So why did the Night of the Long Knives happen? I promised an extravagant version and will present it along with all the explanations that come with it. The conflict around the SA was complex in origin and touched upon the most important military-political issues facing Germany, and they also need to be given the necessary attention.
The opinion that Rem was killed because of his ambitions is clearly false. First, for several years, huge amounts of money were pumped into the SA, several hundred million Reichsmarks, in fact, the second military budget of Germany; they gave Rem to recruit an army of 4,5 million people, and then suddenly remembered that, it turns out, Rem has ambitions. It turns out to be absurd.
On the other hand, if Rem had ambitions, why didn't he realize them? Under his command was the most powerful and armed organization in Germany; stormtroopers were stronger than Reishwer, police, and other paramilitary structures. Moreover, it is known that until January 1933 the Nazis were preparing for an armed seizure of power, and Rem played a key role in this; and in 1933 he was the main pillar of the Nazi regime, which had not yet acquired all the unlimited powers established by laws and was backed up by stormtroopers. Rem could have overthrown Hitler if he wanted to.
Well, then, exercises with gases, explosives and mines, anti-aircraft and field guns, aircraft (for example, in October 1932, SA maneuvers were carried out near Berlin, in which the planes were practicing bombing) show that Rem had military priority, and not political. Neither gases nor bombs are needed to overthrow Hitler.
If you do not know about these circumstances, then you might think that it was about a power struggle in the Nazi party. Military training of the SA destroys this version to the ground.
After making sure that the available versions did not explain anything, I followed the path of developing my own version.
To prevent the Fuhrer from escaping
The first moment - what was the real basis of the Nazi party? This refers to the real reason that prompted people to join this party and especially its paramilitary structures, their real goals, and not slogans. Slogans can quite seriously differ from the actual foundation of political organization and act as a disguise.
Hitler had to explain from the very beginning, back in 1920, to his supporters why they should be with him and listen to him. We know that from the very first weeks of the existence of the Nazi party he started talking ... about the war with France. Yes, with the main winner of Germany in the recently ended First World War.
This statement is usually considered gibberish, and I think it was the key to his entire program. The Nazi party, which primarily attracted front-line soldiers, was built around the promise to its members of enrichment primarily at the expense of trophies in the planned aggressive war. The front-line soldiers after the First World War received nothing: no fame, no honor, no money, being almost literally at the bottom of society. And when Hitler promised that they would fill their pockets, it set them on fire.
Actually, this is what happened. The Nazis, from the rank and file to the Fuehrer, made their fortune by all available means, including military robbery, as well as "gifts" from subordinates and industrialists. According to some estimates, Hitler's personal fortune exceeded 700 million Reichsmarks. Hermann Goering stole untold treasures for himself, amassed a huge fortune and created a large industrial concern Reichswerke Hermann Göring, whose capital in 1941 amounted to 2,4 billion Reichsmarks. During the war, it was the largest concern in Europe. Why, even Albert Speer made a fortune of 1942 million Reichsmarks by 1,5.
Now an extraordinary fact. Until March 1, 1932, Hitler was not a German citizen; at first he had Austrian citizenship, which he renounced in April 1925, after being released from prison. For 12 years Hitler was a stateless person and had no political rights in Germany.
The Nazis, at least members of the party leadership, were undoubtedly aware of this fact, but did not cause any embarrassment. Moreover, becoming a stateless person, Hitler ousted Gregor Strasser from the party leadership. Why?
In my opinion, the Nazi party held its Fuehrer hostage. They had one attempt to get hold of power, to start a war and get rich on it. Any other leader, with German citizenship and fortune, would constantly be tempted to hesitate and gain a foothold in legal politics, deviating from the original goal. The goal is to start a war, which would inevitably be a war with France - the strongest country in Europe. This prospect was, frankly, "dumb". Which gave rise to the threat that the leader might drift and turn off the road. Then all dreams and hopes burst.
Here the Nazis themselves and chose the Fuhrer, who had nowhere to run. Refusing, he lost everything, became nothing and nothing. In this case, he could be killed or simply thrown out behind the border posts on historical homeland. That's why Hitler was a patented radical, that's why he advocated war. This is an important factor throughout history.
