Ernst Röhm

German Nazi, military officer and leader of the Sturmabteilung (1887-1934)
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Ernst Julius Röhm (28 November 1887 – 2 July 1934) was a career German military officer who was the co-founder and commander of the Nazi Sturmabteilung (storm troopers), often called simply the SA. The leadership of SA was purged during the "Night of the Long Knives" in June 1934. Adolf Hitler arrested Röhm personally at a resort in Bad Wiessee on June 30. Röhm was held without trial at Stadelheim Prison in Munich, and on July 2 he was visited by SS-Brigadeführer Theodor Eicke and SS-Sturmbannführer Michael Lippert, who offered Röhm a pistol and suggested he commit suicide. When he refused, Lippert shot Röhm at point-blank range.

I am still today a soldier and only a soldier.


  • I am still today a soldier and only a soldier. (Ich bin noch heute Soldat und nur Soldat)
    • Quoted in "Der Orden unter dem Totenkopf: Die Geschichte der SS" - by Heinz Höhne - 1967 - Page 26
  • Since I am an immature and wicked man, war and unrest appeal to me more than good bourgeois order. Brutality is respected, the people need wholesome fear. They want to fear someone. They want someone to frighten them and make them shudderingly submissive.
    • Cited in "The Nazis: A Warning from History", Disc 1, 10:48. Also quoted in "The Face of the Third Reich: Portraits of the Nazi Leadership" - Page 139 by Joachim C. Fest - History - 1999
  • Many things are between us and the Communists, but we respect the sincerity of their conviction and their willingness to bring sacrifices for their own cause, and this unites us with them.
    • Die Geschichte eines Hochverräters (The Story of a High Traitor – Rohm’s autobiography), Munich, Verlag Frz. Eher Nachf. GmbH, 1933, Volksausgabe, p. 273
  • Adolf is a swine. He will give us all away. He only associates with reactionaries now. His old friends aren't good enough for him. Getting matey with the East Prussian generals. They're his cronies now. Adolf is turning into a gentleman. He's got himself a tail-coat now. Adolf knows exactly what I want. I've told him often enough. Not a second edition of the old imperial army. Are we revolutionaries or aren't we? Allons, enfants de la patrie! If we are, then something new must arise out of our élan, like the mass armies of the French Revolution. If we're not, then we'll go to the dogs. We've got to produce something new, don't you see? A new discipline. A new principle of organization. The generals are a lot of old fogeys. They never had a new idea.
    • To Hermann Rauschning about Adolf Hitler in May, 1933. Quoted in "Hitler: Study of a Revolutionary?" - Page 82 to Page 83 - by Martyn Housden - History - 2000
  • Hitler can't walk over me as he might have done a year ago; I've seen to that. Don't forget that I have three million men, with every key position in the hands of my own people, Hitler knows that I have friends in the Reichswehr, you know! If Hitler is reasonable I shall settle the matter quietly; if he isn't I must be prepared to use force - not for my sake but for the sake of our revolution.
    • To Kurt Ludecke in January, 1934. Quoted in "History's Greatest Conspiracies" - by H. Paul Jeffers - History - 2004
  • All revolutions devour their own children.
    • Remark in prison to Hans Frank (30 June 1934) paraphrasing Pierre Vergniaud; quoted in The Face of the Third Reich: Portraits of the Nazi Leadership (1999) by Joachim C. Fest
  • He (Hitler) is thinking about the peasant girls. When they stand in the fields and bend down at their work so that you can see their behinds, that's what he likes, especially when they've got big round ones. That's Hitler's sex life. What a man.
    • While Hitler, who was present, stared at him with compressed lips. Quoted in "Getting Hitler Into Heaven" - Page 44 - by John Graven Hughes, Heinz Linge - 1987
  • I expect that on the 1st of August, the SA will be once more ready for duty. If the enemies of the SA are hoping that the SA will not return from leave, we are ready to let them enjoy the hope for a short time. The SA is, and remains, Germany's destiny.
    • SA summer furlough decree, published in Völkischer Beobachter (10 June 1934)
  • If I am to be killed, let Adolf do it himself!
    • The day Röhm was killed. Quoted in "Famous Last Words" - Page 68 - by Laura Ward, Robert Allen - 2004
  • Mein Führer, mein Führer!
    • Last words after being shot by Michael Lippert. Quoted in "Himmler's Secret War: The Covert Peace Negotiations of Heinrich Himmler" - Page 39 - by Martin Allen - Biography & Autobiography - 2005

