In June 1934, Hitler was in Venice to see Mussolini. The conduct of some members in Hitler’s entourage at Venice disgusted the Italians. Mussolini protested against the moral character and political unreliability of the leading personnel in the Nazi Storm Troops and warned Hitler that he would have to sacrifice his favorite colleagues if he wished to save his own personal prestige and that of his regime.

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The open homosexuals Röhm, Heines and Karl Ernst were mentioned. One week later, Hindenburg, at that time still German President, threatened to declare martial law if the heads of the SA were not dismissed.

Hitler was compelled by Röhm’s enemies within the party to assassinate Röhm and about one thousand other men for various reasons. To counter the public impression that his party was rife with homosexuality, Hitler would be forced to publicly take a harder line against sexual deviance. The open homosexuals also became more and more unpopular within the party, for example Goebbels would write in his diary about his animosity towards homosexuals within the party.

Officially, Hitler has learned only in 1934 that Röhm was homosexual and he decided to clean house and kill these deviants. Of course that explanation is hardly credible because Röhm has lived openly as a homosexual for many years, some of his scandals have been reported by the press and Hitler was very close to Röhm. Also it contradicts his own earlier statements that the private lives of SA members do not concern him. Among those killed were not just rivals like Röhm but also potential blackmailers like Heines who has threatened Hitler one year earlier and Karl Zehnter who did not have any political ambition or office, but was owner of the Bratwurstglöckl, the gay bar where the SA met in the early years. However, the great majority of victims were not homosexuals at all, but rather men who were considered dangerous or inconvenient to the regime.

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