- Christogenea Saturdays
The Night of the Long Knives, Part 2
The Barnes Review had for several years run chapters or portions of chapters from the books of Leon Degrelle as articles in its bi-monthly publication. As we have already discussed, Degrelle was a Belgian journalist, politician and founder of the Rexist Party, and then later a National Socialist and Waffen SS volunteer who during the War had worked his way up the ranks from Private to Colonel. Then in the last days of combat, he had apparently attained a rank of General, if indeed the promotion was legitimate. But we shall continue to call him a General. Last week we presented two such articles from Degrelle, The Civil War Within the German National Socialist Party and Röhm Continues to Push. This week we shall present the next two articles in the series, which are The Röhm Crisis Worsens and Last Millimeters of the Fuse.
As we saw last week, Ernst Röhm was an outspoken proponent of two ideas that were completely contrary to Adolf Hitler. First, he was a Marxist. However in the capacity in which he served the party, his economic philosophy was secondary to his work. More importantly, he strongly advocated the autonomy of the SA (the Sturmabteilung or Storm Detachment of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, which was commonly called the Brownshirts) from the party itself, and once the NSDAP came to power he insisted upon the complete replacement of the Wehrmacht, the regular German army, with the SA. As we have seen Degrelle explain, the SA was designed as a paramilitary organization of men who were not formally trained as military officers and soldiers, but who were basically street-fighters, mixed with a number of thugs, and mostly patriotic defenders of the Party’s right to express itself and to hold meetings and rallies. The SA was formed out of necessity, as the violent communist thugs – Germany’s early Antifa – always sought to infiltrate and disrupt the events held by rival parties, and especially those of the political Right.
The following biography of Ernst Röhm appeared as a sidebar to the Barnes Review article titled The Röhm Crisis Nears Its Climax: Last Millimeters of the Fuse, which we will present and discuss here later this evening. We only thought it fitting to present this first, as it illustrates the long relationship which Röhm had with the NSDAP and with Adolf Hitler.
Ernst Julius Röhm – A Brief Biography
Ernst Röhm was born in Munich, Germany, in 1887 [two years before Hitler]. He joined the German army and served throughout World War I. In 1919, after the war, Röhm met Adolf Hitler, a meeting that altered the path of Röhm’s life. Röhm became the leader of the "Frontbann," one of several paramilitary organizations existing in the Weimar Republic. Röhm felt angry and betrayed, as most Germans did, over the harsh terms of the Versailles Treaty. Therefore, he happily accepted his old friend Hitler's welcome into the Nazi Party. Röhm participated in the attempted 1923 putsch, and by 1925 took a major role in the Nazi Party and in history. He began to organize his own paramilitary organization from the “sports detachment” of the Nazi Party.
The sports detachment had valiantly defended Hitler during the abortive putsch, and in recognition Hitler renamed the detachment the "Sturmabteilung," or Storm Troops, abbreviated as SA, and appointed Röhm as their leader. Röhm [the former army Captain] took the ragtag crew of ruffians and street thugs that comprised the SA and began to organize and train them in a strict military fashion. [This does not mean that they had formal military training, as there is much more to that than mere organization and fighting, which Leon Degrelle has explained – WRF.] This training provided the Nazi Party with a strong military arm, which made itself known in several street brawls while defending Hitler and the party. But the relationship between Röhm and Hitler deteriorated, mainly over the leadership of the SA and the role it would play in achieving the party's goals. Röhm wanted the SA to be independent of the party's political structure, but Hitler forbade this, mainly due to his desire to consolidate all control under his position.
This sounds like it was written by someone who disdained the National Socialist cause. Hitler’s concept of leadership was not new, and was thoroughly and logically outlined in Mein Kampf. A paramilitary wing outside of Party control would have a mind of its own, and could operate as a fifth column contrary to both the Party and the people who would vote it into power. Röhm's Marxist leanings would certainly have become manifest if he had gained unbridled control of the SA in the early 1930’s, as he seemed to have a disdain for anyone who possessed any degree of wealth and openly wanted a redistribution along the lines of Marxist ideology. Speaking poorly of Hitler’s theory of governance, the article continues and says:
This objective would have been seriously inhibited if the SA were granted autonomy. Also, Hitler was increasingly weary of Röhm's ever-growing radicalism and the unruly conduct of his "brown shirts." When his request for autonomy was denied, Röhm grew spiteful, declaring that Hitler had claimed the glories won by the SA for himself.
Actually, a political party will get nowhere unless the ideals of its leadership appeal to the people. The men who are merely defending the party speakers should not get credit for the development and expression of those ideals which in the first place attracted them to defend those who did. So Röhm seems also to have been an organizational Marxist, perceiving that the least element in an organization should get as much credit for its success as those who conceived the ideas and organized the victory. Our author seems to be ignorant of the implications of Röhm's objectives. Continuing with our article:
Hitler established himself as supreme commander of the SA with Röhm as his subordinate in hopes that the unruly nature of the SA would be curbed. But Röhm militarized the SA further, organizing and training them into a more disciplined organization. Röhm also eased the army's fears and gained usage of military facilities for SA training by pledging his support in any military operation where SA assistance could be used. Röhm's actions caused Hitler to debate his own ability to control the storm troopers.
