Chapter

The Longest Knife

Zachary Shore

in What Hitler Knew

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154597
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199868780 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195154597.003.0003
The Longest Knife

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Control of information in Hitler's Germany was not simply a means for bureaucrats to get ahead; it could also help keep one alive. On June 30, 1934, the German government unleashed a reign of terror in what came to be known as the “Night of the Long Knives.” Under the direction of Heinrich Himmler, the Schutzstaffeln (SS) executed without trial an unknown number of Sturmabteilung (SA) members. It assassinated leading political figures and arrested thousands more, imprisoning some and sending others to concentration camps. From this point onward, state-sponsored violence took hold in Germany and did not cease until the Reich's collapse. This chapter shows that with the climate of fear and uncertainty which descended upon Germany after June 30, ministry officials had to be intensely mindful of the information they controlled. Failure to obtain information on the f ührer's intentions could be disastrous. Failure to know of one's rivals' activities could result in being outmaneuvered. Even the disclosing of all one's information could be equally unwise. The diplomats also understood that their fates rested not only on their submission to the state, but also on an element of chance.

Keywords: Nazi Germany; Hitler; Third Reich; Long Knives; diplomats

Chapter.  7005 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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