Two History professors in my school say that Hitler had to execute the leaders of the SA principally because the generals of the German army asked him to do it: The generals were Teutonic nobility; the leaders of the SA who were pedophiles, homosexuals, criminals... in one word, scum. So the generals explicitly stated that otherwise they would not have accepted Hitler as their Führer. In other words, according to the professors, getting rid of Hitler's opposition was not the first purpose of the NLK.

However, I couldn't find sources backing up those claims, and furthermore, my professor himself disagrees. Are they correct?

  • by soldiers you mean army leadership?
    – mart
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 20:12
  • @mart I guess so. I reported what the professors told us. Commented May 14, 2015 at 20:13
  • @MarkC.Wallace The Generals and officers of the German Army were noble, whereas the leader of the SA were scum. Commented May 15, 2015 at 5:33

3 Answers 3


The Night of the Long Knives was undertaken to pacify the GENERALS and officers of the German Army, not the soldiers.

The problem arose because Hitler's private "army," the S.A., was actually larger than the official army of 100,000 men permitted by the Versailles Treaty. So the leaders of the S.A. demanded that the less-numerous army be placed under them.

But the leaders of the regular army were all professionals. And Hitler envisioned having a much larger, multi-million man army that could be officered only by the professional army, not the "amateurs" of the S.A. Forced to choose between one and the other, Hitler supported the regular army at the expense of the leaders of his own "army."

The issues about sexual orientation, while real, took a back seat to those of "professionalism" and class.

  • Everything's clearer now, thank you, +1. Can you provide links that prove the reality of those issues? Because, as I said, I couldn't find them. Or were they so irrelevant that they're hardly mentioned? Commented May 14, 2015 at 20:29
  • @VincenzoOliva: From the second paragraph of my link: "Adolf Hitler moved against the SA and its leader, Ernst Röhm, because he saw the independence of the SA and the penchant of its members for street violence as a direct threat to his newly gained political power. Hitler also wanted to conciliate leaders of the Reichswehr, the official German military who feared and despised the SA—in particular Röhm's ambition to absorb the Reichswehr into the SA under his own leadership. Additionally, Hitler was uncomfortable with Röhm's outspoken support for a "second revolution" to redistribute wealth."
    – Tom Au
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 20:47
  • I had read that. You're referring to "penchant of its members for street violence", I guess? But how does that have to do with their sexual orientation? Did they rape men? Commented May 14, 2015 at 21:23
  • @VincenzoOliva: If you want a more detailed, first hand treatment, I recommend "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" by William L. Shirer.
    – Tom Au
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 21:25

You (or your history professors) are overly concerned with the sexual orientation and/or criminal tendencies of the SA leadership. And you make the curious assumption (or seem to) that homosexuals and paedophiles aren't to be found in the aristocracy.

Yes, the German Army, with its aristocratic leadership, wanted the SA neutered. But only because it was perceived as dangerous, anarchic and representative of the socialist wing of National Socialism. It had millions of members and was a dangerous rival to the army. The rest of the German establishment (banks, big business) felt the same way.

Once rid of the SA, Hitler and National Socialism became much more acceptable to the Army and Big Business. Which is what Hitler intended.

Anything to do with sexual orientation was window dressing.

  • I am not concerned with that. I simply reported what the professors told us. The assumption, too, is due to them. May I ask to edit accordingly? Thank you for the clarification, anyway. Commented May 14, 2015 at 20:11

Great question!

In this case "Tea Drinker" is more precise. According to Hans Rothfels and Theordor Eschenburg in "Dokumentation: Zur Ermordung des Generals Schleicher, 'Vierteljahrshefte fur Zeitgeschichte,' Ernst Roehm, chief of the SA, wanted to continue the Nazi Revolution. This of course was problematic to Hitler who absolutely despised "Bolshevism." Therefore, Hitler, who needed support from conservatives--or reactionaries, the opposite of revolutionaries--and industrialist, took action to eliminate the Socialists. Also, Roehm was insistent that the SA and the Reichswehr be turned into a 'people's army.' Therefore, with the potential threat of losing both the army and industrialists, Hitler acted (Sax and Kuntz, 154).

According to Dr. Grutzner, the junior barrister in the distric attorney's office who functioned as the official in charge of the judicial inquiry into deaths in 1934, stated: "...at Hitler's orders, Roehm had been arrested because of his treasonous connections to representatives of foreign power. Furthermore, it was suspected that General von Schleicher had been working with Roehm..." (Sax and Kuntz, 156). This we know today is a fabrication, and Hitler needed to eliminate any potential threat to his ascendency to Ruler of Germany.

As for those killed being accused of homosexuality and pedophila, how many people in Germany, in these tightly knit conservative circles and who are arguably religiously devout Lutherans, would have been appalled at such activity And who might condone killing these "disgusting" sexual deviants? With that, I do not find it in excess that fabricated stories of sexual deviation would be surprising at this time.

Benjamin Sax & Dieter Kuntz, "Inside Hitler's Germany: A Documentary History of Life in the Third Reich," 154-156, from Hans Rothfels and Theodor Eschenburg, eds., 'Dokumentation: Zur Ermordung des Generals Schleicher,' Vierteljahrshefte fur Zeitgeschichte, 1 (January 1953), p 85-86, 92-95. Translated by Dieter Kuntz. Repreinted by permission of R. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich.

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