Nevertheless, the SA continued to perform its duties as the enforcement arm of the Nazi Party. Röhm amalgamated other existing paramilitary groups into the SA, causing its membership to soar. But by this time, the Nazi Party was beginning to exert more and more control over Germany's political and social institutions. The SA now seemed obsolete, even dangerous, since their violent nature tended to generate negative feelings toward the Nazis and thereby undermine party goals. Therefore, Hitler decided to shed the now-unusable resource of the SA.
In truth, once the NSDAP came to power and could use the power of the State to liquidate the violent Communist factions that necessitated the organization of the SA in the first place, the SA simply became superfluous and obsolete. But even with this, Hitler did not want to dissolve it for the sentimental feelings that he had for it, and instead wanted to find a role for it in its original capacity as defender of the Party platform. A gracious Ernst Röhm may have perceived that, accepted its consignment, or even its dissolution, and he may have taken a well-earned place in some position within the new government. Instead, while Hitler brought the NSDAP to victory and wanted to raise all of Germany from the ashes, it is apparent that Röhm wanted to treat the political victory as a conquest, and Germany as a pie to be sliced up for his own purposes. So Hitler and Röhm were on a collision course which could not be avoided.
With this we shall present the next article in this series,
The Röhm Crisis Worsens by Leon Degrelle
A preface which seems to have been the work of an editor reads:
Mollified by Adolf Hitler's moderation and carefully calculated attentions, the German army, known as the Reichswehr, had little by little fallen into step with the new regime – although without enthusiasm and ever on its guard, and very attentive especially to the verbal outbursts of men like Ernst Röhm, who did not hesitate to proclaim that he would throw the old system out on its ear.
Leon Degrelle proceeds:
Adolf Hitler continued to hope that by temporizing [promoting an atmosphere of political moderation], the Reichswehr and the SA would balance each other off, the former growing larger and more modern within its proper sphere – the military – and the latter acting with greater wisdom to support the political initiatives of the new government.
Again and again the Fuhrer repeated: “The one serves the nation, whose territory it defends. The other is the instrument of the party, whose ideas it protects. They form the two columns upon which the Third Reich rests.” [Citing the French-language History of the German Army by Jacques Benoist-Méchin, vol. III, p. 177.]
Röhm owed everything to Hitler. Without Hitler, in 1921, he would never have commanded a single SA unit. If Hitler had not called him back from South America in 1931, he would have continued on in Bolivia as just another lieutenant colonel or colonel frequenting the cafes. Yet in 1934 he thought himself to be a secular Saint Peter called to command by the good Lord Himself.
“I'll never go downhill again,” he used to roar, haunted by the memory of the comedown that had previously taken him to South America among those millions of mestizos, him, the racist. He saw himself become a new Carnot [the former president of France was also assassinated] – nay, Napoleon Bonaparte. The German army would be his fief. “All victorious revolutions based on an ideology must have their own army.… You cannot conduct a revolutionary war with reactionary troops.”
Hitler, who knew how to maneuver and diligently work his way around obstacles to get safely to his goal, was getting on Röhm's nerves and exasperating him. In June of 1933, after finishing a substantial meal at the famous Kempinski Restaurant in Berlin, and having drunk too much as usual, he [meaning Röhm] had burst out: “Hitler is leading me around by the nose. He'd rather not rush things. He is betraying all of us. Now he's getting chummy with his generals.” [Citing André Brissaud from the French-language book Hitler and his time, p. 156f.]
Then Röhm reproached Hitler with the supreme crime: “He is becoming a man of the world. He has just ordered himself a black suit.” [Citing Brissaud, ibid.] In order to be a proletarian, Hitler should have received the diplomatic corps, or called on Marshal von Hindenburg, in a cap and overalls.
But Hitler never desired to be a Proletarian, and I wonder if Röhm had ever actually read Mein Kampf. Continuing with Degrelle:
Bringing the Reichswehr to heel (and, above all, replacing it) was becoming a veritable obsession with Röhm: “I don't want a replastering job done on the old imperial army. Are we or are we not making a revolution? If we're making a revolution, something new has got to come out of our momentum, something like the levee en masse of the French Revolution. We do the same thing, or we're done for. The generals are old fogies; the officers and the cadets mollycoddled at school don't know anything but their old notebooks and their barracks. Enough of their rigmarole. It's time we got rid of them.” [Citing Brissaud, ibid.]
It is obvious that the NSDAP came to rule Germany through a political process, but Röhm spoke as if it came to power in a military conflict. The man sounds practically delusional. A political revolution is simply not the same as a revolution won by force of arms. Degrelle continues:
The trouble with Röhm was that those “old notebooks” had formed indispensable specialists in an exact strategic science. And Röhm did not possess that science. Nor did anyone in his entourage. To win international wars, or even to control a civil war, more is required than just being a valiant military hard case.
