- Christogenea Saturdays
Here we continue and conclude our series of articles from The Barnes Review describing the event which is known as The Night of the Long Knives. When we began to present this series, we actually ordered and have just received a copy of the book from which these articles were taken, which is Hitler, Democrat, by former Waffen SS General Leon Degrelle. The six articles we are presenting in this series were actually taken from chapters 38 through 43 of that book, and they were reprinted in Barnes Review issues through September-October, 2002. 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 he was evidently promoted to General as the war came to its unfortunate end. Last week we presented articles titled The Röhm Crisis Worsens and Last Millimeters of the Fuse, which continued to describe the events leading up to the famous National Socialist purge, and which fully described its necessity, for the alternative was to send Germany down another path to civil war. This week, we shall present the next articles in the series, The Bloody End of Ernst Röhm: The Night of the Long Knives and then 38 Million Germans Make Their Voices Heard: A Landslide Victory for Adolf Hitler, which gives us an impression of how well the German people had thought of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists only weeks after the purge.
Leon Degrelle describes Ernst Röhm’s political and economic philosophy in a manner that impels us to label him as a Marxist. It is our understanding that Adolf Hitler was absolutely ambivalent towards Marxism, and that his own political and economic philosophy, as they are described in Mein Kampf, were grounded in Christian principles and absolutely antithetical to Marxism. Furthermore, Adolf Hitler’s revolution was political, and ended as soon as the National Socialist German Worker’s Party came to power in 1933. But for Ernst Röhm, the revolution had only begun and needed to continue, ostensibly until he could fulfill his own desires to bring his own form of Bolshevism to Germany. But the trouble between the two men erupted over Röhm’s promotion of the Sturmabteilung, or SA, the party’s paramilitary organization, as a replacement for the German Wehrmacht – the regular army which Röhm sought to dismantle. It is obvious to us, and evidently became obvious to Hitler, that Röhm wanted the SA to replace the Wehrmacht so that he as its commander could supplant the NSDAP leadership and execute his continued revolution. This is the picture Leon Degrelle has painted for us in the first four of these articles, and here we have its culmination, as we present:
The Bloody End of Ernst Röhm: The Night of the Long Knives, by General Leon Degrelle
Degrelle opens his article with a discussion of Franz von Papen, who was at this time an independent politician who had been the former chancellor of Germany. In a November 1932 election, the National Socialists had actually lost some votes from the earlier elections. However they still had enough seats in the Reichstag to lead a majority coalition. Von Papen was Prime Minister of Prussia as well as Vice Chancellor of the Reich, appointed by Hindenburg, from January 1933. In April of that year he was replaced in the first office by Röhm’s co-conspirator General Kurt von Schleicher, and he remained Vice-Chancellor until a few days after the death of Bismarck, August 7th 1934. After the war, von Papen lived until May of 1969, his life having been spared by the Nazis. Now we shall proceed with Leon Degrelle:
A man who had not yet appeared openly in the Röhm-Schleicher-Strasser affair was Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen. Von Papen had been placed in this position close to Adolf Hitler by Oskar von Hindenburg on January 30, 1933, to keep an eye on the Führer, and after three months he was already hardly more than a vaguely recognized supernumerary in the chancellery. He was morose. That Hitler fellow, who was gaining an ever-greater following, was getting on his nerves. It irritated him. No one had ever followed him. In 1932, in the Reichstag, he had been whipped by a vote of no confidence, with 96 percent of the parliamentary vote lined up against him. Impeccable in his cutaway and top hat, but, still, what did he amount to?
Here Degrelle mistakenly refers to Oskar von Hindenburg, rather than to Paul von Hindenburg. The error is more glaring in the introduction to the next article after this one, so we will elaborate on it later this evening. Degrelle continues:
On June 14, 1934, Hitler had gone to Italy for his first visit with Mussolini. Papen, who was not brave by nature, was going to take advantage of this absence of his chief executive to make a speech against him three days after his departure which would be a rather pedantic match for the twisted intrigues and the delusions of his former friend, then ex-friend, then new friend, Gen. Kurt von Schleicher. The speech that Papen was going to make was not his own. A “ghost” had written it for him. His name was Edgard Jung, and his anti-Hitler writings were going to cost him rather dearly. Papen had chosen the town of Fulda, an old ecclesiastical metropolis, for pulling off his coup. The text that Jung had given him was almost laughably exaggerated, particularly inasmuch as it was supposedly written by a man who, while occupying the Reich's chancellorship before Hitler, had proved himself incapable of accomplishing anything at all.
That he, whose political past had been a cipher, should pretend to give lessons to someone who had just put more than two million of Germany's unemployed back to work in only a few months was utterly presumptuous.
Papen spelled out his prefabricated pages at Marburg with the conviction of a stationmaster: “Germany must not be a train launched haphazardly into the future, with nobody knowing where it will stop.… Great men are not created by propaganda, but by the valor of their actions and the judgment of history.… A defective or half-educated intelligence does not qualify one to engage in a battle against the spirit.” But the bishops, champions in all types of political quarrels, and whose spokesman Papen had hoped to be that day, had immediately fallen silent, miters inclined meekly over their breviaries.
By his reference to a stationmaster, we can only imagine that Degrelle meant to compare his delivery to that of a railroad conductor. Furthermore, his speech disregarded any NSDAP accomplishments and his audience was evidently disengaged to a point of embarrassment. It is clearly he who was battling against the spirit of a nation reinvigorated. Next Degrelle refers to Heinrich Brüning, Chancellor of Germany from March, 1930 until May of 1932, and succeeded by Papen. One of his courtiers was Kurt von Schleicher. Brüning left Germany in 1934 and after a sojourn in the Netherlands and Britain, he came to America in 1937, where he attained a position as a visiting professor at Harvard University, and remained there until 1952. He died in Vermont in 1970. Continuing with Degrelle:
Bruning, the ex-chancellor, realizing that Papen's speech had misfired and smelled of heresy, would clear out that very week and make tracks for the Americas. When Hitler had deplaned on his return from Venice, he would make it his business to reply. After having read a report of the speech written by Papen's ghost writer, Hitler moved to deal with his very strange colleague, who had thought he was being so clever.
A few hours after landing, Hitler challenged him symbolically from the rostrum at a public meeting at Gera in Thuringen: “All these little midgets who imagine they have something to say will be swept away by the power of our idea of the community. Because, whatever criticisms they believe themselves capable of formulating, all these midgets forget one thing: where is this better thing that could replace what is? Where do they keep whatever it is they want to put in its place? Ridiculous, this little worm who wants to combat a so powerful renewal of a people.” [Citing Brissaud, Hitler and his time, p. 197.]
