Karl Ernst

Karl Ernst ( Berlin-Wilmersdorf , 1 of September of 1904 – Berlin-Lichterfelde , 30 of June of 1934 ) was German politician pertaining to the Nazi party and Gruppenführer of the SA . He is known mainly for having been the SA leader in Brandenburg . He was deputy of the Reichstag of 1931 to 1933 and from 1933 until his death adviser of state of Prusia . According to some theories, Karl Ernst played a major role in the fire of the Reichstag in February 1933. He died at Night of Long Knives .


Youth (1904-29)

Karl Ernst was born in 1904 in Berlin. After completing his basic education in Berlin-Wilmersdorf and Berlin Grunewald , between 1918 and 1921 managed to finish his training as a commercial technician specialized in export.

Ernst, who had begun to get involved in the national youth movement and in 1918, was incorporated in 1920 to Großdeutscher Jugendbund and later also the “Eskadron Grunewald ‘belonging to Freikorps . Within the Eskadron Grunewald, he performed the tasks of Radmelder (bicycle messenger) of a Garde-Kavallerie-Schützen-Division (“Rifle-Cavalry-Guard Division”). From 1920 to 1923 he was also a member of Bund Wiking .

Until 1923 he was employed commercially in Berlin and Mainz . That same year he became a member of the SA (Sturmabteilung).

After the failure of the Putsch in Munich in November 1923 and the Nazi party’s ban, Ernst became acquainted with various other far-right organizations and enemies of the state. He was a member between 1924 and 1926 in the Frontbann , an organization that collected members of the banned SA, and in the organization “Ulrich von Hutten” Gerhard Roßbach , one of the leaders of the Freikorps. Due to his conflicts with the law, Ernst was denounced by Geheimbündelei (belonged to a secret association), disruption of public order and release of prisoners.

In order to maintain himself, Ernst did several jobs in the service sector during this period, being a commercial, bank employee, buyer, secretary, department head, traveler, correspondent, waiter and bellman in Berlin, Mainz and Danzig .

In the newly founded Nazi party, Ernst formed part of 1927 to 1931 to the direction of the SA in Munich .


From 1929 to 1931 Ernst attended classes at the Deutsche Hochschule für Politik in Berlin for three semesters.

In connection with the so-called Stennes Revolt , a dispute within the SA of Berlin, Ernst was appointed in April 1931 assistant of the Gausturm (local section of the SA). In this role, along with Wolf-Heinrich von Helldorf , he participated on 12 September 1931 in the Kurfürstendamm riots : 1 on the night of the Jewish New Year , about 1,000 members of the SA, shouting slogans like “Die, Jew! “And” Kill the Jews with sticks! “Attacked the Jews who were leaving the synagogue and passers-by who passed by the Kurfürstendamm . Against Helldorf and Ernst, who were initially concealed, complaints were raised about disturbance of public order. Defended by Roland Freisler and Hans Frank , they were sentenced in November 1931 to six months’ imprisonment. The penalty was lifted in February 1932; Ernst was sentenced to a fine for grievances.

Ernst in 1932 in Berlin-Köpenick, speaking at a sports party.

In December 1931, Ernst had been appointed SA-Oberführer Adjutant (” Assistant to the Supreme Chief of the SA”); From July 1932 to March 1933, directed SA-Untergruppe (local group) of Berlin-Ost. On 1 March 1933 he was advanced to SA-Gruppenführer , taking over the leadership of the new SA-Obergruppe III. At the same time, on March 20, 1933, he was succeeded by Wolf-Heinrich Graf von Helldorf, the Obersten SA-Führung (OSAF, “Supreme Chief of the SA”) of Berlin and the Province of Brandenburg . From December 1933 he also had the functions of the SA Standortführer in Berlin. From March 1933, Ernst was subordinate to the so – called SA-Feldpolizei , which was directly related to the persecution of opponents of the regime. Thus, Ernst ordered the murder of the seer Erik Jan Hanussen on March 24, 1933. 2

Ernst was candidate to the Reichstag for the Nazi party and from July of 1932 to March of 1933 was deputy by the third electoral district Potsdam II. It had a second mandate from March 1933 to November 1933 by the electoral district 2 of Berlin. He was followed by a third term from November 1933 to June 30, 1934. On July 11, 1933, Ernst was appointed Preußischer Staatsrat, State Councilor of Prussia .

In 1931, Ernst appeared as one of the best known friends homosexuals of Ernst Röhm in the June issue of the Social Democratic newspaper Münchner Post . There were also forged letters of Lieutenant Paul Schulz (who managed to survive the Night of the Long Knives fleeing abroad), in which Ernst was called “Frau von Röhrbein”, Mrs. Röhrbein, referring to his long relationship with Paul von Röhrbein (who had helped Röhm up inside the match). During the Stennes Revolt in the spring of 1931, the indignation of Walther Stennes’ supporters was especially great against the homosexual “trio” Röhm-Röhrbein-Ernst. Ernst and Röhrbein were besieged in a local of Berlin in the night of the 26 to the 27 of June of 1931 by the people of Stennes. When a loyal section of the SA that had been summoned in aid arrived, the detention of Stennes’ supporters was already under way. According to a protocol which has been preserved, the chief of the people of Stennes said, referring to Ernst and Röhrbein: ” There, look at the parasites of the party, these ladybugs, these damn asshole that lets ruin the good Name of the party. There they sit, those fagot pigs . ” 3

In spite of this, Ernst gave his word of honor to an SA man not to be gay. 4 In 1931 He had also had some friendship with Arnolt Bronnen and William II of Germany . On the yacht that Erik Jan Hanussen had at the Wannsee , he would have participated in orgies with his HS comrades. 5

Conflict with the army

In the question of the future constitution of the army ( Wehrverfassung ) of the Nazi regime, the role of the SA was unclear. Ernst Röhm created in January of 1934 forces with heavy armament. Ernst also formed a regiment and a battalion of guard for each brigade of the SA. In this way, the conflict with the army, the Reichswehr , was assured, since the leaders of the SA wanted to integrate these units into the army.