As we had said, the SA lacked proper military training. Leon Degrelle was certainly qualified to make this assessment. In my own experience it is quite evident that people often despise what they do not know.
Moreover, there were rumors circulating about Röhm with regard to his morals, rumors of a very special nature that were readily exploitable and being exploited. These days, being a homosexual no longer seems to be an indelible stain. It is even demanded that such abnormal individuals be granted the right to a legally authorized marriage. Some priests here and there even take the initiative and receive their conjugal vows with a melting eye in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. But in 1933, especially in the army, such ways were viewed with disfavor. An officer who was a homosexual was inexorably cashiered.
Someone recently asked me if Degrelle ever made this accusation, and I honestly did not remember that he did, but here it is. I must say, that my copy of these articles, which are scanned and are being provided as these podcasts are posted at Christogenea, have none of the usual scribble that accompanies my reading. So perhaps during my first reading of these issues as they were published, I missed this series of articles entirely…
If I am not mistaken, I think this series of articles is taken from Leon Degrelle’s book Hitler, Democrat, which was written in the early 1990’s. His remarks here in regards to sodomy are certainly indicative of the political climate in Europe of the 1990’s. Degrelle died in early 1994. Continuing with Degrelle:
It so happened that some letters of Röhm's had just been sold, letters written to one of his partners, alluding to these rather special practices. These letters left no room for doubt about the homosexual exploits of the writer, who, it seemed, had put them into practice in the course of his stay in Bolivia. These tropical distractions, transposed to a morally strict Germany, seemed at best in very bad taste. A valise was even found in Berlin that Röhm had left on the stairway of a house that openly specialized in such activities. The most serious thing was that Röhm had gained adherents and that a few emulators had been found among his immediate coworkers.
There are sources rather hostile to National Socialism, particularly Wikipedia, which claim that Hitler knew that Röhm was a sodomite from the beginning. That is obviously a slander, and I cannot fathom what evidence upon which such claims may be based, as even the sources which Wikipedia uses to support its claims are all very late. Here we see Degrelle supports his own accusations with letters only recently known to him, and therefore even a relative insider such as Degrelle did not know much beyond some rumors of Röhm’s immorality until long after Röhm’s death. To continue with Degrelle:
Also very offensive were the acts of violence of some of his leaders, their noisy drinking bouts, the luxury that several among them paraded, their racing cars and stables. The wild and dissolute life of several of them, relatively young men, sometimes in their 30s, had attained the proportions of a scandal.
Karl Ernst, the most notorious of them and one of the youngest generals of the SA, was spending on banquets alone more than 30,000 marks a month (30 times a deputy's salary) from party funds. He had the command in Berlin of 300,000 SA men, whereas in a normal army he would perhaps not have been the commander of so much as a company, or even a platoon. He pranced around on his horse in front of the troops like a Napoleon entering Potsdam. He owned a dozen very expensive cars and horses of the finest blood. He had the highest order of the grand duchy of Coburg hung around his neck – by the grand duke in person, a relative of the king of Belgium.
Ernst had previously been a traveling salesman. His father was a janitor. His special morals, too, caused a lot of gossip. But he had been a placard poster emeritus and an intrepid battler at a time when there were only a handful of SA in Berlin. The dizzy rise of Hitler had carried him from a minor local militant to stupefying heights.
Hitler knew very well that the corrupt little princelings of the SA would have to be gotten rid of one day. But he was busy with extremely harassing political and social duties. He was also afraid of upsetting many naive militants by hasty expulsions and feared, too, that such nettlesome revelations might arouse the indignation of a public newly won over.
[Karl] Ernst's counterpart in Breslau, chief of police Heinz, was a boozing parvenu [or perhaps social climber] of the same stripe. He was young like Ernst, and like Ernst, he had hundreds of thousands of men following his orders. He was flanked by a whippersnapper of an assistant with a wiggly rump who never left his side by so much as a foot, not even a foot of the bed. “Mademoiselle Schmidt” he was called, by all the chief’s associates. Just as with Ernst, it not only no longer even occurred to Heinz that without Hitler, he and his like would still be waiters or clerks; they both thought they still hadn't received enough. Karl Ernst was very free in voicing gross insults against Hitler. He had uttered “unequivocal threats”: [among which were] “We shall know how to keep Germany from going back to sleep again.” Hitler, still silent, had kept an eye on them for months. Their remarks were noted down. Then an incident aggravated the distrust. One day Hitler was about to get in a car that was to take him to Karinhall, Göring’s country estate. Sensing, with his special instinct, an impending danger, at the last moment he had changed cars, and Himmler had taken his place in the official car thus abandoned.
While that car was rolling down the highway to Stettin, a window was shattered by a projectile that passed within a few centimeters of Himmler's face. (The projectile was obviously intended for Hitler.) Himmler was only slightly wounded, but the affair gave pause for thought. Only someone very much up on the Führer's movements could have followed or waited for the car with such painstaking precision. Who? And on whose orders?