The plans of the Nazis and industrialists were different
The Nazis were funded by German industrialists. It is generally believed that the industry itself wanted grabs and indemnities. But this is absurd if you look at the matter taking into account the situation at the beginning of the 1920s, when for the first time contributions from industrialists went to the party cash register. Then Germany, defeated and disarmed, under the control of the victors, could not even think of any war. The Reichswehr was so small and so poorly armed that the armies of Poland and Czechoslovakia posed a serious threat to it.
In order to correctly assess the events, intentions and actions of historical figures, one must first of all avoid afterthought, that is, evaluate on the basis of the position that was at the time of the event. Of course, neither the Nazis, nor the industrialists, in the early 1920s, knew nothing about what would happen in 10-15 years, and were guided by the current situation. The same rule excluded any war, the more aggressive. Any plans of aggression then looked like empty fantasy.
Therefore, Hitler offered the industrialists something different, since they began to give him money, more and more over the years. What they were offered was worth this money, large by the standards of that time.
The fact is that the industrialists needed an army and desperately. The foundation of German industry - coal, was located very close to the borders: the Ruhr next to France and Belgium, Silesia next to Poland. If the coal basins are captured, then the imminent collapse of the German economy is inevitable. This is what happened.
German economy in 1930. It is clearly visible how close the coal of the Ruhr and Silesia was located to the border and was under the threat of capture
In 1923-1925, the Ruhr was occupied by French troops (France sought in this way priority supplies of coal for reparations), and part of Silesia was torn away in 1923 in favor of Poland. An impressive economic crisis has occurred.
German Industrialists' Nightmare Fulfilled: French Soldiers Marching in Dusseldorf
German industrialists were in dire need of protecting fuel sources. For this, an army was needed. And not a stunted Reichswehr, but an army that could beat, if necessary, the French army, or better the entire coalition from France, Poland and Czechoslovakia. They needed a large army and, therefore, remilitarization.
With the government of the Weimar Republic, this crucial issue could not be resolved, which forced the industrialists to play a double game and look for alternatives. At first they financed the German nationalists, but then moved on to a more radical option, that is, to Hitler.
This is what Hitler promised the German industrialists that he would certainly create a large army. Besides him, no one else dared to do this.
I thought for a long time about the strange contradiction between the apparent inappropriateness of Hitler's plans for a war of conquest in the 1920s and the fact that he was supported by a lot of money. But then I realized: the Nazis and industrialists wanted different things, but agreed on a means of achieving their goals. The German army, which can defeat the French, Polish, Czechoslovak armies, is suitable for both defense and aggression. Their plans were in overcoats of almost the same color of the field worker, but with a slightly different shade.
Hitler also played a double game, promising conquests in the party, and promising reliable defense at meetings of industrialists. The possessing circles did not really believe him, but there was no choice. After the failure of a series of attempts to begin remilitarization by the forces of the Weimar government, the industrialists matured to conspiracy and arranged for Hitler to come to power.
There were different people among the industrialists. There were those who initially put on war and robbery, and there were those who thought to use Herr Hitler for their own purposes. Hitler deceived the latter for a long time; it was only in 1938 that they discovered that they were actually participating in the preparation of an aggressive war. Some agreed with this, and some broke with Hitler and fled.
Motorization and blitzkrieg
The abrupt growth of the SA in 1933-1934 was associated, in my opinion, with the fact that Hitler, after coming to power, began to fulfill his promise, as far as possible under the Versailles restrictions. The command of the Reichswehr even agreed with this, which, as can be seen from the documents, provided support and assistance to the SA in military training. Industrialists pumped money into the SA, simultaneously encouraging Hitler: they say, create an army, and we will give rifles, machine guns, cannons.
But Hitler had his own plan. Not so much remains of it, but some traces have survived. As far as can be judged, he hoped to deploy the SA into the army and get down to business already in 1935-1936. An aggressive war was planned, most likely against Poland for the return of parts of East Prussia and Silesia. This is indicated by the fact that Rem was trying to gain control over the arsenals in East Prussia, which Reyshwer created in case of war with Poland. The war with France, apparently, for the sake of the Saar region.