Schleicher, who had been delighted by Papen's sabotage, was just putting the final touches on his future government. The list was already making the rounds: Everyone's role was already fixed, as we may read in Benoist-Mechin: “Hitler will be assassinated. Schleicher will become chancellor in his place. Gregor Strasser will receive the portfolio of national economy. As for Ernst Röhm, he will become minister of the Reichswehr.”
“It is fitting,” Schleicher says, “that the army and the national formations be in the same hands.”
“Strasser and Röhm having approved his program, Schleicher felt assured of success.” [Citing Benoist-Méchin, History of the German Army, vol. III, 189.]
And so a general who was choking with ambition, a general who six months earlier, as minister of national defense, was directly responsible for the Reichswehr, was now determined to place all the generals of the Reichswehr, his own colleagues, under the command of Röhm, the constant insulter of the old army. Resentment had turned him into a traitor, this swaggering, cynical man. The thirst for power was consuming him with fury, and he was ready to ally himself with anyone to regain it. Harshly, historian Benoist-Mechin writes: “He considers that the hour has come to make someone pay for his disgrace. A general without an army, a fascist without conviction, and a socialist without any support among the working class, in losing his cabinet post he has lost his friends. But now that events seem to be turning in his favor, he sees the possibility of getting it all back with a single blow. [Ibid., p. 188 ff.]
Rumors leaked out concerning the still semi-secret crisis, causing frightened reactions. On June 25 of 1934, Hitler was informed that in 15 days the gold reserves of the Reichsbank had dwindled from 925 million marks to 150 million. “The agitation of the SA has caused disquiet in industrial and banking circles.”
Everything tallied: the army threatened; anarchy on the horizon; the specter of devaluation hanging over the Reich. Hitler’s lieutenants raised their voices. Rudolf Hess on June 26, 1934, announced on the radio at Cologne: “The Führer will pardon minor personal deviations considering the magnitude of the achievements made. But if the Party is obliged to join battle, it will do so according to the National Socialist principle: if you strike, strike hard.”
“National Socialism can not be replaced,” he added, “not by hand-picked conservative forces nor by criminal intrigues given the pompous name of ‘second revolution.’ Adolf Hitler is, and remains, a revolutionary in the grand style. He has no need of crutches.” Hermann Göring was just as firm at Hamburg, on June 28: “Pulling a people out of the mire to raise it toward the sun is a superhuman task. The basis on which the Reich rests is confidence in the Führer.” Then his warning sounded like the crack of a rifle: “Whoever seeks to destroy that confidence has signed his death warrant.”
More and more precise information was brought to Hitler, some of it real and some no doubt exaggerated by uneasy imaginings or understood only more or less exactly by the listening services. These transcriptions of wiretapped telephone conversations of the conspirators were full of gross insults directed at Hitler. Secret agents followed the suspects. Letters were seized as well, very accusing letters. Göring was most impressed by the documents.
“Feverish preparations are also being made in the National Socialist camp. The black militia are in a state of alert. A certain number of SS sections are armed with rifles and 120 cartridges per rifle. The shock troops known as the SS Section Grossbeeren are on a war footing. Certain formations of the automobile corps, or NSKK, are mobilized and armed with carbines." [Here Degrelle cited an “Account of the events of June 30 from The Manchester Guardian of the following August 9.”]
It is June 28, 1934: Hitler has left for Essen, where he has to attend a wedding and to meet some big industrialists in the field of metallurgy. On the following day, June 29, 1934, he will inspect the Labor Service camps in Westphalia. Then, out of the blue, he is going to receive news of the most alarming nature: “Röhm has given orders to all the SA commanders to join him on the shores of the Tegernsee [Lake Tegern] on the afternoon of June 30, and all units of the SA have received orders to remain at the disposal of their commanders." [Citing Benoist-Méchin, vol. I, 192. (This may be an error for vol. III – WRF.)]
Now, the next day, the first of July, is precisely the day when the leave decreed by Hitler for the 3 million men of the SA is to begin. Hitler himself has given us an account of these particularly dramatic hours.
The mobilization of the SA on the eve of their departure on leave seemed to me very unusual. I decided therefore to relieve the chief of staff of his duties on Saturday, June 30; to put him under close arrest until further orders; and to eliminate a certain number of SA commanders whose criminal activities were notorious.
Given the tenseness of events, I thought that the chief of staff would probably not obey me if I ordered him to Berlin or elsewhere. I consequently resolved to go myself to the conference of the commanders of the SA. Relying on my personal authority and on the decisiveness that had never failed me in critical moments, I planned to arrive there on Saturday at noon, to dismiss the chief of staff on the spot, to arrest the principal instigators of the plot, and to address a rousing appeal to the commandants of the SA to recall them to their duties. [Citing Benoist-Méchin, vol. III, 192.]
Hitler has just ended his Westphalia visit amongst the young workers. He has arrived to spend the night at a hotel he is fond of, the home of an old comrade, Herr Dreesen. From his balcony he looks out over a beautiful stretch of the Rhine. As if the heavens wish to join in his personal drama, a storm, thunderclaps and flashes of lightning burst in a veritable Wagnerian hurricane. Goebbels has come at 9:30 p.m. in a special plane from Berlin to bring him other messages that have come in hour by hour to increase the disquiet.
“The alert has been given in the capital for the following day at 4 p.m. Trucks have been requisitioned to transport the shock troops; the action will begin at 5 p.m. sharp with the sudden occupation of the ministerial buildings.” [Ibid., p. 194]
There is no time to sift through each of the reports, to weigh which are true and which fraudulent or imaginary. “I’ve had enough of this.” Hitler cries. “It was imperative to act with lightning speed. Only a swift and sudden intervention was perhaps still capable of stemming the revolt. There was no room for doubt here: it would be better to kill 100 conspirators than to let 10,000 innocent SA men and 10,000 equally innocent civilians kill each other.” [Ibid.]
Hitler reflects for several minutes. All the others around him remain silent. Dealing severely with old comrades from the early fighting days is rending his feelings. “I was filled with respectful admiration,” Paul Joseph Goebbels will later relate, “a witness to that silence, for that man upon whom rested the responsibility for the fate of millions of human beings and whom I saw in the process of weighing a painful choice. On the one hand the peace and tranquillity of Germany, on the other those men who up to now had been his intimate friends,” [Citing Brissaud, p. 201.] “However far they've gone astray, they are fighting comrades. For years they have shared the same anxieties, the same hopes, and it is with horror that he finds himself forced to be severe with them.” [Ibid.]
“It caused me a great deal of pain,” Hitler admitted. But when it is necessary, a leader must rise above his attachments. Hitler is going to anticipate the meeting called by Röhm and get there before anyone else. He will not saddle anyone else with the dangerous mission. He will go himself. Six persons in all will accompany him, with Goebbels sticking close to his chief.
