Ernst Rohm, the leader of the SA who challenged the power of others within the Nazi regime.
How did Hitler eliminate opposition within his own party?
Read the flow chart and the main text.
Now, assess the level of threat that Rohm posed:
- To Hitler’s leadership.
- To the army.
- To the SS.
- To other high ranking Nazis.
Finally, explain how the Night of the Long Knives helped Hitler increase his power.
By 1934 the SA was becoming increasingly powerful. Initially drawing from the ranks of young unemployed working class men, its membership had grown from 100,000 members in 1931 to 3,000,000 in 1934. During 1933, many ambitious men had joined the SA as a way to advance themselves.
Though a long-time close friend of Hitler, Ernst Röhm, leader of the SA had become a potential rival. Röhm was calling for an even more radical programme than was being developed by Hitler. Many within the SA were unhappy that they hadn’t gained important posts during the first year of the Nazi regime.
Röhm also wanted to amalgamate the SA and the Germany Army into one organisation, with himself as commanding officer. This alienated the officer class.
Hitler needed to reassure the army generals who feared for their own positions should the ill-disciplined SA take over the running of the well-trained, well-organised German Army.
Other leading Nazis who were jealous of Röhm's power, sought to convince Hitler of the threat posed by Röhm.
Through the events of 29 and 30 June 1934 (see above), Hitler showed how ruthless he was in the pursuit and defence of power.
On 1 July 1933, the generals gave a vote of thanks to Hitler. German soldiers, who had previously taken an oath to the state, agreed to take a personal oath of loyalty to Hitler.