Roehm, Ernst

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Roehm, Ernst

Ernst Roehm (both: ĕrnst röm), 1887–1934, German National Socialist leader. An army officer in World War I, he met (1919) Adolf Hitler, whose political career he helped to launch. Roehm organized the storm troops (Sturmabteilung, or SA), the militia of the National Socialist (Nazi) party. The SA's role in the National Socialist movement provoked conflict between Roehm and Hitler, who wanted the SA to be an instrument of the Nazi party, rather than Roehm's private army. Roehm was imprisoned briefly for his participation in the abortive "beer-hall putsch" (1923). After his release conflict with Hitler flared again, and Roehm resigned (Apr., 1925) his party posts. At the end of 1930, Hitler recalled him as SA commander. Within a year, Roehm had developed a large army and was Hitler's principal rival for party power. After Hitler became chancellor (Jan., 1933), Roehm pressed unsuccessfully for SA control over the regular army. Late in 1933 he was made minister without portfolio. In June, 1934, he was executed in Hitler's blood purge, ostensibly because he had been planning an SA-led coup.

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