Ernst Julius Röhm (28 November, 1887 in Munich – 1 July, 1934 in Munich)was a leader of the German Sturmabteilung (SA), the Stormtroopers. He also was a member of the German Reichstag where he was a minister from 1933 to 1934. He was assassinated during the Night of the Long Knives, in 1934. Adolf Hitler had given the order to assassinate Röhm.
Ernst Röhm was born in Munich on 28 November, 1887. He was the third child of the chief train inspector, Julius Röhm, and his wife, Emilie Röhm. He had one older brother and one older sister. His sister’s son was Bernhard Lippert, a diplomat.
On 1 November 1930, he went back to Germany and joined the Nazi Party a second time. In January 1931, Adolf Hitler placed Röhm in charge of the Sturmabteilung. In just over a year, he expanded it from 70,000 to 170,000 members. In April 1932, Chancellor Heinrich Bruning banned the SA again. Franz von Papen, who was chancellor after Heinrich Bruning, annulled the ban in June. In 1933, Ernst Röhm became a Reichsminister, a minister of the Reichstag.In 1934, the SA had over 4,500,000 members. The power of the SA increased. Because of this, Adolf Hitler and the Schutzstaffel (SS) started a new dispute with Röhm. The SA was about 20 times greater in membership than the Reichswehr; Röhm was dreaming to take over the Reichswehr.
Hitler was afraid of Röhm’s power. Röhm wanted to merge the Sturmabteilung with the general army, with him as leader. He also wanted a “second Nazi revolution” to make Germany more socialist. He was an anticaptialist, and at this time, Hitler was trying to befriend Germany’s industrialists. Hitler planned to kill Röhm.
In 1906, after his Abitur (school exams) in Munich, Röhm joined the Bavarian army as a Fanjunkare. Two years later he became a Lieutenant. In 1914, at the beginning of the First World War, he was an Adjutant and fought on the Western Front. He was wounded three times, and was awarded the Iron Cross First Class. He was badly hurt in that year and lost a piece of his nasal bone. He worked for the Bavarian government in the War Department for the first time two years later, and in 1918, he was given the rank of a captain (German:Hauptmann).
In 1919, Röhm joined the German Worker Party (DAP). A year later he became a member of the German Nazi Party, receiving membership number 623. Röhm helped Hitler establish relationships with the Bavarian politicans and the industrialists. Two years later, Röhm and Hitler started the Sturmabteilung (SA), attracting many men from the Freikorps. It was founded as a paramilitary group for the German Nazi Party. Hitler made Röhm the leader of the SA.
Röhm took a part in the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923 when the Nazi Party tried to overthrow the government, but failed. Röhm was arrested and charged with high treason. The judges decided he was guilty on 1 April, 1924. Röhm went to prison for five months and lost his job in the army. Following the court trial, both the Nazi Party and the Sturmabteilung became illegal.
In 1924, Röhm helped start the Frontbann, an alternative to the Sturmabteilung. After an argument with Adolf Hitler, Rohm retired as leader of the SA. He said that he was only a soldier and not a politician. Between 1928 and 1930, he worked for the Bolivian military as an advisor.
Röhm arranged with Hitler that the Sturmabteilung would get four weeks holiday during the summer of 1934. The holiday started on July 1, 1934. Röhm wanted to go to Bad Wiessee for a rest. On June 29, 1934, Röhm was arrested, yet had no trial. He was given the choice by Theodor Eicke: to commit suicide or be killed. On July 1, Theodor Eicke shot Röhm as instructed by Hitler. Röhm was buried in the Munich western cemetery.
Many Sturmabteilung leaders were killed on that same night. It was called the “Night of the Long Knives”. The next day the German parliament passed a law with only one paragraph making the murders at the Night of the Long Knives legal.
Röhm is well known in Germany and by historians for his homosexuality. He wrote three letters in Bolivia to a German doctor where he wrote about his homosexuality. Röhm said that he discovered his homosexuality in 1924. In the mid-1920s, he started to communicate with the gay community in Berlin and Munich. Hitler knew of Röhm’s homosexuality for many years but said he had heard it for the first time in 1934. Hitler lied because homosexuality was against the ideology of the Nazi party.
After the First World War, Röhm went to the Freikorps (Free Corps) of Franz Ritter von Epp. He wanted to fight against the Communists in Munich. With this group, he went to fight against the Bavarian Soviet Republic. In July 1919, the Freikorps became part of the 7th division.
foto: Door Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-15282A / o.Ang. / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12685396