Hitler also counted on the motorization of the SA and on the fact that with her mobility she would be able to win, that is, he put on a blitzkrieg. This is indicated by a strange plan for the construction of autobahns and the development of motorization in Germany in the early years of Hitler's rule. The strangeness of the plan was that Germany depended on imports of petroleum products, and fuel consumption (2,4 billion liters for 682,9 thousand cars in 1932 or 9,7 liters per day; this is about 90-100 km) said that Germany doesn't really need road transport. Nevertheless, Hitler forced the issuance of permits for the purchase of cars: in 1933 - 82 thousand, in 1934 - 159 thousand (despite the fact that in 1932, 41 thousand permits were issued), and exempted new cars from tax.
Finally, the first autobahn, which the Nazis began to build, went from Frankurth am Main to the south, through Darmstadt and Mannheim to Heidelberg on the right bank of the Rhine, just opposite the Saar and the protrusion of French territory that occupied the left bank of the Rhine. The Autobahn could have been used as a road in the Saarland War.
Apparently, Hitler and Rem were inspired by the Battle of the Marne, when 600 Parisian taxis transferred a brigade from the Moroccan division, which decided the outcome of the battle. If the SA is put on cars, then you can count on lightning war.
Hitler between Rem and Goering
This plan was obviously worked out in detail by Ernst Röhm and was known to a very narrow circle of people. Goering, for example, did not know about him and believed that the SA was engaged in military training to strengthen the power of the Nazis and create a reserve of the Reichswehr. Goering, in particular, supported the construction of autobahns, which could be used for airplanes, and even expressed a desire that supply roads for the supply of fuel be built.
When did you find out? When he tried to take the pilot school from Rem. In May 1933, Lufthansa director Robert Knauss and Secretary of State Erich Milch drew up a plan for the development of the military aviation and bringing its number in 1934 to 1000 aircraft, including 400 bombers. It took pilots, and Goering remembered that Rem had a flight school for 1000 people; just what you need. Rem, of course, refused, and Goering, apparently using the newly created Gestapo, learned about the scope of the SA's military plans. This most likely happened at the end of 1933.
"Are they serious?" - the only question that could be asked then. From this venture, a disastrous adventure stank strongly, and Goering began to act, quickly gaining the command of the Reichswehr as an allies.
There was clearly a conversation between Hitler and Goering about these plans. Goering laid out powerful arguments: France alone has 5000 planes, and there is almost nothing to oppose; no weapons and ammunition to arm a large army. Indeed, the capacity for the production of rifles, including secret factories, amounted to 19 thousand rifles per month, the production of cartridges allowed by the Allies - 10 million pieces per month, gunpowder - 90 tons per month, explosives - 1250 tons per month, and so on. The industrialists apparently misinformed Hitler somewhat about war production.
Goering's conclusion was implacable: the plan to be realized is an adventure, it is not capable of giving anything but defeat and death. Therefore, it is necessary to moderate the ardor and prepare for war in earnest.
Here Hitler found himself in a very difficult position. On the one hand, he had plans for the party, dreams and hopes, his personal position as Fuhrer, promises made to industrialists, a lot of money spent. On the other hand, one could not but agree with Goering's arguments. And you want to, and you can't. That is why Hitler in the conflict around the SA began to hesitate and long sought a compromise.
There was no compromise. Rem believed that he could succeed, and began to consider Hitler an apostate, since he agreed to the Reichswehr with the subsequent subordination of the SA to the army. This is precisely the contradiction between different versions of the remilitarization plan: defensive and aggressive; This is the implementation of the option, in order to avoid which the comrades-in-arms kept Hitler stateless for so long. Having become the Reich Chancellor, Hitler jumped off - apparently, Rem decided.
These were not his personal ambitions. Rem proceeded from the real goal of the Nazi party - to prepare for an aggressive war that gives them everything - considering the question self-evident and believing that the party would follow him. His position is quite clear. Why now, when the instrument for realizing the main goal of the party has practically been created, do you need to retreat, obey someone and limit yourself to defense? Is this in the interests of the industrial aces, or what? All his rhetoric grows from here.
