What was the night of the long knives? Summary

What was the night of the long knives? Summary

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The Night of the long knives, also called 'Operation Hummingbird', It was a purge conducted by Nazi Germany on the night of June 30, 1934 (which lasted to July 2).

That night, Adolf hitler, impulsed by Hermann Göring Y Heinrich Himmler, order his troops assault the headquarters of the powerful SA, the Sturmabteilung, a powerful paramilitary organization, arm of the NSDAP, commanded by its founder in 1931, Ernst Röhm.

In the Night of the long knives, both Röhm, who was presiding over a meeting, as the former Nazi leader Gregor strasser and the former chancellor the general Von Schleicher, were arrested, along with all the other leaders.

They three They were executed by the Gestapo, accused by Hitler of conspiracy to carry out a coup, the so-called Röhm Putsch.

Different political observers have concluded that, in reality, it was a maneuver by the Nazi leader to focus power on himself.

Causes of the Night of the long knives

The cause of this fateful night is found in Röhm's pressure to integrate the German army under his command into the SA and thus unify them, as well as his insistence that Hitler appoint him Minister of Defense.

Until that moment, the minister was the conservative Werner von Blomberg, known by his nickname "Rubber Lion" for his devotion to Hitler; but despite this, he was not a Nazi, which earned him many detractors, including Röhm himself.

Differences between the Reichswehr and the SA

To understand the why of the differences, we must go back to the Treaty of Versailles.

In it, the German Army (Reichswehr), it was limited to 100,000 soldiers.

In return, the SA had recruited more than 3 million men by the beginning of 1934.

That same year, Röhm presented Blomberg with a memorandum in which required the SA to replace the regular army, and that the Reichswehr became a training complement for these.

HitlerIn response, he met with Blomberg and forced Röhm to promise and declare that he recognized the supremacy of the Reichswehr over the SA, and announced that they would act as auxiliaries to the army, and not the other way around.

Röhm and the new German army

Despite this, Röhm stuck to his vision of a new German army nucleated in the SA, which collided, at the beginning of 1934, with the Hitler's vision of consolidating and expanding the power of the Reichswehr.

This led the army to view the SA as a threat, something that several of Hitler's lieutenants began to view as Hermann Göring, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler Y Rudolf hess.

To this must be added the increase in violence by the SA in Prussia, ruled by Göring, due to the fact that Röhm looked down on the Prussians and part of the German army from that region.

Schleicher's irruption

In the spring of 1934, former Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher he returns to the political arena again, criticizing Hitler's cabinet, while some of his followers, such as von Bredow and Werner von Alvensleben, began to create lists with a new Hitler cabinet.

In this case, the Nazi leader would remain in charge, but they posed Röhm as Minister of Defense, Schleicher as Vice Chancellor and Gregor Strasser as Minister of National Economy, among others.

Mussolini's critique

After a series of events in June, when Hitler met with Benito Mussolini, began to unleash what would happen on the night of the 30th of that month.

On the one hand, the internal pressures on Hitler to control and dominate the SA, it even reached Mussolini himself, who communicated to the Nazi leader that the SA "were blackening the good name of Germany".

This event occurred when the Baron Konstantin von Neurath, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, ordered the German ambassador to Italy, Ulrich von Hassel, without Hitler's consent, to asked Mussolini to speak out against the SA, given his good relationship with the Duce of Italy.

While the criticisms issued by Mussolini did not lead Hitler to act against the SA, they did begin to condition him in that direction.

The 'second revolution' and Hindenburg

The culmination was a speech by Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen conducted at the University of Marburg, where the Hindenburg confidant he warned of the threat of a "second revolution."

This led to Hitler meets Hindenburg, who demanded that he retaliate against Röhm, warning him that, failing to do so, he would declare martial law and hand over power to the Reichswehr.

The Purge: Night of the Long Knives

Upon this notice, Hitler acted, ordering Himmler and Heydrich, boss of Security Service (SS), prepare for the purge, something unanimously accepted by all his cabinet.

They forged a file suggesting that Röhm had received 12 million reichsmark (almost 25 million euros today) for overthrow hitler.

This information was sent to the main SS officers.

At the same time, under the direction of Hitler, Göring, Himmler, Heydrich and Viktor LutzeThey drew up a list of people from both the SA and outsiders to be killed.

In this way June 30 was reached, night in which the purge takes place and where they were executed, among others:

Ernst Röhm - Chief General of the SA
Gregor strasser - President of the NSDAP until 1925
Kurt von Schleicher - last Chancellor of the Reichswehr
Erich klausener - Catholic leader religious opposition to Nazism
Edgar jung - collaborator of Franz von Papen
Ferdinand von Bredow - former head of the Abwehr
Karl Ernst - Gruppenführer de las SA
Edmund heines - Gruppenführer de las SA

Once the purge is done, Viktor Lutze replaced Röhm as head of the SA.

Aftermath of the Night of the Long Knives

The Night of the long knives represented a triumph for Hitler, and a turning point for the German government, establishing Hitler as the supreme leader of the German people.

Due to the maneuvers carried out by the main Nazi hierarchs at the legal level, no prosecutor was able to advance in their attempt to take legal action against those who carried out the murders, thus making it clear that no law would restrict Hitler in his abuse of power.

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Video: Nazi Germany - Night of the Long Knives - Life in Hitlers Germany N02c