World War II: German Military Organizations--Sturmabteilungen/Storm Troops (SA)


Figure 1.-- Here two SA men after the NAZI seizure of power are teaching these boys the proper way of giving the NAZI salute. The Hitler Youth began as a unit of the SA, but gradually became independent after the Night of the Long Knives (1934). The younger boy is too young to be in the HJ, which was still relatively small. He is probanly related to one of the SA men who kitted him out.

The Sturmabteilungen or NAZI Stormtroopers were the NAZI Party's para-military army. It was organized initially to protect Hitler and preserve order at party rallies which at first were plagued by Communist opponents and hecklers. The SA played a major role in the NAZI rise to power. The NAZIS have a special penchant for uniforms. The SA adopted a cap. brown-shirt, boots, and swastika armband. The uinform and banners drew new members and created visibility for the NAZIs in their early years. Hitler after using the SA in his failed Beer Hall Putsch (1923), rethought the struggle for power and the use of the SA. He referred in Mein Kampf to the SA as "...an instrument for the conduct and reinforcement of the movement's struggle for its philosophy of life." The SA took the fight for power to the streets. The SA street brawlers proved very useful to Hitler, but also difficult to control. There were several commanders of the SA, but the two most important were Herman Göring and Ernst Röhm. It was Röhm who brought the SA under control, but his control of the Party's largest formation came to represent a challenge to Hiler's leadership. His insistance on converting the SA into the German Army also alienayted the Army leadership. Hitler sloved this problem in the Night if the Long Knives (1934) by killing Röhm and otgher SA leaders. Röhm had beenone of his closest associates. Hitler also solved his other major problem--the loyalty of the Army. In exchange for suppresing the SA, the Army High Command agreed to swear a personal oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler as Führer of the German Reich. After the Night of the Long Knives, the SA declined in importance and was superseded by the SS which carried out the suppression of the SA leadership.

Freikorps

Freikorps units were organized in Germany after Wotld War I, mostly from disilusioned right-wing veterans as well as some youths who had been too young to participate in the War. The veterans had made huge sactifices during the war and did not understand how Germany with its martial heritage could have lost the War. They were outraged with the Versaillers Peace Treaty which transferred former German/Austrian territory to neigboring coutries, including the newly crrated countries of Poland and Czechoslovakia. The new German Republic faced many problems after World war I. It was set up at Weimar because the Socilists who dominated the Republic did not think it could be defended in Berlin. One of the problems was the luke warm support from the Germany Army. The Republic faced attacks from Communists wjo tried to seise control. Another problem were areas of Germany whose future were to be decided by plebesite. This was a special problem in the Eat where the new Polish Republic wanted to expand its territory. Polish military units attempted to seize territory. The Allies did not permit the German Army to intervene. The Freikorps were used to both defeat Comminist uprisings and to fight the Poles. Many Freikorps members were hostile to the Weimar Republic, but willing to fight Communists and Poles. The most prominant Freikorps unit was Brigade Ehrhardt. It was the Freikorps that suppressed the Bavarian Communists Many Freikorps members gravitated to right-wing parties like the NAZIs. Quite a few NAZI luninaries served in the Freikorps, including Seep Dietrich, Hans Frank, Heinrich Himmler, Reinhard Heydrich, and others. Many lesser known Freikorps members gravitated to the the SA. Thus the Freikorps is seen by many as the origin of the SA. They certainly played an important role, but the more direct origin was in the right-wing political parties that formed in Germany following the War.

