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Could the SA brownshirts have overthrown Hitler and would WW2 have been prevented?

Discussion in 'Alternate History' started by UncleJoe, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Member

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    I'm interested in knowing how likely the SA could have overthrown Hitler and maybe even averted WW2? I always thought the SA were the good guys and were more benign than the other half of the NSDAP, despite the drunken hooliganism. They were the ones who put socialism in national socialism, compared to Hitler, who only tolerated socialism as far as it advanced nationalism. I also like to think they did not share his racial agenda. Maybe I'm naive. :rolleyes:

    What opportunities do you think they had to overthrow Hitler. From my readings, the SA was despised by corporate Germany and senior Reichswehr officers (not sure about rank and file soldiers). Former chancellor Kurt von Schleicher seems to be the only major supporter of the SA that I could find. So it seems clear they needed more friends in high places to succeed. Or maybe a bottom to top revolution like in V for Vendetta? Which potential allies could have helped them in this goal?

    My 2nd question would be if the SA and its allies did kick out Hitler, how would the future have changed, namely would the war in Europe have been averted?

    Thanks for your thoughts
     
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  2. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    The SA were far from the "good guys", they were the lesser of two evils. Mostly their ranks consisted of unemployed thugs and criminals whose only claim to fame was influencing elections by clubs and fists. The SA was a tool created by Hitler as an off-set to the Heer which regarded him with both suspicion and contempt. They (SA) had no leader with a "future plan", or a way to go there. They and the Hitler Jungen, the SS, and other political/paramilitary organizations couldn't exist without Hitler. They knew it, and Hitler knew it. That is probably the driving force behind the "Night of the Long Knives", Hitler cut off the "head" of the serpent he had created, and gained the support of the Heer and high command by doing so.

    Not going to happen, the SA was a gang of thugs, not thinkers, politicians nor great orators.
     
  3. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Could the SA have deposed Hitler? Possibly, but very unlikely whatever Hitler and his inner circle may have thought. First the 'rumblings' within the SA had the quality of employee grumbles that they could do a better job than the boss but little real desire to do the things neccasary to actually make a serious change. Further within the average Brown Shirt there was not nearly the same opinion of Hitler as in the senior SA leadership. If there had been the 250,000 to 6000,000 Brownshirts would have revolted after the Night of the Long Knives, but they largely accepted the affair.

    Had they tried Hitler could count on the unconditional support of the Army and Navy and most if not all of the police. The SA had numbers but the Government (Hitler) had the better trained organization and the access to heavy weapons. Hitler, as the legitimate government, could even call on foriegn aid to help put down a insurrection. Whether he would or they would answer is an open question, what is not is that the SA could not count on any support from any quarter. The German populace turned to Hitler to bring stability and an end of the political chaos that gripped Germany and would not likely embrace a continuing revolution as propsed bt Roehm.

    While the SA were not the SS, there was not a great deal to distinguish them from their blackshirted cousins. Indeed the cruel face of the movement was presented by the SA until they were decapitated by the NotLK's. You only have to ask the Jewish shopowners and any political enemies of the movement. Had they succeeded in overturning Hitler and its 'legitimate' government europe might have had a redo of the French revolution with the neigboring counties intervening to 'restore order'. That episode lead to about 20 years or war all across europe. Not sure that would be a net gain.
     
  4. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Member

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    I think Rohm could have done more to get the army on his side. Rohm was an upstart, not an old school Prussian officer, so I could understand why he didn't like them. But I think captain Rohm should have commanded more respect by the Reichswehr than Bavarian corporal Hitler.

    Interesting. Any specific examples of what they wanted?

    Also, I don't understand why the SA kept engaging in street battles with the communist party. Weren't they both after better conditions for the worker?

    You made me think of an answer to another question I asked. If the SA was that bad ass, there's no way Rolfe from Sound of Music could be SA ! He acted like a total wimp when trying to apprehend the Von Trapps :)

    I was about to say, so did Chiang Kai-Shek's Kuomintang and look how he fared. But you're implying the average German sided with Hitler?


