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Sopade Report After “Night of the Long Knives”

The widespread approval of Hitler on the 'law and order' issue, and the wholesale acceptance of the 'Leader's acts of illegality and murder, is documented unambiguously in the SOPADE 'reports on Germany' following the 30 June 1934:

The immediate result of the murders was great confusion, both as regards the way they were viewed and as regards their future political consequences. On the whole, Hitler's courage in taking decisive action was stressed the most. He was regarded practically as a hero. Hitler's slandering of the victims, their homosexuality and their 30,000 Mark meals, was at first also adjudged heroic. As to what the repercussions of the events of 30th June and their aftermath will be, an agreed and definitive answer cannot yet be given. Our comrades report that Hitler has won strong approval and sympathy from that part of the population which still places its hopes in him. To these people his action is proof that he wants order and decency. Other sections of the population have been given cause for thought.

East Saxony: A small businessman told me that he and his colleagues had known for a long time that Hitler was going to strike at Roehm and his associates. He still sees Hitler, even now, as an utterly honourable man who wants the best for the German people. It is only Hitler's hangers-on who have been preventing him from working for the people, and now he has got rid of them. When I tried to explain to him that Hitler alone bore the responsibility for all the murders, these and earlier ones, he said: 'Still, the main thing is, he's got rid of the Marxists.' He also said that Hitler undoubtedly still had as much support among the majority of the people as he did before, especially as he was now cleaning out the dreadful SA, who had done Germany great damage. Wages would definitely be cut now, and industry would be able to get back to work and start earning money. He still swears by Hitler as a superhuman being, even if he is a murderer many times over.

Bavaria: 1st report. by slaughtering his 'best friends', Hitler has forfeited none of his mass support as yet; rather, he has gained. Reports from different parts of Bavaria are unanimous that people are expressing satisfaction that Hitler has acted so decisively. He has produced fresh proof that he will not settle for second-best and that he wants decency in public life.

Source: D. J. K. Peukert, "Inside Nazi Germany: Conformity, Opposition and Racism in Everyday Life," Yale, 1987, pp. 71-72.

Source: Yad Vashem