Ernst Röhm was less and less secretive about his plans:
“Assault battalions will become the praetorian guard of the revolution.” [Citing Brissaud, p. 167.] He would create “a sort of praetorian and socialist republic, an anti-bourgeois SA state in which the brown shirts, whose number had not stopped growing, would exercise power dictatorially.” [Ibid., p. 195.] And this was only in June of 1933.
“At the very least,” historian Brissaud writes, “the camarilla gathered around Röhm was methodically preparing the psychological conditions for the proclamation of a ‘second revolution.’” [Ibid., p. 196.]
A camarilla is a small group of courtiers, the word is usually describing advisers who share a nefarious purpose with some leader or ruler. Why Röhm would want to launch a revolution of arms against a people who already gave power to the NSDAP politically is indicative of his delusional mind and personal aspirations to a grandeur which he could never earn otherwise. He wanted to conquer a people who would have no defense against an army of their own government, which is at the same time both cowardly and tyrannical. Röhm was a bundle of contradictions, and it is obvious that he had to be removed suddenly and forcibly. Degrelle continues:
With his customary divination of peril, Hitler had charged his most faithful disciple, Sepp Dietrich, with forming, for his immediate protection, a special guard that would thereafter bear his name and that was soon to be celebrated: the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler. On July 1, 1933, Hitler once again warned the potential rebels, but this time far more harshly:
I am resolved to put down without mercy any activities which would tend to disturb the present order. I shall oppose any second wave of revolution with all my energy, because that would end in veritable chaos. Anyone at all who rises up against the authority of the state will be arrested regardless of his rank or position in the party.
The threat was clearly meant for the people at the top. Ten days later, on July 11, 1933, Mr. Frick, the minister of the interior, repeated the stern warning:
To talk of continuing the revolution, let alone carrying out a second one, would be to compromise the legal and constructive evolution desired by the Führer. Such talk constitutes rebellion against the Führer, sabotage of the national revolution, and a factor of discord for the German economy which the government is in the process of rebuilding successfully. Any attempt to sabotage the revolution, and in particular any arbitrary interference with the economy, will be severely repressed. National Socialist groups and organizations must not arrogate to themselves powers which belong exclusively to the head of the government. [Citing Benoist-Méchin, History of the German Army, vol. III, 172.]
Wilhelm Frick held the post until 1943, and after the war he died at Nuremberg. Nobly refusing to testify and become a clown for the kangaroo court, he was a victim of Jewish lies and treachery. Continuing with Degrelle:
The next day Hitler returned personally to the charge: “The revolution is only a means of coming to power, not an end in itself. In any surgical operation there comes a moment when you have to sew back up, or kill the patient you intend to heal.” [As we had said earlier, Hitler wanted to raise Germany from the ashes, while Röhm wanted to slice it up for himself as booty won in wartime. Degrelle now informs us that:] Despite the fact that Röhm had been forbidden to increase the SA enrollment any further or to hold spectacular public demonstrations without Hitler's presence, he insolently replied to these orders by rallying 92,000 SA effectives at the Tempelhof air field as if he himself were the true Führer. [So Röhm responds to the warnings of Hitler and Frick in open defiance. Degrelle now quotes the banana republic colonel himself:]
“Anyone who imagines,” he cried, “that the work of the SA is finished forgets that we are here and that we are going to stay here, come what may. I will not tolerate having the SA shoved aside under any pretext from the objective it has been assigned.” That bordered on rebellion. Already several sections of the SA, stirred up by Röhm's appeals for a second revolution, had earlier come close to mutiny. It had been necessary to hurriedly dissolve them. A decree of August 25, 1933, had prohibited anyone not holding a rank from bearing arms.
Röhm had been eager to respond and did so in November 1933. Writes historian Jacques Bardoux in the Temps [Times] of November 11, 1933:
To prove that he fears no one, Röhm concentrates in Breslau the entire SA division of Silesia, comprising five brigades and 29 regiments amounting to a total of 83,600 men. Most of these units have made marches of several days with all their equipment; and the march-past itself lasts more than four hours. Led by Obergruppenführer Heinz, commandant of the area, the long brown column passes in review before the chief of staff, Ernst Röhm. In the lead, flags to the fore, comes a delegation of the Horst Wessel Brigade of the Berlin-Brandenburg division and the military staff section of the Fifth Brigade of Stettin (Second District). Then comes the cavalry regiment of the Silesian SA, followed finally by 29 infantry regiments and a motorized regiment in five groups.
The defiance of Obergruppenführer Heinz, the commander of the Breslau march-past, had known no bounds: [quoting him as having said:] “We are just beginning.” [Degrelle responds:]
How was Hitler going to react? How? It is almost unbelievable: by having the would-be rebel become part of his government. Hitler had discerned the plotting quite clearly. But in those months of uncertainty he could not and did not wish to upset the apple cart. The [National Socialist] regime was not yet stabilized. The SA was not yet in a state to surmount a great crisis. The Reichswehr on the other hand could not be sacrificed in order to comply with the edicts of muddle heads. To make an enemy of the army at a time like this would be madness. And if the German army and the SA were to have at each other’s throats, the other nations would die laughing.