SA Origins

The roots of the Sturmabteilungen go back to Rollkommando which was founded to protect the meetings of the Deutsche Arbeiter Partei (DAP) (1920). The DAP would evolve into the NAZI Party. The Rollkommando was reorganized into the Zeitfreiwilligen (February 1920). The group adopted the field grey uniforms of the new much-reduced German Army--the Reichswehr. Reichswehr Hauptmann Ernst Röhm helped to secure arms for them. This is the same individual who assigned World war I veteran Adolf Hitler to report on DAP/NAZI activities. Many members apparently served in a single Reichswehr mortar company. Wolfgang Kapp, a right-wing journalist, backed by General Luttwitz who led a Freikorps group seized control of Berlin and proclaimed a new government (March 12, 1920). Kapp was also supported by General Erich Luderndorff, one of the military heros of World War I. The Reichwhr as a whole. however, did not support the Kapp Putch, but neither did they intervene. Chancellor Ebert declared a general strike. Kapp and Luttwitz fled from Berlin after only 5 days (March 17). Following the failure of the Kapp putsch, the Government began taking actiojs aagainst the Freikorps. The use of Army field grey uniforms was banned. The Zeitfreiwilligen stoped using their grey uniforms and was remamed the Ordnertruppe. The Government banned the Ordnertruppe, but they simply remamed themselves the Turn- und Sportabteilung. Emil Maurice took control of the group (November 1920). After ]lees than a year, he was replaced by Leutnant Hans Ulrich Klintzsch who had served in Brigade Ehrhardt (summer 1921). Brigade Ehrhard supported the development of the Turn- und Sportabteilung with training and financing.

NAZI Rallies

Hitler was a highly emotive speaker. Non-German speakers can preceive that from the news reels of his speeches without understanding what he was saying. As he perfected his speaking skills, he became highly effective in arousing great pasion among his audience, especially anger and hate. As a result, vandalism and violence often followed his orations. Hitler even personally participated in this violence. After leading a mob which attacked a rival politican, the police arrested him and he received a 3-month prison sentence (September 1921). The experienced convinced him that the Party needed its own army.

Foundation (November 1921)

Hitler formed the Sturmabteilungen (SA) (November 4, 1921). He was impressed with the men of the Turn- und Sportabteilung attacked opponents attempted to disrupt a NAZI rally. They beat and threw out the poorly organized hecklers. Hitler placed Hans Ulrich Klintzsche in command. Hitler named the new group the Sturm Abteilung (Storm Section) (SA). The SA became knwn as the Stormtroopers or Brownshirts. The Stormtroopers in World War I were the elite troops used to lead attacks or blunt enemy offenses. Röhm and Hitler disagreed as to the future role of the SA. Röhm wanted to use the SA as a core for a new German army. He thus began military training. Hitler oposed this. We are not entirely sure why. Perhaps he saw danger in attempting to confront the Army. Perhaops he wanted to win over the Army, not destroy it. At any rate, he wanted to to use the new SA solely for political purposes. Röhm began training SA according to his ideas, ignoring Klitzsch who adghered to Hitler's orders. Hitler stopped the military training when he learned of it.

Uniforms

The Brownshirts was derived from the brown-colored military styled uniforms. The NAZIs purchased a surplus supply of khaki military shirts from the Army. (The Army had planned to use them in Africa.) The SA also had grey jackets (grey is the color most associated with the German Army), swastika armbands, kepi-style caps, jodphurs, and combat boots.

The Republikschutzgestet (June 1922)

Right-wing army officers murdered Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau (June 1922). He was a Socialist and Jew and widely despised by the German right-wing. The Government in responsed passed a new law--the Republikschutzgestetz. It made attacks (not only physical attacks, but verbal attacks as well) on Government officials a serious offence. The rightwing parties in particular objected to the new law. They organized a protest meetung in Munich (August 1922). About 600 SA men attended the meeting. Their uniforms and organization impressed many protestors. After the meeting some of the smaller right-wing groups merged with the NAZIs and provided new recruits for the SA. The SA was not, however, the largest group present at the protest. That was the Bund Bayern und Reich led by Dr Otto Pittingar. Röhm after his dust up with Hitler over the SA had joined the Bund. The Bund and other groups present decided that they should seize power in Bavaria. This appears to have been largely takk. Hitler was the only group leader that actually began to prepare for an actual putsch.