However, Hitler had decided for the Reichswehr and against the SA. The fate of Ernst and Röhm was also sealed. Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler organized a major purge within the Nazi Party whose aim was to neutralize the left wing of the National Socialist movement and end Röhm. In order to justify the executions, Göring and Himmler invented plans of an alleged coup d’etat of the SA against Hitler , which would end in the Night of the long knives . 6 Göring presented to Hitler on June 18, 1934, a report from SS-Gruppenführer and police chief Kurt Daluege describing that Ernst was spreading details about the Reichstag fire .

Just after his honeymoon in Madeira , along with his wife Minna, was arrested by an SS command under the direction of Kurt Gildisch in the port of Bremen . He was flown to Berlin and that same afternoon of 30 June, shot in Berlin-Lichterfelde by a command of the SS of the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler , along with three other members of the SA, who apparently had also Participated in the fire of the Reichstag. 7 Because thought to the end he was the victim of an unfortunate confusion, he died shouting ” Heil Hitler ! “. 8 Rudolf Heß was one of those who insisted on the murder of Ernst.

Role in the fire of the Reichstag in 1933

Karl Ernt has been linked by various sources with the Reichstag Fire of February 1933. According to one theory there would have been, along with a SA troop, entered the Reichstag from the official address of the President of Parliament, which at the time was Hermann Göring , through a secret tunnel. There they would have distributed gasoline and other chemicals, to leave the building by the same road. Marinus van der Lubbe , detained and officially convicted of the fire, would be in the building at this time by chance or would have been placed there as a scapegoat . 9 2

In favor of Ernst’s participation in the Fire, innumerable declarations speak. The so called ” Ernst-Testament ,” Ernst’s testament, in which Ernst admits openly of his participation in the burning of the Reichstag, has been unmasked as a forgery of the 1933/34 exile press and can not be used as a test. 10 5


Karl Ernst was represented in a decorated telegram that was edited for the Party Congress of 1936. 11 After the sample of the form in several newspapers, the impression was stopped and the 35,000 copies that had already been distributed were withdrawn.


  1. Back to top↑ Ted Harrison: “Alter Kämpfer” im Widerstand. Graf Helldorff, die NS-Bewegung und die Opposition gegen Hitler. (Pdf, 6,5 MB) In: VfZ 45 (1997), p. 385-423, here p. 391ss. See also: Heinrich Hannover , Elisabeth Hannover-Drück: Politische Justiz 1918-1933. 2. Auflage, Attica-Verlag, Hamburg 1977, ISBN 3-88235-001-6 , p. 283ss.
  2. ↑ Jump to:a b Zur Rolle von Ernst bei der Ermordung von Hanussen und beim Reichstagsbrand (in German)
  3. Back to top↑ Cited according to a protocol in the personal report of Walther Stennes in the Bundesarchiv in Bernhard Sauer: Schwarze Reichswehr und Fememorde. Eine Milieustudie zum Rechtsradikalismus in der Weimarer Republik. Metropol-Verlag, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-936411-06-9 , p. 295.
  4. Back to top↑ Bernd-Ulrich Hergemöller: Mann für Mann – Ein biographisches Lexikon , Suhrkamp Taschenbuch, Hamburg 2001, ISBN 3-518-39766-4 .
  5. ↑ Jump to:a b H. S. Hegner (di Harry Schulze): Die Reichskanzlei 1933-1945. Anfang und Ende des Dritten Reiches , Verlag Frankfurter Bücher, Frankfurt 1959, p. 62 (with all reservation).
  6. Back to top↑ Shirer, 1960: 221
  7. Back to top↑ Shirer, 1960: 223
  8. Back to top↑ Max Gallo: Der schwarze Freitag der SA. Die Vernichtung des revolutionären Flügels der NSDAP durch Hitlers SS im Juni 1934 , Nolden, Wien / München / Zürich 1972, p. 257.
  9. Back to top↑ William L. Shirer : Aufstieg und Fall des Dritten Reichs , 1961, p. 189
  10. Back to top↑ Alexander Zinn: Zur sozialen Konstruktion des homosexuellen Nationalsozialisten. Der “Röhm-Putsch” und Homosexuellenverfolgungen 1934/35 im Spiegelder Exilpresse en: CAPRI Nr. 18 February 1995, p. 21-48.
  11. Back to top↑ Helmut Heiber (Ed.): «Aufzeichnung von Ministerialrat Alfred-Ingemar Berndt (Reichspropagandaministerium) vom Sommer 1936», in: Der ganz normale Wahnsinn unterm Hakenkreuz. Triviales und Absonderliches aus den Akten des Dritten Reiches. Herbig, München 1996, ISBN 3-7766-1968-6 , doc. 207.