Actually this was a stroke of genius, even if Degrelle assesses it quite differently than we would. With this Hitler practically neutralized the rebellious Röhm as an active adversary for long enough, at least, while giving himself time to establish his government and also prepare to eliminate the rebel entirely. Continuing with Degrelle:
That being the case, why should not Hitler make Röhm, the poacher, into an official game warden? Being made part of the administrative team would no doubt satisfy his vanity. To be a cabinet minister. The ex-captain with a nose like a billiard ball would take a seat in the chancellery. And then, Hitler told himself, if we put the two adversaries together on the same ministerial council, Gen. von Blomberg, minister of the Reichswehr, and the commander-in-chief of the SA, they will have no choice but to rub shoulders with each other. They will be forced to understand and support one another.
That is a classic procedure that judges employ with married couples who want a divorce after a marital battle; or notaries with clients who are wrangling over divergent concerns. But with Röhm, a ministerial portfolio was not enough. Besides, in his own way he was an idealist and little impressed by favors. In any event, it was a stranglehold on the army that he meant to have, complete authority over the ministry that controlled the Reichswehr. He accepted the appointment haughtily on December 1st, 1933, in fact almost scornfully. He announced to one and all that he would not even take up residence in Berlin as his functions would oblige him to do. He said he would continue to live in Munich, far from the government he was nevertheless henceforth to be officially part of. He insisted that his subordinates address him not as minister but as chief of staff. Just as before.
Instead of being glad at the possibility of an approach to the minister of national defense, he made it a point to affront him in the course of the rare government meetings he attended. He did not wish to conciliate him, but to throw him out, him and his accursed Reichswehr. The most he would consider – and that only provisorily [subject to condition] – was that the SA enter the Reichswehr in force, with each unit strictly maintaining its own authority and all of his princelings keeping the inflated rank they held in the SA formations. The 30-year-old brigade leaders and division leaders would automatically be the equals of superior officers who had exercised high-level commands during or after World War I and had spent a quarter of a century or more obtaining their red collars.
That seems almost insane, but the former traveling salesmen or clerks, like Ernst or Heinz, who had not spent a single day in barracks, even as orderlies, intended in an instant to become the equals of the military commanders of the old Reichswehr. It was evident, moreover, that not a single one of them would consider having anyone but Röhm, whose strategic competence was virtually nil, become their Reichswehr minister or chief of staff, as he demanded.
The reaction of Minister-General von Blomberg was sensible. He did not run down the SA, but militarily he knew its limits, which were indeed evident to the eyes of any specialist who was even slightly informed.
The brown-shirt army is at the very most an army for civil war. It would not be capable of waging victoriously a foreign war. The Reichswehr will never enroll units of the SA en bloc, nor will it recognize the ranks achieved in the storm troops. Anybody who wants to enter the army must come here individually and begin at the lowest echelon in the hierarchy. To act otherwise would be to shatter completely the unity of the army. [Citing Benoist-Méchin, History of the German Army, vol. III, 176.]
Hitler thought the same way, not just by personal conviction, but because he was objective. “Placing the commander of the SA at the head of the army would have meant disavowing the political ideas I have followed for more than 14 years. Even in 1923 I proposed a former officer (Gen. Erich Ludendorff) to command the army and not the man who then commanded the storm troopers [which was Göring].” [Citing Benoist-Méchin, Ibid.]
When France, convinced of Hitler's imminent fall, was preparing to break off all negotiations with the Reich, how could he lend himself to any such suicidal merger?
His conciliatory gesture vis-à-vis [in regard to] Röhm had thus served no purpose. Sooner or later Hitler would have to put an end to his extravagant ambitions. “Personal feelings,” Gen. von Seeckt had written, “must never play any role in comparison with reasons of state.”
Here Degrelle cites Hans Von Seeckt from his book Gedanken eines Soldaten (Thoughts of a Soldier), p. 191. A longtime Wehrmacht officer, during the early years of the National Socialist government he served on behalf of Germany as a military advisor to to Chiang Kai-shek, whose government was fighting Chinese Communists. General von Seeckt died of natural causes at the age of 70 in 1936. Of course, during the Second World War Chiang Kai-shek was an American ally against Japan, but after the War it was a secret American policy to assist the Chinese Communists and bring them to power. Degrelle continues:
Röhm was raging, railing at the “'bourgeois club,” spewing out his hatred of the whole capitalist system that Hitler at that very moment was beginning to whip into shape, and thanks to which he had already sent nearly 3 million unemployed back to work and obtained the application of reforms which were completely ameliorating [improving] the physical and moral situation of the proletariat. On February 22, 1934, in a speech to the SA leaders of Thüringen, Röhm went so far as to proclaim that the accession of Hitler to power had been “only a snack”: [and quoting Röhm at length] “The National Socialist revolution imposes new tasks on us, great and important tasks, beyond everything thus far obtained.”