At Godesberg, Hitler's personal plane is damaged. Happily for him. Because at the Munich airfield they were lying in wait for his plane. A replacement Junkers is brought out, and they climb into the black sky still marked by the storm. Hitler does not say a word during the two hours in the air. Will he still be alive this very evening? He is an old soldier, and he will hurl himself straight at the obstacle, as he did at the front in Flanders and at Artois. He still had time before the plane took off to receive a telephone message from the gauleiter [or perhaps party chairman] of Munich, [named] Wagner: “11:45 p.m. Several hundred SA men have gone through the streets shouting abusive slogans against Hitler and the Reichswehr and chanting their song: ‘Sharpen your long knives on the edge of the sidewalk’.”
Leaping hastily from his Junkers at Munich, Hitler immediately goes up to the two SA generals there to meet Röhm in the afternoon and tears the silver leaves from their collars. Immediately afterward he sets off by car for the village of Wiessee, where Röhm is staying. With him in the car are Goebbels, Otto Dietrich – his press attaché – and three bodyguards.
A truck carrying some SS men overtakes them on the way. “Mein Fuhrer,” Goebbels says, “the one who strikes first holds the winning hand. The first round in a fight is always decisive.” To strike before anyone else is precisely what Hitler has in mind. As a true fighter, he is going to pounce.
The tension between Hitler and Röhm had been building for quite a while. At last it was to reach its deadly climax, on June 30, 1934. Adolf Hitler is first to leap from the car onto the porch of the Hanselbauer boardinghouse, where Ernst Röhm and his staff are sleeping. It will only take a few seconds from start to finish. The entry door is sent flying. Hitler rushes in. Goebbels and the few SS of the escort run from room to room and burst in before a single sleeper can budge. And what sleepers. The most inveterate of Röhm’s accomplices, Heinz, who had paraded with him so arrogantly at Breslau just a while ago leading nearly 100,000 SS members, is still sleeping, stark naked, clinging to his chauffeur. He tries to seize a revolver, is dumbfounded. It has been Hitler's wish that he arrest Röhm personally.
“Alone and without any weapons,” wrote Churchill admiringly, “Hitler mounted the staircase and entered Röhm's room.” [Citing Churchill, The Storm Draws Near, p. 100.] Röhm’s face turned crimson at the sight of Hitler, his features still more marked by the drinking bout of the previous night. He was dragged outside and shoved into a truck with several other survivors. Hitler turned away from him as though dismayed.
Suddenly then, there appeared a series of cars arriving at Wiessee with a first lot of the principal SA commanders coming to Röhm's meeting. Hitler rushed into the road, stopped the vehicles and then personally arrested those of the leaders whose complicity was known to him. He knew precisely who Röhm's confederates were and who were the ones not informed, and the latter were released immediately. The others soon found themselves in the Munich prison. Benoist-Mechin has revealed:
These latter had intended to let the other officers in on their plans during the course of the Wiessee conference, thus confronting them with a fait accompli, since the action was to begin at almost the same time in Berlin and in Munich. Those who could not be won over to Röhm's side would have been arrested and handed over to the commando shock troops.
It is not hard to guess what the commandos would have done with them. [Citing Benoist-Mechin, vol. III, 197.]
Just at that moment (at 7:45 a.m.) the commando shock troops especially created by Röhm were also arriving, transported by a column of trucks. That irruption of commandos at such an early morning hour was revealing. If the shock troops were getting here that early, it could only mean they had received orders at dawn for the very special mission that Röhm intended to assign them. And for the second time it was the Führer himself who then and there went to intervene.
“Hitler, still without weapons, advances toward the detachment commander and orders him, in a tone brooking no answer, to turn around and go back to his quarters. The detachment commander complies, and the column of trucks goes off back in the direction of Munich.” [Ibid.]
Thus at every stage it was Hitler who braved the risks and put his own life on the line. Churchill has written: “If Hitler had arrived an hour later, or the others an hour sooner, history would have taken a different turn.” [Churchill, p. 100 ff.]
Other SA bigwigs were due to arrive in Munich by train. The moment they got off, they were arrested one after the other right at the station. When Hitler got back to the “Brown House” at 11 o'clock in the morning, he had the list of prisoners sent to him immediately. There were 200. He himself checked off on the sheet the names of the leaders most implicated, to be shot. Not there either did he try to saddle someone else with the decision and the execution order. Responsible for his country, he took his responsibilities to his country very seriously. Churchill himself would be obliged to recognize the fact:
“By his prompt and ruthless action he had assured his position and no doubt saved his life. That ‘Night of the Long Knives,’ as it was called, had preserved the unity of National Socialist Germany.’ [Ibid.] The afternoon of that same day, the SA commanders checked off on the list were brought to face firing squads. “It is the will of the Führer. Heil Hitler! Ready. Aim. Fire!”
This may seem like an unfair act and that perhaps these men may have deserved trials, but in reality the actions of Röhm and his confederates were an insurrection and were properly treated as an act of war, not as common crimes. Continuing with Degrelle, who writes in reference to the executions:
That took place at exactly 5 o'clock in the afternoon, the hour when those executed would presumably have ended their meeting with Röhm.
And Röhm? He was still alive. Hitler was still hesitating “because of services rendered.” It was not until the next day that Hitler, mastering his personal feelings and bitterness, would accept, at Göring's insistence, that the chief culprit finally be executed.
At that moment Hitler declared that it would be necessary to let Röhm carry out his own execution. A revolver was placed within reach of his hand. He refused to touch it. Ten minutes later a burst of machine-gun fire killed him in his cell. Hitler, true to his friends to an almost impossible degree, received the news with dismay. “'When a young SS officer hands Hitler a message telling him that Röhm has rejected suicide and has been killed, Hitler's face grows very pale. He puts the message in his pocket. A few minutes later he withdraws to his apartment.” [Citing Brissaud, p. 210.] Hitler had an iron fist. But he couldn't bring himself to use it on an old comrade.
Rather, we esteem that a leader should have as much loyalty to his comrades and followers than they have to him, Hitler exhibited even greater loyalty than what would be expected of him, even where his comrades had failed him. Here we see an irrefutable exhibition of the exceptional character, fidelity and bravery of Adolf Hitler. The average Western politician would simply have hid in his office and called for the army, peeing himself and hoping they would take his side. Continuing with Degrelle:
Hitler had returned to Berlin by 6 o'clock in the evening of the same day. He had landed at Tempelhof without a hat, “his face as white as chalk, fatigued by a night without sleep, unshaven, offering his hand in silence to those who were waiting for him.” Göring presented him with a list; at Berlin, too, the repression had been swift and severe, harsher than at Munich. The civilians implicated had been executed at the same time as the SA commanders linked to Röhm and to Gen. Kurt von Schleicher. From the moment of receiving the watchword “hummingbird” at dawn, a column of mobile guards had joined Göring's personal guard. Göring, like Hitler, had made them a brief speech: “It will be necessary to obey without question and to have courage, for putting someone to death is hard.”
