What were the Storm Troops (Sturmabteilung, SA) really like in 1934, on the eve of Night of the Long Knives? This question arose because in all this stories Hitler looks strange.
Note. Stormtroopers (German Sturmabteilung), abbreviated SA, stormtroopers, also known as "brown shirts" - are paramilitary formations of the National Socialist German Workers' Party in 1921-1945.
In this conflict, he did not behave like a Fuhrer. And he diligently tried to reconcile the warring parties. He hesitated. And for a long time (even after the arrest of Ernst Rohm on the night of July 1, 1934) he did not dare to eliminate him.
Hermann Goering and his subordinates Heinrich Himmler and Reinhardt Heydrich made a decisive contribution to the final resolution of this conflict.
Readers may chuckle, but this is really not Hitler's style of preparing massacres. He concocted complex combinations with personal involvement, intricate misinformation and a decisive, without hesitation, blow.
Just over a year before the Night of the Long Knives, Hitler staged a crackdown on trade unions.
For this, a detailed plan of the action related to the celebration of May 1 was drawn up. For German trade unions and social democrats, the celebration of this holiday was one of the main requirements. Hitler, as Reich Chancellor, declared it an official holiday with full pay. For the first time in the history of Germany.
And he not only announced, but prepared a large-scale celebration with solemn speeches (his own and Reich President Hindenburg), demonstrations and drinks.
Everything went well, only in Berlin on May 1, up to 1,5 million people celebrated. The next morning, May 2, 1933, when the trade union activists were suffering from a hangover, the Nazis broke into all buildings and premises of the trade unions, trade union newspapers and their other institutions.
By May 10, 1933, there were no free trade unions in Germany.
If Hitler himself wanted to eliminate Rem, then it could go something like this.
Hitler would have called a grand congress of stormtroopers with an abundant feast and rivers of beer. The next morning, the stormtroopers would have found out that the misfortune had happened: Rem went through the Bavarian, began to bully, started a scuffle, in which his head was broken with a beer mug. Hitler would have been very saddened, would have arranged a magnificent funeral, against the background of which some persons would disappear in the leadership of the stormtroopers and others would appear. A scuffle and a well-aimed blow with a mug would, of course, be planned and inspired in advance.
Pondering the background of "Night of the Long Knives" led to the idea that it was much deeper and more important than stated in mainstream theories.
I discard the version about Rem's homosexuality, since it is clearly invented in hindsight and in essence does not explain anything. Most importantly, it does not explain Hitler's strange behavior. If he hated sodomites so much, would he have put a bullet in the vile brat himself? Why hesitate?
There were other reasons for the conflict.
In their reconstruction, I have developed an extravagant version. Its essence was that the SA was a very important brainchild for Hitler, in which a lot of effort and money was invested. And he was going to put it into operation in the very near (at that time - spring-summer 1934) time.
Therefore, when the question stood squarely, and it was required to decide to decapitate the SA (and this, in principle, meant the destruction of this structure), he hesitated for a long time, showed a strange indecision for the Fuhrer, and in the end Goering with Himmler and Heydrich pushed him through.
But what was this brainchild and what was it for? That's the question of questions.
Attack aircraft, on horseback and on a plane!
After looking through a lot of all the Soviet and Russian literature, which spoke about the SA, I found a strange thing. Almost always, this structure was described very briefly and in such a way that it seems that the SAs were created almost exclusively for street fights with the communists.
This, of course, is also true. The stormtroopers were indeed very actively involved in fights with the communists, social democrats and other opponents of the Nazis.
Subsequently, after Hitler came to power, the SA were subordinate to the police and were often sent on street patrols, guarding post offices, and maintaining order at mass events. That is, they performed functions similar to our voluntary people's squad under the police. Only the attack aircraft, unlike the vigilantes, were often armed with pistols.
If you understand the matter in this way, then the background of "Night of the Long Knives" becomes even more incomprehensible. Why did this organization, albeit a massive one, but auxiliary, suddenly underwent strange repressions?
In German works, the image of the SA is significantly different. These studies indicate that the SA had numerous military units that were seriously involved in military training.
We have the opportunity to look at this training not in the retelling of German historians, but in the documents of the German special services, the collection of which is in the RGASPI.
There are mainly documents about the Comintern and about the Communists. But among these cases, somehow, there was a folder of reports and reports on the stormy activity of the SA. And just in 1934.