Battle of Coburg (October 1922)

A "German Day" celebration was was held in Coburg (October 1922). Hitler showed up with a contingent of 800 SA Storm Troopers. City officials fearing the reaction of workers, pleaded with Hitler not to march his Stormtroopers through the city. He ignored their pleases and marched through the center if the city. The result was a running battle with Communists and other worker groups. Hitler claimed victory. Bavarian Minister of the Interior, Franz Schweyer, banned future "German Days". He made it clear to Hitler that any attempted Putsch would be met with force by the Bavarian Police. One person that must have been watching was deposed Duke Karl Eduard who became an early aristocreatic supporter of the NAZIS and SA commander.

Herman Göring (1923)

Klintzsch gave up command of the SA (May 11, 1923) and returned to the Freikorps Brigade Ehrhardt. Hitler replaced him with Hauptmann Hermann Göring. It was Göring that shaped the SA into the organization that most people are familiar with. He organised the SA along military lines. He set up standarten, sturmbannen and hundertschaften, standard German Army unit organizations. He also form specialized units. He set up the Vehrkehrsabteilung in Munich, composed of men who either had motor vehicles (cars, trucks, or motorcycles), access to them, or knowlege of mechanics. This would later become the NSKK. Göring also formed an elite SA guard--the Stabswache. It subsequently later merged with the Stosstrupp Hitler ehich would eventually evolve into the SS. Hitler was very impressed with Göring's work. He would later say that Göring "was the only one of its heads who ran the SA properly". His control over the SA was, however, very brief.

NAZI Beer Hall Putch (Novembr 1923)

Gustav von Kahr, the Bavarian state leader, called a meeting of local officials (November 8, 1923). While von Kahr was speaking, Hitler with armed stormtroopers burst into the building. Hitler jumped on top of a table and fired a pistol. He told the astonished officials that he had just launched the National Revolution. Hitler ordered Goering and the SA to guard the officials. Among those officials in addition to von Kahr were Otto von Lossow (Army commander in Bavaria), and Hans von Lossow (commandant of the Bavarian State Police). He tried to convince these officials to join him. As the new leader of Germany, he offered them posts in the new German government. All three declined. An enraged Hitler threatened to shoot them and then commit suicide. He reportedly told them, "I have three bullets for you, gentlemen, and one for me!" All three then agreed. Then former Field Marshall Eric Ludendorff arrived. Ludendorff was regarded by many Germans as a great war hero. It was he and Hidenberg that had defeated the Russian Army at Tannenberg early in the War (1914). It was, however, also Ludendorff that had planned the final great offensive that had failed (1918). Unwilling to accept the idea that he had failed, he found Hitler's constant claim that the Army had not failed, but was stabbed in the back by Jews and Socialists appealing. He thus supported the NAZIs. I do not know how deply he was involved in the Putsch, but it is curious that he turned up just at this time. Hitler offered him command of the Army and Ludendorff accepted. While Hitler was seizing the Bavarian government. Roehm, leading another group of armed Stormtroopers took control of the War Ministry. Rudolf Hess with other Stormtroopers was arresting Jews and left-wing politicans. Hitler's plan was to march on Berlin and seize control of the national government. Hitler's planning for the Putsch did not include seizing radio stations and the telegraph offices. As a result, national government officials in Berlin learned about the Putsch and prepared to act against it. The following day, Hitler, Ludendorff, Goering, Hess, and about 3,000 armed Stormtroopers and other supporters marched through Munich in an effort to join Roehm at the War Ministey. When they reached Odensplatz they encountered a detachment of the Munich police who ordered them to stop. When the NAZIs refused, the police fired a warning volley. The Stormtroopers returned fire. In the ensuing fire fight 21 people were killed and about 100 wounded, among them Goering. Hitler dropped to the ground, dislocating his shoulder. He then ran away using a car to make his get away. The NAZIs had a larger force than the police, but after Hitler ran away so did most of the Stormtroopers. Ludendorff and his adjutant, however, walked straight at the police despite the fire. Later Hitler's flight was explained with the feletious explanation that he was rushing a wounded boy to the hospital. Hitler had anticipated that Ludendorff's participation meant that the Reichwehr was with him. This proved not to be the case.

