Ernst Roehm

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Ernst Röhm

Ernst Röhm in uniform, 1932
Born Ernst Julius Günther Röhm
28 November 1887
Died 2 July 1934 (age 46)
Stadelheim Prison, Munich
Nationality German
Occupation Stabschef, Sturmabteilung (SA)
Political party National Socialist German Workers Party
Parents Julius Röhm and Emilie Röhm

Ernst Julius Röhm, also spelled Ernst Roehm in English, (November 28, 1887July 2, 1934) was a German military officer and later the commander and co-founder of the Sturmabteilung, also known as the SA.

Röhm's parents, Julius and Emilie (née Baltheiser) Röhm, had three children. Ernst Röhm was a native of Munich and served as an Oberleutnant with the 13th Infantry Regiment of the Bavarian Army during World War I. In September 1914 in Lorraine, France he was severely wounded in the face and carried the scars for the rest of his life. He was later promoted to Hauptmann.

When the war ended in 1918 Röhm joined the Freikorps, one of many private militias formed in Munich to combat communist insurrection. In 1920 he became a member of the National Socialist German Workers Party and helped organize the Sturmabteilung (SA). After the failed Munich Putsch in 1923 Röhm was dishonorably discharged from the Reichswehr and spent fifteen months in prison where he strengthened his friendship with Adolf Hitler.

After Röhm was released in 1924 he worked with Hitler to rebuild the party but differences arose between them. In April 1924 Röhm helped to create the Frontbann as a legal alternative to the then-outlawed SA. He then served in the Reichstag as a member of the renamed National Socialist Freedom Party before resigning in 1925. Röhm then went to Bolivia and served as a military advisor.


Elements of the entire Berlin NSDAP that were considered unsatisfactory were rooted out and obviously the SA was part and parcel of this. It had been rumoured that the SA was plotting to overthrow Hitler. Himmler, Heydrich and Göring used Röhm's published anti-Hitler rhetoric to break up the SA. Nevertheless Hitler put off doing away with his long-time comrade Ernst Röhm to the very end. When the time came however, Hitler was relentless. Rohm's death must of sensationalised the Berlin's party reorganisation. The SA was thoroughly and ruthlessly purged during the so called "Night of the Long Knives" in June 1934. Hitler personally arrested Röhm, pulling him out of bed, at a resort in Bad Wiessee on June 30. Röhm was briefly held without any trial at Stadelheim Prison in Munich and on July 2 he was visited by SS-Brigadeführer Theodor Eicke (then Kommandant of Dachau) and SS-Sturmbannführer Michel Lippert, who offered Röhm a pistol and suggested he commit suicide. When he refused (some historians have speculated Röhm found it hard to believe Hitler had ordered him killed), Lippert shot Röhm at point-blank range. The purge of the SA was legalized the next day by a decree in the Law Regarding Measures of State Self-Defense. Historian John Toland noted Hitler had been aware and disapproved of Röhm's homosexuality. News accounts used this to justify his swift execution. Ernst Röhm was buried in Westfriedhof (German for west cemetery) in Munich.

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