    Well, after Lenin's death, "many were afraid of [Trotsky's] radical ideas" and chose Stalin. "It was a decision many would live to regret."

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-9118985704353138889
    @ 4:20
     
  5. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Rohm could have done more to get the army on his side

    The SA was a rival to the army, all the more so since the latter was restricted to 100,000 men and the SA could recruit millions. Rohm himself envisioned the SA supplanting the regular army, and the amry leadership were acutely aware of this; that's why they stood by during the Long Knives even when a few army officers like Schliecher were caught up in it. So once again we're saying so-and-so might have accomplished such-and-such if he completely changed his policy.

    why the SA kept engaging in street battles with the communist party

    It's a curious phenomenon, but leftists often have their bitterest rivalries with other parties on the left, like Bolsheviks and Menshiviks.

    Getting back to Rolf, you can't assume that everyone in a mass organization is 100% dedicated or even fully understands the organization's program. Rolf's confrontation with Captain von Trapp was the first time he came face to face with the real significance of the Nazi movement; up until then it had just been a matter of getting on board with this new, exciting thing. It's actually a pretty insightful scene, though I imagine it's total fiction.
     
  6. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    First let me confess I am no expert on the SA but from what I have read and seen this is what I know.

    By the time of The Night of the Long Knives the SA was a massive organisation who's size (depending on who you asked) was anywhere between a quarter to a half million strong, or possibly more. As with any large group of politicly motivated people, why they joind held a multitude of reasons. As a general rule many were un-employed or under-employed common workers. People who as a general rule thought the system had failed them in some way. Standing side by side with another who seemed to be in the same boat is always a plus. Their were idealists and mere hangers on. Some join because they had nothing better to do, others because their buddies and family did. Some simply liked the idea of going out and cracking a few heads and then getting drunk on good German Beer. A diverse lot indeed.

    The SA was born from the Freikorps of the twenties. Groups of armed men anywhere from a platoon to a regiment in size. Former soldiers/saliors (and a few too young to serve in WWI) who could not find work in the collapse of Imperial Germany and lacking anything better to do. Politicly they ran the gamut from anarchist-communist-scocialist-conservative-monarchist and a few catagories that did not quite fit. The Weimar government quietly supported the conserative-monachist Freikorps in a quasi war with Poland and against the other more liberal Freikorps through out the twenties. By the time Hitler joined the Government most of the Freikorps had been absorbed by either the Communists or the Nazi's or disbanded.

    Roehm and his merry bunch of thugs joind Hitler fairly early and benefited by its rise to prominence. No doubt they played a major part in that rise as well. Had Roehm not joined with Hitler, he would have joined some other movement. The SA in the early years were really little more than political thugs for hire. The disrupted meetings of other groups and tried to prevent the disruption of Nazi gatherings pure and simple. Hitler tried the revolutionary path in 1923 in Munich with his SA army in tow, but learned that was an impossible task and returned to more conventional political tactics. These expanded the party and the SA as well, which probably brought more middle class idealists into the organization.

    By the time of the NotLK's the SA had outlived its use to Hitler. He controlled the government and with it the Army and police and had no longer a need for political thugs. The decapitation of the SA was a confluence of events. Hitler needed a way to control this large body of people, Himmlier and Goering wanter to be rid of a political rival, They army wanted to ensure its survival, the industrialists and financiers wanted to ensure their profits and the average German wanted stability and prosperity. Roehm had no real intent, at least then, of overthrowing Hitler, but said just enough to give Hitler the excuse to act. I am sure Hitler would had prefered Roehm had gotten on board with the new program, but was willing to eliminate him otherwise.

    Generally speaking the arrest and murder of Roehm and his senior leadership was seen as a positive both within Germany and without by everyone save its victims. Hitler was not going to allow the tail to wag the dog.
     
