Date of Award
Third Reich, Adolf Hitler, Ernst Röhm, National Socialism, Nazis, SA, National Socialist Revolution
The "Night of the Long Knives"—June 30, 1934, and the murderous days that followed is one of the more fascinating episodes in the history of the Third Reich. A year after taking power, multiple circles of influence challenged Nazi control. The National Socialists perceived enemies everywhere. At times the internal challenges were as significant as the external.
Much of the conflict centered on a myriad of perspectives on the nature and direction of the Nazi revolution. For Hitler, the revolution was complete, at least for now. His real revolution was a racial one, whose full dimensions only became manifest later. Hitler's relationship with conservative circles was complex and, in ways, almost codependent. For many conservatives, the revolution had gone too far. For some National Socialists, it never went far enough. Frustrations with the perceived gap between the expectations and the execution of the National Socialist revolution set the stage for a climax of forces and realignment in the Third Reich. The brutal way the Nazis faced this crisis in the summer of 1934 solidified Hitler's position as Führerwithout viable challenge.
The historiography of National Socialism, the Third Reich, the Second World War, and the Holocaust spans tens of thousands of volumes. However, very few in this vast collection specifically focus on these critical events, and most are in German. Larry Eugene Jones argues that "American scholars have all but abandoned the writing of the political history of the Weimar Republic to their German colleagues." It is time to take a fresh look at these events and reconsider the context and nature of one of the most significant milestones of the Third Reich.
Gunning, Edward G. Jr., "The Night of the Long Knives: Reconsidered" (2022). CUNY Academic Works.