“The revolutionary élan [or enthusiasm] of the SA will put an end to ‘the stagnation and the spirit of the shopkeeper.’” [Citing Brissaud, p. 177. Degrelle then responds and says:] The shopkeeper in point, it was well understood, was Hitler. “If [he] does not agree,” Röhm added, “I will forge ahead, and millions of men will follow me. We'll have to eliminate Hitler, put him under lock and key.” [Citing Brissaud, p. 183.]
“The revolt that is rumbling more and more in the ranks of the SA,” historian Benoist-Méchin observes, “may very well become explosive at any moment. Settling the SA problem is the absolute No. 1 priority.” From then on, Röhm, for all intents and purposes, was just a rebel. Either he would promptly use his bomb, or Hitler would set it off in his hands. A soft leader would allow himself to be surprised. There was nothing soft about Hitler, as Röhm was soon to learn.
Röhm characterized Hitler as a Capitalist, but Hitler was not a Capitalist as it is practised by the Jews. He was actually a proponent of free enterprise, and constructed a German economy which was free of a usury-based currency. Furthermore, he despised the stock-markets through which nations forfeited their sovereignty to international corporations and banks, as he had explained in Mein Kampf. These things are antithetical to Jewish Capitalism.
So with each passing day Röhm is acting more and more in open rebellion, and only temporarily stayed by his appointment to a cabinet position. Here we will proceed immediately to the next article in Degrelle’s series, which is:
The Röhm Crisis Nears Its Climax: Last Millimeters of the Fuse by Leon Degrelle
It was just at the time when Adolf Hitler had finished explaining to the commanders of the old army that their most immediate mission would be not only to beef up their contingents, but to inaugurate new tactics by motorizing their forces.
With the ill will of other countries on the increase, the need for Germany to create compact armored units was urgent. On the subject of Ernst Röhm, Hitler remained circumspect with one and all: “'We have to let the matter work itself out.”
That didn't mean Hitler would fail to take precautions. But now that trouble at meetings was a thing of the past and complete quiet reigned in the streets, keeping 3 million SA effectives mobilized no longer made any sense. [As we had said, they became obsolete – WRF.] A half or a third that many men would more than suffice to handle whatever political threat might still arise. That immense and idle army was now only an instrument of pressure of a few petty chieftains who were overly ambitious or who had lost their heads. In his heart Hitler had made the decision: He was going to radically reduce the number of the SA effectives, who had become useless and dangerous besides. [This is one reason why ancient Rome put idle soldiers to work building public infrastructure, so that they would not grow restless and cause insurrection – WRF.] Moreover, that would be a means of calming a certain amount of the uneasiness that had arisen in other countries, where the existence of the SA had caused apprehension in the public mind. We know that on February 21st, 1934, Hitler had announced to Mr. Anthony Eden of Britain that he was going to reduce the SA by two-thirds, thus by about 2 million men.
Those remaining would be no more than a simple politico-civil organization “without military duties of any kind.” Those pledges made by Hitler, Mr. Doumergue had arrogantly rejected. And Röhm had been yet more arrogant than President Doumergue. With that proposal of Hitler's government, Röhm saw himself on the point of being stripped at any moment of two-thirds of his cohorts, who would then be further reduced to a troop emasculated not just numerically but weapons-wise, since in the future they would be less well armed than the municipal guards.
Gaston Doumergue was President of France from June 1924 through June 1931, and Prime Minister for 10 months in 1934. He was a Freemason and long-time politician whose first term as Prime Minister was for 6 months in 1914. Degrelle continues:
Röhm had not waited more than 24 hours before pouring out his fury:
The SA form an unshakable bastion raised against reaction, the petit bourgeois and the hypocrites, for they embody everything represented by the idea of revolution. From the very first day, the fighter in the brown shirt has marched on the road that leads to revolution, and he will not move aside from that road by so much as a foot." [Citing Brissaud, Hitler and his time, p. 189f.]
The new German regime, manifesting an incomprehensible indulgence, in not ruthlessly sweeping away the supports and the henchmen of the old regime.… “Peace” and “order” – those are their passwords. And in that spirit they meet with all levels and all factions of the hidebound bourgeoisie. [Ibid.]
[Degrelle continues in reference to Röhm:] “Reaction and revolution,” he shouted, “are mortal enemies! There is no bridge that can be laid between them! The one excludes the other!” [Ibid.]
It had been evident earlier, in some of the statements by Röhm provided by Degrelle here, that Röhm saw Hitler as a mere reactionary, an ordinary conservative politician. Degrelle continues and says:
For form’s sake, Röhm had made reference still to fidelity to Hitler. But what imaginable fidelity could there be after such a rejection? Röhm had definitely crossed the Rubicon even if he did not understand what that historic rebellion signified. Röhm had not in fact waited for this occasion to start his counterthrust. For weeks the Schleicher-Strasser-Röhm plot had been a reality. Loose talk and bragging had already made it known to the state police. The participation of the French ambassador in their intrigues was known. His visits and meetings with the apprentice conspirators were followed. Röhm had increased the importance of his forces as much as possible. He had created his own totally independent political service and public relations service.