Quotes about Röhm

  • Röhm deceived himself when he thought that his closeness to Hitler would allow him to survive while other German homosexual men were being persecuted. Röhm was not murdered because he was homosexual, but the fact that he was so gave his enemies a means of turning Hitler against him and securing his destruction.
    • Robert Aldrich, "Who's who in Gay and Lesbian History from Antiquity to World War II", London and New York, Routledge, 2001, p. 377
  • Röhm, then very much a leading personality, was a more flamboyant figure, scarred and scented, with a jewelled dagger at his waist. We met for the first time at von Neurath's luncheon. Afterwards we had some talk, when he told me of his frightening experiences the world over, the last instalments of which had been, if I recall correctly, in Bolivia. But he was not just a perverted swashbuckler, he had intelligence of a kind and, a rarity in the modern world, he was a man who boasted of his bravery, yet was brave. But he was hardly of the modern world; a condottiere of the Middle Ages might have looked and behaved like that.
    • Anthony Eden, The Eden Memoirs: Facing the Dictators (1962), p. 71
  • I pointed out to the Führer at length that in 1934 we unfortunately failed to reform the Wehrmacht when we had an opportunity of doing so. What Roehm wanted was, of course, right in itself but in practice it could not be carried through by a homosexual and an anarchist. Had Roehm been an upright solid personality, in all probability some hundred generals rather than some hundred SA leaders would have been shot on June 30. The whole course of events was profoundly tragic and today we are feeling its effects. In that year the time was ripe to revolutionise the Reichswehr. As things were the Führer was unable to seize the opportunity. It is questionable whether today we can ever make good what we missed doing at that time. I am very doubtful of it. Nevertheless the attempt must be made.
  • Röhm presented himself as a ‘rational’ anti-Semite, and as man who had more empathy with his radical opponents on the left in the Communist party than with the moderate politicians of the centre.
    • Eleanor Hancock, Introduction in The Memoirs of Ernst Rohm, London, UK, Frontline Books, 2012, p. x, first published in 1928 in German.
  • Roehm was an extraordinary character, who should have been a seventeenth-century soldier of fortune... He was firmly convinced, and he was right, that without his own strong arm it would have been impossible for Hitler to have climbed into power. His private life was deplorable and he made no attempt to conceal his homosexual tastes, his extravagance and his contempt for all ideals. Yet in many ways I found this shameless bandit less repugnant than many of his colleagues in the Government. On the first occasion on which I met him he was at pains to impress on me his devotion to the soldier's career and his dislike of any other. He asked me if I had served in the war and, if so, why I had left the Army. I told him that England had truly disarmed and that I had decided to seek my future elsewhere. “What a mistake,” he replied, and he continued, patting me consolingly on the shoulder, “Never mind. As a result of Germany's present proceedings England will soon be obliged to have a much larger Army. I admit freely that I would sooner talk to an enemy soldier than a German civilian. He is a swine and I do not understand his language.” ... Not long before his fall he took part in one of the many celebrations of Nazi anniversaries...and in the course of his speech he intimated that he had little interest in the affair. “I prefer,” he said, “to make revolutions rather than to celebrate them.”
  • The most prominent target of Hitler’s purge was Ernst Röhm, the leader of one of the Nazi paramilitaries, the SA brownshirts. The SA had helped Hitler assert his personal authority, to intimidate opponents (and voters), and to come to power in 1933. The streetfighting of the SA was less useful to Hitler as chancellor than it had been for Hitler as politician. Röhm spoke in 1933 and 1934 of the need for a second revolution, an idea that Hitler rejected. Röhm also nurtured personal ambitions that ill fit Hitler’s plans to rebuild the German military. Röhm portrayed his SA as a better reflection of the Nazi spirit than the German armed forces, which he wished to control himself. His three million SA brownshirts far outnumbered the hundred thousand soldiers permitted to the German armed forces by the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler meant to break those treaty obligations, but by rebuilding the German army rather than by replacing or merging it with a paramilitary. In late June 1934 Hitler ordered the SS to murder Röhm and several dozen of his associates, as well as other rivals within the Nazi movement and a few other politicians. The SS was led by Heinrich Himmler, who emphasized racial purity, ideological training, and personal loyalty to Hitler. In what came to be known as the “Night of the Long Knives,” Hitler was using one of the Nazi paramilitaries, the SS, to master the other, the SA. He was endorsing Himmler’s work, and putting an end to Röhm—and dozens of other people. Hitler told the parliament on 14 July 1935 that seventy-four men had been killed; the true number was at least eighty-five, several of whom were (Nazi) parliamentary deputies. He claimed, naturally, that Röhm and the others had been planning a coup against his legitimate government, and had to be stopped in advance. In addition to the SA leadership, Hitler’s blood purge had reached conservatives and former heads of government. Of the three chancellors who had preceded him, one was murdered, one was arrested, and the third fled.
  • Ernst Roehm was a thug. He was a brutish and zealous believer in National Socialism. If anything, he was more radical than Hitler. He believed in the elimination of anyone connected with the old order, businessmen, office holders of any kind. He became the leader of the SA, the Storm Troopers, whose terror tactics had helped make Hitler the leader of Germany.
    • Vance Stewart, "Three Against One," 2002
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