Gareth Jones

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The intricacies of German politics and Hitler’s ruthless revenge against revolters are to most people a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. 

Who are these Storm Troopers who rise against their leader?  What is the Reichswehr?  Who is this General Schleicher who suddenly looms out of the mists of the past to flit for one tragic moment across the stage and to returns to an obscurity which will be eternal? 

The Storm Troopers are the three and a half million army of Hitler’s supporters who were clothed in a brown uniform and were primarily political.  They were led by Capt. Roehm until Hitler entered Roehm’s house early on Saturday morning and arrested the startled plotter.  Roehm was a military adventurer of low moral standard, but a brilliant organiser. 

Brownshirts’ Discontent 

These Storm Troopers (Brownshirts), known also as the “S.A.” men (not for their “Sex Appeal,” but because S.A. stood for “Storm Department”) were composed of the lower middle-class and unemployed supporters of Hitler. 

Recently there has been a wave of discontent among their ranks because the Socialist era to which they had looked forward has seemed further away than ever, and because the big capitalists, the financiers, the proprietors of the large stores, and the aristocratic landowners are as firmly in the saddle as they were before Hitler came.  The Communistically inclined Brownshirts well deserved their nickname of “Beefsteaks” (brown outside but red within). 

Among the leaders of the Brownshirts were thousands of military swash-bucklers who since the War had wandered in search of adventure, had crushed the workers in 1919, had marched upon Berlin in 1920 had volunteered to slaughter Poles in 1921, and had blown up bridges with bombs when the French marched into the Ruhr. 

These men, it appears, cast longing eyes at the Reichswehr, the regular army of 100,000 men, and, led by Roehm, longed to amalgamate the Brownshirts with that magnificently trained body. 

If the Brownshirts could be absorbed into a great army, what jobs there would be for these officers!  What power there would be for Roehm!  But Hitler rejected their plan and took the advice of his War Minister. 

A worse blow for Roehm was to come, for Hitler was contemplating a reduc­tion of the Brownshirts, the cost of which was causing much nodding of heads at the Treasury. 

“Will I lose my job?  Will I lose my power?”  Such are probably the questions which Roehm and his Brownshirt leaders asked themselves. 

This fear that the Brownshirt Army would be thrown aside led Roehm to ally himself with the other discontented element-namely, the left wing-and probably led him to associate himself with General Schleicher. 

Ambitions Baulked 

Why Schleicher?  This general was not the reactionary he is sometimes reputed to have been.  He was definitely a Left Wing man who during his Chancellorship flirted with the trade unions, had a vision of a “socially ruled” empire, and was preparing to deal a smashing blow at the big landowners when he was cast out of power. 

Such were probably the three ingredients in the plot which has failed-the baulked ambitions of Storm Troop leaders, the bitter disillusion of the “National Bolsheviks” and the Left Wing intrigue of the “Socialist General.” 

The plotters are dead.  Roehm’s place has been taken by a man with whom I lunched a year ago in the train between Berlin and Hanover - Victor Lutze.  I have rarely met a man who impressed me so much by his ruthlessness, grim-ness, lack of humour and fanaticism. 

He told me how he had started.  Storm Troop in the Ruhr 10 years earlier and how he had a religious faith the ultimate triumph of Hitler.  He had a profound contempt for anything intellectual, a characteristic which was also obvious from the unacademic tone of his language and the naiveté of his ideas. 

He will certainly help Hitler in the effort to crush the opposition which will one day again raise its head in Germany. 








Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Germany.


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