A key turning point in Hitler’s rise to power took place on June 30th 1934. This later became known as the night of the long knives. During this evening and throughout the following few days, 400 SA members (storm troopers), including their authoritative leader, Ernst Rohm, were brutally executed.
On Hitler’s orders the SS and police arrested many SA leaders. Many of them were shot dead in their homes. Others were taken to camps for execution. Rohm was jailed and shot the next day. He had been ordered to commit suicide but refused so two SS men shot him. Hitler even took the opportunity to have von Schleicher, the ex chancellor killed and Strasser was also shot. After this date the SA had nowhere near as much power as they had previously had in Nazi Germany, which gave Hitler and the SS the opportunity to take over completely as SA members steadily decreased to only 2 million men by the summer of 1934. However, there were other things that Hitler did which helped him gain complete control of Germany.
Some evidence implies that the Night of the Long Knives gave Hitler total control. Source A says that Rohm had called Hitler a ‘swine’ which suggests that he did not get on with Hitler. It was also suggested that Rohm might have tried to take power. He says: ‘I’m the nucleus of a new army.’ Hitler saw the SA as rivals to his power and they wanted to make the Nazi party more socialist. Therefore Hitler and the SS got rid of Rohm and the SA in The Night of the Long Knives.
In addition, comparing source b, a photograph of leading members of the Nazi party, to source c it is clear how much control The Night of the Long Knives gave Hitler because he had the power to erase Rohm from history by reprinting the photo without Rohm and some others in the picture. In addition source e says ‘the fuhrer with soldiery decision and exemplary courage has himself attacked and crushed the traitors and murderers.’ This shows how people admired Hitler after the 30th of June and how they thought he was a brave and heroic person to look up to.
Hitler gained all sorts of advantages when Rohm and over 1000 other enemies were killed. In august president Hindenburg died and Hitler took over as president as well as chancellor a new role called ‘Der Fuehrer.’ He also made himself head of the armed forces. The army were won over by the Nazis, making Hitler’s bid for even more power an awful lot easier.
Nevertheless, there were other things that Hitler had to do besides getting rid of Rohm and the SA to get complete control of Germany. For example, he still had to deal with the trade unions because although he had already closed them down in May 1933, they were still a threat because many workers could quite easily have gone on strike and brought down the government. They could even ask for more money and Germany could not afford to do this because she had only just got over the economic crisis.
Hitler also needed to get the army on his side. In source F we can see how Hitler cleverly dealt with this problem by making them swear an oath of loyalty to him on the 2nd of august 1934. This was made just after Hitler had made himself commander of the army. The only Germans who had the power to oppose Hitler, soldiers with powerful weapons such as guns and machinery, had just sworn their lives away to him. This oath happened on the same day that President Hindenburg died at the age of 87. Hindenburg’s death was one of the final factors before Germany was entirely in Hitler’s hands, it made the position of fuehrer available and Hitler immediately took over the presidency and gave himself the title ‘Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor’.
In conclusion, I have to honestly say that no, I do not agree with the opening statement. I have many reasons for this opinion. Firstly although I think that The Night of the Long Knives was a very important aspect which helped Hitler a great deal in his quest to gain complete control of Germany and that Hitler may not have become fuehrer if this event had not happened, there were so many other things which helped him. It is not possible that there was just the one thing that meant Hitler could rule Germany. It took many years and various events before it was possible for Hitler to have complete control.
As well as the things I have already mentioned such as closing down trade unions, getting control of the army and Hindenburg’s death, there was also the enabling law, the fact that Hitler had put Nazi officials in charge of the government and the law for the protection of the people and the state. Furthermore, on the 28th of February 1933, President Hindenburg granted Hitler an emergency law called the ‘law for the protection of the people and the state’ which banned communists and socialists from taking part in the March elections. This refers to source D where General Walther von Brauchitsch commented that rearmament was a far too serious business to be carried out by swindlers, drunkards and homosexuals.
Moreover, the law against the formation of new parties which was made in July 1933 was how Germany became a one party state and helped Hitler to gain complete control of Germany because the Nazi party was the only party allowed to exist. This stopped enemies from overruling Hitler and the Nazis. What’s more, Hitler had put Nazi officials in charge of the government on the 7th April 1933 and had his army of spies reporting to him such as the blockleiters (in charge of blocks of flats_ the zellenleiters, kreisleiters and gauleiters
After all these events, Hitler finally had what he wanted. This came about on the 2nd of august 1934 and immediately had complete control of Germany once he had become the Fuehrer.