Ernst Röhm

Julius Günther Ernst Röhm ( Munich , 28 of November of 1887 – ibid , 1 of July of 1934 ) was a military German , co – founder and commander of the SA (1931-1934) and minister without portfolio in the cabinet of Adolf Hitler (1933) .


Ernst Julius Röhm was born in Munich in 1887 , in a family of scarce resources associated with the railway, being the youngest of three brothers. His father, without being a military man of tradition, imposed a life of military court in his home in order to harden his character. He was inducted into the Royal Bavarian Royal Prinz Ludwig 10th Regiment in Ingolstadt in 1906, graduating in 1908.

Röhm served as first lieutenant in the Bavarian ranks during World War I , where he stood out for his bravery in combat, being seriously injured in the face in 1914 in French Lorraine . Later, in 1917, being officer with the rank of Captain of the General Staff received a shot in the chest in Thiaumont, Verdún. At the end of the war he contracted the feared Spanish flu to which he could survive.

In 1918, he joined the Freikorps , a nationalist, self-organizing, autonomous, anti-Bolshevik and dissident militia of the Weimar Republic . He was admitted to the Reichswehr , being an associate officer of Marshal Franz Ritter von Epp . In 1920, he joined the German Workers’ Party and organized SA ( Sturmabteilung ). It established a bond of friendship with the hitherto unknown political Adolf Hitler , who invited him to join the new National Socialist Party of the Workers (NSDAP) recruiting him like informant. 1 Röhm, who considered that the Treaty of Versailles was a humiliation for Germany, came to form a close bond with Hitler. 2

In 1923, Röhm demonstrated his loyalty to Hitler participating in the Putsch of Munich against the Republic of Weimar. After his failure, he was imprisoned and sentenced, spending fifteen months in prison.

In 1925 he rebuilt with Hitler the NSDAP, which had disintegrated. By that time the deep personality differences between Hitler and Röhm made it stand apart from the Nazi machinery, but it continued to command the SA until 1928.

Disillusioned with Nazism, in 1928 he left for Bolivia to serve as military advisor in the pre- war Chaco stage , under the orders of the German general Hans Kundt . Röhm always considered himself a soldier, not a politician. In Bolivia he served as a lieutenant colonel in the Bolivian army, where he served as a military instructor, especially in the restructuring of the School of Classes (of non-commissioned officers and sergeants) and then as Chief of Staff of the 1st Army Division, Settled in Oruro . Ernst Röhm arrived in Bolivia on January 5, 1929. His chances of promotion seemed to be very rapid and he tries to displace Kundt. This one begins to send him as an inspector, coach or instructor to places far away such as the Chaco, Uyuni, Oruro, etc.

In Bolivia, the rivalry and clashes between Röhm and Kundt reached their highest point when President Siles wished to extend himself in power and there was an attempted coup. Kundt as his chief of staff remained at his side. Röhm remained with the coup, as chief of the General Staff of the First Army Division in Oruro. Röhm said he did this because he decided to stay with the people, although apparently the coup leaders under General Carlos Blanco Galindo offered to be Chief of Staff of the Army, replacing Kundt. In October 1930, after a heated discussion with Kundt, he returned to his homeland. This event coincided with Hitler’s own request to return to Germany and take command of the SA General Staff, a position he assumed on 1 April 1931, succeeding Hitler himself.

Chief of the SA

Ernst Röhm and his assistants.

In 1931, the Weimar Republic promoted him to colonel, while he held the position designated by Hitler as leader of the SA .

By 1933, the SA soon gained a great power, power that made Röhm boast thanks to prestige and political influence as an armed wing of the NSDAP , and its adherents increased from the initial 3500 to about 70 000. Röhm sought to gain greater power in The Nazi hierarchy, aspiring to replace with its troops the very German army, the Reichswehr . This was to bring serious political consequences for Hitler when the Reichswehr revolted .

Through his deputy, Heinrich Himmler , the friendship was subsequently one of the ideologues is earned Holocaust , Reinhard Heydrich . Such was the friendship that Röhm was the godfather of his children.