Trial

Hitler hid in a friend's house for several days. The police found him there and arrested him. He was tried for high treason. The penalty was potentially death. Hitler was crushed by the collapse of his Putsch. He considered suicide. He had, however, sympathizers in both the the Bavarian government and the Army. As a result, he and the other Putsch plotters were treated liniently. Hitler managed to turn his trial into a political circus, speaking impassionately in an effort to put the government on trial. He was found guilty, but was only sentenced to the minimum sentence of 5 years. Other NAZIs were also treated liniently. Ludendorff because of his status as a war hero and support in the Army was acquitted. Röhm was not given a prison sentenced despite having seized the War Ministry.

Ernst Röhm (1923-30)

Captain Ernst Roehm who Hitler had convinced to join the Party played a key role in recruitung the SA. Hitler placed the dashing World War I flying ace, Hermann Göring, command of the SA (1923). Göring during the War had been second in command for Manfred von Richthofen's Flying Circus and replace him when he was killed. The SA after the Putsch, however, was banned along with the NAZI Party. Having escaped prison, Röem formed the Frontbann from the remains of the Kampfbund. As the SA was banned, many Stormtroopers joined him. Röhm was apparently frustrated with the lack of political success. He made no effort to compete with Hitler. He turned the Frontbann over to Wolf Graf von Helldorf. And he actually left Germany (1928). He concluded that a take-over of the German Government was impossible. He sailed for Bolivia where he was employed as a military advisor to the Bolivian General Staff. He subsequently was appointed inspector of two Bolivian Army infantry regiments. He apparently liked working in an army again. He was quoted during this period, "Here I could be a solider to my hearts content".

SA Reformed (February 1925)

Hitler was released from prison having only served a small part of his sentence (Decenver 1924). He reserected both the NAZI Party and the SA (February 1925).

Use

Hitler after using the SA in his failed Beer Hall Putsch (1923), rethought the struggle for power and the use of the SA. He referred in Mein Kampf to the SA as "...an instrument for the conduct and reinforcement of the movement's struggle for its philosophy of life." Hitler employed the SA to attack rivals and break up their meetings and to prevent rival paeties from doing the same.

Members

Many early SA recruits were unemployed members of the Freikorps (right-wing soldiers) that had organized after the War.

Street Parades

The SA soon took to parading in the streets with loud bands, and swastika flags and other party banners. After the march Hitler would guive one of his emotional speeches and not uncommonly their would be violence durected at Communists or other left-wing politicanns and Jews.

Expanding Rolls and Discension (1925-30)

While the Sa was reformed (1925), Hitler did not select a new commander until (1926). Hitler chose former Freikorps member and gauleiter of Westfalen as Oberster SA-Führer--Franz Felix von Pfeffer von Salomon. While various Landen (states) banned the SA in 1927 and 1928, the organization continued to grow. Many of the new recruits were unemployed men who received wages, food, and even clothes. This was especially true after the Wall Street Crash (September 1929). The United States in the ibter-War era played a major role in the German economy and financial systems. The stock market ceash and developing Depression in America thus had a huge impact on Germany. Von Pfeffer resigned from the SA in adispute with Hitler (August 12, 1930). Von Pfeffer wanted greatervinfluence in the NAZI movement and was demanding some of the now substantial number of NAZI seats in the Reichstag. Hitler chose the the former leader of Reichskriegsflagge, Dr Otto Wagener, to temporaryily take command of the SA. Many SA members were outraged. They had struggled in the NAZI movement and wanted some of the rewards of an increasingly powerful political party. The SA rolls reached 60,000-100,000 members. The Party was increasingly important, but out of power had no way of rewarding this amount of men with the money and benefits the SA was demanding. Oberster SA-Führer Ost Walther Stennes led a revolt in eastern Germany. They complained that they were not receiving their wages and also had issues with local NAZI gauleiters. There were also problems in Berlin. Sturmbann 31 in Berlin attacked the Party Headquarters where Joseph Goebbels' had his office. Hitler had appointed Goebbels Gauleiter in Berlin. The Stormtroopers beat the SS men guarding the office. Goebbels had to ask for police protection, an embarassing development. Hitler still was largely operating from Munich. Realising the dangers posed by this infighting, rushed to Berlin. He was concerned about the impact on the national Reichstag (parlimentary) elections that were less than a month away. He suceeded in appeasing the incensed Stormtroopers, but only by promising them more money and greater influence within the movement. While the SA had played a role in bringing Hitler to the brink of power, this incident alerted him to the dangers posed by a group he did not fully control. And he was not about to cede authority to the SA. Here the SS provided a more reliable force and he began to give greater attention to it and its loyal commabnder--Heinrich Himmler.

