October 19, 2010

Setting the Record Queer: Ernst Röhm, the Gay Nazi.

Ernst Röhm was among Adolf Hitlers closest friends and supporters. That is, up until he was assassinated by Hitler on the Night of the Long Knives.

A founding member of the Sturmabteilung (SA), Röhm eventually became its commander. Reports indicate that Röhm and Hitler became such close comrades, that Röhm was the only individual that Hitler addressed with the German Familiar term 'du'. Likewise, not only was Röhm the only person who could address Hitler as such, but he alone could refer to Hitler as 'Adolf'.

Röhm had a reputation for being brutal street fighter. In addition to saying "All revolutions devour their own children, Röhm also claimed:
Since I am an immature and wicked man, war and unrest appeal to me more than good bourgeois order. Brutality is respected, the people need wholesome fear. They want to fear someone. They want someone to frighten them and make them shudderingly submissive.

This illustrates Rohm's theory that the most effective form of terrorism, is terrorism that targets the lower classes, rather than the rulers of a society. The idea of course, that the rulers are better protected as well as being easy to replace. However, the result of targeting the lower classes is a clampdown on their rights and freedoms, ultimately resulting in chaos. Compare that to what is going on today in the world today after 9/11 or the society created by George Orwell in his novel 1984.

Ernst Röhm eventual downfall came about from Hitler's growing belief that Röhm was his greatest threat. Fearing a possible SA take over, Hitler had members of the SA Command arrested and executed. In the case of Röhm, Hitler initially refused to order his execution, instead giving Röhm the opportunity to commit suicide. Röhm refused, famously saying "If I am to be killed, let Adolf do it himself!" He was executed on July 2nd, 1934.

It's important to note that Röhm's sexual orientation was well known to both Hitler and the German public while Röhm held power in the SA. This never seemed to bother Hitler as he defended Röhm, saying "the SA are a band of warriors and not a moral institution."

Furthermore, one of the often overlooked aspects of the Holocausts was that the Nazi's also targeted gay men and trans individuals, in addition to Jews, Catholics, Jehovaha Witnesses, people with disabilities, among many other groups.

Why bring this up? Because there are always new lessons that history can teach us. It appears there is nothing stopping the oppressed from becoming the oppressor. Röhm's sexual orientation was no secret, yet he still supported an organization that led one of the most vicious attacks against queers in modern history.

Queers in History by Keith Stern
Ernst Röhm, Jewish Virtual Librry
Ernst Röhm, Wiki Quotes
Ernst Röhm, Wikipedia

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