Growth of the Nazi party: Night of the Long Knives GCSE Edexcel History 2A

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Causes

  • The SS was threatening to lose loyalty to Hitler.
  • The SA were getting too violent and Hitler didn't want to be associated with them; they were getting out of hand and losing loyalty.
  • Ernst Rohm (leader of the SA) merged the Stahlhelm, an army veterans group, with thw SA to become 3 million members- he was in an ideal position to challenge Hitler, with so many loyal to him.
  • Rohm used to be good friends with Hitler, getting rid of opposition for him despite his more socialist views, his opposition to some Nazi views, criticism of links with rich industrialists and army generals, and that he wanted more socialist policies, to take from the rich and help the poor,
  • However, there were rumours that Rohm was plotting aganst Hitler.
  • By 1934, some Germans were annoyed with continued SA violence on the streets- the SA were getting too big for their boots, considering themselves better than the army.
  • Hitler could have been falsely told that Rohm was plotting against hm.
  • Leaders of SS-Himmler and Heydrich, resented Rohm, and wanted to decrease SA power and increase SS power, so could have been the ones to falsely tell Hitler of this plot.
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Events

  • 30 June 1934, Hitler used the SS to arrest and shoot leading members of the SA. Some were having a meeting in Munich at the time. Some were shot immediately while others were arrested.
  • Rohm was taken to Stadelheim Geol on 1 July, where an SS brigade leader gave him a pistol with one bullet in his cell, inviting Rohm to commit suicide.
  • After 15 minutes and hearing no sounds, the brigade leader came with his deputy where they shot him.
  • 6 other SA leaders were shot on Hitler's irders at Stadelheim.
  • Von Paper protested to Goering but was told that things were under control and that he should return home for safety.
  • SS squads rounded up suspects-one group reached von Papen's office before him, and shot the press secretary and arrested the staff. Von papen's home was surrounded with his telephone line cut off.
  • Over 4 days, 400 people, including 150 senior member of the SA, were shot without trial.
  • General von Schleicher and his wife were gunned down, and Goering announced that they'd been shot resisting arrest.
  • Gregor Strasser, a Nazi member with socialist views like Rohm, was locked in a Gestapo cell before gunmen sprayed bullets through a window, with a lone gunman that finished him off.
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Effects

  • The SA was now limited and smaller than the army.
  • Potential threats were removed.
  • Many died.
  • The army was pleased to see the SA weakened.
  • Hindenburg was ill at the time, giving Hitler more influence, almost in full control.
  • Hitler passed a law saying the killings were to protect the country.
  • Himmler got more power and authority.
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