialists, who had provided the funds for the Nazi victory, were unhappy with Röhm's socialistic views on the economy and his claims that the real revolution had still to take place. President Hindenburg informed Hitler in June 1934 that if a move to curb the SA was not forthcoming, then he would dissolve the government and declare martial law. [26]

Hitler was also concerned that Röhm and the SA had the power to remove him as leader. Göring and Himmler played on this fear by constantly feeding him with new information on Röhm's proposed coup. A masterstroke was to claim that Gregor Strasser, whom Hitler hated, was part of the planned conspiracy against him. With this news Hitler ordered all the SA leaders to attend a meeting in the Hanselbauer Hotel [27] in Bad Wiessee .

On 30 June 1934, Hitler, accompanied by SS units, arrived at Bad Wiessee, where he personally placed Röhm and other high-ranking SA leaders under arrest. Over the next 48 hours, 200 other senior SA officers were arrested on the way to Wiessee. Many were shot as soon as they were captured, but Hitler decided to pardon Röhm because of his past services to the movement. On 1 July, after much pressure from Göring and Himmler, Hitler agreed that Röhm should die. Hitler insisted that Röhm should first be allowed to commit suicide. However, when Röhm refused, he was killed by two SS officers, Theodor Eicke and Michael Lippert. [28] The names of 85 victims are known; however, estimates place the total number killed at between 150 and 200 people. [29] While some Germans were shocked by the killing, many others saw Hitler as the one who restored "order" to the country. Goebbels's propaganda highlighted the "Röhm-Putsch" in the days that followed. The homosexuality of Röhm and other SA leaders was made public to add "shock value", even though the sexuality of Röhm and other named SA leaders had been known by Hitler and other Nazi leaders for years. [30]

After the purge

After the Night of the Long Knives, the SA continued to exist under the leadership of Viktor Lutze, but the group was significantly downsized. Within a year's time the SA membership was reduced over 40% in size. [29] However, attacks against the Jews escalated in the late 1930s and the SA was a main perpetrator of the actions.

In November 1938, after the murder of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by Herschel Grynszpan (a Polish Jew), the SA were used for "demonstrations" against the act. In violent riots, members of the SA shattered the glass storefronts of about 7,500 Jewish stores and businesses, hence the name Kristallnacht (Crystal Night) given to the events. [31] Jewish homes were ransacked throughout Germany. This pogrom damaged, and in many cases destroyed, about 200 synagogues (constituting nearly all Germany had), many Jewish cemeteries, more than 7,000 Jewish shops, and 29 department stores. Some Jews were beaten to death and more than 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and taken to concentration camps. [32]

Thereafter, the SA became overshadowed by the SS, and by 1939 had little remaining significance in the Nazi Party. In January 1939, the role of the SA was officially established as a training school for the armed forces with the establishment of the SA Wehrmannschaften (SA Military Units). [33] With the start of World War II in September 1939, the SA lost most of its remaining members to military service in the Wehrmacht (armed forces). [34] Later, an attempt was made to form an SA combat division on similar lines to the Waffen-SS, the result being the creation of the Feldherrnhalle SA-Panzergrenadier Division.[ citation needed ]

In 1943, Viktor Lutze was killed in an automobile accident and leadership of the SA was assumed by Wilhelm Schepmann. [35] Schepmann did his best to run the SA for the remainder of the war, attempting to restore the group as a predominant force within the Nazi Party and to mend years of distrust and bad feelings between the SA and SS.

The SA officially ceased to exist in May 1945 when Nazi Germany collapsed. The SA was banned by the Allied Control Council shortly after Germany's capitulation. In 1946, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg formally judged the SA not to be a criminal organization. [36]

Leaders

Ernst Rohm, SA Chief of Staff, was shot on Hitler's orders, after refusing to commit suicide, in the Night of the Long Knives purge in 1934 Bundesarchiv Bild 102-15282A, Ernst Rohm.jpg
Ernst Röhm, SA Chief of Staff, was shot on Hitler's orders, after refusing to commit suicide, in the Night of the Long Knives purge in 1934

The leader of the SA was known as the Oberster SA-Führer , translated as Supreme SA-Leader. The following men held this position:

In September 1930, to quell the Stennes Revolt and to try to ensure the personal loyalty of the SA to himself, Hitler assumed command of the entire organization and remained Oberster SA-Führer for the remainder of the group's existence until 1945. The day-to-day running of the SA was conducted by the Stabschef-SA (SA Chief of Staff); a position Hitler designated for Ernst Röhm. [40] After Hitler's assumption of the supreme command of the SA, it was the Stabschef-SA who was generally accepted as the Commander of the SA, acting in Hitler's name. The following personnel held the position of Stabschef-SA:

Organization

SA organization Sturmabteil graphic.svg
SA organization

The SA was organized into several large regional Gruppen ("Groups"). Each Gruppe had subordinate Brigaden ("Brigades"). Subordinate to the Brigaden were the smaller regiment-sized Standarten. SA-Standarten operated in every major German city and were split into even smaller units, known as Sturmbanne and Stürme.

