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How did the Night of the Long Knives shape Germany?

The Night of the Long Knives shaped Germany by consolidating Hitler's power and eliminating potential opposition within the Nazi Party.

The Night of the Long Knives, which took place from 30th June to 2nd July 1934, was a significant event in the history of Nazi Germany. It was a purge that saw the murder of approximately 85 people, including prominent members of the Sturmabteilung (SA), the Nazi Party's original paramilitary wing. This event was instrumental in shaping Germany's political landscape, as it allowed Adolf Hitler to consolidate his power and eliminate potential opposition within his own party.

The SA, under the leadership of Ernst Röhm, had grown increasingly powerful and independent, posing a threat to Hitler's control over the Nazi Party. Röhm advocated for a 'second revolution', which involved the redistribution of wealth and more radical economic reforms, a stance that was at odds with Hitler's vision and threatened the support of the conservative military and industrial elites. The Night of the Long Knives was Hitler's solution to this problem. By eliminating Röhm and other SA leaders, Hitler not only removed a potential source of opposition but also demonstrated his willingness to use violence to maintain control, thereby instilling fear in any would-be challengers.

Furthermore, the purge also served to strengthen Hitler's relationship with the German Army. The SA had been seen as a potential rival to the Army, and its elimination reassured the military elite of their position. In return, they pledged their loyalty to Hitler, further solidifying his control over the country.

The Night of the Long Knives also had significant legal implications. Hitler justified the murders by claiming that he was acting to prevent a supposed imminent coup, and the German cabinet subsequently passed a law making the purge officially 'legal'. This set a dangerous precedent, effectively giving Hitler the power to murder without legal repercussions, and marked a significant step towards the establishment of a totalitarian state.

In conclusion, the Night of the Long Knives was a pivotal event in the history of Nazi Germany. It allowed Hitler to consolidate his power, eliminate potential opposition, and establish a precedent for the use of violence and murder as political tools.

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