Brown Shirts (WWII)

Can someone explain:

I’m not sure who the Brown Shirts were in (1930’s & 1940’s) Germany. And, what was their role?

At first, I thought it was Hitler’s youth after he was in power. But, recently, I heard it was like a following of radicals which helped put him into power.

The “brown shirts” was a name commonly given to the SA (the Strumabteilung or “storm Troopers”). This was a militant arm of the Nazi party when it was rising to power in the 20’s and 30’s. A uniformed militia or paramilitary backed by the Nazi’s which did most of the violent stuff while they were consolidating their power.

The brown shirts or ‘Sturmabteilung’ (SA) were the Nazi party and Hitler’s goon squad and the infamous ‘Shutzstaffel’ (SS) belonged to this group. Their main purpose was intimidating any perceived opposition of the National Socialists.

John Toland’s biography Adolf Hitler goes into depth on the subject.

The SA (German Sturmabteilung, popularly known as the “Brownshirts” or “storm troopers”) was a violent paramilitary organization–basically a bunch of street thugs–who aided in Hitler’s rise to power by getting into street brawls and intimidating the opponents of the Nazi Party. The SS, which eventually grew to become a much more powerful organization, began as Hitler’s personal bodyguard within the SA. The SA was a radical group, whose leadership emphasized the “socialist” aspect of “national socialism”, earning it the distrust of powerful industrial and military interests within Germany, and Hitler used the SS to purge its erstwhile parent organization in 1934. Thereafter, the SA never really played an important role in the Nazi regime. The SS eventually became a huge secret police and elite military organization, responsible as well for running the concentration and extermination camps.

Nicely and concisely stated, MEBuckner!

Another aspect of the rise and inevitable fall of the SA is the fact that its leadership coveted the role of the primary armed force in the coming Nazi regime. While the Treaty of Versailles hamstrung the “official” German Army (the Wehrmacht) with a maximum of, IIRC, 100,000 active-duty soldiers, the SA numbered over a million at its peak, and felt it could lay rightful claim to being the predominant military force. Unfortunately, the SA was unacceptable on many fronts in that role.

The established generals hated the SA, and Hitler feared – rightly – that his rise to power would be blocked without the generals’ acquiescence. The Brownshirts had a hideous – and well-deserved – reputation as crude brawlers, untrained in military skills, unkempt, unruly, and uncontrollable. Also, the head of the SA until 1934 – Ernst Rohm – was a known, promiscuous, and unrepentant homosexual, as were many of his lieutenants; given the era, Hitler could hardly afford to associate himself with such goings-on, especially as they became increasingly publicly known. Der Fuhrer’s minions later liquidated many thousands of confirmed or suspected homosexual men.