A general examination shows that since 1930 the SA has not only grown rapidly in number, but also transformed from an organization of street fighters into an army-type structure. With such subdivisions that a political organization is not needed.
firstwhat needs to be pointed out is the explosive growth of the organization in 1933-1934.
At the beginning of 1933, the SA consisted of 400 thousand people. And at the end of 1933 - about 3 million people. Well, in the spring of 1934 there were already 4,5 million people.
If we were talking about the armed forces, and not about attack aircraft, then, based on the scale, one could say that mobilization was carried out. In my opinion, this term is quite applicable to the CA.
Rem, after Hitler came to power, carried out a large-scale mobilization into storm trooper detachments. And he brought their number to the level of a large army.
How much was that?
Suffice it to say that the Reichswehr had a population of about 100 thousand. The Polish army in March 1939 - 350 thousand people. French army in September 1939 - 3,25 million people.
The CA unit is somewhere in the field. Given the secrecy that surrounded the SA militarization, it is not surprising that there are very, very few photographs.
Structurally, the SA also acquired army features. In the summer of 1933, it included 8 oberg groups, 21 groups and 129 brigades.
Of course, the SA, like any army, was worth money.
Between 1930 and 1931, when the first specialized divisions were created, expenditures reached 1,2 million Reichsmarks per week or 62,4 million Reichsmarks per year.
In 1933, expenses reached 30 million Reichsmarks per month or 360 million per year.
Stormtroopers in terms of their costs became comparable to the Reichswehr. According to my estimates, Hitler and his associates spent a colossal amount of about 1930 million Reichsmarks on the creation and deployment of the SA in 1934-500.
For comparison. Germany's 1st armament program for 1928-1932 spent 350 million Reichsmarks.
Second, and a very interesting circumstance.
Rem, of course, did not have weaponsto arm so many stormtroopers. But he had something in store.
In July 1934, 177 thousand rifles, 651 easel and 1250 light machine guns were withdrawn from the SA warehouses.
Most likely, the thrifty Rem also had artillery pieces, mortars, anti-aircraft guns with a certain supply of shells and mines. In general, he was able to arm about 5% of the number of his detachments according to the army model and had a number of attack aircraft armed with pistols.
Already in this form, the SA was stronger than the Reichswehr.
This was one of the most compelling reasons why the army command went into operations against the SA to cooperate with the SS and even supplied them with vehicles and weapons.
The third, extremely interesting structural divisions were formed and created in the SA. We list only a few of them.
In April 1930, the "motorized SA" were formed, with 500 passenger cars and 200 motorcycles. In 1931, they served road lines from Munich to Berlin, Breslau, Hannover, Siegen and Vienna, through which messages, orders, people and goods could be transported regardless of telephone, telegraph, mail and railways.
In 1929, the first SA cavalry unit was created in Hamburg. The stormtrooper cavalry developed slowly due to the lack of horses. But in the fall of 1932, the SA command hatched plans to create cavalry units numbering 60 thousand people.
In November 1931, the National Socialist Air Corps was created under the leadership of Ernst Rohm. A flight school was opened in Berlin, which had 9 aircraft and trained 1000 people in piloting, maintenance and preparation of aircraft for departure.
In 1931, the SA naval unit was formed in Hamburg, which had its own uniform, different from the form of attack aircraft. This division had its own sailing yachts.
In 1932, under the leadership of Major General of the Medical Service Paul Hoheisen, its own medical service was created in the SA, which included separate hospitals and pharmacies.
Now tell me why the organization of street militants need planes? Bomb the communists?
It is quite obvious that in 1933-1934 the SA, carrying out mobilization and creating motorized units, cavalry, Aviation and the navy, turned into a kind of preparation for the army, which for the final mobilization and transition to hostilities needed only to issue weapons and ammunition.
Militarization of the SA
As already mentioned, in the RGASPI, in the fund of the German special services, there is a case with materials for the SA units for the first half of 1934.
These are mostly fairly detailed periodic reports on various aspects of the stormtroopers' activities.
It is difficult to say by whom they are composed. In terms of content, these are party reports on the activities of various organizations, the SA and the SS (one document contains information about both structures), as well as about the Gestapo.
The documents are not signed. They have no addressee. But they are provided with a cipher in the title. For example, the report for March 18, 1934 has the code 321-32-43-54-65-77-98-100.
