What Was the Significance of the Night of the Long Knives for the Main Players? Essay

363 Words2 Pages
The Night of the Long Knives represented a triumph for Hitler, and a turning point for the German government. It established Hitler as "the supreme judge of the German people", as he put it in his July 13 speech to the Reichstag. Later, in April 1942, Hitler would formally adopt this title, thus placing himself de jure as well as de facto above the reach of the law. Centuries of jurisprudence proscribing extra-judicial killings were swept aside. Despite some initial efforts by local prosecutors to take legal action against those who carried out the murders, which the regime rapidly quashed, it appeared that no law would constrain Hitler in his use of power. The Night of the Long Knives also sent a clear message to the public that even the most prominent Germans were not immune to arrest or even summary execution should the Nazi regime perceive them as a threat. In this manner, the purge established a pattern of violence that would characterise the Nazi regime: the use of force to establish an empire. Almost unanimously, the army applauded the Night of the Long Knives, even though the generals Kurt von Schleicher and Ferdinand von Bredow were among the victims. The ailing President Hindenburg, Germany's highly-revered military hero, sent a telegram expressing his "profoundly felt gratitude" and he congratulated Hitler for 'nipping treason in the bud'. General von Reichenau went so far as to publicly give credence to the lie that Schleicher had been plotting to overthrow the government. The army's support for the purge, however, would have far-reaching consequences for the institution. The humbling of the SA ended the threat it had posed to the army but, by standing by Hitler during the purge, the army bound itself more tightly to the Nazi regime. One retired captain, Erwin Planck, seemed to realise this: "if you look on without lifting a finger," he

More about What Was the Significance of the Night of the Long Knives for the Main Players? Essay

Open Document