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WWII Timeline – Fall 1934

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at October – December 1934 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Fall 1934

October 1934

The 6,000-mile (10,000-km) historic trek of the Chinese communists, also known as the “Long March,” led by Mao Zedong began. The trek resulted in the relocation of the communist revolutionary base from southeastern to northwestern China. Mao Zedong emerged as the undisputed party leader.

December 1934

The Italian military began a buildup following Benito Mussolini’s order for the conquest of Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia).

December 1, 1934

An associate of Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, Serge Kirov, was assassinated. Stalin used Kirov’s murder as the reason to remove 2,000 party officials from Leningrad.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Most recent post from the series:

Summer 1934

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018

WWII Timeline – Summer 1934

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at July – September 1934 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Summer 1934

July 1, 1934

The Night of Long Knives began on June 30 and continued to July 2 as Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, and Heinrich Himmler conducted a purge of the SA leadership.

The purge and shooting of the SA leadership continued into Sunday, July 1. To give the appearance that life was returning to normal, Hitler hosted a tea party on Sunday evening for cabinet members and their families in the garden of the Chancellery.

July 2, 1934

The purge ended by 4 a.m., early Monday morning, on July 2. An exact number of deaths is not known as all Gestapo reports were destroyed. Estimates range from 200 to over 1,000, less than half of which were SA officers. An unknown number were murdered by mistaken identity. That was the case for the music critic of a Munich newspaper, Dr. Willi Schmidt. Mistaken for another Willi Schmidt on the list, he was taken from his home by four SS men. His body was later returned to his wife and three young children in a sealed coffin by the Gestapo, who ordered that they were not to open it.

July 13, 1934

Hitler spoke before the Nazi controlled Reichstag (Parliament). He announced that seventy-four had been shot and justified the murders with:

If anyone reproaches me and asks why I did not resort to the regular courts of justice, then all I can say is this: In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I became the supreme judge of the German people.

It was no secret that this time the revolution would have to be bloody; when we spoke of it we called it ‘The Night of the Long Knives.’ Everyone must know for all future time that if he raises his hand to strike the State, then certain death is his lot.

With these words, Hitler proclaimed himself the supreme judge of the German people. He placed himself above the law, making his word the law, which instilled a permanent sense of fear in the German people.

The killing of the horrific Night of Long Knives was over, but the aftermath was just beginning. By condoning the events, the regular German Army generals effectively supported Hitler and his actions.

Remaining SA members were eventually inducted into the regular German Army when Hitler re-introduced military conscription (the draft, or compulsory enlistment for state service) in 1935.

July 20, 1934

Hitler rewarded the SS by granting it independent status as an organization. It was no longer part of the SA. Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, leader of the SS, now answered only to Hitler, and Reinhard Heydrich was promoted to SS Gruppenführer (Lieutenant-General). With Himmler and Heydrich at the helm, the SS would bring mass murder and terror for the next eleven years to the third Reich. 

July 22, 1934

The Nazis prohibited Jews from getting legal qualifications.

July 25, 1934

In a coup attempt, Austrian Nazis murdered Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss. In early 1933, Dollfuss had shut down parliament, banned the Austrian Nazi party, and assumed dictatorial powers. Dollfuss was succeeded by Kurt von Schuschnigg.

August 2, 1934

German President Paul von Hindenburg died at 9 a.m. Within hours, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis announced the following law, dated August 1, before President Hindenburg’s death.

The Reich Government has enacted the following law which is hereby promulgated.

Section 1. The office of Reich President will be combined with that of Reich Chancellor. The existing authority of the Reich President will consequently be transferred to the Führer and Reich Chancellor, Adolf Hitler. He will select his deputy.

Section 2. This law is effective as of the time of the death of Reich President von Hindenburg.

Following the announcement, the German Officers’ Corps and every member of the German Army swore a personal oath of allegiance to Adolf Hitler, not to the Nazi party, but to Hitler himself. A nationwide vote was scheduled, but Adolf Hitler had already officially become Der Führer, or absolute leader, of Germany, and seized total power in Germany.