There are a lot of things.
For example, the in a report dated March 18, 1934 it is said that the Berlin-Mitte SA brigade purchases Schmeisser 28 / II submachine guns and cartridges for them (RGASPI, f. 458, op. 9, d. 397 (1), l. 8).
Or here, in the report for March 5, 1934 it is said that in December 1933, 61 members of the party, the SA and the SS, died, not counting the numerous wounded (RGASPI, f. 458, op. 9, d. 397 (1), l. 42).
But we are more interested in information about the military training of attack aircraft. They are subtitled: SA-Militarisierung.
Report dated April 4, 1934.
Stormtroopers are studying the use of chemical weapons. Not only defense against him, but also offensive use.
Standard 4 (Rastenburg, East Prussia) studies the use of chemical weapons with the support of heavy machine guns, mortars and anti-aircraft guns. Classes are taught by instructors trained in the Reichswehr.
For the disclosure of information about classes, death is dueas stated in the report.
The 30th engineer brigade of the SA in Spandau conducts practical exercises on building bridges (RGASPI, f. 458, op. 9, d. 397 (1), l. 11).
Also mentioned is the secret training of pilots from the SA in Lufthansa.
And about the training of 50 machine gunners from the Berlin-Mitte brigade in the barracks of the Reichswehr.
SA Gruppenfuehrer Karl Ernst (center) inspects Berlin stormtroopers. Most likely, some of those present at this formation took part in the military training described in the documents. Ernst was killed on June 30, 1934 during the Night of the Long Knives.
Report dated March 26, 1934.
The Reichsfuehrer SA School runs an eight-week mine explosive class in Spremberg. Boreholes are drilled in concrete blocks, explosives are placed and detonated.
Undermining bridges and railways is being studied theoretically.
Also in Zossen, the construction of barricades and road barriers was studied (RGASPI, f. 458, op. 9, d. 397 (1), l. 15).
Report dated May 6, 1934.
Training a group of motorized SAs to handle the Mauser 98 rifle under the guidance of officers of the Reichswehr (RGASPI, f. 458, op. 9, d. 397 (1), l. 93).
Report dated March 5, 1934.
Intensive training in close combat using grenades, bayonets and pistols (RGASPI, f. 458, op. 9, d. 397 (1), l. 43).
It is not so easy to find photographs that reflect precisely the military training of the SA. This one, apparently, is one of them. SA unit in the field, with knapsacks. Filmed in Niederbarnim, north of Berlin, 1932.
Report dated January 25, 1934.
The 8th SA standard in Berlin conducted field exercises with the forces of two navigators, practiced offensive and defense, as well as laying a telephone line in combat conditions.
The 5th SA standard conducted night exercises to capture the area occupied by the enemy. As stated in the report, the task was performed poorly.
This report also mentions a certain "Blucher battery" in Berlin, whose personnel studied the 160-mm field cannon and anti-aircraft guns prohibited by the Versailles agreement in Döberitz, under the command of the Reichswehr officers (RGASPI, f. 458, op. 9, d. 397 ( 1), l. 53).
And so on and so forth.
This is only fragmentary information. But they also show that the process of militarization and military training of attack aircraft went quickly and on a very large scale.
It was like building an army... Since the study of chemical weapons, mine explosives, artillery, pilot training - all this went far beyond purely internal political tasks.
After the elimination of Rem, this process abruptly stopped.
After the "Night of the Long Knives", a significant part of the trained attack aircraft were drafted into the army or to army courses.
This is preserved report dated October 23, 1934.
The document says that stormtroopers in the ranks from Scharführer to Obertruppführer under the age of 25 from January 1, 1935 are called up for a year of study in the Reichswehr.
All lower ranks, up to and including the troupeführer, who are obviously over 25 years old, must take courses for non-commissioned officers in the Reichswehr.
All SA Fuhrer (apparently, in ranks above the troupefuehrer) must undergo a one and a half year course of training for reserve officers in the Reichswehr (RGASPI, f. 458, op. 9, d. 397 (1), l. 59).
It was also prescribed to reduce the composition of the SA by 25%, at the expense of patients with disabilities and those liable for military service.
And it also prescribed a ban on the creation of new SA units.
Since a lot of clarification will be required, I will present my extravagant version in the next article.
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