The SA played a major part in the Nazi rise to power, providing the muscle that intimidated opponents and triggered much of the chaos that the Nazis later took credit for ending. After the Rohm purge of 1934 the SA lost much of its former importance, but its leaders remained key figures within the Third Reich (at least those who survived the purge).
The first part of this book covers all of the overall leaders of the SA, including its precursors, from the 1920s to 1945, a surprisingly large group that includes Hitler as overall head and ten men who served as SA-Stabschef or its equivalent. This is followed by the first half of the SA-Obergruppenführers, the top rank below the head of the organisation, and roughly the equivalent of lieutenant-generals in the Army.
This is very much a reference work. For each man we get a list of promotions, major posts, post-war prosecutions and other information, presented in list form, and organised by date. There are some longer sections of text to explain particular entries, or to illustrate the activities of the major war criminals in this group, but the key thing here is the vast amount of data that is presented.
This is a very varied group of men. About all they have in common is combat experience in the First World War (rarely at any great rank), and early Nazi sympathies. After that their activities varied greatly. The group includes some of the most appalling war criminals (including Hans Frank), victims of the 1934 purge of the SA and even one or two members of the German resistance. We do see the Nazification of German society, with many of these men taking up a series of key positions in civil society. They also served as gauleiters, the leading Nazi official in a particular region. Very few had an active military career during the Second World War.
Their post war fates also varied. A surprisingly small number were executed. Some weren't put on trial. Between those extremes most were convicted of being major offenders or at least severely incriminated, but most of these convictions were reduced or eliminated completely during the 1950s.
This is the first part of a very useful reference work, looking at a key group within the Nazi hierarchy, especially during their rise to power.
I: Oberster SA-Führer and SA-Stabschef
II: SA-Obergruppenführer (B-J)
Author: Michael D. Miller & Andreas Schulz