Ernst Röhm (1930-34)

Hitler because of the problems with the SA, took personal command. He assumed the title of Oberster SA-Führer (September 2, 1930). The operating commander of the SA under Hitler was given the title of Stabschef. Hitler did not, however, have the time to devote to the SA that was needed. He recalled his old colleage Röhm from Bolivia. Röhm was one of the few men he trusted. And control of the Sa was one of the few positions that could challenge Hitler's control of the Party. He appointed Röhm Stabschef (January 5, 1931). This created some problems as Röhm was not popular within the Party having joined competing right-wing groups. Both Göring and Himmler were disturbed. And the SA-leadership was also displeased. Hitler has to intervene personally to overcome the opposition. Röhm proceeded with a thorough reorganization of the SA. Many od the steps he took was to centralize control and exert his personal control over the organization. He minimized the influence of the Party aparatus, especially the gauleiters. He also begn military training. This time Hitler acquiesed, in large part because he saw the need to establish greater cobtrol over the factuous SA membership. Röhm formed military-style units, but Hitler drew the line at actually arming them. Here he almost certainly feared the Army would intervene. Reichs War Minister, General Kurt von Schleicher, reached a secret agreement with Röhm to place the SA under Reichswehr command in case of war. Silesia continued to be a major issue between Germany and Poland. Röhm just as Hitler had hoped gaoned control over the SA. When SA commandr Stennes began demanding better pay and assistance, Röhm split his unit in three and dismissed him (February 1931).

Short Banning (April 1932)

Chancellor Heinrich Brüning banned both the SA and SS on a national basis (April 15, 1932). The police occupied their offices all over Germany. They confiscated their supplies and equipment that they could find. Brüning was, however, soon out when his party lost seats in elections. The next Chancellor, Franz von Papen, was essentially allied with the right-wing parties including of course the NAZIs. He immediately lifted the ban on both the SA and the SS (June 4). Von Papen did not last long. He was in turn was replaced by General von Schleicher.

Hitler Appointed Chsancellor (January 1933)

Dissruptions stirred bp by the NAZIs was a major problem for the German Government. Finally President Hindenberg in a misguided effort to end the street violence, turned to Adolf Hitler. The SA and other NAZIs celebrated at Hitler's appointment. Hitler's rise to power, caused some concern within the SA after the initial jubilation. It was felt that the SA could be seen as unnecessary now that they Hitler was in power and many of their adversaries went into hiding. The Stromtroopers were not sure what Hitler's appointment would mean. Some began to think that they had been useful in brining Hitler to power, but now he was in power, they would no longer be needed. Many expected immediate rewards. Stormtroopers took it on their own to exact retribution. In some cases it was personal matters. In other cases it was more generalized. Jews and Communists were a popular target. Even Reichswehr members were assaulted. People were beaten up for not properly saliting SA members. With Hitler in power, the police were often hesitant to intervene.

The Reichstag Fire (February 1933)

The Reichstag building was gutted by a fire (Feb 27, 1933). It would never again function during the NAZI era and Cold war period. No one know for certain who started the fire. Many believe that the SA was involved. Suspicion commonly turns to SA-Gruppenführer Karl Ernst. The confession of Dutch communist Maninus van der Lubbe is not considered creditavle by many. One reason the SA is often seen as responsible is the speed with which the NAZIs acted to impose a police state in Germany. The NAZIs mobilized over 24.000 SA-men and formed into the Hilfspolizei der Gruppe Berlin-Brandenburg. Göring at the time was the Interior Minister in Prussia and thus controlled the Berlin police. He used the Hilfspolizei to go after NAZI opponents, especially the Communists. They established the first camps for holding political prisoners. They acted with such brutality and open violence that Göring thought for a time that he might lose control. He created the SA-Feldjägerkorps in Preussen (October 1, 1933). Their job was to police the SA.