In a flash the commanders who were in league with Röhm and Schleicher were arrested and lined up against a wall at the Lichterfelde prison. And here, too, it was the chief who made the decisions. One by one, Göring looked each prisoner in the face. This one. That one. As at Munich, he personally and on the spot stripped those most deeply involved of their rank before their execution. Gisevius, though a most notorious anti-Hitlerite, has felt it necessary to make mention the confessions of the guilty:
“Uhl is the one who affirmed, a little while before he was shot, that he had been designated to assassinate Hitler; Balding, one of the section commanders of the SA, that he would have made an attempt against [Heinrich] Himmler.” [There is no citation. Degrelle himself continues:] Ernst, the boozer with a dozen cars, who spent 30,000 marks per month on banquets, had been seized at the very moment when he was about to leave for the Canaries. Hardly more than a few hours, and it was all over.
Degrelle does not inform us as to whether Ernst, the licentious head of the SA in Berlin, was fleeing for the Canary Islands, or taking advantage of the 30-day leave which Hitler had given the SA for a vacation. Degrelle continues:
Those mentioned were not the only ones to perish. At Berlin, the political center of all these intrigues, various important civilians had been mixed up in the affair. First there had been Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen, the sly schemer. That morning his arrogance rapidly diminished. Göring had personally treated him with consideration. They were colleagues. Papen was still vice chancellor.
“I very strongly advise you,” Goring told him, “to stay at home and not to go out for any reason.” He had immediately understood and scurried away to safety. He would stay buried at home without giving a moment's thought to his close colleagues sitting in his ministry, even those who had prepared for him the malicious text of his speech at Marburg prior to Röhm's operation.
As for what might happen to them as soon as he abandoned them at the Vice-Chancellery, he would pay no heed. Afterward he would never ask for a word of explanation concerning them, nor would he express a single regret. They would die that morning nevertheless. His right-hand man, Erich Klausener, had tried to flee and had been killed by two bullets fired through his half-open door. He had wanted, on leaving, to get his hat, and that had made him lose the few fatal seconds. He died with his hat on like a conscientious citizen.
Papen's own private secretary, Herbert von Bose, would fall right in the cabinet building. Edgard Jung, Papen's chief writer, the one who had drafted his tirade of June 17 for him word for word, would be mowed down just like the two others. Thus, after having been abandoned heroically by Papen, the first clique was done away with.
Next it would be the turn of the Schleicher-Röhm government's future minister of industry, Gregor Strasser. He had hidden in a factory that made pharmaceutical products. He was caught there, and he was not long in being liquidated.
His brother Otto, living in exile, was also a prominent Leftist within the NSDAP until he was expelled from the party in 1930. He had already fled Germany by this time, and spent most of his years in exile in Canada peddling lies to publishers about both Hitler and the Party. Degrelle continues:
And what of the most important of the plotters, the future chancellor of post-Hitler Germany, Gen. Schleicher? He had been the first to pay. He had not even had time to seek a refuge. He had been surprised in his office and shot down dead before he could utter a cry. His wife, who had flung herself upon him, had died bravely under the same hail of bullets.
Always when such things happen, over-excitable people go too far or indulge their darker instincts, and in the violence of the brawl, some innocent people did get hurt. These casualties are what today we chastely call “regrettable mistakes.” [Actually we would consider them to be unavoidable collateral damage. - WRF] More than one occurred on June 30, 1934. A peaceable professor named Schmit was confused with one of the conspirators of the SA: they both bore the same surname and first name. [Here an editor makes a lengthy footnote which says: According to William Schirer, in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, the innocent man was Dr. Willi Schmid. The local SA leader was named Willi Schmidt. SA leader Willi Schmidt had in the meantime been arrested by another SS detachment and shot.] Continuing with Degrelle:
Victim of another mistake was an old and good friend of Hitler's, Father Schlemper, a former Jesuit. In the heat of such operations, where for an hour perhaps public tranquillity is at stake, errors and excesses do take place: they are regrettable, condemnable and, no matter what one does, inevitable.
In August and September of 1944, one Charles de Gaulle would show very little concern when his partisan thugs, with abominable refinements of cruelty, assassinated tens of thousands of Frenchmen (104,000 according to official U.S. figures) quite simply because their ideas of what was good for France differed from his. And among all the killers of 1944, communist and Gaullist alike, not a single one, not even of those caught red-handed in the worst excesses, would ever be the object of sanction. The same is true of Belgium, where the assassins who freely massacred, in isolated villages, hundreds of parents and children of the Volunteers of the Eastern Front, would without exception enjoy total immunity from punishment in 1945; indeed, they would receive pensions, [they] would be decorated.
If Hitler was forced to act severely on June 30, 1934, he had brought himself to it not a moment too soon. He might easily have been forestalled that day by the Röhms and the Schleichers. His indecision during May and June very nearly proved fatal. From the moment he became aware that mistakes or abuses had been committed, he took action with equal severity against the police or militiamen who had committed them. Three such were shot that same evening. “I shall order punishment,” he exclaimed, “for those who have committed excesses. I most emphatically forbid any new acts of repression.”
In his book, The Storm Approaches, Churchill would make it a point of honor to repeat – almost with admiration – the reasons that obtained with Hitler when he saw there was no other solution but to crush the imminent rebellion: “It was imperative to act with lightning speed at that most decisive of all hours, because I had only a few men with me.… Revolts are always put down by iron laws that are ever the same.” Churchill, in a similar case – one may be sure – would certainly have reacted with a harshness one hundred times more implacable.
How many dead were there? There, as in everything else when it comes down to rapping Hitler, the figures tossed out have been prodigious. A thousand dead according to some. More than a thousand dead according to others. “The estimates as to the number of persons liquidated vary from five to seven thousand persons,” Churchill would later write, as if ashamed of having more or less praised Hitler for his energy.
Presently, one footnote in the Wikipedia article for the Night of the Long Knives says that 85 people were executed, and that “Göring alone had over a thousand people arrested.” Other sources estimate between 150 and 200 dead. These are much more conservative figures than the examples which Degrelle complains about here from Churchill. Continuing with our article:
What is the evidence to support such claims? None. These fantastic figures were thrown into the air to chill the blood of the great public outside of Germany. For the warmongering press that had been howling at Hitler's heels for nearly two years, it offered a great opportunity to heap opprobrium upon him, albeit with a shameless disregard of truth or even probability. That method of provocation, repeated at every turn from January of 1933 on, was infallibly conducive to the furious hatreds that degenerated into World War II in 1939.