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  7. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Member

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    OK, thanks for reminding me of the diversity within the SA.


    Heh, you certainly made the Brownshirts more endearing there. Did they happen to dress up in Santa suits around Christmas and beat people with candy canes? LOL
    Well, I guess the Nazis are no longer a partyyy without them.


    Right, I remember they gave free beer at rallies. No wonder so many joined.

    Still, I think they should politically rehabilitate the SA, like unban the Horst Wessel Lied. I was moved by the line, "The day of freedom and of bread dawns!" - that's neither racist nor showing aggression.

     
  8. STURMTRUPPEN

    STURMTRUPPEN Member

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    the sa overthrowing hitler could have happened but it didnt cause of hitlers sudden rise to power
     
  9. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Lets make at least one thing clear about the attitude of the Reichswehr to the SA. The Army called the SA, in no uncertain terms, "The brown trash."

    THE cornerstone of the Reichwehr's rebirth was the very fact of the 100,000 man limit on the size of the army itself. "The Sphinx", a staff general called Hans von Seeckt, brought forth a plan that made other Reichswehr officers tremble with excitement. Each and every one of those 100,000 men were to be trained to a pitch of perfection. Entry standards were the toughest in the world, and the lucky candidates were groomed to be officers, (no 'Ninety Day Wonders' ).

    These officers were trained to think on their feet. Their reaction time to a tactical problem presented to them in a classroom environment was all of thirty minutes. This timespan was the limit with which they had to work to come up with an implementable tactical solution, and each solution had to be put into practice immediately. contrast this to the "Sandhurst Method", where senior officers would break the class up into discussion groups, and at a leisurely pace, quietly talk and discuss their solutions. No time limit imposed, no pressure to perform. In Germany, the emphasis was on "Do it QUICK". Junior officers were encouraged to be very critical of solutions presented, something Sandhurst grads were not taught. The result was that German infantry could adapt to changing tactical situations and have a workable solution to issue attack orders in less time than it took the British to talk about it or the French to communicate their desires to their superiors. The payoff came in 1940, with the German Army managing to browbeat France into surrender on the back of the very quality of these officers.

    The Reichswher looked upon Ernst Rohm's ideas for integration with undisguised HORROR. It was going to upset all their carefully formulated plans.

    Industrialists also looked at Rohm with undisguised contempt. The Krupp family head with their opinion of the SA. Krupps' had the most to gain of any company, and their public statements were not kin to Rohms plans at all. Krupp's claimed that "Re-armament is too serious an issue to be left in the hands of drunkards and homosexuals."


    When Rohm began to make an inspection tour of SA units in mid 1934, he began to make public utterances himself. Rohm and friends openly called for a "Second Revolution." The SA hierarchy were not happy, feeling that they had done most of the work to put National Socialism on the map, and now, at the very moment when the rewards were to be handed down from on high, they felt marginalized. This inspection tour of 1934 set alarm bells off at GrossLichterfelder. Goering was head of the Prussian Gestapo at this stage, and Hitler tasked him to plan The Night of the Long Knives. Goring's adjudant was SS General Karl Wolf, and they drew up death lists of prominant SA members, and anybody else they considered to be a serious threat to the new regime. (People like Gregor Strasser, Deitrich Bonhoffer, and Kurt von Schleicher).

    So, you see, the SA really had not much opportunity to stage a coup, with no support from the Reichswher or the industrial conglomerate. The public, too, were sick and tired of the bully boys in brown, swaggering about the streets and openly clashing with Communists and Social Democrats, just to name a few. The public looked to Hitler to clean up the mess, somehow, somewhere, and restore order to the streets of German cities and towns.

    With all this in mind, it's not to wonder that the Night of the Long Knives caused no more than a ripple in the pond. Foreign journalists were greeted on the morning of June 31st by an affable and jolly Herman Goring, expansively declaring, "I know you boys like a story....(using the English word), Well I've got a STORY for you, all right!"
     

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