NAZI Interegnum (1933-34)

Hitler wwas Chancellor, but not yet an absoliute dictator. In the aftermath of the Reichstag Fire, the Enabling Act permitted Hitler to create a police state. That allowed him to supress the political opposition and gain control over German media and control political discourse. This did not, however, make him an absolite dictator. There was one force in Germany that he did not yet control--the Reichwwhr. And the Reichwehr was better organized and armed than the NAZI Party armed force--the SA. Thus Hitler's hold on power was still precarious in 1933 and early 1934. At first Röhm did not create problems for Hitler as he moved to gain control of Germany. For a time, Röhn maintained a low progile. He even told foreign journalists, "The Reichswehr is the sole armed force in the State". This is not what he had been saying before Hitler became chancellor. Hitler and Röhm agreed 10 June 1934 that the SA would go on leave in July to let matters cool down. Meanwhile the enemies of the SA, both with in the party and Reichswehr continued to look for proof of a planned SA-revolt and demanded that Hitler act against Röhm. Hitler finally agreed and 30 June Röhm and his officers were arrested at Pension Hanselbauer in Bad Wiesee, Bavaria, by men from Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler.

The SA and the Army

The Reichwehr had not forgotten Röhm's often announced idea of turning the SA into a people's army, At times he spoke about merging with the Reichwehr. And other times he wanted to replace the Reichwehr. Early 1934 Röhm once again began to make plans to merge the SA with the Reichswehr to form a "people's army" and he also continued talking about a second revolution. The party leadership clearly did not approve of these ideas, not least due to the fact that Hitler needed the support of the Reichswehr. He once said, "You won't make a revolutionary army out of the old Prussian NCOs ... You only get the opportunity once to make something new and big and that'll help us lift the world off its hinges." Röhn was by mid-1934 making incendiary statements. In one speech he stated, "The SA and SS will not tolerate the German revolution going to sleep or betrayed at the halfway stage by non-combatants." This kind of talk was well received by the SA membership, anxious to see personal gains from seizure of power. The Reichwehr General Staff was, however, horrified at this kind of talk. And for Hitler it came at a most inconvient time, just when he was gaining a firm grip on Germany.

The SS

The SS was initially organized as Hitler's personal bodyguard within the SA. Under Heinrich Himler it first became a tool to use against SA personnel that threatened Hitler--essentially the NAZI Party police force. After the SA dusorders in Berlin, Hitler separated the thoroughly loyal SS from the SA (1930). Himmler at this time came out with the new black uniformns for the SS to emphasize its new independence. It was not yet the quasi-religious, racially pure order he invisioned, but it was a necessary step allowing his the control needed to shape the SS. The first major step in nthat direction was the Engagement and Marriage Order of the SS (December 31, 1931). After Hitler was appointed chancellor, Göring and Himmler gained control over the police forces of the Reich. Himmler began setting up conentration camps in Germany so they could circumvent the judicial system. This was the beginning of the NAZI police state. Himmler proceeded to organized the SS as a state within a state without any real legal controls beyond Hitler's orders. Himmler built the SS an elite group strongly enfused with German concepts of Volk and blood (race). The SS was Hitler's principal tool for carrying out the "Final Sollution". SS ReichFührer-SS following the invasion of Poland, set up a new SS section to deal with deportations and emigration (October 1939). Himmler was obsessed with Arayanizing occupied Polish terrtories. Himmler had no quams about using force to accomplish this process. Himmler and the SS had considerable experience at killing and brutalized Germans that opposed the NAZIs. T oward Jews and other peoples judged "subhuman," Himmler and the SS felt no compunction to act within the normal rules of civilized behavior. The goal of acheving racial purity and the rise of the Aryan race justified virtually vany action.