If we stick honestly to the historically established exact figures, how many plotters or confederates fell on June 30, 1934? Seventy-seven in all, Hitler affirmed to the Reichstag. Even an enemy as impassioned as Gisevius, the ex-Gestapo member, had to admit, doubtless unwillingly: “If we are to believe the rumors, there were supposedly more than a hundred men shot on that Sunday alone at Lichterfeld. But that figure is certainly exaggerated; in all probability there were no more than 40." [Apparently citing Gisevius, To the Very Dregs, from volume I page 196.] Well, there was no other day of execution but “that Sunday.” Recapitulating all the names he was able to collect throughout the entire Reich, Gisevius arrived at 90 men executed. Moreover, he further adds: “supposing the figure to be exact.” [Ibid.]
And the other 910… or 6,830… whose execution was trumpeted around the planet by the Churchills or junior Churchills? Gisevius, who was on the spot and had anti-Nazi informers all about, didn't arrive at a hundredth of Churchill’s figure, and he had only this pitiful explanation to offer: “Those who had been listed as dead turned up again at the end of a few weeks.” In a few hours, and at a price that when all is said and done was not very high – about one death per million German citizens – Hitler had restored order to his country.
“Never was a revolution less costly and less bloody,” Goebbels would be able to say.
The anguished screams and the lies of foreign critics were the most arrant [or perhaps outright] hypocrisy. What did the swift execution of a handful of mutineers on the verge of rebellion amount to alongside the wholesale slaughter perpetrated by the so-glorified grand ancêtres [ancestors] of the French Revolution?
Napoleon himself had Gen. Malet shot for conspiracy. The duc d’Enghien was killed at his order in the ditches of Vincennes. He exterminated tens of thousands of Breton opponents in his punitive expeditions. “A political act is not judged by the victims it makes but by the evils it averts.” It was the philosopher Joseph de Maistre who said that, a century and a half before Röhm and Schleicher were executed. With undeniable personal courage, Hitler had been able to control the situation at limited cost and in a minimum of time.
It cannot be doubted that without his resolution, Germany would have fallen into chaos, and rapidly. The army would certainly have moved to block Röhm, resulting perhaps in thousands of deaths and an immediate collapse of the economic recovery. The shouts of triumph that went up abroad to see this brief outburst of violence taking place in Germany were very significant; one would imagine they were already sounding the mort [a note sounded on a horn when the prey is killed].
It was not only Hitler's right but his duty to take the red-hot iron from his forge and cauterize the canker to the bone. He did so with the force and the promptness that were needed to spare the nation anything beyond the swift and radical elimination of the corruption. He was the judge and the sword. A true leader in such hours of extreme peril must face up to things, not hesitate a second, but decide and act.
The German people understood as much even that same evening. When Hitler, his face ashen after such a tragic event, left the Tempelhof airfield at six o'clock in the evening, a group of slaters working there on a roof let out a shout: “Bravo, Adolf” In their admiration they called him by his first name. Twice more they shouted their “Bravo, Adolf” It was the first salute of the people on the return of the lover of justice.
A few hours later, another “Bravo, Adolf,” was going to ring out, this one still more impressive than the bravo of the slaters; it was that of the highest authority of the Reich, old Marshal von Hindenburg. That same evening he had telegraphed the Führer from his Neudeck estate, “It appears from reports given me that you have crushed all the seditious intrigues and attempted treason. Thanks to your personal, energetic and courageous intervention, you have saved the German people from a grave peril. Let me express to you my profound gratitude and sincere esteem. Signed: von Hindenburg.”
Freed of the threat of a fratricidal subversion, the army, too, at once fell in line unanimously behind the Chancellor. As soon as von Hindenburg’s message reached Berlin, the minister of national defense issued an order of the day to the Wehrmacht:
The Führer has personally attacked and crushed the rebels and traitors with the decisiveness of a soldier and with exemplary courage. The Wehrmacht, as the only armed force of the nation as a whole, while remaining aloof from internal conflicts, will express to him its recognition of his devotion and fidelity. The Führer asks us to maintain cordial relations with the new SA. Aware that we serve a common ideal, we shall be happy to do so. The state of alert is lifted throughout the entire Reich.
Signed: von Blomberg
General Werner von Blomberg was Minister of the Reichswehr and then Minister of War until in 1938 he was caught up in a scandal involving a young woman. He nevertheless spent his remaining years in obscure positions in the German Army, and was captured and arrested in 1945. He died of colon cancer a short time testifying at Nuremberg, in March of 1946. Continuing with Degrelle:
And the SA? No single act of resistance or complicity would be noted anywhere in the entire Reich after June 30, 1934. For almost all the SA members, it was Hitler who counted, not the men shot.
The latter had been six or seven dozen all told and were either coldly ambitious, like Schleicher, or else leftist adventurers like Röhm, as well as a few accomplices whose heads had been turned by their unwonted rise and who clamored for still more. “After all,” Gisevius would acknowledge, dealing them the unkindest cut of all, “it was only a matter there of a very tiny clique: group staff officers with their paid guards, a bunch of hoodlums such as are to be found anywhere there’s disorder or a row.” [Citing Gisevius, vol. I, 132.] The bulk of the SA would not have let themselves be led disastrously astray.
The French ambassador, François-Poncet, Schleicher’s and Röhm’s old friend, would later write: “Even if Röhm and Schleicher had been able to carry out their plot, they would have failed.” Their revolt would have ended in a bloody massacre probably a hundred times more murderous than the brief repression of June 30. They had not even been able to act in good time. Gisevius would add: “The history of June 30 comes down to the choice of the opportune moment. Röhm fell because he let the favorable hour slip by. The Göring-Himmler team (and Hitler, of course) won because it acted at the proper time.”
Karl Marx had said it a century earlier: “Neither nations nor women are spared when they are not on their guard.” Hitler had been on his guard.
With black humor, Göring remarked: “They prepared a second revolution for the evening of June 30, but we made it instead – and against them.”
Hitler was hardly more than awake the next morning, the first of July, 1934, when continuous cheering rose up from below the windows of the chancellery. Gisevius, who at that time was not yet secretly betraying the Nazi regime [as a part of the camarilla of Wilhelm Canaris], was in the chancellery when Hitler drew near to the balcony. “On this occasion,” he later noted, “I had an unexpected opportunity to see Hitler up close. He was at the famous window and had just received the ovation of the people of Berlin who had come there in throngs.”
He made a deep bow when Hitler passed in front of him, but he was consumed with fear. “Under the insistence of that caesar-like gaze, I almost wanted to crawl into a hole.” [Citing Gisevius, vol. I, 68.] The caesar of the chancellery had shown guts and a sense of strategy, and the people massed in the street below cheering him, with a sure intuition of the danger and the successful outcome, [they] had understood. [The sentence construction here is a little ragged. - WRF]
By July 2, 1934, the whole of Germany was back on track. The SA and the army were reconciled. The political and social reunification of the Reich had been achieved in 1933. Now, at the beginning of July of 1934, military and ideological reunification were about to be realized.
Pledges of loyalty to Hitler were coming from all sides. Even the high clergy sanctimoniously followed suit. Dr. Hjalmar H. G. Schacht himself found no grounds for reproach. No more than a few days after the executions he would calmly enter the Hitler government, now purged of Röhm’s presence.
