2 July 1934 – Ernst Julius Röhm

Ernst Julius RohmHitler’s pal refused to take his own life but he lost it anyway.

Ernst Julius Röhm was a German officer who helped to set up the specialist military assault troops known as the Sturmabteilung (SA), or storm troopers.

Röhm around

He first came to prominence when he took part in the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, where his good friend Adolf Hitler first tried to take control of Germany, and they were jailed along with the other conspirators as a result.

On his release from prison he helped Hitler to build up the Nazi party and was promoted to the rank of Chief of Staff of the whole of the SA.

Brawn fighting

His role there involved providing the muscle to protect the Nazi bigwigs, while attacking their political adversaries. However, when the Nazis eventually took power in 1933 it became clear that Röhm and Hitler differed in their plans for taking the country forward.

Röhm’s ideas for a ‘second revolution’ didn’t sit well with the big business contacts who’d helped Hitler reach the top, or with the army who viewed the SA as a bunch of lawless street fighters.

Knives out

Discord within the party and the need to settle a few old scores finally led to Röhm’s arrest by none other than Hitler himself following the purge of the SA on the so called ‘night of the long knives’.

He was held for a short time in Stadelheim prison in Munich without trial until the morning of 2 July when he was visited by the then Kommandant of Dachau concentration camp, Theodor Eicke and head of the SS, Michel Lippert. He was executed by Lippert with a single shot to the head after he refused to commit suicide. He was 46.

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