The Sturmabteilung reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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This article focuses on the stormtroopers of Nazi Germany. For other types of stormtrooper, see Stormtrooper.

Hitler addressing SA members in the late 1920sEnlarge

Hitler addressing SA members in the late 1920s

The Sturmabteilung (SA, German for "Assault Division" and sometimes translated stormtroopers) functioned as a paramilitary organisation of the NSDAP – the German Nazi party. It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1930s. SA men were often known as brownshirts from the colour of their uniform and to distinguish them from the SS who were known as blackshirts.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Leaders of the SA
3 Modern usage
4 Related Topics
5 External links


The term Sturmabteilung originally came from the specialized assault troops used by Germany in 1918 in World War I utilising Hutier tactics. Instead of a large mass assault, the Sturmabteilung were organized into small teams of a few soldiers each. First applied during the Battle of Cambrai the wider use in March 1918 allowed the Germans to push back British and French lines tens of kilometers.

Hitler himself founded the SA in 1921 in Munich. It originally functioned as a group of bodyguards to enforce order at Nazi gatherings. Under their popular leader, Ernst Röhm, the SA grew in importance within the Nazi power structure, eventually claiming thousands of members. The SA carried out numerous acts of violence against socialist groups throughout the 1920s, typically in minor street-fights. The SS eventually took over their original role.

After Hitler took power in 1933 the SA became increasingly anxious for power and saw themselves as the replacement for the German army. This angered the regular army (Reichswehr) who were already quite annoyed at the Nazi party. It also led to tension with other leaders within the party, who saw Röhm's increasingly powerful SA as a threat to their own personal ambitions.

In order to ally himself with conservative forces within the German Army and to strengthen his position within the Nazi Party, Hitler ordered the execution of the leadership of the SA which took place on 29–30 June, 1934 on what is known as the Night of the Long Knives. Victor Lutze became the new leader of the SA, and the organization was soon marginalized in the Nazi power structure.

Leaders of the SA

Modern usage

Today, the term "Brown Shirts" has become part of every day langugage as a term to describe the extreme rank and file of
right wing organizations. It can also mean an individual of a right wing organization who is seen as very narrow-minded and excessively loyal.

The term "Digital Brownshirts," coined by former Vice-President Al Gore, is often used to describe right wing weblogs that criticize a perceived liberal agenda in the mainstream media.

Related Topics

Weimar paramilitary groups

External links