Night of the long knives

Main article: Night of the long knives

Röhm proposed to Hitler to integrate the Reichswehr in the SA , but this one refused, since the maneuver was very dangerous, politically, for the NSDAP. In January 1934 Röhm pressed with a memorandum to Werner von Blomberg in which he requested that the SA replace the regular army as a national force and that the Reichswehr become part of the SA. This was rejected by Hitler again.

Röhm insisted on the subject and took personal initiatives in this regard, contrary to what Hitler had ordered, and the Reichswehr was a step away from the uprising.

Röhm right next to Hitler and Göring (in the center) in 1932, at the far right, a figure has been deliberately erased from the photo .

The confrontation with the army by the intended integration in the SA of the Reichswehr (1934) caused to him serious political conflicts with Hitler.

In turn, Röhm created powerful enemies within his own circles. His second in command Heinrich Himmler , Günther von Kluge , Hermann Göring and also his sponsored Reinhard Heydrich conspired together in their fall; Was involved in a supposed (and false) plan with Gregor Strasser to overthrow Hitler, which added to his homosexual condition, incompatible with Nazi ideals, caused the final break with the NSDAP majority faction.

Himmler and his assistant Reinhard Heydrich, head of the SS Security Service , drew up a false file with evidence that Röhm had received some twelve million marks from the French government to overthrow Hitler. The main SS officers received the falsified file on 24 June, which showed how Röhm intended to use the SA against the government, which became known as Röhm-Putsch, or the Röhm Coup. The purge was on. Meanwhile, Göring, Himmler, Heydrich and Lutze – by orders of Hitler – created lists of people belonging to the SA and others without connection with the group that they wanted to make disappear.

On June 27 Hitler secured the cooperation of the army in the purge. Blomberg and General Walter von Reichenau managed to expel Röhm from the League of German Officials and put the army on alert. Hitler called the deputy of the Röhm SA in Bad Wiessee and ordered the SA chiefs to meet him at the Hanselbauer Hotel with him on 30 June.

Röhm was arrested by express order of Hitler on June 30, 1934 in the Hanselbauer Hotel in Bad Wiessee, and confined in prison Stadelheim . Meanwhile, the Nazi leader was disposing of his internal opponents in so-called “night of the long knives.” Most of these opponents belonged to the SA or to the so-called “left wing” of the NSDAP, such as the Otto brothers and Gregor Strasser .

Adolf Hitler, after the tension of the episode, he weighed somewhat the situation of his escamarada and tried some way to save the life to him, by virtue of the past and loyal services rendered by this one. However, Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler convinced him of the futility of his defense. Hitler offered him the possibility of an honorable suicide, but Röhm did not accept it and was shot to death by two SD agents , Theodor Eicke and Michael Lippert , in his own cell.

The SA de Röhm continued to exist, although without the importance they had to date; One part became part of the SS and another part was monitored by the SD of Himmler, who soon became part of the SS. Paradoxically, Himmler himself later advocated replacing the Wehrmacht with the SS completed the whole war.


Röhm considered himself to be a loyal character, soldier first and foremost with very firm convictions, bordering on naivety and stubbornness, as well as a very controversial, arrogant and impulsive spirit and irascible character.

He did not hide his homosexuality , which expressed in a virile way, what in the ” night of the long knives ” was another argument to assassinate him. Hitler argued that he did not learn of Röhm ‘s homosexuality , one of his closest collaborators, until 1934 – a joke at the time relates that Hitler was so shocked to learn of Röhm’s homosexuality (who was one of the few friends That people would ask him, “How will he be shocked when he learns that Göring is fat and that Goebbels limps?” Some time after Röhm’s assassination, he selectively and drastically increased the persecution of homosexuals in Germany . The penalties of article 175 were aggravated in 1935. 3


  1. Back to top↑ Himmler-Leader of the SS and the Gestapo: Peter Padfield, page 45
  2. Back to top↑ E.Röhm – Short Biography
  3. Back to top↑ History of Erns Röhm (in English)