In the interim, President Hindenburg’s last will and testament came out. His last wishes, in a personal letter to Adolf Hitler, included a desire for a return to a constitutional monarchy. Hitler ignored President Hindenburg’s wishes and likely destroyed the letter, as it was never seen again. However, the Nazis published a likely forgery complimenting Hitler, which was used as part of the election campaign to get the vote for Hitler.

August 19, 1934, in Germany

About ninety-five percent of registered German voters voted in the August 19 election and ninety percent of them voted for Adolf Hitler with thirty-eight million votes. Hitler claimed himself Führer of Germany by the direct will of the people, wielding absolute power in Germany. Adolf Hitler had become the law of Germany.

August 19, 1934, in China

Lasting until September 1934, Chinese Nationalist troops began an aggressive campaign to eject Chinese Communists from their occupied territory south of the Yangtze River.

August 20, 1934

The day after Adolf Hitler was voted Führer of Germany, mandatory loyalty oaths were introduced throughout the Reich.

The oath of loyalty for Public Officials:

I swear: I shall be loyal and obedient to Adolf Hitler, the Führer of the German Reich and people, respect the laws, and fulfill my official duties conscientiously, so help me God.

The oath of loyalty for Soldiers of the Armed Forces:

I swear by God this sacred oath: I will render unconditional obedience to Adolf Hitler, the Führer of the German Reich and people, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and will be ready as a brave soldier to risk my life at any time for this oath.

These oaths were pledged to Hitler personally, not the German State or German Constitution. The oaths were taken very seriously by members of the German Officers’ Corps, which now considered obedience to Hitler a sacred duty, and placed the German armed forces as the personal instrument of Hitler.

September 1934

At the annual Nuremberg Nazi Party rallies, a euphoric Hitler proclaimed,

The German form of life is definitely determined for the next thousand years. The Age of Nerves of the nineteenth century has found its close with us. There will be no revolution in Germany for the next thousand years.

September 18, 1934

The Soviets join the League of Nations.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

Wikipedia: Assassination of Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Most recent post from the series:

Spring 1934

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018

WWII Timeline – Spring 1934

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at April – June 1934 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Spring 1934

April 1934

Nazi Storm Trooper or Sturmabteilung (SA) leader Ernst Röhm held a press conference in which he proclaimed,

The SA is the National Socialist Revolution!!

At the time, the Shutzstaffel (SS) was a part of the SA. The SS was formed in 1925 as Adolf Hitler’s personal body guards and were highly disciplined. Heinrich Himmler was the SS Chief and his second-in-command was Reinhard Heydrich. Himmler, Heydrich, and Hermann Göring (see Note) plotted to turn Hitler against Röhm.

May 5, 1934

The Soviet Union and Poland reaffirmed the Soviet-Polish Non-aggression Pact originally signed in 1932 in which both sides agreed to renounce violence in bilateral relations, to resolve their problems through negotiations, and to forgo armed conflict or alliances aimed at each other.

May 17, 1934

The Nazis disallowed Jews from receiving national health insurance.

June 4, 1934

Adolf Hitler met privately with SA leader Ernst Röhm for five hours. As a result, a few days later Röhm announced he was taking time off due to a ‘personal illness’ and that the SA would go on leave for the month of July. Röhm also announced a conference, which Hitler promised to attend, of top SA leaders on June 30 at a resort town near Munich.

June 14 – 15, 1934

Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini met in Venice in their first face-to-face meeting.

June 17, 1934

Franz von Papen, Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler, made a speech in which he criticized the behavior of the SA and denounced Nazi excesses. Papen also spoke about the possibility of a revolution by Röhm and the SA and pushed Hitler to prevent it. Papen’s speech increased tensions between German Army leaders and SA leaders and jeopardized Hitler’s position. 