Night of the Long Knives (June 1934)

The true nature of Hitler and his associates was demonstrated on the Night of the Long Knives (a phrase from a popular Nazi song). The Reichwehr in 1934 was the only German institution capable of resiting Hitler and the NAZIs. The Reichwehr, faced with the threat of the NAZI Sturm Abteilung (SA), agreed to a deal with Hitler. Hitler agreed to disarm the SA and to deal with the SA leadership. He had Rohem and his associates arrested and killed (June 29-30, 1934). Rohem was in fact one of Htler's longest and closest associates. Hitler hestitated but Herman Goering and Heinrich Himmler with his assistant Reynard Heydrich played key roles in convincing him. There was no concern within the military of the extra-judicial executions of the SA leadership. The NAZIs used the occassions to settle some old scores with anti-NAZIs as well. In exchange the Reichwehr, waiting until President Hindenburg died, swore a personal oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler (August 2). The oath was not to the German nation, but was a personal oath to Hitler himself. Although the German military had earlier swore a similar oath to the Republic, the oath to Hitler took place with no difficulty. Major elements of the military had never been committed to the Republic. There was strong monarchist sentiment within the military. Some NAZI policies, especially the ultra-nationlism and criticism of the Versailles Treaty were shared by much of the military. Offers of rearmament and expabded military spending appealed to many in the military. When President Hindenburg died (August 2), Hitler was the absolute dictator of Germany. Hitler had visited Hindenburg on his deathbed. Hindenburg had become senile. The dieing president thought he was meeting with Kaiser Wilhelm II, and referred to Hitler as "Your Majesty". Hitler declared the office of President to be permanently vacant and essentially merging it with the office of Chancellor, tking the title of Leader and Chancellor (Führer und Reichskanzler). Hitler ordered a plebiscite which took plce on August 11, 1934. The NAZI's announced a 90 percent favorable vote. No one knows the actual vote tally.

NAZI Reorganization (1934)

The SA had been a major force in Hitler's rise to power. After the Night of the Long Knives, Hitler replaced Röhm as SA Stabchef with Viktor Lutze. Lutze proceeded to purge the SA leadership of individuals seen as Röhm loyalists. The SS was created as an elite unit within the SA. Hitler after the Knight of the Long Knives made the SS a sepate organization. The NSKK was also separated. The SA was demphasized while the SS began a meteroric expansion in personnel and authority. It grew into a state within a state, but a state unembered by any legal constraints--only loyalty to German's new Führer--Adolf Hitler. The SS was given no real assignments until the outbreak of the World War II. The issue of the SA and the Army meant that Lutze carefully steered the SA away from any military activities. While the SA was reorganized and deemphasized, it was not disbanded. It operated for several years without any real responsibilities. We note SA men helping to staff the SS concentration camps. As a result when the War broke out, the SA played a minimal role.

World War II (1939-45)

When the War began, the SA was given responsibility for military training before and after military service. The SA-Wehrmannschaften was established. The SA contributed men for the Heimatflak, Stadwacht, Landwacht and other non-militarized security forces operatung primarily within the Reich. Some SA units were militaized. The elite SA-Standarte Feldherrnhalle was tranformed into Luftwaffe fallschirmjäger units (1939). Some of these men were used to create the Wehrmact 271th Infanterie-Regiment. Stabchef Viktor Lutze died in a car accident (1943). Hitler replaced him with Wilhelm Schepmann (August 1943). Schepmann did his best to raise the profile and reputation of the SA. Here the deteriorating war situation limited his efforts. Military units in the Wehrmacht (Panzerkorps Feldherrnhalle) and Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe (Jagdgeschwader 6 Horst Wessel) were given SA honur titles. Even a Waffen-SS division (18th SS Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division Horst Wessel) was given a SA honor title. (Horst Wessel was a Stormtrooper killed by Coomunis.) He also attempted to expand cooperation with the SS. He was quoted as saying, I will support the Waffen-SS just as much as any other part of the armed forces. The Waffen-SS has been heroic."






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Created: 4:51 AM 8/4/2008
Last updated: 6:07 AM 11/8/2012