Top Nazi

Top Nazi by Jochen von Lang Read Free Book Online

Book: Top Nazi by Jochen von Lang Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jochen von Lang
Tags: History, World War II, Military
ranks of the National Socialists. The “Night of the Long Knives” itself should never have happened. This was the night when the brown shirted thugs and sadists expected to be rewarded for their efforts during the so-called period of struggle. Was the SA at all necessary anymore? Many asked themselves this question. The slogan was being spread that the National Socialist revolution still needed to be completed so that Hitler could free himself from the bourgeois constraints of the capitalists and other big shots.
    Supported by this emotional dissatisfaction, the head of the SA doubtlessly set his sights on his own goals. He gladly allowed himself to be called the Napoleon of the twentieth century; he considered himself capable, just like the great Corsican, of leading his Fatherland to fame and greatness. A people’s militia would step in to take the place of the Reichswehr with its long-serving soldiers. The militia was not to be led by the old fogies of a politically uninvolved officer corps, but rather by young revolutionaries. At first, the SA should carry weapons and be placed alongside the Reichswehr, with the predictable result that its strength in numbers would soon be decisive.
    Wolff offered no evidence that these plans had ever gone beyond the stage of alcohol-induced bragging. In the spring of 1934, he began to worry about the speeches that Röhm was making locally and the very rapid succession of SA deployments. A very aggressive tone was used in blaming the “reactionaries” for wanting to hold back the National Socialist revolution and preventing the struggle for work and bread from being more successful. Not without reason, the Reichswehr, as well as the Party organization, became distrustful.
    Anyone seeking to understand why Himmler and Karl Wolff, who in the meantime had risen to the position of first adjutant, followed these developments carefully must also be aware of several connections within the National Socialist leadership clique. There was already the previously mentioned insinuation from Himmler regarding the chief of staff of theSA, Röhm. If he wanted to start a putsch, the SS could be drawn into it. Above Röhm there was only the “Obersten SA Führer,” no less than Hitler himself, who trusted none of his paladins, and constantly spoke of his SA and SS men.
    Only a short time before activist Nazi groups enjoyed a certain independence from the Party. Until August 1930 the “Oberster SA Führer” for the Reich was retired captain Franz Pfeffer von Salomon, who relinquished that honor when Hitler curtailed his independence. Since then, a chief of staff led the SA. Röhm only took the position in January 1931 when Hitler called his putsch comrade back from Bolivia, where he held the top rank as a military advisor.
    Up to this point the SS had been deliberately kept small. When Himmler took over the leadership in January 1929, the number of men had shrunk to 280. Following that, the number of members was never allowed to rise above ten percent of the SA troopers at any one location; it was forbidden for years to recruit SA men. If it came down to a disagreement between the SA and Hitler and the Party, the SS would still have the possibility of becoming independent.
    For that reason the security force (SD) led by Heydrich, within the SS, observed the course of events in the SA very carefully. At the end of April 1934 Himmler felt it was the right time to warn his friend Röhm—either in the name of the old comradeship from the days of the 1923 putsch in Munich in the anti-republican organization called the “Reich War Flag,” or simply as protection in case events took a different turn.
    In one of his many interrogations by Allied examiners, by German de-nazification functionaries, and officers of German criminal justice, Wolff described the scene. According to his account, Himmler took his adjutant, whom Röhm regarded very highly, along as a witness to SA staff headquarters in Berlin.

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