The command nexus for the entire SA was the Oberste SA-Führung, located in Stuttgart. The SA supreme command had many sub-offices to handle supply, finance, and recruiting. Unlike the SS, however, the SA did not have a medical corps nor did it establish itself outside of Germany, in occupied territories, once World War II had begun.

The SA also had several military training units. The largest was the SA-Marine, which served as an auxiliary to the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) and performed search and rescue operations as well as harbor defense. The SA also had an "army" wing, similar to the Waffen-SS, known as Feldherrnhalle . This formation expanded from regimental size in 1940 to a fully-fledged armored corps (Panzerkorps Feldherrnhalle) in 1945.

Organization structure August 1934–1945

"Beefsteaks" within the ranks

In his 1936 Hitler: A Biography, German historian Konrad Heiden remarked that within the SA ranks, there were "large numbers of Communists and Social Democrats" and that "many of the storm troops were called 'beefsteaks' – brown outside and red within." [42] The influx of non-Nazis into the Sturmabteilung membership was so prevalent that SA men would joke that "In our storm troop there are three Nazis, but we shall soon have spewed them out." [42]

The number of 'beefsteaks' was estimated to be large in some cities, especially in northern Germany, where the influence of Gregor Strasser and Strasserism was significant. [43] The head of the Gestapo from 1933 to 1934, Rudolf Diels, reported that "70 percent" of the new SA recruits in the city of Berlin had been communists. [44] Other historians contend that the SA and SS were awash with Marxists and socialist revolutionaries, where "The utopians and those who speak of a Marxist republic have the highest membership in the SA and SS (77.6 and 63 percent respectively)." [45]

Some have argued that since most SA members came from working-class families or were unemployed, they were more amenable to Marxist-leaning socialism, expecting Hitler to fulfill the 25-point National Socialist Program. [46] However, historian Thomas Friedrich reports that the repeated efforts by the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) to appeal to the working-class backgrounds of the SA were "doomed to failure", because most SA men were focused on the cult of Hitler and destroying the "Marxist enemy". [47]

The "beefsteak" name also referred to party-switching between Nazi and Communist party members, particularly involving those within the SA ranks.

See also

Similar paramilitary organisations

Related Research Articles

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The Beer Hall Putsch, also known as the Munich Putsch, and, in German, as the Hitlerputsch, Hitler-Ludendorff-Putsch, Bürgerbräu-Putsch or Marsch auf die Feldherrnhalle("March on the general's hall"), was a failed coup d'état by the Nazi Party (NSDAP) leader Adolf Hitler—along with Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff and other Kampfbund leaders—to seize power in Munich, Bavaria, which took place from 8 November to 9 November 1923. Approximately two thousand Nazis were marching to the Feldherrnhalle, in the city center, when they were confronted by a police cordon, which resulted in the death of 16 Nazis and four police officers. Hitler, who was wounded during the clash, escaped immediate arrest and was spirited off to safety in the countryside. After two days, he was arrested and charged with treason.

Ernst Röhm German Nazi and military officer

Ernst Julius Günther Röhm was a German military officer and an early member of the Nazi Party. As one of the members of its predecessor, the German Workers' Party, he was a close friend and early ally of Adolf Hitler and a co-founder of the Sturmabteilung, the Nazi Party's militia, and later was its commander. By 1934, the German Army feared the SA's influence and Hitler had come to see Röhm as a potential rival, so he was executed during the Night of the Long Knives.

Viktor Lutze SA Stabschef

Viktor Lutze was the commander of the Sturmabteilung ("SA") succeeding Ernst Röhm as Stabschef. He died from injuries received in a car accident. Lutze was given an elaborate state funeral in Berlin on 7 May 1943.

<i><i lang="de" title="German language text">Obergruppenführer</i></i> Nazi party paramilitary rank

Obergruppenführer was one of the Third Reich's paramilitary ranks, first created in 1932 as a rank of the Sturmabteilung (SA), and adopted by the Schutzstaffel (SS) one year later. Until April 1942, it was the highest commissioned SS rank, inferior only to then Reichsführer-SS Translated as "senior group leader", the rank of Obergruppenführer was senior to Gruppenführer. A similarly named rank of Untergruppenführer existed in the SA from 1929 to 1930 and as a title until 1933. In April 1942, the new rank of SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer was created which was above Obergruppenführer and below Reichsführer-SS.