German General Kurt von Schleicher was the last Chancellor of Germany during the Weimar Republic. Throughout the early months of the National Socialist government, he was constantly engaged in behind-the-scenes politicking, especially involved with Gregor Strasser, attempting to exploit divisions in the NSDAP so as to weaken the party and gain political advantage for himself. Both he and Strasser would lose their lives on the Night of the Long Knives. The reference to the French ambassador is to André François-Poncet, who was a friend of Schleicher’s and a suspected partner in his intrigues. Returning to Leon Degrelle, who quotes another source in reference to Röhm:
“He organized a new series of immense processions and tried in general to demonstrate by uninterrupted triumphant parades that the forces of the SA were intact. At the same time he had procured fairly large quantities of arms, in part by purchases abroad.” [The Barnes Review footnotes are wanting. Here I think Degrelle is citing a book by historian Joachim Fest simply titled Hitler, and published by Harcourt in 1974, p. 92. Degrelle continues by responding in regard to Röhm’s actions and asks:] Arms for what? Against whom? Against the army? Against Hitler? If not, against whom, then?
[So he continues citing the same source:] “It is undeniable that these activities were resented by Hitler and by the military leaders as a provocation. The Reichswehr chiefs appeared more openly in public.” [Ibid.] “Röhm is losing out,” Gen. Werner von Blomberg concluded laconically. “His account will soon be settled.”
[Degrelle continues:] For their part, Röhm's men were ready. We read in Benoist-Mechin [in History of the German Army]:
Three groups exist at this time among the commandants of the SA. First a little “camarilla” gathered around Röhm consisting of the most powerful generals of the brown shirt army and bound together by shared ambition and morals. Then a certain number of commanders who have no allegiance to this coterie but who continue to obey Röhm out of a spirit of discipline. Finally, a few commanders ousted from the High Command who are disturbed by Röhm's plans. [Citing Benoist-Méchin, vol. III, p. 177 ff.]
[Degrelle then says:] Some of them were already taking action. Benoist-Mechin continues:
Emboldened by the cynical declarations and the bad example of their commanders, small groups of SA members begin here and there to engage in acts of violence. In the latter days of May, squads of brown shirts ransack the big Kaarstadt stores in Hamburg, and the police have to intervene to reestablish order. Scenes of the same sort take place in Frankfort and Dresden. At Munich, where spirits are running especially high, guards of the General Staff are wandering the streets and singing revolutionary verses. One of them has this significant verse for its refrain: "Sharpen your long knives on the edge of the sidewalk.” [Ibid.]
So we see that the use of the phrase “long knives” in the elimination of these rebels may be quite ironic. Degrelle continues by exclaiming that:
It went far beyond that [and continues his citation:]: “They do not hesitate to proclaim that the second revolution is close at hand, that the day it begins they will settle their accounts with all their enemies, and that that will be the start of carnage such as Germany has never seen.” [Ibid.] This time the Reich was on the threshold of all-out, bloody civil war.
Hitler would make one last attempt. On June 4, 1934, he summoned Röhm to the chancellery and for five hours hammered away, trying to convince him. Hitler himself has related how hard he tried. “I adjured him strive against all that folly to avoid a catastrophe. It was in vain. The discussion lasted fruitlessly until midnight.” Hitler did not fail either to tell Röhm what he could expect if he persevered in his senseless plan: “I will personally – and immediately – smash any attempt that might plunge Germany back into anarchy; anyone who attacks the administration must be prepared to number it among his enemies.” [Benoist-Méchin, vol. III, p. 182.] Röhm left the chancellery cursing and would not be seen there ever again.
He understands that he will never win Hitler over to his views. He makes a show of yielding to the Führer’s admonishments. But he immediately forms a second plan, which he communicates to the members of his entourage. The SA will shortly launch a sudden attack in Berlin and occupy the ministerial buildings by surprise. Hitler will be imprisoned first thing and put in solitary confinement…. The plan is immediately adopted by the “camarilla.” Hayn in Saxony and Heinz in Silesia sound out the police to learn how they will react. [Ibid.]
The plot, if we are to believe the communication of the French ambassador [André François-Poncet, the friend of Schleicher’s] to his government, would have gone beyond just arresting the Führer: his arrest would have been followed by his physical liquidation.
One other fact is conclusive: With an eye to the operation, Röhm had put together a secret fund of 12 million marks. The fact is formally confirmed by Benoist-Méchin: “A war chest of 12 million marks had been collected” [ibid.] – a fantastic sum for those times. Before the decisive elections of March of 1933 assured Hitler the vote, giving him plenary powers, Dr. Hjalmar H. G. Schacht had invited the 12 most important businessmen of Germany to a meeting and had afterward collected, in his hat, checks amounting to 3 million marks. That sum had served to finance the great election campaigns not only of Hitler's party, but of the so-called national parties of Alfred Hugenberg, Franz von Papen and associates. On the day of the vote there were still 600,000 marks in the treasury that had not been spent.
In other words, the 12 million marks secretly collected by Röhm through pressure on financial circles represented a subversive force whose like no group in Germany had ever before possessed.
