Thursday, June 29, 2006
Night of the Long Knives
Pope St. Pius V
I was looking at some traditionalist websites to see if they had anything to say about Paul VI and came across a startling brief by Pius V on the punishment regulated for priests found guilty of homosexuality. (Praise God that we live in the era of Divine Mercy!) After reading it I recalled a moment in history from Nazi Germany that seemed to me even more grotesque. It happened on this night in 1934. (What a strange coincidence that I should recall all of this today - when I went to Wikipedia I discovered that June 30 was the anniversary of the massacre.)
The night of June 29th and June 30th is a dark anniversary of sorts. It came to be known as the night of the long knives when Hitler ordered that members of the SA or "Brown Shirts" (his storm troopers) be purged of communists, gays and other unsavory types he felt threatened his regime. I saw a film about it in the late '60's, I think it was called "The Damned", a film that left a strong impression upon me. That being the case, it is most likely the reason why I thought of the film, and subsequently the event.
The paranoia of all dictators, Adolf Hitler being no exception, revolves around the inability to trust the people surrounding him. These individuals witnessed how power was seized, and therefore, may want to take over the position themselves. Historically, dictators have taken the important step to eliminate their rivals. Hitler was no different and began murdering the competition, individuals within the party whom he had earlier exploited, almost immediately after he gained power.
Many of these men were in his "Brown Shirt" organization. On 30 June 1934, at 3:00 in the morning, Hitler sent his personal bodyguards the "schutzstaffel" or SS to arrest key leaders of the "Brown Shirts." In all, 1000 men were picked up, driven to local prisons and shot. These were the same men that Hitler had used to gain power, and in many cases, were close personal friends. With elimination of potential threats to his rule, and the death of Hindenburg, Hitler was in firm control. The only institution left that posed an immediate threat to his power was the army. As Chancellor and President of Germany, Hitler took the bold step of forcing the army to swear allegiance to him personally. This meant that the soldiers were to fight for him, not their country.
The leader of the SA was Ernst Rohm, a friend of Hitler's. Hitler initially protected Rohm from other elements of the Nazi Party which held his homosexuality to be in violation of the party's evolved anti-gay policy. However, Hitler later changed course when he perceived Rohm to be a potential threat to his power. As mentioned, during this night of 1934 a purge of those who Hitler deemed threats to his power took place. He had Rohm murdered and used Rohm's homosexuality as a justification to quell outrage within the ranks of the SA. After solidifying his power, Hitler would include gay men among those sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust. Many of these gay men were also Jewish and this seems to be a major reason that they were so heavily targeted by the Nazis.
Himmler had initially been a supporter of Rohm, arguing that the charges of homosexuality against him were manufactured by Jews. But after the purge, Hitler elevated Himmler's status and he became very active in the suppression of homosexuality. He exclaimed, "We must exterminate these people root and branch... the homosexual must be eliminated." (Thanks to Wikipedia and other sources for this information.)
It is interesting to note that "Gay Pride" month ends upon so dismal an anniversary. It is my opinion that acceptance of a person's homosexual orientation is one matter, acceptance of homosexual activity is quite another. Especially when it is forced upon society and culture through legislation such as same-sex marriage laws, gay adoption, etc. I do not in any way condone or approve of concentration camps or murderous rampages, nor any kind of violence against gay people. I just do not trust history however. Currently the gay agenda is useful for the "cultural warriors" seeking to promote the culture of death, just as they were in nascent Nazi Germany. There will be a backlash against all immorality one day, not by Christians but by totalitarian regimes, this could all happen once again. Nevertheless, first of all the Christians will have to suffer persecution from the governments who consider their moral teachings to be hate crimes. Remember, Hitler intended that as well, after the war he intended to crush the Church.
It's an extreme thought for extreme times, and it's late and I'm tired. perhaps I shouldn't post this.