Dr. Schacht, former President of the Reichsbank, would serve as German Minister of Economics from August, 1934 through November of 1937, and remain Reichsbank president until January of 1939. His father was a Prussian Lutheran and his mother a Dutch baroness. Schacht had supposedly dabbled with the German resistance – those who were opposed to Hitler – including Hans Gisevius, who is cited frequently here by Degrelle. Put on trial at Nuremberg for trumped-up charges of “conspiracy” and “crimes against peace”, Schacht was acquitted and lived in Germany until his death in Munich in 1970. Continuing with Degrelle:
On July 13, 1934, speaking before the Reichstag, with the entire German nation glued to their radios, Hitler assumed full responsibility for his actions:
The guilty paid a very heavy tribute: Nineteen superior officers of the SA and 31 SA commanders and members of the brown-shirt militia were shot; three SS commanders and civilians implicated in the plot suffered the same fate; 13 SA commanders and civilians lost their lives resisting arrest; three others committed suicide; five party members no longer belonging to the SA were also shot. Three SS men who had been guilty of mistreating prisoners were shot.
If anybody blames me for not having referred the guilty to the regular courts, I can only reply: it was only by decimating them that order was restored in the rebel divisions.
I personally gave the order to shoot the guilty. I also gave orders to take a red-hot iron to the wound and burn to the flesh every abscess infecting our internal life and poisoning our relations with other countries. And I further gave the order to shoot down immediately any rebel who made the least attempt to resist arrest. In that hour I was responsible for the fate of the German nation, and I was thereby the supreme judge of the German people.
If there was still a saboteur remaining in the shadows, Hitler was bent on warning him that a fate like that of Schleicher’s and Röhm’s awaited him: “Any show of a plot, or complicity in a plot, will be smashed without any regard for rank or person.”
Believing that Hitler was going to be overthrown, the warmongers abroad – notably French Council President Doumergue, the vindictive and authoritarian little old Provencal – rejoiced too soon. It was Doumergue who would be ousted from power, rejected by the French people that same year. While out of the tragedy of June 30, 1934 had come a stronger Germany, freed of all threat of internal subversion and with the army and the SA finally brought into mutual harmony. Politically, socially, militarily and ideologically, the Germans were now a united people. [Or so it seemed…. - WRF]
The following month, by casting tens of millions of votes in favor of Hitler for the third time, Germany was going to make known to the whole world that she was forming around her leader the most formidable unity the Reich had ever known.
The affair of the Night of the Long Knives was begun on June 30th, and it was over by July 2nd, 1934. Reich President Paul von Hindenburg died of natural causes at the age of 87 on August 2nd, 1934. Rather than hold an election to fill the vacant office of President, where Hitler would have to run against whoever would contend against him, at this point a proposal was made to merge the offices of Chancellor and President. If the merger was approved by an election of the people, Hitler would assume the new office, already being Chancellor. If the merger was denied by the people, separate elections would have to be held to determine the leadership of the Reich.
Adolf Hitler won the election, because the merger was approved by the people with a resounding margin, and by that victory he became the undisputed leader of Germany. Leon Degrelle describes the affair in his next article, titled 38 Million Germans Make Their Voices Heard: A Landslide Victory for Adolf Hitler. Here we shall present this last article in this series, as it is fitting to see the wave of support garnered by Adolf Hitler in the immediate aftermath of the Night of the Long Knives. Degrelle begins by stating:
By extraordinary luck – the luck that had long watched over his life like a star – Adolf Hitler had been able to employ his lancet at the proper time; for exactly, two months and two days after the Ernst Röhm affair, old Marshal Oskar von Hindenburg, 87 years of age, was going to die. A delay of three months, and Hitler would have been right in the middle of the civil brawl at the very time of the succession. Every effort would then have been made by the army, by the reactionaries of the “Herrenclub,” and by other capitalist cabals to impose as Hindenburg's successor some conservative or other, preferably a son of Wilhelm II, who would have restored the old imperial system of pre-1918.
Here we do not know why Degrelle refers to Oskar von Hindenburg, the son of Paul von Hindenburg, who lived until 1960. He even mentions Oskar later in this article. More surprisingly, the error was not caught by the Barnes Review editorial staff. It was Paul von Hindenburg who was President of the Reich and who died at age 87 on August 2nd of 1934, one month and two days after the Night of the Long Knives. Oskar retired from active army service as a major that same year, although he returned to service on the Eastern Front in 1942. Degrelle continues:
Hitler, who in his first months as chancellor had already had to put up with the supervision of the aged Hindenburg, a man not always easy to live with, would then have seen some socially hidebound prince or other set over him, someone wrapped up in the vainglory of his position, a copy of Victor Emmanuel of Italy hanging like a lead millstone around Mussolini's neck since the March on Rome of October 28, 1922. Mussolini made a mistake that day when he didn't tell the ridiculous dwarf, who was notable only for the plume which doubled his height, to go jump in the Tiber. Three-fourths of Mussolini's potential would be stifled by that pompous dynastic sterility, encumbered as it was with stuffed-shirt dignitaries bespangled with honorary decorations, and where feminine grace was represented only by titled and wizened old dowagers decked out in gleaming finery.
Hitler would never have tolerated such a pretentious and soul-destroying circus. The mopping up of June 30, 1934 had rid him of the palace plotters. All of them, since that date, had curled back up in their empty shells. As for von Papen, shunted aside and out of the government, he was eager to find some employment or other, even modest employment, in Hitler's service. Later he would be delighted, at the mere beckoning of a finger, to accept being sent like a diplomatic messenger boy to Vienna, then to Ankara. The public had already forgotten Hugenberg. [An old politician and economist, Hugenberg was Minister of Economics for the first six months of 1933. - WRF] As for Schacht, he had triumphantly taken a seat in the Führer's cabinet while the smell of gunpowder in the ministerial offices was still making people sneeze. After two years of eager collaboration Schacht had been able to find his niche. He had carried his pro-Hitler enthusiasm to the point where he had a fabulous gold hooked cross mounted as a sparkling jewel set in rubies made for his wife. For a time he would keep quiet.
Hindenburg had been pleased at the restoration of order of June 30. The “Bohemian corporal” was a thing of the past. He held Hitler in real esteem now.
In July the marshal had begun his death struggle. It was certain that his death would cause a very great shock in Germany. Right up to his last days, he had steered the ship of the Reich with firmness. He had passed roaring cataracts: World War I, the Defeat, the 15 years of failure of the Weimar Republic. When the marshal was about to enter the shadows of senility, Hitler had pulled himself aboard in his small boat. The marshal had believed at first that Hitler was going to make them capsize, but then he had seen that he dominated and was master of the violent course of the waters, and that the old historic flag so dear to him was waving anew atop the mast.
