Hitler’s Bureaucratic Genocide

The chaos that existed in Germany following the First World War had a lot to do with Adolph Hitler’s rise to power. Without an occupying force to settle things down, there was a  simmering civil war between different political groups, such as the socialists, the communists and right wing organizations including the group which would become the Nazis. The Nazis reveled in street violence, and Hitler’s early speeches to large beer drinking crowds were often policed by random paramilitaries that quickly repressed any resistance in the crowd. Hitler used such paramilitaries, who came to be called the Brownshirts, in the unsuccessful coup attempt in Munich in 1923. Hitler was sent to prison after what became known as the Munich Putsch, where he wrote his famous book of rebellion, Mein Kampf, or My Struggle. The Brownshirts became more and more influential in Hitler’s rise to power in the late twenties and early thirties, as they repressed dissenting political organizations with extreme violence, brashly intimidating anyone who had the nerve to oppose the Nazis. After Hitler came to power in 1933, he had to bring his own paramilitaries under control, to solidify his political support with parts of Germany who were not comfortable with such chaotic random violence. The German military were also not pleased with unpredictable power of the Brownshirts, and Hitler certainly did not want them to think him a disorganized and chaotic leader. He solved this with a series of political assassinations that became known as the Night of the Long Knives, in which over 85 people where killed and more than a thousand political opponents were arrested. Longtime ally Ernst Rohm, who led the Brownshirts, was killed, as was Gregor Strasser, another Nazi leader who was far more liberal in his political beliefs than Hitler. The Gestapo, or Nazi Secret Police, were formally integrated as Hitler’s new agency of political enforcement, and the Brownshirts were consolidated as the SA, much more under Nazi control. Most of the German people became more comfortable with the Nazi’s power as being more stable, despite how Germany then became a one-party state. Hitler gave a speech justifying the violence, and German courts, strange as it may seem, ruled in favor of these extra-judicial killings, blessing Hitler to kill off any political opponents as he saw fit. One world leader who noted Hitler’s success in this organized political murder was Josef Stalin, who would soon begin his own system of using execution to enhance his political power in a genocide that would soon make Hitler seem small time by comparison.  

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