The Kampfbund ("Battle-league") was a league of nationalist fighting societies and the German National Socialist party in Bavaria, Germany, in the 1920s. It included Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party (NSDAP) and its Sturmabteilung (SA), the Oberland League and the Bund Reichskriegsflagge. Hitler was its political leader, while Hermann Kriebel led its militia.

<i>Reichsführer-SS</i> special title and rank in Nazi Germany (1925-1945)

Reichsführer-SS was a special title and rank that existed between the years of 1925 and 1945 for the commander of the Schutzstaffel (SS). Reichsführer-SS was a title from 1925 to 1933, and from 1934 to 1945 it was the highest rank of the SS. The longest serving and most noteworthy Reichsführer-SS was Heinrich Himmler.

Emil Maurice German officer

Emil Maurice was an early member of the National Socialist German Workers' Party and a founding member of the Schutzstaffel (SS). He was Hitler's first personal chauffeur, succeeded first by Julius Schreck and then Erich Kempka. He was one of the few persons of mixed Jewish and ethnic German ancestry to serve in the SS.

<i>Stabschef</i>

Stabschef was an office and paramilitary rank in the Sturmabteilung (SA), the paramilitary stormtroopers associated with the Nazi Party. The rank is equivalent to the rank of Generaloberst in the German Army and to General in the US Army.

Julius Schreck Nazi officer, First commander of the SS

Julius Schreck was an early senior Nazi official and close confidant of Adolf Hitler.

Erhard Heiden German Nazi and 3rd Reichsführer-SS of the Schutzstaffel

Erhard Heiden was an early member of the Nazi Party and the third commander of the Schutzstaffel (SS), the paramilitary wing of the Sturmabteilung. He was appointed head of the SS, an elite subsection of the SA in 1927. At that time the SS numbered less than a thousand men and Heiden found it difficult to cope under the much larger SA. Heiden was not a success in the post, and SS membership dropped significantly under his leadership. He was dismissed from his post in 1929, officially for "family reasons". He was arrested after the Nazis came to power in 1933 and executed that same year.

Franz Pfeffer von Salomon SA officer

Franz Pfeffer von Salomon, also known as Franz von Pfeffer, was the first commander of the SA upon its re-establishment in 1925, following its temporary abolition in 1923 after the abortive Beer Hall Putsch.

Adolf Hitlers rise to power

Adolf Hitler's rise to power began in Germany in September 1919 when Hitler joined the political party then known as the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei – DAP. The name was changed in 1920 to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei – NSDAP. It was anti-Marxist and opposed to the democratic post-war government of the Weimar Republic and the Treaty of Versailles, advocating extreme nationalism and Pan-Germanism as well as virulent anti-Semitism. Hitler's "rise" can be considered to have ended in March 1933, after the Reichstag adopted the Enabling Act of 1933 in that month. President Paul von Hindenburg had already appointed Hitler as Chancellor on 30 January 1933 after a series of parliamentary elections and associated backroom intrigues. The Enabling Act—when used ruthlessly and with authority—virtually assured that Hitler could thereafter constitutionally exercise dictatorial power without legal objection.

Michael Lippert was a mid-level commander in the Waffen-SS of Nazi Germany during World War II. He commanded several concentration camps, including Sachsenhausen, before becoming a commander of the SS-Freiwilligen Legion Flandern and the SS Division Frundsberg. He is known for co-murdering SA leader Ernst Röhm on 1 July 1934. In 1957, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison by a West German court for his part in Röhm's murder.

Stennes Revolt

The Stennes Revolt was a revolt within the Nazi Party in 1930-1931 led by Walter Stennes (1895–1983), the Berlin commandant of the Sturmabteilung (SA), the Nazi's "brownshirt" storm troops. The revolt arose from internal tensions and conflicts within the Nazi Party of Germany, particularly between the party organization headquartered in Munich and Adolf Hitler on the one hand, and the SA and its leadership on the other hand. There is some evidence that Stennes may have been paid by the government of German chancellor Heinrich Brüning, with the intention of causing conflict within the Nazi movement.

Beefsteak Nazi was a term used in Nazi Germany to describe Communists and Socialists who joined the Nazi Party. The Munich-born American historian Konrad Heiden was one of the first to document this phenomenon in his 1936 book Hitler: A Biography, remarking that within the Sturmabteilung ranks there were "large numbers of Communists and Social Democrats" and that "many of the storm troops were called 'beefsteaks' – brown outside and red within". The switching of political parties was at times so common that SA men would jest that "[i]n our storm troop there are three Nazis, but we shall soon have spewed them out".