Hindenburg became sentimentally attached to Hitler. The latter had hastened to his bedside when he lay dying. Hindenburg, no longer able to recognize faces, mistook Hitler for his ex-emperor [Wilhelm II], who had been chopping wood in Holland for more than sixteen years. The flame of life still trembled on for yet a few hours. In the silence of dawn on August 2, 1934, it flickered out.
Hitler did not lose an instant. There, too, as on June 30, he was going to forestall any intrigues. One scarcely had time to wonder who was going to succeed the glorious deceased when, just a few hours after his death, the Reichsgesetzblatt published the text of a law that cut short all vain speculation:
The duties of the president of the Reich are combined with those of the chancellor of the empire. In consequence, all the powers and prerogatives of the president are transferred to the Führer and chancellor, Hitler. He will designate his own representative.
-Berlin, the 1st of August, 1934.
[Signed by:] Ad. Hitler, Rudolf Hess, von Papen, von Neurath, Dr. Frick, Count Schwerin von Krosigk, Franz Seldte, Dr. Gurtner, von Blomberg, von Eltz, Walter Darre, Dr. Goebbels, Hermann Göring, Dr. Rust, Hjalmar Schacht
It was signed by the 15 members of the government, including the Conservatives selected in January 1933 as prison-guards for Hitler, Baron von Neurath, Count Schwerin, von Krosigk, and even the devious von Papen, despite the fact that he was no longer a minister except theoretically, having in fact been ousted from the Council after the failed putsch. These worthy civilians in their pinstriped trousers, so standoffish the previous year, were now only too anxious to please. As for the wearers of another kind of trousers with a purple stripe, the Reichswehr top brass, they would have been able to erect a very formidable barricade on the road to succession if Hitler had not put a radical end to Reichswehr-SA conflict on June 30, 1934, and recognized the former as the exclusive armed forces.
Thus recognized, the Reichswehr from that day on had seemingly thrown in its lot with the Führer without reserve. On August 2, 1934, proof would be given of the soundness of Hitler's political instincts and of his tactical skill. Without the preceding 30th of June, the triumph of August 2 would doubtless not have been possible. On that day the top generals of the army, Reichswehr Minister Gen. von Blomberg, the army chief of staff, Gen. von Fritsch, and the chief of naval operations, Adm. Raeder, were the very first to come and pay homage to Hitler and tender him an oath of allegiance much more strict than that which had bound them to Hindenburg as head of the state. For this time it was to Hitler personally that they had then and there to take an oath of loyalty:
I solemnly swear before God in all circumstances to obey Adolf Hitler, Führer of the Reich and of the German people, supreme commander of the armed forces. I pledge myself to act at all times as a brave soldier and to respect this oath even at the risk of my life.
On the same morning throughout Germany, 100,000 Reichswehr officers, noncommissioned officers and soldiers repeated that same oath with great ceremony. From then on the commander of the army, the sole commander, was Hitler. The army that was acting distrustfully a few months earlier, would from that day forward be under the orders of “the Fuhrer of the Reich and of the German people” who had become their commander-in-chief. Every general would have to stand at attention before the Bohemian ex-corporal. Said Gen. von Reichenau in a statement to the Petit Journal of Paris on August 6, 1934:
The chancellor kept his word by nipping in the bud Röhm’s attempt to merge the SA with the Reichswehr. We love him because he has truly conducted himself like a soldier. The army admires him for his personal courage, and I wholly subscribe to the words he uttered the other day: “The army can trust in me as I trust in the army.” [Citing Brissaud, Hitler and his time, p. 218.]
In 17 months, Hitler, who had not even been a German citizen three years before, had become the sole master of the army, as well as of Germany. Hitler, a stage-manager in the style of Wagner, organized a funeral for Hindenburg such as no emperor had known in the Reich in the course of 1,000 years. The marshal was going to be buried in the heart of a monument like an enormous fortress whose eight massive granite towers would rise in the middle of the battlefield where, on August 29,1914, Hindenburg had crushed the Russian invasion at Tannenberg. Here a few German divisions had got the better of several hundred thousand Slavs, who were hurled back in panic in the Masurian Lakes, where they surrendered en masse while their commander-in-chief, Gen. Samsonov, committed suicide. Sixty-seven million Germans listened spellbound, by radio, to the description of the long veils of crepe falling from the towers, of the coffin placed in the center of the great lawn, the hundreds of glorious banners watching over him. His oldest comrades of the Great War, led by Marshal von Mackensen, imposing in his shapka of the Uhlan Guards, formed a square about the deceased.
Hitler advanced to face the corpse and saluted the hero who was entering on immortality: “Dead marshal, enter now Valhalla.” Everyone held his breath. Some officers came forward, hoisted the heavy coffin to their shoulders while the March of the Dead Warriors from the Twilight of the Gods [the last of the four operas by Richard Wagner that make up The Ring of the Nibelung] was resounding like a long, smothered sigh. At the moment when the recumbent body was deposited in the Tower of the Marshals, the booming of 101 cannon shots shook the plain, the lakes and the woods and reverberated to the furthermost villages of the Reich, carried via radio.
Hitler, with imposing solemnity, had been at that moment the conscience of the nation saluting greatness. Hitler was and always had been anxious to act only with the consent and approval of the people: that is the historical truth. He wanted the people to ratify this increase in his power and to grant it to him in their turn. For the second time in less than eight months, he was going to trust his fate to a plebiscite in which the people would let him know their will. Already on the day before that burial worthy of ancient Rome or the return of Napoleon's ashes, Hitler had charged his minister of the Interior with the arranging of that national consultation:
It is my wish that the constitutional decision taken by the cabinet to confer upon my person the offices exercised by the deceased President of the Reich, receive the explicit sanction of the German people.
Profoundly convinced that all sovereignty emanates from the people and must be confirmed by the people by means of a free and secret vote, I ask you to make the necessary arrangements to submit the decision of the cabinet to the German people, so that they may pronounce on it by a referendum vote.
Whoever wished to vote would vote as he wished according to his convictions and preferences. At the time of the first plebiscite, in December 1933, it was still possible to affirm that Hitler had won it because he had based the electoral consultation on a problem of foreign policy, a subject on which the nearly unanimous agreement of the Germans was admitted in advance.
This time, on August 19, 1934, it was no longer the League of Nations or disarmament [that] the people would be pronouncing on: it would be on Hitler himself, on the increased authority that had been definitely granted him, uniting in the same hands the powers of the chancellor of the Reich and those of the chief of state that Hindenburg had exercised previously.
One could still wonder whether that extension of Hitler's power would have been approved by the deceased, whether he feared it or would have encouraged it. It was whispered that no testament of the marshal’s existed. In any case the government knew nothing of it. An official statement from the chancellor's office even let it be known following the interment that “Marshal Hindenburg has left no political testament.” But one did exist: not only a personal letter from Hindenburg to Hitler, but a message of seven pages preceded by a dozen noble lines in the marshal’s own handwriting. The marshal had even made several alterations in the text. It ended with the holographic signature of Hindenburg written in the presence of his private advisors.