Why didn't Rem make an attempt to seize power, having the strength and means for this? Apparently because he was deceived by Hitler's vacillating position. As far as can be judged, Rem intended to push Hitler with his firmness sooner or later.
But Goering, as the leader of the coalition against Remus, was not so simple. Together with Himmler and Heydrich, he began to put pressure on Hitler, stirring up him with all sorts of rumors and incriminating evidence, hinting at the possibility of a putsch and overthrow, and they drove him to hysteria. Their calculation was based on the fact that Hitler would lose his composure.
The photo was taken, apparently, already during the preparation of the liquidation of Rem: Himmler looks very expressively at the back of Rem's head
Here it must be clarified that the Fuhrer, having lived for 12 years as a stateless person, could have been overthrown and destroyed at any moment at that time. Without a doubt, Hitler was very afraid of this and was so agitated constantly because of this intense stress that did not pass. Since 1933, his position has been greatly strengthened, but still the old fears do not pass overnight. On this Goering and pressed.
Ultimatum to Hitler
They succeeded in almost everything. Hitler personally arrested Rem and was in hysterics in the first hours after that, which shocked the eyewitnesses; he even authorized the execution of a number of SA leaders. However, immediately after the shootings, Hitler flew from Munich to Berlin and told Goering and Himmler that he had decided to keep Rem alive.
The most interesting event in the whole history of "Night of Long Knives" took place here. Hitler, Goering and Himmler talked all night from June 30 to July 1 and all morning until almost noon on July 1, 1934. Almost 12 hours of talk time! This was clearly not a peaceful conversation between old comrades-in-arms, but a fierce, extremely uncompromising dispute over Rem and, in fact, over the plans that he was implementing. Hitler with an iron grip held on to plans for the fastest possible transition to an aggressive war, and he needed Rem as an executor.
Hitler at the beginning of this dispute was very agitated and very tired; before that, he rested on the night of June 28-29, 1934, and from the morning of June 29 to the morning of July 1, he practically spent on his feet, traveling and flying, and all kinds of meetings. You can imagine how passions boiled there.
It seems to me that Goering, exhausted by the unsuccessful struggle, decided on a last resort — a direct ultimatum. Obviously, in the end, Goering told Hitler that he and Himmler would overthrow him right here and now, and Herr Reich President would appoint as Reich Chancellor either von Papen, or Goering himself. Either Hitler gives them Rem, or they kill both of them.
That's all. Hitler had nowhere to run. The SA has already been beheaded, Berlin is in the power of the SS in full readiness, there is no one to look for protection. He will now be shot, and then Goering and Himmler will tell you that this was done by the stormtroopers, whose coup they heroically suppressed.
And Hitler surrendered. A few hours later, Rem shot himself.
Goering immediately offered Hitler a deal, the essence of which was as follows: Hitler remains the Fuhrer and Reich Chancellor, and then, after the death of von Hindenburg, which is not far off, he will become the Reich President and dictator of Germany with unlimited powers. He, that is, Goering, will do everything in the best possible way, prepare aviation and industry for a big war of conquest so that, with a guarantee, for which he will receive the priority right in robbery and take whatever he can fit into his pocket. Himmler, therefore, the SS as the main paramilitary organization, the police and special services, and then the land, prisoners and the freedom to do whatever he pleases.
Hitler could only agree. Which he did.
Thus, an issue of exceptional importance was resolved. In my opinion, Goering actually turned the history of Germany into a new direction.
This is my extravagant version of the background of "Night of Long Knives". This is a theoretical reconstruction at the moment; however, I do not exclude that documents may be found in the archives that will confirm or supplement it. Although many documents were burned, and they disappeared for us, nevertheless, in the surviving documents, the most ordinary-looking at first glance, there may be necessary information.
Those interested can argue. But I propose to begin with trying to put forward a logical explanation of why it was suddenly Goering, a pilot and a man far from industry who headed aviation and police at the same time, became authorized according to a four-year plan, that is, the head of the entire German economy, and started building metallurgical plants?