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Founded in Germany in 1920 to establish order at the meetings of the Nazi Party, the SA was developed into a paramilitary organization from 1921. Banned after the Hitler Putsch, it was re-established in 1925. Its membership rose to over 700,000 in 1933, so that its size, as well as the plans of its leader, Ernst Röhm (b. 1887, d. 1934), to incorporate the army into the SA and develop an ‘SA-state’, became a threat to other institutions, in particular the regular army. Since Hitler needed the co-operation of the army for his military plans, he ordered the Röhm Putsch (‘Night of the Long Knives’) in which Röhm and other SA leaders were murdered on 30 June 1934. Hitler also used the opportunity to get rid of other opponents, such as his predecessor as Chancellor, K. von Schleicher (b. 1882, d. 1934). To make his actions more acceptable to public opinion, Hitler persuaded President Hindenburg to legalize the murders retrospectively as an act of national self-defence. The Putsch signalled the rise of the SS as the party élite, and it secured the army's support for Hitler. As a result, the political importance of the SA declined against that of the SS.

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