Brunswick Rally Badge

Brunswick Rally Badge, also known as the Badge of the SA Rally at Brunswick 1931, was the third badge recognised as a national award of the NSDAP. Through the regulations of 6 November 1936, a special Party Honour Badge commemorating the SA Assembly in Braunschweig on 17-18 October 1931 was created.

Adolf Hitlers bodyguard

Adolf Hitler, the dictator of Nazi Germany, initiated World War II in Europe with the invasion of Poland in September 1939 and was central to the Holocaust. He was hated by his persecuted enemies and even by some of his own countrymen. Although attempts were made to assassinate him, none were successful. Hitler had numerous bodyguard units over the years which provided security.

References

Notes

  1. Toland p. 220
  2. Drury, Ian (2003). German Stormtrooper 1914–1918. Osprey Publishing.
  3. Before the end of 1919, Hitler had already been appointed head of propaganda for the party, with party founder Anton Drexler's backing. Toland p. 94.
  4. Kershaw 2008, p. 87.
  5. Mitcham 1996, p. 68.
  6. Toland pp. 94–98
  7. See Manchester p. 342.
  8. William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1960) p. 42; Toland p. 112
  9. 1 2 3 Campbell pp. 19–20
  10. At a special party congress held 29 July 1921, Hitler was appointed chairman. He announced that the party would stay headquartered in Munich and that those who did not like his leadership should just leave; he would not entertain debate on such matters. The vote was 543 for Hitler, and 1 against him. Toland p. 111.
  11. The OC's most infamous action was probably the brazen daylight assassination of foreign minister Walther Rathenau, in early 1922. Klintzsch was also a member of the somewhat more reputable Viking League (Bund Wiking).
  12. Zentner & Bedürftig 1991, p. 807.
  13. McNab 2013, p. 14.
  14. McNab 2011, p. 142.
  15. Bullock 1958, p. 80.
  16. "SA". Encyclopædia Britannica . Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  17. Kershaw 2008, pp. 304–306.
  18. McNab 2009, pp. 17, 19–21.
  19. Baranowski 2010, pp. 196–197.
  20. Kershaw 2008, pp. 309–314.
  21. Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p. 87
  22. Timothy S. Brown. Weimar Radicals: Nazis and Communists between Authenticity and Performance. p. 136.
  23. Alford, Kenneth (2002). Nazi Millionaires: The Allied Search for Hidden SS Gold. p. 5. ISBN   978-0-9711709-6-4.
  24. 1 2 3 Kershaw 2008, p. 306.
  25. Gunther, John (1940). Inside Europe. New York: Harper & Brothers. pp. 53–54.
  26. Wheeler-Bennett 2005, pp. 319–320.
  27. "Hotel Hanslbauer in Bad Wiessee: Scene of the Arrest of Ernst Röhm and his Followers (June 30, 1934) – Image". ghi-dc.org.
  28. Kershaw 2008, pp. 309–312.
  29. 1 2 Kershaw 2008, p. 313.
  30. Kershaw 2008, p. 315.
  31. GermanNotes, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-04-19. Retrieved 2009-03-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link), retrieved 11/26/2007
  32. The deportation of Regensburg Jews to Dachau concentration camp ( Yad Vashem Photo Archives 57659)
  33. McNab 2013, pp. 20, 21.
  34. McNab 2009, p. 22.
  35. McNab 2013, p. 21.
  36. "The Sturmabteilung or SA". History Learning Site. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  37. Hoffmann 2000, p. 50.
  38. The NSDAP and its organs and instruments (including the Völkischer Beobachter and the SA) were banned in Bavaria (and other parts of Germany) following Hitler's abortive attempt to overthrow the Weimar Republic in the Beer Hall Putsch in November 1923. The Bavarian ban was lifted in February 1925 after Hitler pledged to adhere to legal and constitutional means in his quest for political power. See Verbotzeit .
  39. 1 2 Yerger 1997, p. 11.
  40. Yerger 1997, pp. 11, 12.
  41. The SA-Brigade was also designated as SA-Untergruppe (SA-Subgroup). (David Littlejohn: The SA 1921–45, p. 7)
  42. 1 2 Heiden, Konrad (1938). Hitler: A Biography. London: Constable & Co. Ltd. p. 390.
  43. Mitcham 1996, p. 120.
  44. Brown, Timothy S. Brown (2009) Weimar Radicals: Nazis and Communists Between Authenticity and Performance, New York: Berghahn Books. p.136
  45. Merkl, Peter H. (1975) Political Violence Under the Swastika: 581 Early Nazis, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p.484
  46. Bendersky, Joseph W. (2007) A Concise History of Nazi Germany Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. p.96
  47. Friedrich, Thomas (2012). Hitler's Berlin: Abused City. Translated by Spencer, Stewart. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. pp. 213 and 215. ISBN   978-0-300-16670-5.

Bibliography

Further reading