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The SA Generals and the Rise of Nazism

The SA Generals and the Rise of Nazism

Bruce Campbell
Copyright Date: 1998
Edition: 1
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    The SA Generals and the Rise of Nazism
    Book Description:

    No part of the Nazi movement contributed more to Hitler's success than the Sturmabteilung (SA) -- the notorious Brown Shirts. Bruce Campbell offers the first in-depth study in English of the men who held the three highest ranks in the SA. Organized on military lines and fired by radical nationalism, the Brown Shirts saw themselves as Germany's paramilitary saviors. Campbell reveals that the homogeneity of the SA leadership was based not on class or status, but on common experiences and training. Unlike other investigations of the Nazi party,The SA Generals and the Rise of Nazismfocuses on the military and political activities of the Brown Shirts to show how they developed into SA Leaders. By tracing the activities, both individual and collective, of these men's adult lives through 1945, Campbell shows where members acquired the experience necessary to build, lead, and administer the SA. These men were instrumental in creating the Nazi concept of "political soldiering," combining military organization with political activism. Campbell's enlightening portrait of the SA, its history, and its relationship to the overall Nazi movement reveals how the organization's leaders reshaped the SA over time to adapt to Germany's changing political concerns.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4911-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-ix)
  4. Abbreviations Used in Text
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-7)

    Who were the Nazis? How could this tiny, obscure party capture power so quickly in Germany, the land of poets and philosophers? How could it grow so fast and yet remain coherent and effective? And how did ordinary human beings become Nazis? Even fifty years later, these are still some of the greatest questions of the twentieth century, and we only have partial answers. This book will move a step closer to a full answer. It studies the lives and careers of the men who occupied the top leadership positions of the paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party, the Sturmabteiluhg...

  6. 1 Background
    (pp. 8-28)

    The men examined in this book were participants in an arcane and complex right-wing military and paramilitary subculture that will be foreign to most readers, but its details will be important in the following study. Since the “language” of this subculture is not widely spoken today, the reader might appreciate a short general introduction to the world in which these men lived.

    The majority were born into the smug, secure European middle class of the late nineteenth century, a world which even then was in the throes of profound social, cultural, economic, and demographic change. This change was accelerated by...

  7. 2 The Pioneers, 1925-1926
    (pp. 29-48)

    When Hitler walked out of Landsburg Prison shortly before Christmas in December 1924, he seemed to have few prospects. Although the ban on the NSDAP and SA had just been lifted, both organizations had to be completely rebuilt, and Hitler himself was still prohibited from public speaking in nearly all of the German states. He had no choice but to cling strictly to a policy of the utmost legality, for he could be rearrested at any time and returned to finish out his prison sentence if he or a significant number of his followers strayed from the conditions of his...

  8. 3 The Defectors, 1927-1930
    (pp. 49-79)

    The period from 1927 to 1930 was crucial for the development of the SA and the NSDAP. During this time both organizations became more centralized and developed highly efficient administrative and command structures. Both also grew from marginal, locally based organizations into large, centrally directed national ones. Both did so by absorbing many of the former members of rival right-wing organizations. The two processes of expansion and centralization were in fact related. The leaders necessary to organize and administer both the SA and the NSDAP beyond what had existed in 1926 came as part of the influx of new members...

  9. 4 The Specialists, 1931-1932
    (pp. 80-117)

    No man is more closely associated with the SA than Ernst Röhm. The SA’s contribution to the expansion and success of the Nazi Party in 1931 and 1932 while under his leadership was absolutely crucial to its assumption of power in January 1933. These two years were the most pivotal of the entire Kampfzeit, a time when the NSDAP had to prove to itself and to Germany that it had made the transition from a small sectarian collection of cranks and true believers into a modern mass political party. Two factors gave these critical years a special tension and immediacy...

  10. 5 The Latecomers, 1933-1934
    (pp. 118-141)

    On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany by the president of the Republic, Paul von Hindenburg, in accordance with the Weimar constitution.¹ This was the moment for which every member of the Party had waited so long. After years of struggle, sacrifice, and political impotence, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party had legally taken power in Germany. True, it was still a long way from total power. To begin with, the judicial framework of the Weimar Republic endured, and if there were few who supported the Republic, there were many who opposed the Nazis. The National...

  11. 6 Conclusion
    (pp. 142-153)

    The highest leaders of the SA were a homogeneous group, almost what one could call a corps.¹ They came from the same social class,² and they were formed by a common set of military and political experiences and attitudes. Out of a common milieu they then went to the SA and the Nazi Party, their common experiences serving to knit them and the SA into a close and efficient group. This homogeneity adds to our knowledge of the makeup of the Nazi Party, but even more important, it has immediate implications for assessing the significance of the larger paramilitary and...

  12. 7 Methodology
    (pp. 154-160)

    The information used in this book comes from a variety of sources, but roughly 85 percent comes from personnel files or internal court documents prepared by the SA. Another 10 percent comes from other materials prepared by the NSDAP, contemporary documents such as obituaries in the Nazi Party press, or post facto memoirs. This information was used in its “raw” form about individuals, but it was also summarized to build a database that was used to make statements about the entire group or significant parts of it.

    Because the group studied here is defined by rank, and because of the...

  13. Appendix A The Organization of the SA
    (pp. 161-162)
  14. Appendix B Equivalent Ranks
    (pp. 163-163)
  15. Appendix C Men Included in This Study
    (pp. 164-166)
  16. Glossary
    (pp. 167-176)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 177-230)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 231-258)
  19. Index
    (pp. 259-278)