On the envelope the old man had written beautifully the following note:
This is my testament to the German people and to their chancellor; this letter is to be transmitted by my son [Oskar - WRF] to the chancellor of the Reich. I give thanks to Providence for letting me be witness, in the evening of my life, to the hour of our national recovery. I thank all those who have contributed with a disinterested love of the fatherland to setting Germany right again. My Chancellor Adolf Hitler and his movement have taken a decisive step of far-reaching historical consequence in restoring unity to the German people without distinction either of class or profession. I know that much remains to be done. And I wish with all my heart that the great act of national resurrection and unification of the people may be crowned with a reconciliation that will embrace the entire German fatherland.
What was most extraordinary, however, was that Hitler, even though chancellor, had remained ignorant of the existence of this testament for thirteen days; in fact, he had believed there was no testament right up to the moment, on August 15, 1934, when the text was made known to the German people. The marshal's son, Col. Oscar von Hindenburg – who at the beginning of January 1933 was still a professed adversary of Hitler’s – had not wished to reveal the testament to the public and provoke possible violent debate before the emotion of the great man’s passing had abated somewhat. He made an effort to explain over the radio to all of Germany:
My father himself, now deceased, saw in Adolf Hitler his immediate successor as supreme head of the German empire. I am thus obeying the desire of my honored father when I urge every man and woman of Germany, in the referendum of August 19, to ratify the transfer of all the powers and prerogatives previously exercised by him to the person of the Führer and chancellor of the Reich.
Now, common mainstram sources, and also Wikipedia, attach this endorsement to tax breaks and other incentives that the NSDAP supposedly extended to Oscar von Hindenburg, evidently slandering the entire affair and all of the parties involved. I do not believe it. Continuing with Degrelle:
On the very eve of the vote, the dethroned Kaiser's eldest son, whom the monarchists had hoped would succeed Hindenburg at the head of the Reich, came before the microphones and, to the surprise of many people, announced his adherence to the man that had been considered his rival: “I, too, shall vote for Adolf Hitler,” the crown prince declared.
That would be the son of Wilhelm II, Friedrich Wilhelm, the crown prince until his death in 1951. Degrelle continues:
Nonetheless, various considerations could still swing the vote the other way. The monarchists still contrived to hang onto their illusions. Moreover, although half of the unemployment problem had been solved at that date, August of 1934, Germany still counted 3 million men out of work who, when casting their ballots, might be seized by discouragement or irritation.
Finally, and above all, there was the immense army of the SA to think of; in conformity with his written promise to Secretary Anthony Eden of England, Hitler had just finished eliminating more than 2 million members and had then disallowed the remaining members the right to bear arms. So there, too, with that recent grievance preying on them, the SA members might vote “against” in protest. The death of Röhm was also quite recent; approving Hitler with one’s vote was equivalent to frankly approving Röhm’s liquidation.
Unyielding monarchists, unemployed workers, SA men demobilized against their will – wouldn't they vote “no” either by tradition, or from rancor or aversion?
All those reactions were possible. Moreover, that was partly the case. In certain former bastions of the communists in Berlin, the “noes” reached 30 percent of the vote; and in Breslau, Lubeck, Aachen, and Hamburg, nearly 25 percent. Proof, for a third time in less than two years, that anyone in Germany who wanted to vote against Hitler could do so freely and secretly. Yes, about 4 million Germans, making full use of their rights as voters, did indicate their opposition to the leader of National Socialism by their negative votes, while 38,362,760 others, that is to say 88.9 percent of the electorate, accorded the Führer a resounding “yes” vote. Hindenburg, on April 10, 1932, had received 19,359,683 votes on the day of his reelection as president of the Reich, that is to say barely more than half of the 38,362,720 votes obtained by Hitler on August 19, 1934.
Hitler had surpassed by 19,003,007 affirmative votes the 19,359,683 “yes” votes obtained by his predecessor, the marshal, renowned though the latter was. The proof was complete. After the unification of the parties, the unification of the states, the unification of the classes, and the social unification, all fully carried into effect, now Hitler was just completing the military unification and the ideological unification of Germany. And a vast majority of the nation approved. It was not a country divided into ten rival factions that followed him haltingly, as in the democracies, but a people powerfully unified.
By “unification of the parties” Degrelle refers to the Enabling Act of 1933, by which the NSDAP outlawed all other political parties. He continues:
All the same, that enormous vote, whose like no country save Germany had seen in the course of the entire century, ought to have given the foreign governments something to think about. Three months earlier, Hitler had made proposals to the English and the French that were obviously conciliatory. They had been flatly rejected. At times, England had seemed less fanatical. On March 24, 1934, a memorandum from the Foreign Office had suggested, not without humor: “If there must be a burial, we might as well hold it while Hitler is willing to pay for the funeral services.”
But now the German referendum was going to give the British the contrary impression that they had fallen right into a swarm of wasps. On the very day of the plebiscite of August 19, 1934, as if wishing to take revenge for it in advance, the British government rejected the last possibility of world disarmament: it proclaimed that Britain was renouncing entirely its inclination to disarm and was immediately going to double its air force and form 42 new squadrons.
True to his offer made to the British in March 1934 – an offer churlishly rejected by the French – Hitler had two months before, in a unilateral gesture, reduced the SA by two-thirds and disarmed the remaining third. As for his air force, at that time it was virtually nil. With that being the case, what possible rhyme or reason was there in this initiative of England's that could only be considered by Germany as a provocation?
It must inevitably start a reaction, for if the British, instead of reducing their air force by a third, abruptly doubled it, why would the Germans be alone in not having their own air force? Why did they have to remain eternally prostrate in humiliating inferiority? The British decision, which, strictly speaking, nothing at the time justified, marked the beginning of what was to become a most appalling competition, a recrudescence of suspicions and enmities, and the artificial forming of misbegotten alliances.
After having fired off their rejection of any and all offers of disarmament in a seemingly deliberate affront to Hitler (like an uppercut to the chops), France had then for her part wasted no time: her minister of foreign affairs, Barthou, his goatee flying in the wind, had immediately rushed to Warsaw, to Prague, to Bucharest and to Belgrade, setting his nets everywhere as he fished for war.
So we see that Adolf Hitler was a true soldier, a courageous leader who faced up to his own risks, had earned the respect and support of his countrymen and their leaders by his valor, and ultimately, was the legitimately elected leader of his nation. Furthermore, Hitler was a peacemaker, and Britain and France would have no part in that. This is all far removed from the propaganda we are usually fed, and which we hope to permanently put to rest with this series of presentations, at least among our brethren in Christian Identity and Christian Nationalist circles.