June 21, 1934

Adolf Hitler had been summoned to the East Prussia country estate of German President Paul von Hindenburg, who was in failing health and confined to a wheelchair. Hitler met with President Hindenburg and German Defense Defense Minister General Werner von Blomberg. Hitler was told to solve the SA problem or President Hindenburg would declare martial law and let the German Army run the country, which would mean the end of the Nazi regime.

At the time, Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich were spreading false rumors that Ernst Röhm and the SA were planning a putsch, a violent attempt to overthrow the government.

June 25, 1934

SS Chief Heinrich Himmler and the regular Army generals worked out a secret agreement of cooperation for a planned action against the SA. Leaves were canceled for the regular German Army troops and they were confined to their barracks where they would remain during the action. They would provide weapons and any requested support while the SS handled things.

June 28, 1934

Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, and Nazi Reich Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels attended the wedding of Gauleiter (a political official governing a district under Nazi rule) Josef Terboven in Essen, Germany. Hitler received a phone call warning him of the possibility of a violent overthrow by Röhm’s SA and also the possibility of a revolt by non-Nazis who wanted President Hindenburg to declare martial law and remove Hitler and the Nazi government. Hitler sent Göring back to Berlin to make preparations against the SA and conservative government leaders there. The SS was put on full alert.

June 29, 1934

Adolf Hitler inspected a labor service camp and stayed in a hotel near Bonn, Germany for the night. That evening Heinrich Himmler informed Hitler by phone that SA troops in Munich knew of the coming action and had taken to the streets. Hitler decided to fly to Munich to put down the SA rebellion and to confront Röhm and the top SA leaders who had gathered near Munich at the resort town of Bad Wiessee.

June 30, 1934

The Night of Long Knives began as Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, and Heinrich Himmler conducted a purge of the SA leadership.

Adolf Hitler arrived in Munich near dawn on Saturday, June 30. First, he ordered the arrest of the SA men who were inside Munich Nazi headquarters. He then proceeded to the Ministry of the Interior building and confronted the top SA man in Munich after his arrest, where he tore off the man’s insignia in a fit of hysteria. Hitler next went after Röhm at the resort hotel in Bad Wiessee, accompanied by Rudolf Hess and others.

The SS likely secured the hotel before Hitler arrived, but legend says that Hitler arrived around 6:30 a.m and rushed inside with a pistol to arrest Röhm and other SA leaders. Hitler sent them to Stadelheim prison near Munich to be shot later by the SS.

In the raid, one SA leader, Edmund Heines, had been found in bed with a young man. Hitler ordered him executed immediately at the hotel. It seems that many of the SA leaders, including Ernst Röhm, were gay. In fact, Ernst Röhm, who today is called the highest-ranking gay Nazi, opposed his party’s stand on Paragraph 175 of the German penal code, which made male homosexual acts illegal. Hitler had been ignoring their behavior because of their usefulness to him during his rise to power. But their usefulness and Hitler’s tolerance to them had ended. Their homosexual conduct would become Hitler’s excuse for their murders.

At 10 a.m, Adolf Hitler placed a phone call to Hermann Göring in Berlin. Hitler spoke the prearranged code word ‘Kolibri’ (hummingbird), beginning a wave of murderous violence in Berlin and over twenty other cities. SS execution squads and Göring’s private police force hunted down SA leaders and anyone else on the Reich List of Unwanted Persons.

Included on the Reich List of Unwanted Persons were:

  • Gustav von Kahr, who was hacked to death in a swamp near Dachau. He had opposed Hitler during the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923.
  • Father Bernhard Stempfle, who was shot and killed.  He knew too much about Hitler since he had taken some of the dictation for Hitler’s book Mein Kampf.
  • Kurt von Schleicher, who, along with his wife, was shot and killed. He was a former Chancellor of Germany who had helped put Hitler in power.
  • Gregor Strasser, one of the original members of the Nazi Party.
  • Berlin SA leader Karl Ernst, who helped torch the Reichstag building in February 1933.
  • Vice-Chancellor Papen’s press secretary.
  • Catholic leader Dr. Erich Klausener.