Acting with the greatest urgency, Hitler decided on June 6, 1934, to send the entire SA on vacation for a month. That would perhaps still give him time to find a compromise solution. At the same time, it would give proof to the other countries that Hitler's government did not need the 3 million SA to stay in power or maintain public order, since Hitler would be able to dispense with them quite readily for an entire month.
Two days later, on June 8, 1934, Röhm reacted with unconcealed anger: “The enemies of the SA will receive the answer they deserve at the right time and in the manner of our choosing. If our enemies believe that the SA will not return from their leave, or will return only partially, they are mistaken. The SA are and will remain the masters of Germany's destiny.” [Benoist-Méchin, vol. III, p. 183.] One could hardly announce more deliberately that there would soon be a settling of accounts.
A significant detail: at a time when every communication made to the SA was invariably ended with the prescribed “Heil Hitler,” this time the salute was omitted, as if the Führer had already ceased to exist. Speaking of this plot, that people after 1945 were pleased to depict as “an imaginary plot, of course,” the Hitler scorners have since then had to pull in their horns a bit. Former police officer Gisevius, a fanatical anti-Hitlerite, was forced to acknowledge:
There is indubitably some truth in the story of the putsch. First of all, everyone can smell that "second revolution" there I .so much talk about. The SA are sharpening their daggers, though they aren't the only ones. Sooner or later Röhm is going to strike by the sheer force of circumstances. In the second place, it is very possible that he and Gen. Kurt von Schleicher have something cooked up between them. There surely must have been some cynical words said in the course of the evening passed in the company of Francois Poncet. [Apparently citing Gisevius, To the Very Dregs, from volume I page 209.]
At the beginning of this series of articles, Degrelle’s opening paragraphs contained citations from the biography of Hans Bernd Gisevius, a German diplomat and intelligence officer and a member of the inner circle of Abwehr commander Wilhelm Canaris. Degrelle continues:
A French historian, André Brissaud, also no Nazi, has asked himself the question again and again: “Did Röhm really have any plans for a putsch?” His answer: “It is impossible to rule out the possibility.” In vain he has tried to find some document or other in the archives of Nuremberg that would make it possible to deny the plot. “The criminal case concerning the affair of the Night of the Long Knives, which took place from the 6th to the 14th of May of 1954 at Munich, and which I attended, shed no light on this important point.” [Citing Brissaud, p. 195 f.]
“The commander of the SA,” he adds, “was no plaster saint, and it is possible if not probable that at this important turning point in his political rise, Röhm once again followed his natural bent, which was to risk his destiny in conspiracy and revolutionary combat.” [Ibid.] “At the very least,” Brissaud adds, “the camarilla gathered around Röhm was preparing the psychological conditions for proclaiming a second revolution.” [Ibid.]
Röhm's aim is no longer contested. Even by Brissaud. He acknowledges:
There is every reason to believe that Röhm was dallying with plans which, had they been successful, would have brought about the elimination of the Führer rather quickly. Many historians wishing to paint Hitler blacker than he was in the affair have applied too much whitewash to Röhm… What Röhm wanted was a sort of praetorian socialist republic, an SA anti-bourgeois state in which the brown shirts, whose numbers had never ceased to increase, would exercise power directly. The Hitler-Röhm conflict was a very deep-seated one. And Röhm's repeated challenges, the demonstrations of force by the SA, and the threats made by their leader, were certainly indicative of a will to action that must have seemed to the wary old birds on the overcrowded general staff like plans for a putsch. Sharpen Your Long Knives is certainly a song of the SA. [Ibid.]
We know how after World War II the whole Röhm affair was twisted and presented to the public in detective serial fashion as a base squaring of accounts between the bloodthirsty Hitler and an SA commander of whom he was jealous. [Typically the Jews would promote the Sodomite as a Saint – WRF.] The most stupid kind of tittle-tattle has been presented as solid fact. But today the truth is not even debatable any longer. It has been established not on the basis of ludicrous bunkum, but on official documents and historical testimony. Röhm was in a state of rebellion. His bully boys were ready for anything. To overthrow Hitler. To imprison him. To assassinate him. Gen. Schleicher, for his part, had decided to make Röhm and Gregor Strasser the two leading lights of his coming government. The French ambassador, M. Francois Poncet, was in frequent contact with the future putschists and kept his government accurately informed about them. His military attaché, Gen. Renqudot, announced in his final report that “a bloody conflict is inevitable.”
A strange malaise was sensed everywhere. “Things are going badly,” Marshal von Hindenburg growled. He had called Hitler to his summer residence at Neudeck. “It is high time you put your house in a little order. Get rid of the troublemakers who are compromising the National Socialist regime.”
The explosive's last millimeters of fuse were burning. The bomb could go off at any time. Who would be first to throw it, Hitler or Röhm? “We have to act,” Hitler said at last. “We have to strike, and strike fast.”
As we have before explained, von Hindenburg died a month after the Night of the Long Knives, and two weeks after that Adolf Hitler gained new power in an astounding election victory.
We shall discuss these things from the subsequent writings of Leon Degrelle when we return here next week. Yahweh God be willing.