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Also called “Operation Hummingbird” or the “Rohm-Putch,” the Night of the Long Knives was an event during which Hitler’ SS troops committed a series of political murders to rid Hitler from possible political threats. These murders of the leaders of the SA faction of the Nazi Party as well as prominent anti-Nazis took place between 30 June and 2 July 1934.

Why Murder Fellow Nazis?

During the Night of the Long Knives, many of the people who were killed were the very people who have been loyal to people and helped put him in power. Why murder them then?


The answer is mostly fear and jealousy. Other Nazi leaders such as Heinrich Himmler and Herman Goering were jealous of Ernst Rohm and the power he had. Rohm was in control of the SA, an army larger than that of the German government and there were fears that Rohm and other leaders took the “National Socialism” propaganda from the early Nazi times too seriously. This would foil Hitler’s plans to suppress worker’s rights in order to get in control of the German Industry and prepare Germany for war.  To further convince Hitler of the necessity of the purge, Rohm’s opponents manufactured evidence that he was planning to overthrow Hitler.

Hitler’s Announcement

Hitler only announced what had happened on July 13 and called it the “Night of the Long Knives” after a phrase from a Nazi song. He claimed that 13 people were shot while resisting arrest and 61 executed for treason, but some have said that it may have been up to 400 people who were killed. Hitler justified himself for not relying on the court system by saying that he, himself had become the supreme judge for Germany.

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