I'm reading The Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany by Warren B. Marris, Jr. (Nelson-Hall, Chicago), 1982 for an eassay. It outlines the power that the Sturmabteilung (abbreviated S.A., trans Stormtroopers, also known as The Brown Shirts) had in 1934: It had its own "private air force, medical service, engineers corps, and intelligence service." (pg 201)

What happened to these divisions after Hitler had the leaders murdered on June 30th, 1934, "The Night of the Long Knives"? Were they taken over by the military, the S.S. or kept by the weakened S.A.? It seems unlikely that such valuable forces would be disbanded while Hitler was re-arming Germany, but given the greatly decreased importance of the S.A. it also seems unlikely they remained under S.A. command.

If answers could include citations I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

3 Answers 3


The S.A. was "downsized" in several ways.

1) Many of their leaders were killed by other Nazis in the night of the Long Knives.

2) After this "purge," of their leaders, many S.A. members simply "retired" or found new jobs. This was because the S.A. was largely composed of older men recruited in the 1920s, who were no longer "military age" by 1934. (It was also a reason why there were calls for the disbanding of the S.A.)

3) Some of the younger elements (a minority in the S.A.) were absorbed by the S.S. This was particularly true of the HitlerJugend (Hitler Youth).

After all this, "a remnant remained under a colorless servile leader," [Victor Lutze] Source: William L. Shirer, "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich."

I gave a general outline, but don't know what happened to individual elements.


Raymond H. Geist, former American Counsel and First Secretary of the Embassy in Berlin, Germany 1929-1939, has stated:

My vigorous relations with the Gestapo began in March, 1933. In fact I knew the organization of the secret police and dealt with that organization before the Nazis came to power. It was then the Politische Abtailung des Politzeipraesident, i.e., the political division of the Politizeipraesidium, which was charged with supervisory and preventive functions with regard to political matters, then chiefly investigating the terror of Communists. It was located in Berlin at the Politozeipraesidium. On March 6, 1933, it was moved from the Politizeipraesidium to No. 8 Prinzalbrechtstrasse and became the famous Gestapo [Geheimstaatpolizei], its first chief was Rudolf Diels, who was succeeded by Heinrich Himmler, in May, 1934. I knew well not only Diels but also Himmler, his second in command, Reinhard Heydrich and his administrative officer, Dr. Werner best. The organization at No. 8 was huge with over 1,000 persons employed there. Besides, as rapidly as administrative measures permitted, Gestapo headquarters were established throughout Germany, not only in the cities but in provincial places to such an extent that the smallest hamlet and village fell under direct Gestapo supervision. At the beginning of the Hitler regime, the only organization which had meeting places throughout the country was the S.A. (storm troopers). Until the Gestapo could be organized on a national scale the thousands of local S.A. meeting places became the "arrest points." There were at least fifty of these in Berlin. Communists, Jews, and other known enemies of the Nazi party were taken to these points and, if they were enemies of sufficient importance, they were immediately transferred to the Gestapo headquarters. During 1933 and 1934, when the Gestapo became universally organized, the S.A. were gradually eliminated as arresting agents and the S.S. [Schutzstaffe] were incorporated as administrative and executive officials into the Gestapo. By the end of 1934, the S.A. had been fairly well eliminated and the S.S., the members of which wore elegant black suits and were therefore called Elite Guards, became almost identical as functionaries with the Gestapo.

This statment was also translated for the important german Nuremberg Trials

  • 2
    Thanks for the detailed source, but I'm more intrested in what became of the structure of the organization. I know they lost political power & the ability to arrest, but what actually happened to groups like the private air force & the engineering division that they had commanded? Did the S.S. absorb them? Did they disband? Etc.
    – Canageek
    Commented Oct 30, 2011 at 18:39
  • @Canageek my second link has some more informations and states that "the SA was mainly used during 1934-1939 for preperation, recruiting and training of german population for coming war". Use Google translate. I don't think the expensive groups you mention did further exist on their own, as quoted above the important structures of the SA organization were probably totally incorporated or not further financed, so ended pretty abruptly. What speaks for their further existence which you assume?
    – Hauser
    Commented Oct 31, 2011 at 2:03
  • 2
    The fact Hitler was trying to recreate the German military at the time- While it is possible they were simply disbanded it seems more likely they were absorbed by the army or the SS, but either way I'm interested in seeing some documentation for it.
    – Canageek
    Commented Oct 31, 2011 at 4:57
  • @Canageek they were not disbanded or adsorbed, they functioned as a civil defence organization.
    – Anixx
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 11:12

What happened to these divisions after Hitler had the leaders murdered

Generally, the SA lost power. The following "Tätigkeitsgebiete" (fields of work) were still recognized after 1934, although in lower numbers:

  • Nachrichten-SA (Signal Intelligence)
  • Reiter-SA
  • Pionier-SA
  • SA-Jäger/SA-Schützeneinheiten
  • Sanitäts-SA (medical corps)
  • Marine-SA
  • SA-Fußstandarten
  • SA-Gruppenstäbe
  • Oberste SA-Führung

Two former SA groups were merged into larger organisations of the German state:


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.