On Saturday evening, Hitler flew back to Berlin. He was met at the airport by Heinrich Himmler and Hermann Göring. A Gestapo official who was present, Hans Gisevius, later described the scene: 

On his way to the fleet of cars, which stood several hundred yards away, Hitler stopped to converse with Göring and Himmler. Apparently he could not wait a few minutes until he reached the Chancellery…From one of his pockets Himmler took out a long, tattered list. Hitler read it through, while Göring and Himmler whispered incessantly into his ear. We could see Hitler’s finger moving slowly down the sheet of paper. Now and then it paused for a moment at one of the names. At such times the two conspirators whispered even more excitedly. Suddenly Hitler tossed his head. There was so much violent emotion, so much anger in the gesture, that everybody noticed it…Finally they moved on, Hitler in the lead, followed by Göring and Himmler. Hitler was still walking with the same sluggish tread. By contrast, the two blood drenched scoundrels at his side seemed all the more lively…

Reportedly, Hitler ordered a pistol with a single bullet be given to Ernst Röhm to commit suicide, but Röhm refused to do it, saying “If I am to be killed let Adolf do it himself.” Theodore Eicke, Commander of the Totenkopf (Death’s Head) guards at Dachau, and another SS officer waited fifteen minutes, then entered Röhm’s cell and shot him point blank. Reportedly, Röhm’s last words were “Mein Führer, mein Führer!”

The Night of the Long Knives continued until July 2.

Note

Hermann Göring created the Gestapo, the secret state police, in the German state of Prussia. Göring was the Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, President of the Reichstag, Prime Minister of Prussia, Plenipotentiary (a person having full power to take independent action on behalf of his government) for the Implementation of the Four Year (economic) Plan, and designated successor to Hitler.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

Wikipedia: Soviet-Polish Non-Aggression Pact

JSTOR Daily

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Most recent post from the series:

Winter 1934

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018

WWII Timeline – Winter 1934

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at January – March 1934 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Winter 1934

January 1, 1934

Nazi officials order 4,000 new aircraft for the Luftwaffe.

January 24, 1934

The Nazis ban Jews from the German Labor Front.

Early 1934 (leading up to the Nazi “Night of the Long Knives” in the Spring and Summer of 1934)

The brown-shirted Nazi Storm Troopers, or Sturmabteilung (the SA), were four million strong. Many SA members were revolutionaries who believed in National Socialism and wanted to replace the regular Germany army.

The SA Army represented a threat to Adolf Hitler and the future of the Nazis, and was a threat to the regular Army and its centuries-old German military traditions and conservative supporters. For years, Adolf Hitler had been promising the regular Army generals that he would break the Treaty of Versailles which limited the Army to 100,000 men. 

Big industry leaders in Germany, who had put Hitler in power, were also threatened by the SA. Hitler had already helped big industry by squashing the trade union movement and Marxists, but now the SA threatened an anti-capitalist, anti-tradition revolution.

The German people feared the SA. The men of the SA were characterized as gangsters who extorted money from shop owners, were arrogant and showed off, and beat up and murdered innocent civilians.

Ernst Röhm headed the SA. He had been with Hitler from the beginning of the Nazi movement and was very instrumental in Hitler’s rise to power. However, a year after Hitler came to power, Hitler needed the regular Army and big industry to accomplish his goals: rebuild Germany after the Great Depression, re-arm the military, and amass more living space for the people of Germany. The revolutionary SA’s usefulness to Hitler had come to an end.

But how would Hitler resolve the situation with 4,000,000 brown-shirted Nazi SA Storm Troopers vs. 100,000 regular German Army members?

End of February 1934

Adolf Hitler held a meeting with SA leaders and regular Army leaders, including the SA’s Ernst Röhm and German Defense Minister General Werner von Blomberg. Hitler informed Röhm that the SA would be limited to certain political functions and would no longer be a military force in Germany. Reluctantly, Röhm signed an agreement with Blomberg in front of Hitler at the meeting. However, Röhm had no intention of keeping this agreement.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Most recent post from the series:

Fall 1933

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018